Wild Explorers Christmas Guide

This post turned out differently than I expected. Our favorite adventure store JM Cremps is no longer selling online. If you live anywhere near Mall of America, congratulations! JM Cremps will still be there for you. You should probably just visit that store and support them instead of purchasing anything off this list. For the rest of us JM Crempsless souls, here is our list of favorite gift for Wild Explorers + Mad Scientists.

1. Stocking Stuffers for Wild Explorers

Our Uno set is about 30 cards short so its time to get a new one. This Wilderness set is a perfect stocking stuffer!
This camping logbook for the whole family to use!

Individual water proof  field notebooks. These have survived the washer dryer cycles at our house and come out the other side like champions!

2) National Parks Goodness
First and foremost, BECOME a Junior Ranger! You can sign your kiddo up and get together a few of the badge activities off the website and box them up for your explorer on Christmas Day!

National Parks Monopoly



3) Camping Books

One of our favorite Camp books. All the kids adore it.


3) A sturdy backpack
I always thought these were over hyped and way too pricey, but after tossing out 4th cheap back pack at the end of another year, I decided it might be wiser to just invest in backpacks they can use for years and years to come. These beauties are used for hikes, road trips, airplane rides, co-op days, and random backyard adventures. They’ve held spilled liquids, squashed bugs, old sandwich crusts, bloody kleenex, sticky clementine residue and an assortment of crumbs, bits of string,  random pieces, odds and ends that children always seem to gather, and they are a snap to clean and still look wonderful and function beautifully. These backpacks have a surprising amount of resilience and fortitude to the abuses of the average male child. I am a fan. I even bought one for myself.  They come in a hundred different colors and styles.



4) A REAL Compass. 6126NSRnlSL._SL1000_.jpg

5)  The Acme Thunderer
We never ever hike without this whistle. We usually take two. It can be heard up to a mile away. We wear it on a lanyard. One for me and one for my child who tends to stray.

6 A membership to your local Nature Center or Science Museum. The gift that keeps on giving!|


7. A set of travel watercolors for the Wild Explorer that loves to sit out in nature and capture what they see.

8.  A new water bottle 

9.  A Sturdy Pocket Knife  and keep it safe in a belt pouch.

10.  STILL one of my favorite gifts for kids. These Emergency Paracord Bracelets are wonderful!




Tinkerers & Crafters Christmas Guide Volume 2


This one goes out to all the Tinkerers & Crafters!

Let’s start with the Tinkerers…..

1. Electronic Playground
Hands down, the favorite gift of the year last year! This one packs an incredible amount of experiments and the hours of learning and play are rich! We also love Snap Circuits.


2. Electronics for Kids


We love magnetic blacks. Magformers, magnatiles, we love them all. These basic sets go a long way. The big boxes are pricey but if you are limiting toys in your home and only want to buy one great toy, these are a great set to own. This is the main toy my little guy plays with when I am teaching his older brothers!

4. Lego Technic RC Racer
This was another gift we received from grandparents last year and it was a huge hit. A step up from regular Legos, the technic sets (which you can find for as cheap as $15 or upwards of $200) give the kids a chance to build with more moving parts.

5. K’Nex Rollercoaster
This will be our first year delving into these bigger K’Nex projects!


6. The Way Things Work NOW by Dave MacCaulay
We love the classic “The Way Things Work” and this updated edition is fascinating! We love seeing the new pages on touch screens and digital cameras and much more.


7. Kuman Uno Smart Robot Car Kit
We are jumping up to some bigger building sets for my Tinkerer this year.

8. Mousetrap

9. Hape Quadrilles
Any of the Hape Quadrille marble runs are so engaging and well made. We had a plastic one that broke very quickly. This one is still going strong!

10. Erector 25 in 1 Building Sets
These sets are wonderful! I love that they can choose from so many options and build and rebuild several times.


And now for the crafters!

1. Candle Making Kits
Amazon says that these yield 10 candles, but we divide the sheets and make 20 nice sturdy tapers.
2. Chapstick Tubes
This one might sound crazy at first, but making your own chapstick is so much fun (and incredibly economic!) These are a great gift to give an entrepreneurial kid that loves to sell homemade items at craft fairs. Here is our favorite recipe.

3. Handicrafts Made Simple
These wonderful DVDs are from Simply Charlotte Mason. They taight my boys and I how to crochet, knit, hand sew and more. We love them and highly recommend them!


