Archive for the ‘Curriculums and Other Homeschooling Resources’ category

Updated Edition of The Well-Trained Mind and Audiobook Versions of the Story of the World Series

September 9, 2009

One of our regular homeschooling patrons just alerted me that a new 10th anniversary edition of The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise was published in past May (ISBN: 9780393067088). This 814 page book explains the philosophy behind a Classical curriculum and provides a year-by-year outline on how to implement it. It’s a must-have for most collections. There are quite a number of homeschoolers using a Classical curriculum and even more who use some of it or are influenced by it.

This same patron also told me that there are audiobook versions of Susan Wise Bauer’s 4-volume The Story of the World series, a chronological history that takes readers (or, in this case, listeners) from ancient times through the present. If you can afford them, the books will be well-used in most collections, and I think the audiobooks will be a fine investment as well, something even some non-homeschooling families will find interesting.

For more information about Classical homeschooling, The Well-Trained Mind, and The Story of the World, visit The Well-Trained Mind website and Peace Hill Press.

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Homeschoolers and Poetry

September 10, 2008

Homeschoolers, teachers, and poetry lovers will appreciate Susan Thomsen’s Poetry Foundation article, “Home Appreciation,” about how homeschoolers are using poetry in their studies. The article includes recommended titles as well as suggestions for how to develop and nurture children’s interest in poetry. It also includes a few quotes from yours truly.

A Good Start: The Less-than-$150 Homeschooling Collection

April 28, 2008

Many librarians I speak to tell me that they don’t have much money to devote to serving homeschoolers and feel overwhelmed trying to figure out where to start. With that in mind, I offer you my Less-than-$150 Homeschooling Collection. These are books that span a wide variety of homeschooling needs and should circulate and prove useful for a good number of years. Prices are retail and links are to Amazon, although most of the books are available from several other sources.

Bailey, Guy. The Ultimate Homeschool Physical Education Game Book. Camas, WA: Educators Press, 2003. ISBN: 978-0966972740 ($19.95).

Bauer, Susan Wise, and Jessie Wise. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. New York: WW Norton, 2004. ISBN: 978-0393059274 ($39.95).

Cohen, Cafi. Homeschoolers’ College Admissions Handbook: Preparing Your 12- to 18-Year-Old for a Smooth Transition. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000. ISBN: 978-0761527541 ($17.95).

Duffy, Cathy. 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child’s Learning Style. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005. ISBN: 978-0805431384 ($21.99).

Field, Christine M. Homeschooling the Challenging Child: A Practical Guide. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005. ISBN: 978-0805430783 ($14.99).

Gathercole, Rachel. The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling. Denver: Mapletree Publishing Company, 2007. ISBN: 978-1600651076 ($14.95).

Holt, John. How Children Learn. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1995. ISBN: 978-0201484045 ($16.00).

Wittmann, Maureen. For the Love of Literature: Teaching Core Subjects with Literature. LaGrange, KY: Ecce Homo Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0979760907 ($12.95).

Updated Curriculum Kit Listing

March 6, 2008

We recently updated our list of curriculum kits available in the Monroe County Library System. I thought I’d post it here as a PDF in case it’s a help to any of you trying to design kits of your own.

Anatomy of a Curriculum Kit, Part 4: Processing and Circulating Kits

February 1, 2008

When I talk about curriculum kits, I get a lot of questions from librarians about how to process and circulate them. The best way to handle these issues is going to vary widely from situation to situation, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. That said, I’ll tell you some things I thought were imporant as we made decisions about processing at WPL:

1. Make the loan period for the kits at least as long as the loan period for books. The temptation is to give the kits a shorter loan period, one that might be more in line with the AV materials in the kit, but the kits contain a great deal of information and will take a family time to get through. If I could, I would make the standard loan period for these six weeks.

2. Make sure the packaging is up to the job. We’re using the hanging bags from Janway that you see in the photo for our kits. They’re working out so far, but there is A LOT of weight in those bags. Sometimes I wish we had put them in clear plastic boxes, but I think the expense and amount of room they would have taken up would have been prohibitive.

