A Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Quarter 1

Hello friends!
Thank you for your patience. I know many of you have been waiting quite a few weeks for this list to be posted. We’ve been busy since the end of CC with many travels and are now settled in for the summer months, happily diving into our study of European History.  We are beginning with the Fall of Rome, leading into the Middle Ages for the beginning of Cycle 2 in the autumn.

Below you will find our plan for the first quarter with details about each portion of our schedule, including our Morning Time selections and explanations for each part of our routine. I share this not because I think an exact copy of our schedule would work for everyone, but to give you a few ideas that might work for your family and your schedule or simply provide a glimpse into someone else’s homeschool life and the freedom their choices has given them. Ultimately, you must find what serves your particular family’s needs best and since you are the world’s leading expert on your children, you are the master planner, not I! I urge you to walk in the freedom to glean from this post rather than consumption out of fear. 🙂


The book lists for  weeks 1-6 and extra resource list will follow at the end of the post. Please note that my family will not be reading all those books each week, they are just possibilities we choose from. If you don’t want the nitty gritty details about our schedule, then feel free to skip to the chorus folks!

Cycle 2 begins with Charlamagne and finishes with the end of Apartheid. Let that sink in for a minute. What an enourmous stretch of history! After our first run through with this cycle, I decided that this time we would start with the Fall of the Roman Empire in May and end with the Renaissance sometime in the Spring.  I know its fun to make every week matchy matchy with the CC schedule, but CC is not my master, its my tool, and in our home we need to make it work for us. I wish we had four cycles, but since we are at three, we have our own spacing that we employ at home. In other words we “play” with our memory work and enjoy our own pace with our history study. No one gets confused. We love community day and it meets a need we have. For us, it works! The book list below will still link with the CC schedule, but I want to be completely transparent and say that in our house, we will be making our way slowly through the Middle Ages. We school with the following schedule three days a week. One day a week features a shortened morning time and community with the rest of morning time finished after dinner. Another day of the week is devoted to a moring spent at the beach and an afternoon of poetry tea time, handicrafts and art or a science experiment if we’re up for it.


Morning Time (7ish-9AM)
We have so much to look forward to this year for Morning Time. I begin the day by having the boys complete their chores and go for a brisk run outside. I like them to enter tired and hungry, eager to be still and eat food.  We open with the Doxology and then I share a SHORT reading from the Bible and as the eldest begins to serve whatever we cooked that day, I will read from something like Our 24 Family Ways by Clay and Sally Clarkson or Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware. (Sally has a wonderful podcast on Our 24 Family Ways that is excellent!) If you missed my series on morning time you can find it here.

Last year, I shared that we were using menus to keep all our paperwork free from food and stain. I was a bit surprised to see how the idea took off everywhere with many people now selling menu bundles. I often get messages from people asking if they should purchase bundles. Here is where I sit on this: I didn’t share that idea to make people feel like they needed to buy one more thing to “homeschool well.” I shared it because it was a practical solution for us. Now if someone likes that idea and wants to spend money on a prepared menu by a homeschool mama who is trying to serve others while supplementing her income, that is their choice as a consumer and supporter of small business. 🙂  I myself do not print out any fancy covers or papers, we keep it really simple.

Our daily menus for this quarter hold the following:
1) The Nicene Creed
2) 6 Catechism questions and answers
3) Scripture Memory Work
4) Hymn of the Month (Check out @happyhymnody on IG!)
5) Poetry Memorization
6) Shakespeare Memory Work
7) Once Quarter 1 begins the back page will feature weekly memory work and geography map for CC Connected user: kleckrone

While the children are eating we slowly make our way through what is found in the menu.  Once that is finished the boys clear the table and they each have a job (load dishwasher, wipe table, sweep floor) while I get our morning books together. During this time of resetting I play some music for us to enjoy. When we sit back down we will begin our reading, which is on a rotation and varies depending on the day.

MT study for this quarter include the following (with some alternate choices listed):
Shakespeare (Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children, Tales from Shakespeare)
Haliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels (or any good book that takes children around the world on adventures)
Famous Men of the Middle Ages by John Haaran
Church History: 100 Most Important Events, Trial and Triumph, Monks and Mystics
Character/Habit Training: Laying Down the Rails for Children 
Logic: The Fallacy Detective or The Thinking Toolbox
Nature Study: Exploring Nature with Children

Math/Music: (9ish-10ish)
We are using Right Start Math once more for all four of our children. The older two are on the same level and the third and fourth are on different levels.  Once Morning Time is over we dive straight into math. I work with the older two while the third born practices his instruments and the youngest plays with pattern blocks. Once the older two start their work I turn to the third born born and work with him while the youngest takes a small break. Then I work with the youngest last, I set the time for 10 minutes and that is all we do. No more and no less. We have been using the program for a few years now and are thrilled with the short, focused lessons and skill reinforcement found in the game book. It was profoundly helpful to have this solid base to turn to while in Essentials.  The end of the hour the older two practice their instruments.

Latin: (10ish-11ish)
Memoria Press Latin Cristiana 1 (REPEATING for securing foundation for older two boys) and Prima Latina for the soon to be 9 year old. At the beginning of the week the lesson will take about 30 minutes to complete. The rest of the week the drills are finished within 15 minutes and they have 45 minutes to finish practicing insturments or take a snack break.

History: (11ish)
Once we finish math, we gather round for history reading. Depending on how the day is going (read: energy levels, sibling relationships, weather, odds and ends) I will either read aloud to them or we will hear something on audio. The children then do their narrations (either written or oral depending on age and skill level) which they then record in their notebooks.
Possible Spines for this year:
The Story of the World Book 2 (audio on amazon is currently over $50, check other sites for better prices!)
HM Hillyer’s A Child’s History of the World
A Castle with Many Rooms by Sonya Schafer
For younger children Our Isalnd Story by HE Marshall

Lit Lunch: (12ish)
Once history is done the boys all scatter to play (though they do have pockets of time to play between subjects if they have finished their work diligently and well). They’ll return within 45 minutes, hungry and sweaty. We gather round the table again and read news articles and have conversations or at times read from a book together. Typically we end with a fairy tale.

Best Rest/ Independent Loop:(1-3ish)
The boys have a series of things they do in the hours after lunch. After reading the book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” by Daniel Pink (recommended on the Schole Sisters podcast!) I instituted a roughy two hour rest period after lunch. Some boys use this time to be out in nature or to read a book, others turn to more energetic pursuits like exercise, games or bike rides. Each child is unique in personality, learning style, etc and is slowly learning the ways in which they need refreshment. We call this time, “Best Rest.” As we re-enter our final learning block of the day, the boys transition with something off their independent loop list.

