Our favorite resources for the Fall

Per request, I’ve taken time to share the lovely resources we are using for the upcoming fall! My children are 6, almost 5, 3.5, and almost 2 year old twins. I also share our daily rhythm and weekly schedule because these are the things I request most when I’m picking the brains of other mamas! I hope this encourages your heart as you pursue what’s best for your sweet family. I’ve provided links for you! So click away!
We’re goo-goo eyed over our beautiful new resources.  We don’t need most of them, but decided to freshen our space and revitalize our love for homeschool. enjoy.All of these stunning pieces are from Bella Luna. Thank you Bella Luna for providing such precious pieces that wake us up to a rich life of schooling. (We can’t wait to use our wooden numbers for skip counting- coupled with the skip count songs from Math-U-See)

Math-U-See , math game

For reading we use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy lessons (and the title lives up to its name, My 6 year old was reading by lesson 50ish) And you guys it’s 13$. For handwriting we use Handwriting without tears . 

The gorgeous wooden letters are amazon. You’ll notice a theme here. Same for the simply beautiful book stand. Sight word Flash cards. 

For nature study: Handbook of Nature Study, Parables From Nature (a book that surprised me so much that I’m moving around our schedule to work it in- in a significant way!), Nests and eggs of north Texas backyard birds, nature journals, Nests: Fifty Nests and the Birds that Built Them, washi-tape, The Burgess Book for Children.

Art: sketch pads, watercolor paper, markers, paint, easel, clay, clay tools.

Good books: the big book of bugs, the street beneath my feet, paddle-to-the-sea, mama built a little nest.

These are the only homeschool resources I swiped at the Greater Homeschool Convention this year. I am convicted that we need behaviors, expectations, and habits in place before we hit the ground running with school subjects. I’m excited to implement these this season to set our course for smooth sailing in the years of homeschooling to come. The first is the etiquette factory. The second is teaching self government. If anything, these are the most important things I will teach my children for a life of  success.

Drawing boards, watercolor paint jars, bees wax candles from NovaNatural Toys!

Thank you for stopping by! I hope this post was encouraging for your upcoming school year! God bless, Rae.

Daily rhythm:

Weekly schedule:

Homeschool Success When You’re Type A: Honing The Art of Organized Chaos

I hear it a lot, “I could never do what you do! I’m too Type A!” I typically burst out laughing because I am SUPER TYPE A! They assume that because I let my children paint their bodies and cover their faces in mud that I’m some loosy goosy free-for-all funhouse and that’s just not true. If you come over you will find everything has its home and I demand that it be put back there. The process of letting some of that go has been a good journey for me. It’s good that I’m learning not to demand perfection from my children. Perfection is an unneeded burden all of us! But for my sanity and the function of our home I won’t let go of some of my type A and very important boundaries in our home.
If your excuse is that you don’t homeschool because you are too type A, I respectfully disagree! I think your type A provides the structure and form your children need to thrive. Here are some tools I think will help you run a successful and fun homeschool while keeping most of your type a tendencies in tact! Type A mama you were made for this.Here are ways to organize the chaos…

1.Minimize your stuff and schedule:
Scale back all toys and project supplies so that when projects and play stuff get pulled out it’s easier to clean up right away. I’ve got an art cart for project supplies and a block section for toys and everything else is locked up in a closet to rotate in! I like clear containers and labels to make it easy to switch out materials and it’s easy for the kids to pick up after play. 

Also scale back your time commitments. Say no to social gatherings and obligations. Create margin in your life so that you have the time and space to build your homeschool days the way you want.
If you are like me, ample time and less stuff to put away means projects are more likely to happen. JOYFULLYFor more on our day-to-day click here

