Most Beautiful Opportunity

My Aunt Lois was absolutely the most beautiful person I have ever met. She was gullible, but good-natured. She enjoyed a good joke (and a good number of corny jokes). She was caring, giving, inspiring, courageous, joyful, and kind. I can remember her exact tone of voice when she came with me to try on new outfits. If there was one outfit in particular she liked, she would say, “Oh, Kim… I love it!” Her voice would be soft and deep on the “Oh, Kim…” and it would rise up on the “love” and fall deep and warm again at the end. She was a teacher and she always told her students that their best work was most beautiful. She affirmed them so frequently with that phrase that at her funeral there were many cards given, signs displayed, and speeches made to show their gratitude to the woman who had made them feel like they were most beautifulMost beautiful meant most inspiring, most meaningful; “I am so proud of who you are.”

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Today has been the most beautiful day we’ve experienced so far in Wisconsin. It is spring. The temperature is in the upper sixties, there is a slight breeze blowing every so often, the sun is out, the grass is green, the daffodils are blossoming, the trees and bushes are budding out, the birds are singing, and the insects are coming out and passing through.

We did school in the front yard and on the screened-in porch this morning. The kids were swinging in their tree swings and we were singing our folksong at the top of our lungs! While they were swinging, we watched a wild turkey meandering through the neighbors’ yards. Then we walked around our yard and inspected the bushes, flower beds, and fruit trees for new growth while Hula Girl and I took turns reciting a poem about spring. We saw a monarch butterfly, a small white butterfly, and a dragonfly. After our nature study, we went into the porch, where Monkey Man and Sugar Plum dug around in some potted plants and rearranged the chairs while Hula Girl and I worked on her writing. Last, we went back to the front yard to swing again while I read today’s literature selection to Hula Girl.

While Sugar Plum had her nap, the big kids ate lunch outside and then whiled away their early afternoon barefoot in the grass. It was with much chagrin that they retired to their rooms for their rest time; I would not have made them do it had I not needed a shower!

This afternoon we will be meeting up with a new family for a playdate at the park. I connected with the mom in an online group for people who use Ambleside Online as our curriculum for homeschooling our kiddos.  And, bonus, they actually live in the same town as us! This is exciting because we have met very few homeschool families in our area, and no other families who use the Charlotte Mason method at all.

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Homeschooling has been going well overall. We took quite a break this past year after Sugar Plum joined our family. Hula Girl did a stint in public school while we were settling in here in Wisconsin, and I pulled her back out at Thanksgiving. We took the month or so between Thanksgiving and New Year off so we could focus on family and festivities, and started back up in January with a modified schedule to cover some of the material we had previously skipped or done poorly due to me being pregnant or us having a newborn in the home.

Lately I have been on a quest to really get a full picture of the Charlotte Mason method- her educational philosophy, her goals, and her means by which to achieve those goals. I have been reading blogs and articles and books and forums; I have been listening to podcasts; I have been consulting with the (two) moms I know in real life that also use Ambleside Online. It was a great time of learning for me, but I reached my threshold quickly. There are SO many ways that different families can focus their time and energy as homeschool allows for freedom and choice! I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of things that people have come up with to organize, streamline, and enhance their educational atmosphere in their homes. I couldn’t handle looking at yet another way to organize a nature notebook, or another binder for keeping lists of things, or another bookshelf filled with books for mothers to read (on top of all the curriculum to read to or pre-read for our children)! It all started to feel very “keeping up with the Joneses” in that I would never be able to organize our curriculum and materials in the most beautiful way, or create perfect nature notebooks filled with most beautiful sketches, or spend hours every day reading to cultivate my own heart and mind to embody the most beautiful thoughts, feelings, and motivations. To put it simply, there is no way I will ever have time to have the most beautiful everything, and that was downright discouraging.