Essentials & Language Arts: (3pm)
The final block of time is given to Language Arts. During the CC year we use our Essentials Guide for grammar, writing, spelling, vocabulary, etc. We do not supplement with anything else. After CC ends we generally continue with Spelling (using IEW’s Phonetic Zoo) and Editing exercises with (using IEW’s Fix it! Grammar). The younger children use Rod and Staff Spelling books starting in the first grade and practice one dictation sentence a day.

**If you are scrolling up and down the post looking for science, we end Morning time with it when we do our Nature Study. It has been profoundly rich for us to have this solid base before moving on to formal sciences in the upper forms. Our weekly beach trip is also part of our nature study. We also enjoy using Mel Chemistry sets on Fridays since I have two children that exhibit a strong interest in Chemistry. 

Once the school work is done we gather for a read aloud in the library and once that is finished we have our CLOSING BOARD. This is a practice we have kept for the last year with great benefit. The children and I all share bits and pieces of our favorite learning from the day. Its not an instructional hour, rather a time to gather and reflect. Once this is finished we commence with The Blessing Hour. The boys clean the house to bless the family while I cook so that once Jeff returns at night we can all play outside, gather around a fire, read aloud or play music. Sometimes the boys will head up portions of the dinner effort using their recipes from Raddish Kids while I help one of the younger children establish a new cleaning skill.

And now— on to the cycle 2 quarter 1 book list!!!


Book List Link to Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Quarter 1

Ish by Peter Reynolds
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Lines that Wiggle by Candace Whitman
Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer
Echo Echo by Marilyn Singer
Art by Patrick McDonnell
Sky Color by Peter Reynolds
Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock
Color by Ruth Heller
The Book of Mistakes by Corrina Luyken

The History of Counting by Denise Bessaret (not LIVING, but still fascinating)
Counting on the Woods by George Ella Lyon
Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong (Chinese Folk Tale)
The Number Garden by Sarah Pinto
Anno’s Counting Book 
Anno’s Magic Seeds
Barn Cat by Carol P Saul
One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J Pinches
Spaghetti and Meatballs for All! by Marilyn Burns
The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins
Each Orange Had Eight Slices by Paul Giganti
Anno’s Multiplying Jar
Can You Count in Greek? Ancient Number systems by Judy Leimbach (Older students, this one is fascinating!)
Math For All Seasons by Greg Tang
Grapes of Math by Greg Tang
Sir Cumference and All the King’s Tens by Cindy Neuschwander
Blockhead! The life of Fibonacci by Joseph De Angelese
Roman Numerals by David Adler
Roman Numerals: I to MM by Arthur Geisart
A Place for Zero by Angeline Lo Presti
Anna’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar
The King’s Chessboard by David Birch
Can You Count to a Googol? by Robert Wells


A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink: What’s a Noun? by Brian Cleary
I and You and Don’t Forget Who: What’s a Pronoun? by Brian Cleary
To Root, to Toot, to Parachute: What’s a Verb? by Brian Cleary
Dearly, Nearly, Insincerely: What’s an Adverb? by Brian Cleary
But and For, Yet and Nor: What’s a Conjunction? by Brian Cleary
Cool! Whoa! Ah and Oh!: What’s an Interjection? by Brian Cleary
Under, Over, By the Clover: What’s a Preposition? by Brian Cleary
Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What’s an Adjective? by Brian Cleary
Mine All Mine: A Book About Pronouns by Ruth Heller
If You were a Pronoun by Nancy Loen


Week 1

The Creation Story for Children by Helen Haidle

The Creation Story for Children by 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 Egypt by Kay Winters
Pharaoh’s Boat by David L Weitzman
Pyramid by David Macaulay
Hieroglyphs by Joyce Milton
Seeker of Knowledge by James Rumford
The Great Pyramid by Elizabeth Mann
Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lambert
—Chp 2 The Sumerians
—Chp 3 The Indus Valley
—Chp 9 The Minoans

The Marvelous Blue Mouse by Christopher Manson
The Magic Runes by Emma Leslie
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
-Chp 10 Charlemagne
Monks and Mystics by Mindy Withrow
-p. 49 Charlemagne, Crowned by God
Famous Men of the Middle Ages
A Castle with Many Rooms by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 9 Charlemagne


Week 2

The Wonderous Workings of Planet Earth by Rachel Ignotofsy (Evolution based)
What is a Biome? by Bobbie Kalman
A Walk in the Deciduous Rain Forest by Rebecca L Johnson
A Walk in the Tundra by Rebecca L Johnson
A Walk in the Desert by Rebecca L Johnson
A Walk in the Prairie by Rebecca L johnson
A Walk in the Rain Forest by Rebecca L Johnson
A Walk in the Boreal Forest by Rebecca L Johnson
One Small Square: Arctic Tundra by Donald Silver
One Small Square: African Savanna by Donald Silver

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
The Ancient Chinese by Virginia Schomp

William the Conqueror
A Castle with Many Rooms-
Chp 13 The Battle of Hastings
Famous Men of the Middle Ages-
Chp XiX William the Conqueror
The Battle of Hastings by Chris Baker
The Bayaux Tapestry by  Norman Denny

Week 3

Tooth by Tooth by Sarah Levine
What is a Herbivore by Bobbie Kalman
What is an Omnivore? by Bobbie Kalman
What is a Carnivore?

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
They Put Out to Sea by Roger Duvosin (sadly out of print and $$$$. Its a wonderful book and I hope it comes back in print some day!)
Crusades by Jane Parsons
Winning His Spurs by GA Henty
The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green
Castle With Many Rooms
-Chp 16 The Cross Upon the Shield
-Chp 17 Lionheart and Robin Hood

Week 4
The Log Hotel by Ann Schrieber
Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains in our own backyard by Kathleen Zoefield
What are Food Chains and Webs by Bobbie Kalman
Who Eats Who? by Patricia Lauber
A Log’s Life by Wendy Pfeffer
Rotten Pumpkin by David Schwartz

Romulus and Remus by Anne Rockwell
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
The Odyssey
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

Magna Carta
A Castle With Many Rooms
-Chp 19 The Great Charter
The Magna Carta by Roberta Baxter
The Magna Carta by James Daugherty

Week 5
Water is Water by Miranda Paul
The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story by Niel Waldman
A Drop of Water by Walter Wick
Salmon Matters: How a Fish Feeds a Forest by Lisa Conners

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

Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley
Joan of Arc by Demi

Week 6
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Why do Animals Migrate? by Bobbie Kalman
How and Why do Animals Adapt? by Bobbie Kalman
Rain Forest Adaptations by Lisa Amstutz
When Butterflies Cross tke Sky by Sharon Cooper
Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft
How do Birds Find their Way by Roma Gans

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

Leonardo: Beautiful dreamer by Robert Byrd
Leonardo and the flying boy by Laurence Anholt
Leonardo Davinci by Diane Stanley
Leonardo’s Horse by Jean Fritz
Michelangelo  by Diane Stanley
Michelangelo by Mike Venezia
Stone Giant by Jane Sutcliff
Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley
Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki
A Shakesperean Theater by Jacqueline Morley
Will’s Words by Jane Sutcliff
Copernicus by Dennis Fradin
Dance of the Planets by Nancy Veglahn

I’ll be updating with Quarter 2 before the end of the summer!

