A Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations Cycle 3

I have received hundreds of requests for the information below which details our Charlotte Mason approach to Classical Conversations. Please understand that this is not the only possible approach to CC with CM. You do not need to have every single book on this list. This is simply what works for my particular family, in my particular home, within our particular schedule, with my children’s particular learning styles and my particular teaching inclinations. In other words, dear reader, I am sharing this in the hopes that it gives you inspiration to compile your own schedule for your own family’s needs. Keep in mind, this is not the only way!


    A Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Weeks 1-6  

Book of Narrations & Book of Centuries
Each week the child can choose two pieces from the TIMELINE to study and narrate. I have included a list of books we use for these, if there is no book available then we use the timeline card. If the child is too young for written narration, I will record his oral narration and then type it out. He will then illustrate the narration and put it into his Book of Narrations. An older child will write their own written narration and illustrate it for their own Book of Narrations. With each passing year we add more pieces to our Book of Narrations, slowly moving towards a completely narrated Timeline. We will update our Book of Centuries with new information as we go along.  One series that we use for Timeline study is Olive Beaupre Miller’s A Picturesque Tale of Progress Complete Set, Volumes 1-9” If you can find the set, (check eBay, abebooks, thrift books, amazon used, etsy) the illustrations are lovely and the words are lush and engaging. Our set was published in 1929.  

Each child will receive a composition notebook for recording their History study notes. We will read a portion of the chosen book and then narrate and illustrate it. I am listing several choices but only reading a few each week. We will also be reading through “A Child’s First Book of American History” by Earl Schenk Miers, illustrated by James Daugherty as our main history text. The boys will probably listen to The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Vol. 3: Early Modern Times audio at night before bed. 

For our older children we will either use Lyrical Life Science: The Human Body or Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology (Young Explorer Series) I have yet to decide!
The younger children will use various books for their Anatomy study. I have listed them below.    

Map Work:
The children will practice their map work by tracing a state each day onto a piece of paper and illustrating the state bird and state flower alongside it. Then they can work on their larger laminated map for a few minutes. The youngest child (age 4) will be using these free Crayola state sheets.

Handwriting: We will continue using developmentally appropriate Prescipts from Classical Conversations.

Latin: We will memorize our weekly Latin alongside our consistent use of Memoria Press Latina Cristiana 1.

Math: We will continue using Right Start Math and memorizing our math cycle. We start each math period with memory drills through song.

Language Arts: My eldest is now in Essentials. (Deep breathing) My second born will finish Student Intensive A from IEW and then use one of the smaller writing books for the rest of the year. Both children will use the independent auditory spelling program from IEW. My third born will continue using his current language arts routine. I have listed several family read aloud choices. I will probably let my children choose which ones we read. I don’t know if we will finish one each week or if we will just select a new one every other week.

Our main Morning Time history text will be Stories of America Volume 1 and Stories of America Volume 2 by Simply Charlotte Mason along with selections from a few vintage books we love. (i.e. They Put Out to Sea: The Story of the Map by Roger Dusovin)

Poetry is based on the poet’s geographical location for the term.  I have also included a list of my favorite picture books for further geography study of the United States.  We will select one or two poets.

1st Quarter Poets:

1st Quarter Art Study:
Queen Homeschool Observing History through Picture Study: Early American History

1st Quarter Hymn:
O God Our Help in Ages Past (1 verse per week)

We will study our chosen Artist, Poet, Hymn, Shakespeare Play, etc on a loop. The Family Read Aloud list will be featured at the end. The rest of the our morning studies will commence from the lists below. We use the CC memory work to launch into subjects that correlate. I will be blogging through each week so you can get a better idea of how this list comes to life.

Lessons Plans CC Cycle 3 Weeks 1-6

Week 1
Columbus The D’aulaires

Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus by Peter Sis
Meet Christopher Columbus  byJames T Dekay
Pedro’s Journal: A Voyage with Christopher Columbus by Pam Conrad

** I have been asked by several families for a native american POV story about Columbus that is suitable for children. If interested in a Taino Indian boy’s perspective, check out Encounter (Voyager Books) by Jane Yolen.

[(Your Skin and Mine )by Paul Showers

Surrounded By Sea: Life on a New England Fishing Island by Gail Gibbons
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Clooney
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
One Morning in Maine (Picture Puffins) by Robert McCloskey
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
Obadiah the Bold by Brinton Turkle

Fine Arts: OiLs Basic Shapes practice
Ish (Creatrilogy) by Peter Reynolds

The Creation Story for Childrenby Helen Haidle
The True Story of Noah’s Ark by Tom Dooley
Genesis 1-8
Indus Valley City (Building History)by Gillian Clements
Voices of Ancient Egyptby Kay Winters
Pharaoh’s Boatby David L Weitzman
Pyramid by David Macaulay
Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lambert
    —Chp 2 The Sumerians
—Chp 3  The Indus Valley
—Chp 9 The Minoans

Week 2
The Pilgrims of Plimoth (Aladdin Picture Books) by Marcia Sewall
People of the Breaking Day (Aladdin Picture Books) by Marcia Sewall
The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland’s Good Fortune by PJ Lynch
The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dagliesh
N.C. Wyeth’s Pilgrims by Robert San Souci  
Sarah Morton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl or Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters
Squanto, Friend Of The Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla

The Skeleton Inside You by Phillip Ballestrino
Bones: Skeletons and How They Work by Steve Jenkins
Bones: Our Skeletal System by Seymour Simon

A River Ran Wild: An Environmental History by Lynne Cherry
Amazing Impossible Erie Canal (Aladdin Picture Books)by Cheryl Harness
The Erie Canalby Peter Spier
The Brooklyn Bridge: The story of the world’s most famous bridge and the remarkable family that built it. (Wonders of the World Book) by Elizabeth Mann
The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night (Dell Picture Yearling) by Peter Spier
Libertyby Lynn Curlee
The Story of the Statue of Liberty by Betsy Maestro
Kenner’s Lydia by Marguerite de Angeli
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jaqueline Davies
Thee, Hannah!By Marguerite de Angeli