I met with a seasoned homeschool mom, who told me that I am doing well. I explained the ways I was planning to implement a few things, and what I envisioned for our homeschool journey, and she assured me that we would do well! She gave me courage as she reaffirmed that this is my school, my family, my relationship with the Lord, and that my best is the best for my family. Even though I’m not creating showcase-worthy sketchbooks or filling our bookcases with hardback, leather-bound versions of all our textbooks, homeschooling is still the most inspiring and most meaningful thing I can provide for my family, and that makes this journey most beautiful for me. It might look different from other moms’ versions of school at home. It might look crazy to our neighbors (“Don’t your kids need socialization?”). It might look like an unnecessary burden (“That’s what public schools are for!”). But I get to watch my children mature, I get to feed their minds interesting things to ponder, I get to be witness to their incredible ideas, and I get to know their hearts more deeply and completely every single day. It is a most beautiful calling and opportunity, and I am so grateful that this is my life.

 

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Carry On!

Whew! Has today been tough for everyone, or is it just me (and a friend who texted me halfway through the morning)? Things were getting along swimmingly and then at six thirty, Hula Girl decided to come out of her room to use the restroom. I kind of forgot she was in there, and at seven, Jonathan found her… with Vaseline smeared ALL OVER HER FACE. Then when he told her to go back to bed and wait for her sun to come up (on her Gro-Clock), she spent the remaining time with her light on, out of bed, cutting paper into a million tiny pieces all over the carpet, her bed, the furniture, and so on.

Breakfast was rife with complaining. “My pancakes are too hot! Now they’re too cold! I want more honey on mine! Go get me a vitamin! You forgot to give me another pancake and I’m still hungry! When will it be done cooking? I want MORE orange juice! I don’t like strawberries! I wanted mango! My chair is too far to the left!”

Schoolwork was completed with much chagrin. I took a stand on proper letter formation during copywork. She was writing a “u” with a line straight down from the middle for a y (see pic below). This is NOT correct. Here’s how that conversation went:

  • Me: Oops! Honey, you formed that “y” incorrectly. Why don’t you look at mine and try again?
  • HG: Oops! Silly me, okay! I’ll try to make mine match yours.
  • Me: Oops! You did it again! It seems like your hand muscles have been practicing the incorrect way to write it. Please stop writing and trace my “y” on the next page so you can learn to do it properly.
  • HG: But I ALREADY KNOW HOW TO DO IT!
  • Me: Oh, does yours look like mine? No? Okay, let’s try it this way. Trace mine a couple times and then try it on your own.
  • HG: NO! My hand muscles are sore!
  • Me: Yes, I understand. When we try to learn to do something better, it takes a few times before our muscles get used to doing it properly. Did you know Daddy went to the gym the other night, and his muscles are sore today?
  • HG: He did? He has sore muscles?
  • Me: Yep, and he LIKES having sore muscles. It shows that he’s been working hard. Let’s see if you can work hard and earn your sore hand muscles.
  • Then we made a few funny faces at each other, just to ease the tension. Next, she traced my “y” and wrote her own a few times.
  • HG: MOMMY! I DID IT!!! I WROTE Y WITH A TAIL THE RIGHT WAY! I LEARNED HOW TO DO IT AND MY MUSCLES ARE SORE BECAUSE I WORKED HARD!!!!!
We made game-show

We made game-show “Ding ding ding!” and “Buzz” noises when we looked at the top two and circled or crossed them out. The bottom row of y’s are her own. This was hard-fought, my friends.

I normally wouldn’t make a mountain out of this kind of molehill. But proper letter formation is a must when learning to write in cursive, which will be in a couple years. It also slows a kid down when she has to pick up her pencil just to form another part of the same letter! She’ll thank me someday, but until then…

After that small triumph, the rest of the day was miserable.

Hula Girl told me to SHUT UP today. I have one guess as to where she heard that: “The Dream” in Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad Together. She has not ever heard anyone say it out loud except for in that book, which we happen to have as an audio book. Apparently she decided she had had enough of me talking to her while I did laundry, so she went storming into her room, slammed the door, and yelled at me. Oh, my.

