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.


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.


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
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.
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 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.









AYOPS- The 3rd September


We kicked off our third year with The Homegrown Preschooler’s A Year of Playing Skillfully— with a hurricane.


As per usual, I had laid out all my plans for the first week of school only to have them interrupted by LIFE. Looking back now I see that I would have had to rearrange my plans with or without a hurricane because this child of mine blew my expectations out of the water.


One of my favorite things about AYOPS is its monthly organization presenting a wide array of choices with varying developmental skill. Our first year of AYOPS we spent the majority of September trying to introduce my son to new sensory experiences. Our second September found us moving into more difficult motor skills, songs, rhymes, art and science. Now in our third September with AYOPS he is all about math and letters.  His evaluation therapist initially predicted an introductory phonics start time of 8-9 years old. I was prepared to wait many more years for this child to become interested in letters. Imagine my amazement this month when I set out one phonics, activity which had been ignored for two years, and found him forty minutes later still happily playing away.


This interest is no small part due to his eldest brother. He wanted to use the many, many phonics tricks he has learned throughout his Dyslexia journey to teach his little brother. Its been so redeeming for him to pour his hard-earned knowledge into someone else. I have found him looking through our AYOPS manual several times asking what else he can teach his little brother. How empowering for a child with learning disabilities to now find someone he can help. These early weeks of school were a precious gift to my heart as I watched these boys grow individually and in their relationship with one another. Its funny how AYOPS has become so engrained in our family culture. As I have said before, we are a family that plays together.


Now that he is officially interested in letters, I was ready to charge ahead into our print rich environment. I was about 10 notecards in when he started tearing them down and asked me not to do that again. I had to figure something else out for his specific personality. He loves art, so I asked him to draw a picture of different objects in the house and then I labeled them. We made a sweet little book for him to look at and this worked just fine! I also got him a blank composition notebook and he has since filled at least a quarter of it with row after row after row of letters.  He takes it everywhere with him.


Its now his turn to make a nature counting book and a manners book and a world book. I am treasuring these little memories he is making. The joy on his face when he finished each book was wonderful. I am so glad I kept him home. I am so glad I chose to believe in him and support him. I am so glad I said yes!

The implementation of his work for the month of September began in August. I chose which activities would work best within our calendar limits and supply budget, I tried to adapt as many activities using what we already had on hand, and then I organized as much as I could into accessible bins. The other activities were written out on notecards and placed in the folds of my school planner. Whenever any older child had a break, I would send them outside with a notecard of instructions and a basket or shoe box of materials.

We averaged 2-3 activities per day, repeating many of the activities for days on end. This is a boy that craves repetition. When the activities were done, he would keep playing. I have noticed his level of play mature over the years, in large part because of the wonder training involved with Homegrown Preschooler.


Once we finish our spindle box activity, (ours is made out of ten soup cans glued to a piece of wood!) he starts to play with blocks and he counts each one out as he stacks them.


When we wrote out his story, he put on costumes and came up with other people’s stories for the rest of the morning.


He has moved on from clearing dishes and now loves to set the table and even prepare the meal. He loves contributing to the life of the family and its gladdens my heart to see how he is thriving these days. What a difference from that first year!


Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 4: The Declaration of Independence

Here is a look at our week, NEW GRAMMAR style!

I still remember the first time we read Little Town on the Prairie and the boys realized that little Laura knew the Declaration of Independence by heart. They immediately wanted to read it aloud for themselves.

We’ve read it every 4th of July ever since. They don’t have it memorized, but its been wonderful pulling apart this extraordinary document the older they get. With every round of American History we get further into the causes of the Revolution and the the lines of the Declaration flesh out. You can get a closer look at the original document here.

This year the boys wanted to take a closer look at the building where everything transpired. Katherine Milhous’ book “Through these Arches: The story of Independence Hall” provided excellent history from a living book perspective. The book itself is 96 pages so we only narrated certain portions. We visited Independence Hall two years ago and we love looking through our pictures from that day.

We also enjoyed “The 4th of July Story” by Alice Dalgliesh. The boys chose 5 important lines from the Declaration as copy work for the week. They illustrated each sentence and fashioned a small book for themselves.

