Read Aloud Reviews: When Stars Are Scattered

So many things to say about this book. Which is why I am giving it it’s own review. It deserves it. To see other chapter books I have read aloud while homeschooling my children this year click HERE.

When Stars are Scattered is the true story of young brothers Omar and Hassan and their life in a refugee camp in Kenya. There are many really hard topics that are touched on, such as an arranged marriage of a young girl that results in pregnancy, a father beating his child, death, war, hunger, etc. This book is brilliant because it takes difficult subject matter and makes it easily digestible for older children to early tweens because it is told in a graphic novel.

Yes this book is heavy and sad. But my word do you root for these boys and just want the best for them. This book brought out so many meaningful conversations with my kids we would have never had anytime soon. Plus the illustrations are fantastic and really add to the dialogue and flow of the story.

While this book has really tough topics, it was an excellent way to teach my kids about how other children in the world live. Another moment to have meaningful conversations with them about how you really don’t know someones full story or what they are going through or have gone through. We need to be kind and compassionate to everyone.

Our family has never prayed for refugees before reading this and now we do. Our kids have a deeper appreciation for what we have and the house we live in.

At the end of the book there are pictures of Omar and Hassen and what their lives are like today. It is so uplifting and inspiring. I won’t say anything more because I don’t want to spoil the story or the ending. My kids were eager each night to read When Stars are Scattered and always asked to read another chapter.

We laughed, I cried several times, and overall just really enjoyed this book. The kids asked if there was a part 2. Just for reference there isn’t, yet, maybe there will be in the future.

I would strongly suggest parents to read this book ahead of time because of the adult themes presented. That being said I highly recommend this book even if you the parent are the only one who reads it. For reference I read this book with my 6 and 8 year old.

To close out this post I will end with a word from Hassan. If you want to know what the following word means you have to read When Stars Are Scattered.



Read Aloud Reviews: In Grandma’s Attic, Homer Price, & The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Our homeschool days are filled with Math, English, Science, History and Read Alouds. I am going to be reviewing all the books we read this year. I am linking the books to Amazon in case you decide to purchase them but we have bought the majority of our books from If you aren’t familiar with this website it is like an Amazon for used books. It can take a little bit of time to get your books in the mail depending on what shop you purchase from but it is the first place I check, especially if the book is older and not recently published.

For reference I am reading these books to my eight and six year old. It has become one of the highlights of my day. Also please forgive me if there are typos. I am watching musicals on as I type this post up ;).

Let’s get into the reviews…

In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson

I remember reading this book when I was little and loved it. My kids equally enjoyed it and In Grandma’s Attic was a great book to kick off our school year. There are great lessons in each story as you listen to Grandma share her youthful adventures. This book is filled with fun and laughter as Grandma explains how she tried to be good as a little girl but often ended up getting into trouble. Each chapter is a different story from Grandma’s childhood.

This is a wholesome read that points back to God’s providence. There are more books in this series that I am interested in reading with the kids later. I like that these books are stand alone and don’t necessarily have to go in order because they aren’t a continuous story but many individual stories that make up each book.

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey

Homer Price was written in 1943 and because of this the kids had many questions. What’s a filling station? What’s a slogan? What’s shaving lotion? What’s Women’s Suffrage? What’s a Homestead? The last chapter went completely over their head but overall all it was an enjoyable read and we loved reading about Homer’s adventures and his skunk Aroma. Plus the illustrations are adorable.

There are six chapters and each chapter is a different story about Homer. The chapters are long so be prepared if you select this book to read. My kids favorites were Chapter 1: The Case of the Scentsational Scent and Chapter 3: The Doughnuts. We ate donuts the following morning after reading Chapter 3 to celebrate reading this book.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane was recommended to me by Kindle for years. But I was not interested in reading about a toy rabbit made of porcelain. I was so wrong. It is one of my all time favorite books now. So good. I laughed. I cried. And just had so many emotions. I was cheering for this rabbit and all the characters who were part of his journey by the middle of the book. Ugh. It was just so good.

It had me from the first quote at the start of the book from The Testing-Tree by Stanley Kunitz. “The heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking. It is necessary to go through dark and deeper dark and not to turn.” I don’t want to give anything away but just know this book has some dark moments. My kids and I had great conversations because of this book. If you have a younger child it might be best to read this ahead of time make sure it will be appropriate for them.

My son kept saying this is just like The Velveteen Rabbit and he was right. It was very similar for a good portion of the beginning. But stick with it if you are having those same thoughts. I promise it is worth the read. We all loved it! I probably loved it the most and I am so glad we read this treasure of a book.

And those are our first three read aloud reviews! My son also finished The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe last week with Grandma via FaceTime and we watched the movie this weekend. They are reading Prince Caspian next.

Do you have a favorite book you have read to your elementary school aged kiddo or a book from your childhood that you love?


The 1st Three Weeks of Homeschool

Three weeks ago we began our homeschool journey and I am happy to report that it is going very well. I love that I get quality time with the kids and get to be part of their school education.

The first day I had grand plans of us sitting on the sofa reading together. I somehow forgot what happens when all four kids are together on the sofa. Picture this. Mom is awake with actual clothes on, no pajamas on the first day of school for me. I figured I should actual put a little effort into my appearance for the day. As I sat down with books in hand, ready to engage my children’s minds, I saw my three year olds tackle each other. While prying them off each other, out of the corner of my eye, my older two were looking like they were practicing for cirque du soleil. Leaping fearlessly off the furniture and gracefully tumbling onto the carpet.