4. A Crochet Kit
This is the one my boys each start out with!

5. Needle Felting Kit 
I also love these simple kits….

6. Sewing Patterns from Clemetine Patterns
We are finishing up our first projects and they’ve been such a delight!


7. Craft Boards From Jennifer
These beautiful crafts boards are sturdy and easy to clean. I’m picking up a few for Christmas this year to save my dining room table from further abuse!

8. Weaving Loom

9. Personalized Stamps
Perfect for a little someone who churns out a lot of creative work and wants to put their stamp on it! 🙂

10. Space of their own!

Even if its just a small space

Or a bigger space for older kids….

Its great to give them a gift that acknowledges their gifts and provides them a stepping stone for the next step!

We’ll be back in a few days with more guides!


Bird Nerds + Book Worms Christmas Guide Volume 2


Its that time of year again! We’re sharing our favorite picks for Christmas in our Christmas Guide series. (You can find Volume 1 of the Bird Nerds + Book Worms Guide HERE) This will be the first of five lists coming out during the course of the next few weeks.  Enjoy!

Bird Nerds

  1. BESPIN Bird Map
    They had me at tear resistant and water proof. This is a two sided guide that features 583 birds. You can display it or fold it up and take it with you on the trail or to co-op. 
    2. Bird Calls 

    I know there are all kinds of fancy on the go bird call gadgets, but we love this one. Its beautiful and it never needs batteries. 

3. The BEST Bird Feeder
When my youngest was 3 we stopped seeing birds up close on our nature walks. This was because he was constantly hollering and everything within a 200 yard radius would take flight before we could get a good look.  This window bird feeder was a game changer! We had so many lovely feathered friends visit our school room window that year,  it made a bird nerd of him for life!


4. The Sibley Birder’s Life List and Field Diary 
This is a journal to keep for life! Room for field notes and a check list of all bird species so that you can keep track of what you have seen and what you have yet to see.



One of our favorite games and a beautiful gift for children.



6. Bird Puzzle 

I heard about this little puzzle from a fellow bird lover. She recommended it just in time for Christmas last year and it ended up being my youngest son’s favorite puzzle this year! At only 35 pieces, its perfect for the youngest bird lover


For older kids, this 1000 piece puzzle is beautiful and so much fun to put together!

7.  Binoculars
Upgrade to a nicer pair that won’t break the bank but that give your bird nerd a better view of their finds. These are light weight and water proof!

8. The SWEETEST Song Bird Tea Set
I’d consider this a splurge. Full disclosure: Never seen it in person, never used it, just about DIED when I saw it online. Eeep.



Last year’s list had a great book list of ideas! Rather than repeat all the same books, I’ll just let you visit last year’s list. You can find two other great book lists here and here. This year I’ll be adding a two new books to the list, plus a few extra items that make me smile!

1. Sir Henry and the Chalk Dragon
Quite possibly our favorite new book of the last few months. I cannot fully express just how much my kids enjoyed this story. I won’t give any of it away but I will say that this is a story that constantly tips its hat to other great stories and it was so much fun to hear my kids belly laughing and calling out references to other stories they love. I can’t recommend it enough!


2. The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner 
The boys know I read this book last month and they are dying for it to release so they can read it too. I’m just as eager as they are. Its a wonderful story and I am so thrilled that it will be out in time for Christmas!


3. A Weighted Lap Pad
We bought this small weighted lap blanket for my youngest son to use while at co-op. I didn’t foresee him using it much at home but it turns out that he LOVES to use it while reading. The other kids love it too. It comes in a variety of colors and styles and its washable. HOORAY! This would be a great gift for anyone on the spectrum that loves to read!

4.  Library Socks
There are so many different pairs! I love the Count of Monte Cristo Socks and the Mo Willem’s Pigeon socks best.

5. Book Light
Our favorite LED (RECHARGEABLE!) book light for the kids. It has three light settings including orange light which is so helpful in making sure they can rest once the lights are off!




5 Questions About The Green Ember Series by SD Smith

If you are a die hard Green Ember fan then you have probably heard by now that SD Smith’s new book, The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner is now available for pre-order. If you’re still wondering what all the fuss is about or if you’re in the group of people that messaged me asking all kinds of questions about this series, or if you just really really dig the Green Ember, then this post is just for you! I’m answering 5 of the most common questions sent in to us about this series.


