Friday, July 15, 2016

Sonlight's Core B: A Little Review

Rose and I are still slowly finishing up Sonlight Core B.  We only have about a week and a half left of readings, but our rather hectic summer routine has so far left us only bits and pieces of time for read-alouds. But, I thought I'd post a few thoughts about this Core since I hope to finish it by next week ~ we are in the middle of Detectives in Togas, and I want to know what happens next!

 I have mostly switched to using BookShark at this point, since it is basically a secular version of Sonlight, which I prefer. But I had Core B on the shelf from Rose's older siblings and I couldn't find any good reason not to just reuse it, so that's why Rose and I are doing Sonlight while the other kids do BookShark.  My Core is a bit "outdated" from the current Core B Sonlight sells, but many of the titles are the same. We did not use the language arts for this level, but we did use Science B alongside it.

Core B is the first half of a two-part World History program, covering roughly through the fall of Rome. We have the 5-day version of the program. Our Sonlight part of the day usually went something like this (though not necessarily in this order):

  • We read a chapter or two of our read aloud.
  • She read to me from her reader (we used BookShark Readers 2 this year).
  • A couple of days a week we were assigned poetry to read. 
  • We did our science reading (or assigned experiment) and went over the discussion questions.
So...more about the books!

History & Geography: The spines used for this Core are Usborne Time TravelerA Child's History of the World, and The Usborne Book of World History. Time Traveler was Rose's favorite of the three. This is a really fun book that takes you back into time to every day life in the ancient world through cartoons and short entertaining stories. By contrast, CHOW has few illustrations and is a very accessible narrative history that ties everything together in chronological order. The Book of World History is heavily illustrated and has slightly more involved information than Time Traveler. Its presentation is a bit "choppier" than the other two, but I do like the way the three work together to reinforce each other. For all of these books, we just read, discussed, and occasionally looked something up on a map; I did not really use the notes in the Instructor Guide for these books at all. We skipped over the religious history titles, but we did read The Great Wall of China, Tut's Mummy Lost and Found, and Archaeologists Dig for Clues. These were all very short, and we finished them in one or two days at most. I read all of the history books aloud to her.

Read-Alouds: Every day we had a read-aloud, and the read-alouds for this Core are absolutely fabulous. They were Rose's favorite part of the program. I can honestly say that she adored every single book we read together and usually complained when I stopped! For these, I did use the notes - the vocabulary words and discussion questions in my Instructor Guide. We went over the vocabulary before the reading, and I asked her the discussion questions after. If  we were a bit pressed for time I skipped the notes, and for the last two read-alouds, I also skipped the notes and we just read the books. The only book we skipped from this Core was Mountain Born, because I just wasn't in the mood for a sad book at the time! I think Rose's favorite from this core was Greek Myths - she adored all of the stories and we read through that one at double-pace because she didn't want to stop! Even books that I thought might be a bit slow-paced for her, like The Year of Miss Agnes and Understood Betsy, were very much enjoyed.

Science: Science B was a success for us. We enjoyed the books, we usually did the questions from the Instructor Guide each day, and we watched the Sonlight Science DVD's (which I love), and did most of the experiments. If I have one complaint about Science B, it is that it sometimes felt a little short and choppy to me. We read small bits of the same book three days in a row, then had an experiment day based on The Usborne Book of Science Activities, then read a bit from a different book on day 5. Sometimes I felt like science was kind of rushed through in our day, a tacked-on addition - read a little snippet, discuss, move on. It did get done though, which is always nice!

Notes on next year: I am considering switching to BookShark 2 (the equivalent of Sonlight's Core C) for next year, even though I have Core C on the shelf.  My Instructor Guide for C is quite a mess of pencil marks and damaged pages these days, and I am not sure I can stand using it again. I do think we will be going in a different direction for science than what I had previously planned (Sonlight Science C), but more on that later!

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