Posted on

Homeschool Reading Curriculum for Kindergarten

homeschool reading curriculum for kindergarten

Looking for homeschool reading curriculum for your kindergartener?  Look no further than the Pathways to Reading Homeschool Basic Foundational Curriculum!  Research and evidence-based and adapted specifically for the homeschool setting!

Pathways to Reading Basic Foundational Reading Curriculum 1

When we decided to homeschool last year, I looked at about a zillion homeschool reading programs for my daughter.  As a former first grade teacher, I was PICKY with a capital P!  I knew I wanted something just like the curriculum I used when I taught.  So when I couldn’t find what I was looking for, that is exactly what I decided to do.  I asked permission from Pathways to Reading, since I had attended their week-long training back when I first started teaching, to purchase their curriculum and use it one-on-one with my daughter.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am for this decision.  My daughter grew so much as a reader this past year!!  Pathways to Reading has chosen to adapt their curriculum for homeschoolers!  Long story short, I have gotten to be part of the development of this adapted curriculum and it is AMAZING!


The BEST Homeschool Reading Curriculum for Kindergarten:

Pathways to Reading Homeschool is a foundational reading program for homeschoolers adapted from Pathways to Reading, a curriculum used in schools and clinical settings for the last 20 years.

  • Includes explicit and systematic instruction in all 5 reading pillars as identified by the National Reading Panel:
    • Phonemic Awareness
    • Phonics
    • Fluency
    • Vocabulary
    • Reading Comprehension

  • Emphasizes advanced phonemic awareness to aid in orthographic mapping (the process of creating a sight vocabulary where words are automatically recognized)
  • Rooted in the science of reading
  • Evidence-based with multiple research studies associated with school curriculum that show statically significant positive outcomes
  • Parent training, ongoing support, and supplemental videos to aid instruction


Orton-Gillingham Homeschool Curriculum

Pathways to Reading Homeschool adheres to the principles of Orton-Gillingham instruction, is multi-sensory and explicit in its approach towards phonemic awareness and phonics.  In addition, however, Pathways to Reading Homeschool offers advanced phonemic awareness to help students with reading difficulties, especially those with dyslexia.


Check it out now:

Facebook share 2



Posted on

Summer Reading BINGO for Older Kids (with a gigantic book list)

summer reading bingo for older kids with a gigantic book list

Summer Reading BINGO for older kids scaled e1620259913365


In an effort to get my boys (ages 13 and 11) to branch out of their literary ruts, I created this Summer Reading BINGO for Older Kids that includes several different genres to choose from.  I have one child who only wants to read sports biographies during his independent reading time and another child who just reads the same book over and over.  We normally do some type of summer reading incentive so I am excited to force them out of their comfort zones this year!  Our local library gives out a similar BINGO for adults during the summer but I thought it would be fun for tweens and teens as well.


I also feel like categorizing the type of book  a child is reading is helpful in many ways, as it helps create a framework that is beneficial for comprehension.


>>>>  Download the Summer Reading BINGO board here!  <<<<


Psst- if you are looking for summer reading suggestions for younger kids, be sure to check out these summer reading printables.


Summer Reading BINGO Book Suggestions

Genres in order from left to right, top to bottom on the BINGO board (links are affiliate links).

**denotes our family favorites


Picture Book Biographies

Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwanda and Bryan Mealer

The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barb Rosenstock

Florence Nightingale by Demi

The Oldest Student:  How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Through the Wardrobe:  How C.S. Lewis Created Narnia by Lina Maslo




**On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (and subsequent books in The Wingfeather Saga) by Andrew Peterson

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

The Scourge by Jennifer Nielsen

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Redwall by Brian Jacques



Book Based on a Video Game

Trapped in a Video Game series by Dustin Brady

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie by Zack Zombie



Science Fiction

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Shadow Cipher (York series) by Laura Ruby



Audio Book

**By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan



Graphic Novels

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley

**The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Marcia Williams

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale



Books of Poetry

**Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

Swimming Upstream:  Middle School Poems by Kristine O’Connell George



Adventure Novels

**The Bark of the Bog Owl by Jonathan Rogers

**The False Prince (and subsequent books in the Accendance series) by Jennifer Nielsen

Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner

Peak by Roland Smith

Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine by Caroline Starr Rose


Books of the Bible

Any book of the Bible will be great and although your child might choose the shortest (here’s looking at you, III John), here are a few that might be good places to start for tweens and teens:

Genesis, Luke, Acts, or Ephesians



Dystopian Novels

The obvious books that come to mind first are  The Hunger Games or Divergent.  However, these books can be pretty intense so if you aren’t ready for your child to read those books yet, here are some other options:

**The Giver by Lois Lowry

Sylo by D.J. Machale

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Dry by Near Shusterman (this is YA, not middle grade – there is some language and violence in this book so only appropriate for 13+, in my opinion)

The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert



Book About Science

How We Got to the Moon by John Rocco



Picture Books

Even big kids can learn something from a good picture book!

