Farmhouse Schoolhouse Christmas Guide: Babes, Tots and Homegrown Preschoolers

All right guys, this is the one I had the most requests for! Next up is our Homeschool Mama Gift Guide. Enjoy!

For the Babies (0-12 months): 
1) Sarah’s Silks. This is my go to baby gift- especially the teethers. They are so lovely, soft and a perfect early sensory experience.
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2) The softest swaddle blankets. My boys loved these.
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3) A bead grasper from Grimm’s Speil and Holz
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4) A Bella baby terry cloth doll. These are small and sweet and soft, perfect for little hands!
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5) Music by Elizabeth Mitchell. We love “You are My Little Bird,” “Sunny Day,”  and a Christmas album called “The Sounding Joy.” And, of course, my most favorite music album for babies OF ALL TIME 🙂 “Hidden in my Heart.”
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6) Beautiful Poetry and Stories recorded by Jim Weiss. The more beautiful words babies are exposed to-the better!
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For Toddlers (1-2/3)
1) Grimm’s Spiel & Holz Wooden Stacker is an heirloom quality toy that is incredibly beautiful and well made.
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2) Grimm’s Spiel & Holz Nesting Bowls are equally wonderful for this developmental age.

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3) HABA’s First board games. We love this sweet collection of first board games for littles, especially those that are mentally ready for “bigger things” but not quite there emotionally. Most of these games are appropriate for ages 2+
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First Orchard
Here Fishy Fishy
Animal Upon Animal
Feeling and Touching

4) A sweet percussion station for children to experiment with. We loved handing our kids instruments and turning up tunes for them to jam out with. They developed a special fondness for many different forms of Brazilian music.
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5) One of the best things I ever did as a Mom was say YES every single time one of my toddler said “me do it” or ” I help Mama.” They were never discouraged from helping, in fact, I went out of my way to involve them and praise them even if it meant more work for me later. These days my kids do a large share of the chores around here and its a huge blessing to our whole family. A great way to encourage littles is to give them child sized tools. (Remember this is a great gift for a child in that precious little “me do it” phase. Please don’t buy your 12 year old a broom for Christmas with the hopes that they’ll love it and skip off to do chores).
71rLJ0tOqrL._SL1500_.jpg6) I always love to give a gift that says to my child “I trust you to be responsible with the next big thing. I believe you are capable and smart and able.” Now what this item is varies from child to child. My children have received everything from plants to pets to knives. For a child this young maybe the next big step is a toddler bed or a balance bike or a small square of the yard that belongs to THEM and they can use it to grow a veggie garden or make a fairy garden, the point is the gift relays a powerful message just in time for the new year.

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7) Wooden animals. We love the Holtziger brand best and purchased most of ours from Padilly.

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Homegrown Preschoolers (3+)

1)The Homegrown Preschooler Curriculum! (obvs!) Now just to clarify. There is a wonderful BOOK called “The Homegrown Preschooler” by Lesli Richards and Kathy Lee and its WONDERFUL. I love it and use it often. Then there is their curriculum called “A Year of Playing Skillfully” which is my favorite of all time. (Read this, this and this). If I were to buy this curriculum for Christmas I would set a bunch of the activities up under the tree for my kids to play with right away. Right now Homegrown Preschooler is offering $20 off their curriculum along with the free ebook, 2 sets of water beads, a free sensory kit. Huzzah! P.S. They also have an awesome 12 Days of Christmas thing going down on their Instagram and Facebook page so check it out!

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2) An art basket stocked with jumbo brushes, funky brushes , shape sponges, no spill cups, do a dot markers, color diffusing paper and your favorite washable non toxic paints.
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3) Sensory Bin tools! Fine Motor Tools, Water Beads, or separated by color if you have one of those kiddos! (Always, always, always make sure the beads you buy are NON TOXIC and safe for play, vase fillers at the Dollar Tree will burn your child). Jumbo tweezers,  stacking cups,  water play cups and safari toobs (We always get our at Michaels with their weekly coupons!)