Fine Arts: Mirror Image Drawing

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Lynn Curlee
The Bible (Patriarchs)
God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah by Joanna Livingstone (Kush)
Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lambert
    —Chp 7 Babylon
    —Chp 8 China (Shang Dynasty)
    —Chp 16 The Hittites
—Chp 17 Kush
   —Chp 18 Assyria

Week 3
The Boston Tea Party by Russell Freedman
Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer
Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? by Jean Fritz
The Scarlet Stockings Spy  by Trina Hanks Noble
Sybil’s Night Ride by Karen Winnick
The Story of the Boston Tea Party: Cornerstones of Freedom
Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak: The Outbreak of the Boston Tea Party Told from Multiple Points-of-View! By Kay Winters
Benjamin Franklin by D’ulaires

You can’t make a move without your muscles by Paul Showers
Muscles: Our Muscular SystemSeymour Simons

Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birdsby Cynthia Rylant
When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills
Aunt Flossie’s Hats (and Crab Cakes Later) by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard

Fine Arts:
Upside-Down Image

Ox, House, Stick: The History of Our Alphabet by Don Robb
Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lambert
     —-Chp  19 Cyrus the Great- The Persian Empire
Exodus 3-15
Numbers, Judges, 1 Samuel 1-7
1 Samuel 8-31, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1-11
The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna by Demi

Week 4
Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? By Jean Fritz
The Fourth of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh
We the People: The Constitution of the United States by Peter Spier
The Declaration of Independence
Phoebe the Spy by Judith Griffiths

Use Your Brain by Paul Showers
The Brain: All about Our Nervous System and More! by Seymour Simons

Parrotfish and Sunken Ships: Exploring a Tropical Reef by Jim Arnosky
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski
Georgia Music by Helen Griffiths
Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell
Sam the Sea Cow by Francine Jacobs
The Sea, the Storm, and the Mangrove Tangle by Lynn Cherry
Swamp by Donald Silver
River Town by Bonnie Geisert
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C Holling
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell

Fine Arts:
Abstract Art

The Twins by Plutarch
1 & 2 Kings
1 & 2 Chronicles
Depending on skill level:
The Children’s Homer by Padraic Collum
The Odyssey by Geralidne MacCraeghen
The Iliad of Homer by Homer
The Odyssey by Homer
Works and Days by Hesiod
Theogony by Hesiod
Buddha  by Demi
The Legend of Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching by Demi
Confucius: The Golden Rule by Russell Freedman

Week 5.
George Washington by D’Aulaire
We the People: The Constitution of the United States by Lynne Cherry
George Washington’s Breakfast by Jean Fritz
A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution by Betsy Maestro

My Five Senses (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Aliki

Fine Arts:

Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C Holling
Warm as Wool  by Scott Russell Sanders
The Log Cabin Quilt by Ellen Howard
Too Many Mittens / A Good Place to Hide / The Little Mermaid Who Could Not Sing (Dover Children’s Classics) by Lois Slobodkin
Floating House by Scott Russell Sanders
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
Lentil by Robert McCloskey

Daniel 3
Alexander the Great by Demi
The Secret of Alexander’s Horse by Tony Palazzo
The Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Greeks by Plutarch
Daniel 5
2 Chronicles 36
Herodotus and the Road to History by Jeanne Bendick
Archimedes and the Door to Science by Jeanne Bendick
Galen and the Gateway to Medicine  by Jeanne Bendick
What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? by Julie Ellis
Rome Antics  by David MacCaulay
Famous Men Of Rome: History for the Thoughtful Child by John Haaren

Week 6
How We Crossed The West: The Adventures Of Lewis And Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer
Seaman’s Journal
Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801 by Genevieve Foster

What Happens to a Hamburger? by Paul Showers
Guts: Our Digestive System by Seymour Simon

B Is For Bluegrass: A Kentucky Alphabet by Mary Ann McCabe
Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt
Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys by Elizabeth Howard
A Band of Angels: A Story Inspired by the Jubilee Singers by Deborah Hopkins
Copper-toed Boots by Marguerite de Angeli
Yonie Wondernose by Marguerite de Angeli
The Raft by Jim LaMarche
Saving Strawberry Farm

Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
The Life of Julius Caesar by Plutarch
If You Were Me and Lived in….the Mayan Empire 
Secrets in Stone : All About Maya Hieroglyphics
Rome by Andrew Saloway
[(The Children’s Plutarch : Tales of the Romans)
Matthew 3, John 3, Matthew 14

1st Quarter Family Read Aloud:

Landmarks of American History Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1)
The Landing of the Pilgrims (Landmark Books)
The Courage of Sarah Noble
Justin Morgan Had a Horse
The Matchlock Gun
Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
America’s Paul Revere
Johnny Tremain
Calico Bush
The Cabin Faced West
Of Courage Undaunted

Year 4 Ancient History Wks 5-8


We have wrapped up our study of Ancient Egypt. I’ll be honest, I wanted to stretch this Ancient History study so it would last the whole year. If we keep up this pace we’ll be done by August! The truth is, my boys did not want to stop once they started. We do a lesson a day (sometimes two) and even after I leave the classroom, they keep working away on their study.  We’ll see if this trend lasts through our study of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome!


I’ll say once more that one of our favorite books for this unit was “Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors” by Lorene Lambert.  We also listened to the excellent Jim Weiss recording, “Pharaohs and Queens of Ancient Egypt.”  We enjoyed a special Poetry Teatime Ancient Egypt Edition thanks to the book, “Voices of Ancient Egypt.” The boys wanted Ancient Egyptian food but after an overwhelming week we stuck with our normal fare and simply pretended it was Ancient Egyptian. We giggled quite a bit, “please pass the mummified scones and a scarab biscuit please!” Lastly, If you are able to find a copy of the book “The Egyptians Knew” by Tillie S Pine, it is a lovely addition to this study. The boys loved reading about how things were done then, how they are done today and how they could do it at home.


