Biographies: A Glimpse into People and History

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History has always fascinated me. I wasn’t ever good at it in school because I couldn’t memorize the dates well, but I sure could tell the stories! Now that I am teaching my own children, I’ve been trying to figure out ways to teach history without really “teaching” history. They are young, so knowing the dates and specifics of wars and battles aren’t a focus. But the people! Oh, to have heroes of character! What a joy it is to have discussions with my 6 year old son about the character traits, and character flaws, of real people!
Bible study is a large part of our homeschool. I am a Bible teacher and so I focus on the historical aspects of the scriptures quite a bit. But I also want to teach how history fits into the scriptures and how the Truth has changed people and cultures throughout the decades. And so we read a lot of Biographies. Here are some of my favorite children’s biography series. Some of these you can find at your local library, some you might need to find online or at your church library.

Biographies for younger children:

Little Lights Biographies
Heroes for Young Readers
ValueTales by Spencer Johnson
A Picture Book of… by David Adler

Biographies for older children:

Trailblazer Books
Men/Women of Faith Series

Video Biographies:

The Torchlighters: Heroes of the Faith with free student/teacher downloads
Animated Hero Classics with activity books
I hope you have found some wonderful resources to use in your homeschool. And be sure to look through Homeschool Share for unit helps and lapbooks, such as Women in History, that might correspond with a certain time in history, or a biography! Enjoy!!

What is the name of your favorite historical person?

businesscardheadshotAnne Marie is an Austenite and the author of the blog Future.Flying.Saucers. She is a southern belle who is married to her Mr. Darcy. They have three of the silliest children in South Carolina. Anne Marie has a passion for Bible study and teaching the Word to adults and children. On Wednesday nights you will find her teaching Biblical concepts to Awana clubs at her church. All of her Awana and Bible lessons can be found for FREE on her blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos


Picture books about math are a terrific way to help explain concepts, especially to younger kids who may be more visual.  The Boy Who Loved Math is a picture book about math that works for kids of all ages–even high schoolers!

Deborah Heiligman tells the story of Paul Erdos, a Hungarian mathematician who worked with others all over the world on mathematical problems.  Paul, who was the son of math teachers, was peculiar when he was growing up, to say the least.  Instead of trying to make him conform to society’s norms, though, his mother worked to accommodate his eccentricities.  Though many of his quirks stayed with him throughout his life, Paul–or “Uncle Paul” as he became known to many–found that many people were pleased to deal with his odd behavior if it meant the chance to work with such a brilliant man.  The Boy Who Loved Math is a good story because it’s just plain interesting to read about Erdos.  You might think a biography of a mathematician would be dry and boring, but this is a book filled with humorous and interesting anecdotes, such as the time Erdos stabbed a tomato juice carton with a knife because he couldn’t figure out how to open it.  It’s also a good story because it shows that a person can still be successful without conforming to all of society’s norms.  In fact, that might even lead to success in some cases.  The author’s note in the back of the book includes more information for those who want more detail, too.

LeUyen Pham’s illustrations are a perfect fit for this book.  They’re bright and interesting and just enjoyable to look at–after we read it together, I found both my nine year old and my four year old pulling it back out again to look through several times.  What is most interesting and fitting, though, is the way numbers and history are woven into each illustration.  As it says in the illustrator’s note in the back, “wherever possible, [she] tried to include some sort of mathematical concept or theory into a composition, whether in the form of equations, graphs, or number groups.”  The note goes on to explain, page by page, the concepts included in each picture.  This would be a great discussion starter for older math students as such topics as harmonic primes–and many other types of prime numbers, amicable numbers, and other higher-level mathematical concepts are included.

Before I read this book I had never heard of Paul Erdos, but this story made him real to me, which is exactly what he wanted to do with math for the rest of the world.  The Boy Who Loved Math is one of those rare picture books where students of all ages can learn new information, so make sure you check it out!

June’s Making the Days Count Activity Calendar

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Here in the states, June brings summertime!  Whether your schooling breaks for the summer or you keep on going, I am sure you’ll want choose some fun activities this month that will help you continue to make the days count with your children!

