What My Third Grader is Reading These Days

One of the many great things about homeschooling a whole bunch of kids is that you never have to worry about if what you buy is actually going to get used.  If it doesn’t get used by the person it’s intended for, it will undoubtedly get used by one of them!  With seven children, we have lots of opportunities for things to get used.

I’m still running around like mad trying to make some headway through purging all my “stuff.”  We’ve started the search for a new-to-us house to live in, and I know there’s no way my husband is going to lug all my “stuff” from this house into the next.  And, really, we could live without a lot of it. 

One of the things I came across while trying to purge was a box of Landmark history books I had bought on Ebay years ago.  I was in route to take it out to the storage cabin when I realized Andres just might be interested in them.  Landmark history books were originally published by Random House mostly in the 1950s and cover a wide variety of historical topics, mostly biographies.  To see the complete list of books in the Landmark series, visit http://sevenpillarsbooknook.blogspot.com/2009/12/series-landmark-random-house.html.   Some of the well-known authors in this series are:

As I recall, Trinity was less than enthusiastic about reading these books, but now she swears she read them all. 

As I thumbed through them after all these years, I was impressed once again by the clarity and quality of the writing.  The vocabulary and word size is perfect for upper elementary students.  Andres, in third grade, can read these easily; granted, he is an advanced reader.  The jacket cover of  Wild Bill Hickok Tames the West by Stewart H. Holbrook (how’s that for a catchy title?) explains, “Most boys and girls in Grade 6 can read this book themselves.  Those in Grades 5 to 12 will find it interesting.” 

And it’s not just the Landmark series that captures history so well.  There are several other series published around that time that are of equal quality.  I found several mixed in with our Landmarks. 

Andres’ first choice was Chief Black Hawk by Frank L. Beals.  It was originally published in 1943 by Harper and Row in the American Adventure Series.  Andres read the 250 pages in two days, without any prodding, and then he was back digging in the book box looking for  the next one. 

I just checked over on Ebay and they are selling used Landmark books in sets for about $2 a piece.  Some of the titles have been republished and are available new.

Whether your children are homeschooled, public schooled, unschooled or private schooled, invest in these books, especially for your boys who need an alternative to the dark side of modern literature.  These are the kinds of books that show up at book sales, thrift stores and garage sales for cheep, cheep, cheep.  They books are full of adventure, seasoned with just the right amount of drama and background, heavy on character and heavy on action.  Remember, they were written in the 1950s, before children’s appetites were influenced by modern television and literature, back when truth was valued more than political correctness.  These books are all about the stories and the people who lived them out.  It’s just icing on the cake that these are history books and not fiction or even historical fiction. 

Cheers to good literature and to the children who read it.



Ten Little Indians – Free PECs Song Board

Noah learned the difference between little and big months ago, but I’m finding it so important to review his learned concepts with him to make sure he is transferring his knowledge and is remembering what he is learning.  This can be a real challenge for our little guy due to his Down syndrome.

Since we’re spending a lot of time these days learning to count, 10 Little Indians is the perfect song for us to make a PEC song board for, since it has all the numbers 1-10 AND the word little in it.  Of course Noah insists we share it with you.  🙂

This was made on Picto-Selector (http://www.pictoselector.eu/), a free Microsoft Windows application.  (If you’re into PECs, you’ve gotta check out their website – it’s for your own good – I promise!!!!)  Click on the thumbnail for a printable PDF of Ten Little Indians in PECs.

Some ideas for using this activity:

  1. Print out PECs and point to (and have your child point to) the 1 card as you say one, the 2 card as you say two, all the way to 10.
  2. Sing the Ten Little Indian song with your child, pointing to each PEC as you come to it in the song.  If your child isn’t following along naturally, use hand-over-hand assistance.
  3. Cut apart the PECs and use a story board and Velcro dots on the back of the PECs to create a sequencing activity.  Your child can start with sequencing the number PECs in order.  Then try talking through the song, having your child find and place the appropriate PEC on the story board in order.  When the board is complete, go back and sing your way through the song, again pointing as you get to each PEC.

Free PECS for Children’s Songs

To celebrate back-to-school week, here is a free set of song choice PECs for your little ones.  There are free single card PECs for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; Alphabet Song; 5 Little Ducks; Jesus Loves Me; I Love You (Barney Song); 10 Little Indians; Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes; Oh Be Careful Little Eyes; B-I-B-L-E; The Wheels on the Bus; Baa Baa Black Sheep; Row, Row, Row Your Boat; If You’re Happy and You Know It; 5 Little Monkeys; and Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Song Choices

These are great for preverbal and early verbal children who enjoy singing.  In using these, make sure you say the words that go along with the PECs; don’t just point or allow your child to point without at least you adding the spoken words.   A few ideas for using these (laminate for durability):

  1. Leave song choice sheets intact and tell your child which song you are going to sing.  Ask your child to find the picture that correlates with the song you’ve chosen.  (Go over each PEC with your child before your first session.)
  2. Leave song choice sheets intact and ask your child to point to the song they want to sing (or they want you to sing to them).  If your child is nonverbal, say the words below each PEC as they point.  If they are verbal, have them say the words if willing.
  3. Cut out PECs (make sure to include the words) and use Velcro dots on the back of each PEC.  Using a PEC story board (a laminated piece of cardstock with Velcro strips running lengthwise), have your child line up 4-5 Song Choices PECs in any order on the story board.  Start at first PEC on story board, and sing the song with the child in the order they were placed.  As one song is finished, remove it from the board and go on to the next PEC.

Need PECs for specific songs?  Here are a couple PEC song boards I’ve made and posted:



and some free 5 Little Ducks Printables:

Free printable duck templates from www.dltk-teach.com and www.first-school.ws:

Let me know how these work for you and if there are other songs you need PEC boards for.   These boards were created on Pictoselector, a free downloadable PEC creator found at http://www.pictoselector.eu/.  Seriously, guys, no catch – this program is totally free.  Pass it on . . .