Category Archives: Middle School

F – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

F

We are looking at various book titles that start with F this week. What are some that come to mind for you? I would love to know; please share some in the comments! On to our selections . . .

Family Tree series

Family Tree Series by Ann M. Martin

This is a series of four books that begin in the Great Depression and move forward through four generations of girls in the family. Each generation has a new struggle, a new secret. By the end of the fourth book and the approach of a 100th birthday, perhaps the secrets can come out and the family can be joyful.

Miss L really enjoyed this series and it is one that she very quickly recommended for the letter F. I haven’t read them myself but I did pick them up to show them to her originally because I thought they looked interesting.

Fog Magi

Fog Magic by Julia L. Sauer

Set in Canada, young Greta loved the fog and taking walks in the rolling mists. One day, she finds a mysterious stone house where there shouldn’t have been one. A surrey comes along, its passenger beckoning to Greta. This is how the magic and adventure begins – when the fog comes.

Forgotten Sisters

Forgotten Sisters (book #3 in the Princess Academy series) by Shannon Hale

Miss E is the one who recommended this book for inclusion. She finds this series fun and easy to read. I have not read it but it looks like a fun, “the tables are turned” kind of book.

Frindle

Frindle by Andrew Clements

Have you ever wanted to create a word, just to see if it will catch on? If so, this book is for you. Another fun little read with enough mischief thrown in to make it a good read. Miss L recommends this one.

At Home.

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Be sure to visit the linkup to find a variety of posts from friends who are Blogging Through the Alphabet. You can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
E – The Endless Steppe & Ella Enchanted

 

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E – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet

E

On to letter E. These were not too hard. We have several books that begin with the letter E on our shelves and the girls just jumped with a couple of these titles. I grabbed another one that I think is really good, too.

Endless Steppe

Endless Steppe – Esther Hautzig

Esther and her family are forced from their home in June 1941. They are removed from their homeland of Poland to live in the frozen steppe of Siberia. The hard life they are to endure is far removed from the life they are forced from, all because they are “enemies of the government.” After their arrest by the government of Russia and their move to Siberia, the family survives through sheer determination and willpower.

This book reminds us that the horrors of WWII were not just in western Europe but also in many other places around the world. In this case, we are able to read the story of a young girl from Poland and the life she has to live in hardship due to Russia.

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted  – Gail Carson Levine

At her birth, Ella of Frell is given an awful gift – the gift of obedience. Perhaps the fairy was well meaning but it made life difficult for Ella. She must do whatever anyone tells her. For strong-willed Ella, this is terrible but she is determined to fight against that fate. She WILL break free from this curse/gift. Amidst the stepsisters, fairy godmothers, ogres, princes, and more, this is a fun story that is worth a read.

And, after you have read it, catch the movie with actress Anne Hatheway. It is super fun. We enjoy watching the movie as family. If you have a youngster, there is one scene where she is breaking free from the curse that could possibly be scary.

Elsie's Endless Wait

Elsie Dinsmore series – Martha Finley

In book 1, Elsie’s Endless Wait, Elsie is a young girl who is being raised by her well-off grandfather because her father is away and her mother has died. She loves her governess Miss Rose but by the others is often left out, ignored, or mistreated. Young Miss Elsie has been taught to treasure her Bible and to trust God above everything else. This is what sustains her during her wait and the trying times and questions that assault her.

The series is about Elsie’s life growing up and the faith that she has and relies on. It was instantly popular when it was first written by Martha Finley over 100 years ago.

Miss E has really enjoyed this series. There are some newer rewrites that are not as good as the originals, though they are based on them. I read the first rewrite aloud and wasn’t crazy about it. Miss E, though, has checked out as many as she can find from the library.

Enna Burning

Enna Burning (book 2 of a series) – Shannon Hale

This is not one I know but the girls have enjoyed it. I will state that they read so much that I cannot keep up with all of their reading and so we trust them to let us know if there is something we need to discuss in the books. I don’t know about this one but the girls definitely recommend it.

At Home.

