As new homeschoolers we purchased several different literature curriculums. After working our way through the curriculums I found myself less than thrilled with their content. If I am spending $800 a year on a curriculum I want it to be more than just a list of books to buy and questions to ask. Every day as I read through the assignment I thought to myself "Why do I need a curriculum for this?". After two years I finally had enough confidence in myself to ditch the purchased curriculum and strike out on my own.
Our oldest daughter is 11 years old and completing a mixture of 6th and 7th grade work. Her reading comprehension and fluency is top notch and on grade level. She is the only one of our children currently completing a literature curriculum. Our younger 3 school aged children are working their way through a computer based phonics program to increase their reading fluency.
After doing a bit of research into this age range I found The Classic Starts Series. Each book in the series is adapted from a classic children's story. These include Black Beauty, Little Women, Around the World in 80 Days, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, etc. In total the series has 46 classic books available for children reading at a second to fourth grade level.
I purposely chose literature books at a slightly reduced grade level. My goal is to raise children who have a love of knowledge. Children who as adults continue to pursue knowledge and education not because they HAVE to but because they WANT to. I want our daughter to love reading these classics and come back in future years to read the actual works. That is easiest to accomplish with books that are easy for her to read and understand.
So what makes these books a curriculum? Easy! They have discussion questions at the end of each book! I assign our daughter 2 chapters each day until she has completed the book. We then spend the next 10 school days completing the discussion questions at the end of the book. I assign one question per day and expect a half a page essay answering each question.
After she has completed the essay questions I allow her to choose a project to complete based on the theme of the book. Some examples include a themed dinner, a diorama, a play, craft projects, service projects, etc. The sky is the limit! She however has to come up with an appropriate project, create a written plan, and then gather all of the supplies.
So how do we pull off these literature units for free? The library! Our library has an entire shelf of these books! There are also several books available for FREE on kindle! You do not need a kindle to access these books however. You can download the kindle app for your PC and read the books on your computer. If you prefer actual books (I am a bit biased) you can find them for $0.01 on amazon as well.
We complete one book per month. With 46 books in the series we have our pick of books to read this year. I will be doing quite a bit of research on how to continue our classic literature units for free as her reading level increases.
I would love to hear how you complete classic literature units!