As for our long term projects, we finished our little homemade Tales of Egypt book, which was comprised of our narration work for the Roger Lancelyn Green Book. We also completed our field notes for David MacCaulay’s “Pyramid.” I gave each of the boys a small journal and told them to fill it with their favorite bits and pieces from the MacCaulay book. They could pretend to be chief architects or stone masons, taking notes and drawing observations. I loved seeing how each child had a different approach to this project. One was drawn to the technical side of building, another to the social side of constructing a pyramid.  The boys also made a book report about “The Golden Goblet” and finished their report on Ancient Egypt. Strange how they are suddenly ready for so much more. I am so glad that I did not push them to do things before their time.


We spent one last day learning about Vivaldi and Corelli with our History of Classical Music Study. The boys had asked for “just a little bit more time!” and of course I could not say no to that.  The correlating Music Masters CD that comes with the curriculum plays more than once a week at our house.  We’ve been enjoying the music of Vivaldi as we set the table before meals, tidy up during blessing hour or when I send the kids to their rooms for quiet time (usually after someone sustains an injury after a poorly regulated light saber battle in the living room). We are so looking forward to beginning our study of Bach. The Story of the Orchestra book has started to cement a better understanding of the music periods in the boys minds. I quite enjoy their burgeoning conversations about music, everything is so awkward and limited right now, but I see the growth and it makes me smile.


My third born is progressing with his FIAR study and we continue to read through the Ambleside read aloud together. The older boys have been joining in on some of them. Recently we began reading the Burgess Bird Book for Children again, our third time through as a family, and the older children are still enchanted by each story. They pulled out the craft paper and began painting the Old Orchard, the Briar Patch, etc. and filled each tree with this beloved winged characters that brighten our lunch hour each day. We have done this story map exercise before, but this time the boys led the way alone. They helped their little brother walk through the story, pointing to the different characters as he giggled and narrated each tale.


Guys, I am in love with Right Start Math. I am so sad that I didn’t find it sooner, but I am relieved I found it in time. I am blown away by how much my children are learning, how greatly their fluency has increased, how much deeper their understanding of math is. My eldest has done a complete 180. Saxon was quite a burden for him because of his Dyslexia. The constant busy work was tantamount to torture for him. He is so thrilled to have so many games and tools and visual aids to lock these concepts in with.  After struggling with place value for years, this two day exercise, the Cotter’s Tens Fractals,  along with his abacus training and new terminology for number (i.e. one ten seven, instead of 17) helped establish a clear understanding of place value in his mind. He stopped guessing because he finally understood! In two days he went from uncertain computation of two digit numbers to confident addition with 4+ digits. I am thrilled and thankful.


We wrapped up our second year of Playing Skillfully and now our youngest will be repeating his favorite activities from the year along with a new round of in home therapies starting in June, including Suzuki violin. We are beginning a new focus on music training for our family and I am in the midst of tweaking our schedule once more to reflect this new change.  I love that schedules are ever changing, it demonstrates how much growth is happening around here.


For those patiently waiting for our Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations Cycle 3 (what a mouthful!) we’ll be posting it by the end of next week!

Another Year of Playing Skillfully


We are in the final weeks of our second year of playing skillfully with The Homegrown Preschooler.  You can read all about our first experience here. After such a wonderful first year with my then 3 and 5 year old, we knew we wanted to repeat the year once more. A Year of Playing Skillfully is designed for multi-age use which makes it ideally suited for repetition because the activities are organized with several levels of ability in mind.  My boys were able to repeat familiar activities with higher mastery by virtue of having simply aged one year. Some activities that were not suitable last year, fit perfectly this year.  They are growing up alongside it and nothing about this second year felt boring or unchallenging.


All that messy joy and contagious wonder has covered our family with so much grace.  I never feel guilty with AYoPS. There are months when we do the majority of the activities listed and its wonderful. There are months when we only do half and that is wonderful too. There is so much freedom within these pages that I feel at complete liberty to let my children linger as they need. This isn’t a checklist of curriculum that must be finished by the end of the year or else. Its a gathering of experiences with the potential to become memories.


Lingering feels like a lost art these days. We took a long walk in the woods the other day, collecting natural elements to place on our color wheel. We chatted back and forth, laughing and making memories. No pressure to rush off somewhere or check something off a list. We were learning together, sharing a sensory-rich experience in nature. The boys hands were filled with gathered treasures, forming relationships in their minds and in their souls. We see this play out in almost every activity we do. At its heart, AYOPS joyfully teaches us to learn with all our whole selves, to embrace the beauty of poetic knowledge, to relish understanding something because you have experienced it through wonder, relationship and love. Wonder is not just a glittery word for cute childish learning. Wonder is a powerful word for that humbling moment when you embrace the mystery of life and encounter the stirring of passion and curiosity.


Yes, its about “saying yes” to fun and laughter and memories, but its also about saying yes to laying foundations for learning, firmly rooted in hungry curiosity, ecstatic creativity, necessary humility and powerful wonder. These are life-changing character traits that lead to life-giving learning. Two years in and I am seeing this fruition in my children. From the eldest children to the youngest, spanning the ages of 9-4, I am seeing the fruit of AYOPS in all stages of their learning. They are willing to experiment and make mistakes, they are eager to investigate and ask questions, they are holding on to play and imagination. Funny how each one of those activities added up over time. Hour by hour, story by story, day by day, its all adding up to something really beautiful. Someone asked me the other day if I was worried about how much time my children spend playing. The answer is no. I am not worried. I am rejoicing.