**Redcoats and Petticoats by Katherine Kirkpatrick

Dandelions by Eve Bunting

**Ronnie Wilson’s Gift by Francis Chan

**Go and Do Likewise  by John Hendrix


Sports Biographies/Fiction

I originally only had intended to have biographies but there are some fun historical fiction books about various baseball players that I think kids would really enjoy as well!

Epic Athletes: Patrick Mahomes by Dan Wetzel

The Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffee

Jackie and Me by Dan Gutman

Babe and Me by Dan Gutman

The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson



Realistic Fiction Novel

**The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

**Restart by Gordon Korman

Unplugged by Gordon Korman



Classic Literature

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Call of the Wild by Jack London



Chapter Book Biography

Who Was?  books on historical figures

The Story of All-Star Athlete Jim Thorpe by Joseph Bruchac

*End of the Spear by Steve Saint (please note:  this book includes several accounts of violence, only approrpriate for 13+)

Christian Heroes then and Now books



Historical Fiction Novel

**The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

**A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

**A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen

**Refugee by Alan Gratz

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry



Comic Book





**The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands



How-to Guide

Beginner’s Step-by-Step Coding Course by DK

How to Speak Chicken by Melissa Caughey




Nonfiction Historical Time Period or Event

Boys in the Boat by Gregory Mone

History:  From the Dawn of Civilization to the Present Day by Smithsonian Institute

**God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

**Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong



e**The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank


Travel Book

National Geographic:  Destinations of a Lifetime 

The Bucket List:  1000 Adventures Big and Small by Kath Stathers

Atlas Obscura:  An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders


IMG 3859

Posted on

The Tale of Despereaux Book Club Ideas

the tale of despereaux book club ideas

Looking for activities to go along with the book?  We’ve got you covered with these hands-on ideas to bring your next The Tale of Despereaux book club to life!

The Tale of Despereaux Book Club

We recently organized a Zoom book club for my first grade daughter and a few of her friends.  Obviously with our girls being only first graders, the moms read the book aloud to each of our daughters throughout the week.  We chose  The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo as our first book club book.


We read the book over a course of about 5 weeks or so and met each Tuesday on Zoom (due to the pandemic) for a little activity and to discuss the books.  We dropped off all the materials for the activity on the porches of each friend prior to the Zoom meeting.


This book club turned out to be so much fun, even though they aren’t currently meeting in person.  We will definitely be continuing for future books.  But here were some of the activities that the girls enjoyed doing while reading The Tale of Despereaux.  


To kick off our book club, I had a friend make these adorable cookies.  A mouse for Despereaux and an Eiffel Tower since the book is set in France.

IMG 2778


Activities to go along with the book The Tale of Despereaux

“Stained Glass” Window


Cheap 5×7 picture frames
Hot Glue and hot glue gun
Black hot glue OR black craft glue
Assorted colors of Sharpie markers

IMG 2785


During the first part of the book, Despereaux is attracted to the light and he is especially attracted to the beautiful, colorful light coming from the stained glass windows in the castle.  For this activity, I bought cheap 5×7 picture frames at the Dollar Tree and then hot glued the glass to the frame.  I then used black hot glue to make a stained glass design on the glass and the girls used Sharpies to color in each window compartment, but would probably just use the black craft glue next time as it would be easier to work with.  I thought the end result turned out to be so beautiful!!


Mouse Box


Small brown craft boxes from Dollar Tree
Various sizes of foam/felt/paper hearts to make Mouse Face and ears
Googly Eyes
Yarn for whiskers and tail

IMG 2896


We made this craft a few days before Valentine’s Day, hence the hearts used in the mouse (that can also double as a bunny…lol).  You just need a few different sizes of hearts in various colors.  You can use precut foam or felt hearts or just cut your own.  We cut a small piece of yarn for the whiskers but they were still too thick so we pulled apart the individual strands from the yarn piece and that worked perfectly.


Despereaux in the Dungeon Maze


Paper Plate
2 Small Magnets
Wooden Dowel Rod
Picture of a Mouse
Printable Maze or

This idea is originally inspired by The Stem Laboratory.  You can find step-by-step directions here and even a printable maze to print and glue onto your paper plate.  Please note:  the link leads to the maze only.  You will have to print your own picture of a mouse.

IMG 3177



Paint Your Own Pottery:  Despereaux, Princess Pea, and the Castle


Unfinished Pottery, Paint, and Paintbrushes from local store

fullsizeoutput 2c1e3


One of the other moms generously planned this activity and it was the PERFECT culmination for our book club!  She purchased each of these unglazed pottery pieces from a local paint-your-own-pottery business.  The kit included the paint and the brushes and then we just had to take the painted pottery back to the store to be fired and glazed.  They turned out SO cute and will be a fun memory of our book club that the girls can keep in their rooms!