I calmly went in, sat on her bed with her, and explained to her that our family doesn’t use words like that. I told her that they were unbecoming of a young lady, and that she would have a consequence for saying them to me. She spent quite a bit of time in her room, cleaning and so forth, and then she came out for lunch in a happy mood.

It lasted all of four seconds.

She made her PB&J, with permission, and then I gave the kids some peas on the side. I turned to cut up some apples for them, and I heard a pea hit the floor and Hula Girl yelled, “Pea fight!” I took the peas away, and she ran after me, grabbed the bowl, and spilled them all over the floor. Her next move was to scream and cry and tell me that I had hurt her. How? “You held the bowl when I wanted to grab it and you hurt my fingers.” Oooooookay. Then she tried to hit me, which I blocked while saying, “I won’t let you hit me.” Then she hugged my waist and bawled while I rubbed her back and said, “You’re having a lot of big feelings today and you’re misbehaving left and right! Something must be bugging you!” And all she did was cry.

After lunch, which was very short, I put Hula Girl right to bed. I read her some poetry about self-discipline, table manners, and finally one about perseverance.

God gave me the poem about perseverance as an answer to a desperate prayer I’d prayed earlier in the day, during which I begged God to show me how to show her my love. After reading the poem to her, I was able to tell her that I would ALWAYS persevere in my love for her. I told her that no matter what she did, no matter how poorly she behaved, no matter what words she spoke to me, I would always love her. I told her that I love her more than she will ever know until she becomes a mommy herself someday. I told her that I was thankful that God let me be HER mommy, because SHE is exactly the daughter I need. She cuddled up onto my lap and told me she was glad to be my daughter. I was happy to reply that I was beyond thrilled to be her mommy.

It doesn’t matter how hard this gets. I don’t care how many times she hurls insults at me. I am her mommy, and I’m going to show her grace and love. I’m going to fight to show her Jesus in me. I’m going to win, because that is my mission as her mother. She must know she is loved and treasured and that Jesus is her loving, gracious savior.

Here’s the poem I read to her, but more to myself, which steeled me and gave me strength:

Carry On!

by Robert W. Service

It’s easy to fight when everything’s right,
And you’re mad with thrill and the glory;
It’s easy to cheer when victory’s near,
And wallow in fields that are gory.
It’s a different song when everything’s wrong,
When you’re feeling infernally mortal;
When it’s ten against one, and hope there is none,
Buck up, little soldier, and chortle:

      Carry on! Carry on!
   There isn’t much punch in your blow.
You are glaring and staring and hitting out blind;
You are muddy and bloody, but never you mind.
      Carry on! Carry on!
   You haven’t the ghost of a show.
It’s looking like death, but while you’ve a breath,
       Carry on, my son! Carry on! 

And so in the strife of the battle of life
It’s easy to fight when you’re winning;
It’s easy to slave, and starve and be brave,
When the dawn of success is beginning.
But the man who can meet despair and defeat
With a cheer, there’s the man of God’s choosing;
The man who can fight to Heaven’s own height
Is the man who can fight when he’s losing.
   
      Carry on! Carry on!
   Thing never were looming so black.
But show that you haven’t a cowardly streak,
And though you’re unlucky you never are weak.
      Carry on! Carry on!
   Brace up for another attack.
It’s looking like hell, but – you never tell.
      Carry on, old man! Carry on!

There are some who drift out in the desert of doubt
And some who in brutishness wallow;
There are others, I know, who in piety go
Because of a Heaven to follow.
But to labor with zest, and to give of your best,
For the sweetness and joy of the giving;
To help folks along with a hand and a song;
Why, there’s the real sunshine of living.

      Carry on! Carry on!
   Fight the good fight and true;
Believe in your mission, greet life with a cheer;
There’s big work to do, and that’s why you are here.
      Carry on! Carry on!
   Let the world be the better for you;
And at last when you die, let this be your cry!
      Carry on, my soul! Carry on!