AYOPS taught me to place a high value on play. Have you read the original book “The Homegrown Preschooler?” I cannot recommend it enough. Find it. Read it. Live it.


Protecting their right to play, changed their lives. AYOPS’ constant reminder to “say yes” and to embrace that much needed time for play, for sorting emotions, for ordering the world, for sensory experience, has produced radical results in our home. I never hear my children say “I am bored.” They have been conditioned to play and when time presents itself, they know exactly what to do with it. When faced with a challenge they recall events they encountered in their playtime that help them make a plan and see it through.


Another beautiful aspect of AYOPS is the gentle monthly reminder for habit and character training.  Affirming them as valued members of our family and household has opened a door for these boys. They want to help. They are eager to take part in things. They enjoy the ordering of things after the mess has been relished.


I must confess that having children participate in chores makes for painfully slow housework at times. Yet the rewards of this time spent are seen everywhere. My youngest knows that he is capable. What a gift! He is capable. He can learn how to do anything. He is important to us. We need him and what he has to offer. He is valuable. We repeat these through word and action each month as we reintroduce and affirm these skills. He is not a limited child stuck within the boundaries of a sensory disorder. His is beloved and brimming with possibility.


Now I’ll share specifically about my six year old and this curriculum.  Facing the constant pressure to HURRY UP AND LEARN EVERYTHING NOW, I chose instead to slow down. I chose to teach phonics at his pace and to gift him with another year of AYOPS. I have said it before and I will say it again, its not just about what they are learning, its about who they are becoming. And at this oh so tender age of six, its not just about giving them an education, its about protecting their childhood. I gave him the gift of more time.


Time to nap under a flowering bush after we read “Billy and Blaze” for the hundredth time. Time to create an elaborate mud mural on the sidewalk.


Time to ask as many questions as he needed. Time to discover things in his immediate world and build relationships with them. Another nap picture? Yes. It was a great theme in our home this year. I would often see him surrounded by books or bugs or knitting needles and half an hour later see him nestled in a blanket, fast asleep. I always snapped a picture to remind myself of his littleness. I would gaze at these pictures every time a person, article or book suggested that our children need to be reading by the age of four or it was game over.


His world expanded this year. Yes, he was reading by the end of the year, but only because he was ready! In the meantime, his world expanded. He fell in love with Van Gogh, Picasso and Paul Klee. He discovered that he loves water colors and crochet work. His favorite time to take a nature walk? Sunset. He found composers and writers and poets and musicians that thrilled him and he wanted to invite them to his birthday party. He discovered that he still loves to play “Doggie Doggie where is your bone?” He wasn’t too old to play skillfully, he was just right.


The truth is it was just right for all of us. A month ago I was describing AYOPS to a friend and the following conversation occurred:

Me: “Its my favorite curriculum we’ve ever done.”
Friend: “I’m so excited to try it!”
Son: “Excuse me, Mom? Its not a curriculum.”
Me: “Its not?”
Son: “No! Its a tradition! Because every fall we go on a hot air balloon journey and before you know it its time for pumpkincano and then in December we always paint the windows and….”
This went on for quite some time.
Friend: “I thought you bought AYOPS for your youngest two?”
Son: ” Trust me, its for the whole family.”


So, will we attempt three years of playing skillfully?


Yes! Yes, we will.


At this point I must concede that we have been conditioned for a lifetime of playing skillfully. Its a part of who we are. Its in the fabric of our family story. We are a family that plays together.


To any readers wanting to try A Year of Playing Skillfully, I have a special promo for you! 10% off with the code FarmhouseSchoolhouse. Enjoy!

The Road to Morning Time: Bridging the Transitions


Homeschooling the midst of transition is tough. New home, new baby, new job, illness, etc. Its difficult to keep balance in the midst of change. One of our biggest (and longest) seasons of transition came when I got pregnant, my husband graduated from grad school, we moved across the country, had a baby and moved back across the country again. It was a rough 18 months! Homeschooling looked different back then. For a while Morning Time became Afternoon Time! When the dust finally settled we found ourselves back in Florida with four small children and a rental house that felt like a small sanctuary, a soft landing place to heal and recover. Once the boxes were all unpacked I thought long and hard about what our homeschool would look like moving forward. I have these meetings with myself at least once a year. A days long session of “are we on the right track? what is the end goal? does our daily work point toward that end goal? who are my children becoming?” Four and  half years ago I stood in our new dining room and stared at the empty bookcase by the wall. It was the only space I had for my homeschool materials. Where were we going? How would we get there? What kind of foundation was I actively or passively laying?


I took a deep breath and reminded myself, “Morning Time. I need Morning Time back on track. Before we start anything else, I need Morning Time again.”  By then I had learned that Morning Time was what worked best for our family. Some of our richest learning took place in those early minutes of the day. I knew that the familiarity of this family tradition would help bridge these days of change to the place I longed for us to settle into.


I also sensed that my older children were capable of more. At this point in time they were 5, 4, 2, and nearly 1.  Our morning time consisted of prayer, a story, a poem, a song and math. I decided to play with the possibilities a bit. We would gather around the table, pray, eat breakfast, read a story and then progress to our new schedule. First we introduced a more in depth music time. Practicing rhythm, song exercises and learning new hymns. This would last 10 minutes on the dot! I never gave them a minute more no matter how much they begged. This ensured that the next day they would be excited for more music. Next we would work on our calendar, counting, days of the week and our weekly poem. The two year old would typically color or play with playdoh during this time, though he is a tornado of personality so most days he would join in and answer all the questions before anyone else could.


