LEX’S BOOK REVIEW: Spirit Animals: Book 1 Wild Born

Spirit Animals: Wild Born is a fantasy adventure book written by Brandon Mull. The story begins with a nectar ceremony. Four 11-year old kids had to drink some of the nectar and then there was a flash of light after they drank it. They see a wolf, a panda, a leopard, and a falcon. They realize that they have summoned the animals from legends.

img_7992Boys and girls both would enjoy this book. Animal lovers would definitely love it. The best thing about this book is that the spirit animals and the people work together to overcome the battles they face.

I’m exited there are 6 more books in the series to read. This book was a page-turning thriller and it got my attention quickly. I didn’t want it to end.

You can also play a game at Spirit Animals. I’m ready to play the game and summon my own spirit animal.

~Alexander age 9

If you would like to check out the entire series you can find them on Amazon.

Spirit Animals: Book 1: Wild Born

Spirit Animals: Book 2: Hunted

Spirit Animals: Book 3: Blood Ties

Spirit Animals: Book 4: Fire and Ice

Spirit Animals: Book 5: Against the Tide

Spirit Animals: Book 6: Rise and Fall

Spirit Animals: Book 7: The Evertree

Homeschool Year 2

IMG_7622August brought the start of our second year homeschooling. Honestly I can’t even believe that I am typing that. Our first year was a whirlwind of successes and failures. Most importantly, I feel I learned many years worth in such a short span of time, met more friends than I could have ever imagined and actually learned to love planning for school days. When God was pushing for us to homeschool and I was saying “NO NO NO!” I could never have imagined all the blessings this would have for our family. 

Last year I researched for months, bought tons of workbook-type curriculums that greatly resembled what public school education looked like to me, and started with a vision that my children would absolutely love the days of working through these workbooks. I laugh now because I have talked to so many first year homeschoolers that did the same thing.  We spent many days of me pointing fingers and telling my kids to hurry up and finish their workbooks. Until one day I realized that our homeschool didn’t have to look like a classroom at all.

5149+lKO66L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_A few months later I read Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace and was forever changed. I will probably read this short book every summer before planning our year. This year our days are peaceful (as peaceful as it can be with a 9, 7, and 4 year old). I threw out most of the workbooks (the only thing we kept was our math) and bought things that would allow me to sit down and work with my kids.

The difference in making them do work and doing work with them has made our homeschooling experience enjoyable again. When they write, I write. When they draw for art, I draw. I read to them. We do the nitty gritty work together and they are loving every minute of it because instead of investing in loads of curriculum I’ve decided to invest in time with them instead. We’ve put the “Hurry up and finish!” behind us and moved on to the “relax and learn”. It makes me happy this year to know that we are learning and not just completing.

First, we do a Morning Basket. This includes some of the things that we do together – like our daily devotion, Bible memory verses and any other family type activities. We also talk about our daily goals so that everyone has a fresh reminder of what is expected of them. This can really be anything. If we’ve had problems with being gentle with each other we might address that or whatever the problem may be. After we do our morning basket together, we move on to our other work.

{Stay tuned for Ridley’s Pre-K curriculum. I’ll post it soon}

We kept our Math Curriculum from last year because it worked so well. Last year my 9 year old did Teaching Textbooks 4 and half of 5. We started where he left off with 5 last year. At the pace he is working we will probably do year 5 and 6 during this school year. This is one of the many reasons I love homeschool. He is a math whiz. In most other subjects he is in 4th grade, but as homeschoolers we are able to go at his pace. My 7 year old started Teaching Textbooks 3 and is also working through Mathematical Reasoning, Level C: Developing Math & Thinking Skills. This book is from Critical Thinking Company and we simply adore it. There are so many critical thinking exercises in these books so we use it as a supplement to TT3.

5120629_origWe are using Cottage Press’ Primer 1  for my 7 year old and Brave Writer’s Partnership Writing and the Arrow for the 9 year old. We absolutely love the Brave Writer lifestyle and have adopted many of it’s practices. Dictation, Nature Study, Free Writing, Poetry Teatimes and Picture Study. I am simply amazed at how much our family has enjoyed this curriculum. Last time we went to the library my 4 year old said “Please don’t forget to get poetry books! We cannot miss Tea Time this week!!”. We also started using this little language book, Language Arts: Grade 2 (Flash Kids Harcourt Family Learning), to reinforce some language concepts that I felt like we weren’t getting enough of in Cottage Press. This book was only $6 and I think we’ve gotten more out of it than any workbook I’ve ever bought. 

Last year science was just a complete bust. The curriculum I bought was just not the right fit for us and it never went well. This year we went with Pandia Press Life and it so far is perfect for teaching to multiple age groups. The kids love the lab work but it isn’t super intensive for me to get together which means it will actually get done. I also bought a Scholastic Human Body book that we use to print out and make models and manipulatives. I ordered it on scholastic’s website and it is in pdf format which makes it super easy. I’ve also found that there are tons of kids health/biology videos on Youtube that are fantastic. Every once in a while I even put Mr. Good Body on. Who else remembers Mr. Good Body??? If you don’t, well, your childhood just wasn’t complete!  

We are also working on an art journal this year. We do two projects each week that include different concepts and projects that I’ve collected for some time now. I’ve found this method to work fantastic for us because everything is contained and the kids can quickly see how much they have accomplished (more to come on this later).

I’m saving the best for last: READING! We are a reading family. Every day each child has a few chapters of a book that is assigned with comprehension questions and a short writing assignment. Below are each child’s book list for this year. This is my 2nd graders first year for larger chapter books so I’m not sure if we’ll get through her list by the end of the school year or not and my 4th grader is a very quick reader so we may end up adding more to his list.

2nd Grade Reading List

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

Sarah, Plain and Tall 30th Anniversary Edition by Patricia MacLachlan

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Stuart Little by E. B. White

The Trumpet of the Swan (full color) by E. B. White

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

4th Grade Reading List

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston

The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha by Lloyd Alexander

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Amazon Classics Edition)by Mark Twain

The Iron Ring by Lloyd Alexander

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow (Living History Library) by Allen French

The Swiss Family Robinson (Puffin Classics) by Johann Wyss

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Cheaper by the Dozen (Perennial Classics) by Fran B. Gilbreth, Jr.

The Twenty-One Balloons (Puffin Modern Classics) by William Pene du Boise

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling


Stay tuned for more frequent updates on our homeschool progress.



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