Sonlight Core C add-ons – Early Modern Age

Who in the World was the Forgotten Explorer?, by Lambert

The Silver Bowl, by Stanley

The Cup and the Crown, by Stanley

Leonardo da Vinci, by Stanley

The Queen’s Progress, by Mannis

Bard of Avon, by Stanley

The Hero of Bremen, by Mikolaycak

I, Galileo, by Christensen

Huguenot Garden, by Jones

Explorers News, by Johnstone

Interesting to realize that I have Shakespeare books in both Middle Ages and Early Modern Age.  I guess that’s what I get when they overlap.  I do think I’ll try to keep both books, as I think Shakespeare is pretty significant and the books look at him from a different angle.

“The Cup and the Crown” is a sequel to “The Silver Bowl.”


Sonlight Core C add-ons – Middle Ages

Cathedral, by Macaulay

Castle, by Macaulay

Who the World was the Secretive Printer?, by Beckham

Who in the World was the Unready King?, by Clark

Who in the World was the Acrobatic Empress?, by Phillips

Castle Diary (large version – Sonlight uses a small version without the big pictures)

Joan of Arc, by Stanley

Favorite Medieval Tales, by Mary Pope Osborne

William Shakespeare & the Globe, by Aliki

Sir Cumference books, by Neuschwander

Saint George and the Dragon, by Hodges

Magic in the Margins, by Nikola-Lisa

Beorn the Proud, by Polland

Dangerous Journey, by Hunkin

Tinker’s Daughter, by Lawton

The Story of King Arthur and His Knights, by Pyle

Fine Print, by Burch

Castle in the Attic, by Winthrop

Battle for the Castle, by Winthrop

I may weed some of these down.  The two books about John Bunyan and the Pilgrim’s Progress go well together: “Dangerous Journey” is a child’s retelling of a “Pilgrim’s Progress,” and “Tinker’s Daughter” is a story about the author’s blind daughter.  So I think those two go well together.  But “Fine Print” and “Who in the World was the Secretive Printer?” are both on Gutenberg, and I may choose one or the other.

“Castle in the Attic” and “Battle for the Castle” are just modern day fantasy stories about a child with a toy castle that comes to life, but I think they will be a fun breather to add while reading about castle life.  They’ll be readers, not books that I plan to read aloud.

In general, Emily’s reading is at this point strong enough that probably all chapter books will be readers.  Picture books and other shorter works that can be read in a few days will remain read-alouds.  It’s possible by the time we get to these books that Jenny may be able to read them as well, so if so, Emily can read them and then pass them along to Jenny.

Sonlight Core C add-ons – General

It’s that time when I’m starting to plan some of the books I’d like to add to Core C.  Because I can never just leave well enough alone, apparently.  🙂  I love adding books.

One book that we’re really enjoying right now is “Pages of History, Volume One.”  It’s an interesting mix of fiction and nonfiction.  There isn’t a whole lot of a story, most of it is explaining history, but it does have some story to it, and even the way the history is told is very much a story.  It does a really interesting job of pulling things together and explaining things, more so than I’ve seen in other history books.  The writing is decent, although it does feel a little stilted from time to time, especially in dialogue.  Nonetheless, I’d recommend it to other people studying ancient history.

Since we like it so much, I’m going to be getting “Pages of History, Volume Two” to go with Core C.  The first book actually covers a great deal more history than Core B does (I think it goes to about the time of the printing of the King James Bible, whereas Core B goes to the fall of Rome), so we won’t need the second volume until well into Core C.

We’re also enjoying the Story of the World, both as a book and on CD.  It goes into a lot more detail in an easier to understand fashion than a Child’s History of the World, which is the spine that Sonlight uses.  However, we use both, because I think having two different perspectives is valuable, and hearing the same piece of information twice (when they do line up) helps cement it in our minds.

I’m also considering adding in some of the “Life Story Missions” books.  We’ll be reading one of them, “Catching Their Talk in a Box,” as part of Sonlight.  I’m thinking about adding some of the others, those that take place outside of the Americas:

Outside Doctor on Call

Happiness Under the Indian Trees

Keeping Them All in Stitches

Whistling Bombs and Bumpy Trains

No Time Out

What Will Tomorrow Bring?

Another series that looks interesting is the “Profiles From History” series, of which there are three volumes.  Volumes 1 and 3 would be the most useful to put with Core C.  This is basically a book of biographies, but they look good, and I think highlighting some of the particular people of these times periods helps the history come to life.  Volume 2 is entirely American history, so we’ll do that with Cores D and E.  Volumes 1 and 3 have quite a few Americans, so we’ll save those parts for later, but they also have some number of (mostly European) other historical figures.  The books were apparently written by a homeschooler!