By now the boys would be hungry again, so a snack was in order. This is the time of day when I would go with them to the kitchen and teach them a new skill or supervise one they were in the midst of mastering. Learning how to squeeze juice, make toast, slice cheese, core an apple, etc. I still had a reserve of patience at this time of day and I was more willing to sit and instruct them in snack preparation. By the time dinner rolled around I just needed to whip up something quickly and easily without kids underfoot. Morning snack was the perfect opportunity to foster independence in a slow and steady way.


Next, we had our nature study time. Having a baby made me less willing to spend countless hours outdoors. The boys would go outside and play for awhile and then they would return and we would learn about a new animals or plant. We would take turns learning how to draw that animal or plant. Then my kids each had a turn to “report” on what we learned. One of my boys, a budding zoologist, pretended to be a veterinarian with his own TV show. He would take on the vocal cadence of Sir Attenborough and recite all he had learned while the other children watched, captivated by their brother’s excitement and joy. This taught me that embracing your children’s interests a few times a week goes a long way with them. Listening to your son talk endlessly about trucks or bugs or dinosaurs helps build a relationship of listening. Asking questions builds curiosity and dialogue. It also slowly sets the stage for reciprocal listening. “Remember yesterday when you told me all about trucks and I asked questions and you answered them and we had so much fun? Today, I thought I would share with you about _________, afterwards we can ask more questions and we’ll have so much fun!”


Don’t fast forward through transitions, use them wisely! Embrace the changing seasons by digging deep right where you are. If you have a baby on your hip, enjoy that baby. You don’t have to teach ALL the things ALL at once. Start somewhere small and slowly add new things in. If you can only add one or two things, that is just fine. In fact, its wonderful that you can recognize your current boundaries. One day you will be able to add more.  Babies don’t keep. Toddlers grow into preschoolers. There is time ahead for all the extras.


Year 4: Ancient History Term 1 wk 3-4


And we are back!

April was a crazy month. Easter, the end of our CC Year, science fair, closing program, music recital, family vacation, wild + free book club, practicum training and licensing training all took place within a three week timespan. All of it was wonderful but utterly exhausting. I am beat.


Morning Time
Rich + Rooted Passover by Jennifer Naraki
Genesis 21-50
Herodotus and the Road to History by Jeanne Benedict
Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lamber
Ancient Egypt by James Baikie
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Hymn: “Fairest Lord Jesus”
Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolio: Giotto
Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois
Poem: “To Be a Pilgrim” by John Bunyan
The Apostles Creed
Biography: Mathematicians are People Too by Luella Reimer
Geography: Visits to Africa by Simply Charlotte Mason
Composer: Vivaldi
Latin: Memoria Press


Ancient History
My boys have been begging to study Ancient Egyptian History for quite some time now. They were so thrilled the day we hit lesson 5 in the Beautiful Feet Book’s guide and I asked them to decorate an Ancient Egypt Page for their notebooks.
We broke up the readings for “Pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt” since they are too lengthy for the stage of narration that they are at. Splitting each chapter into three sections has been helpful. They illustrate and include a small written narration for one section and give oral narrations for the other two sections. “Tales of Ancient Egypt” by Roger Lancelyn Green has been a great hit. Its interesting to see the kids dissect the creation story, flood story etc and compare and contrast it to Biblical history.


We found several wonderful books to add depth to areas of interest within our studies. We broadened lesson 8 with “Pharaoh’s Boat by Weitzman, David L. [HMH Books for Young Readers, 2009] Hardcover [Hardcover]“>Pharaoh’s Boat” by David Weitzman, which tied in perfectly with our study of Pharaoh Cheops and the construction of his pyramid. The book outlines how the Egyptians built boats for the Pharaohs to use in their journey to the afterlife and how they were disassembled, then buried at the base of the pyramids. The latter half of the book walks us through the archeological discovery of one boat and how it was reconstructed and preserved.  Its a bit pricey to track down so check your local libraries first for this wonderful gem!  I’ll list additional books in our book list at the end of the post. I’ll also include a new tab in our Shop tab with links to some of our favorite Ancient History resources.


The Student Bible Atlas has been hit or miss with the boys. Last week for lesson 6 we decided to do some more advanced map work using our homemade plexiglass easel from The Homegrown Preschooler.  The boys painted the map on the plexiglass using a mixture of tempura and dish soap (with a tiny bit of acrylic added in!) I printed out labels and the kids were able to label their map together. We gathered around the map as we read and they pointed out cities and features as read along. Diving into the map and bringing it to life really solidified everything for them.


My long time readers know that I like to spend time with a curriculum before writing about it. I am almost to the end of my “observation period” with Right Start Math and I am so excited to share more in-depth about our experience with the curriculum. For now I will simply report that we are loving it! We used Saxon for our entire homeschool experience until the day I realized that my children knew how to answer questions correctly without understanding why they were right. I knew we needed a new program and when I looked at Right Start, I had a feeling it would be a great fit for us. We had to humble ourselves and pick up a lower year package because I knew my children had missed a number of foundational things and had even learned a few things out of order.
I am so glad we did this. The kids flew through the first 40 lessons in the book but now they are really starting to grapple with some of these concepts. Its beautiful to see them understanding math to such a degree that they are PLAYING with their math. They are loving the logic and structure of numbers. They are begging for math everyday—that says a lot to me.
My eldest son really struggled with place value. I’m not sure if it was a dyslexia thing or if the Saxon script never explained it in a way he could understand, but the simple exercises in RSM along with the use of the abacus, finally clicked place value understanding in his mind. What a joy to witness!

IMG_4808.jpgFriday Exam
We have really gotten into a beautiful groove with our Friday exam. The last two weeks the boys have launched right into sharing their favorite stories with each other and teaching their younger brother some of the best things they learned that week. A lovely peek at some rhetoric level sharing. In fact, all the classical education stages are usually present at the table. My youngest proudly rattling off terms and the older two bursting with dialectic questions and once in a while that beautiful burst of rhetoric reasoning as they teach their younger brother something valuable that they learned. I have really come to value these afternoons. Its encouraging to see what sorts of things they are taking away from their lessons, what they are internalizing and what is shaping their character.


