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 ✨

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 ✨

Cultivating Traditions: February

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-5The holidays have graciously left a savory aftertaste for the months to follow. Each day has been sweetly slow and meaningful. Maybe its my perspective or well placed gratitude. Maybe we are truly finding our rhythm.  Truth is, I don’t ever remember being this happy or having this many consecutive “good days” in my LIFE. I am confident, joyful, and settling into my calling as a homeschool mother!

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-21

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-6I think our home and school life really suffer when I’m anxious and uptight or in a hurry. Maybe things are going well because I’m relaxing more and more. I find myself breathing and laughing and playing more. I often recall something my husband once told me, “None of the paint and play dough matter, at the end of the day, when they look back all they will remember is how you treated them.” It’s funny, when I focus on that all the other stuff follows seamlessly. The work has been really meaningful lately and I want more of it. I am starting to see that a slow, relaxed, inviting space is the perfect recipe for meaningful growth and learning.

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-15This month I am focusing most on how I treat my children (and how they treat me and each other). We are planning less in our day and focusing more heavily on what is before us. Mostly slow, meaningful, and ongoing investigation with unlimited book reading!homeschool mountian painting play ideas-17Here are some of the other things we are doing!

We have been gearing up for our first snowy mountain trip to Colorado and have had a blast daydreaming of what it would be.

We made a calendar to count down the dayshomeschool mountian painting play ideas-7We made clay snowmen

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-22We’ve made  colorful, glittery, paper mache mountainshomeschool mountian painting play ideas-23

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-24We chalked a gorgeous whimsical snowscape homeschool mountian painting play ideas-18Then we went on our trip! And it lived up to every part of our imagination. We have decided to make this an annual trip!!

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-9Now that we are home I have a few ideas to invite them to further their questions about the trip!

We will make log houses

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-12(The house we stayed in was a log cabin and Fin was really interested in how it was constructed.)

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-10We will make snow play dough and combine our houses and mountains and log cabins and PLAY!

Maybe this will spark more questions the girls have about the trip!

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-13On another note, my main focus for the next few months is to build our family culture around books. I’d like to talk more about that but will have to make a separate blog post!
We have done a brilliant job scattering books around the house on shelves and in baskets. We’ve carved out plenty of time to linger over books together. But I want more! So we are introducing audio books this month! I cannot wait! I’ve checked out the books with the CD’s from the library (and got an extra copy so both girls can have it in their hands while listening). It’s an exciting time in homeschool world!

homeschool mountian painting play ideas-14I want to close by sharing a small victory that confirms the small decisions we make each day to shape our little ones lives.

One night I passed my girls bedroom (they share one) and was bewildered that they managed to turn their light on. Each night it kept happening and I kept going in to turn it off and reprimand them.  After the third or fourth night I was maddened by it!! Until I realized they were reading (they are pre-readers)… They each have a basket of books in their bed and they couldn’t see the books they were reading!!! How exciting. They really love books. So, we got them flashlights so they can get lost in books each night (for now  I go in for a last call, until they are older they need much rest). Mamas what you are doing day in and day out IS working. Keep at it!Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset

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 ✨

Can Halloween be Reggio?

Reggio is a term used to describe a philosophy of schooling. Reggio Emilia is a town in Italy known for its preschools’ unified commitment to child-led learning. Each member of each classroom is a driving force in the study choice. The child/children choose the activity, project, materials, mode of planning, execution strategy, time frame, and representational work. They essentially choose who, what, when, where, and how to study.

When a child directs his learning can you imagine the earnest for each project??

I can attest that given the power to choose and direct his learning, a child has all the passion and tenacity he needs to soak up knowledge in a meaningful way.  We have adapted the Reggio approach of learning to our homeschool and decided to adapt Halloween this year as well.

Instead of choosing a theme and doing everything for the child (like we often do in their educational life) I decided to have a Reggio Halloween. And we are never looking  back!