Medieval & Renaissance Book list + A GIVEAWAY!

Hello friends!

My brain is in “percolate” mode right now as I dream and plan for the coming year and I thought I’d give you a peak at what’s brewing.  Here is a small taste of what I’m gathering for the boys study of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. A wonderful year of reading awaits us and I love how often I keep catching boys by my desk, sneaking looks through the books piled there.

Many books on this list will be independent reads for my older children. Right now I am deciding which will be family read alouds and which will be independent reads for them. I’ll probably give a detailed list once our new term begins in a few weeks.


I’ll be reading Our Island Story by HE Marshall to the younger children this year.  The older children are looking forward to diving into A Castle With Many Rooms by Lorene Lambert.   This excellent resource from Simply Charlotte Mason is one of our favorites. We have enjoyed Ms Lambert’s writing for many years and are eager to read this beautiful book again. (Hint: There are narration cards available for this book too!)
The World of Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster will be used later in the year.


Other stories gathering on the READ THIS YEAR SHELF:

Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson
Terese Makes a Tapestry by Alexandra Hindrichs
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane by CM Millen
Castle Diary by Richard Platt
Illuminations by Jonathan Hunt
A Medieval Feast by Aliki
A Year in a Castle by Rachel Coombs
Castle by David MacCaulay
Cathedral by David MacCaulay
Mosque by David MacCaulay
Pippo the Fool by Tracey Fern

Chanticleer and the Fox by Geoffrey Chaucer
St George and the Dragon by Marguerite Henry
Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales adapted and translated by Barbara Cohen
Joan of Arc: The Lily Maid by Margaret Hodges


Beginning with a few small chapter books for the middle boy, who is eager to read big books, the list tapers out to those longer, deeper reads. We’ll probably glean a few from this list to use as family reads though the boys have made it clear that we must absolutely start with the Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green, which is one of their all time favorites.

The White Stag by Kate Seredy
The Sword in the Tree by Clyde Robert Bulla
The Apple and the Arrow by Conrad Buff
Fine Print by Joann Johansen Burch
Robin Hood by Margaret Early
Beowulf the Warrior Retold by Ian Serraillier ** My eldest wants to read this
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
Augustine Came to Kent by Barbara Willard
If All the Swords in England: A Story of Thomas Becket by Barbara Willard
The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Lost Baron by Allen French
Red Falcons of Tremoine by Hendry Peart
The Trumpeter of Krawkow by Eric Kelly
The Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Eleanore M Jewet

The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green (One of our absolute favorites)
King Arthur and His Knights by Roger Lancelyn Green

Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
The Black Fox of Lorne by Marguerite de Angeli
The White Company by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Magna Carta by James Daugherty

Thats the working list right now! Next week I’ll sift through some Messner biographies for the boys to read, I know we will likely read about Galileo and Charlamagne. I’m currently looking into more church history and science history reads and then I’ll finalize our hymn study, poet study and artist study for next term.  I have a lot listed up there and I doubt we’ll read it all. I want plenty of time for the boys to enjoy their reading and not feel the weight of an impossibly long list. I’ll keep most of these on a shelf and hand them off as kids finish them. This works well for my eager reader and is a blessing to my savoring reader.  I hope to have our Cycle 2 Quarter 1 plan out by the beginning of June.

And now for the giveaway!!!! Because—FAIRY. TALES.

Friends, if you aren’t reading fairy tales yet, can I urge you with all my heart to start now? If you are a CC family, this up and coming cycle is a great time to dive in….


Last year we used Tale of Wonder Volume 1 during our morning time. We had so many rich discussions about Fairy Tales we’ve been reading for years thanks to the wonderful suggestions in this book. Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, The Little Mermaid, Rumpelstiltskin, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella were enjoyed again and again last year. We cannot wait for the up and coming release of Tales of Wonder Volume 2, which includes: Sleeping Beauty, The Emperor’s New Suit, The Princess and the Pea, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Three Little Pigs, The Golden Goose, Jack and the Beanstalk. The boys are especially eager to read The Emperor’s New suit and The Three Little Pigs. Thanks to the generous folks over at Circe Institute, we’ll be giving away TWO copies!


How to enter:
1) FOLLOW Circe Institute on either facebook or instagram
2) TAG your friends on the Facebook thread for this post
3) Comment below to let us know you did both and just for fun, share your favorite fairy tale!


Winner will be announced on Friday 4/23.



Quick note on out of print books: We’ll be using a few of these out of print treasures pictured above that I have found and restored over the years. How I wish they would come back in print! In the meantime, I must share that I am always on the lookout for beauties like these and urge you to rescue books when you can. Most of these were found in throw away piles, at Good Will, at library sales or in estate sales lumped in with cookbooks and spy novels. I even found a few of those beautiful Buehr books near a trash can on the side of the road a few years ago. Take a few extra minutes to sift through those toss away piles, you never know what you might find!

We also have a few more out of print books we’ll be using but I did not include them in the picture. You can find those unlisted books and more if you are local to Living Learning Libraries, curated by Michelle Howard. Heads up, she also makes fabulous book totes that correspond to each week of the CC cycle. If you are not local check out this list of living libraries.

My Spring Reading List

I often get asked about my personal reading list. You know, the books I read just to myself and not my children. I thought I would share the current spring list with you. I’ve put a nice dent in it already. After a rough start to 2019, I wanted to put together a list that strayed a bit from my usual reading diet.  I decided to vere in another direction and read more nonfiction.  With several roadtrips this spring and a few long plane trips, (I’ll be in England at the end of May for the first Wild + Free Europe Conference!)  these are books I’ll be reading while resting, traveling and plotting, I mean planning, the upcoming school term.