Extra Curricular
Speaking of character, the amount of habit training and character training that occurs within the realm of handwork never ceases to amaze me. Slow, methodical, meaningful work does wonders for our habit training. Then there is the added bonus of handwork as processing space. I shared about my children’s various thinking styles on instagram a few weeks ago. They each have a different way of processing their lessons, but something they all need is TIME to ponder what they have learned. One child needs to verbalize as he thinks, another needs constant outdoor motion (usually time on a skateboard or bike will do) and another needs to work with his hands. I call him my “build it out” thinker. On the day I snapped this photo we had just wrapped a morning of studies containing Shakespeare, Giotto, and the Rosetta Stone. He was sawing wood and working quietly at his work bench for a while and suddenly piped out, “I like how everything we learn is connected and I am a part of it all.” It was a great reminder that after feasting on great ideas, children need that protected time, gifted time, to think and ponder what they have taken in.

We did not do any formal science during this study period. GASP! We had formal science for a solid 10 months and once our busy end of the year season hit, I felt comfortable letting it go because of all the NATURE STUDY we are constantly immersed in. The children have plenty of time outdoors to observe nature, ample opportunity to interact with insects and animals and other creatures and a never ending desire to read books about all kinds of nature. To be honest, they’ve got this covered. We will probably start up again in June once I am home from convention.


Ancient History Booklist (lessons 5-9)
Pharaoh’s Boat by David Weitzman
Egyptian Boats by Geoffrey Scott
Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lambert 
The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt“>The 5,000 Year Old Puzzle by Claudia Logan
The Boy of the Pyramids by Ruth Fosdick Jones
Mummies, Pyramids and pharaohs by Gail Gibbons
Egyptian Mummies by Henrietta McCall
Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki
Cat Mummies by Kelly Trumble
Building History Egyptian Pyramid by Gillian Clements
Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile by Tomie dePaola


Stay tuned for our next installment of The Road to Morning Time!

Year 4: Ancient History, Term 1 Wk 1-2

My children skipped summer break. Yes, you read that right. They were SO excited to start  Ancient History from Beautiful Feet Books and continue on with Right Start Math and IEW and all the rest that they canceled their own summer break. We’re giving year round schooling a try. Six week on, one week off. Something tells me we will be sticking with it for a long time.  In these posts I will be sharing about our studies with an in depth look at how we blend Charlotte Mason and Classical Education. This first post is heavy on the set up and light on the practical blending, but as time moves on I’ll have more room for greater specificity. Here is a look at our first two weeks on the new schedule.


Morning Time:
Genesis 1-20
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Hymn: “O God Our Help in Ages Past.”
Giotto Tended the Sheep by Opal Wheeler
Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolio: Giotto
Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois
Poem: “The Moon” by Robert Louis Stevenson, “Opportunity” By Edward Sill
Biography: “Mathematicians are People, Too. Vol. 2” by Luella Reimer
Geography: Visits to Africa
Handwriting: Classical Conversations Prescripts
Composer: Corelli and Vivaldi

Ancient History with Beautiful Feet Books
Let’s begin by saying that this guide is geared for 4th grade-7th grade in the Intermediate section, which is the first half of the book, and 8th-12th grade in the Advanced Section, which is found in the second half of the book. My two boys are now in 4th grade so I am making adjustments as needed since they are at the very bottom of the recommended age range. The first four lessons of the guide cover Creation- Hammurabi.


I love how open-ended Beautiful Feet Books is. Enough direction to keep us on track but the overall unscripted assignments allow us to really follow our interests for each section which is so life-giving and keeps the boys engaged, invested and eager to dig for more!

One of the main texts used in the first four lessons is a TEXTBOOK called Streams of Civilizations. It is obviously not a living book and to be honest, if I read every word aloud my kids would have probably run away screaming.  I took time before we started this unit and read through the first assigned chapters of Streams of Civilizations so that I could have a grasp of where things were headed. I marked interesting sections to read aloud to the boys and then I went in search of living books that explained the unmarked sections in a more engaging way. I’ll add our book list at the end of the post.


A couple of set up notes for everyone following along. The boys will be filling out a standard composition notebook for their Ancient History study. Maps, narrations, drawings, terms, research etc. are contained within. The boys have dubbed them “Field Journals.” We also have picture story pads from Miller Pads & Paper for all of their Bible reading narrations. Secretly, I am using these notebooks to ease them over to more formal written narrations. We divide the scripture reading over a period of a few days and each time we read the boys narrate the story, then we get out our Bible Journals (picture story pads) and they illustrate what they learned. On a separate sheet of notebook paper they write out a few sentences/short paragraph about the story in their own words. I check for any spelling mistakes and then the sentences are written out once more in their best handwriting in the notebook. (All spelling mistakes are added to a list and then worked on at the end of the day). The written narrations will lengthen over time. We are also using a Book of Centuries from Miller Pads & Paper and updating it every day.

Lesson 1
We stretched the first lesson out over a period of three days.  We spent the first day reading through the entire Genesis account of creation, narrating and discussing it. Day two was spent reading about evolution and going through Streams of Civilizations.  The third day was spent further discussing terms found in the Streams of Civilization book. Everything from uniformitarianism to sequence dating. I am a bit surprised that the kids were so excited about their glossaries! We read additional living books each day and on the third day we also read several living books about archeology and anthropology and even went on a “dig” in the backyard to uncover some chicken bones I had buried the day before. Have you checked out  the newly released film “Is Genesis History?” The boys and I saw it in the theater a few weeks before our study began and it was such a helpful starting point for our discussions about Creation, Evolution and the Flood. We spent the remainder of our time on the third day researching the bronze age before the lesson migrated to the backyard with the boys all fashioning spears and weapons out of rocks. I probably should have seen that coming.