We had a patriotic tea party halfway through the week which featured a reading of Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. We used our favorite book for the reading.  My older boys continued reading through as many Gerrard biography book as possible: John Paul Jones, Francis Marion, Nathaneal Greene, George Clark, Lafayette. I have blocked off an hour of reading time for them every single afternoon and the benefit of this practice is immeasurable. Full disclosure: I did enroll them in the old Pizza Hut Book it! Program, which was one of my favorites as a kid, the thought of a greasy personal pan pizza is quite alluring for these boys.  As always, our book list is found at the end of the post.

We devoted a good deal of time towards learning Black History. This is difficult when materials are scarce and so many records were thrown out. One of our favorite books was “Black Heroes of the Revolution” by Burke Davis. The book is brimming with stories, photos of original documents, paintings, etc. It was wonderful to read a part of history that is so often buried.


The boys are using all sort of kinesthetic activity to teach their youngest little brother the skip counting songs. As a newly minted abecedarian, he is eager to learn the rhythm of the music even though he has not yet mastered the actual numbers. I purchased a copy of Tables, Squares and Cubes at practicum this year and after slipping each page into a page protector, I assembled everything in a notebook for the boys to use for multiplication drills. This takes about 5 minutes per chid, every other day. Once the drills are done we have our Right Start Math lesson. These lessons are short, focused, fun and rich. A pretty ideal combination for us. We have been saving most of the games for the weekends or nights when Dad is home. My kids have progressed beautifully in math since we started Right Start. They know the material so well, they can turn around and teach it to the middle brother who is absolutely blasting through these materials. He never wants to stop doing math, ever. EVER. I had to reconfigure our rhythm chart to allow for a greater block of time for math. Something I never expected to do, but taking advantage of their enthusiasm is an opportunity I don’t want to miss. Because of this we shelved Lyrical Life Science for a bit. We will be picking it up again later in the year.

I still cannot believe how much the Latin memory work with CC prepared these kids to study Latin with Memoria Press. They are having a ball. Every time a new ending or declension presents itself they cheerfully sing out the corresponding CC tune and blaze through their conjugations. I thought teaching Latin would be difficult and frankly, a bit miserable, but it has become one of our absolute favorite subjects. I love the way this language is organized!


5 minutes of tracing each morning is slowly adding up! The boys are quite solid on their US Geography and a few are now branching out onto blank paper to draw in the states as they learn them. Every other day we blob the continents and I see steady progress in this area too. Keep blobbing people! It works!

Per our CC/CM 1st quarter outline, we are narrating a portion of the timeline each week and adding it to our book of narrations. We chose to read about the Phoenicians and the Persians.  These narrations are brief, usually 4-5 sentences long.  I love watching our book increase in size.

The English portion of our memory work has never meant as much to me as it does this year, our first year in Essentials. Whenever we reach a new piece of memory work, I turn to my eldest and ask, “where do we find ____ in our Essentials charts/work?” He explains it to his wide-eyed little brothers, who nod supportively and ask more questions. We have started diagramming our daily sentence during morning time on a small whiteboard. The little ones have NO IDEA what we are doing or why, but they are listening. The eldest and my up and coming Essentials student are actively involved. I have been greatly encouraged by Essentials this year. I was so worried it would defeat us, but it has done the exact opposite. (More on this later)

The Boston Tea Party by Russell Freedman
America’s Paul Revere by Esther Forbes
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
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

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 3 Evacuation Tea Party


Our History focus this week took us from the Pilgrims through the start of the Revolutionary War. We spent a few days learning about the French and Indian War and thanks to our Stories of America book we read about the establishment of each colony and the causes of the war.  We read an old James Daugherty book on Daniel Boone and spent a few days playing and learning with our Pin it! Maps US History Bundle.  One of our favorite new (to us) historical figures we read about was Captain William Wadsworth. The boys loved the story of the charter oak and the story of the drummers.


We worked to set the stage for the next week of American History. (See our booklist at the end of the post!)  I wanted the boys to have a big picture view by focusing on a few lives lived at the time. My older boys read some biographies in their spare time. Does that seem like a ton of work? The reason for all of this work is that our CC facility was unable to host us between weeks 3 & 4 so we had two weeks to do week 3. Everything was clipping a long at a good pace….


Then Hurricane Irma became a category 5 and headed straight for us. We fled to North Carolina.