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or try these ready made sensory kits: Ocean Explorers, Jungle Excursion, African Safari, Dinosaur Discovery

4) A Light Table or Light Pad with translucent pattern blocks, letters, or geometric shapes. 

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5) Set up a play area in your backyard full of natural materials like river stones, rocks, tree stumps and sticks. You can find great tree trimmings on the side of the road on Saturday afternoons. A nice big tonka truck or two would be a nice touch!
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6) Alphabet Tracing Board From Jennifer. All orders at this shop will not arrive before Christmas due to high volume orders.

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7) A Big Box of Dress Up Clothes
Beautiful wings and fairytale cloaks from Bella Luna Toys or Magic Cabin are always a great option. Or a simple trip to a thrift store for odds and ends can go a very long way!

8) Element Blocks from Grimm’s Spiel and Holz
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or classic wooden blocks
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9) Audiobooks like Little House on the Prairie or Hank the Cowdog. Check Read Aloud Revival for great suggestions.

10) A Space to Call Their Own. It can be a nice multi-use table or a beat up old coffee table. Push it up against a corner and decorate with Cavallini paper from Paper Source or odds and ends from places like Tanglewood Hollow or Mirus Toys or Twig and Moth.
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Farmhouse Schoolhouse Christmas Guide: Artists & Chefs

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1) Art Classes
Creating a Masterpiece comes highly recommended by Simply Charlotte Mason. My son and I stopped by their booth at FPEA this past May and signed up for a free class. It was amazing how much he was able to accomplish by following the video instruction. He really enjoyed the class.  We will probably wait another year or two before diving into this program but I wanted to share it here in case anyone was looking for more formal art instruction for their children or themselves.  Projects are organized by level and come with supply lists directly linked to Dick Blick for easy supply gathering!

If you need something shorter, check out a 9 week online course like “Studying Under the Masters” from Jeanne Oliver.

2) Watercolor Brush Pens
These pens are such a treat!
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3) A Sketch Kit

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4) A Paper Quilling Kit

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5) A Brush Lettering Kit
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6) A big pack of blank canvases in multiple sizes 7187qnEFJNL._SL1500_.jpg
7) If you are looking for one big kit that includes many different mediums, this looks like a good deal!
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8) Here is a list of our favorite places to stock up on art supplies. We love Stockmar Beeswax and Modeling Clay, they are certainly more expensive than Crayola and Play Doh but their quality is superior and they last far, far longer. We are still using our crayons from last year and they are in great condition!

Bella Luna Toys,  Imagine Childhood,  Palumba, and Paper Scissors Stone 

9) Beautiful Craft boards FROM JENNIFER (Note: We are so excited that this family-owned small business is thriving! They are doing so well that many items in their shop will not be ready in time for Christmas even though they are working round the clock to complete their orders)
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10) Crayon Holder

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For the Little Chef in Your Life

  1. Our FAVORITE cooking club for kiddos~ Raddish Kids. We eagerly await our new boxes each month. Each box comes with a new tool, grocery list, patch, kitchen project and 3 beautifully laminated recipes that feature a recipe, culinary skill training and geography or history about the recipe.  Dietary substitutions are available as well.

 

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2)  A great children’s knife to work with! You can find additional finger guards here
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3) When they are still too small to navigate a larger cooking area, these small electric skillets are perfect for children’s kitchen areas. For more information on establishing an easily accessible kitchen area for small children I highly recommend scouring the blog Our Montessori Life61o80oWmObL._SL1196_.jpg
4) Speaking of easily accessible for children, I have seen such benefit in making sure my children have access to the tools they need to navigate our home and life together. Child-sized tools have made a great difference in our home in encouraging children to be as independent as possible in their cooking, cleaning and life skills. One fantastic resource for finding child-sized tool of all kids is a company called For Small Hands. Check them out! We really love their tableware and bakeware!

5) Our favorite cookbooks for Kids: Honest Pretzels and Pretend Soup911W2dFdNlL.jpg

6) Encourage your chef to branch out into gardening! Check out the Abundant Garden Curriculum IMG_6416.png

7) A Child’s Apron that uses velcro instead of ties! Etsy has many to choose from like these adorable ones from Courtesy and Grace.
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8) A Fruit Snack Making Kit
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9) An easy peasy apple peeler thats fun to look at and use!