Lesson 2
I really love that the moment we opened our book about Noah, a rainstorm began outside. It felt like a hug from the Lord. When the boys were younger we looked at Peter Spier’s book Noah’s Ark and the flood account in the Bible beginning in Genesis 6. This time we also added in the phenomenal Tom Dooley book, The True Story of Noah’s Ark The boys responded so well to it that I am now considering a trip to the Creation Museum in Kentucky this fall so they can see the Ark replica. We spent a full day on the Flood topic and made sure to read flood accounts from around the world. We also discussed geological studies about the flood which were quite fascinating. On our second day with lesson two we read an excellent account about Sumer, Akkad and Sargon in the book “Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors” by Lorene Lambert. This book is EXCEPTIONAL and a much better read than the Streams of Civilization account. I did highlight a few terms and excerpts to go over with the children from Streams after we finished reading from Lambert’s book.  We brought out some Crayola Terra Cotta Air Dry Clay 2.5 lb Bucket and wrote our names in the cuneiform language using popsicle sticks.

Lesson 3
Ziggurats. These kids were captivated by ziggurats. They built several versions of ziggurats out of legos while I read stories about Mesopotamia, Babylon and the Tower of Babel. When it was time to read about Abram and trace the map of his journey the boys sat up a bit straighter and pointed with wide eyes to the city of Aleppo, which we just discussed at the end of our Exploring Countries and Cultures study. I always try to compare the ancient maps to the modern day maps so the boys can see where everything is now.  We pulled out our giant timeline to see how things were weaving together. My eldest mused at the end of the lesson, “Ancient history still really matters today doesn’t it? Its hard to talk about anything political if you don’t understand the history of a place.”


Lesson 4
Again, Lorene Lambert saves the day. Don’t get me wrong, Streams of Civilization is helpful, but nothing beats a living books account of a topic you want your children to experience and bond with. Her account of Babylon, Nebechednezzer and Hammurabi was excellent. We made sure to visit the Louvre for a close look at the Code of Hammurabi stele.  The boys made more recordings in their notebooks. We also took our first look at the beginnings of the Egyptian Civilization and the boys were completely captivated.


Lesson 4.5
Ok there is no lesson 4.5, but I wanted to read about the Assyrians, Hittites and Persians so I made a lesson 4.5. Plus, the kids were begging to learn more about the Indus River Valley Civilizations from our Classical Conversations Timeline.  We mainly used Lorene Lambert’s book but we also included a few living books found in the list below. We also pulled out our Pin it! Maps for some more geography practice and a chance for the boys to narrate a bit about life along these four rivers. We spent another chunk of time talking about irrigation and drawing plans for a system in our orchard.


We did an in depth animal study for science during these lessons. We studied camels! What unbelievable fascinating creatures they are! Our two primary texts happen to be out of print books, but you can visit any public library and find plenty of great books on camels!

Since we happened to study no less than FIVE major rivers these past two weeks: the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, Indus during Ancient History study and the Yangtze river during my first grader’s FIAR study. we decided to conduct a few experiments with stream flow.
We also went online to see photos and video of the headwaters for each river.

We butchered a pig on our farm last weekend and the boys helped us to package everything. We also saved some of the organs for dissection and microscope inspection.


We are now using Right Start Math and LOVING IT. Once we have worked on our daily portion of History, we take a quick break and return for a math lesson and some games. For those unfamiliar with Right Start, the program comes with a spiral bound book of Math Games that helps children gain greater fluency in their math skills. It is not unusual to find my children playing these games together long after math is over. We take breaks between every subject and right now, math is the time of day when the kids forgo the break and keep chipping away at their games and lessons.  The transition from Saxon has been much more fluid than I initially anticipated. We started a level lower than they were at with Saxon and I am so glad we did! I can’t believe how many foundational things my children had missed out on. They’re already demonstrating a greater understanding of mathematics. They aren’t just giving answers, they can now explain the WHY behind their answers. I am finding that this program is extremely helpful for my dyslexic learner. He has loved using his abacus and everything is flowing so much faster now.

IMG_2116 (1).jpg

We are progressing well with our Memoria Press Latin. After a solid year of Latin its great to hear the boys come across a derivative in their regular reading and hear them chirp out the Latin word it comes from.  “Ha! Navigate. That SO comes from navigo.”

We are still faithfully chipping away at Student Writing Intensive Level A as we prepare for our first upcoming year of Essentials. I am seeing tremendous improvement in my children as they work through this program. My twice exceptional son (dyslexia and creatively gifted) is flourishing right now. He loves the assignments and appreciates their meaty brevity. I’ll be posting more in depth about this program in the weeks to come!


Our History of Classical Music Study from Beautiful Feet Books takes place every Friday morning. After taking up so many new instrument this year I realized that the time was ripe for capitalizing on this family interest. This study does not disappoint. We complete one lesson each week and we could not be happier with our lessons. We seem to have fallen into the habit of preparing a cup of cocoa and gathering round our CD player as we listen to our Music Masters CDs. My eldest usually draws while he listens and my second born works on his knitting or crochet work. We are recording our work in these lovely lesson books.


Friday Exam
Our last two Friday exams were a blend of oral questions from the Streams of Civilizations tests and narrations from the boys about what stuck out most in their minds. They have vivid recall of every battle I mentioned in the past two weeks. They also carried forward quite a bit about Sargon and the flooding of the Nile each year in Egypt.  If you don’t know about our Friday exams, you can read about them here.

