Tackling Education Goals – by Using Amazon and the Library

I’m incredibly lucky – I live in a metropolitan area with an unbeatable library system – the Mid-Continent Public Library. What can’t be found at the library (very little) can usually be found through the inter-library loaning program from any one of three other states in the area.

The Weekly Review

As we dip our toes into the new learning year, I’ve made it a priority to visit the goals for first grade on at least a weekly basis.

  • What have we covered?
  • Has Emily accomplished any of the milestones?
  • What is she interested in and how can that correspond to the stated learning goals?
  • What books can I get to help us towards these goals?

And for that last question, I go to two sources…

Amazon As a Search Engine

You don’t have to spend money buying all of your homeschool books – instead find some series and titles that work for you, and if you really need them for repeated use, then buy them through Amazon (or another, I have good luck with half.com).

When I am looking for some good books on a particular subject I use Amazon’s search engine. Here I was searching for an art book that would explain still life to a 3-5 year old. See Children’s Books on the left in bold?

And Ages 3-5 selected? The first book listed caught my eye, because it is part of a series that defines different art types, and is written with Emily’s age group in mind.

I then turned to the Mid-Continent Library website and signed into my account and ran a search for another topic – a series of books called “Rookie Read-About Science” and here are the results on my search…

There are plenty of titles to choose from although the screen shot I took is rather lacking. Some of the relevant first grade goals for science are as follows…

Understand the basic premise of atomic theory: that is, all things are made of very small particles called atoms.
Know the three states of matter: solids, liquids, and gases.
Investigate electricity and magnetism.

All things we have now discussed and I can mark off as complete. Later we can follow it up with science experiments that reinforce Emily’s understanding – some magnets would be fun!


The ages that Amazon lists are rather broad –

  • Birth to age 3
  • Ages 3-5 years
  • Ages 6-8 years
  • Ages 9-12
  • Young Adult

I had found a great series called “Who Is” that covered some famous Americans. It was listed in the 6-8 years section. Now Emily will be six in just a few weeks, so it made sense to me to gravitate toward the ‘older’ section rather than stay in the ‘ages 3-5 years’ area. But in the case of the “Who Is” books, which are long, chapter books, Emily is simply not ready to sit still that long for me to read it.

Honestly, she has just recently gotten over her reluctance to read anything that smacked of “learning.” I view this as my fault, pushing non-fiction and workbooks on her before she was ready. It meant slipping backward a bit, in order to go forward again. With her newfound excitement in reading, Emily is actually seeking out and choosing books to read by herself, but it will be a while until she is reading chapter books!

So my point in all this is to suggest that, if you find yourself faced with a series of books that is not at your child’s level, move back and forth between the stated levels (either ahead or behind) to find a better match.

Cue #1 – Let Their Questions Be Your Guide

The other day Emily visited with our neighbors to the south. “Mama, I learned a new word today,” she said. She pointed to my sock, “Your sock is blanco.”

I nodded, “Yes, and your outfit is red or rojo.”

She practiced saying that word for a moment and then asked, “How do you say gold in Spanish, Mom?”

“I’m not sure.”

She asked it twice more and as I was searching on Amazon for some good books I typed into the search engine ‘spanish colors’ and up popped a book that might help answer Emily’s question…


Meanwhile, I may just go to this site for more info as well: 123 Teach Me.

The answer to her question, however, I had to have faster than it will take for the libraries to produce. The answer was ‘oro’ and as for her hair, which she also was trying to figure out how to say in Spanish, the answer was ‘rubia’. Now how to say it in a sentence…hmmm…

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