For the past several plus weeks we at Homeschooling6 have been using The Thinking Tree Homeschooling Journals.
Sarah the creator of these beautiful journals originally made them for her own 6 daughters to use for 6 weeks while she was recovering from the birth of her 10th child. Because they own The Thinking Tree LLC publishing company she decided to put the books for sale and they were a hit. Moms all over the world were ordering her Homeschool Curriculum Journals!
Sarah is a Dyslexic, ADHD, and Asperger’s Syndrome specialist and creator of Dyslexia Games as well. What a talented mama she is!
Sarah was so gracious to allow our family to review:
The Hyper-Active Homeschool Journal,
Do-it-Yourself Homeschool Journal for Eclectic Learners,
and the Christian Family Homeschooling Curriculum: Delight Directed Learning Guide For Ages 7 to 17 - Includes Daily Bible Reading, Unit Studies, Science, Reading, Spelling, History, Art & Logic.
These journals were created for children who have Dyslexia, Autism, ADHD, and/or Asperger’s Syndrome but are also great for unschoolers, Charlotte Mason inspired learning, eclectic homeschoolers, and of course just plain fun schooling!
What is really unique about Sarah’s journals is she uses the Open Dyslexic Font Type. This is when the letters have heavy weighted bottoms to indicate direction. The child will be able to see which part of the letter is down, this helps the child recognize the correct letters quickly and because of the weighted bottom, it may help keep the brain from rotating the letter. Pretty amazing!
The journals are super flexible. You can use the journals all week (like I am with three of my children) or make it a fun Friday Homeschooling Journal Day or have your child use the journal twice a week (like Caleb).
All you need to use the journals is a pen, pencil, colored pencils, and/or crayons, colored pens (gel pens are always fun), and a stack of books (about 6-9). That’s it.
Once you got your books and fun supplies, have your child take his journal and have fun! If you are using this as your core program than have your child complete 10 pages a day (or less, it’s up to you!). You will need to include your own Math program.
Each journal is 6 weeks of schooling or more if you’re not using it 5 days a week and work best if your child is reading at a 2nd grade level or higher.
Many of the books work for multiple ages because you’ll have your child use books appropriate for his grade level.
With Caleb I expect higher level work. Instead of him copying a sentence or writing only words in the Reading Time boxes, he is required to write complete sentences or copy a paragraph. The younger children can write key words, draw, and/or copy less.
What will your child do daily using The Thinking Tree Journals:
Date Page: a fun way to write the date. The child circles the year, month, day of the week, and number
Art & Logic Games: sometimes your child will complete a drawing other times a sequence type puzzle.
Nature Study: have your child go outside and make a realistic drawing from something outside. What I have my kiddos do sometimes is draw a picture of an animal from a book.
Reading Time: Your child will pick 4 books from his stack, set the timer for 15 minutes, read one of the books, when the time goes off he’ll take his journal and copy or draw something from the book that was just read. Then repeat with 3 more books.
Spelling Time: the child will look for twenty words in their books to write. Sometimes it will be 4 twenty letter words or 7 letter words.
Screen Time: have your child watch a YouTube tutorial, documentary, educational program, or movie. When they are done they can rate it, write a little about it, and draw a picture.
Copy a Paragraph: your child will copy a paragraph from one of his books!
Math Practice: a page to make a maps, geometric designs, graphs, or even write a few math problems from their workbook.
Start Your Day: Depending on the journal your child can draw what they want to do (Hyper-Active Journal), Inspirational Quote or Verse (Christian Family Journal) or Copy a Verse or Quote (Eclectic Journal), write a prayer list and To-Do List.
Coloring Pages: Beautiful art work by the author and creator of The Thinking Tree journals.
These pages are what I call the "main pages" because they are in all the journals. Where the journals differ is the covers obviously. There are so many to choose from, all so beautiful!
Some journals are geared to an ADHD or an Asperger’s Syndrome child. For instance the one Lance is using is the Hyper-Active ADHD Journal. This journal has a daily “Jobs” page because ADHD children are interested in people and what they do or how they work.
The Asperger’s journal has a daily page that focuses on an interesting object and ask the child to look at the object and write down some facts and observation about it.
What you’ll find in The Hyper-Active Journal along with the ‘main’ pages is:
Would You Like This Job? the child will circle yes – no- maybe, there are 4 lines below the picture where the child can write why he/she chose yes, no, or maybe.
How Are You Feeling Today? this page has lots of facial expressions. Lance circles how he’s feeling, a fun page for them.
Letter Doodles: a page full of letters. Each page focuses on one letter. Some letters can be traced or colored.
Fun Writing Practice: Lance practices writing his letters from A-Z
Caleb is using the Christian Homeschooling Curriculum Delight Directed Learning Guide. This journal includes daily Bible reading and for art they practice using colored pencils. There are many realistic animal pictures in this one.
The Eclectic journal includes . . .
more writing which I love. There is a Creative Writing Page where the child writes a story, poem, lists, and more. This one also includes a page with a picture on the top half and the bottom has lines for Ethan to write a short story.
So this journal has the child do copywork, write a short story, and a creative writing page. Not all the pages are assigned in a day. The pages are being rotated. Some days there might be one or two writing pages but not all three.
Using The Thinking Tree Journals at Homeschooling6: Brent, Ethan, and Lance are using the journals daily as their main form of schooling. Each day they complete their ten pages along with their regular math program. They are also working their way through the Dyslexia Games Series B (a review coming later) completing 3 pages a day.
With Lance I’ve pulled back on a lot of his regular school. Right now with him we are focusing on his penmanship, reading, and writing using Dyslexia Games and The Thinking Tree Journals. Later in the year I’ll add some grammar and a more formal writing program.
Ethan’s school right now like Lance consist of Dyslexia Games & The Thinking Tree along with math, grammar, and Bible. I plan to pull grammar soon as well. I really want him to focus on reading.
Brent just got back from a two month stay in California. He will start using his journal (Eclectic Learners) along with math, grammar, Spelling Time, Reading Time (reviews coming soon), and Dyslexia Games.
Caleb is between 8th and 9th grade. He’s finishing up his 8th grade and has started some 9th grade subjects. Before he becomes a full time high schooler from now until January I want him to have some fun journal days.
Right now he is using Christian Family Journal twice a week along with Latin, math, and Dyslexia Games. The other three days he continues with his regular schoolbooks.
Final thoughts: I absolutely love these journals. I have not seen anything like them before. What a wonderful way to get your child reading and getting school done all with a stack of books!
You can use the workbooks over the summer, once or twice a week, do a week off and on altering from regular school one week then use The Thinking Tree the next and so forth, there are just so many ways you can work Sarah’s books in.
My only con with the books are they don’t lie flat. I usually have the kiddos put another book of the same thickness next to their journal. This way when they open and write the books are flush making it easier to write, draw, or color. I might spiral bind ours.
There are tons if journals on Amazon to choose from with more being added! You can also purchase some at The Thinking Tree website.
To see how we are using Homeschool Curriculum Journals click HERE and scroll down.
Here is a post about how we are changing the way we homeschool (using The Thinking Tree of course!) and how we used the 10 pages a day for 6 weeks!
If you live right, chances are your children will too. But teach them everything. What you don't teach them someone else will-and you might not like those lessons.-The Delany Sisters
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