I could write an entire post just about the stress and anxiety of that week.  Deciding what to save from our home and what to leave behind, determine the safest time to leave when faced with gridlock and gas shortages. It was exhausting. Praise God we made it safely to North Carolina, where we spent 6 days with my family.  We needed to get the boys out of the house so we took several nature walks, met up with friends and of course, went on a field trip.


We spent a beautiful day at Cowpens battlefield. We went on a walking tour with a ranger, enjoyed the beautiful weather and found all sorts of feathers and sticks and rocks.  The boys enjoyed asking questions and eventually the younger boys and I broke away for a slow walk in the woods.  A peaceful day that soothed us even though it took place on a battlefield.


6 days later we were home. Exhausted and overwhelmed and eager to get back to our usual rhythm. Most of the families in our community waited several days to get power back and my family is currently without internet, hence the radio silence on most of our social media these days.  We dove back into our books with more biographies and took advantage of the extra time to really delve into our Essentials charts.

Book list:
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
Paul Revere by Esther Forbes


Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 2: Pilgrims (j/k Explorers)


You know what I love about Foundations? The freedom.


Goodness gracious it feels great to go at our own pace! We spent the first couple of days learning about the Jamestown settlement and other early settlements in North America. We read a fantastic book called “Forts in America” by Harold Peterson that tied together our study of Castles last year to Forts. It was fascinating! Our Week 2 History sentence is about the Mayflower Compact. Here’s the thing, we’ve studied Pilgrims every year at Thanksgiving. Every. Single. Year.  We also did an incredibly thorough Pilgrim study during our MFW Adventures and Beautiful Feet Book Early American History study. I’m feeling like we are pretty solid on Pilgrims. I mean, we will still study Pilgrims again this upcoming Thanksgiving because its become a tradition and my boys LOVE it, but I didn’t really feel the need to do a ton with Pilgrims this week.


We read a few chapters from Lorene Lambert’s excellent book “Stories of America Volume 1” and we read the appropriate sections from our main spine “A Child’s First Book of American History” by Earl Miers.  Two books we enjoyed from our local living library where: “Shaw’s Fortune” by Edwin tunis and “Stranded at Plimoth Plantation 1626” by Gary Bowen. We spent extra time learning about Roger Williams and his passion for defending Native Americans and religious liberty for all. We did our narrations, charted the Mayflower’s journey and then we turned our attention back to explorers! The boys also read portions from our past US History studies that they enjoyed. We used our Pin it! Maps US History bundle throughout the week as we read.


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In recent weeks we had studied Polo, Vespucci, Magellan, Columbus, Cortez, Hudson, Pizarro, Coronado, Ericsson, Soto, Cortez, Cabot, Drake, Balboa, de Gama, Carties, de Leon, Champlain and a few more. Some of these stories were thrilling and exciting, others were appalling and sickening. This is a difficult topic for tender-hearted children, but I really feel that it is important to show them a balanced view of history. I read the writings of Bartolomeo de las Casas when I was in my early 20s. I had nightmares for months afterwards. I did not feel the need to outline the full extent of the atrocities committed by the Spaniards towards the native americans, but I did make sure that my children understood the level of horror and destruction those ships brought to the new world.  My boys read about a few of these explorers using the Gerrard Discovery Biographies for early readers during their quiet reading hour.


In place of our usual Friday Exam, I rolled out a large sheet of kraft paper and we began to map out the globe. This is where the fruits of our daily geography map tracing and blobbing really show.  I helped with a few initial placements but they did the vast majority of the work. We used this nifty little site to help us chart the individual courses.  It was incredible to see all the voyages on a map we made together.


Many of these explorers were also cartographers and we recalled some of those stories together while we worked on adding all the special details, like the compass rose.  It was a beautiful way to close our explores study and left us ready for our study of settlements in the New World.


We pressed on with Latin, Math and Science as usual. We have settled into a really nice flow in the mornings with the boys getting their instruction from me and then setting out to do their independent work while I help their little brothers. (If you have not read Leigh Bortin’s intro to the Foundations Guide READ IT NOW!) Essentials is rolling along nicely. I love that we are learning everything together. We are charting every single day and I am amazed at how much he is writing with each IEW paper. (Use our IEW button on the sidebar!) Our decision to use IEW Phonetic Zoo spelling is also working tremendously well for us. I’ll be sharing soon about how we tackle Essentials each day, I just want to get a couple more weeks under my belt before I do so.