The Chicken Dance

Wednesdays are always hectic in the mornings. The kids get up at 7:30, and we have to leave by 8:20 in order to get to Hula Girl’s dance class on time. This 50-minute chunk of time seems adequate time for most people to eat, dress, brush teeth, and leave, but TODDLER TIME is sooooo sloooooow. Somehow I put breakfast on the table at 7:35 and the kids still aren’t even halfway done by 7:55. 20 minutes into breakfast, and they’ve eaten like half a bowl of oatmeal and a few strawberries. I find it’s best if I just give them a quick breakfast and then plan for a larger morning snack than usual on Wednesdays.

Regardless of the hectic nature of the morning, yesterday I made sure to review our memory verse, read our poem for the day (“At the Sea-Side”), and pray for our sponsor kids. The kids so enjoy these activities at breakfast time. Monkey Man enjoys the poetry, and Hula Girl likes talking about what kinds of things our sponsor kids are doing, how the weather is where our sponsor kids live, and how we can pray for them. And of course both kids love the chance to show off their memory skills.

A couple days ago, I posted that Monkey Man doesn’t really join in memory verse recitation with the rest of us. Well, two hours after I published that post, kid was spouting off the entire verse. I knew he was able to do it, but he just wasn’t yet. He has decided to jump on board with family memory verses. It’s so much fun to see the kids gobbling up God’s word and taking it to heart. I even got the chance to correct their behavior using scripture yesterday when they were bickering. l asked them to say Ephesians 4:32 with me (“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you,”) and then I asked Hula Girl what she needed to do in order to obey. She stopped arguing, said, “I forgive you, Monkey Man,” and they hugged it out.

Another awesome part of doing family memory verses is being able to address deeper spiritual issues. The other day, Jonathan got the chance to explain God’s forgiveness through Christ. Hula Girl was asking, “What does it mean that God in Christ forgave us?” Jonathan explained that Christ died once for all, and that our sins are forgiven because of HIS sacrifice, not because of any good thing we’ve done. She liked that a lot.

Anyway. Dance was great. The recital is coming up in two weekends, so the girls are really just working on fine-tuning their performance right now. Their sweet teachers are great at what they do, but this time of year is just crazy with so much going on. We will all be glad when the recital comes and we take the summer off.

After dance, we went to Starbucks to get hot chocolate and then we went and picked up the dance teachers’ gifts and cards. Our final errand was to get Monkey Man’s hair cut. To say the hairdresser loved him would be a major understatement. She was amazed at his speech and how sure he was with himself. He wanted his hair to be short on the top so he could “put gel in it like Daddy.” He also asked her to blow dry his hair (SO funny to see a hair dresser blow-drying a tiny little boy’s inch-long hair strands!), and he asked her to put gel in it when she was done. She got a kick out of all his requests and so she indulged him. He was definitely spoiled.

When we got home from our errands, Hula Girl disappeared to her room to work on her projects (she loves to write notes to people and glue them to pictures she’s created) and Monkey Man laid down on the couch to listen to an audio book from the library. We had a hot lunch of soup and popcorn! Then it was rest time.

When the kids got up, we spent about 10 minutes on Hula Girl’s reading lesson, and then we read 20-something books from the library. It is so cozy to be snuggled on the couch with those two little people. Monkey Man leans his head on my shoulder while I read; Hula Girl holds the cat on her lap and drapes her legs over mine. We put a blanket over all of us (the cat included, we wouldn’t want to forget Riley), and we read until we’re out of books. It took an hour and a half yesterday.

Our final activity before Jonathan came home yesterday was letting our youngest baby chicks out of their brooder for a while. I tried to keep them contained to just a blanket on the floor, but they were WILD. We have five little chicks who are 5 weeks old; our “big girls” are 9 weeks old and out in the coop already. The “little girls” are not as tame as the “big girls” because they were older when we got them and hadn’t been handled as much as young chicks. They were literally flying all around the playroom, and three of them even climbed up on Hula Girl’s head. Monkey Man enjoyed fishing them out from under the train table and the futon, and I just walked around cleaning up any messes. Oy. After 20 minutes of that, we rounded them up and returned them to their brooder so we could all get some rest! Thankfully, Jonathan is in the process of moving them to their bigger brooder in the garage as I type this, so I won’t have any more chickens living in our guest room. Ever.