That was the only day in the last three weeks I have done homeschool curriculum on the sofa with all four kids. I have to laugh because I should have known better, but after reading so many books and blogs about homeschooling I had this idea of what it would look like that first day.

All that to say I am learning right along with my kids each and everyday. And I couldn’t be happier. Since starting to homeschool I wake up with a purpose and goals that need to be accomplished each day. It is so nice to have a routine again!

What Our Day Looks Like

Each day has been similar but our schedule isn’t set in stone. We still get all work done but the order might differ from day to day. Our kitchen table has become our work area and the majority of our homeschool books are in several kitchen cupboards.

After breakfast we clean the kitchen, sweep the floor, wipe off the table and get ready for the day. When that is done we take the kids for a walk/bike ride around our neighborhood or if Josh is home the slackline has also been making an appearance.

Our school day starts anywhere between 8:15am-8:45am. I spend 45 minutes separately with each of the older two kids on Math. While I am working with one child the other is playing with the three year olds.

After Math I get each child’s ELA lessons done. This includes spelling, phonics, reading, sight words, and grammar. It depends on the day how much time this takes but it can be anywhere from 30-45 minutes per kid. While I am working with one kiddo the other is listening to stories on their tablet or reading.

With the older two kids math and english lessons done I work with our three year olds on their lesson. This last between 20-30 minutes and takes us right up to lunch at 11:30am.

When lunch is done the kitchen is all kinds of messy and we do a very quick clean up and take everyone out for a swim before naps. At 1pm the three year olds are asleep and if Josh is home he is too ;). While I clean up the rest of the kitchen our older two kids listen to books on Hoopla or play ABC Mouse.

Once the kitchen is back in order, usually around 1:15pm, the older kids are back at the table to do their combined lesson in Science/Geography/History. Each day looks a little different depending on what lessons we are doing.

At 2pm Caden gets on FaceTime with my mom. They are reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe together. Win/win on this all they way around. My goal is to celebrate in a fun way each chapter book we read this year if possible. Turkish delight seemed liked the perfect treat for this book after Caden read about Edmund gorging on it during his visit with the Queen in Chapter 4. They get time together and I am able to work separately on anything I need to with Maisie.

After Caden is done reading and while everyone else is napping we complete the second worksheet for Math, review any spelling words, phonograms, and sight words. Nap time is over at 3pm and all our school work is usually complete.

And that is our typical homeschool day. I also read out of chapter books to our older two at bedtime. I will share what books we have read so far in another post.

Do I Like The Curriculum?

I really love the Saxon Math curriculum. I was worried about how I was going to incorporate the calendar into our day and it is in the actual Math lessons. So easy. Everything is laid out for me to say. Our oldest is in Math 3, the same Math he would have been in this year at school. Our kindergartener is doing so well with Math 1.

We are using the Journeys curriculum and I am supplementing with additional worksheets from Teachers Pay Teachers. I love TPT. It is my new favorite website and I am so thankful for all the wonderful supplemental resources I have found.

I honestly had second thoughts when we started the Science curriculum from Sonlight. First it came with a DVD. We don’t own a DVD player anymore so I had to figure that out and get an external one for my computer. And the actual media looked so dated. My kids however absolutely adore it, and they love doing the science experiments that go with the lessons.

The Story of the World is fantastic! I love it just as much as the kids. We have learned about the Nomads, upper and lower Egypt, and created cave paintings in addition to making a model of the Nile River. Our first week we completed a family history project and the kids called their grandparents and great grandparents and interviewed them.

We are also making Interactive Notebooks to highlight what they are learning throughout the year. This is super cheap and easy. Just grab a notebook and some glue. There are many free printouts on the internet to help you make these notebooks extra special.

Overall I am pleased with what I decided to purchase. My initial thought had been to buy a bulk curriculum but I wasn’t sure how we would afford that. In case you are curious if you buy an entire years worth of curriculum from a homeschool publisher you could spend close to $800 per child. We spent that for all our kids with buying used text books (when we could) and also piecing our curriculum together.

You can read more about the curriculum our family is using by clicking HERE.

What My Lesson Plan Calendar Looks Like

I bought the Well Planned Day Homeschool Planner and at the time I was unsure if I should buy it. I can now say it was worth the money. Each month has helpful tips and tricks to manage your household and homeschool schedule.

When the calendar arrived I had grand plans of writing every lesson down for the the entire year. Well after reading the first few pages of the planner one of the major bullet points was “Don’t plan to far ahead”. Basically life happens and you don’t want to be erasing 180 lessons out of the journal when you get sick.

So I took that tip to heart and only wrote out the first week of lessons. I am so glad I did because I got food poisoning on the third evening into homeschooling. Thankfully I was able to switch things up for the next week and we filled in the gaps for the day we missed due to my illness.

We are working a Monday-Thursday homeschool schedule. It is easy to use Friday to complete anything that still needs to be done or have an extra day to our weekend. Here is what the inside looks like…

On the weekends I have been prepping any worksheets and printing anything we will need for the upcoming week. I have separate folders for each child with any printouts they will need to complete their work for the week.

The last three weeks have been great but I don’t want to give the impression that everything is sunshine and roses over here because there are still meltdowns and temper tantrums ;). We are fortunate to be able to have the choice to educate our kids this way during the pandemic.

Hopefully that gave a little insight into what our homeschool days are looking like currently. Thanks for reading!