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Be sure to visit the linkup to find a variety of posts from friends who are Blogging Through the Alphabet. You can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen
D – Door In The Wall & D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

 

Innovators Tribe ~ a Crew review

Innovators Tribe course

Fridays are a “different school” day for us: we are intentionally giving the girls hands on learning in science, technology, and art. Innovators Tribe had given us a wonderful opportunity with their program titled Thinking Like an Engineer, which we have been reviewing for a few weeks.

Thinking Like an Engineer

Innovators Tribe is an online curriculum designed to foster the thinking skills needed to bring creative thinking from the head to the hands. Created by Wayne Kroeplin, known as Mr. K., students are guided and taught the thinking skills needed to become an innovative thinker and a problem solver. The courses offered by Innovators Tribe are designed for 6th – 12th grade students. Because it is an online program, you will need a reliable computer and internet service as it is not a downloaded program.

We have been using Thinking Like an Engineer  during our Fun Fridays. Each Friday, we log into our course dashboard and click the link that continues us in the course right where we left off previously. The course is a good mixture of online learning with recorded lessons from Mr. K., slideshows, and videos to explain various concepts. There is also a printable unit journal that has questions for the students to complete. These questions help to focus the student’s attention on certain parts of the lesson, highlighting important terms or ideas. In addition, there are research and hands-on challenges that allow the students to put into practice the concepts discussed in the lessons.

tower challenge

Topics that are addressed in Thinking Like an Engineer  include what is an engineer (professional problem solver – I LOVE this description!), types of engineers, types of problems solved or studied by engineers, and real world examples of the application of engineering and problem solving thinking. Hands-on opportunities include things like building tower of books standing on only one piece of paper, making a tower of paper over 5 feet tall using minimal materials, creating a water filtering system, and these are just the ones we have encountered in Unit 1. (Looking ahead there is a bridge challenge and a roller coaster challenge, too.)

The challenges require some basic materials, though if you want to try the water filtration system, you will probably have to go shopping for some things. But overall, it is just paper and tape for the challenges.

book stacking challenge

We have begun Unit 2 and this is where we got to download the 3D software. We are extremely excited to learn how to use this software and find out what it can do to increase our problem solving abilities. The 3D software is used to design models of ideas for solutions. So many possibilities! There are several instructional lessons using this program and also some challenges with it.

As I mentioned earlier, we are using this program for a couple of hours each Friday as part of our STEM learning. This is being used by an 8th grader, a 6th grader, and a 3rd grader. They watch the lesson online together and then we talk through the questions in the Unit Journal related to that lesson. Finally, they tackle the challenges as a team.

research

Though she is below the anticipated age of the program, the 3rd grader is doing really well participating and helping out. She is not doing the writing in the Unit Journals, though we are talking about each question out loud and so she is participating in the discussions. She is also a big factor in the solutions with the challenges so far. She is just jumping right in, paying attention, and having fun with the learning.

Mr. K. really wants his students to learn and does an amazing job of assisting the students in that. For one of the questions in the Unit Journal, Miss L needed to research the engineering related to a topic she enjoyed. She chose dance. Well, let’s just say that is not an easy internet research topic. So, we took Mr. K. at his word about sending an email his way when we needed something and we had a very quick response that was just amazing.

He responded to Miss L with a video message in which he talked directly to her, addressing her need in such a way that she was empowered to go do the rest of the research needed to answer the question. He did not just tell her what to go look up but rather talked to her about how to think about the topic in a way that she could figure out what to go look for.

Innovators Tribe

This is a great example of how he teaches – he doesn’t lecture and tell you everything he wants you to know. Yes, there is some of that because there is just no way around it sometimes. But, he addresses the “how” of the thinking and gives the students the power and ability to think about the problem differently and in a way that allows solutions to be imagined. That is powerful!

I encourage you to find out more about Thinking Like an Engineer by visiting Innovators Tribe.

At Home.

Read more reviews by families who have been using both Innovators Tribe classes:  Thinking Like an Engineer and Thinking Like an Architect.

Thinking Like an Architect or Engineer {Innovators Tribe Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

D – Middle School Books ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

D

And on to the letter D.

Honestly, this letter was a bit harder but we came up with some.

Door In The Wall

The Door In The Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

This was a book we first encountered several years ago. We used it as a read aloud and it was wonderful.