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10) Spice up Taco Tuesdays
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Our next gift guide: Babes, Tots and Homegrown Preschoolers will be out soon! 🙂

Farmhouse Schoolhouse Gift Guide: Wild Explorers & Mad Scientists

I know, I know, this guide is three days late. But real life trumps blog life every single time and my kids needed my full attention—so they got it!  Our next guide is really just one big category. Here are our favorite picks for Wild Explorers & Mad Scientists!

1) Wild Explorer Club.
This one is a no brainer for us. We LOVE being in the Wild Explorers Club. As a mother, I appreciate that we can use it through the cooler winter months and we never “fall behind” because we complete levels as we can, when we can. Each assignment is stored and now my younger ones are working their way up. My older boys will probably be finishing this Spring. Oh my heart!!! The assignments have been fantastic and I love how much my children have grown and learned throughout the process. Also, every single month a beautiful magazine full of outdoor inspiration from other kids comes to our home. My boys disappear with that magazine for at least two hours and always come back brimming with stories and ideas.

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2) A fully stocked Explorer Pack.
Pick a pack and pack it up!
Backpack: long lasting, durable and adorablesensory friendly backpack/vest combo
Compass: pin on or the heavy duty whole enchilada real deal.
Lightweight regional nature guides: check local botanical garden or bird watchers club or plant store.
Swiss Army Knife: toy for a tot or the big time responsibility.
Granola Bars
A heavy duty natural sunscreen that WONT attract bugs or critters.
A sturdy water bottle for big kids or little kids.
A leaf press or small flower press (Easy to make at home!)
Adventure cards 
Jeweler’s Loupe for a closer look
A 3 in 1 pocket microscope, telescope and magnifier for the things you want to study but can’t take home!
Bird Call
THE WHISTLE FOR CHILDREN PRONE TO WANDERING. This has saved my bacon at least 7 times. This exact whistle can be heard a mile away. Stick it on a lanyard and make your wanderer wear it.
Bandanas: artsy or survival
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3) Survival bracelet– compass, fire starter, emergency whistle, knife, french fry maker (J/k on the last thing)
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4) Pertinent Reading Material51zEvJ7FIsL.jpg

5) Backyard Goodness for the days when you can’t hit the trail.
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For the Mad Scientist….

1) Frog-friendly Frog Dissection Kit
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2) For the kid that lights up your life. 🙂
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3) We love our Brock Magiscope that was gifted to us. They are very pricey though, here is an alternative that some people have recommended.
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3) Owl Pellets. (Yup. Go big or go home.)
4) Hands on Periodic Table
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5) Molecule Kit
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6) A classroom skeleton — anatomy/practical joke resource
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7) The History of Science
8) Chemistry Subscription.

9) Rite in the Rain notebooks for all observation needs. These notebooks are AMAZING.
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10) A great read about a brilliant 11 year old female mad scientist and her adventures with her naturalist granddaddy. Have you read it? Have you? Ugh. I’m just finishing it and I L-O-V-E this book.
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Farmhouse Schoolhouse Christmas Guide: Entrepreneurs, Handicrafters & Storytellers

Its time for our 2nd Gift Guide!  Enjoy!

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THE ENTREPRENEUR~

My little entrepreneur is almost always making something, inventing something or trying to sell off something we own. He is always scheming and making plans. I like to give him gifts that keep him gainfully occupied…in other words, good trouble instead of bad trouble! 🙂  He is our puzzle lover, game night enthusiast and logic lover.

I have told him he is not allowed to file taxes until he turns 12 and he recently negotiated that down to 11. He has asked for “business classes” in the mean time. Here is a list of our favorite gifts for budding entrepreneurs.

1. Your Business Math Series from Simply Charlotte Mason.  (ages 8-12)Your-Business-Math-Pet-Store-hd.jpg
Choose between Pet Store, Book Store and Sports Store.  The kids keep an account ledger, learn to write checks, pay bills, figure out taxes, etc. It walks kids through 12 months of a business year and there are chance cards that spice things up!