2. Designate a space for each activity:
We have a place to read, to do projects, to play etc., this keeps all of the stuff for that activity nicely in its place, making cleanup easier. There aren’t blocks in the reading nest (most of the time😜) or crayons in the block section. We can easily tidy up because everything has a home in each little section.3. Create boundaries and stick with them:
The designated spaces works for us because I have laid out my expectations and continue to verbalize them as we go along. Paint stays in the art cart unless they ask. We do art only at the table. We put our books back after we read them. When you wake up from nap and pick out a princess dress to wear we put all the others ones back, etc.!4. Anchor your day with habits:
It’s easier for children to follow expectations that are clear and constantly expected to be followed. Eventually, it becomes a habit (at least I hope it does). We are consistent with when and how we eat, play, clean etc.! And no matter what we do we clean up before we move on ( are you sensing a theme here?) it’s a habit now! The formative years are all about FORMing good habits!5. Set their expectations, and yours:
“Ok sweets! We are about to start painting together. I need waiting-hands until I’m done nursing the baby. If you touch the paint before I come back you will have to sit this session out.” “Today we aren’t painting our bodies or faces, just the paper. If you can’t respect what we are doing today you are going to be done painting.” “We aren’t using glitter today.” This is how we set their expectations.
They might sling paint on the floor, they might add nature bits or dinosaurs, They might not be interested at all and want to go play…. this is how we set our expectations. They will most certainly do something you don’t expect! Expect a mess! But you and your littles expect to clean up after! You’ve made that clear.6.Do messy things outside:

Ok, this is life changing. DO ALL THE MESSY THINGS OUTSIDE (if you can). Sensory, art, mud oh my! It will be way more fun for you and them! Your inner voice will scream much less! It will free you all up to enjoy each other and the experience. And then you can just hose everyone off! It’s magic.7. Break up your day, take breaks often:
Do small lessons. Start each day with read-alouds, workbooks, handwriting, and math etc., and then send everyone outside. Even you if you can. Soak up the sun! Forget the chores!  This is a break. Come back to work , or do a project, or chore or meal prep. Then nap! Don’t ever give up nap!! Or rest time or whatever. Everyone separates to be alone with a good book or their thoughts or their pillow. So that we can all come back together with a new vigor for each other, books, interests, and work. Never underestimate the power of rest.8. Clean up after each activity:

If you are as type A as I am mess makes you crazy!! We clean up after each and every project. If the girls play in their room before I come get them in the in the morning they tidy before breakfast. Yes I’m that TYPE A. I can’t joyfully make a paint mess while there is a doll mess and a block mess and a meal mess in the other rooms.9. Find what works for YOU and what doesn’t:
If your like me, you grab many ideas from other awesome mamas and try to apply them to your life. Sometimes we can grab too much and take on things that really don’t work for our family. Use trail and error! Keep what brings you ALL joy and connectedness and leave behind the rest! For us, pre-prepared projects aren’t enjoyable. I don’t have the time to prepare them and the children would rather explore materials on their own terms. So projects arise spontaneously. What other families do may be wonderful and lovely but not for your family and that’s ok. Good even! We have all been created so differently and that’s beautiful!10. Measure your success by quality experiences not busywork:
Unfortunately, it took me the entire first year of homeschooling to realize that quality togetherness  was much more important than checking boxes. If you plan a spectacular day full of good schooly things that’s great! But if you aren’t invested in them AND each other it’s truly a day wasted. It’s no good to plow through a list. It takes a slower lifestyle to deepen relationships with people AND ideas. We need to linger in the arms of a loving cuddle and sit with the complex ideas of a good book. Scale back and measure time qualitatively not quantitatively.Finally and probably most importantly, change a little. Be shaped by the experience. See yourself as a life-long learner in need of growth alongside your children. This is an experience meant to be enjoyed and bonded. If you aren’t enjoyable and only insist on your way everyone will suffer. You set the tone. Let this journey change you for the better.

Extra tips:
* Read together first, I promise you will feel so connected the other stuff will run more smoothly and you might even have ideas for play or projects after!
* Eat good food, eat sugar as a treat. Sugar makes them crazy I promise!
* Go outside a lot. Something about it calms mama and of course the children get all their wiggles out. I can tell the days I want to pull my hair out I a)haven’t read to them b) we’ve eaten too much sugar and c) we haven’t gone outside.