A young nobleman’s son is left at home when his mother and father are called away to their duties. When an illness overtakes the village, he is left alone to beat the illness and consequences of it. Thankfully a monk finds and cares for him. While recovering with the monk, he learns the skill of woodcarving but also strength and patience. Then, they travels together through much danger to the great castle. This is the tale of their journey and the lessons learned through it.

D'Aulaires Greek Myths

D’Aulaire Book of Greek Myths by Ingrid D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

Miss L loves this book. She has done full study of this book and read it several times. The drawings are just stunningly beautiful and bring the stories to life. This book covers Greek myths from the beginning and include all of the ones you think of. Well written, engaging, and accompanied by lovely drawings, this is a book that we think everyone should enjoy.

Dear America

Dear America series

The girls have really enjoyed this series and learned a tremendous amount from it. These are historical fiction stories. Each is writtten as the diary of a young girl. Each girl is from a different place and/or a different time. Through her diary entries, the reader learns about family structure, culture, what the world was like, what life was like, trials and joys, and more. These are very pleasurable to read and bring to life what different times and places might have been like.

Others the girls recommend:
Dragon’s Breath (book 2 of series) by E D Baker

Dark Tide (book 3 of series) by Jennifer Donnelly

At Home.

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Be sure to visit the linkup to find a variety of posts from friends who are Blogging Through the Alphabet. You can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen

 

 

C – Middle School Books for Blogging Through the Alphabet

C

We are now on the letter C and we found several books that we wanted to share.

Counting by 7s – Holly Goldberg Sloan

The two older girls both recommended this book right off the bat for the letter C. They have both read it a number of times. An adopted girl named Willow is kind of a misfit, in school and everywhere. Her adopted mom and dad die in a car wreck. She has to go to a new home. She is very smart and she has a habit of counting things by 7. She finds this counting to be a very calming experience and she uses this habit to cope with all of the changes.

Cheaper By The Dozen – Gilbreath

This large family is endearing in their love, energy, warmth, and adventures. Written by two of the children, this memoir of family life with a large family is filled with fun. Efficiency experts mother and dad expect the family to run as smoothly as they are able to make factories run. And as efficiently, too. This leads to all sorts of memorable activities among the twelve siblings. A fun read that is also a fun movie to accompany it. Personally, I like the older version of the movie rather than the newer one if you are going to watch one.

Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White

I believe we are all familiar with the story of Charlotte’s Web. Wilbur and Charlotte have a very special bond that is born of mutual need. This friendship grows so strong that they will each do everything in their power to meet the needs of the other. Such a beautiful story of friendship and giving all.

Circus Mirandus – Cassie Beasley

We just finished reading this one aloud a few weeks ago and it was so much fun. I was first introduced to it by Wendy through the monthly Book Club. I then shared it with the girls as a read aloud. They loved it. It was one of those books that they kept asking for one more chapter of, no matter how many or how long I read.

A quick summary – Many people have the idea of “seeing is believing.” But with Circus Mirandus, you will not see if you do not believe. This is the story of Micah and the amazing stories his grandfather Ephraim has told him regarding the Circus Mirandus. Micah loves to hear the stories of the magical circus his grandfather would tell him. However, those stories are few and far between now because his grandfather is very ill; he is dying.

Micah believes what his grandfather has told him and wishes more than anything to be able to call in the miracle that is owed to his grandfather from many, many years before. But can Micah ever visit Circus Mirandus? If he does, can he convince the Lightbender that his grandfather’s miracle is still viable and that it is time, now, to call it in? Micah must succeed. His grandfather’s life may well depend on it.

Feel free to add more in the comments section if you think of any good middle school level books that start with C. I know that there are plenty more than I’ve shared.

At Home.

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Be sure to visit the linkup to find a variety of posts from friends who are Blogging Through the Alphabet. You can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington
C – Counting by 7s and Cheaper By The Dozen

Also linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew.

 

B – Middle School Books for Blogging Through the Alphabet

B

You know, B books were harder for us to find. I could probably have done a basic search online but searching through our bookshelves was so much more fun! We did come up with a couple of titles for you that have been loved by at least one or more of our family.

