As mentors to young scholars, it is important to leave the reins of the learning process in the control of our young scholars — allowing them to control the direction and pace of learning, in the moment. However, we must also ensure that they are encouraged and supported in their development of all the key skills and habits that they will need to successfully pursue their passion projects. The following curriculum resources are designed to either be used independently by young scholars, or to be used for side-by-side learning activities that mentors and young scholars can both enjoy, as they learn and grow their skills, together. We highly recommend all of these resources:
For Developing Nature Study Skills
One big, beautiful, PHYSICAL map of the world, showing no political boundaries, but instead focusing attention on the land forms, oceanic geography, waterways, tectonic plates, and the distribution of climatic zones. We have, and love to study this one from National Geographic.
“Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature” by Jon Young, Ellen Haas, and Even McGown. A thorough and well annotated guide on to how to mentor children in nature awareness. It gives ideas for activities in nice, bite-sized pieces requiring very little prep time.
“Kamana for Kids” (books 1-4) by Bob Repoley and Barbara English. A series of rather silly, illustrated short stories with follow-on nature awareness activities geared toward teaching children about nature observation skills, nature hazards awareness, gratitude for nature’s gifts, and the questioning mindset required to be a naturalist.
“Kamana Naturalist Training Program” (levels I-IV) by Jon Young. An in-depth, training program for older scholars, focusing on nature awareness, nature connection, and developing fluency in the “language of Nature.” Includes training in nature observation skills, ecology, tracking skills, bird language, navigation skills, outdoor safety and survival skills, medicinal and edible plants, along with a healthy dose of gratitude.
Calendar Wheels created by Larisa A. White, for use in teaching the cyclical nature of the seasons and months, moon phases, and weekdays:
You may download the complete set of four calendar wheels, to use at home. The first two are different versions of the Wheel of the Year — one according to the traditional Celtic celebrations of equinoxes, solstices, and cross-quarter days; the other a revised Wheel of the Year, focusing on the seasons as we experience them in the Coastal Mountain Range of California.
For Developing Culture Study Skills
One big, beautiful, POLITICAL map of the world, showing the locations of countries and major cities of the world. We have, and love to study this one from National Geographic.
“Mapping the World With Art” by Ellen Johnston McHenry. A lovely series of instructional videos that teach both how to think about and how to accurately draw various geographical regions of the world.
Rosetta Stone Language Software, for learning to speak a foreign language. Choose one language, or several. Our favorites (since you can travel to so many countries, with just English and these four languages) are: French, Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese.
For Developing English Literacy
The Mosdos Press Literature Series for grades 3-8. We use only the student textbooks for this series. They are more than enough. The content is delightfully multicultural, ethical (but secular — so it does not matter what religious background you come from, they still teach good moral values), and very diverse in types of reading materials presented. And also, the selections are fascinating reads, even to a grown-up! We use it for practice reading aloud (for diction and pronunciation), for comprehension, and for writing composition (answering the questions about the readings & doing the creative writing exercises):
“It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences,” by June Casagrande. The only book an older student really needs to understand all the grammar necessary to write well. If your student wants to be a linguist, look elsewhere.
The “Grammar and Writing” series by Curtis & Hale:
For younger children, grades 4-8.
This series of work/textbooks takes a robust, incremental approach to learning the fundamental rules of writing, grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It does not merely get the student to the point that they “sort of get” the material, but to the point where they understand it so well that they can no longer get anything wrong. Superb pedagogy in this series.
For Developing Numeracy
The Saxon Math Series (early editions, ONLY, which emphasize brain work over calculator work for early math — it is worth the effort to hunt these down through Amazon, or elsewhere). Saxon math takes a robust, incremental approach to learning math, which does not merely get the student to the point that they “sort of get” the material, but to the point where they understand it so well that they can no longer get anything wrong. Superb pedagogy in this series. And again, we find it more than enough to use just the student textbooks for this series, though, depending upon the mentor’s skill in math, you may want the answer keys for upper level math:
For Developing Art Skills
“Keys to Drawing” by Bert Dodson. Straight forward, and no-nonsense. This book provides an array of short lessons and practice “projects” that can help beginning illustrators — adults or children — develop the perceptual and analytical skills needed to more accurately represent the things they see, on paper.