*Screen-time can squash any lofty goals made for a day. Limit them as much as you can. You will be surprised how much time there is to live actual life when the television is off.

That’s it mama! Use those Type A skills to organize the chaos!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Finding our Rhythm

I’m often asked by other mamas “how do you do it?” or “where do you find the time to do art projects? I have laundry piling up!” It’s a common concern with homeschooling. How to get it all done. The truth is you don’t! No one gets it ALL done. Time is our most valuable asset and must be guarded. We must create a life that reflects what we value and let the rest go. imageWe follow a rhythm vs. a schedule. Life is fluid and ever-changing. Schedules are not. We follow a basic flow each day and week. Meals, naps, and bedtime happen around the same time which anchors our day and my sanity. We typically go to the library on Wednesday mornings and have a nature co-op on Thursday. But what happens around these times is an exciting ebb and flow, slowing and rushing as our family needs!imageI’d like to share our rhythm with you while encouraging you to find what works for your family! Isn’t that the beauty of homeschool?! The freedom to find and do what works for your family culture? I’d also like to point out that we value slow and meaningful living. We try to keep margin in our life so that we can dig deep into the things we ARE doing. This is what works for US!imageAre you ready for it…

Read. Project. Play.

It’s that simple! That’s the pulse of our day!

Read

We wake up each morning, prepare breakfast together, and gather in our reading nest, or on a picnic blanket with our morning basket. Both girls pray for our day, we recite a memory verse. I read a Psalm. We are reading through the gospels, starting in Matthew. I read a small paragraph (until the subject changes). We have a small memory board where we recall what the story was about and draw out an illustration together. imageThis is THE most important part of our day. Being in the word together each morning, sharing in the mind of Christ.
The girls then take turns choosing which picture book we read next! Right now or reading nest is full of Jan Brett books and we are LOVING them! I keep clipboards, paper, and markers in our basket. The girls typically sketch away while I read, oh and eat breakfast of course!imageWhen our bellies and minds are full of yummy food and good ideas we clean up and work on a project!

Project

Project time varies and changes! Sometimes we do something I set out the night before (play dough and nature parts, observational drawing, a hand craft etc.) Sometimes the girls have an idea they want to see pursue from the feast of ideas we absorbed in our reading time.
Essentially, project time is relaxed but intentional hands on work! It’s a time where they know I will sit along side them an assist them in pursing their own ventures. The girls drive the motivation and direction of their project! I simply offer my time!image imageimageThe product is second to the process. This is a time to create, discover, make mistakes, and critically think!imageWhen their a bit older, I’d like the project to be on-going process with revisions, bunny trails and depth. Weeks and months of spiraling discoveries!

Play

After we wrap up a project (and clean up of course, because I’m type A😆) it’s free play! Contrary to all the schooly ideas we have engrained in our minds, this is actually the most important part of our day. Yes they need a hefty diet of good books and yes crafting together is of merit, but much is lacking if unmediated play isn’t to follow. This is when their little minds test limits, expand ideas, and self regulate ON THEIR OWN TERMS!imageI stay in an earshot but distinctively make myself unavailable so they can work through problems on their own. I grab a book or a load of laundry and get out of the way of the very important work of play.
imageDramatic play comes to life. imageNegotiation and compromise take place.imageConfidence and self assuredness amplify.imageResearch swells.imageAutonomy grows.

Little people get to be who they are.imageIt’s beautiful.
SO that’s it! That’s our rhythm. We eat lunch and nap and start the whole process over again in one form or another.
What’s yours?

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

What’s A Morning Basket

One question I get asked most on our homeschooling journey is “What’s a morning basket?” It’s encouraging to have other mothers in my life seeking a literacy rich homelife, and lovely habits.

“The mother who takes good care to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days”- Charlotte Mason
I love sharing what works for us. This post is for all those mamas.imageA morning basket is a basket full of books to start the day with important and rich ideas.

