The Big Picture

We believe that students are best served by going deep in a few topics per subject matter rather than receiving instruction “a mile wide and an inch deep.” We also believe the childhood years are a time of rapid brain development that is most enhanced through fostering curiosity, wonder, exploration and much reading of “living books.” At the end of this page, we have a list of just such books that we encourage you to consider acquiring for your children, whether you read to them (which we encourage for every age) or they read on their own.

Building a Solid Foundation

K-1: Our K-1 class is for non-readers and for those who have not yet socially matured enough to succeed in our 1st-3rd grade class. We believe these formative years are not a time for bookwork but for enhancing curiosity and problem-solving through exploration, games, creative play and social interaction. The students learn phonics and numbers in this way. They enjoy read-alouds, dabble in historical topics and hands-on projects, learn about the five senses, animals, weather (basics), community/self-help (phone number, address, fire safety), observe nature, and spend ample time in unstructured play. During DEAR (“Drop Everything and Read”), the students quietly look at picture books. And during our daily Love in Action, they learn about loving God and others and frequently spend time serving others.

1st-6th: These students are separated into two classes (1st-3rd and 4th-6th) They spend individual time working on parent-assigned curricula in math and language arts with teacher oversight (reading instruction continues at home). We offer a skeletal curriculum in history and science, concentrating on read-alouds and hands-on projects, which parents often don’t have the energy to do, with recommendations of specific books parents can read and discuss with their children at home to fill out the curriculum.

History

Students in both classes study the same topic, just at different levels, so it is possible for parents to read the supplemental book recommendations to all of their children within 1st – 6th grade with the younger ones gleaning what they can. We believe that having each child cover world history twice at ever deeper levels provides a strong foundation for understanding modern history (1850 to present), which the students will focus on during their 7th and 8th grade years. While most students will not receive the rotation in chronological order, teachers use time lines to denote the particular time period being studied. This practice does not interfere with the children’s ability to process the information chronologically.

The history rotation is:

Year 1: Ancient History

Year 2: Middle Ages

Year 3: Renaissance through the beginning of the California Gold Rush in 1849

Science

1st – 3rd: Over the three-year cycle the students learn about simple machines, meteorology, magnets, sound, basic electricity and chemistry, anatomy, geology, and nature observation, including botany.

4th – 6th: Over the three-year cycle, the students go deeper into topics such as physics, robotics, astronomy, electricity, anatomy, and nature observation

DEAR (Drop Everything and Read)

All students as well as teachers, interns, and volunteers spend 20-30 minutes each day reading a book of their choice at a specified time. Adult modeling as well as students engaging in this daily habit has proven critical in helping students form the critical habit of reading.

Love in Action

In their separate classes, through devotionals, stories, and biographies, the students learn about loving God and loving people and learn to incorporate these biblical principles in their interactions with each other. About once each month, the classes come together to hear a guest speaker or work on a service project.

Suggested Living Books to Choose from for Supplemental Home Reading

Read-alouds for pre-readers:

Beatrix Potter series

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (Make Way for Ducklings, One Morning in Maine)

Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Ox-Cart Man by Barbara Cooney

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

The Little House by Virginia Burton (Katie and the Big Snow, Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel)

The Story About Ping By Marjorie Flack

Winnie the Pooh series by AA Milne and Ernest H. Shepard

Classic stories: The Little Red Hen, The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Three Little Kittens…

Aesop’s Fables (best illustrated by Milo Winter)

A quality Mother Goose collection

A quality collection of poems for children

Easy chapter book read-alouds

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

King of the Golden River by John Ruskin

Peter Pan by James M. Barrie

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges

The Velveteen Rabbit by Marjory Williams

Easy readers

A Toad for Tuesday by Russell Erickson

Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel

Little Bear books by Elsa Holmelund Minarik

Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Books by Millicent Selsam (esp. Plenty of Fish, Seeds and More Seeds, Let’s Get Turtles)

Books by Clyde Robert Bulla (esp. A Lion to Guard Us, Shoeshine Girl)

2nd level read-alouds

Along Came a Dog by Meindert De Jong

Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry

Chanticleer and the Fox by Barbara Cooney

Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit

Heidi by Joanna Spyri

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle

The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli

The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

2nd level reading practice (basically grades 2-3)

Impunity Jane by Rumer Godden (and The Story of Holly and Ivy)

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh

The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace

Billy and Blaze books by C. W. Anderson

Fairchild Family series by Rebecca Caudill

3rd level read-alouds

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry

Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Men of Iron by Howard Pyle

The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

The Saturdays series by Elizabeth Enright

The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong

3rd level reading practice (basically 3rd-4th)

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson

Sarah Plain and Tall (series) by Patricia MacLachlan

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh

The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds

The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander

Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois

4th level read-alouds

Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates

Bambi by Felix Salten

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare

Gentle Ben by Walter Morey

Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (also Return to Gone Away Lake and Thimble Summer)

Johnny Tremaine by Esther Forbes

Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry

Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight

Little Britches by Ralph Moody

Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter

Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

The Borrowers (series) by Mary Norton

The Chronicles of Narnia (series) by C.S. Lewis

The Peterkin Papers by Lucretia Hale

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbitt

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Tree of Freedom by Rebecca Caudill

4th level reading practice (4th-6th)

Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

The Circket in Times Square by George Selden

The Great Brain by John d. Fitzgerald (preview last chapter for sensitive topic)

The Rescuers (series) by Margery Sharp

Books by Noel Streatfield

Books by Kate Seredy

5th level read or read-alouds (5th-6th)

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (and Puck of Pook’s Hill)

Goodbye Mr. Chips by James Hilton

Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge

Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Michael Faraday, Father of Electronics by Charles Ludwig

Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lilias Trotter by Miriam Huffman Rockness

Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (and The Prince and the Pauper)

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

The Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit (and The Wouldbegoods)

Treasure Islandby Robert Louis Stevenson

6th level read or read-alouds

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Ben Hur by Lew Wallace

Blue Willow by Doris Gates

God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew and John Sherrill

Jungle Pilot: The Life and Witness of Nate Saint, Martyred Missionary to Ecuador by Russel T. Hitt

Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott (also Jack and Jill)

Miracles on Maple Street by Virginia Sorensen

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Penrod by Booth Tarkington

Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

School of the Woods by William J. Long

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

The Ark by Margot Benary-Isbert

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth Speare

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy

The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia by Esther Hautzig

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

The Von Trapp Family Singers by Maria Von Trapp

The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne