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:

Homeschooling Kinder

My eldest is of kinder age and it feels good to do a touch of formal teaching. I admit, I’d rather wait until she is 6. But she is ready. The bulk of our time is outdoors, reading aloud, taking care of the home and each other, but this year we’re easing into a sliver of actual lessons.I’ve broken down what we are doing into weekly/daily goals, weekly/daily rhythms,literature list, seasonal plans, and my overarching goals. This post is really for me, to organize my vision into tangible moments. But I thought I would share for those looking for inspiration! Kinder Fall Semester Plans

Goals

Weekly:

  • 4 morning baskets
  • 3 pages of phonetic/number workbook
  • 5-6 outdoor plays
  • 1 cook/bake together incorporating math concepts

Daily:

  • 5 read-alouds
  • 1 reading lesson
  • outdoor play everyday
  • chicken/garden chores

Extra:

  • 1 art project a week
  • 1 science project a week
  • Quarterly family travel plansRhythms

Weekly:

  • Monday morning basket: Psalm 119 memory work, Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, practice ‘telling’- draw a picture while mom reads and ‘tell’ what you remember
  • Wednesday morning basket: Proverb memory work/ book of Proverb, Beautiful Feet Character guide lesson
  • Thursday Morning Basket: Scripture memory, picture books, practice authoring (pick up a pen a let the girls create a story, add illustrations)
  • Friday: nature study/nature co-op meet up or library visit

Daily:

  • Prepare breakfast together
  • Morning basket
  • Outdoor walk/play
  • Chicken/garden chores
  • Lunch/show (I listen to sermons and do dishes)
  • Audio book (for littles)/reading lesson (for Fin) (resource 100 Easy Lessons to Teach Your Child to Read)
  • Nap (I work out/practice keys/ do laundry)
  • Snack/poetry read aloud
  • Prepare dinner/feed twins/listen to Mozart
  • Dinner/ bible read by dad
  • Play with Dad
  • Read My BookHouse with dad before bed

Weekly Extra:

  • Monday: ballet
  • Wednesday: datenight
  • Friday: Family movie night

Fall Literature List:

  • Beautiful Feet Character guide: When God Made You, The Seven Silly Eaters, Obadian the Bold, Rachel and Obadiah, Wilfred Gordon Macdonald Partridge, Last Stop on Market Street, Time of Wonder, When I was Young in the Mountains, Miss Rumphius, Brave Irene, Clown of God
  • 100 Easy Lessons to Teach Your Child to Read
  • Poetry/classic: My BookHouse Vol. 1 & 2,A Children’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
  • Chapter books: Mr. Poppers Penguins
  • Seasonal: October- Wood, Hazel, and Pip, Miss Suzy, Fall Walk, Strega Nona Harvest, Leaf Man, Too Many Pumpkins, Fletcher and the Falling Leaves- November- Cranberry Thanksgiving, Give thanks to the Lord, An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, Giving Thanks, The Thanksgiving Story- December- 25 Days of Christ Advent curriculum

Fall Semester Traditions:

  • September: Apple spice painting- October: handmade costume, pumpkin carving/excavation, pumpkin patch visit, fall chalk mural- November: Thanksgiving Tree- December: 25 days of Christ, winter chalk mural, homemade Christmas gifts- January: Read Aloud Revival challenge.

Memory Verses:

  • Psalm 34:1
  • 1 Chronicles 16:34
  • Matthew 6:9-13
  • Matthew 2:10
  • Philippians 4:8
  • Psalm 119
  • Proverbs 1:7-10
  • Matthew 22:36
  • John 3:16

Sarah  Mackenzie at Read Aloud Revival wrote a spectacular book called Teaching from Rest. You can click here to listen to the book club which was pivotal in shaping our homeschool year. The rest of this post is where I draw inspiration and focus when I’m losing it. It’s the vison I’ve cast for our homeschool lives and some notes I jotted down from Sarah’s book club to inspire, challenge, and refocus me throughout the process.

In one of the book club videos Sarah has you envision a scene where one of your children is sitting with colleagues on a business trip and one of them looks over to your child and says “So, you were homeschooled. How was that?” Write down what you want her to say. Here are mine.

Homeschooling was:

  1. Enjoyable/joy-filled/grace-filled
  2. Literacy rich
  3. Immersed in real life
  4. Absorbed in family and friends
  5. Travel/experience oriented
  6. Handy craft/skill heavy
  7. Bible rich
  8. Incredibly bonding
  9. Self-taught/learn how to learn
  10. Time and space to develop interests

Come back to this list when you have too much on your plate and need to take a look at what you really value.Notes from Sarah Mackenzie’s book club

One: To the praise of whom are you working?

  • How to reframe interruptions
  • To build a cathedral in the mist of monotony
  • Bring your basket and all that we have to offer to the Lord. He provides the miracle
  • Rest=the middle place between anxiety and negligence.

Two: Curriculum is not something you buy.

  • Cut back/do less/simplify
  • Know where you are going
  • Clarify your vision
  • Use published resources to support your vision

Three: Be who YOU are.

  • A peaceful and happy mother is the most important ingredient  to homeschooling
  • Comparison is the thief of joy
  • Who am I? And WHOSE am I?
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Be worth of imitation

Don’t over complicate the process; just let your own passion shine through your everyday life— let it naturally influence your home. — A quote I read in a home care book that I cling to day to day.

8 Ways to Ease Into Nature Journaling

In true Charlotte Mason style, nature journaling has been a passion I’ve tried to ignite in our young homeschool family. The first year was frustrating! There was little to no interest (which was an indication of prematurity). But coming out of that first year into a sweet second, I can attest the flame is a lit!

In hindsight I did some very wrong things, like put too much pressure on them and me in this regard and others. But, our success proves that I did some right things too.

Here are the 8 ways we eased into nature journaling:

1.) Modeling-

It took a year of modeling, which was frustrating, but finally the spark lit. Each time we went out in nature I brought their supplies. They were busy playing so I would grab a pen and paint and journal about our surroundings or a bug we found. Sometimes they would join in briefly but for the most part I was on my own.

A year later, it’s self initiated by my 4.5 year old. The others join along sometimes!

Draw them in gently with modeling, show them it’s valuable with your time and effort. 

2) Inviting supplies-

Draw them in with fresh journals, special pens, and rich paints. This paint set from Ikea is the perfect travel kit for nature journaling. It closes up tightly, has little cups for water, and has the thickest, richest colors. Throw in some pens, thick journal paper, and a water bottle and you’re ready to go!

3.) Inviting time and spaces-

Simply carve out time and space for journaling. Visit a spot once a week, bring your kit and that’s all the invitation needed. If the kit goes untouched like mine did for a year, model! Journal yourself, it’s relaxing. Later in the week pull the kit back out and do a fun read-aloud pertaining to the bird or bug found. Continue to pique curiosity.

4.) Label drawings-

Once they do sit down and make a scribble, LABEL IT. How exciting it feels for their work to be prized enough to have mom title and date it? Maybe, that will spark more journal entires. How fun it will be to look back over the progress of a scribbled ant to a well thought out butterfly as their interest and skill increase! 

5.) Dictate observations-

Slightly different than labeling, dictating is taking down each thought as they notice things in nature.

“He’s a scruffy little guy”

“The prickly pear is sprouting a new one”

“I saw a mosquito larvae in its nest! It sprung from its egg in our window.”

Looking back at their quotes is a favorite of mine. It helps me know their true interests and a lot of times they are just funny!

6.) Support with books-

Books add imagery to their interests. They can better express their inward picture with an outward one for reference. It’s also a great way to fill in information surrounding the specimen in query!

7.) Match their enthusiasm-

As they grow in interest, increase yours. Offer more time. Add new colorful pens. Or a drawing book! After a year of scribbly tattered pages it was time to upgrade my girls because their interest ungraded. These are their fresh materials for the new year of journaling. I can already see a difference in the careful hand of their work. 

A word to the wise, don’t put pressure on them and you. It will come! For support and enthusiasm join or start a nature co-op so you can gently ease in along likeminded friends. The journey is sweet. 

Six Places We Always Keep Books

I can narrow my homeschool goals down to three things that I want most for my children. Number one, is a relationship with Christ that bears fruits of righteous living. Number two, is a strong appetite and aptitude for reading. Number three is gaining a vast array of handi-crafts or trades. That’s it! If I can accomplish these three things I will feel as though I have done my job.We can talk about the other two later, but this post is about the second goal. I’m convinced that a child with a voracious appetite for reading, and the ability, can learn anything. All the greatest minds and ideas in the world are in books. Books are our avenue to car mechanic, Greek philosophy, zoology etc.! Books are the means at which we gather knowledge. Books are important. I want our lives to be immersed in them and our family culture to be built around them. I’ve given thought to how I’m encouraging our family culture around books and would like to share them with you!

Here are 6 places we always keep books:

1) living space-

In the most predominant room in the house, books are predominant too. We show what we value by where we place them. In the busiest room in the house books are more likely to get picked up, especially if you sit down and grab one. A simple basket can be a beautiful and inviting display. The best invitation is to turn off the TV.

2) beds-

Before nap and bedtime I crawl into the girls bed and read a picture book, a chapter from our chapter book, or mother goose nursery rhymes. They lay in bed and read to themselves before they fall asleep (they are pre-readers so they read the pictures or read from memory). They feel like they are pushing back bedtime and I feel good about why! It’s a win/win!3) dining room table-

Bible for breakfast and Fables for dinner! We feed our minds and bodies at meal time, with the exception of lunch which is their one time a day to watch a show. With full mouths and bottoms in chairs this is one of the best times to get a read-aloud in.
4) devices-

The Audible app has become a dear friend. We have access to all the greatest classic read-aloud by theatrical linguists. On an iPad or smartphone these dear stories can come with us everywhere!

I feel a little tricky I admit, but I have to share the best trick I’ve done with audio books. My girls listen to classics on the iPad during nap and before bedtime some days. Because they’ve never done anything else on devices, they think it’s the best thing ever. They feel as though they are getting screen time (while pushing back bedtime) and I’m in the kitchen dancing because they are listening to Ann Hathaway! I’m tricky😆5) play and discover areas-

Nature table, block section, art cart, animal bin- these are all great places to add a book for reference. Most children pick them up immediately and ask questions, and some children like mine, are interested once I pick it up and start perusing. 6) bags for on the go-

Before we go outside-or to the park-or coffee shop I grab a few favorite picture books/our chapter book AND a book or two of mine. There’s a chance one will sit down with me and share moments in a good story. And at the very least (or maybe very most) I grab one of mine and dive in. I read in front of them almost every day, out of my own book, so that they see its prominence in my life.So… pretty much everywhere, there’s a book or two or ten. Any chance for an opportunity to share in literature together, that’s what I’m after in these early years of homeschooling!

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

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 ✨

An Interest-Led Nature Study

Sometimes technology serves our natural learning process nicely. On a perfect summer day, we spent a full afternoon in a relaxed interest led study of our nature pal exchange , and I’d like to share!imageI made a Pinterest board of nature photos of Hawaii in the area of our naturepal family. I laid out all of the nature bits sent to us, with a relatable book, pencils, magnifying glass, and journal.imageBased on questions they had about the nature book our pals made,  we watched a Youtube video of making Poi, from Kalo.image

imageOur nature pal gave us a gorgeous Ku Kui necklace. We wanted to know what a ku kui nut was and how to make a necklace, we searched far and wide on Youtube and Pinterest.imageThe girls favorite thing to do was open the bottle of Hawaiian salt and taste it (which I was reluctant to at first for some reason, but you gotta keep it breezy (link) and I’m so glad I did). We talked about the taste and continued tasting as we watched a video of the Hawaiian salt factory that makes this specific kind of salt, found only on the island our nature pals live on. imageWe used our Pinterest photos to identify which parts of Hawaii our sea glass was probably from (again their doing not mine)!imageWe watched a tutorial video our nature pal sent us on how to make music with the river rocks they gave  us. imageWe spent a lot of time feeling the soft sand sample, dropping shells into it, shaking it up to see how it mixed.imageBased on a photo from our Pinterest board we imagined baby sea turtles popping their hard out of the sand. This was a particular fascination with the girls.

We looked at the book that I set out. We talked about what constitutes and island, observed the map, and Fin made a map of her own.  imageThe girls rounded out the study with imaginative play adding critters to the beach sene.imageFor our next session I added a bucket of water and critters to let them go wild with imaginative play. I held them off from dumping the sand and shells, to preserve it for closer study. But now it’s time to let them explore on their own terms. Through play! image

And that’s that!

For more on Inquiry-led learning click here!

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

How does “Inquiry led” work?

Many educational philosophers, like Charlotte Mason or Reggio’s Loris Malaguzzi, agree that Inquiry led learning is best!image“Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understand well, perhaps teaching will be different from before.” Loris Malaguzzi
The term is thrown around a lot in the homeschool world. What does it mean? How do you do it? Is it that we leave children to their own devices? Hoping something wonderful will arise? I think not. imageHow can we “put them in the way of things to observe while still being “inquiry led”?imageHere’s what I find to be the best way to have authentic inquiry led experiences.

Environment:
The environment of your home should invite the child to initiate their own ideas. Art supplies, building materials, nature bits etc. should be in a place open to their disposal. image(Our homeschool room: a nature pal exchange project we studied for weeks on our dining room table)image(Instead of toys we have invitations to play supported with related books! These shelves revolve every week or every 2 weeks!)

Some children like low tables that offer the the opportunity to iniate/direct their own projects. Whether art, construction, or nature study, their workspace should be accessible- giving them full permission to explore.image(Fin decided to paint barn animals and pulled out her materials)image(A self-led art project, I just provided support when asked)image(Our moveable art-cart fully assessable to them)

Display their finished and unfinished work (preferably in a low place at their eye level) This reminds them of projects they want to revise and adapt, and it shows them their work is important. image(A display of finished and unfinished beetle and dinosaur work in our art studio)image(Our ever-growing cicada collection on display. Many musings and questions arise!)

Add relevant books, maps, brochures to their work spaces. They can seek their own questions and answers.image(Our nature table with supportive books)image(The girls decided the type of cactus we were painting for our nature pal was a prickly pear, thanks to our supportive books)image(A book or cityscapes to support our drawing, building, making of an animal city)

Carve out time: to be in and near their workspace. Life can still be inquiry led with set project time. This is a time where screens are put away, and mom/teacher is there to offer assistance to the child’s ideas.
image(Our project time is normally after our morning basket when we are fresh each day)
For more on environment check out 30 days to transform your play!

Lay a Feast:
The first way I lay a feast of ideas each and everyday is through stories. We begin our day in the reading nest. We read good books, and the children have a pocket full of ideas to start their day. image“Give your child a single valuable idea, and you have done more for his education than if you had laid upon his mind the burden of bushels of information.” Charlotte Mason
Lay out art, sensory, nature, storytelling, etc. provocations! I typically set out one or 2 a day. image

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image*This is an ongoing beetle investigation that sparked from our love of The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins. The interest has been over the entire year, we loop back to the book every so often since it’s in our reading nest. We’ve made our own laminated, illustrated, and authored beetle book. We’ve made and painted clay beetles. We’ve revised and added to our beetle book when new information comes our way: like dung beetles we found in an elephant book. The girls identify types of beetles in Jan Brett books, and love to find them in real life. It’s been a lovely inquiry.(For provocation ideas click around other places here and check out twoodaloo).

Let it go! Where ever they want.

This was an epic potion making session in the mud kitchen. Vinegar, baking soda, cornstarch, glitter and more! Outside is a great place to let loose and LET THEM PLAY! You wont regret it. The hose is our friend.
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imageThis can be hard, and even takes practice. But we are here to offer books, questions, and guidance for their ideas, not to impart our own. Most of the time the girls do something completely contrary to the intention I set out. And it’s always awesome. Their ideas go much deeper than mine. And when an idea is their own, they pursue it intensely (much more so than if they are pursuing my idea to please me.) image
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image*Fin was suddenly interested in letters when she found a small brochure in our wax crayon box. She wanted badly to make her own “map”, as she called it. She picked out her materials, I printed a sheet of letters and she got to work. The interest continues often. When we come home from trips we bring maps and brochures with us. Here is a map of Canada she insisted on drawing! Can you see the long bridge, small grid-like streets of downtown, island shape, and compass? I laid  out invitations and extended the interest by bringing home maps, but do you think she would work as passionately if I sat her down for a letter worksheet or geography lecture?