“A morning in which a child receives no new idea is a morning wasted”- Charlotte Mason

What’s In the basket:
The bible,remember board, good good books, markers and clipboards, and handwork!imageWe use a basket so that we can sit at the table, or in the reading nest, or have a picnic, or take it to the park etc!

Here’s what we do:
We pray (the girls do to) and we open our bible to a psalm. Right now the girls read a portion of Psalm 119 with me!  They have memorized it over the weeks I’ve read it out loud. We recite our memory verse (which changes every couple of weeks). Sometimes we recite all of our memory verses to keep them fresh. And then I read a small paragraph in the gospel of Matthew (I think we will do Genesis when we finish Matthew).
We use our remember board to draw and recall together what we read in Matthew, and what it means. The girls love to draw Jesus. This is the sweetest and most important part of our day. This is where the girls learn of their need for a Savior.the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-8The girls then take turns choosing which book we read next. I typically have a specific author or literary style in our basket (currently, Jan Brett), a few of their unrelated favorites, and non-fiction books that correlate with their interests (currently butteries, the human body, and cicadas)imageI keep clipboards and markers in the basket for the girls to sketch while I read. Observational drawings, authoring and illustrating of their own stories is a fantastic result, but mostly they like to keep their hands busy. I keep small blocks and handwork for my smallest one too!imageThere is no time set for morning basket, it always comes to an end organically. Everyday is different!imageThat’s it! That’s whats in a morning basket. I’d love to hear what’s in yours! For more on how to build your family culture around books click here!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Cultivating Traditions: June/July/August

Summer days sort of run together don’t they? The days are longer and we tend to push bedtime back to linger in the cool evening breeze.

I love the simplicity of summer, it exudes the character I have been struggling to frame our homeschool around all year! Keep it simple silly! Thank you summer for the sweet reminder!imageOur summer can be described in 3 words: Bugs, Books, and Backyard!

Bugs:
Cicadas and cicada shells have been an obsession in our home again this summer. We have quite the collection going. We’ve enjoyed discovering their mysterious life spend over a decade underground and just a few short weeks up here with us.imageMarvelous creatures. Aren’t they fascinating?imageFin, age 4, painted this lovely cicada family with acrylics and oil pastels.

We’ve had a rich learning experience joining the summer Nature Pal Exchange. We gathered nature bits from our own neighborhood, identified them, and made art with them.imageThe prickly pear cactus stuck out to us the most (no pun intended). Whether in a Jan Brett book or on the street the girls spot them everywhere!

I wonder if they would be as enthusiastic about them (or anything for that matter) if I would have sat them down with a worksheet?imageOur exchange family sent us the most beautiful nature finds from Hawaii!! The rich experience continued as we combed over them, tasted the Hawaiian salt, made music with the river rocks, and made small worlds with the sand, shells, and our ocean creatures. Stay tuned for more on this project up on the blog soon!

Butterflies and caterpillars have been a great source of inquiry in our home over the year.
imageWe ordered our insect lore butterfly kit and are excited to explore our questions authentically!imageAs they grow, spin a chrysalis, and transform into butterflies!

Books:
My goal this year is to build our family culture around books and it seems effortless now. Some days I really don’t want to read aloud but where my motivation waivers the girls flourishes! They beg to read books now! Diligence pays off.
Some of our favorites this summer have been the cuddly creatures in Jan Brett books.imageOf, course caterpillar and butterfly books, along with other natural science books.imageimageAnd the beautiful rhymes and illustrations of My BookHouse nursery rhymes!imageBackyard:
If we aren’t reading or painting we are outside. Well to be honest we try to do those things outside too! Un-regulated free play is best educational experience out of all that we do.imageMud/water play is imaginative play and early literacy practiceimageBike riding and climbing is gross motorimageFree play is self regulated and cooperativeimageSand play is science and sensoryimageScience discoveries are endless!

