2019’s Books and More

I posted earlier this month about what our homeschool core curricula were going to be for 2019.
Today I will share the full list of different books we will be using in our two core language based curricula – Build Your Library and Bravewriter. To make it helpful for you I’ve split them in to their different learning areas, and provided a key for the tags at the end of each title.

BYL GRADE 4 – The Modern World

Build Your Library Website

A – Audible
K – Kindle
L – Library


  • The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Volume 4: The Modern Age
  • Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun (K)
  • Fields of Fury: The American Civil War
  • Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companion
  • Gandhi
  • Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy (K)


These are books that I will be reading aloud to the kids.

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • The Twenty-One Balloons
  • From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (A)
  • Nory Ryan’s Song
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • The Singing Tree
  • Angel on the Square
  • When My Name Was Keoko
  • Redwall  (A)
  • Because of Winn-Dixie (L)
  • Shooting Kabul


These are the books that the kids will be reading.  Master Oh may skip some of these, we will see how his year progresses.

  • The Capture (Guardians of Ga’hoole, Book 1) (L)
  • James and the Giant Peach (L)
  • Bull Run
  • Rodzina
  • Stuart Little (L)
  • The Toothpaste Millionaire
  • Maggie’s Door
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • The Water Horse (L)
  • Number the Stars (L)
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes 
  • The Borrowers (L)
  • Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.?
  • The School Story
  • Journey to Jo’burg: A South African Story


  • Knock at a Star: A Child’s Introduction to Poetry


  • The New Way Things Work (L)
  • 10 Inventors Who Changed the World (L)
  • The Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia


  • Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters
  • The Usborne Introduction to Art


Bravewriter Website

As you can see there is A LOT of crossover between the books studied here and those we will be or have just read as part of our BYL curriculum.  We will marry up the Arrow to the time of year when we are reading the book as part of BYL.   I can’t tell you how happy I am that they are this well aligned.  The amount of reading it saves!

  • Aug: Penderwicks at Last
  • Sep: Redwall
  • Oct: Mary Poppins
  • Nov: Journey to Jo’burg
  • Dec: Because of Winn Dixie
  • Jan: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
  • Feb: Freedom Train
  • Mar: Harriet the Spy
  • Apr: By the Great Horn Spoon
  • May: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Money

For the full range of curricula, for two kids we are looking at ~NZ$500.

This splits down into:

Book Depository:  $296 – $15 affiliate rebate = $281
Kindle: $29
Pandia Press: ~$60 for Earth and Space; $23 for The Stargazer’s Notebook.
My Pals Are Here! Maths – 3A & B: $54
My Pals Are Here! Maths – 5A & B: $48

This could have been reduced if I had spent the time to hunt for secondhand books, but frankly my time trying to find them would probably outweigh the savings.

I hope you found that interesting.

2019 Homeschool Curricula

What does 2019 hold in store for us here at the Patch?

As we have done over the past two years, we will be having a mix and match of curricula so that we touch on all of the core basic learning areas with the kids and that’s what I’ll detail for you today.  We may add in extras throughout the year, depending on how we’re doing with the workload of this central core.  As most of the work can be accomplished during the morning, that leaves the afternoons for the kids’ own interests or general play / downtime.

Note: rather than do one level of learning for each child we go for the middle ground, with the exception of maths, and we adjust expectations for each child based on their skill set.

The Curricula

Build Your Library (BYL) : Grade 4 – The Modern World
It covers history, literature, poetry, science and art.

Bravewriter: Arrow
We are currently mid-stream with this.  It’s an annual subscription that runs with the US school year.  It covers the mechanics of writing as studied from good works of children’s literature.  There’s A LOT of crossover between the books used in the 2019 Bravewriter Arrow and those recommended in BYL.

Your Pals Are Here! Maths
This is a Singaporean maths series.  It is supposedly used in many of their schools and I’ve found it to be pretty solid and not excessive in the amount of work required of the kids.  This year they will be doing 3A & B, and 5A & B.