June Activity Calendar 2014 from Homeschool Share
June 4th is Do-Dah Day (a salute to silliness!). Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate Do-Dah Day with your kids. Have fun!

Ideas to Celebrate Do-Dah Day (a salute to silliness!)

Here are some silly  ideas for Do-Dah Day!

1. Read Wacky Wednesday

2. Sing Silly Songs

3. Create Silly Sentences

4. Make Homemade Silly Putty!

5. Eat silly face crackers.

6. Try some Silly Play and Fun Challenges.

7. Be a silly scientist and conduct the Color Changing Milk Experiment.

8. Read Fox in Socks. Try saying some tongue twisters. Try writing some tongue twisters.

9. Wear mismatched clothes or wear your clothes backwards.

10. Use hair gel to make funny hair-dos for a crazy hair day.

11. Read a joke book together.

12. Make new rules for a favorite card game and play it.

13.  Take lots of silly photos. Add mustaches for some extra fun!

14. Set out some play-doh, toothpicks, google eyes, and pipe cleaners. Create Monster Masterpieces!

15. Craft silly hats to wear.

16. Play Roll to Write.

17.  Just for extra fun– buy some plastic drinking straw eyeglasses!

18. Read poems by Shel Silverstein.

19.  Check your library for Funny Food by Bill Wurtzel and plan some silly meals!

20. Put on your favorite kid songs. Try whistling the tune instead of singing it.

21. Plan a Mad Hatter Tea and invite friends for the event.

22. Make some Glow-in-the-Dark Slime.

23. Eat dessert for breakfast or dinner. You could even make some Pound Cake Grilled Cheese!

24. Watch some episodes of The Muppet Show. Many can be found for free on YouTube.

25. Read books by Mo Willems. So silly!

Summer School: Math

40+ FREE Math Printables from Homeschool Share

In the past we’ve schooled year round, but the last few summers I needed a break. I decided we’d do school lite instead of going on a complete hiatus. My boys were required to continue their math lessons and, of course, to keep reading. This kept their brains going and eliminated any need for review at the beginning of the school year.

Summer break is a great time to boost math skills and to cement concepts that weren’t sticking very well during the school year.

Have you seen Homeschool Share’s FREE (and fun!) math resources? We host over 40 resources that are perfect for keeping your child current with their math abilities!


Addition Facts Lapbook

Subtraction Facts Lapbook

Multiplication Facts Lapbook

Division Lapbook

Money Lapbook

Months of the Year Lapbook

Unit Studies

Learning Math Through Literature (lower elementary)

Sir Cumference Math Adventures Unit (upper elementary)

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy (middle school unit)

Games & Printables

We offer tons of fun and free math printables! Scroll to the bottom of our Math Connections Page and you will find a hidden treasure trove of printable activities (file folder games, graphs, a mini-office, and so much more!) to keep your student busy learning math this summer.

Enjoy your summer together and don’t forget to keep the learning alive!

Help For Bibliomaniacs

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“I’m a bibliomaniac and I homeschool… my house looks like a war zone created by huge piles of books and papers. I need a doable plan! Help!”  


book help

Oh my…I feel your pain, and also feel totally unqualified to answer this question. Is there a Bibliomaniacs Anonymous group? If so, I’ll meet you there!

We have book shelves in every room of the house. I’d like a library room, to have beautifully organized books all in one place, but that is not likely to happen anytime soon. So… I’ll share the system that (mostly) works for me.

1. Decide how you would like your books sorted. You could sort them by genre, alphabetically, by subject, by author, by Dewey Decimal System, or any other system that works for you. I use a combination of many of these systems. I sort my books in the following way:

a. History – Because we study history chronologically, I only need the era we are currently studying to be easily accessible. For this purpose, I have a book case in my living room, where my children do their schoolwork, which I use solely for our history rotation. I’ve found that a large file cabinet works quite well to store the history books and media go-alongs that are not currently in use. Each file drawer contains an era, i.e. ancients, middle ages, renaissance/reformation, and modern. I simply rotate the era in use to the livingroom bookcase when needed. 

b. Geography  – further sorted by continent, then country

c. Science  – I sort my science books into Plants, Animals, Human Anatomy, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Ecology, Meteorology, Geology, etc. and put labels on the shelf edges so books can easily be found and returned.  

d. Arts and Crafts – I group together art history, biographies, how-to-draw books, misc. how-to books, cartooning books, craft books, music and composer books.

art books

e. Literature  – I keep all of my classics together, poetry books together, short story collections together, picture books together, serial books together, etc.

