Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Around the World Unit Studies: Spines and Supplements


I am so excited to begin Archer's first "official" year of homeschool. Since the kid has spent the last couple of years obsessed with world maps and flags, an "Around the World" curriculum was a no brainer. What was much MUCH harder was decided exactly which one. 

There are several available that all look very interesting and I spent HOURS reading through their descriptions, booklists and reviews.  Ultimately, I purchased two, Build Your Library Level 0: Around the World and Torchlight Level K Edition 2: Worldly Wisdom to use as book lists and a rough framework, but am changing them up quite a bit also. Both curricula have some excellent books, as well as discussion questions and ideas, so I am glad I purchased them. However, they also don't fit my learner in a lot of ways. We will be pulling in a LOT of other resources, as well as mostly doing our own thing for art, poetry and science.

**Note: For those of you new to the blog, Archer has been reading for years and is definitely not at a kindergarten level in most things. Also, this list is probably WAY too much for your average young elementary schooler. My kiddo loves this stuff and will probably prefer to read most of these over the fiction books for each region. We will adapt as we go. 

What I'm Keeping from BYL0 and TLK

  • Order: Build Your Library goes through the world continent by continent, while Torchlight skips around. We're going to go continent by continent (and add in the oceans), mostly in the BYL order. We are going to add a few countries and do some combining though.
  • Animal Profiles: BYL has an animal research component we will keep. I tweaked the animal profile page, though.
  • Read alouds: we are keeping many of the BYL read aloud books. They tend to do a good job of linking to the countries. We will be adding in others I think might interest my son or fit the region better. TL has a lot of great ones, but we've already read most of them.
  • Videos: Torchlight has a lot of YouTube links for the various countries and Build Your Library has some. We will likely watch a lot of these.

What I'm Skipping from BYL0 and TLK

  • Poetry: after looking into the poetry offerings from both curricula, I decided neither would really interest my learner. Instead, we will be doing Poetry Tea Time as inspired by Brave Writer. I did purchase Around the World on Eighty Legs as a tie in.
  • Art: I read reviews of the art involved with both and decided to go a different route. I did buy Around the World Art and Activities pretty cheap, but it mostly has papercrafts. We will do some, but I feel like learning to use a variety of media and techniques is more valuable, so I am going to attempt to focus on that (wish me luck, I am definitely not super artistic). BYL did just collaborate with Soul Sparklettes, so we may go that route.
  • Science: Let me remind you that I am a former science teacher, so that colors my opinion on the topic. The science in BYL is pretty much the animal profiles and the science in TL is mostly from Big Science for Little People (and Zoey and Sassafras). The animal profiles seemed insufficient and I checked out Big Science for Little People from the library and it seemed a bit disjointed for what I wanted. Our science is going to have two major components that I am weaving together to feel somewhat cohesive. One set of lessons will cover the Next Generation Science Standards. First, because I believe in them for science literacy and second, because someday Archer might want to go to public school. The other set of lessons will cover the biomes of the world, including the weather, plants, animals and their adaptations. I will try to post what we do for both sets of lessons.
  • Folklore Spines: We decided to skip A Year Full of Stories (TL), A Year Full of Animal Stories (BYL), and the McElderry's Book of Aesop's Fables (TL) because they are not my son's cup of tea. He is very concrete and logical, and often folktales are not. I just recently got him to start reading fiction at all. We will probably bring in some picture books for individual countries that I can get from the library, but purchase spines just to fight him on it did not seem worth it.
  • Character: Torchlight includes a Building Character component, but the reviews of Mali and Keela indicated that it was not something my son would appreciate. Instead we will focus on SEL through other picture books and eeBoo Conversation Cards


Both Curricula have many great spines that we're using, but also many that we're opting to skip. I marked which curriculum each came from. I've added a lot of spines and supplements, but keep in mind that this is the kind of thing my son LOVES. We have been collecting these types of resources for a couple of years just for his enjoyment. Our library system also has a lot of these books.

**My hope is to make some YouTube videos showing the insides of lots of these books. I'll upload them as I make them.

Reference-y Type Spines

More Spines

Animals Around the World Spines

I show the insides of these here.


These books and resources still cover a variety of places, but are harder to pin down to one. There's no one section devoted to one countries, rather they're mixed. I'll pull them out where they feel appropriate, fit the calendar date or when we have a lighter week.

Note: Most of these were not purchased specifically for this school year. Most were gifts for my flag/map loving little guy over the last couple of years.

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