Also, teeth are falling out all over the place. I need to step up my soup game and get more ones from the bank.


Meanwhile, my six year old is loving his slow and steady study with Playful Pioneers. Every day after lunch my littlest guy snuggles in bed and listens to audio books while my older children have their independent reading hour. That’s when my third born and I have “wonderfulest us time” as he calls it. 😊 He sits on my lap and works on his edging while I read aloud, followed by whatever activity is assigned that day. We look forward to this special time all day long and I’m always amazed by how hungry he is for it. No matter what we are doing he wants to be pressed up against my side. He’ll ask me to scratch his back or his head while I read. Sometimes he wants to sit in my lap and sing with me. It’s amazing how old six isn’t. For some reason the age of six makes most parents panic. Who is reading, who is writing, who can sit still, who can comply and conform, who is malleable to whatever the agenda of the day is? How sad. I have repeated to myself over and over the words of Andrew Kern, “children are souls to be nurtured, not products to be measured.” This perfectly sums up this tender time with my son each day. How we love our nurturing hour, our little liturgy of love and wonder. On the hard days it’s even more important to follow through with it.


This was our last week of school before our third year with The Homegrown Preschooler begins. I had to laugh at the number of times my kids asked for HGP this month (yes, even the 8 and 9 year old). I must have said “It starts in September” at least 20 times. We are so ready to start again!



His boxes are all prepped and ready to go. This year we are adding in some activities he was not developmentally ready for last year. Recently someone recommended the Leap Frog Letter Factory (DVD) to us. I’ll admit I kind of rolled my eyes at the recommendation but I really respect this person and my son does respond really well to music so I bought a copy. Now, he is turning 5 soon but I am in ZERO hurry for him to learn his letters. Guys, he watched this video three times and is suddenly writing out 10-12 letters, sounding them out and having so much fun with them. He keeps pulling out our letter board FROM JENNIFER and he sings the song as he traces the letters. Oh, my heart! Its killing me. So we are starting another year of playing skillfully and he has shown me that he is interested in letters so we will be adding all of those print rich activities this year.

On to Week 3!


Back to (Home)School!



The alternate title was: “Where did you get that…?”

If you have ever watched one of my Instagram lives or attended any of my speaking engagements or heard me at a conference, you know that I repeatedly say the following: “This is just what works for us. My hope is not that you try and make everything I do work for you. Unless you’re a night owl named Elsie and you live on a small farm in South FL with 4 boys of varying learning abilities and love CM, CC, HGP, etc., chances are an exact replica of everything I do will not work for you. My hope is that you see one or two things that work for you. Or perhaps that you find a bit of inspiration or encouragement that bring clarity as you piece together what you want your homeschool to look like. Learning, especially learning in the home, should be personalized! Forget about copying and start modeling with a heart to construct your own vision.” I also frequently remind people that my son has all of his therapies here in our home which is why we have so many tools. You don’t need all this stuff to homeschool. Please don’t look at this list and think that you have to buy all of the things. You don’t. You really, really don’t.

But since you guys send in so many emails, messages, DMs and comments asking “Where do I find that/Where did you get that?” I decided to compile a list of our favorite Homeschool supplies. My first few years of homeschooling were spent buying whatever was cheapest, which meant I was constantly replacing broken junk. Over time I discovered that we actually saved more money in the long run by getting better quality supplies a little bit at a time. For example, Id rather spend more money on Stockmar crayons that don’t break, leave beautiful brilliant colors and last ages and ages than have to buy a new pack of Crayola every month or constantly melting down fragments all the times to make new ones. Ever burn yourself using one of those precious little shape molds during a valiant effort to repurpose crayon fragments? I just don’t have the pain threshold or the time for all the thriftiness/preciousness anymore so Stockmar crayons it is! ****A reminder that yes, we are a single income family so I never (NEVER) purchase all the things all at once.****  I’ll be adding to this list whenever people write in and ask “where did you get that….?”

With that said, here is the list!!