Near the end of March I tuned into one of the podcasts I regularly listen to, The Schole Sisters, and enjoyed this episode on taking action. I found a few recommended books there that I eagerly added to my list. I’ve linked them, but it would be great if you could click on the Schole link and purchase through there if you are buying and not borrowing from a library.


  1. When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink
    ** This book had me at hello with its opening story on the sinking of the Luisitania. I enjoyed it thoroughly and am already processing ways of implementing better timing in our daily schedule. I loved all the practical applications in this one!9781101621615.jpg
  2. A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley51RHjL+DcpL.jpg
  3. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
    This was a quick and fascinating read. Much talk of Lark and Owls over at our house these days.
  4. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Every day Lives by Gretchen Rubin
    Yes, I know. ANOTHER book on habits. I usually dislike books that advertise happiness, BUT it has been great fun reading (and sometimes disagreeing with) Gretchen’s words.To this I added:
  5. The Whole Brain Child by Daniel Siegel
    My second round with it. I ended up taking several notes this time around.
  6. Margin by Richard Swenson
    I always want his name to be Ron Swenson. Ha! Mr. RICHARD Swenson penned this beautiful book some years ago and I first heard about it from Sonya Schafer. Reading it a few years back gave us a chance to take action and shape our days and lives differently. I love revisiting this book.
  7. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel Levitin
  8. Defending Boyhood by Anthony Esolen
    If you know me, you know I love Professor Esolen’s work. This is his latest book and I’m saving it for last.

What are you reading these days? Do you ever take a break from your usual reading diet?


A Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Quarter 4

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Hello friends!

Getting it in just under the wire! Morning time and the rest of our academic schedule is still looking similar to our Quarter 3 routine, so I will just dive right into the book list this time!

Here are two shorter lists for Fine Arts and Science for the quarter.

Fine Arts
Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine
Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss
Max Found Two Sticks by Brian Pinkney
Hannah Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki
Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
by Susan Hood
The Carnival of Animals by Jack Prelutsky
The Musical Life of Gustav Mole by Kathryn Metric

George Handel by Mike Venezia
Hallelujah Handel by Douglas Cowling
George Mouse’s Water Music by Heather Buchanaan
Becoming Bach by Tom Leonard
Johan Sebastian Bach by Mike Venezia

The Magic Flute by Kyra Teis
Wolfgang mozart by Mike Venezia
Mozart by Marcus Weeks
Mozart: The Wonder Child by Diane Stanley

Down, Down, Down by Steve Jenkins
A Day in the Deep by Kevin Kurtz
Latitude and Longitude by Rebecca Aberg
What Will the Weather Be? Linda Dewitt
Clouds by Anne Rockwell
Weather Words and What They mean by Gail Gibbons
The Cloud Book by Tomie de Paola
Weather Forecasting by Gail Gibbons
On the Same Day in March by Marilyn Singer
Feel the Wind by Arthur Dorros
Maps and Globes by Jack Knowlton
Follow that Map by Scot Ritchie
Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney
As the Crow Flies by Gayle Hartman


And now the weekly breakdown for Timeline and History. AGAIN: We do not read all of these books, this is just a curated list I choose from when we are planning each week.

Week 19

Stories of America by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 4 How Lincoln Became President
-Chp 5 The Great Civil War
-Chp 6 War on Sea and Land
-Chp 7 After the Civil War
-Chp 14 The Spanish American War

Abraham Lincoln by the D’Aulaires

(See Cycle 3 lists for more books in this era)

Stories of the Nations by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 2 How Bismarck Made an Empire
-Chp 6 Boer War

North American Indian by David Murdoch
Indian Nations of North America by National Geographic
The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose
Star Mounds: Legacy of a North American Mystery by Ross Hamilton (Found at the library! It will be our first time reading it)
Mound Builders and Cliff Dwellers by Dale Brown
Anasazi by Leonard Everett Fischer


Week 20

The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
In Flanders Field by Linda Grandfield
Angel on the Square by Gloria Whelan
The Impossible Journey by Gloria Whelan
Stories of the Nations by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 12 The War to End all Wars
-Chp 13 The Christmas Truce
-Chp 14 The Red Baron
-Chp 15 The Lusitania
-Chp 16 The Russian Revolution
-Chp 17 The Great Depression

Stories of America by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 25 A Roar and A Crash
Billy Graham: Just Get Up Out of Your Seat by Catherine Mackenzie
Christmas Truce: A True Story of World War 1 by Aaron Shepherd
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon

The Wild Chihuahua’s of Mexico by Traude Rhine
Viva Rose! by Susan Krawitz ** We’ll be reading this for the first time. Its a chapter book for older children (grades 4+)


Week 21
Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin
Stories of America by Lorene Lambert
Chp 26 World War 2
Chp 27 The Battle of the Bulge
Chp 28 Battle of Iwo Jima
Chp 29 V for Victory
Chp 30 A Long Cold War
Chp 33 The End of the Cold War
Stories of the Nations by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 20 The Second World War
-Chp 21 The Underground
-Chp 22 The Day of Days
-Chp 24 The Creation of Israel
-Chp 25 The Dead Sea Scrolls
Israel by Miroslav Sasek
Gandhi by Demi
Gandhi: The Young Protestor Who Founded a Nation by Phillip Wilkinson
Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by Andres Martinez
Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing by Guo Yeu

The Kids Book of Canadian Exploration by Ann Maureen Owens
Hey Canada! by Vivien Bowers
The Kids Book of Canadian History by Carla Hacker

Week 22

-Chp 31 For Civl Rights
Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit Ins by Carole Weatherford
Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freidman
Many Thousand Gone: Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton
Through the Gates of Splendor by Elizabeth Elliot
The Vietnam War by DK
Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam by Walter Dean Myers
Moonshot the Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

The Kids Book of Canadian Exploration by Ann Maureen Owens
Hey Canada! by Vivien Bowers
The Kids Book of Canadian History by Carla Hacker

Week 23

Stories of America by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 34 September 11, 2001
-Chp 25 A New Kind of War
-Chp 36 The Information Age and a Farewell
The Turning by Gloria Whelan
The Little Chapel That Stood by AB Curtis

A Picture Book of Simon Bolivar by David Adler
Simon Bolivar by Arnold Whitridge

Week 24

The President’ Stuck in the Bathtub by Susan Katz
Our Country’s Presidents by Ann Basaum

The Heroic Symphony by Anna Celenza
Who was Napoleon by Jim Gigliotti
The Story of Napoleon by HE Marshall


MEL Science Review!