First the girls chose what they wanted to be. They wanted to be chickens. Specific chickens from our flock. Goldie and Leroy.the humming room chickensThey drew pictures of the chickens and then sketched out what their costume would look like. We brainstormed about the details of the costume’s colors, where the beak would be on their face, etc.

the humming room reggio project based homeschooling


the humming room reggio project based homeschooling observational drawings

the hummingroom reggio project based homeschooling work dispalyFin suggested next that we go to the store to get “ingredients” we need to make the costumes. We went to the local Scrap store, sketches in hand, that houses loose parts and second hand craft materials. The girls thoughtfully gathered their supplies :Ribbon, shoulder pads, paper, fabric, etc. I found large gift bags to be the base of the costume. They liked that idea.the humming room reggio project based homeschooling research stage“This can be for his beak”

the humming room reggio project based homeschooling choosing materials“ Red. Goldie is red. We need all the red things”

“Lets gather leaves outside for the feather of her wings”

the humming room reggio outdoor playI set out their materials and sketches at the table and upon waking from their nap they got right to work!

the humming room reggio project based homeschooling work spaceFin (age 3) chose her materials, cut them, found their placement. I just hot-glued where needed.
the humming room reggio project based homeschooling work spaceLou (age 2) was not interested in the project but still made a few choices here and there. (An important aspect of reggio is to steer clear of forcing a child into an interest. She just simply didn’t care for the project but enjoyed engaging with glue and scissors every so often. And that’s ok!

the humming room reggio project based homeschooling work spaceFin’s work continued to grow and revise over the course of the week. She eagerly went back to her project, over and over, ready to add more. She decided that cuts of red ribbon was a better choice for feather than her original idea of leaves. She found shoulder pad to be the perfect wings.the humming room reggio project based homeschooling work spaceWhen I ran out of hot glue she finished off her project with her glue stick! It was rewarding for her to work completely independent, with no need of an adult to see out her vision.

the humming room reggio halloween costume project

the humming room halloween costume projectAs it turned out, neither Fin or Lou wanted to wear their costume for Halloween! And that’s ok! That’s Reggio! The joy of an open ended process, seeing your own vision through and being motivated by your passion! She did end up wearing it a few days later and certainly many days to come! She beams with pride when she wears her work of art! I’m so proud of her.  Im proud of myself too! For stepping out of control mode and into support mode.  I can easily be a dictator mom but for this I was a gentle guide! Like I said, I am the biggest learner of all!the humming room reggio halloween costume project

“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together” – Vincent Van Gogh

If you would like to learn more about Reggio click here.

I’d love to hear about an Ah-ha moment you’ve had in your homeschool journey! Comment below!

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

Rags to Riches

Don’t you love “rags to riches” stories?  Our daily life is full of them. It’s so rewarding to take mundane or even broken things and experiences and turn them into something useful/ beautiful.  The most recent  opportunity was a broken Ikea frame. It was brand new. I was rather disappointed. It was to hang a special gift from my husband: A Moon Rise Kingdom inspired print and Ikea is 40 MINUTES AWAY! Instead of throwing it out I had a better idea!

Art is pretty important in our home  and I am on a mission to make the girl’s work a prominent fixture in our home. 

the humming room open ended early childhood education art

So I decided to lay out the cardboard backing in our art space and see what happened!The project was on going for about 4 days (we like to have working projects where we can add as we feel inspired). The girls first used tempera paint dumping, splattering, and spreading. Next they added water colors with pipettes.

DSCF1502In one session the crayons were coated in paint. While they were napping I soaked the crayons in warm water and all of the paper fell off of them. Instead of throwing the papers away I offered them as a material in our next art session. Fin requested the glitter glue.

the humming room reggio open ended art for homeschool preschool

the humming room reggio open ended homeschool preschool art

Our “finished products” always look something like this. It’s beautiful to me.  

the humming room reggio sensory art early childhood education

After cleaning away the clutter we discovered an exquisite mixed media piece. One that, if the original glass was in place, would have veiled its magnificence

the humming room reggio abstract preschool art display

This piece hangs as a permanent fixture in our main living space. Aren’t rags to riches beautiful!  Our family looks upon it with great joy. I look forward to strengthening this tradition in our family. May we always find the beauty in the broken. 

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