2) Lemonade to Leadership (6th-8th grade)

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Recognizing opportunities, market products, implement business plans, etc. We’re excited to try this one out one day!

3) A LEGIT cash box.
At our most recent Wild + Free Kids Craft Fair I heard a few 9 year olds use the phrase “legit cash box.”  Gotta keep those lemonade stand quarters safe and sound.
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4) Business Cards
This would be a great stocking stuffer that sends a message of love, encouragement and support.

5) Monopoly
Practice, practice, practice!

6) Logic Games- here are a few of our favorites

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 Mastermind

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Rush Hour

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Blokus

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Colorku

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Logic Links

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Katamino

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Pyramix

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Gobblet

 

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Settlers of Catan

7) Speaking of logic, we highly recommend The Fallacy Detective! Our boys have loved working through this together and its sharpened their eyes, minds and hearts.

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8) Set up a nook in your home for their business. A thrifted desk, a small whiteboard, some office supplies.

9) A Business loan or investment– seed money for their little start up.

 

THE HANDICRAFTER~

  1. Handicrafts Made Simple Series by Simply Charlotte MasonHandicrafts-Crochet-DVD-case.jpg
    This is a great series of instructional DVDs that we personally own and use often. My boys learned how to knit, crochet, hand sew and make useful paper crafts using these DVDs. If you have a craft loving child but have little skill of your own to impart, these are a worthy investment!2) Woodworking tools
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    Woodworking with Children & Easy Carpentry Projects for Children are two helpful books.
    51ukEWDI5KL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgOr a great book for those wanting to Whittle
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    For more whittling tools, check out JM Cremps

    3) Beginner’s Loom from Melissa and Doug
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    4) Lap Loom from Magic Cabin

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    5) Children’s Knitting and Sewing Kit 
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    6) Nature’s Art Box
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    7) Our favorite craft book: “Crafts Through the Year” 617CCYb6tHL._SX455_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    8) Basket Making Kits

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    9) Year in Bloom Calendar Kit 
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10) Handmade By Stamp
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11) Needle Felting Kit
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THE STORYTELLER~

As a storyteller, this category is close to my heart. I’m pretty much shopping for my childhood self.

  1. For those writers that are not yet writing, of for this highly creative dyslexic students that want to tell stories without stopping to erase and rewrite everything other word…
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2) For those not quite ready to fill a whole book or for those visual story tellers…blank comic books!

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3) 50 Colorful Blank Books — I think I would have gone bonkers if someone had handed me FIFTY blank books for me to fill. Heaven!
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4) Scrabble….if you want to go all out, here is the link for the deluxe wooden rotating board edition
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5) A nice dictionary. Doesn’t have to be The Oxford English Dictionary (drool) or even a leather bound Webster, just a solid kids dictionary or even a more advanced synonym finder!

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6) Dixit Storyteller Game
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7) Tall Tales Storytelling Game
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8) Story Cubes
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9) Check out The Literary Gift Company. Its a dream.

 

Coming up next: Wild Explorers & Mad Scientists!

Farmhouse Schoolhouse Christmas Guide: Bookworms & Bird Nerds

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Kicking off our annual Gift Guide this year with some of my favorites! Books & Birds!
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In the coming week we’ll also be featuring: Entrepreneurs, Handicrafters & Storytellers; Wild Explorers & Mad Scientists, Artists & Chefs; and Babes, Tots & Homegrown Preschoolers; along with a Homeschool Mama Gift Guide! I’ll be linking on each post as we progress.

This year’s book list is comprised of my children’s ABSOLUTE FAVORITES from this year, the ones they asked for over and over and over again that are still in print! (note: I will have some toddler and baby board book recommendations in the other guide and plan on doing an out of print editions list at some point in the future).