Bear Called PaddingtonA Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Originally published in 1958, many of you already know Paddington. This one is definitely for the 5th/6th grade level of middle school but such a sweet book. The Brown family is lucky indeed to have met Paddington on a railway station. Paddington is a bear that hails from Darkest Peru. And with him, he brings all sorts of unlikely adventures and misadventures. He is endearing and everyone falls in love with him, it seems. There are several Paddington books, including More About Paddington, which is also on our shelf. We recommend this unique bear and his story.

Ballet ShoesBallet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

This book was published originally in 1936. It features three young girls – Petrova, Pauline and Posy. The three girls are orphans who are taking in by family. They attend a performance school, determined to launch themselves into show business and make a name for themselves. With plenty of practice and hard work, each one’s talents may just make a way clear.

My interest in this book actually started in a movie. 🙂 In You’ve Got Mail, it is a series that is mentioned and the lady talks about it being just wonderful. I have to agree with her now that I have read one of them. I am keeping my eye out for the others in the series.

This is not an easy book to read but it is a pleasant one to make your way through. One of my girls tore through it quickly, loving every bit of it. Another has not even been tempted by it. The third is not quite old enough for it, yet. It has the lovely language of the older writings and has a story line that really speaks to one who is searching to find her talents. A joy to read for me.

Other Titles:

Bessie’s Pillow by Linda Bress Silbert

This is a historical fiction that we reviewed earlier this Crew year. Check it out; it was a really neat book.

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman

A California mining camp story of a young girl from 1849.

At Home.

 

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Be sure to visit the linkup to find a variety of posts from friends who are Blogging Through the Alphabet. You can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

My previous posts in the series:

A – All-of-a-Kind Family and Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse
B – Ballet Shoes and A Bear Called Paddington

 

A – Middle School Books for Blogging Through The Alphabet

A

Letter A is funny when it comes to book titles, isn’t it? I tend to think of titles that begin with “A” or “An.” But that doesn’t work for alphabetizing and since the giggly girls are helping me choose books for this, we had a quick alphabetizing lesson. Good for all of us!

On to the books, though, right?

All of a Kind Family

All of a Kind Family by Sidney Taylor

Summary – This is a fun book written back in 1951 about life is the big city of New York at the turn of century. The family is all of a kind – girls. (Just what my girls enjoyed reading about!) The Jewish family is full of fun, adventure, and giggles with five girls. The five girls learn about life through daily activities that mama makes fun and by visiting with peddlars in papa’s shop. From trips to the market to trips to the library (oh the anguish of a lost book!), the girls are always ready for time together. And surprises! What a fun surprise they get to experience in this book.

My giggly girls enjoyed this book so much that we bought a copy of it and have worn it ragged. It makes a lovely read aloud, and not just for girls. The historical fiction is lots of fun and by weaving in the life of a Jewish family, we learned a lot about related traditions and holidays.

Adventures of the Little Wooden HorseAdventures of the Little Wooden Horse by Ursula Moray Williams

Summary – Written in 1938, this is the tale of the travels around the world of the little wooden horse. The little wooden horse was made with love by Uncle Peder and faithfully helped him until one day, Uncle Peder becomes ill. The little wooden horse goes into the world to sell himself and help his master. In doing so, the little wooden horse meets lovely children excited to meet him and grumpy adults who throw things at him. He pulls a barge to help others and earns money. He has to escape a mean master who refuses to pay or let him go free as agreed. The little wooden horse crosses the ocean to help his master. When he finally makes it home, he finds something that is a terrible surprise!

This was a book that our family stumbled upon and it is such a treasure! We highly recommend this joyful book about doing all you can for someone and pushing yourself far beyond what you think you can do. Giving all of yourself out of selfless love is the theme of this lovely story. We used it as a read-aloud and I have found the girls reading it on their own since. A joy!

Other books recommended by the girls include:

An Author’s Odyssey by Chris Colfer

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Enjoy reading and finding new books!

At Home.

 

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Be sure to visit the linkup to find a variety of posts from friends who are Blogging Through the Alphabet. You can find it hosted by Hopkins HomeschoolDoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life and Biblical Womanhood.

 

 

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