Homeschooling with Usborne Books & More

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This guest post is by Jennifer Thorson, an independent consultant with Usborne Books. I asked her to write this post because I remembered how useful Usborne books were to me through all my years of homeschooling. I even remember when my oldest started school at a fancy private school and the required history book was Usborne’s Encyclopedia of the Ancient World!

UBAM offers quality, award-winning children’s books for pre-readers and readers alike. They cover topics from animals and history to coding, STEM and the arts.  These engaging books are suited to various learning styles. Activity books, homework helpers, classics and superb non-fiction reinforce core topics and encourage a love of reading and learning. Beautifully illustrated books capture a learner’s attention, and books with “bite-size” chunks of information build confidence in more reluctant readers.

Have a pre-reader?

Check out our phonics readers! These are wonderful in helping children develop phonemic awareness as each fun story focuses on a particular sound. Each book includes tips for parents. They are also available in combined volumes and individually. 

Books such as You Choose and Who’s Next? Guess Who help children verbalize and sequence events. There’s a Mouse About the House helps children learn to track left-to-right as they engage fine motor skills by slipping the mouse through the slot. The That’s not My… books have very simple text with touchy-feely pages for pre-readers.

Wipe-clean books and cards encourage kids to practice letters, numbers, pen control, telling time, etc. and are good for this age group. Lift-the-Flap books are engaging and substantive, and the Lift-the-Flap Very First Questions and Answers books introduce science concepts at this stage.

Early Readers

For early readers, the phonics readers continue to be gems with their lively, rhyming stories. The My First Reading Library offers 50 graduated books to build confidence in a beginning reader. The first titles in this set allow an adult to read a page and then the child reads a page with a few similar sounding words. Each book builds on what the child is reading until they are reading their own stories. 

UBAM’s Dual Readers such as The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales are great options (and work with pre-readers as well). These have a line of text across the top of each page and more text at the bottom. If a child can only read (or listen to) the top line, there is still a story. As the child’s attention span and/or reading ability increase, reading the whole text gives a more detailed story. Picture books, the Young Beginners & Beginners series, Read with Usborne books, and early chapter book fiction series are well suited to this level as their reading abilities increase.

Subject Areas

Some of the subjects that UBAM’s books can help students understand and enjoy are Geography, History, Math, Science, Fine Arts, Literature, Writing, and Computers. Here are a few titles in each area as “jumping off” points into the huge variety UBAM offers.

Geography: Big Picture Atlas, Stories from Around the World, Flags of the World to Color, Here and There, World of Animals, Lift-the-Flap Picture Atlas, Look Inside Our World, Sticker Dolly Dressing Around the World, Kitty Kat picture book series

History: Beginners History Box Set, The World Wars, History Uncovered: The U.S.A., Encyclopedia of World History, The Story of Inventions, 100 Things to Know About History, Book of Greek Myths, Time Traveler, Native American Patterns to Color, Timelines of World History, Medieval World, 6 Chelsea Walk series

Math: Illustrated Dictionary of Math and Illustrated Elementary Math Dictionary, 10 Days to Division Mastery & Wrap Up, Fractions and Decimals Activity Book, Times Tables Practice Pad, Lift-the-Flap First Math, First Math Slide and See Adding, This is Not a Math Book, Wipe-Clean Subtracting

The various math Activity Books and Wipe-Clean books make excellent workbooks for practice. The Book of Comparisons deals with measuring and comparing across various disciplines.

Science: Lift-the-Flap Periodic Table, Illustrated Dictionary of Physics, Chemistry of Cola, 100 Things to Know About Science, This is Not a Science Book, Lift-the-Flap Questions & Answers About Weather, Big Book of Big Bugs, Illustrated Dictionary of Science, Beginners Science Box Set, Otters, Snails, and Tadpole Tails: Poems from the Wetlands, Fold-out Solar System, World of Animals, Discovery Adventures series, See Inside Molecules and Atoms, Look Inside Your Body,  Electricity and Magnetism,

The STEM scribble books (Inventions, Technology, Engineering, et. al.) are great workbooks for multiple learning styles.

Fine Arts: Art Treasury, How Art Works, Lift the Flap Questions & Answers About Art, Art Skills, Famous Paintings (fact cards), numerous step-by-step drawing, coloring and sticker books, Famous Composers Reference Book, First Book About the Orchestra, Learning Wrap-Ups Music Theory

Literature and Writing: UBAM offers classics at various levels allowing an earlier introduction to many of the classics. Check out the following series for these: Read With Usborne: Level 4, Young Reading, Graphic Novels, Illustrated Stories, Illustrated Originals (unabridged), and Complete Dickens, Shakespeare: Stories from the Plays, and Jane Austen (retold collections). Other essentials include: Not Your Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus, Write Your Own Mystery and Suspense Stories, Creative Writing Book, Illustrated Grammar and Punctuation and First Illustrated Thesaurus.

Computers: Look Inside How Computers Work, Lift-the-Flap Computers and Coding, 100 Things to Know About Numbers, Computers, and Coding, Coder Academy, and books for beginners using Scratch and Python.