Last year a few readers started asking what we thought of MEL Science, a UK-based company that puts together subscription chemistry kits.


My eldest child is now 11 and since we began his education we have primarily focused on Nature Study at home using Exploring Nature with Children. (During the 24 weeks of the year that we are in Classical Conversations, we enjoy an experiment or project each week on community day and do some further reading about the topic at home).  Those early years spent heavily immersed in nature study have led my older children to the point where they are now ready and asking questions about the higher sciences, specifically chemistry. This is largely because of last year’s Cycle 3 study of chemistry and our reading of this wonderful book: The Mystery of the Periodic Table.

I am an extremely intentional person. I love to imagine things for our homeschool and then find practical ways to bring them into being. I am usually successful with most subjects but I must be honest and say that these last two years the higher sciences have taken a back seat. This is because in order to do science, you must gather materials and the gathering of materials for science experiments keeps falling off my very full plate. I am already busy material gathering for HGP, CC and ASD therapies and other homeschool projects, and gathering materials for extra science (when we already do experiments at CC) did not feel crucial or necessary.

But my boys were curious and excited and are still unable to drive anywhere to gather their own materials. They wanted science projects ready to go on a reliable schedule. They didn’t want to have to wait for an adult to gather everything before they could do a chemistry experiment. They also wanted REAL CHEMISTRY and not a plastic kit for children to pretend with. Real chemistry means real danger and real possibility and real responsibility. They wanted the real deal. As my eldest said, “Mom, I want to find something more dangerous than a potato battery or an egg in a glass of coke.” A brief look at the MEL Science site told me this was the real deal.

Our first Mel Science kit was organized into several boxes. The first was the starter kit which contained all of the equipment needed for future experiments. A VR cardboard set, glass instruments, phone stand, safety goggles and more were included. There were also two separate small kits that housed experiements grouped by topic. Each kit came with enough material to do (and repeat) several experiements on that topic. The kits were all marked with warning labels and safety instructions which pleased the boys immensely. We downloaded the MEL Science app and were excited to find a new tool for conducting further research beyond the experiements themselves.

Our favorite of the two themes was the TIN bundle. We opened the box and were relieved to find such clear and concise instructions, coupled with very thorough safety warnings. The kit included gloves for us to use and we were able to transfer all of our chemicals safely.

The first experiment “Tin Dendrites” packed quite a punch. We used VR to gain a different look at the components and followed along on our Mel Science App as we conducted the experiment. We also used the special camera lenses included in the starter kit to watch the dendrites stretch across the petri dish. (THRILLING!) While I did remain at his side, my son was able to do almost the entire experiment on his own- which thrilled him! Our first run through was full of questions and stops and starts. A few days later he repeated the experiment and this time he was full of explanations.



The second experiment in the kit “Tin Hedgehog” was beautiful! Never thought I would say that about a chemistry project, but there you have it. It was truly lovely. The boys (all ages) were fascinated by the end result and so sad to find out they couldn’t keep it forever. But of course, they learned even more about the properties of Tin when they found out why they could not keep it forever.

When I read the warning labels on the experiments I was a bit concerned about how to safely dispose of everything, but when we reached the end of the experiment on the app we found a guide for safe disposal of those specific materials. We were also able to do further reading and research on the app which was an unexpected bonus!


We are really looking forward to this next year with MEL Science and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on how its going!

Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations Cycle 1 Q3


Happy New Year sweet friends!
I can’t believe we are halfway through Cycle 1! I am soaking up all these beautiful Florida winter days full of sunshine, boys playing outdoors all day and long times of tea and read aloud time.

Below you will find our new schedule for the up and coming quarter. I’ve tried to leave it a bit more detailed than usual. If you only want our book list, scroll further down. Please remember that we DO NOT read all the books on the list, it is simply a log of ideas to draw from once we reach that week.  I hope you all have a rest filled advent season and a sweet time of planning leading into the New Year!

Let’s dive in!

Next week I plan on spending time with each child one on one to work through these Discipleship pages from Sally Clarkson’s site. There are planning pages for me in there too and the questions are so wonderful for refining vision for the coming year. Once I have a better idea of where the boys are, I can plan more specifically which read alouds we will be enjoying and what their final schedule, in terms of responsibilities, will be for the quarter. We are making a big push for more accountability this year!
In the morning our boys have a TOP 5 list of things they do before Morning Time Starts. These include: Hygiene, Making Bed, Independent Quiet Time, Exercise and a small chore (feed animals, make breakfast or unload dishwasher etc). I have my own Top 5 that I take care of: Hygiene, Brief Quiet Time, Vitamins, Drink Two Glasses of Water and Listen to a poem from The Daily Poem podcast!  I wish my Top 5 always went off without a hitch but more often than not I have to pause often to direct traffic or settle a fight or give a gentle reminder. Once we’re all done its about 8AM and we gather around the table for breakfast and Morning Time!

Morning Time (8-10AM)
We will still open with our Daily Collect:

Doxology or Creed
Devotional (This quarter we are going through “Our 24 Family Ways” again!)
Scripture Memory
CC Memory Work (10 minutes)

Next we’ll move on to whatever is on our daily schedule. Whenever we have community day we do the morning time list in the evening.

Morning Time Spring Schedule 19’

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
x x
x x
Artist: Michel-angelo x
Thinking Toolbox
x x
Poetry Recitation x x
Shakespeare x
Plutarch: x

Folk Songs

x x x
Nature Study:
Exploring Nature with Children
x x x

It usually only takes the boys a few minutes to gobble their breakfast and the rest of the time we just sit together and go through the rest of whatever is slotted for that day. The 6 year old drifts in and out, often going to his rack of toys to play with something or he’ll cuddle with the dog under the table. The 8 year old never stays for Plutarch, thats just for the older boys. We have notebooks that we keep for a few of these topics and we get very creative with our narrations so its not stationary/just sitting for two hours. We dance, we run around, we paint, we make entries in our Book of Centuries.
T-Th we clean the table together and then go outside for our nature study time. On Fridays we have a longer Nature Hike together, so the T-Th nature walks are brief and a great way to close out our time together.

Math/Latin/Music 10-11AM
We will continue on with our use of Right Start Math. I am immensely pleased with it and with the boys’ progress. I am so thankful that I found it! The older boys use the same level and I always start with them while the younger two play for a bit. Once the older boys have had their lesson, they begin their work while I teach the third boy his lesson. Once the older boys finish the math they open their Memoria Press Latina Cristiana books. If they need a new lesson then I teach the lesson at that time. If they are doing drills and review they finish on their own. While they complete their Latin the third born leaves to practice his instrument. I will go and do a simple math lesson with the 6 year old. Once the older boys finish Latin, they go and practice their instruments. I end this time helping my youngest practice his instrument and listening to whatever the older three worked on.  My youngest typically gets 40 minutes of play (sometimes he will watch an episode of Mr Roger’s Neighborhood) during this block, the third born gets 20 minutes and the older boys work straight through since they’ve decided that math and music are the same as playing.