Wednesday was not very school-heavy, but it was certainly educational. Every day is educational, in one way or another. And who says academic lessons are the most important lessons?

Rainy School Day #2

Hula Girl has really fallen into the rhythm of Kindergarten quickly and easily.

On Tuesday, we worked on our memory verse as a family, and then when Jonathan left, I sat down at the breakfast table with the kids and we read our poem for the day (“A Thought” by Robert Louis Stevenson). After poem reading and prayers for our sponsor brothers and sisters, we turned on our hymn (“All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night”) and tried to sing along.

After breakfast, we worked on laundry and getting ready for the day for about a half an hour. Hula Girl was so funny, asking, “Mommy! What should I wear?” I told her she could wear anything she wanted to wear but that it needed to be warm enough to go outside. She replied, “Mommy, I can change to go outside, but I want to look fancy for SCHOOL!” Haha, she is really taking her job as a student seriously!

Once we finished our chores and got cleaned up and dressed, we completed the following work:

  • Literature- “Wolf and Kid” from Aesop’s Fables
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12D (dealing with place value)
  • Literature-Whale” from Just So Stories
  • Copywork- “tenderhearted, forgiving one another,” from Ephesians 4:32
  • Reading- Lesson 4

This really only took us until about 10, and so we were left with the rest of the day stretching ahead of us, full of opportunity. Since we’ve had such rainy weather lately, and it’s been so cold to boot, we spent the day inside. We made a blanket fort, we read a mountain of books, and then the kids had an hour or so of roomtime while I vacuumed and cleaned in preparation for my women’s book group on Tuesday evening.

After rest time that afternoon, we bundled up and headed out into the rain to go meet Hula Girl and Monkey Man’s new swim teacher at the Y. Hula Girl is a hesitant little girl still, and we’re starting lessons this week. I thought it best to go meet her teacher a couple days in advance so she knows who to expect. Her teacher won her over just by standing there; after all, what four-year-old isn’t going to be charmed by a young blonde teacher who wears an ELSA BRAID in her hair? Bonus points for Miss J, who happened to be wearing glasses, as well. Hula Girl loves glasses. She can’t wait to wear them someday.

After the Y we stopped at Walmart because somehow our coffeemaker broke last week. I’m still thinking it’s coincidence that it broke when we tried to use it after I had made coffee for the first time ever. When I made coffee, it worked. Coffee came out. Nothing weird. But the following night, it was broken. I didn’t touch it the night it broke. Let’s just be clear. 🙂

Sorry, I got sidetracked. I was going to explain how cute my Monkey Man is. When we went to buy the coffee maker, he was dressed as a firefighter, with the jacket, hat, and boots. He was also wearing a stethoscope around his neck, because fun. This older man at Walmart stopped and said, “Oh, hi, Doctor!” Monkey Man turned with his hands on his hips and said, “I am not a doctor. I am a firefighter.” The man didn’t really hear him, so he chuckled and went on his way. But Monkey Man kept calling after him, “Man! I am a firefighter! Man! Do you hear me? I am a firefighter, Man!” Bahaha. After that, anytime anyone stopped to admire his get-up, which was a LOT of times (cute kids FTW!), he pre-empted the entire conversation by saying, “Hi, I am a firefighter. Not a doctor.” They’d all laugh and he had a grand old time. He loves to talk to strangers and tell them all about his life.

Hula Girl’s First Day of Kindergarten!

Today was a wild success. When Hula Girl first came out of her room this morning, I was standing in the hall doing laundry. She said, “Hooray! It’s Monday! The day I get to start school!” It was all smooth sailing from there. (Kid takes after me- school is always so much fun!)