This case contains classics, poetry, Shakespeare, literature texts, Cliffs Notes, and misc. reference

 f. Math and Economics

g. Reference and Text

h. Recipe Books (sorted by cuisine type)

i. Medical Books

j. Gardening Books

k. Bibles and Study Aides

l. Miscellaneous

2. In case you didn’t know, bibliomania can be genetic ;-), so encourage your children to develop their own systems of book organization with their personal collections. My oldest daughter likes to keep her antiques together, her Native American books together, and her author collections together, organized alphabetically.

antiques and Finlay books

native american and lamour

3. Start separating your books into stacks depending on what system you chose. As you pull books from your shelves, piles, and/or boxes:

a. Keep only the books you love, need, or want to save for future children/grandchildren. Set save-for-laters and non-keepers aside, we’ll deal with these later.

b. Check them over for mold and bugs that may contaminate other books, and set those aside.

c. Pull any loose papers from the books, i.e. bookmarks, notes, etc.

d. Give them a good dusting before sitting them in their correct stacks.

4. Wipe down your empty shelves with some all-purpose spray or furniture polish.

5. When you have your books in stacks, taking shelf space and frequency of use into consideration, decide where each stack of books will be best placed in your home. Keep them where you’ll use them:

a.  Baskets, milk crates, file cabinets, or even rain gutters can be creative alternatives if you are short on bookcases.

b. Place children’s books at child friendly height in room where children spend most of their time.

c. Reference books are best placed closest to where your children do their school work, probably near the computer

d. Recipe books go in the kitchen

6. If you want to organize and track your library digitally, there are quite a few computer software options:

a. Mac users can check out Delicious Library

b. Windows users can use All My Books

c. Maybe Freeware Book Management Software is what you are looking for

d. LibraryThing can be used to organize your books online

7. Now you are ready to put all the books you love and need back on your clean, empty shelves.

a. Just organize one bookcase at a time, sorting them as you go.

b. Keep spines as vertical as possible; use book ends to keep them straight as necessary.

c. Keep larger books on  lower shelves. They can be stacked, ideally no more than three books high to prevent damage, but…

stacked books

…sometimes you just do what ya gotta do… 🙂

8. Now, what about those “save-for-later” books? Box them up and put them in a dry, dark, safe place.

9. And what about those unwanted books? Here are a few options:

a. Join Paperback Swap for free! You can trade books with other members, only paying for the cost to ship your book out. This is a great way to trade out books you don’t want for those you do. And you can make offers for deals on their Homeschool Forum to quickly get rid of many books. But beware; shopping other members’ deals can be addictive and counterproductive! Don’t ask me how I know!

b. If you think you have books of value, see if they would be worth selling on E-bay. Or, you could check out Book Scouter to see if anyone is willing to buy them.

c. Call your local used bookstores and find out if they buy books.

d. Donate your unwanted books to thrift shops, church libraries, daycare centers, and/or retirement homes.

10.What about those unfortunate books that have mold or are bug eaten?

a. Mold can be killed and the smell removed from most books using these Mildew Removal Tips .

b. Try these tips to remove book lice and silverfish from your biblio treasures.   

c. Keep books quarantined until you are certain that the problem is fixed.

11. The trick now is to keep your shelves organized.

a. Teach children your sorting method, and show them how to properly respect books

b. Putting labels on the shelf edges can help young children find proper homes for books.

c. Some parents like to color code books by putting a sticker on the spine that matches the sticker where the book belongs. I personally don’t like stickers on my books, but whatever works for you!

d. Some parents like to have a “library basket,” a holding place for books that need to be returned to shelves, so that they can return them to their proper places themselves.

e. This is your system! Feel free to modify it until you find something that is workable for you!

 Now, that wasn’t too bad, was it? See, bibliomania is curable! And if all else fails, you can always send those books my way! I’m sure I’ll find a place for them somewhere! 🙂