History/Narrations/Geography 11AM-12PM

I begin with our smaller history books (typically from the book list I have shared below) or one of our main history spines for the year. I stop every so often to have my eight year old narrate orally. Once we finish with the passage my older boys compose a written narration of appropriate length for their individual age and skill level. I review their work and pull out any spelling words to work on and make corrections where needed. Next we spend time reviewing geography. We used to do this during morning time and only recently moved it at the boys’ request. At the end I will read a handful of smaller books or a fairy tale and while everyone loves to listen, it is primarily for my six year to give his brief narration.  My youngest plays for about 40 minutes during this time, third born gets about 20 minutes and the older boys usually get ten or fifteen minutes or even twenty depending on how quickly they got through their work.

Lit Lunch 12-1PM

We light a candle, we eat, we read aloud. This year we are enjoying Jack’s Insects, Tanglewood Tales, the Beatrix Potter books and we listen to a poem from the Daily Poem Podcast Together.

Language Arts: 1-3:30pm

This is a HUGE block of time and there is not a single child that works from start to finish.  My two Essentials students usually go straight to the table and go through their charts and sentence diagramming (15 minutes TOPS) and then they work on IEW (30 minutes). We spend just a few minutes on vocabulary and spelling and then they are OFF! Third born goes to the table and does his handwriting and spelling list and then reads aloud to me for 20 minutes and then he is OFF! The youngest plays for awhile after lunch or lays down and listens to an audiobook while his brother’s do their work. At about 2:15 I call him over and he does his Kindergarten work. We work on reading, a simple bible story, art, cooking, whatever is on the list! While he works the 8 year old returns for his time with Around the World with Picture Books. He looks forward to this time every single day!

Afternoon Read Aloud/Blessing Hour 3:30PM
Time for tea and books! Some days the boys beg for this to stretch longer and longer. Usually if its boiling hot outside or if its raining. But if its a fine day we read for twenty minutes only and proceed to Blessing Hour. Each boy takes their two or three duties and discharges them well so that they can run outdoors or curl up with a book and relax.  At this point the school day is done!

Quick Notes:

**The older kids do have quiet reading time for themselves. They usually get in about an hour each day either first thing in the morning when they wake up or in the afternoon or before bed.

**On days when we have music lessons in the morning, we bring as much independent work as we can for the boys to complete while they wait for whoever is in lesson. We are there for two hours so we get a good deal done during that time!

**On Fridays we have far less work to do with Essentials so after we have our spelling quiz, vocabulary quiz and Friday Exam, we usually go on a Nature Walk. We also save time in the afternoon to work on and practice our Presentations for Community Day.

** Our Winter Break is essentially our summer vacation. We do not do any work from the week of Thanksgiving until two weeks into January with the exception of a brief daily math lesson and read alouds. We also have a few kids working on Memory Master but that is on their own time.

Ready for the Quarter 3 Book List? Here we go!


Week 13

Prince Henry the Navigator by Leonard Everrett Fischer
Around the World in 100 Years by Jean Fritz
A Book of Discovery by MB Synge
The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela by Uri Shulevitz
Henry the Navigator by Charnan Simon
The Kidnapped Prince: The Story of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano
African Beginnings by James Haskins
Ink on His Fingers by Louise A Vernon
The World of Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster
The Royal Diaries: Isabel: Jewel of Castilla by Carolyn Meyer
Blood Secret by Kathryn Lansky

African Beginnings by James Haskins
God King by Joanne Williamson

How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World by Faith McNulty
Planet Earth Inside Out by Gail Gibbons
Birth of an Island by Millicent Selsam
How Mountains are Made by Katherine Zoehfeld
Magic School Bus Inside the Earth by Joanna Cole

Henry the Navigator by Charnan Simon
The Kidnapped Prince: The Story of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano
African Beginnings by James Haskins

Pastry School in Paris: An Adventure in Capacity by Cindy Neuschwender

Unfortunately, these are ALL tricky to find. Check your local library!
Giotto by Mike Venezia
Giotto Tended the Sheep by Sybil Deucher
A Boy Named Giotto by Paolo Guarnieri
The Glorious Impossible by Madeleine L’Engle

Week 14

Columbus by D’Aulaire
Courage and Conviction by Mindy and Brandon Withrow
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
-Chp 19-26 The Reformation
Peter the Great by Diane Stanley
The World of William Penn by Genevieve Foster (Absolute Monarchs)
The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell
Johann Sebastian Bach by Mike Venezia
Sebastian Bach by Opal Wheeler
Becoming Bach by Tom Leonard

Sundaita: Lion King of Mali by David
Mansa Musa by Khephra Burns
Mansa Musa and the Empire of Mali by P James Oliver

From Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions by Margaret Musgrove
Finding out about Deserts by Angela Wilkes

Rocks, Minerals and Gems by Scholastic
If you Find a Rock by Peggy Christian
Rocks: Hard, Soft, Smooth and Rough by Natalie Rosinsky
Let’s Go Rock Collecting by Roma Gans
Rock Factory by Jacqui Bailey
Rocks in His Head by Carol Hurst

Ghiberti “Gates of Paradise


Week 15

The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster
Jamestown, New World Adventure by James E Knight
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla
Sara Morton’s Day by Kate Waters
Pilgrims of Plimoth by Marcia Sewall
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
-Chp 31 Jonathan Edwards
-Chp 32 George Whitfield
-Chp 33 John Wesley
-Chp 34 John Newton
Adventures from the Bay by Clifford Wilson
Hearts and Minds: Chronicles of the Awakening Church by  Mindy and Brandon Withrow
The Arts by Hendrick Vanloon

Prince Henry the Navigator by Leonard Everrett Fischer
Around the World in 100 Years by Jean Fritz
The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela by Uri Shulevitz
Henry the Navigator by Charnan Simon
Carry on Mr Bowditch by Jean Latham

Stories from the Nations by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 4 Sailing Through the Sand
-Chp24 The Creation of Israel

Stories from the Nations by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 27 The Top of the World
Seven Natural Wonders of Africa by Michael Wood
Up on Denali by Shelley Gill (Old Earth)
My Denali by Kimberly Corral