Friday afternoons will never be the same! After lunch I let my youngest children watch Mr Rogers neighborhood on my laptop and the older kids and I cozy up on the couch and we discuss, debate, ask questions and exchange ideas on things we learned throughout the week. This has become our prime time for witnessing the fruits of blending Charlotte Mason and Classical Education. We pull out our timeline cards and retrieve some of our cycle 1 memory work from Classical Conversations. The exchange of bigger ideas begins to happen in this space and I am witnessing their slow transition to the dialectic phase. I often bring some sort of hands on work for us to do while we converse. A few weeks ago we ran stitches through canvas while discussing the sea voyage of Columbus in anticipation of our visit to the Niña and Pinta replicas. This task made a tactile connection in their brain about Columbus that built relationship to the event. Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education. Poetic knowledge is a powerful thing!


Extra Curricular
The boys practiced their individual instruments after Blessing Hour and we put in our usual 5-6 hours on the mat training in mixed martial arts.  Handwork this term consists of wood whittling, crochet and basic hand sewing.

Book list for Ancient History Lessons 1-4(.5)
Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lambert
The Creation Story for Children 
The Epic of Gilgamesh

The True Story of Noah’s Ark by Tom Dooley
Indus Valley City by Gillian Clements
Looking at Ancient History by RJ Unstead*
Land of the Two Rivers by Leonard Cottrell* (new print version released in 2012)
Archaeologists Dig for Clues (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
Birthdays of Freedom by Genevieve Foster*
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
DK Eyewitness Books: Mesopotamia
Adam’s Synchronological Chart or Map of History. (The GIANT timeline picture above!)
Camels: Ships of the Desert by John Waters*
Camels are Meaner than Mules by Mary Calhoun*

*=harder to find. Check abebooks, thriftbooks, Amazon Used, eBay and etsy.

The Road to Morning Time: A Pregnant Pause

There are some aspects of pregnancy that are hard to recollect now. Brain damage from sleep deprivation will do that to a person. While this brand of selective memory loss is certainly essential for the perpetuation of our species, there are some parts of pregnancy that were so joyful (or dark) for me that I will probably never forget them.  My children were still very young when my sixth and final pregnancy  began nearly five years ago. Everyone was still four and under. It feels crazy just writing that.  But that was my life back then– My Big Fat Gestating, Lactating, Homeschooling life. (Officially calling dibs on that for a future book title).


Morning Time was short and sweet back then. A prayer, a song, a story and they were off. When we first started morning time, food was the major draw and I was the only one at the table not wearing diapers.  After a solid year and half things were slowly progressing upwards. I finally felt like my PPD/PTSD was at a manageable level and I was enjoying life with my boys. We were on the home stretch of grad school and flat broke. We lived in this little yellow bungalow I had loved since I was a girl. Hubby built a brick pathway and a white picket fence around the front so I could plant a beautiful garden. It was healing  to be out there with the boys. We would often bring in flowers to set on the table and they became part of the simple beauty of our morning time. I didn’t have a plan for each and every day, but we were consistently reading something and we were always singing hymns we learned at Bible Study Fellowship.  I woke up craving that simple time every morning. 10-20 minutes of peace before the boys were unleashed upon 1100 square feet.


Then I got pregnant.


I kept it to myself for two weeks, trying to shield my poor husband who was wearily working through his dissertation. I probably would have kept the secret longer but my girl Whitney Houston died and as we watched the livestream of her funeral my hormones took over and I weepingly confessed all.


You know that bone deep exhaustion that comes with those first weeks of building a human inside your uterus? When all you want to do is hibernate but the tiny humans that live with you are flat out not having it? Then the morning sickness kicks in and you spend most of your day heaving in the bathroom while little fingers are poking in from under the door and a little lisping voice is asking “Mommy! Mommy! Wath that noithe? Are you vomiting again?”  Yeah, Morning Time is hard to do when all that is happening!


This was the season in our lives when Morning Time briefly became Afternoon Time. We didn’t start our days out together singing. We started our days out caring for one another. Even the littlest one recognized that Mommy was ill and needed help. My hubby would get up before the sun to do some research, then he would wake the boys, change their diapers and feed them breakfast before heading out the door for another day of grad school. I would often walk out of the bathroom after a bout of morning sickness to find the hallway littered with “gifts.” Treasured cars, trucks, dinosaurs, animals, all waiting for me, carefully put in place by three tiny boy warriors with hearts growing in empathy for their mama. This was the season when one of my sons emerged as a natural caretaker. When someone needed something and I was unwell, he would go and solve the issue or find what was needed. One son emerged as our resident encourager. He would walk over and sweep the hair off my forehead as I lay on the couch nursing the baby and he would say “My poor sweet girl, you are doing such a great job Mom.”  Then there was the baby, just over a year old. He didn’t care when we had morning time, he cared when he had Mommy Time.


Mommy time always trumps Morning Time.

After all the nausea passed and the day was half over, the boys would go down for their naps. I would rest a little and when they awoke we had our Afternoon Time. It was a sweet way to transition out of nap time. A snack, a song, a story, a prayer, a handful of flowers. It was peaceful and purposeful. It was not part of the original plan, but its what worked for that season.


On the really bad days, there was no Afternoon Time, and the world kept turning and the children kept growing and we would try again the next day.


We moved across the country when I was about six months pregnant. This upheaval led to two months without Morning/Afternoon Time. The longest stretch we ever went without.  It was a hard period in our family history, but we were blessed to be near my husband’s family and to have access to a wonderful amount of nature!


Once we were settled into our new space I realized that I was ready to have Morning Time again. We had barely gotten into the habit when our last little boy came lightning fast into the world and everything turned upside down again for a few months.


But by now we had seen and tasted the beauty of Morning Time. We all loved it. We all needed it. Morning Time was here to stay. Now I set my eyes on stretching their ability to linger at the table, to long for more beauty and more stories. I was mere months away from meeting Charlotte Mason and the boys were growing by leap and bounds. In many ways we were crossing a bridge together, the bridge that would take us to a whole new world of learning that would change us forever.
Stay tuned for our next installment of the Road to Morning Time: Bridging the Transitions.