Summer Learning/Boy Books

Almost every year I've had a small easy plan for the kids to keep their brains "warm" all summer long.  Some summers we have started strong and eased up, which is ok, and others I just didn't have the energy to add it to my things "to do".  This summer I made sure Andrew (13) and Patrick (9) had a plan.  

In the past I've used Summer Bridge books.  I wanted to make learning more personal this year so I asked Andrew what he would like to do.  He is reading the entire Harry Potter series  (I really wanted him to finish the vocab book that came home almost unused but we made a trade-off.)  He's been wanting to read them all again, but didn't have time during school.  He has a book light and reads before he falls asleep.  I also found this short language lesson that he is doing every day in Spanish.  I would LOVE to add one other daily short video lesson (history or Catholicism?) for him, if you have any suggestions let me know please!

For this guy, we picked out a bunch of books-he has told me he likes biographies, or fiction or fact about dogs.  I went to work and found some of our old favorites and new ones too.  A workbook is NOT a way to this kid's heart, so I went the heart route (except with math.)

We are reading these great books together (just finished Henry Ford and loved it).  I read one chapter, he reads another.  

We've always loved Who Was books:

Who Was (Is)-

Childhood of Famous Americans-another favorite around here:

I also bought this book for him to read at night by himself.  It's hard for to find books at his level to read on his own without struggling and that aren't silly.  This one is great so far, I'm on the lookout for more like this.

For writing work, we are taking his favorite book ever, and choosing a dog, drawing a picture, and writing 3-4 factual sentences about the dog in a blank book I bought at Target a couple years ago that summarize the dog's traits.

I originally bought this math book that a friend suggested to me (and I really do like-the pace it moves and practice it gives is perfect for us) but we took a small break to finish the next one and really practice math facts.

So far this has been great. It introduces "tiers" very slowly and with a little "trick" to teach each number.  Math facts are so easy for some kids to learn and so hard for others.  For me, they were torturous.  I still remember standing in the living room with my dad or mom while they flashed me cards and it would take me so long.  I didn't have the memory or concentration for it and it just stressed me out so much I couldn't think straight.  I hate flashcards to this day-and math.  I just read a very interesting theory on math required to be done quickly and how that creates math hatred and is unnecessary how some of the smartest mathematicians work very slowly and struggled with timed tests.  Our school doesn't do that and uses a very different math program that I love (and would have helped me understand as a child), but they still need to know facts of course as we move on to multiplication.


  1. I am taking note, Sarah. Thanks for sharing your experience with the books. It's interesting how each child has his/her own learning algorithm. What is your preferred place to buy books?

    Do you think "Two Plus Two Is Not Five" will be accessible to a 4.5 year old? It sounds from the description like it might be.

    1. Yes! So far it is slow and repetitious-first tier is just 0, 1's and some doubles. I think it would be a good match along with materials (blocks, marbles etc) to show what what addition and subtraction is. My only thought would be the number of problems on the page might be overwhelming? And of course they'd have to know how to write all their numbers. (Janey could never do this and she will be 5 in August.)

    2. Thanks so much, Sarah. That helps! It sounds like a great resource, I think it will be perfect for the summer.

  2. Lives of Saints
    Mary Fabyan Windeatt
    Tan books
    Great books for young readers. I enjoyed them myself.

  3. Also...
    My youngest 3, ages 11,10 and 5, love Glory Stories CDs found at holyheroes.com. Weve had the whole set for a few years now and they still listen to them over and over. In fact my 10yo son falls asleep to the John Paul II story every night.

  4. I forgot about those "Who was" books! My younger kids would like those! Thanks!

  5. I homeschool my 3 boys and we use Sonlight. It is a Christian literature based program. One of aspects I love most about the program, is the excellent literature selection based on grade. You can access the booklist on the website and is an excellent resource.

  6. Sarah, you should look at "addition facts that stick" by Kate Snow (who also has a cool math inspired blog). There is also a subtraction one and maybe more? Really simple concept of using a ten square counter image with a simple fun game to back up the concept. I was like you in math...and I am kind of mad now as I do this with my kids that no one ever showed me this trick because I suddenly get it. My three kids, 9-8-7 have easily caught on and memorized these things like I never did...and it is so simple. Might like it!

  7. I've recently discovered the books written by Clyde Robert Bulla are perfect early chapter books for boys! We haven't read them all but have enjoyed Sword in the Tree, Riding the Pony Express, and Three Dollar Mule. They are full of adventure, but not overwhelming in length or scope.