Q1: How did you find Green Ember and did you like it right away?

A couple of years ago my boys were getting hungrier and hungrier for a story they could really sink their teeth into. We had been reading aloud since they were tiny and they had developed a taste for a book they couldn’t quite name. Based off the explanation of their book craving, I narrowed it down to a book that called forth courage and creativity.

I looked through a few different books people had sent me, reading the first few pages of each to try and find something that would fit the bill. I noticed a book with rabbits on the cover, a gift from a friend, and I reached for it.

The very first page of The Green Ember grabbed my heart and never let go. There was something in it that I both recognized and yearned for at once. I put the other books back on the shelf and called the kids over for read aloud time.

We didn’t stop for two hours.

How could we? We were running away from wolves and being chased by raptors and standing in the middle of a beautiful guild hall with our eyes wide open and our hearts singing and our minds thinking, this is a picture of what we’ve been longing for in this life.

The boys were finally sent to bed after page 205 and I snuck the book back to my bed and finished reading it by myself in the early morning hours. C.S. Lewis has a famous quote about how a children’s story, only enjoyed by children, is not a good children’s story. I thought about that quote the moment I finished the last page and woke my husband to say, “THAT was a GREAT book.”

The next morning we skipped all our lessons so we could read together and by the end of the book my children were teary and cheering and so was I. This scene has played out with each and every book released in the series.


Q2:  Were your kids ever scared of any of the The Green Ember books?

I have observed that my children crave danger and even darkness in their literature. They crave it because they know its real and they want someone to beat it.  Whenever I open a book they always ask “Is there a bad guy? Who gets to fight him?” They want a story with a clear division between good and evil. They like to know who to root for.  I love stories like that too. In fact, I go out of my way to find books willing to deal with darkness by brandishing truth, beauty and goodness in the face of evil. These books scare them well in the sense that they see something worth fighting, something definitely evil, and they are eager to imagine themselves in the battle against it.

My eldest shared, “This book gives me a craving to be a hero. Something about it makes me imagine that I can fight for good things and protect good things and make good things, even though I am just a kid right now. When bad stuff happens I can still do good things.”

Another son echoed, “Yeah, bad stuff happens in real life and it happens to kids. Parents dying and fires in houses and bad grown ups trying to ruin things outside before you have a chance to grow up. I like that this book talked about that and not in a little kid way.”

In other words, this is a book that treats children with respect. SD Smith delivers words with an honesty that is reassuring to children. Yes, evil is real. Yes, it is out there. Yes, it can be beaten.

It is this light in the midst of terrible darkness that draws children in and reminds them they have the power to penetrate the darkness with their own light.

Q3: As a mom, what are your favorite things about The Green Ember series?

I’ll share two things.
1) The good guys have flaws. This is important because it keeps the book from being boring and because the boys get to see a flesh and blood character they love and admire struggle the way they themselves do. My son gave me permission to share the following story to illustrate what I mean.

During the time of our first read through of The Green Ember, one of our boys was really struggling with anger. As we read aloud his heart was pierced so deeply that he broke down and wept. This story connected his imagination to the true meaning of anger and its effects. It brought a deep understanding none of our many conversations ever had. He felt anger, but he never understood what it really meant until his imagination saw it.
He connected with a character outside of himself and that is where he found words to define his own situation. He felt personally convicted and longed for the restoration everyone else in the book wanted for the character he identified with. This was one of the most powerful moments of his childhood and he speaks of it often.

2) No one is preaching.
One of the reasons my son was able to feel this remorse so keenly was because it was self realized. He was never told to feel bad by the author. My boys can sniff a “preachy book,” as they call it, pretty quickly. It is their least favorite kind of book and I don’t blame them one bit. The Green Ember is an adventure story bursting with virtue and wisdom, while being completely devoid of anything preachy, which is a dream come true for a young boy with skinned knees, a wooden sword and a wild imagination.

This past weekend I was speaking at the Wild + Free Franklin Conference about Family Culture in the home,  I shared that, “Before I consider the spine of a book, I consider the spines of my children.” In other words, I look for books that build upon the men my boys are becoming. Reading the Green Ember is like pouring liquid courage down your child’s spine and igniting a fire for truth, goodness and beauty in their hearts. It is a magical expansion of the moral imagination. Its the kind of book I roll the welcome mat out for because it is exactly the sort of book I want at the table while we actively and intentionally build our family culture.