And that’s it! That sums up our first year of school and the end of our cultivating traditions series! I think I’ve been the biggest learner of all! Prayerfully the simplicity of summer will spill over into a simple and meaningful fall! Here we go!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Contents of a Nature Basket

A nature basket takes the infamous Charolette Mason “natural journal” to the next level. Simply put, the nature basket accompanies us on our nature walk. It’s where we gather, document, and further observe the encounters we find in nature.Processed with VSCO with f2 presetHere is a list of what is in our basket!
Except for the art supplies, all of the contents were found at a second hand store, scrap store, and dollar store (including the basket itself).

Nature Journal: found at the dollar store, a small spiral notebook with thick, line-less, paper.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-7The journal is for documenting finds on the spot (like a tree you can’t take home) or for pressing finds (like a flower) to document later.

Watercolor and brushes: found on Amazon, (brushes), I bring a water bottle along to activate the palate and for color changes.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-5

water 2These are for documenting the encounters seen in nature in a more beautiful way, not for every nature walk but for ones really moves the soul. For example, it’s newly spring and a place you visit often has newly bloomed tulips that you must sit and paint about!

Colored pencils and sharpener: found at a second hand craft store.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-6These are used for jotting down what is seen. Drawing a sketch and writing down your ideas and questions.

Specimen jars, pipettes, tweezers, magnifying glass: found at second hand scrap store and on Amazon.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-9

the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-8These are for collecting bugs, flowers, mushrooms, water etc. to examine and take home for further observation!

Binoculars: found at a thrift store.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-8For observing far off encounters!

And finally a basket: found at a thrift store. Sturdy and spacious.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-31The carrier of all the items you might need to get a deeper study of nature on your next nature walk!IMG_6723(Take your finds home and display them on a nature table so further exploration can be had!)
Processed with VSCO with p5 presetAn important aspect to point out about the nature basket and nature walks in general is that they are meant to be executed in a relaxed leisurely manner. The basket shouldn’t feel forced at all. Make it available and see what happens! Find a local nature trail and take a walk. Leave the basket behind the first few times. Continue to visit the same spot over a few weeks time and bring along your basket when you feel it’s time!Processed with VSCO with c1 presetI’d love to hear about your experiences!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Cultivating Traditions: April

With all the rain showers I can’t help but feel God’s grace pouring out over me. Maybe it’s because storms are my favorite weather or maybe because it’s a cleansing environment allotting depth in thought.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-6 (On dry days we can gather and fellowship with friends)

Either way, I’m energized and blessed by the time to slow down and examine our family life. We have a TWO new babies on the way (number 4 and 5!!! TWINS) so many aspects of our family life are slowing down as I get through the first part of pregnancy. And that’s OK! Really, busyness is not equal to success contrary to the push in our culture for more, more, MORE!
the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-16(oh and did I mention my middle broke her collarbone?! So we are on couch time for a many good reasons)

I admit I struggle with guilt when I don’t function at my normal level. I hate myself when we watch movies for weeks on end instead of read/project/play because I can’t stand up without feeling queasy. The momma guilt is strong during this season. I desire to do all of these beautiful things with my family but just cant for a while. The guilt I have reveals my heart. But with each pregnancy the Lord is teaching me more and more about how to lean on him, that my worth is in Him not my performance, and that a fulfilling family life is slow and meaningful. I “know” these things in my head but each passing year I am learning them at the heart level.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-17(The children are engaging mostly in independent play. And that’s O.K.)

It’s hard to admit to myself and others that I’m not awesome and that any good thing I do is because of His work in me. But admitting this and living this is the freedom of the gospel.

the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-12SO! All that being said this month I am focusing on my own relationship with the Lord. I am asking my children for forgiveness often as they see me at the weakest and crankiest time of life.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-24 We are watching movies as I try to work through morning sickness and guilt.the humming room reggio inspired charlotte mason influenced nature and outdoor idea-15We are getting outside some to hop around in puddles and pet animals with friends. Processed with VSCOcam with a4 presetWe aren’t doing much “school”. But that’s the beauty of homeschool. Ebbing and flowing with the needs of the unit as it grows and changes. Nothing formal about it.