In the next few posts, I’m going to be going through some books I’ve thought to add, categorized by time period: Late Antiquity (fall of Rome to 500AD), Middle Ages (5th-15th century), Early Modern Period (1450-1750), and Late Modern Period (1750-1914).  You’ll notice some occasional overlap, because of course certain time periods are transitional, but I’m using the ages as defined by Wikipedia, that be-all and end-all of human wisdom… 🙂

One thing I want to mention in here is that I am not supplementing Sonlight because it isn’t sufficient on its own.  I’m supplementing it because I just like slowing down and going a little deeper, and also because we year-round school, we tend to get ahead of ourselves, and I don’t want to progress too quickly through the Sonlight cores.  Also, Jenny really likes to listen in on the cores, so having some books that are lighter books (which many of these are) will help with that.  I do sometimes have Emily read some of the added books to herself, though, so that can depend on how we’re progressing.

Without further ado, I’m going to prepare the lists of books by age in the next few posts.

A Quick Overview of 20th (and 21st) Century World History to end Core C

Sonlight’s Core C only covers world history through 1914 on the eve of World War I. They do this because they feel that the 20th century has a lot of dark times, and it’s best studied at a later date.

I don’t object to this, but I do think it’s possible to do a short overview of the 20th century, without going into too many details about the darker times. So I’ve decided to throw in a whirlwind tour of the 20th century to finish off Core C, when we get there. I’m trying to hit some of the major events of the 20th century.

My list isn’t perfect, because some major events just didn’t have the greatest picture book coverage (the Korean War, for example). I didn’t want to be bogged down in nonfiction books that would take us several days to complete, so my preference was for historical fiction picture books that could be read in 1-2 sittings, although I included some chapter books that looked suitable, due to age/grade recommendations and reviews on Amazon, for my older daughter to read on her own.

So, that said, here’s my rough draft of the 20th century:

Turn of the Century:

I Survived #5: I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906
American Girl books: Samantha
I Survived #1: I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic

World War I:

See Inside the First World War
Christmas in the Trenches
Knit Your Bit: a World War I story
American Girl books: Ruth

Flu Epidemic:

Christmas Oranges (Bethers) ? Not sure if right flu outbreak

Great Depression:

Born and Bred in the Great Depression
Rose’s Journal (Moss)
Potato: a Tale from the Great Depression
American Girl books: Kit

Amelia Earhart:

Mysterious Journey: Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight

World War II:

I Survived #4: I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor
See Inside the Second World War
American Girl books: Molly
I Survived #9: I Survived the Nazi Invasion

Post WWII Europe:

A New Coat for Anna

Berlin Airlift:

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot

Korean War:

My Freedom Trip: a Child’s Escape from North Korea

Civil Rights:

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
The Story of Ruby Bridges (Coles)

Race to the Moon:

Man on the Moon (Suen)
Handshake in Space

Vietnam War:

The Wall (Bunting)
American Girl books: Julie

End of the Cold War:

Border Breakdown: the Fall of the Berlin Wall
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Yugoslavian War:

Cat from Kosovo
Drita, My Homegirl

September 11th:

I Survived #6: I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001

Japanese Tsunami:

I Survived #8: I Survived the Japanese Tsunami, 2011

20th Century as a whole:

Fantastic Flights: One Hundred Years of Flying on the Edge

This last book covers all of the 20th century, from the first heavier-than-air flight in 1903 to modern aircraft. I’ll do it last, as I think it will be a fun look back at a particular technological innovation of the 20th century. I’m hoping that doing this overview quickly, plus looking at the amazing speed at which flight developed, will help give a sense of how fast the day-to-day world changed during the 20th century, and how that compares to the pace of technological change in the ancient world.

I ran into the fact, recently, that Cleopatra (1st century BC) lived closer to the time when man first walked on the moon (1969 AD), to when the pyramids were built (2400 BC). That’s pretty amazing, and gives you a good idea of how slow change was back then (we tend to lump all of “ancient Egypt” together without much sense of the different periods of Egyptian history).

Elsewhere in the list, the American Girl books and the I Survived books are all chapter books that I’ll have Emily read on her own. She’s already read all the American Girl books, but she won’t mind a reread and I think reading them in historical context might be really interesting. I’ll probably have her reread *all* of the American Girl books during Cores D and E, since they cover American History. But the ones I included from the 20th century (Samantha, Ruth, Kit, Molly, and Julie) would all be in Core E (the second half of American history), so she wouldn’t be rereading them again for two years.

I hope this list might be helpful if anybody else wants to do the same!