We said our family memory verse at breakfast, and lo and behold, Hula Girl, Jonathan, and I can say Ephesians 4:32 perfectly now, so we got to put it in the box and start a new one! (Monkey Man listens with interest but makes no effort to actually say the verses. I figure he’ll join us in time. He’s only two, after all.) Our new memory verse is Psalm 119:30. We’ll start working on it as a family when Jonathan gets home for dinner tonight. That’s what I LOVE about this scripture memory system– it’s something we’ve chosen to do AS A FAMILY. I might review it a couple of times a day with the kids when Jonathan’s not here, but we aren’t moving on to the next verse until EVERYONE (who is old enough) has it. And then we will continue to review each verse multiple times per month. Love it.

After our verse, I read the ESV version of Genesis 1:1:26-31; 2:7, 20-25. The kids did a quick narration, telling me what they heard in the passages. Then we prayed for our Compassion kids. Finally, I read “Bed in Summer” and we talked about how silly it is that we get up in the dark in winter and go to bed in the daytime in summer. Monkey Man then requested that I read a picture book to them, so we read Eric Carle’s Rooster’s Off to See the World.

We took a 30-minute break after breakfast to wash dishes, switch the laundry to the dryer, brush teeth and hair, and get dressed. Monkey Man HATES to get dressed. He would spend all his life in jammies if I let him. I totally get it. I hate real clothes, too. Jammies FTW! But I convinced him to at least put on some fleece pants and a thermal shirt. It’s cold here today!

Next, we spent an hour switching back and forth between the couches in the living room and the dining room table. We completed the bulk of our schoolwork:

  • Natural History- Chapter 1 from Paddle to the Sea
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12B (addition)
  • History- “Sword of Damocles” from Fifty Famous Stories
  • Copywork- “Be kind to one another” from Ephesians 4:32
  • History- Chapter 1 from Island Story

Monkey Man trailed along after Hula Girl and me and he worked with her unit blocks while she completed her math worksheet. He was actually pretty good at it! I quickly drew a couple of unit bars on his blank paper and asked him to match them with the proper unit bars. He got them all right on the first try, without counting! For example, I drew a unit bar with three units; he put the 3 bar right on top. I also asked him to “put some together” and he was able to add 1 to any number just by saying the next number in sequence. For instance, I put the four and the one down and said, “Put the four and the one together. How many units does this make?” He replied, “Four, five. FIVE!”

I discovered that I’ve set the right time allotment for our work, even though I allotted too long for some subjects and too short for others. It’s a wash. We were ready to go out for our nature walk at exactly the time I’d predicted, so yay! We went outside with coats and mittens on today! We picked some of the wildflowers that are blooming around our house right now. We talked to a neighbor who is moving tomorrow. We examined thistle plants and discovered some small succulents thriving in the middle of a rocky field down the road. Hula Girl’s favorite discovery was a patch of bushes with teeny weeny pale blue flowers. These flowers are so tiny that you can’t even see them from an average person’s perspective; you have to be short or bend down! The flowers have four petals and are at the very tips of long wiry stalks with needly leaves running the length of the stalk. Hula Girl decided to call them “fairy flowers” because they’re so tiny a fairy could pick them. And because fairies love the color blue. (“Like my eyes, Mommy!”)

When we got home from nature study, we sorted through our wildflowers, trimmed them, and put them in the press. (Our flower press is AWESOME. My dad made it out of two pieces of plywood that have holes drilled in the four corners. Then he put a screw in each corner and it’s all fastened together with wing nuts. The wing nuts screw down and press the flowers super tightly in between the pieces of plywood. Gorgeous.)

Our next activity was Hula Girl’s reading lesson for the day, which she flew through. I was glad to see that it was slightly more difficult than the first two lessons, though. Just enough change to keep us on our toes; not enough change to throw us off our game. When the lesson was over, the kids got to spend 45 minutes doing whatever they wanted to do. Monkey Man hid in the shower curtain (not even kidding) while Hula Girl went to her room to create some “projects.”

At lunch we talked to Jonathan and listened to our folksong. Then we read three picture books. Then it was time for me to put Monkey Man down for his nap. Hula Girl disappeared, again, into her room to color, write, and glue. When I went to get her, she had created at least seven different compositions. Here’s my favorite:

MomMom

That’s me, at the dentist. Obviously. And my name is MomMom.

