1000-1650 Living Book History Plans for Second, Fourth, and Sixth Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Every year I feel like I am refining what the best books for our homeschool look like. I'm learning new things while unlearning or correcting some of the defects of my own history education (that officially ended in high school because I took zero history courses after that).

This year I combed through MANY possible choices for history books and additional or supplemental books for studying a very difficult and lengthy historical period. The books I was seeking needed to be
  1. Living books, that is full of living ideas and told in a narrative style that doesn't talk down to the student
  2. Written in a way that represents native people of the Americas, explorers, colonists, and African Americans in a way that I feel good about sharing with my children and matches our family values (aka has the ideas that I want to nourish my children)
  3.  At a reading level that my 2 older students can read (nearly) independently, even given that my middle student is not a strong reader yet.
  4. Affordable

Free Nature Books by Alice L. Hopf

I love the surprise of picking up an interesting book at a used book sale and discovering a new favorite writer. Many years ago, when I was buying up all the old-fashioned living nature books I could find for $1 or less, I picked up a copy of Biography of an Ant by Alice L. Hopf. 

We started reading it at morning time and everyone was transfixed by this simple and powerful story of an ant's life. Not only was the story exciting, but we all learned so much. And we began to observe the truth of the story in the real world when we took time to notice ants in our backyard. 

This was a living book. The ideas inspired us to notice and wonder. There were so many facts in the books, but they all hung on the ideas so they were delightful and palatable instead of dry and forgettable. 

While searching archive.org for some new living books to use in our nature studies this year, I came across many of Alice Hopf's titles that are available to be borrowed online for an hour and read through a browser or device or even cast to a tv. I've added them to my  Best Free Nature Lore Books List or check them out below. 

Unfortunately, Biography of an Ant is not on this list, nor are many other of her books. But I'll just keep her on my book sale hunting list and she will be another author whose books make my heart skip a beat when I finally find one!

Alice L. Hopf
All of the following titles can be borrowed online for 1 hour from the Internet Archive.

If you haven't visited my Best Free Nature Lore Books List, it is a great place to find wonderful nature lore books to download from Google or the Internet Archive or borrow from the Internet Archive for one hour at a time. If you don't like reading on a device, some can be found inexpensively used and a few are starting to come back into print! 

Recap and Review 1st Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021

My plans did not work as well for Sylvia this year. I pride myself on being a good planner so that is hard for me.  Amidst a lot of good, we had some parts that did not function well and I need to learn from it so next year can be better for all involved.

Recap and Review of 3rd Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021

It feels like forever ago that I posted these homeschool plans. But finally, we have (almost) reached the end of our 180 days of schooling and I can look back on all the things we accomplished this year.

You can read more about John and about how I planned out our homeschool year in the original planning post, but know that he thrives in a physical and practical/mechanical setting and is still building reading fluency, although he loves books and stories. 

Recap and Review Fifth Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2020-2021

It feels like forever ago that I posted these homeschool plans. But finally, we have (almost) reached the end of our 180 days of schooling (as required by PA) and I can revisit our plans and show how we accomplished them, what we ditched, and what books rounded out our home learning for the year.

Odds and Ends: March Edition

Spring is in the air even if this week will be colder than last week. We've been keeping a family Calendar of Firsts since 2018 and even though we forget to put a million things we see into it, it keeps us on our toes to notice all the firsts of the year.

This year, we've noted our first skunk cabbage, robins, grackles, geese flying north, daffodil shoots, tulips emerging, rhubarb tips, crocuses, red-spotted newt, tadpole, spring peepers, and wood frogs. 

Homeschool Day with Ages 10, 9, 6, 2, and a Baby

Welcome to my annual recording of a somewhat average day in our homeschool! I love getting a peek into the many ways different families make homeschooling work for them. So I will be linking up and reading every single entry on Simple Homeschool's Day in the Life link up and I'm also linking up with Rosie

Things are hard this winter (every winter?!?!?). I feel like I emerged from postpartum recovery and baby blues to a busy Christmas followed by pandemic fatigue. And as much as I try to shield them from worries and cares, my kids are more stressed out too. And with so much indoor time and monotony, there has been more sibling conflict and acting out in other ways too.

So in the last month or so, we have really been doubling down on connection and good habits for everyone in the family. All this is just to say that as today unfolded I could see that it went well because of the work we have been putting in. Some other days this week and month did not go nearly as well! So if your days happen to be very difficult right now, I can relate and I hope you can get some relief soon. It isn't always easy to see a path to easier, harmonious days, but I believe it is usually possible to find some way to move forward. 

As for us, my husband and I are refocused on positive parenting and working through Dr. Laura Markham's Peaceful parenting course (not an affiliate link ;-)). It is helping all of us deal with big feelings during a difficult year.

This day finds us 4 days into our third 12-week term, just after a full week off which was preceded by an exam week, so we are getting back into the swing of things. 

Teaching Kids To Write Thank You Notes

After starting a family, I knew that I wanted our kids to be involved in both gift-giving as well as thank you note writing. I didn't want them to be just passive receivers of gifts and wanted them to enjoy bringing joy to the people who loved them enough to give them a gift. In terms of gift-giving, this means that we spend time using our handicraft skills to plan and make gifts for grandparents and sometimes siblings. 

But I also help my kids write and send thank you notes for each gift they receive for Christmas and their birthday. Here is how I slowly build my kids toward an independent habit of thank you note writing without making it too hard even for my very writing resistant boys!

Our 10 Favorite Read Alouds 2020

2020 was a great year for reading. I read more books than ever. I have more kids who are reading to themselves more books now than ever. I have three "official" homeschool students this year so there were more books read this year as part of lessons. But sometimes I like to look back at the books we enjoyed together as read alouds. And I'm linking up with Rosie for her Just Because blog linkup.

Some of our favorites were read bit by bit at our morning time at breakfast and others were read chapter by chapter at lunchtime. I find that as the kids are getting older, we read less together :-( It is hard to balance togetherness with independence. But by reading at breakfast and lunch, and with bedtime reading done by Daddy, we are still completing a few dozen books per year. 

Reading Goals 2021: Back to the Classics Challenge and Schole Sisters 5x5 Challenge Plans

In December 2019 I made my first true reading goals list (here's how I did with it!). I loved having a reading plan because it got me reading outside my comfort zone. Although most of my choices were ones I would have read anyway, by including "easy" nature lore and a handful of classics, I discovered more favorite authors, made my homeschool prereading feel more purposeful and continued to inspire myself to push towards more time in nature for myself and my family.

This year, I hope to focus on classics a bit more and find motivation and focus through the Back to the Classics Challenge 2021 hosted by Books and Chocolate and I plan to choose other categories to help me read outside of my comfort zone through the Schole Sisters 5x5 challenge which I also completed last year.