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Building Our Family Culture Around Books

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetAll the greatest minds in the world are in books. Amazingly, we have access to all of them! This is quite reassuring as a homeschool mom! There is no special formula to learning that somehow the formal school system has codified. They read books! They assign books to be read! Even at the collegiate level. We have all we need here at home to learn about all the grandest ideas and concepts. If I can build a homeschool around the love of books I have done my job!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-6Something I’m most concerned about at the preschool level is motivation. I want my children to develop an absolute love for books and learning. That way, at the secondary level they have the desire to use the tools at their disposal to soak in all of the concepts available to them!homeschool building family culture around books ideasSO we are reading as often as we can in the most leisurely and enjoyable ways possible! We are building our family culture around books that will carry us through the school years and develop into life long learning.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-21Here is a comprehensive list of HOW!

Environment

What we bring into our home reflects what we value. And children are keen to notice. Mine know that we value books because they are everywhere.  homeschool building family culture around books ideas-16Our reading nest- This is where we gather every morning and every afternoon to pour over books. It’s an inviting comfortable space with cozy pillows, books at their level, and small things for them to do with their hands as they listen to read-alouds.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-31Bed book baskets- each child has a basket in their beds and a flashlight so that they can spend their own time pouring over books!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-22Relevant materials- Whether its an art project, nature study, or block building I try to set up corresponding books with relevant material to add ideas and insight to their work.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-30

color mixing sessionhomeschool building family culture around books ideas-3

clay work building beetleshomeschool building family culture around books ideas-17

swamp sensory play

Limited screen time– This one is huge. I think even as adults we’d rather be watching TV. I’m the worst! And it starts with me. I implemented a rule for myself a while ago that I would only be on my phone during nap and when the kids are asleep. That’s been a huge change. Not only do I engage them like I should, they have a model for what an “unplugged” life looks like. We only watch one 30 minute show each day while the girls eat lunch (other than family movie night). If we want a family culture around books we must push back and set limits. I think adults and children naturally choose TV over books! My kids choose to read, play outside, build blocks, and paint pictures because screen time is not an option.Processed with VSCOcam with p5 presetCarved Out Time

What we spend our time doing reflects what we value. If I carve out large or many parts of the day around reading my children recognize that its something I place value upon.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-15Morning basket- each morning we gather in the reading nest (or outside on a picnic blanket!). We pray, recite memory verses, read through the gospels and pour over book after book. We eat breakfast and draw. The girls take turns choosing a book. They love to take over and “read” either books they have memorized or they “read” the pictures. This is our largest reading session.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-2Tea time- When the girls wake from nap we drink tea in the reading nest and typically read something more classical like Beatrix Potter! The girls adore this time.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-4Frequent the library- We visit the library weekly. We go there to play and meet friends but we love to browse and bring new books home.homeschool mountian painting play ideas-14Bonus

Audio books- This is new one in our home and it’s added so much to our lives. We love to take them in the car and read them over and over again! I made sure to get the picture books with the disk so the girls have physical copies to follow along with. I also grabbed the books that had two copies so that each child could follow along in their carseat. Some of the tracks actually ring a small bell to indicate when to turn the page!!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-29Authoring stories- Every so often the girls and I will write a story together! The last one was about a Princess named Powgee who gets swallowed up by a bad guy named Purdo Gurdo! We later added in illustrations. I laminate each book and add them to our book shelves. The girls love reading the books they’ve written.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-10

homeschool building family culture around books ideas-14Storytelling- This doesn’t happen often because it’s a lot to set up but we have a story telling basket with figurines and props to help us retell a story after we have read it. This goes really well with stories we’ve read over and over.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-9

homeschool building family culture around books ideas-11Encourage pre-reading- When the girls ask to take over the read-aloud I always say yes! And I never correct. Sometimes they read from memory and sometimes they read the pictures (a lot of times its verbatim the text). But what they “read” doesn’t matter. What matters is that they see themselves as readers.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-7Take books on vacation- We always bring a basket of books on vacation. Whether they get read or not. They are a part of our lives!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-23

homeschool building family culture around books ideas-24Build your library- We check out books from the library! You can keep them for 3 weeks but you can renew for around a year or more. We’ve had around 40 books for 6 months. We have a running list of books we MUST own when we return ours. The library is a great way to have many books for free and to find the gems you must own forever.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-18Tips