After rest time today, we’ll have tea and do our picture study. Jonathan baked cookies for the kids last night, so they’re excited for their tea today. Somehow I can bake them cookies all day every day but DADDY’S cookies are more exciting. 😉

So, all in all, today was great. Having school in our lives helps keep us organized and pleasant. We don’t have too much time to dwell on the downside, and I love the way our day is designed to give us periods of activity interspersed with periods of relative calm. I can’t wait until it’s really summer, so we can head outside in the sun for more of our lessons!

*Kindergartenish, Here we Come!

*Kindergartenish– www.amblesideonline.com lists the academic levels as Year 0, Year 1, Year 2, and so on. There is no kindergarten to speak of. But, by golly, I want my kid to be able to say what grade she’s in! 

Tomorrow is an exciting day for us. Hula Girl is starting Kindergarten!

Yes indeedy, it’s a strange time of year to be starting school. I spoke with several teachers and students who are literally counting down the hours until summer. Haha! However, Hula Girl is dying for some intellectual stimulation, and I’m more than happy to provide it! I’ve been looking at all sorts of homeschooling resources. I’ve learned about different homeschooling styles, made pro/con lists to highlight each curriculum’s features (or lack thereof), and done a bit of soul-searching and praying about what I really want to see out of all of this. In my last post, I described some of the options I considered, and how we ended up going with the Charlotte Mason method.

Most of my posts about school will be written so that I can share our progress with family members, and so that I have records of where we’ve been when I look back on it all. With that said, feel free to keep on reading along! I’d love it if our journey is somehow helpful or enlightening for someone along the way!

So I’ll just jump right in with what we’re going to be doing this year, shall I? Hula Girl and I have been avid readers throughout her entire life. So when I visited Ambleside Online and looked at the Year 0 curriculum guide, I found that we had already read every single book on their guideline, along with all the extra books recommended by the collaborators on the website. So I called my friend who has been doing CM with her daughter for a few years now, and I asked her what she thought of me going ahead and starting with Year 1. She knows where Hula Girl is and she gave me confidence that Hula Girl can handle it. So that’s where we will begin!

The books we will be reading this year are:

History: Early history (55 BC to 1066 AD), and people throughout history.

An Island Story, by H.E. Marshall
Fifty Famous Stories Retold, by James Baldwin, selected chapters
Viking Tales, by Jennie Hall , ch 1-11

American History Biography

Benjamin Franklin, by Ingri D’Aulaire
George Washington, by Ingri D’Aulaire
Buffalo Bill, by Ingri D’Aulaire

Geography

Paddle to the Sea, by Holling C. Holling

Natural History/Science

The Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children, by James Herriot
The Burgess Bird Book for Children, by Thornton Burgess

Poetry

A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson;

Now We Are Six  and When We Were Very Young, by A.A. Milne

A Child’s Book of Poems, by Gyo Fujikawa

Literature

The Aesop for Children, by Milo Winter
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeareby Edith Nesbit
The Blue Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang selected chapters.
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Parables from Nature, by Margaret Gatty, selections.

Additional Books for Free Reading

Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
King of the Golden River, by John Ruskin
Peter Pan, by James M. Barrie
Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
The Red Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang
St. George and the Dragon, by Margaret Hodges
The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Pocahontas, by Ingri D’Aulaire

Other Stuff We’ll Do:

