Welcome! Okay, I'm game tonight. But remember we each will do things our own way.
1. An 8th grader can choose any two literature guides she is interested in. If she's already read the books, that's not a problem. If she wants to study fresh, new books, that's good, too. MFW's website has a couple of good suggestions, but they also have a link way at the bottom to all the guides at the PP site. I will say that it's helpful to know that a particular guide has been used and recommended by MFW, because each guide is a little different.
If you have 2nd edition ECC, all the 8th grader's extras will be in the small grid over on the page facing the main grid. Missionary bios (Bruchko, etc.), PP guides, and grammar are all alternated nicely for you. As for reading the PP book quickly, that is the way PP recommends you do the guide -- read the whole book through and then start the guide. My ds didn't do it that way, but any method is fine.
Book basket is a separate piece. It's an opportunity to learn more about the continent (or other topics, such as science biomes). I think of it like the little "vignettes" in history textbooks, when you stop the lesson to read about a little girl who lives in the country or a craft item etc. But it can be about anything. It's just part of the geography that needs to be added but can be freely open to your child's interests. It's scheduled over on the main grid.
2. The 2nd edition ECC grid must be what you have, because my 1st edition grid didn't have the grayed squares. My interpretation of the grayed squares is that those are to show you that you DON'T need to do anything there. In other words, if the grid weren't in a nice, tidy square, those boxes wouldn't be there at all. You'll notice that most of them are on "light and independent Fridays." When kids are younger, they may go to co-op on that day or field trips. Older kids may be catching up on their advanced work or spending more time on current events (where it says "Top Story" on the 7th-8th side).
3. Some of the things my 8th grader did on his own:
- most of the 7th-8th grade grid (research, literature guide, science)
- a lot of his math
- book basket
- copywork (handwriting is scheduled at the beginning of the year, and then memory verses)
- reading (if he wasn't already reading over on the 7-8th grade grid)
- some of the paperwork from geography (finishing maps, doing an Ecosystems worksheet)
4. Math drills can be dropped when they are mastered. That might be 2nd grade or it might be 12th. I spent some time daily on fractions review in 8th grade, but when I did this I actually chose something else he could skip.
5. Music in ECC is very short -- twice a week you listen to a song on a CD by a native from the country you are studying. We spent a bit more time when we did ECC in 3rd, and learned the songs/played the games that often went with them. In 8th, it only took 2-3 minutes to listen to the song, and I often read the tidbits in the songbook because they had interesting facts. It was a cute opener to our geography for the day, or a background song while ds did something else.
Art is scheduled once a week in ECC and we didn't do it at all in 8th grade, but we had fun with it in 3rd grade and my high school dd even joined in at that time. It's there for you if you want it.
6. The read-alouds are scheduled at the bottom of the main grid. Look along the left margin for the labels. Those are the 6 YWAM biographies and the Kingdom Tales. My 8th grader loves all of them, and they were nice to experience as a family.
And just a P.S., these are the things you can "cross off" your grid for your 8th grader:
- Book of animals, the 2-3rd grade book at the bottom of the main grid
- Anyplace it says "Advanced - continue the continent pages this week," because 7-8th graders already have all of those pages scheduled over in the smaller grid
- Any experiments scheduled under "science" (7-8th graders have a separate science, and they only do the science reading on the main grid as an advanced part of their geography studies)
- Some of the "reading" boxes on the main grid can be crossed out if there is already "reading" on the 7-8th grade grid (e.g. weeks 9-16). However, if you have a gal who loves to read, then you can use that box in the main grid to jot down her accomplishments in reading.
Keep asking and keep reading through the manual. You'll start to absorb it all in time.