Bookworms Guide:

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Favorite Stories~
St. George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
The Kitchen Knight by Margaret Hodges
The Biggest Bear by Lynn Wardpeetsmall2_grande.jpg
Chester the Worldly Pig by Bill Peet (or Cyrus the Unsinkable Serpent or How Droofus Lost His Head or Cock-a-doodle Dudley, or ok…just lots and lots of BILL PEET BOOKS!)
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty
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Billy and Blaze by CW Anderson (Don’t forget … this one, that one, another oneoh this one too, the other one, this one here, one more and the last one)
The Knight and the Dragon by Tomie de Paola
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Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain by Edward Ardizzone
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
Little Red Riding Hood by Trina Hyman 
One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
Katy No Pocket by Emmy Payne
The Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall

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Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
The Big Snow by Berta Hader
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Gannet
Book of Greek Myths by the D’Aulaires
Chanticleer and the Fox by Geoffrey Chaucer

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Poetry~
When We Were Very Young by AA Milne
Now We are Six by AA Milne
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Hailstones and Halibut Bones
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Treasuries~
The Complete Brambley Hedge by Jill Barkley
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Patterson
James Herriot Treasury for Children
Just So Stories– Rudyard Kipling
Aesop’s Fables
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales
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Family Read Alouds~
The Green EmberEmber Falls and The Black Star of Kingston )
Five Children and It by E Nesbit
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Carry on Mr Bowditch by Jean Latham
100 Cupboards by ND Wilson
The Hobbit by Tolkien
The Princess and the Goblin (Princess and the Curdie) by George MacDonald
Homer Price by Robert Mccloskey
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis
Prince Caspian by CS Lewis
The King of the Golden River by John Ruskin

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Audiobooks~
Hank the Cowdog (We belly laugh when this is on!)
Mystery! Mystery!  read by Jim Weiss
Sherlock Holmes for Children read by Jim Weiss
The Hound of the Baskerville read by Jim Weiss
Ten Thousand Stars read by Jim Weiss
Heroes, Horses and Harvest Moons read by Jim Weiss
First Stories to Last a Lifetime read by Jim Weiss
Courage and a Clear Mind read by Jim Weiss
The Dragon and the Raven
The Cat of Bubastes
Little House in the Big Woods read by Lynn Cherry
The Green Ember read by Joel Clarkson

Extras:
LED Reading Light
Reading Strips (For Dyslexic or struggling readers)

Bird Nerds

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Birds of North America Poster

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The Identiflyer

 

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Children’s Birding Journal

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Bird Masks and Wings

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Bird Puzzle

Bird Call

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Sibley Backyard Birding Flash Cards

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Bird Bingo

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Bird Memory Game 

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Bird Dominoes

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Listen to the Birds: Classical Music

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Monthly Bird Box from Tanglewood Hollow

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Bimonthly Bird Zine

 

Stay tuned for our next guide: Entrepreneurs, Handicrafters & Storytellers!

Our Favorite Christmas Reads Part 1

 

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We had so many requests for an official list after our Instagram LIVE Christmas Book edition we decided to put together two lists. This list was put together by my children. These are their absolute favorites and I must say, I agree with the vast majority. We love beautiful stories and rich illustrations around here and it is certainly reflected in the list below. We’ll post part 2 in the next few days. Enjoy!

A Child is Born by Margaret Wise Brown

B is for Bethlehem by Isabel Winer

The Nutcracker Story Orchestra by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats

This is the Stable by Cythnia Cotton

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd Jones

The Story of Christmas by Pamela Dalton

The Glorious Impossible by Madeline L’Engle

The Christmas Stories of George MacDonald by George MacDonald

We Three Kings by Gennady Spirin

First Christmas by National London Gallery

Christmas at Long Pond by William T George

Christmas at Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston

Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S Buck

Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon

Franklin and Winston: The Christmas that Changed the World by Douglas Wood

An Orange For Frankie by Patricia Polacco

Gift of the Magi by O Henry

Bird’s Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wilson

A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy

 

Classical Conversations Cycle 3: Week 5 George Washington, the Constitution and our Daily Rhythm.

George Washington is one of our heroes. When my eldest turned 6 we even had a Revolutionary War reenactment in our backyard to celebrate. Washington crossed the Delaware, Paul Revere ran around warning everyone, the dastardly Cornwallis was defeated by both wooden sword and light saber. My son was dressed up like General Washington, my Dad played the part of Cornwallis. One year later we celebrated his 7th birthday with a trip to Mt. Vernon.

