Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Thinking Tree Review: Homeschooling Boys Library-Based Journal

This is how my 5th grader, Eli, is using the Thinking Tree journals in our homeschool. He is using these two journals right now:

These are the Homeschooling Boys Library-Based Curriculum Journal and the Reading Time 180-day Journal.

The Library-Based Journal is his main journal that he uses each day. The Reading Time Journal is used on the days he doesn't have a Reading Time page in his Library-Based Journal. {He also has a math and grammar workbook he uses every day.}

He picks out several books each week to read on whatever topics he choses. He has chosen topics ranging from the Titanic to Baseball Heroes to Magnetism to Pitching to Pyramids.

The pages included in this journal are:
 {There is a picture included for each page. Eli writes very lightly, so it is hard see what he has written and drawn. I like looking at the pages in each journal, so I thought you may, too!}
  • Date Page: He circles and writes the day's date. This page shows him where to start and stop each day.

  • Quote, Goals, To-Do List Page: This page has room to write an inspirational quote or Bible verse, a to-do-list, and his goals.

  • Travel Dreams: This page lists a city with a coloring picture. He has to look in an encyclopedia or the internet to find 3 interesting facts about the city.

  • Creative Writing: He write a short story about a picture on each of these pages.

  • Emotions and Moods: This page is fun!  He colors the faces that match his mood each day. There is also room at the bottom to list 3 things that could improve his mood.

  • Reading Time: He reads from 4 books for 15 minutes each and writes or draws something he has read or learned.

  • Spelling Time: He must find 20 words with a certain number of letters from his library book.

  • Film Study: He watches a documentary or YouTube video and writes what he learns.

  • World News Today: This page is also fun. We talk about world event that are happening and read about them. Then he colors the country and writes  few sentences.

  • Copywork: He copies an interesting paragraph from one of his library books.

  • Sketch a Picture: He looks through his library books and sketches a picture.

  • Nature Study: He looks through a book or goes outside and finds something to draw.

  • Menu Plan: On this page, he draws a meal plan. Sometimes, he draws a meal plan from the country he read about that day.

This journal is a 60-day journal. It takes about 2 hours a day to complete. He doesn't have all of the pages every day! He has around 6-7 pages each day. On the days he doesn't have a Reading Time page, he completes 2 pages in the Reading Time journal. This journal has 2 pages : Reading Time and a Book report page. On the Book Report page, I let him write about any book he has read for fun lately {Goosebumps, 39 Clues, Percy Jackson}.

Eli really enjoys working in these journals. He enjoys school so much more now because he can choose what he learns about! I asked him a few questions about the journals to get his perspective:

What is your favorite page?
"Film Study because I like watching videos."

What is your favorite thing about the journals?
"I enjoy being able to pick out what books to read."

What is your least favorite part of the journals?
"Copy-Work because I don't like copying things."

Do you want to continue using these journals and why or why not?
"Yes, because I enjoy the pages. I like reading the books, too."

In January, I plan to have him do at least one science experiment a week and write about it on the Sketch a Picture page. I also plan to have a little more structure with his topics, requiring me to pick one book each week.

Check out Sarah Brown on Facebook, her website, and Amazon! She has amazing journals and new stuff all the time!


  1. Ethan is using these two books as well! I just posted my Thinking Tree Thursday Spotlight, so feel free to add your link in the comments.

    1. Question how do you test him to see his progress???