Favorite supplies:
Ticonderoga Pencils– the ONLY pencil that doesn’t break all the time. A box of 96 lasts  a good long while!
Stockmar Beeswax Block Crayons I just checked and I last purchased these in March of 2016 and they are still kicking!
Stockmar Beeswax Stick Crayons Remember that prices on Amazon fluctuate! Be sure to check some of the other store resources at the end of this email for alternate price comparison.
Prismacolor Colored Pencils
Paint brushes
Fine tip dry erase markers Perfect for our Essentials chart work!
Pencil sharpener So full disclosure our electric pencil sharpener is from the 70s. But when it dies, I am getting this one!
Drawing pencils
Sheet Protectors

Rainbow Cart
Book Stand: Ok, ok. Technically, it a recipe stand. We have six of them now and we use them all day, every day and I’m not exaggerating when I say, it is my main “must have” for homeschooling.
Book Display
Folders One pocket for each day of the week! I use this for all my notes.
Gummed tabs


Paper Goods:
POSTERS Check out PAPER SOURCE for $3-4 Cavallini wrapping paper.
Drawing paper
Watercolor paper
Lessons books
Astronomy lesson books
Book of Centuries
Narration books  Great for transitioning from oral narrations to written narrations.
Comic book paper for narrations


Handwork Supplies
Needle Felting 
Roving wool
Crochet hooks
Knitting Needles
Wood Carving
Carving Tools
Thumb guard
Walnut carving blocks


Kitchen Supplies:
Boards, Pans, etc. 
Raddish Kids

Curriculums we love:
Right Start Mathematics
The Homegrown Preschooler
Playful Pioneers
My Father’s World Kindergarten
My Father’s World Adventures in US History
Beautiful Feet Books Early American History
Beautiful Feet Books Ancient History
Beautiful Feet Books Geography Study
Beautiful Feet Books Character Study Through Literature
Beautiful Feet Books Music History Study
Tapestry of Grace
Pin it! Maps
Exploring Nature with Children
Blaze New Trails

Student Writing Intensive Level A ($109.00)

</a></div>”>IEW- Phonetic Zoo Spelling

Student Writing Intensive Level A ($109.00)

</a></div>”>IEW- Student Intensive A


Favorite Stores:
Bella Luna Toys
Treasures From Jennifer
Imagine Childhood
Magic Cabin
Paper Scissors Stone
Miller Pads and Paper
Rainbow Resource








Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 1: Tell Me About Columbus.


Let me start out by saying that I am LOVING the freedom we have to study what we want, when we want. I had a rough outline of ideas we could pursue this week, but ultimately, I wasn’t sure what the kids would want to chase down.

After community day the boys were quite keen to jump back into their study of explorers. We read Igri D’aulaire’s wonderful book “Columbus” and we also read accounts from “They Put Out to Sea” by Roger Duvoisin, “A Child’s First Book of American History” by Earl Miers and “Stories from America” by Lorene Lambert. The boys laid out a large piece of butcher paper and together we charted the four trips Columbus took to the Caribbean. We also reviewed our photos from our field trip to the Nina and Pinta replicas earlier this year.  Make sure you check out their Port Schedule! The crew was incredibly helpful and informative (and PATIENT!)


Along with their study of Columbus we also finished up our study of Vasco de Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and Jacques Cartier.  Give us all the explorers!

Each day the boys worked on their geography maps right after breakfast. Later in the day they would use their US History Pin it! Maps to further cement what we were reading. They are spending a great deal of time on Geography lately and it has become one of their favorite subjects. We make sure to devote just a few minutes every single day to this strand, knowing it will make a great difference in their studies now and in the future when they hit Challenge A.  We loved our Geography reads this week. Maine alone has so many beautiful stories. You can find the list of what we read over on our initial Quarter 1 post. We managed to read everything under the Geography heading with three different people reading aloud.