3. Put a label on the kit that clearly lists each item in the kit in a large font. If you want to keep the kits complete, you should make it as easy as possible for patrons and staff to figure out what’s supposed to be in them.

4. Think of the patrons who will be searching for the kits when you create titles and catalog records. We titled all of our kits “Subject Kit–X,” so that when patrons do a title search on “Subject Kit,” they’ll wind up with an alphabetical listing of all the subject kits. We also created a couple of brochures patrons can access in print or electronically, one that lists just the titles/grade levels, and one that lists all the contents of every kit.

If that doesn’t answer all of your burning questions, feel free to post a question or two in the comments. I’ll be happy to respond.

Anatomy of a Curriculum Kit, Part 3: Resources to Help You Pull It Together

January 19, 2008

Selecting materials to create kits in subject areas you may or may not know much about can be a challenge. You can feel free to copy our kits, but I’d bet a fair number of the items we chose are already out of print. Here are some resources I’ve found helpful when designing curriculum kits.

Children’s Catalog
I can see the possibilities in the electronic edition, but I’ve only ever used the paper version with the red cover. Browsing the call number areas and perusing the index is a great way to remember books you’ve forgotten or to identify books you didn’t know about subjects that aren’t covered widely. I’ve also found this to be a helpful way to identify subjects and subtopics for kits.

Best Books for Children by Catherine Barr and John T. Gillespie
Best Books for Children contains many more books than Children’s Catalog and can be helpful in much the same ways.

Library Video
Library Video sells educational videos to schools and libraries. They have some interesting films, and you can search their catalog online by topic and age/grade level. Many of their titles are reviewed by journals such as SLJ and Video Librarian.

Midwest Tape
Midwest’s search feature isn’t as helpful as Library Video’s if you’re searching by subject, but it’s still good. Midwest has an excellent selection, and we’re big fans of their customer service at WPL.

Lakeshore Learning Materials
This is where we found a lot of the manipulatives that enhance our kits: dominoes, play money, magnifying glasses, etc. Their prices are reasonable and their quality is decent.

Being part of the Monroe County Library System, we have a shared catalog that lets me search the holdings of all the public libraries in the county at once. Most libraries are part of a system like this, and it’s an excellent way to identify materials you may not be familiar with. As a bonus, if a library in your system owns something, you can take a look at it.  Personally, I find this tremendously helpful when there aren’t any reviews or the reviews are conflicting (which is so often the case, particularly with non-book materials). And, of course, don’t forget your colleagues in youth services. Other youth services librarians can be the most useful resource of all.

In our next installment, “Anatomy of a Curriculum Kit, Part 4,” we will explore issues surrounding processing and circulating your new kits.

Anatomy of a Curriculum Kit, Part 2: Deciding Which Topics to Cover

January 12, 2008

Once you’ve decided to create curriculum kits, your first priority will be figuring out what topics to cover. Here are some things to consider:

  • What is the homeschooling community looking for? You may want to gather information through surveys or focus groups. Curriculum kits are a significant investment of time and money, so you want to make sure they’re going to be used.
  • How much money do you have to spend? Use this to figure out how many kits you’d like to create and how much money you have to spend per kit.
  • Do you want to make kits focusing on one broad subject area, such as math or language arts, or do you want to design kits for several subject areas?
  • What age ranges will your kits be geared toward?

Use the answers to these questions to draw up a list of the topics you’d like to cover, and then you can start designing. Sometimes you may find that there an overwhelming number of great materials on your topic or too many books that are too general because your topic is too broad. In that case, you may want to think about changing that big topic into two or three more specific topics. On the flip side, you may find that you’re having trouble making a complete, interesting kit because your topic is too narrow or a topic that hasn’t been covered widely. In that case, you may want to broaden the topic in some way.

As an example, let’s consider the subject of division. Try looking for a wide variety of high-quality elementary-level materials on division that are currently in print. You won’t find many. There are quite a few materials available on multiplication, though, so you might want to consider combining multiplication and division in one kit. Personally, I think it’s better to adjust the subject to ensure the quality of the kit than to pad a kit with materials that are sub-par.

In our next installment, “Anatomy of a Curriculum Kit, Part 3,” we’ll be discussing resources I’ve found helpful when designing curriculum kits for WPL.