Q4 What do your kids love about The Green Ember series?

When I asked them this morning they listed many, many things, but this was one response from one boy that I could not resist sharing:

“I like The Green Ember books because SD Smith is not dead.”

After a burst of horrified laughter from me and many clarifying questions from his brothers, this is the summary of what he (and his brothers) said:

The boys love SD Smith’s writing because it makes them feel welcome. They understand his words. They understand the world he made. They feel like they can play there. It feels real and alive and good and scary in the best ways possible. They wait for months and months with building anticipation for new stories to be released and while they wait, they play out magnificent stories in the backyard with their swords and capes, imagining what they think will happen next.

Not only are they enjoying SD Smith’s writing and actively playing in the world he has created, but SD Smith himself has become a hero in their eyes. Because he is indeed, “not dead,” they are watching him actively bring stories right to their hearts. They can attend his talks at conferences and listen to podcasts and watch his Facebook videos. They see clips of his workshop, “The Forge” and know that this is the place where he goes to make stories. They are watching SD Smith’s courage to create meaning in this present world. He is living out, to the best of his ability, what the rabbits in his stories are looking for. My boys are cheering him on in this endeavor and because they feel that they belong in SD’s world, it feels like they are cheering themselves on too. SD Smith is the real life rabbit with a sword.



Yes, that was thrown at me in ALL CAPS at the breakfast table this morning. YES! I read it. Much to the horror of my children when they found out. “You read it?! Without us?!

I am a traitor, a very happy traitor. I read it three times and I can not wait to read it aloud to my boys.

This is exactly the kind of creative work I want my boys engaging with to make meaning of the world around them.  This is a book that will sharpen their minds, further define their appetites, add to their chests, expand their moral imaginations and leave them looking for chances to bring something good to the world.

I wish I was the sort of person who could wait till Christmas and leave this wonderful new book wrapped and waiting under the tree but the truth is, we’ll probably read the whole thing the day it comes in. I won’t do laundry and I won’t cook dinner. We’ll order pizza and read and read and read together. I’m ok with that. It’ll just be one more beautiful gift the world of SD Smith has brought us.



A Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Quarter 2

Its here! Our Quarter 2 book list!

Please remember that this is not a list of everything I will be reading to my children. This is a curated list of potential (mostly in print living) books to read. Depending on our schedule, time, health, current interests, etc. I look through this list a few weeks ahead of time and decide which books we’ll be reading. I do not read all of these books aloud! I repeat, I DO NOT read ALL of these books aloud. I have to say this because every time I post a book list I always get a handful of comments and several emails from weary, upset Mamas. I am of the opinion that the feast should be a feast and not an all you can eat buffet for us to gorge ourselves on or force feed our children from. Please don’t try to read your five year old every book on this list this quarter. 🙂


Morning Time:

You can see a list of our current morning time schedule here. We are keeping the same framework in the fall but have now added a few books and switched a few things around. We are still using our Morning Time Menus and loving them.  I keep our creed, poetry selections, memory work, Art Study, etc in there and I love having everything tidy and free of juice and jam stains.

Our Daily Collective~
Meditation (Currently its a few verses in Philippians)
Thinking Tool Box
Laying Down the Rails

New Additions to our Day to Day Selections~
Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Julius Caesar (Plutarch’s Lives)
Hinds Feet in High Places

IMG_78581 (1)

Everything else remains the same in terms of history spine, Math, nature study, Latin, Picture Book study, kindergarten work, and geography study. You can find all that information in the Cycle 1 Quarter 1 post.

Towards the end of the summer I was wrestling between science curriculums and I ended up choosing neither. I ultimately went with The First Book of Plants and its beautiful simplicity has been a breath of fresh air. We read one small section every day which the boys turn into a small written narration and then we illustrate it.