What children dig for becomes his own possession.” Charlotte Mason

Answer questions with questions: “I don’t know, what do you think?” “Hmm, Where do you think we could find out?” The thought process matters much more than correct answersimage
image*Fin continues to revise her airplane, asking for assistance and for ways to solve her problems. She could solve most of them on her own with a little questioning of my own (like hmm, that doesn’t work what if we try?) She takes on the role of an engineer, asking and answering the hard questions of how to make her structure sound. I offered pen and paper to document her work. She wasn’t interested in that so I sat down next to her and drew my own to show her how important I thought her work was. She sat down next to me and decided to draw her own.

Leave your feast out: rearrange and add to it to spark new interest. Sit down and explore yourself, see if they join you. imageBe Breezy: This is a hard one. But our children know when we are forceful, even under the surface. Truly let your littles explore the materials how they decide. Relax and let it get a little messy.image*Fin made her own gift for a friend. A tiger! She picked out all of her materials and executed it with little assistance. If I had taken control it might look more like a tiger, but what would that accomplish? A finer finished project is not valuable in comparison to the important self-initiated, self-regulated work of a growing/capable girl.

Try again! Not all the provocations I set out spark an interest. Either rearrange it for the next day or try a new one! The point is to offer. And HAVE FUN!

May we do all things in 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 ✨

Must-Have’s on our Art Cart

The most important wisdom I’d like to impart in regards to art supplies for your littles is to give them respectful materials. Children inherently know when we give them something counterfeit and the message we send is that they aren’t capable of more.image“A child is a person in whom all possibilities are present- now at this very moment-not to be educed after many years and efforts manifold on the part of the educator.” – Charlotte Mason

When I stopped offering crayola washable paint with cheap brushes and started offering art materials that I use, our entire art world was forever changed! It could be because the quality of materials drew them into more thoughtful and intentional work or it could be that I simply communicated that I trust them and know how capable they really are. imageHere are a few of the must haves on our art cart:
Acrylic paint– less watery and full of texture and rich color. Children love when each stroke of their brush makes full and stark marks. (this is a material I closely monitor because it’s expensive and doesn’t wash easily. My 4 year old can use it independently but not my 3 year old).imageBlack felt tip markers– sharpie or otherwise, children love the dark stark marks they make.
Oil pastels– are an oily-chalky type stick that makes textured, interesting, and gorgeous marks.
Good brushes– small and large with all different tips.imageLiquid watercolor– are vibrant and last forever. You can add water to a dried out pallet and start over.
Watercolor paper– add to the vibrancy. It’s thick and quality and make your marks pop.
Large quality sketching paper– this was a recent addition to our home. Since the addition my 4 year old paints and sketches everyday and her work is elaborate!imageLoose parts- can be added to almost any project (and most of the time is!) Beads, glass stones, wooden bits, etc, can enhance a painted landscape, or adorn a cardboard castle or whatever!
Low-temp hot glue guns– instantly dries parts in place making it easy it build a castle upwards, or secure glitter in place promptly. ( I closely monitor because although low temp it still hurts- my 3 and 4 year old use them).imageTempera paint- Is more watery, goes a long way, and is easier to clean up! This is good for super littles and is a favorite for body painting!
Art books- Fiction and non-fiction books bring fresh ideas to the art experience! Sprinkle them in your art space! Prop them up like cook books while you cook up a new masterpiece!imageAir dry clay and real clay tools– molds and remolds easily for small hands and dries into a permanent state when work is finished! Wooden and metal tools are most excellent for most excellent work!image

imageA few bonus materials:
Shaving cream- added to paint or whatever adds an extra sensory element!
Salt- added to liquid watercolor or whatever adds texture and a little bit of science discovery.
Nature bits- can be added to a painted landscape, be painted themselves, smooshed into clay or playdoh, or just serve as an inspiration! The possibilities are endless!imageUnique canvases – mirrors, scrap wood, large real canvases, foil, glass window etc. serve as a special and different place to make art! These are some of my favorite to hang around the the house.
Pipettes- splats liquid watercolor and are great for science inquiry play with vinegar and baking soda
Water spray bottle- displace paint in a neat way and soften clay projects into slippery wet fun! They are also a great help in getting the table clean after!imageOne last bonus: Display their work! In semi permanent and permanent fixtures around your home! This shows how seriously you take their work. For more on displaying their work click here.imageMay we do all things to connect with and learn from each other ✨