Many of the above books have companions at different levels or are in a series covering other subjects. Also, books in the Beginners series and many of the encyclopedias are among UBAM’s internet-linked offerings, which allow readers to dive deeper into the topic at safe websites. UBAM offers a number of titles in Spanish, too.

Different levels of the Wipe-Clean Key Skills series cover skills in multiple subjects, allowing students to practice as much as needed AND allowing multiple kids in the family to use and re-use the books.

Different Learning Styles

UBAM books have many qualities that appeal to different learning styles.

For more tactile learners, there are engaging flaps books for most subjects and age levels. Numerous books provide hands-on learning experiences like 100 Science Experiments, Outdoor Book, or 50 Science Things to Make and Do. Wipe-cleans, Step-by-step drawing and writing books, the unique Shine-a-Light series (read with a flashlight), quality sticker and coloring books all reinforce learning as children enjoy them.

Visual learners will be drawn to the rich illustrations and photography evident in books such as the Children’s Encyclopedia and Beginners series. Colorful, engaging art is a hallmark of Usborne Books & More. In fact, founder Peter Usborne has said books should be harmoniously colorful and attractive enough to be “almost edible.”  The Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers books are examples of a high word-to-picture ratio which encourages more visual learners as well as readers who might struggle with large sections of text. 

In addition to books, UBAM has some other tools that BOTH tactile and visual learners will love! Jigsaw Puzzles (each including a book) range from 9 to 300 pieces on many topics. Learning Wrap-Ups combine visual and tactile learning in a key-shaped tool that allows students to wrap a string from question to answer and then use the self-correcting feature on the back of the key. These are available in a variety of subjects. Learning Palettes are self-correcting, hands-on learning games that teach important skills at each grade level, also in numerous subjects.

For auditory learning, books with CD such as Bible Stories (dual reader) or Ted and Friends (phonics reader combined volume) are available.  The new phonics reader combined volume Unicorns in Uniforms and Other Tales is one that offers QR codes for audio of the stories. There are also a variety of sound books for younger children.

More verbally inclined students will benefit from journals such as Stargazer’s Journal, Story Writer’s Ideas Journal, or A Year in My Life, as well as the Write Your Own books (Poems, Stories, Comics, et. al.).

Learning Challenges

For children who may encounter learning challenges, UBAM can help here, too! UBAM frequently uses colored or tinted backgrounds, which helps in visual processing. Touchy-feely books and those with smaller chunks of text support children with reading struggles, as do books like You Choose which encourages discussion around your own story decisions. Early fiction with varied fonts and/or less text on a page are also helpful (in fact, the Hey Jack! and Billie B. Brown books were written with dyslexic children in mind).

Popular kid subjects such as dinosaurs, unicorns, zoos, farms, pirates and princess are all available in different age levels, ability levels and formats. Quality flap and pop-up books, sticker books, coloring books, and stained-glass coloring engage children in their favorite topics and help them have positive experiences with books.

Real Life Skills and Careers

Life Skills application is another area where UBAM excels. The Academy series introduces facts and activities related to different careers such as Architect, Chef, Engineer, Pilot, Vet, Entrepreneur, and Doctor, etc.  Managing Your Money, Understanding Business, Understanding Money deal with real-life math and money skills (the latter two are available in a collection with Understanding Politics and Government).  Start to Cook, Gardening for Beginners, and 100 Things to Know About Food are suited to food related skills. The Bear Grylls Survival Skills handbooks and The Outdoor Book contains lots of helpful information on outdoor skills. PM note: I got my 11 year old nephew the Survival Skills book and it was a HIT!

You can browse ALL the books I’ve shared, as well as many, many others here.

Save Money on Usborne Books

Hosting a UBAM party is one great way to save on book costs! Box sets and combined volumes help save money, too. I’d also love to share some specials for Productive Mama readers who join my Facebook group. PM note: Be sure to tag me and say Hi if you join!

Fundraising?!

Need help with fees for enrichment activities, lessons, or coop needs? UBAM offers a simple to run fundraiser called “Cards for a Cause.” Individuals or groups may sell boxes of quality greeting cards and receive a great return for their fundraising needs.

Homeschool AND Make Money?

Alongside fantastic products for lessons, UBAM provides a wonderful business opportunity that fits well into a homeschooling mom’s life. Supportive team members, no sales minimums, and the ability to work in small chunks of time while setting your own goals all make consulting a perfect asset! Many UBAM consultants began simply to save money and build their home library. Others love helping families and community groups obtain quality books and sharing a love of literacy. Meanwhile, they are boosting family income or helping with homeschooling related fees.

Contact Jennifer

Questions? You are welcome to contact me through my facebook group or my Usborne page. I’m happy to help!

Jennifer Thorson calls the Show-Me State of Missouri home, following a variety of educational, travel, and work experiences. Jennifer lives with her husband, 3-year-old son, dog, three chickens and a fish. With a background in music, she continues to play organ and oversee a Swaddling Clothes program at her church for area children in need. As a SAHM to her busy boy, she also enjoys working with him on Jr. Kindergarten lessons, which fit right in with her “book lady” love of sharing literacy through Usborne Books & More.

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