Here are some additional books, on top of those mentioned in that C1Q1 post, that we will consider including in our study:

Week 7

Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster
-p.258-264 Hinduism
-p.267-272 Buddha
Buddha by Demi
Amy Charmichael by Janet Benge
Turning the Pot, Tilling the Land by Kancha Ilaiah (A children’s book about the brutal realities of the caste system)

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Spear
Beric the Briton by GA Henty
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hanula
Step Back into Ancient India by Daud Ali
For the Temple by GA Henty

From Egg to Chick by Millicent Selsam (eggs)
Where do Chicks Come From? by Amy Sklanskey (eggs)
Chickens Aren’t The Only Ones by Ruth Heller ((eggs)
Animals Born Alive and Well by Ruth Heller (live birth)
Starfish by Edith Hurd (fragmentation + budding)
Coral Reefs by Gail Gibbons (Fragmentation + Budding)

The Library of Alexandria by Kelly Trumble
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Lynn Curlee
Asterix the Gaul (Just for fun!)
The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff
Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster
p.137 The Druids (Gaul + Germania)
The Young Carthaginian by GA Henty

Week 8

Gandhi: The Young Protestor Who Founded a Nation
Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi (I have yet to read this one. It is written by his grandson)
Gandhi by Amy Pastan
The Story of Salt by Mark Kurlansky

A Castle with Many Rooms by Lorene Lambert
Chp 1– The Long Fall (Visigoths sack Rome)
Trial and Triumph
Chp 6 Monica and Augustine
Peril and Peace by Mindy Withrow
Chp 10 Early Creeds and Councils
Chp 17 Jerome

The Reason for a Flower by Ruth Heller
A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Aston
From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons
Plants that Never Ever Bloom by Ruth Heller
Up in the Garden Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner
How a Seed Grows by Helene Jordan
One Bean by Anne Rockwell (wonderful correlation with Week 1 Science Experiment!)
The Dandelion Seed by Joseph P Anthony
The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss
Seeds and More Seeds by Millicent Selsam

Joseph Hooker: Botanical Trailblazer (Correlates travels to Himalayas with this week’s Science!)
The Pearl Diver by Julia Johnson

Week 9

Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster
-p. 246-257 Lao-Tzu & Confucius
The Silk Route: 7,000 years of History
The Emperor’s Silent Army: Terracotta Warrior 
The Year of the Tiger by Allison Lloyd

A Castle With Many Rooms by Lorene Lambert
Chp 2 Justinian the Great
Chp 4 The Monastery
Chp 6 Making a Nation (Franks)
Chp 7 The Scroll and the Stone (Muhammed founds Islam)
Chp 8 Charles the Hammer (Battle of Tours)
Chp 10 The Rushing North Wind (Vikings Raid)

Monks and Mystics by Mindy Withrow
Chp 6 Islam
Peril and Peace by Mindy Withrow
Chp 19 Benedict
The Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway
Viking Tales by Jennie Hall
Viking Adventure by Clyde Robert Bulla

A Tree is a Plant by Clyde Robert Bulla
Plants Stems and Roots by David Schwartz
Roots by Kathleen Kudlinski

The Story of Ping by Marjorie Flack
Anno’s China
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel

Week 10

History & Geography
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shoguns
The Big Wave by Pearl S Buck
Shipwrecked by Rhoda Blumberg
Crow Boy by Taro Yashima

A Castle With Many Rooms by Lorene Lambert
Chp 3 The Earliest Explorers (Erik the Red)
Chp 9 Charlemagne
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
Chp 11 Alfred the Great
Lief the Lucky by Ingrid D’Aulaire
Monks and Mystics by Mindy Withrow
Chp 5 Charlamagne Crowned by God
Chp 8 Vladimir
Chp 9 A Divided Church (East West Schism)

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
Botanicum by Katie Scott
Why do Leaves Change Color by Betsy Maestro


Week 11

History & Geography
A Castle With Many Rooms by Lorene Lambert
Chp 2 Justinian the Great
Stories of the Nations Vol 1 Lorene Lambert
Ch 2 The Ottomans

A Castle with Many Rooms by Lorene Lambert
Chp 13 The Battle of Hastings (Norman Conquest)
Chp 14 Feudalism
Chp 16 The Cross Upon the Shield
Chp 17 Lionheart and Robin Hood
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
Chp 15 Francis of Assisi
Monks and Mystics by Mindy Withrow
Chp 11 Crusades
Chp 13 Francis of Assisi
Chp 15 Aquinas
Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster p. 239-242 (Incas)
Machu Picchu by Elizabeth Mann (Incas)
The Sad Night by Sally Matthew (Aztecs)
Sundiata: Lion King of Mali  by David Wisnieski
Mansa Musa and the Empire of Mali by PJ Oliver
Ashanti to Zulu by Margaret Musgrove
Sundiata: Lion King of Mali by David Wisnieski 
Ancient Japan by Fiona MacDonald (Shoguns)