RSO Earth & Space – Level 1
This is a secular* science curriculum out of the US.  It covers the earth sciences and astronomy.  We may add in “The Stargazers Notebook”, which is a year long study of the sky.  It depends on how our time and energy goes.


We may also look at doing “Bravewriter Jot It Down” for creative writing since  I’d really like to encourage Master Oh’s creativity to come out in some form of writing and this may be the best way to get him moving on it.

There will also be the ongoing tutoring to assist with Master Oh’s probable dyslexia.  Perhaps some use of Nessy and other apps that can reinforce the learning we will be working through.
And for variety we will probably dip in and out of Khan Academy as we need a break from our regular programme.
There may be extracurricular items as well, but they will probably come later in the year and I’ll post about any changes as we go.

As always, we try to be flexible and adapt to changing needs.  What seems like a good idea today may turn out to be a horrible idea in a month or two.  Watch this space for any updates.

I will be writing another post with a full listing of the books we will be using this year, along with an approximate cost for all of the year’s core curricula and resources.

Here’s to a fantastic range of learning happening in 2019 !

* I note this as secular as it’s a bit of an issue when you use curricula out of the USA.

As I’ve learned from their online secular community, a lot of the curricula available are considered “neutral” so they can be sold to people whose faith does not agree with the concept of evolution. So they skirt the subject, ignore the subject or explain it as “one theory” while giving a faith based “theory” the same platform.  That, obviously, wouldn’t suit us.

History here we come

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.17.24 pmStarting tomorrow we are giving a new history curriculum a run-through.

We did try out a Classical option earlier but found that it wasn’t a really good fit for us. Between the age that the kids were when we tried it and my completely unrealistic expectations of what and how home education would work for us, it turned out to be the first thing to drop from our lives.

Now, however, I have finally figured out that the best way to get ‘learning’ in to my children is to sneak it in, in small doses and with as much fun as I can manage to cram in.  And to be completely relaxed about the whole process as well.

This time around I am giving a secular Charlotte Mason curriculum it’s opportunity.  Hopefully I’m also more aware of what is a reasonable expectation from my kids and their ages, so we are slightly less likely to founder on the rocks so quickly. I already had the two main books that form the spine of the curriculum, so even better from the planning & purchasing point of view.

For this round of learning about the ‘Ancients’ we will be doing lots of colouring in, listening to information and if I can find something on YouTube or Netflix, watching documentaries too.  I’ve also learned to not put pressure on the kids or myself.  I will happily do all of the reading and writing, rather than impose my expectation on them to do that (or parts of that for Master Oh).  Flowing with their interest and skill level is going to be key to following a full curriculum like this, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to introduce history on an ongoing basis.

I’ve printed out the first lesson’s worth of pictures and text and will be reading sections to go with that.  The kids can colour in the pictures while I’m reading.  I’ve even made the pockets out of A3 paper I had on hand and there’s even some washi tape getting in on the act.  (Only because Miss Oh hates staples after she opened a birthday present that stabbed her mercilessly.  Ah the trials of being young! )

For the record, the curriculum we’re going to use is History Odyssey – Ancients Level One from Pandia Press.  I really liked the fact that the owner seems to have a sense of humour (read their explanations of eBook over printed and the cost of the curriculum soapbox explanation) and that they were willing to let me (and you) have access to a decent chunk of the lessons to help decide if it looked right for us.  If we find that this works well for us, then I may consider their science curriculum too, but that’s a decision for later as we have basic science stuff that will see us through a few more months.

So… do you follow a curriculum?  If so, what and why?

As an eclectic home educator I’m really interested in the choices people make and why.  On a personal level, I love to research and look in to the different options I can present to my kids to keep their minds open and growing, so feel free to go to town with your comments if you have something you love.

Quote of the Week

Just because I love it so much.  It makes me smile or laugh every time I think about it or hear it.

“You don’t think of Shakespeare being a child, do you?
Shakespeare being seven? He was seven at some point.
He was in somebody’s English class, wasn’t he?
How annoying would that be?”

– Sir Ken Robinson

Phan Ku

As I mentioned yesterday, we have started working through some creation stories, Bursting From The Hen’s Egg and Spider Ananse Finds Something.