Tip 1) Start small and  take on one new habit at a time. I accumulated all of these habits one at a time over months and months. I’d start with screen time and the library! homeschool mountian painting play ideas-12Tip 2) Keep the same books for a long time and read them over and over!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-8Tip 3) Read the author and illustrator, the kids will have them memorized and so will you for finding new good books.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-19Tip 4) Give those little hands something to do while you read. They retain so much while eating/drawing/playing. You will be amazed.homeschool building family culture around books ideas-5Tip 5) Have fun!!! If it’s just not working. STOP. Try again later. Reading used to be a source of frustration in our home until I slowly changed our habits. I wouldn’t force it. Don’t do that!homeschool building family culture around books ideas-13For more encouragement/ideas/book-lists  go to read aloud revival! I’m pretty sure Sarah coined the phrase “building your family culture around books” and I just love her. 

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Cultivating Traditions: Happy 2016

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristotle

the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-10When I think of Tradition two things come to mind. First, the crafts-rituals-experiences each family repeats on a given holiday. And Second, the daily habits a family performs (intentionally or otherwise) that shape and reflect values. If I value a literacy rich environment, for example, it’s important that our daily habits reflect that value and thus it becomes Family Culture. I want our family culture to be excellent.the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-6These are things that I want our lives to be marked by and the habits I want to graft in each month for the year of 2016. In the spirit of the new year I guess you could call them resolutions!

Character:

  • Prayerfulness: In the hard and good moments I want to model prayer in front of my children. I want to pray with them when they receive discipline and are heartbroken (or not). And pray in front of them for myself when I mess up and scream and need to ask the Lord and them for forgiveness. I want to rejoice in a joyful moment unabashed. 
  • Minds renewed by the washing of the word: I want to read the bible together each morning discussing the gospel, memorizing scriptures and recalling them in hard times, and listen to good teaching together during down time. I admit these are already solid daily habits in our homes. Nevertheless I’d like to keep them that way!
  • Giving: I want to be a giver of time, money, resources. Adults and children easily giving up the things that we have been so graciously given.
  • Soft words: This one is for me mostly. Soft words for each other and all people.
  • Technology minimalism: I’d like less TV, less phone, less internet, less entertainment etc! Technology should support or crafts, pursuits, and interest not suck out all of our time in mindless entertainment.
  • Discipline: I want to be people that chose to do what is right and good instead of what feels good.
  • Daily Autonomy: The family unit is a great joy and responsibility for all. However, each day I like to carve out time for my children to play independently from my help or concern. It’s important for them to create their own ideas and to govern their own explorations. It’s also an important time for me too. I need to sit and read for pleasure or work on a craft guilt free.

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Craft:

  • Music: My husband is a gifted musician. I wan to make music with our friends and family.
  • Dance: My degree is in dance but I don’t do it often. I’d like to make time to dance myself but mostly together in our dining room (like in the middle of this post my middle and I had a dance party to Adele- more of that.
  • Travel:  We like to explore nature and social studies together in new places.
  • Hand crafting: We love making gifts for others in a time of sorrow or celebrating; sewing, painting, felting, drawing, film, etc.
  • Nature exploration:  Entails collecting, examining, documenting, hypothesizing, pressing, and watercoloring encounters with nature. 
  • Art: Our focus is on outdoor large scale projects, watercolor, observational drawing, sensory/ open-ended art. 
  • Literacy rich: Some of the main portions of our day involves storytelling, tons of reading, authoring and illustrating books together. 
  • Meal making:  I’d like to cook meals together a few times each week and sit down together and linger!
  • Construction: We like to create small worlds with blocks, play dough, loose parts etc., for dramatic play!
  • Ongoing in-depth projects: Each day we try to have workspace and time-slot dedicated to self-directed months long projects!
  • Beer brewing: My husband brews amazing beer. Why don’t we do this more??
  • Farm living: We want to get outside and tend to our chickens, ride horses at Papa Hays, and volunteer at local gardens/farms.