Fra Angelico
Fra Angelio by Laurence Kanter

Week 16

George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster
Story of the Nations Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 14 James Cook
George Washington by Cheryl Harness
George Washington’s Breakfast by Jean Fritz
The Winter of Red Snow by Kristiana Gregory
Stories of America Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
–Chp 16-22 Revolutionary War
–Chp 23 Voyage of Our Ship of State (Constitution)
–Chp 25 America Grows (Lewis and Clark)

The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads
The Ancient Maya by Jackie Maloy
The Aztec Empire by Sunita Apte
Aztec, Inca, Maya by DK

Hill of Fire by Thomas Lewis
Pompeii- Buried Alive! by Edith Kunhardt
Volcanoes by Franklyn Branley
Magic School Bus Blows Its Top!
Volcano by Patricia Laubar
101 Questions about Volcanoes by John Calderazzo

Albrecht Durer by Ernest Raboff

Week 17

The Story of Napoleon by HE Marshall
The Year of the Horseless Carriage by Genevieve Foster
Story of the Nations Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 16-19 Napoleon
-Chp 20 Bolivar the Liberator
Stories of America Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 27 How the English and the Americans Fought Again
The Town that Fooled the British by Lisa Papp

The Aztec Empire by Sunita Apte
Aztec, Inca, Maya by DK
Exploration and Conquest by Betsy Maestro

Yatandou by Gloria Whelan
The Best Beekeper of Lalibela
The Day Gogo went to Vote by Elinor Sisulu
Beatrice’s Goat by Paige McBeire
Africa is Not a Country by Margie Knight

Hill of Fire by Thomas Lewis
Pompeii- Buried Alive! by Edith Kunhardt
Volcanoes by Franklyn Branley
Magic School Bus Blows Its Top!
Volcano by Patricia Laubar
101 Questions about Volcanoes by John Calderazzo

Michelangelo by Mike Venezia
Michelangelo by Diane Stanley
Stone Giant by Jane Sutclife

Week 18
Stories of the Nations Volume 1 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 25 Commodore Perry Opens the Door to Japan
Stories of America Volume 2 by Lorene Lambert
-Chp 1 Heading West on the Oregon Trail
-Chp 3 The Sad Story of Slavery
Soft Rain by Cornelia Cornelian
Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac
Charles Darwin by Jennifer Thermes
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shoguns by Rhoda Blumberg

Star Mounds by Ross Hamilton
The Very First Americans by Cara Ashrose

Magic School Bus Ocean Floor
See Through the Sea by Millicent Selsam




Homeschool Mama Christmas Guide

It’s Mama’s turn! Here are a few fun ideas I put together for that special Homeschool Mama in your life that probably emailed you this list since you don’t follow my blog. J/k…kind of.  Half way through composing this I realized that this could also be titled “Homeschool Mama Book Nerd Christmas Guide” but considering how most of my friends have a built in Book budget every year, I am thinking we’ll survive the abundance of book related suggestions here.  Here we go!


Homeschool Mama Stocking Stuffers:

Literary Postcards

or these if she is an Essentials/Grammar loving Mama….

A Book Lover’s Cup of Tea
Its a tea infuser shaped like a book (Squeak!) and a small book of favorite tea mixes and tea time recipes.


Wild + Free Ts
These sweet cozy Tshirts rock a powerful message. “Saving Childhood” is my favorite.


Moisturizing Socks
Guys, I have four pairs of these socks and I love them. I know its silly and probably unnecessary, but there is just something so sweet and comforting about the fact that I can slip on moisturizing socks and feel a bit pampered in the midst of raising four boys. Especially on a day when someone leaves a trail of blood down the hallway after getting punched in the nose or when coffee has spilled on our timeline book (again) or when someone’s science project accidentally starts a small(ish) fire. Silly frivolous things, like a pair of moisturizing socks, can inexplicably save a mama’s sanity on a day like that!

A Powerful Read-
Here are a few of my personal favorites
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
Death by Living by ND Wilson
Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins
The Original Home School Series by Charlotte Mason (This set is on sale again!!!)
Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie
The Life Giving Home by Sally Clarkson
Different by Sally Clarkson



A subscription to a beautiful magazine!
Here are three wonderful options:
Wild + Free  I am admittedly biased here since I have been writing for them these past two years, but I will say that this is a wonderful group of homeschool mamas putting out a great deal of beauty and goodness each and every month. Subscribers receive a print magazine each month along with a large digital content bundle full of book club ideas, nature journal tutorials, stories, encouragement, craft tutorials, etc. Once you subscribe you also have access to the full archive of conference talks!
Common Place Quarterly  This brand new quarterly magazine is put together by a band of dear hearts with a desire to encourage CM educators. Each magazine will be a whopping 80 pages long! Check out the link to pre-order.
FORMA Magazine:
Another quarterly magazine with a great deal to offer! Once you subscribe you will have access to their entire digital archive and receive an additional compilation edition each year. Whenever FORMA arrives in the mail it takes up residence next to my reading chair and every afternoon for about two weeks, I sit with my cup of tea and spend time reading and rereading it. The poems in the latest edition were so beautiful, I read them every day for a week.


Book Darts

A ‘Novel’ Journal

This journal is THE BEST EVER because you can write your own story between the lines of your favorite story. Yes, you read that right. I have the Louisa May Alcott journal and Little Women is printed in an ultra fine print which act as the lines of the journal. I write about our homeschool days within those lines. Oh my heart! So sappy! So wonderful! I love it. They have Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Emma, Sherlock Holmes, The Wizard of Oz and more!


Fair Trade, Dark, Milk, filled with caramel or hazelnuts or salted, pick your poison! Just CHOCOLATE.

A Dorky Mug
Like this Shakespearean Insults Mug to sip your thrice reheated cup of coffee from whilst contemplating why thine children have chosen this day to behave as though light of brain.

Encouragement & Love
Have the kids write some letters about their favorite things they’ve learned this year and what they appreciate about their Mama. This will probably be greater than anything you wrap.

Under The Tree

A Gift Card for a Family Photo Session
Find a local photographer and book a session for your family.

A Big Box of Tea and a Weekly Time Slot
Amazon happens to sell a box of 500 organic tea bags that often goes on sale for around $20.  This would be a lovely gift to give along with a protected time slot each week that Mama can use for lesson planning, mother culture, or a nap!