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A few months before that visit, my son learned that George Washington was a slave owner. This was a terrible blow for him. In his heart he felt that slavery was pure evil, and now he learned that his hero had engaged in it.  The past years have been spent in deep discussion about all our heroes and all their moral failings. As it turns out, every hero is sinful, save for one.  Some heroes have secret sin we cannot see, others have sins exposed to the glaring light of historical truth like our friend George. We cannot ever excuse George from his participation in slavery, but we are heartened to see that he did struggle with the practice of slavery.  He ultimately decided to free his slaves upon his death. It was during our time at Mount Vernon that we first heard the name of William Lee, George Washington’s closest companion and confident through the war and beyond. He was black. Washington gave Lee his freedom. “It was probably because of his friendship with his black companion that the general, even though, like Jefferson, a slave owner, said that there was ‘not a man living’ who wished more sincerely than he that slavery would be abolished by law” (Black Heroes of the Revolution by Burke Davis). You can find more information about Washington here.

Whenever we study the Declaration or the Constitution we rightfully mourn the lost opportunity for our country to declare all men truly free and equal. My son asked the other day, “I want to see America’s history as beautiful, but I can’t ignore all these horrible things that happened.” We have agreed that we can see the Beauty, Truth and Goodness in certain elements and honor those while at the same time deeply mourn over the sin, injustice and evil that grew alongside the good.

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After years of studying the life of Washington through wonderful books like the D’Aulaire’s Washington,  we decided to spend this week wrapping up our study of the Revolutionary War and studying the lives of other historical figures. This was the year my boys truly met heroes like Nathan Hale, Francis Marion the Swamp Fox, John Paul Jones, and more.

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” -The Declaration of Independence. 

This last sentence came alive the further we delved into the individual stories that make up the Revolutionary War. Indeed, after years of study, I believe we gained far more this year than ever before simply by walking through the event alongside other people.  Our wonderful living books librarian, Michelle Miller, is a Francis Marion fanatic. On our last trip to the library she pressed a book into my hands and urged me to read it to the boys. Island Fortress by Roe Richmond. This book was heart-wrenching. Violence, death, war, torture, cruelty and unbelievable sadness. This was a difficult book to read, but it gave my children a better understanding of the Revolutionary War than anything else we had read up to that point. When they take up their wooden rifles to play army outside the story has changed. They feel it more deeply now. When they hear death tolls of battles, they gasp now. “18,000 men? That is so many mothers and daughters and sisters and little sons and little brothers hurting over their dead.”

We wrapped up our study by spreading out a large sheet of butcher paper, drawing the eastern coast of America and slowly filling in all the various battles we had studied or read about.

Daily Rhythm
Many of you have asked how we balance our study throughout the day. The truth is each day varies. Our community day now runs through the afternoon thanks to Essentials, so we do not do any other work upon our return home. We have 3 days of “regular” study and one special day at the end of the week to schedule.

Regular school days for this term look like this:

Wake up
Farm Chores/Morning Chores
Children make breakfast
Morning Time:  We open with a prayer, song of ascent, hymn, lesson from our catechism and then answer a few questions from our family bible study of Romans with Bible Study Fellowship. The following is done on a loop:

Colonial Art Study
Hymn Study
Stories from America by Lorene Lambert
Architecture by Hillyer
Stories from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois
Poetry
Trial and Triumph
Family Read Aloud
Timeline Narrations