Flower Garden by Eve Bunting
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Flowers by Gail Gibbons
The Flower Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta

Week 12

History & Geography
A Castle With Many Rooms by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 7 The Scroll and the Stone (Muhammed founds Islam)
Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta
Mosque by David MacCaulay
Saladin by Flora Geyer (Muslim POV of the Crusades)
The Arabs in the Golden Age by Mokhtar Moktefi
Monks and Mystics by Mindy Withrow
-Chp 6 Islam

A Castle With Many Rooms by Lorene Lambert
Chp 19 The Great Charter (Magna Carta)
Chp 20 The Mongols
Chp 21 The Travels of Marco Polo
Chp 25 The Black Prince, The Black Death and the White Knight of Orleans (100 years war + Black Death)
Chp 29 Rebirth (Renaissance)
Chp 28 Conquest of Constantinople
Stories of the Nations Vol 1 Lorene Lambert
Ch 2 The Ottomans
Chp 9 Kangxi, Emporer of China (Ming and Qing Dynasties)
The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo
Khubla Khan by Kathleen Krull
Masters of the Renaissance by Jim Weiss
The Magna Carta by James Daugherty
Genghis Khan by Demi 

CM/CC Cycle 1 Week 1 Recap: A Typical Day



We are back in the swing of things with Classical Conversations, which means our schedule is now back up to full speed! I thought I’d start our recaps of this cycle by walking through the 5 phases of a typical day. For week 2 (and every week after) I’ll focus on a different area of study and what we have in place for it.

Phase 1: Early Morning (time varies)
The boys started each day with their daily Top 5. They make their beds, get dressed, brush teeth, etc. They read their bible and pray. They run laps and do some exercises and then they come in and help set the table and get breakfast together while someone empties the dishwasher from the night before. Once we sit down to eat, morning time begins. I give gentle reminders and encouragement wherever its needed.

Morning Time:
Daily Devotions
Catechism Question #19
Nicene Creed
Hymn: O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus
Memory Work
Daily Character Habit: Cleanliness  or  Thinking Toolbox
Fairy Tales

We did the above every morning, except for community day. Then depending on the day, we added the following:

Biography: William Tyndale
Paper Sloyd

Haliburton Book of Marvels
Poetry Recitation
Exploring Nature with Children (Nature Walk)

Mozart study (Beautiful Feet Books Music Study)
Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Exploring Nature with Children

Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Poetry Recitation
Exploring Nature with Children

Mathematicians are People Too!
Plutarch: Julius Caesar
Folk Song (Solfège study)
Fra Angelico
Friday Exam

Once we finish with morning time the boys clear the dishes, wipe the table and head off to play until the new hour. I typically load the dishwasher and then sit and read my bible for a few minutes and then look over the day’s schedule.


Phase 2: Mid Morning Session (2 hours)
On the new hour we gather in the classroom for Math, Music and Latin. I am currently teaching three levels of Right Start Math   so its the first thing we tackle every day! I know I gush about this program often but I am so thankful for it! It blends perfectly into our rhythm and has made math a fun and adventurous time of the day. I always begin by reading through the lesson with the older two. They usually explain what they have learned and then start working. While this is happening the #3 is practicing his violin while #4 is playing with math manipulatives. Once I am done with the older two, #4 gets a brief math lesson. Once #1 and #2 are done they leave to practice their violin and guitar while I teach #3 his math lesson. Once the older boys return they do their Latin drill, unless its Tuesday and then they get a full Latin lesson.  While the older boys work on Latin the younger two play until the new hour.

Next I read from our history selections to the older three. #1 and #2  work on a written narration and #3 gives an oral narration.  While the older two compose their narrations, #3 and I work on his spelling and then I listen to him read for 20 minutes. During this block of time #4 is working on his Homegrown Preschooler activities which I prepare in advance. This block of time with #4 took many years of consistent, intentional training to establish.  It didn’t happen overnight. He can work/play with a tray, clean up after himself and fetch a new one.  This is a GIFT folks. He is purposefully engaged and I am free to work with the other kids.  I’m glad I listened to the older, wiser Mama that recommended we put the work in early.

Once everyone has finished the boys run off to play once more until lunch time.