Military life

Emily said something today that gave me pause. She said, “Mommy, why are we planting a garden? Won’t we just have to leave it behind when we move again? What if the new owners don’t take care of my poor baby lima bean plants?” She was close to tears. Before I could respond, she added, “Maybe we could put all the plants in pots to take with us?”

We are actually supposed to be in this location for 2-4 years, so we’ll definitely have time to plant and harvest a garden at least a few times, and of course just wouldn’t plant if we were going to leave before the harvest. But there are no guarantees in military life, any more than in civilian life, and with military downsizing, there’s an even bigger chance that those 2-4 years may not be a guarantee.

I reassured her about the garden for now, but this got me thinking.

Whenever I get a military discount or hear people saying things like, “Thank you for your service” or about “the sacrifices made by military families,” I always feel a little embarrassed. Fact is, my husband is an engineer. He’s never been deployed, and even when he is, he probably won’t be on the front lines. I feel like a bit of a faker in getting discounts or thanks from people when my husband’s life has never been on the line, more than any average civilian job.

But today, Emily’s comment got me thinking. I found myself thinking that, in some ways, we *have* had to make sacrifices, and maybe there’s more to the “sacrifices of a military family” than just risking life and limb overseas. In the 4.5 years since my husband joined the military, we’ve moved 5 times and lived in 3 different states. That’s not including the 6 weeks we were in Alabama in a hotel room, with the girls sleeping on mats in the closet, cutting off adult access to the bathroom during the night. That was for training, and the girls and I could certainly have stayed home, but we’ve made it a priority to stay together as much as possible.

With all those moves, we’ve been in locations anywhere from 6 months to almost 2 years. It really takes a toll on our friendships. The kids haven’t really been able to develop deep relationships, because it takes time to get involved and to meet kids and then to develop specific relationships… time we haven’t had. Same with us adults. My husband has a few friends who have worked in multiple places/moved with him, which helps, but it’s hard for him, too. And I’ve had trouble making mom friends because, well, it’s hard to find time to get involved, meet people, get to know individual people, hit it off, get up the nerve to start talking outside of whatever the activity is, etc. And usually by then, I’m gone.

Many of the people I’ve met are now my friends on Facebook, and ironically I’ve gotten to know some of them more through FB than I ever did when we were in person together, just because of time.

Facebook is not without its perils, though. When I move on, I get to see posts about happenings in church, or homeschool groups, or just from friends, and I’m sad to see all the great stuff they’re doing that I’m no longer part of.

I’m starting, yet again, the hard work of finding friends in a new place. I’ve joined a homeschool co-op with the girls, and I really enjoy talking to some of the other moms there. We have something in common right from the start (homeschooling), so maybe deeper friendships will develop.

Unfortunately, two of the moms I really enjoy talking to mentioned the other day (separately) that they are looking to move soon. One not too far (next state over), but another to Texas. It feels like a flashback to last summer, when I made friends with another mom who I really enjoyed spending time with, only for her to move to another state and me left to start over again. Both of these moms mentioned the tendency of people to pull back from friendships when you mention that you’re moving, and I know I’ve experienced the same, so I won’t do it to them. But still, I’d like to start a friendship with somebody who I might actually be able to continue to see for a year, at least.

Moving is tough. I like the adventure of starting over in a new place, but the relationships are hard. So, you know what? I don’t think I’ll feel quite so guilty next time I get a 10% discount at the kids’ consignment shop. Because it’s the 5th kids’ consignment shop I’ve shopped at in the last 5 years and I’m tired of looking for new ones, and maybe there is something to this whole “sacrifices that military family members make” thing, after all.

But I’ve heard being a pastor’s wife is even harder, with about as many moves but no discounts. Sorry, pastors’ wives!

Preschool and pre-k books for 2014!

By the time I had finished listing out (with pictures for once!) all of our books for Emily (in first grade) and the programs we’re doing together, I was too tired to get around to posting the last few pictures.  So, here’s an overview of what my preschooler (Charlotte) and pre-kindergartner (Jenny) will be doing this year.

First, these are the core books for Jenny for pre-k.  These are books that I’ll be reading aloud.  Some of the books are missing (I’d had a stack of books that I’d just finished reading out, and when the kids cleaned the room they stuck them elsewhere on the bookshelf, so they missed the picture.


There’s a nice mix of more advanced picture books with some chapter books in which each chapter tells a different story (so no need to follow a plotline from day to day).  So far she seems to be doing fairly well with them.  She wasn’t thrilled about Uncle Wiggily the first day we started it (“No pictures!  I don’t want to read a book without any pictures!  There has to be a picture on EVERY page!”), but after the first story or so, she warmed up to it.