We cap off with memory work recitation for CC and we diagram a sentence together. (75% of the table has no idea what is happening when we diagram).
Math, Music and Latin
The next hour is a delicate balance and a bit of a dance. The younger boys go and practice their violins while the older boys get either a new Latin lesson, or drill the vocabulary from the previous lesson. Once the younger children return, the older boys go and practice their instruments while the younger children have their math lesson. Once the older children return they get their math lesson while the younger children go play. We usually accomplish this all in 50 minutes to an hour. Those of you familiar with our rhythm are probably even now thinking WHAT HAPPENED TO OLDER CHILDREN PLAYING TILL THE END OF THE HOUR AND STARTING ON THE NEW HOUR?  This is true for all other hours of the day, but this beginning hour is one I am recently taking advantage of because I see a growing willingness in my older children to work through the hour.
History/Playful Pioneers/A Year of Playing Skillfully
At the top of the hour I hand an AYOPS activity to my youngest son who begins to play and work while the rest of us sit down at the table. I give my middle child a brief history story which he narrates while the older children work on finishing illustrations from the day before or writing out history sentences. I usually give my youngest another sensory tray at this point and the middle one joins him. Then I turn to my older children. We are working through our Beautiful Feet Books spine, using our Pin It Maps US History bundle and using several living book each week for our history study. I read for about thirty minutes total during this hour. I try to break it up in chunks for purposes of narration and dialogue. They record their work in their composition books. While the older children are recording work, I am reading aloud or working with my 1st grader on his Playful Pioneer work. The children play for the remainder of the hour.
Lit Lunch
My older boys are in charge of making one lunch each week. While the chef of the day prepares the lunch meal, everyone else works to tidy the house again.  The dishwasher is unloaded, the classroom is swept, sometimes I hide in the bathroom and eat chocolate….important stuff. Once lunch is ready we all sit down to eat. Once I have eaten most of my lunch I pull out a fun book and begin to read. Right now we are slowly making our way through the Burgess Bird Book. We have been enjoying this book since last April. We are about 10 chapters away from finishing. Sometimes we will set it aside and read another story from Ambleside Online’s Year 0/1 lists.
Reading Hour/Therapies
Immediately following lunch my older boys retreat for quiet reading hour. They usually take a cup of tea with them. They curl up on chairs in our library and read biographies or living science books. THIS IS PURELY FOR ENJOYMENT. My middle son and I have his reading lesson and I listen to him read aloud for 15 minutes at which point he is excused to his room to rest and listen to an audio story. Then my youngest and I sit down for his speech therapy. Once this is complete he is excused to his room for an audio story and rest.
ESSENTIALS/IEW
Once the boys are finished reading they have a half hour break before heading back to the classroom. We usually begin this work at about 2:30 in the afternoon. They commence by taking out their IEW Phonetic Zoo program and running through their spelling list together. Then they break up for their IEW work. My second born and I work on his IEW writing book while my eldest works on all of his charts. Once my second born is on his set course I turn to the eldest and we work on his key word outline or 1st draft, etc. I ask him to diagram the same sentence we looked at during morning time and explain each part to me. My 2nd born is usually finished by 3pm. He proceeds to run down his independent work loop. My eldest takes about 45 minutes- 1 hour to finish his Essentials work depending on the day. He takes a 30 minute break.
The Final Hour
At this point the younger brothers are back and my middle two go work on their relationship with a relationship building game or project I give them. I work with my youngest son on some more therapies while my eldest does his independent loop work. We gather one last time to sing a song of thanksgiving, review what we accomplished, encourage one another and end in prayer.
The Blessing Hour
The children clean while I make dinner. It does not always last a whole hour. Most days it only takes them 20 minutes to right everything and then they are receiving the blessing of rest and play.
Dinner
Dinner is discipleship time. We pray together, discuss the bible or current events. We TALK TOGETHER. We share a meal and we sometimes close out by having Dad read us a book. We love family dinner. Its the best part of our day. If you want to implement something like this in your home I highly recommend Sally Clarkson’s latest book “The Life-giving Table.”
Extra Curricular
Our boys regularly participate in a sport which requires practice multiple nights of the week. During this much needed time of exercise and friendship, I get to read books. I am a big fan of sports now.

Special Days
Once a week my children have music lessons after lunch so we slide those study slots around a bit to make room for lessons.
Fridays are our adventure days! We begin with morning time and immediately go into our Music study with Beautiful Feet Books. Once that is done we pack up our bags and head out for a nature walk or trip with our local nature group. When we return we have our afternoon Symposium (an extended tea time/morning time conversation) and wrap up with our Friday Exam.

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