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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: 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 ✨

Mud Kitchen

At the beginning of spring, when the world is puddle-wonderful, as E.E. Cummings put it.

the humming room reggio mud kitchen outdoor playI got the wild idea in my head that we MUST have a mud kitchen. The girls NEEDED a place to build mud pies. With some old crates and decorative finds from the local thrift store, my husband graciously brought my vision into reality. We are tickled… brown?

the humming room reggio mud kitchen outdoor playOf course, mud is messy/sensory play, a very important type of play, but it’s certainly not just that. Fin carefully counts out how many shiny rocks she can find for her special cake. She engages in sequential processing as she lists the steps: Find dirt, add water, gather ingredients, mix, bake.

“Play is the highest form of research.” – Albert Einstein

the humming room reggio mud kitchen outdoor sensory playFin gains understanding of how different materials meld together. The feathers float while the rocks sink. In the goopy mud the sticks stand straight up. The sun dries the pie out and water makes it goopy again.

The intention of the learning environment is to give children exposure to a range of materials, resources and experiences that give them practice in skill refinement, in language development, in creativity, and in play.” – Kathy Walker

the humming room reggio mud kitchen outdoor sensory and literacy playShe writes her ingredients down and hangs her recipe in her space as she works. Who knew mud could be a literary practice?

the humming room reggio mud kitchen outdoor sensory and litaracy play
“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” – Mr. Rogers

Dramatic play, another pre literacy practice, unfolds as Fin acts out real life scenarios. She bakes her pie in the oven, watching it get hot, and careful pulls the “hot” pan out of the oven.  Only to put it in again because its not quit finished yet. She expresses her ideas as she narrates her play.the humming room reggio mud kitchen outdoor sensory and dramatic play“Let’s bake another, we need a timer”.
the humming room reggio mud kitchen outdoor sensory and dramatic play 
“Let’s sing happy birthday”, “First we need candles”. “Sister when is your birthday? Let’s make a cake for you”
the humming room reggio mud kitchen outdoor sensory play
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” –  Fred Rogers

Mundane tasks, that we as adults take for granted, are works full of wonderment for children. Washing gathered goodies from the garden is a treasured moment for youngsters, especially when shared with friends.the humming room reggio mud kitchen outdoor garden playDear E.E. Cummings, 

We have had a “mud-luscious” spring indeed.

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