  • Bible: We do a week-long study of a passage of scripture, and we do fun activities related to the verses.
  • Scripture Memory: Our whole family is working on memorizing scripture together, using this awesome scripture memory system found at www.simplycharlottemason.com
  • Reading: Hula Girl can read, but not well. I’m taking her through Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Then we’ll work on some other reading material.
  • Math: We’re using Math-U-See. I like it. I figure we’ll finish the primary level by September, then we’ll start with the Alpha level. Hula Girl is good at math, even though it’s not her favorite thing to do. The constant struggle here is to make sure I’m not boring her with too much practice but that I’m giving her enough practice to solidify the concepts in her mind.
  • Nature Study: We’re combining this with drawing for now. We go for nature walks every day. We look at what God’s made for us. A couple of days each week, we bring our sketchbooks or clipboards and draw what we see. I plan to start using other media to record God’s wonders soon.
  • Handicrafts: Hula Girl has mastered the art of making pot holders on the loom. This term she will learn to embroider (HA, and I will learn with her!), and we will also be creating some beautiful gifts for family members for Christmas gifts.
  • Copywork: This is what it sounds like. Hula Girl copies sentences to practice her handwriting and to review important passages of scripture, lines from songs, phrases from books, verses of poetry, etc.
  • Composer/Picture Study: Each afternoon we have tea and listen to a specific composer while we look at pictures created by famous artists.
  • Folksongs/Hymns: We listen to and sing these during housework.
  • French: I am going to order the Nallenart “L’Art de Dire” curriculum to use informally. A good friend suggested we do French in a time when we’re just hanging out. I’m thinking we’ll do it in the car. Captive audience. 🙂

So, that’s a lot. What are we actually going to do this week?

Current Memory Verse: Ephesians 4:32

Current Hymn: “All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night”

Current Folksong: “Pick a Bale of Cotton”

Sunday (today):

  • “Sunday Stories” with Daddy- “The Terrible Lie” from the Jesus Storybook Bible
  • Reading lessons 1&2

Monday: (Mondays and Thursdays are the heaviest days as we stay home all day and can accomplish more!)

  • Bible- Read Genesis 1:26-31; 2:7, 20-25
  • Poetry- “Bed in Summer” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Natural History- Chapter 1 from Paddle to the Sea
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12B (dealing with place value)
  • History- “Sword of Damocles” from Fifty Famous Stories
  • Copywork- “Be kind to one another” from Ephesians 4:32
  • History- Chapter 1 from Island Story
  • Nature Walk
  • Reading- Lesson 3
  • Picture Study- Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles”

Tuesday:

  • Bible- Make people and animals from playdough, use to narrate story of God’s creation of Adam and Eve and Adam’s naming the animals
  • Poetry- “A Thought” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Literature- “Wolf and Kid” from Aesop’s Fables
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12D (dealing with place value)
  • Literature-Whale” from Just So Stories
  • Copywork- “tenderhearted, forgiving one another,” from Ephesians 4:32
  • Nature Walk
  • Reading- Lesson 4
  • Picture Study- Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles”

Wednesday: (This day is quite light due to Hula Girl’s dance class in the morning)

  • Bible- Narrate Genesis 1:26-31; 2:7, 20-25
  • Poetry- “At the Sea-Side” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Literature- “Lesson of Faith” from Parables of Nature
  • Nature Walk/Nature Study
  • Reading- Lesson 5
  • Picture Study- Van Gogh’s “Bedroom in Arles”

Thursday: (Mondays and Thursdays are the heaviest days as we stay home all day and can accomplish more!)

  • Bible- Read Genesis 3:1-24
  • Poetry- “Young Night Thought” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12E (dealing with place value)
  • History- “Sword of Damocles” from Fifty Famous Stories
  • Copywork- “as God in Christ forgave you.” from Ephesians 4:32
  • History- Chapter 1 from Island Story
  • Nature Walk
  • Reading- Lesson 6
  • Composer Study- Brahms

Friday:

  • Bible- Felt board re-enactment of “The Fall”
  • Poetry- “Whole Duty of Children” (Child’s Garden of Verses)
  • Literature- “Tortoise and Duck” from Aesop’s Fables
  • Math- Math-U-See (MUS) Primary level, lesson 12F&G (dealing with place value)
  • Copywork- “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” from “All Praise to Thee, My God, this Night”
  • Nature Walk/Nature Study
  • Reading- Lesson 7
  • Composer Study- Brahms

Saturday:

  • Bible- Narrate Genesis 3:1-24
  • Nature Walk
  • Reading- Lesson 8

I’ll update tomorrow once we’ve gotten through the day to let y’all know how we fared! 

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