Sunday, May 31, 2015

BookShark World Cultures Review

Rose and I finished up BookShark K (BookShark World Cultures) a few months ago, so I thought I would post a few thoughts about it.

This is a 36-week, literature based program. It is the secular equivalent of Sonlight Core A. It took Rose and I about seven months to go through this program, during her first grade year. The reading is very light, and we often doubled up on readings. I did not buy the language arts component, so this review only covers the readings. (Peek inside the Instructor's Guide here.)

Together with our other books for the year, we had quite an impressive pile of reading! Some of these books are not part of the Core: I was taking a photo of all of her school books for the year.

We both really enjoyed this Core. I think the recommended age range of 5-7 is spot on. An advanced 4-year old might also be able to handle it. A 7-year old wold probably find the reading to be light, but doubling up as needed worked great for us.

The literature in this level is just about perfect for this age. There was a nice mix of titles I was familiar with and titles I had never heard of. Rose loved pretty much everything we read. Her favorite was Beezus and Ramona, which launched us into reading the whole series at bedtime - we are currently reading Ramona Quimby Age 8. I have fond memories of reading this series myself as a child, but I will admit that I edit as I read. Sometimes Ramona is just a little too bratty and mean-spirited for me.

We also went on to read all of the My Father's Dragon series and all of the Little House books, which we had actually started before this Core.

Some of the books were very short. We read Richard Scarry's Please and Thank  You Book in one sitting.Others, like A Grain of Rice and The Light at Tern Rock took just a couple of days. I honestly enjoyed every one of the read-alouds. I almost didn't buy No Children, No Pets because it seemed kind of pricey, but it ended up being one of Rose's favorites, and she has already made plans to re-read it.

If I had to pick a least favorite book for this Core I think it would be The Hundred Dresses, and I am pretty sure that Rose would agree. She didn't care much for the "girls picking on another girl" theme, though it did have a good message and everything worked out in the end. I hesitated a bit over Twenty and Ten when I read the back's about Jewish children hiding from the Nazis... but it was extremely well done. Rose didn't find it at all scary, just adventurous, and she is sensitive to such things.

We purchased and enjoyed Fun Tales, which I reviewed earlier in the year.

I purchased Create a Calendar, but we didn't get much use out of it. The idea is to discuss the calendar each month and then use it as a springboard to learn about other countries. Each month features a black and white drawing for kids to color, but these were not very interesting and Rose never felt inspired to color them.  Better drawings and country information included with the calendar would have made this product much more useable. We did use the stickers that came with the Create a Calendar on a different, more interesting calendar. There are stickers for holidays, birthdays, parties, thunderstorms, and all kind of things. That was the best part of this product!

I bought the Timeline Book, which I love. I reviewed that here. I also bought the markable map and markers, but I think we only used them once. It always feels like too much effort to get them out, though I think it would be good to do! BookShark includes a hole-punched, laminated color map with the Cores and I do use that because I can stick it right in my binder.

As far as the history books for this Core...

We skipped Mary on Horseback. I picked up a copy at a used booksale, but after flipping through it I decided it would be too much. It seemed like a pretty sad book overall.  I probably would have read it to a slightly older/less sensitive child. We did read Charlotte's Web, and she admitted that it was sad, but she was okay with it and it does have a nice, happy ending.  

Wild Places and Living Long Ago were both enjoyed over many weeks. We did quite a few of the projects from Living Long Ago: more about that here. We also enjoyed Johnny Appleseed, The Children's Encyclopedia, and The Story of Exploration. At first I thought Out of Darkness (about Louis Braille) was a bit of a strange choice for this age (and for the theme of the core), but I did enjoy the book. I think a lot of it did go over Rose's head, though.

I took a quick peek at Sonlight's Core A, and BookShark K seems to be exactly the same as the 4-day Core A program, minus the books with Christian content.

Rose and I are now doing Sonlight Core B. We are on week 6, and I think once we finish out that week we will stop until our new school year. In the meantime we will focus on her other subjects - mostly reading and math - along with beginning her summer readers


  1. Fun! We are starting this in the fall and now I really can't wait. :)

  2. Have a great time! I am already nostalgic for it, but I know we will reread a lot of these books:).

  3. Thanks for reviewing Book Shark K! I just received our curriculum today and am sorting through wondering if there is a best flow that you found working threw the lessons? History first or Lang Arts? I am sure it is best to mold it to your learners preferences. But I would appreciate hearing from someone else's experience. Did you use the Get Ready for the Code workbooks? BookShark doesn't provide that much information on them and I am not sure if they are worth it or not. Also, if you have any resources for Book Shark users, forums or other groups I would appreciate the reference. Thank you for your time. Happy Homeschooling! Michelle

  4. Hi Michelle! I use other things for language arts and don't have much experience with Sonlight/BookShark language arts...but this year our routine is to do math first, then language arts, then the readings. That way I feel like we get the most important stuff out of the way first, plus I am pretty tired after we get through the basics and it is nice to sit down and read! We used Get Ready for the Code only a little bit, because we used (and are still using) Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading and it was too much to do both of them. I don't think there are any forums yet just for BookShark, but the Sonlight forums are open to everyone now and I sometimes visit them if I am looking for specific things...BookShark K is very similar to Sonlight's Core A so I found a lot of ideas on there.


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