IMG 3163


One thing we didn’t get to do was make soup!  Soup (or a lack thereof) was such a big part of the story and I wished we could have incorporated my potato soup recipe somehow!


Potato Soup




For our next book club, we have chosen the book Clementine so stay tuned for some fun activities!

Posted on

Beast Academy Review: Why We Switched from Singapore Math to Beast Academy

beast academy review why we switched from singapore math to beast academy

Beast Academy is a comprehensive math curriculum for grades 3-6 that focuses on problem solving and critical thinking.  Below you will find my Beast Academy Review and why we switched to this program!

Beast Academy Review Math Curriculum for Upper Elementary


When I first made the decision to homeschool our three children this year, I knew that one of the major predictors of our success as homeschoolers was choosing high-quality curriculum.  At this point in time, my kids want to return to school next year once the pandemic is behind us, so we needed to make sure that what we are doing at home prepares them for the next school year.  I originally chose Singapore Math for my elementary-age kids because from the research that I read, it seemed to be rigorous and aligned well with the common core curriculum at the public schools (and in fact, many public schools use Singapore Math).


I made the final decision to pull my kids out of school to homeschool on July 30th.  I ordered Singapore Math curriculum the following day, expecting that it would take a couple of weeks to ship and would arrive just in time for our August 19th start date.  Over a month later, we still had not received our 5th grade or 1st grade math curriculum.  I knew I could “make do” with my first grader until her curriculum arrived but simply could not wait any longer to begin math with my fifth grader.


Around that same time, I had a conversation with my oldest son’s Pre-Algebra teacher and she recommended Beast Academy for students in grades 3-6.  Beast Academy is a rigorous curriculum from the makers of the Art of Problem Solving.  They offer workbooks as well as an online platform, which you can pay for monthly or yearly.


We opted for the Bundle Option ($150/year) because I still feel that some paper-and-pencil work is important for students rather than having everything online.  Here are just a few things to consider:


Disclosure:  I purchased the Beast Academy Bundle (online and book version) with my own money.   This post is NOT sponsored.  However, the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I get a very small percentage if you choose to purchase.


Beast Academy is Rigorous

Beast Academy focuses heavily on problem solving and critical thinking throughout the program.  Don’t be deceived by the bright colors and cartoon creatures, this program is NOT easy!  Also, it’s important to note that the levels of Beast Academy do not align with traditional grade levels.  The creators of Beast Academy recommend taking a placement test, but the general rule of thumb is to start your student 1-2 levels below their current grade level (I personally think two levels below unless your child excels in math).  We started my 5th grade son at Level 3 and he is already being challenged!  He has asked for my help on a few online exercises and even I struggled with some of the critical thinking activities.  By level 5 of Beast Academy, most students are ready for Pre-Algebra.




Beast Academy is Self-Paced

One of the things I love about Beast Academy is that my son can work at his own pace.  There are helpful videos for each concept that can be rewatched.  If he is struggling with a specific concept, he can take the time to go back and work the process again (or ask for my help).  You can also set the online preferences to where entire chapters can be skipped to meet the needs of your child.  We typically do one hour of math each week day.  Our books just arrived, so we will split the time between the book and the online program.


Beast Academy is Engaging

The bright colors and comic book illustrations make math more appealing to students, especially to those who do not necessarily enjoy “doing math”.  My son still does not enjoy math, even with Beast Academy, but this program is much better than the alternatives!  This program puts minimal focus on “math facts” and instead focuses on the conceptual understanding of each concept.


Screen Shot 2020 09 17 at 11.25.02 AM

Beast Academy Provides Comprehensive Feedback

I am super impressed with the feedback that is given to the parents.  Every week I receive an email with all of the concepts covered throughout the week and my child’s progress on those concepts.  Receiving a 1 means your child is proficient.  Receiving a “2” or “3” is even better and indicates mastery.  I have also received automatic emails throughout the week when he does poorly in a given objective.  I love that he can be independent but I know exactly what skills he is working on and can step in and help when needed (if I can figure it out, anyway)!  😂


qdDUKieQBqrdVeASLzz8A scaled e1600364846177


We have opted for Noah, my 5th grader, to work on math for one hour each day, rather than complete specific lessons.  I feel like this is an adequate time to challenge him without frustrating him.  He spends most of his time using the online platform but also uses the practice book occasionally as well.  I am very impressed with the complexity of the problems on Beast Academy (even if he does not always appreciate them 🤪).



Be sure to check out Beast Academy as either a comprehensive curriculum OR a supplement to your child’s math education!