A beautiful edition for the weary…
Hinds’ Feet on High Places

A Membership

Here is something truly special to bless a homeschool Mother’s socks off. I have spent the past few days soaking up Sally Clarkson’s “Life With Sally” site enjoying podcasts, bible studies, recipes, resources, reviews, articles, author studies, artist studies, the list goes on and on. This place is jam packed with goodness and underscored by a heart for mentoring.

A Weekend Away They’ll Never Forget!
The upcoming Wild+Free Conference in Frisco Texas is shaping up to be an incredible weekend! I am excited to be speaking again but I am even MORE excited to listen to Susan Wise Bauer, Leah Boden, Sally Clarkson, Julie Bogart, Jodi Mockabee, Jennifer Pepito and many more, share their hearts with us all. This is definitely #notyourmamashomeschoolconference! I am so excited to hang out with my friends, listen to great bands, dance like no one is watching and fill my heart with inspiration in the DEAD OF FEBRUARY which is historically one of the most difficult months of homeschooling because tanks start running LOW.

Carrot Top Paper Shop Swag
Pretty much ANYTHING from the world’s cutest shop


Speaking of adorable Etsy shops… I drool over this shop, SWEET SEQUELS, all the time. I am eyeing their 21 Baker Street Shirt and this Narnia Map T.

A Laminator
Chances are she already has one, but just in case…get thee laminated. We always say its “for the kids” but kids typically don’t care if something is laminated.

For the Mama with a heart for Mother Culture, get some tickets to help feed her soul.
A Shakespeare play, a night with the symphony, tickets to an art gallery or poetry reading.


Homeschool Uniform
I LOVE ME some JCrew PJS. Make sure you check back often for sales and to peek over at JCrewFactory for even bigger discounts.

Ok, so this might just be on MY wish list but good golly, that rotating scrabble game. Be still my heart!


A Bath Caddy

Just file this under, things we would gush over if we found them in a hotel but would probably never think to purchase for ourselves.


Merry Christmas Mamas!


Small Business Christmas Guide


Christmas is a wonderful time to support those small business families around us. Here is a list of our favorites! It is our JOY to support them and cheer on in their good work!

  1.  You’ve heard me go on and on about them a thousand times, but just in case you are one of our new readers, check out The Green Ember series by SD Smith. Not only are these books a childhood favorite for my boys, but in reading them they feel like they are part of a bigger movement of kids being inspired to create and make and remember. SD Smith and his whole crew work hard to publish these books and ship them out to families. They were just working in the warehouse this week, packing up the latest book “The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner” for families across the country.IMG_4988
  2.  Treasures from Jennifer
    I first met Jennifer on a small facebook group years ago that sold Montessori Materials. I remember saving up for months to buy her old set of wooden geometry cards for my boys ( It was right around the time I first started this blog!) Since then we have invested in her work over and over again! Every piece I have ever purchased from Jennifer and her family has held up beautifully and is used by my children and children that come to visit our home. Her tracing boards, geometry boards, maps, shape boards, calendar, early writing boards, multiplication boards, etc are such a big part of our classroom set up that there is not a single day that goes by where we don’t use SOMETHING from Jennifer and her family. Purchasing from this wonderful family business also helped me buy way less in general for our classroom. I bypassed buying dozens of flimsy or cheaper materials throughout the year and saved my money so I could buy just ONE long lasting tool from them. Its been wonderful to have less clutter and tools that don’t need replacing at the end of every year.


3. Raddish Kids
These monthly culinary kits have brought so much growth and learning and self sufficiency to our home. We have enjoyed learning new recipes from around the world, connecting with families across the country and letting our kids take over certain meals during the week. Their cooking skills have greatly increased and their appreciation for the things I  make has also increased! We love the Sam, the wonderful woman behind Raddish cooking and her mission.

4. Twig and Moth and Tanglewood Hollow
Everyone always asks where we get our cards and posters for our science table and nature table. Well, these are the two talented artists we choose to support! Both of these lovely ladies have poured their hearts out into making beautiful, practical, affordable and educational aids accessible in our homes. Their little touches have added so much beauty to our learning! We love Alice Cantrell’s lovely lichen series and plant series. We love Allyson’s exquisite anatomy charts and life of a snowflake series. Check out their shops!


5. Read Aloud Revival 
I’m sure you just did a double take on that one. Small business? Yes! I know Read Aloud Revival has grown tremendously over the years but this is definitely still a family business! Membership over at Read Aloud Revival has been a great gift to us over the years. Its always on my personal Christmas list. We love the work Sarah Mackenzie is doing and we believe that it is important both in our home and in the world. A membership to RAR is a gift you can enjoy all year long through Author Access Events, master classes, drawing classes and so much more.

6.  Letters From Afar
One of the biggest days of the month over on our farm is the day the mailman drops off a letter from our friend Isabelle. “ANOTHER LETTER FROM AFAR!” someone shouts and everyone comes running to the library so we can read it together. Then we pull out our map and find where she is and we listen as someone reads it aloud. Inevitably we hear about something that catches our imagination and the boys are off opening books and looking into another atlas and asking questions. I’m amazed at how much they have learned from Isabelle this year. I love all the curiosity these letters have stirred.  $6 a month and a portion of the proceeds go to Pencils of Promise. When we finish with a letter we pin it on the wall so we can keep enjoying the beautiful illustrations.


7. Hortus Wild
We’ve been using a few pieces from the Hortus Wild Shop this past year. We have tried natural bean bags from a few different makers and they inevitably fall apart within the space of a month. (My sensory seeks is pretty rough with bean bags!) The beautiful plant dyed  bean bags from Hortus Wild have held up all year. They are beautifully soft and he loves holding these while he works, when he sleeps and when we go on car trips. We’ve also really enjoyed their leather tangram pieces! My second born has one of their journals and it has become very special to him. He always calls it “my grown up journal” and he loves to write stories in it.  Justine, your work is just lovely!


8. Story Weaver Mercantile
Read her story here. Read her partner stories here.  Shop all the beauty and goodness here. She says it so well, there is little left for me to say other than thank you, Calli! We love you and the great work you are doing. Readers, one of my all time favorite purchases is this shopping bag from Bangladesh. We take it everywhere!

9. Mirus Toys
Suba has been working hard this year making maps, life cycle models, and other wooden science materials. One piece we have used constantly in the last few months is her fractions and music notes board, what beautiful bridge between music theory study and mathematics. We love it!  The boys are currently learning how to use the Bohr Atomic Model.  Keep an eye on her shop for new maps posting soon. The workmanship is lovely!


Friends, drive out to your local farms, craft fairs, markets, ma and pa shops, family restaurants, etc. and show them some love and support!

Merry Christmas!

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!