Our Latin studies with Memoria Press are progressing well. I loved when the boys opened their lessons books and stared with such dismay at the verb conjugation chart. Then they realized they had already memorized the most important parts through their years in Foundations at CC!  “MOM! Its 1st conjugation present tense! O, S, T, MUS, TIS, NT!” “Oh yeah, look at the singular and plural parts: I, you, he, she it, we, you (pl), them! We already know this stuff!” Guys, we conjugated most of the vocabulary, just because we could. They are slowly stretching into their Dialectic phase of learning and its so beautiful watch. If you have no idea what I am talking about, please pick up a copy of Leigh Bortin’s THE CORE. After our initial lesson, the boys take 10 minutes every day to drill vocabulary with each other.  These tiny, faithful increments add up to a great deal. Once they are done with Latin they move into their math lesson with Right Start Mathematics. Last week they wrapped up their most recent level and I offered them a few days off before jumping into the next level and they both refused. They could not wait to see what came next. This blows me away because they were constantly begging for breaks from their Saxon work. Now math is something they enjoy and even beg for. We played most of our favorite games last week, playing one or two after each lesson. Check out our IG stories on Instagram this week for a closer look at our lessons in action!


Speaking of lessons in action, the other day someone asked my boys what time they started school. One of the older children said 10AM. I was a bit startled and asked, “how so?”  He explained that morning time, music time, and chores felt more like family time and that he didn’t feel like school started until he opened up his Latin book or math book.  This made me smile! “When does your learning start each day then?” He tilted his head a bit and responded, “Learning started when I was born and hasn’t stopped. We don’t start learning every day. We just open our eyes and keep on learning like we always have.”  These little conversations mean the world to me. I love that they value personalized learning so much. Morning Time is really what cemented that for us. All of those mornings without measure, created a family culture of learning and appreciation for truth, goodness and beauty. It is by far, the most important aspect of our day. Last week we had our final recitations of the Apostles Creed and this week we have begun our study of the catechism.  We wrapped up our picture study with Leonardo DaVinci, which was fascinating in light of our reading in Genevieve Foster’s The World of Christoper Columbus.  We fished memorizing our latest round of poems using The Harp and Laurel Wreath and  we are continuing to enjoy our architecture study through LM Hillyer’s “A Child’s History of Art.”


Responsibilities have risen around here in the last few months. I recently trained the eldest two boys to do their laundry start to finish, which is one of the greatest gifts EVER. (I loathe laundry). It occurred to me recently that one of the reasons my boys are so willing to help me now is because I never pushed them aside when they were willing toddlers. You know the “Me do it” phase most toddlers hit? I let them do it. Even if it took forever, even if it made a bigger mess, even if it drove me crazy.  I didn’t do this with any kind of foresight or intentional chore planning for the future, at the time I simply wanted to foster independence. Now I see the real fruit of “Me do it” and that is “I got this, Mom” or “How can I help you, Mom?” or “Whats on the list today, Mom?” All those enormous “Me do it” toddler messes? TOTALY WORTH IT NOW.


This week’s science covered the four kinds of tissue. We delved into our Lyrical Life Science books and learned the song and filled in the workbook. It was simple, straightforward and enjoyable for the most part. Then we walked outside to watch Mama Cardinal feed her brand new hatchlings when one of my little guys let out a cry of sorrow and we all looked at the base of the tree and saw a tiny hatchling, stiff and unmoving. My boys were pierced. I went inside for some disposable gloves and brought him inside for observation. We marveled at him for awhile first. We read a Robert McClung’s book, Red Bird. We measured, studied, observed and recorded our findings:  3 day old hatchling, 6 cm long, fused eyelids, colorful tongue to attract attention, feather tracts in place, parasites in droppings. Then we found a small, empty box of chalk and made the long walk to our favorite oak tree.


They fought over who would get to dig the grave and a few tears of anger were shed. After a group huddle, the older boys dug a small grave and they all gathered around together. Then one of the middle ones started singing “This is My Father’s World” and “For the Beauty of the Earth” while the mosquitoes made quick work of our arms and legs. It was one of those perfect because its imperfect homeschool moments we’ll always remember. The little ones called out their goodbyes and dropped in every flowering weed they could find before covering the hatchling up with dirt. We walked back to the house and we stopped by Mama Cardinal’s tree to let her know where her hatchling was. This small event led to an hour long discussion about life and death, about nature’s life cycles and God’s creation. Somehow, we eventually landed back on cells and tissue.


One of the final components of our school day is our silent reading hour. The older boys are currently reading their Garrard biographies and they are absolutely devouring these books: Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, Daniel Boone, Buffalo Bill, Henry Hudson and Abigail Adams. We have about twenty left on our shelves and they are bent on reading them all!

We are looking forward to a few days with the Jamestown settlement next week before moving on to PILGRIMS. Stay tuned!