The first of these is about Phan Ku and comes from China.  We went over this a couple of times yesterday, and Miss Oh struggled to concentrate on the story enough to be able to relate back the events in her own words.  So after leaving it overnight we had another, relaxed, morning of revisiting this story.  I chose to work more on getting her to draw Phan Ku, which she did.

Here are the three sheets she produced about this story.  The first is the sheet provided, and includes a section where you can write things your child tells you they remember or like about the work.  Or, if they are writing on their own, where they can write about the story.
Above that you can see a square to allow for illustration, which Miss Oh enjoyed doing.  She described all the aspects as she drew them – Phan Ku’s horns, tusks, his chisel and his breath (that’s the funny little dotted line on the left and around the bottom of his chisel).  The image in the middle is one she did yesterday of Phan Ku.  And the one on the right is the Egg with Phan Ku inside the small squiggles that are the egg cracking and the squiggly lines around the egg is the “bursting out” that is happening.

Phan Ku

So I think tomorrow we will move on to Spider Ananse and do the same for that story.  We will be following our own schedule for working through the suggested curriculum, but that’s just fine by me.  After all, that is one of the main points of choosing to homeschool – working at the kids’ pace.

Some things I’ve learned today:

– we will try to work at the table until her concentration level is good enough to work wherever.
– we will work specifically on her handwriting from now on rather than just letting her write as and when she wants.  But only in short bursts.
– Master Oh can work quite happily with the Montessori apps on the iPad while Miss Oh is listening or drawing.  An hour should be possible.
– I am very impatient at the moment and that was coming out in my approach to “teaching” this lesson.   I learned my own lesson yesterday.

So tomorrow we will move ourselves into the creation stories of Africa.  I can’t wait to see what sort of spider Ananse will turn out to be when he’s drawn.  And I will relax about what to expect Miss Oh to be capable of doing from now on.

Remind me – whose learning journey is this again?

Classical Education – First Steps

Well, we are going to dip our toes into the waters of a Classical Education this week.
With the help and assistance of the Ancients downloadable curriculum from Classical House of Learning we are starting off with a variety of Creation Myths/Stories.

So today we read about Phan Ku* and Ananse.  A giant with horns and tusks, and a wily spider.

I will need my patience hat on, that much is clear.  Due to the recent sickness we seem to have lost our ability to concentrate following on from a super dose of television watching / recovery.  Thankfully, in a roundabout sort of way, I am unable to source the suggested reading book for the second week so we will perhaps just take a bit longer going through more than the myths/stories suggested.

I can also see that doing this may be difficult with a three year old fidgeting away next to us.  The problem is – he will not want to be excluded, and I am doubtful of any meaningful distraction too.  Oh well, no one said this journey was an easy one.  My intelligence and versatility will surely be tested.

So what Creation stories have you read to your children?

* It’s quite interesting to see the differences between the version in our library book and the wikipedia entry.  I’m sure my eyes would spin up into the back of my head if I tried to reconcile all the variations.  🙂

Classical Education

I’ve always been interested in the idea of my children coming to know the classical world and gaining an understanding of where our cultures originate from.  That is most probably down to the prehistorian/anthropologist in me.
So when this nice link to a pre-planned curriculum of classical education came across my Facebook groups (thanks to Darnia) I went along for a look.

I really liked the fact that so much of the basic legwork had been done for me.
I really appreciated that I wouldn’t necessarily need to go and hunt out good children’s versions of many classics.  In fact, looking through the book lists made me realise just how little I was aware of the children’s versions of stories and classical literature that I personally only first learned about when I was in my late teens as a university student.

I’m hooked.  As part of our eclectic learning style I am going to try and incorporate some of this into our days.  I don’t intend it to be onerous and I am hopeful that by making it relate to other things, like geography and the current Olympic games, that it will be taken on board and enjoyed by both Miss and Master Oh Waily*.

Have you looked into a Classical Education for your children?   If so, what appealed or what put you off?

* there is very little chance of reading to one without the other wanting to be involved, especially as there are activities to do with each piece of reading.