Phase 3 Lit Lunch
Lunch is always simple. We almost always have a salad + whatever the boys know how to cook. We also love to rework leftovers from the night before. We eat together for a few minutes while the boys tell me stories or share favorite things they learned that morning. Once I am done eating I begin our lunchtime read alouds. We love to linger at the table so we are never in a rush to finish.
Current lunchtime reads:
Burgess Seashore Book
Classic Myths to Read Aloud
James Herriot Treasury
Beatrix Potter (one story per day)

Once we finish our reads the boys relax until the new hour while I start a new load of laundry or make notes about what I have observed that day or I tidy up or I scream into a pillow if its been a tough morning. This brief little reset is important for me. I spend time thinking and praying and evaluating. You’ve just read through the logistics of our morning schedule without my adding much about how it all pans out when you add in 5 different personalities and a host of various learning abilities. Between math and latin you must add in the occasional squabble and at the breakfast table you must imagine a rumple haired boy fighting to get past the grumps (or surrendering to them entirely). This is real life and its messy at times. Our rhythm keeps us moving forward, keeps us dancing, keeps our purpose and reminds us to keep taking the grace God offers us.


Phase 4: Early Afternoon Session
The older boys kick off this session with their Essentials work. They begin by copying charts, working on their spelling and vocabulary lists and working on their IEW assignment for the day. #3 and I scoot off to a corner to enjoy his study this year, Around the World with Picture Books Part 1. We read beautiful picture books together and he further extends the study with art or music. He is recording what he learns in a sweet little notebook.  Once he is finished he is free to play while I have a brief K session with #4 followed by any therapy work he needs to do.
The older boys chime in here and there with questions or requests for help. Once I am finished with their younger brothers, I join them at the table and we diagram sentences together and then check completed work. We play a few rounds of Number Knockout or a Right Start Math game to close out. They then move on to their independent loop  and I wrap up final work with #3.


Phase 5: Mid Afternoon Phase
The older boys now have 45 minutes of silent reading. The eldest is currently reading Father Brown and #2 is reading Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. This gives me time to read lots and lots and lots of picture books with #4 (#3 sometimes joins in too). Sometimes we prep for dinner or bake or do some handwork during this time. If its Friday, I use this time to help the littles with their presentations for community day. Once this silent reading time draws to a close we gather around the white board and write out our favorite ideas from the day, new things we learned, questions we have, etc. We try to find  the common themes and we end with prayer or sometimes a song.


Then its time for afternoon story time, possibly the highlight of our day. The boys eat a snack and then do something with their hands while I read aloud or we listen to an audiobook together. This week #1 worked on illustrating his latest journal, #2 worked on his embroidery from Clementine Patterns, #3 worked on hanging upside down off the side of the couch and #4 snuggled the dog and played with Legos.

Our current afternoon reads:
The Secret Garden
Brighty of the Grand Canyon
The Little Prince

We do this every afternoon except Fridays which is reserved for Poetry Tea Time.


Finally we move on to Blessing Hour (never takes a whole hour these days). I have a list of chores broken up into four zones and each boy is assigned to a zone. We play music and bless the family by cleaning together. Its amazing how quickly the house is restored to rights when 5 people clean together rather than just one tired mama. Its done in no time at all! The house is cleaned and we can spend the last four or five hours of the day enjoying one another and relaxing. The boys run off to play and wait for Dad to come home and when he does they happily get lost in whatever he wants to do that evening. Music, farming projects, basketball games, etc.


Once this terrible suffocating heat subsides we will have more and more lessons outside or at the beach.  How we are looking forward to it!

GIVEAWAY! Peaceful Press- Precious People Ancient History Study


Happy Tuesday dear ones! We are settling back in after a trip up north to visit my sister and her family. CC officially starts next week and we are getting back on track and the boys are thrilled to be studying Ancient History once again. They have plans to build a working shaduf in the yard this week (PRAY for my husband!!! haha!). For those that are still searching for a great Ancient History fit for this year I have a sweet surprise for you!

Today we are partnering with The Peaceful Press to giveaway a copy of their Precious People guide along with their World History Timeline cards. Precious people is a literature and project based curriculum.  You can find out more about the program here, including subjects of study. There are also two links at the bottom of the site which allow you to see a full book list and overview of study along with a free sample of the study.

To enter the giveaway simply comment below and then share the original Facebook post! Giveaway CLOSES on Thursday August 9 at 5pm.