Thursday, June 19, 2014

BookShark: First Impressions

BookShark Gr.1 History and Read-Alouds
I'll probably be writing a more detailed post later about our new BookShark materials, but I thought I would give my first impressions now.
The reason we ordered BookShark in the first place is because we've used Sonlight for the past few years, and have really loved it. BookShark is Sonlight, but secular. Book-based learning is definitely our family's favorite way to learn, and Sonlight does an excellent job of combining literature, history, and geography. I'm still convinced it can easily be used by a secular family. I wrote a post about that before.
So why bother to order a secular version at all?

1. I didn't particularly like paying for the few books I didn't use. If I bought a full core I was always left with a few titles I didn't want. With BookShark, we'll use every title.

2. I didn't enjoy sifting through the Christian content in the Instructor's Guide. After receiving my BookShark IG, which isn't cluttered with religious subject matter, I realized how much it really bothered me. It's refreshing not to have to begin our school day filtering the unnecessary content(and rolling my eyes).

3. Sonlight's timeline figures were overwhelmingly about missionaries and Christian figures. Bookshark's are full of history, actual history. I'm not saying there aren't important Christian dates and historical figures. Of course, there are. But it gives kids a false sense of the importance of those dates and people if the majority of the timeline is filled with them.

4. I want to send a message that catering to secular homeschoolers is a good thing. Too often, we resort to using Christian materials because they are the best available for a subject. Sonlight, in my opinion, is the best book-based curriculum on the market. However, now I can get those materials without voting with my dollars for evangelical curriculum.
A peek at our new timeline figures

So here are are a few of my first impressions of BookShark Grade 1 History, and 2nd Grade Intermediate Readers.

1. More relevant timeline figures.

2. Easier to use IG(if you don't want the Christian content).

3. They've shifted a few of the readers around to different ages, and placed them in more accurate levels, and eliminated the Christian readers.

4.The IG is still "open and go", just as easy to implement, and it still includes helpful extras such as the additional schedule pages.

5.Brighter, less old-fashioned covers to the IGs. Okay, it's a small thing. But I always found the Sonlight covers kind of ugly.

BookShark Gr.2 Intermediate Readers

Most of the books we already owned(purchased from Sonlight). I've replaced our IG mid-year. I only had to add Marco Polo, Encyclopedia Brown, and Lumber Camp Library to our Readers.
We are using this core for second grade even though it says first grade. If you are a Sonlight veteran, you know the cores cover at least three ages. I always find the middle age range to be the correct one for us. First grade is intended for ages 6-8, and since Bess is 7, we're using it for half a year of second grade. For now, it doesn't really matter where she's placed, but the later grades have heavier material and I don't want to rush into them until she's mature enough to handle it.

That's about all I have to say about BookShark until we've used it for a while, but so far I'm really pleased. I'm planning out our other subjects for the fall, and I'm pretty sure BookShark's Science will be part of those plans.

For more details than I have here about BookShark, I recommend this blog post from Our Enchanted Place.

I'll give a BookShark update as we get further into the year.

Until Next Time!


  1. Thanks so much for the link! I agree with you about the streamlined IG- I had gotten so used to sifting through it for the parts I wanted to use, and now it is just what I need, which is so nice.

    1. You're welcome Kim! Your blog was so helpful when I first started secularizing Sonlight. Of course, I love that now we don't have to!