She is definitely very, very sensitive, though.  Almost every day has her practically in tears over something or other.  Animals or children getting hurt in the *slightest* will really set her off.  And it doesn’t even take that.  The other day, I was telling my mom my disappointment when I realized that I’d forgotten at a restaurant that I’d bought a sandwich to take home with me, and I’d thrown it away when I threw away the other trash.  She overheard, and started crying, “Poor sandwich!  It doesn’t get to be eaten???  Poor, poor sandwich!”  Real tears, people.  This is definitely my sensitive one.  I was thinking to do Core A with her next fall, but… we’ll see.  They’ve toned it down a bit, I know, but it may still be too much for her.  If need be, I could reorganize P4/5 by geography and do it with Charlotte, and combine Jenny in with her.  Doing it geographically would vary it up a bit, and I could use some of the other geography stuff from when when we did geography this past year.  She might need that extra time before she’s ready for Core A.

Jenny also has several workbooks this year.


Her favorite is the Developing the Early Learner books (we don’t appear to have book 3, so I’ll have to buy one when she gets close).  She’s zooming through those.  She likes to call them her seatwork, since Emily has seatwork, and she really likes the activities.  She’s way ahead on those versus the rest of the core (except the Berenstain Bears book, she’s ahead on that as well).  I actually just found the logic book again, so I’ll have to try her with that again sometime, as it’s been a while.  It’s a little complicated because I have to read it to her, and she needs a lot of help working through it.  The Earlybird Kindergarten Math is her main math book.  She’s not generally a huge fan, but she does well with it.  I keep meaning to start Rightstart Math with her, as I have all the stuff, I just a) don’t always seem to have the time, and b) don’t seem to think about it when I *do* have the time.

Next is reading.



We’re using All About Reading to teach reading.  Jenny is on level 2.  We’re actually taking a short break from AAR, as she was getting to the point where she really just needed more practice with the things she’d already learned, and for more of the really easy stuff to become sight words, before moving on.  So we’re actually running through the IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing) program PAL (Primary Art of Language).  I’m not generally a huge fan of its structure, but it teaches things in a different order and from a different angle from AAR, and so it’s reasonably complementary as a second program.  I’m not sure if we’ll go all the way through it and then go back to AAR, or just do it for a little while, or what.  I’ll see how it seems to be working.

Along with that, I’m having Jenny practice reading a bunch of Dr. Seuss books.  She’s getting more fluent and sounding out fewer words, which is good.  Not only does it mean that she’s seen the words enough to remember them, but it helps her read faster and understand more, which makes reading less of a chore.  She’s definitely getting more and more interested in reading.  The other day, she wanted to read a picture book we’d gotten at the library (“Mrs. Chicken and the Crocodile”) which wasn’t even intended to be an early reader.  She did really well.  I needed to help her here and there, but she read most of it.  These are some of the Dr. Seuss books that she’s reading.



She’s also been reading books from the library, like Biscuit books and some easy Caillou books.  I think I might see if they have Elephant and Piggie, as those are a lot of fun.  I don’t think these will last her a whole year, although it really depends on exactly when a kid starts to take off.  I think she’s getting really close to that, though, based on how quickly she’s suddenly progressing from sounding every word out to know tons of words by sight and doing well with sounding out words she doesn’t know.  Such an exciting time!

Charlotte is doing Core P3/4.  We’re doing it fairly casually, usually I just grab a book and read a story from it each day before starting Jenny’s P4/5.  I find it easiest to keep using the same book until we’ve read all the stories in that, so right now we’re reading the Richard Scarry book, which they both like.



I’ll probably do the Mike Mulligan and McCloskey books near the end, when she’s getting closer to 4, because they are definitely the slowest and hardest of the books here.  We’ve already read Madeline a few times, as it’s apparently a favorite.  And that Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics?  It is practically falling apart, it gets so much use.  It is probably the absolute favorite children’s book we own.  It’s much better than the other big compilation, the “20th Century Children’s Book Treasury,” because that one eliminates a lot of the pictures and shrinks the ones it keeps, and is just not nearly as good.

Charlotte doesn’t really have any workbooks yet, but I’ve been having her do some of the “Letter of the Week” activities from “Confessions of a Homeschooler.”  She likes those a lot.  We’ve done A-D, I think.  I need to get more of those printed and ready for her.  We’re also going through All About Reading pre-level 1 (not sure why I didn’t think to take a picture of that one).  It’s the precursor to the program the older girls are doing, and it teaches the letters and their sounds, plus other important pre-reading skills like rhyming, breaking apart words into sounds, etc.

And that’s basically it for this year!  We’re having fun, hope you are, too!