the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-7music with friends and family
the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-9dancethe humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-22travel explorationthe humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-3hand crafting for those in sorrow and celebrationthe humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-3

the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-20nature (pressing)the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-9art workthe humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-2beer brewingthe humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-7farm livingthe humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-6

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨

Cultivating Traditions: January


When I started the Cultivating Tradition series in November it was amidst the holidays. December naturally flowed next but now it’s January. Are/can there be traditions for the month of January? Not in the way of holiday where we celebrate an event on the same day each year but in the sense that as a family we are adding new habits or traditions each month that we want to carry out each day for the rest of our lives. Holiday crafts are whimsical and fun but what traditions do we want to define our lives.

the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-21Here are the the habits we are committing to for the month of January:

Beer Brewing

My husband is a gifted brewer. This is one more way for the girls to spend quality time with their father while learning a difficult and thrilling trade. Science, math, creativity, determination, and entrepreneurship are just a few of the concepts that will be gleaned from this family activity!the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-7Authoring stories 

A few morning baskets ago we relocated our time from the reading nest to the bed because the girls were sick. In attempts to keep the girls still for a few moments longer (and to prolong the turning on of yet another movie) I grabbed a pen and paper and we spun a story together. So far it’s about a princess named Powgee who  finds herself swallowed up by a bad guy named Purdo Gurdo. Only to sneeze herself out of his belly and into the forest. She then spreads her sparkly wings and flies away… I look forward to see what happens to Princess Powgee. I’d like to add this practice to our morning basket (if the interest and excitement continues). I’d love to add illustrations in later and make them into a book of short stories!!the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-8On-going project Studying Pagosa Springs

It’s  my desire to carve out space most everyday for self-directed projects. The girls choose the idea, materials, plan, execution, and revisions to an ongoing project. This is a new concept for us and my girls are young so this month I’m modeling the process with a topic they are super interested in. The day we told them we were going to the mountains for a snowy ski trip they have asked everyday when we are leaving. The first aspect on the agenda is to make a calendar together to give them a tangible representation of when we are leaving to alleviate frustration. And I foresee observational drawings, trips to the library, constructing landscape and cities etc.!

the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschoolingMaking meals together

Food is an after-thought in our home. And I like it that way. We graze as we work on projects, pursue interest, and enjoy each other. That being said, I see the value in making and having meals together as a family. It doesn’t fit our life to do that every day but I’d like to stir, mix, measure, cook, gather, pray, eat and talk together a few times a week.the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideas-2Story telling with Beatrix Potter at Tea Time

Each afternoon we gather around tea and treats to linger over classical authors. Beatrix Potter and E.B. White have been dear friends to us. We received the most gorgeous complete collection of Beatrix Potter that we cannot put down! The same dear friend, and homeschool mom, who gifted them to us also imparted great wisdom on the value of story telling. I look forward to adding little figurines to our experience and to retell together the most beautiful stories ever written for children. the humming room homeschool art crafting childled projectbased homeschooling-2
Daddy school

Some encouraging fathers, looking to encourage their homeschooling wives, have asked me how they can assist their wives in the process. I present to you Daddy School.

the humming room homeschool art travel music and cooking ideasEach day when daddy comes home Daddy School starts. My wonderful husband takes over. He takes the children out to gather eggs from the coop. He asks them about their day and is available to them for the next few hours before they go to bed. Ideally this time will be spent working on his projects with them or him working on their projects with them. For now its mostly spent wrestling (per the girls request) which I’m fine with. This is when the girls get special story time to the sound of their daddies voice. And are prayed over by him and tucked into bed by him. It’s a very precious time I know they will always remember. I get to spend all day with them. These hours are invaluable. It’s also a very important time for me to step back and work on my own, read for enjoyment, take a bath, whatever. Again Invaluable.

Well there you have it! That’s our January.

For more on our family culture for the year of 2016 click here!

May we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