October 17, 2019

20+ Best Poems for October and November

We love our morning time habit of reading the same poem every day for one week! It is how our morning time began over 5 years ago and it continues to add beautiful words and ideas to our family culture . . . . and our imaginations!

I love just picking up any poem that speaks to me and sharing it with the kids. But I also like choosing poems that especially call to mind the seasons and upcoming holidays.

Here are our favorite poems for October and November that bring to mind the joys of the season: the spookiness of Halloween, the crispness of ripe apples, the nip of frost in the air, and the colors of the changing leaves.

October 11, 2019

Huge List of G.A. Henty Books to Download for Free from Google Books

I had never heard of G.A. Henty until I heard the Read-Aloud Revival episode about his audiobooks.  At the time, I had no idea of how popular he was with homeschoolers of all types--from die-hard school-at-homers to unschoolers!

This extremely prolific author from the late 1800s is still hugely popular for his exciting novels set throughout dozens of historical time periods. However, he has also faced harsh criticism (both historic and contemporary criticism) for racism and his positive view of British imperialism. You can read more here but always preread and be prepared to edit on the fly especially if you choose to read some of the more contentious titles.


To date, we have read just two of his novels and we found them to be historically interesting and exciting. But what would Charlotte Mason, who had so much to say about the best books for children say about Henty's exciting, mass-produced stories? To find out, I popped over to the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection. My search wasn't exhaustive and I know there are many more Henty references--I just looked at the first few results and here is what I found:

September 23, 2019

5 Totally Free Books We are Loving in our Homeschool Right Now

We have several totally free books in rotation in our homeschool morning time. These books are definitely living books because each one is inspiring my kids to such deep thoughts and interesting questions!

Sure, a physical book is the best way to go, but why miss out on the best books just because they are out of reach for our budget and not available locally to borrow? Here are five we are enjoying right now . . . and for a change, not all of them are "old" or in the public domain.

September 6, 2019

Homeschool Break Week Snapshot

As many homeschooling families I know are gearing up for their first day of school and our public school friends are settling into their new school routines, my family, well, we are thrilled to be taking a little rest and enjoying a slower pace of life during our much-loved break week!!!!

In our homeschool, a break week means we have already logged another 30+ days toward our required 180. And it usually marks the halfway mark or end of one of our 3 terms. It is a time to reset and regroup and it gives each member of the family the extra time that we crave to go deeper into our interests.

Break week is also a time for me to schedule field trips and doctor's appointments and time outside with friends so that it won't feel like one extra thing heaped on our already full schedules (i.e. if the baby misses his nap, I won't lose my mind). Here is a brief snapshot of how we are using this break week to the fullest.

August 27, 2019

Kindergarten Homeschool Plans, 2019-2020

Recently, a few different people have asked me about kindergarten. Then I realized, wow, this is my 3rd time homeschooling kindergarten!!!!

I can vividly remember the odd panic I felt attending a playgroup in 2015 during the week that my son would have been starting kindergarten. A circle of mainly well-intentioned mothers starting peppering me with questions.
How will you do math?
What about socialization?
How long are you going to do this?
How are you going to teach all the subjects?
What about high school?
The questions they asked were so silly! But I remember asking similar questions of a friend who was planning to homeschool her then-preschooler. I was curious and interested to learn more about this so-called homeschooling!

Four years later and I'm only feeling more confident in our decision to homeschool and more sure of my ability to make plans that are appropriate for my children and our family.

August 12, 2019

2nd Grade Homeschool Plans, 2019-2020


This is my third year of planning a full Charlotte Mason style curriculum for our homeschool but it is only my second year planning for 7-year-old John. I still have a lot to learn about how to listen to what my children need and marry that with short, morning lessons on a wide variety of subjects according to a strict timetable designed to fit our family. I love to consult Ambleside Online, a Catholic Charlotte Mason curriculum, as well as Wildwood Curriculum for ideas, but I put it together in my own way.

I have tried to note in [ ] whether I'm using a free book or how much I paid for each of the resources we are using. I am committed to homeschooling with free or really cheap books as part of our journey to be debt-free while living on one income.

July 22, 2019

4th Grade Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plans, 2019-2020


This is our third year of doing a full Charlotte Mason style curriculum with short, morning lessons on a wide variety of subjects according to a strict timetable designed to fit our family. I love to consult Ambleside Online, a Catholic Charlotte Mason curriculum, as well as Wildwood Curriculum for ideas, but I put it together in my own way.

I love our homemade Charlotte Mason plans so much for many reasons. I can plan knowing myself and my children to ensure that we can actually accomplish 90% of our plans. I can choose affordable books of the highest quality and I can keep everyone in the family in the same historical time period on a 4-year history cycle with up to three different streams of history (our country, a near neighbor, and ancient). Finally, I can avoid books that I do not care for . . . even if everyone else in the world thinks they are wonderful or appropriate.

I have tried to note in [ ] whether I'm using a free book or how much I paid for each of the resources we are using. I am committed to homeschooling with free or really cheap books as part of our journey to be debt-free while living on one income.

July 7, 2019

1st Grade Recap and Review of our Homemade Charlotte Mason Plans

I had so much planned for my son's first-grade year!!! Here is what worked, what didn't, what I changed on the fly and how this is all going to affect next year's plans.

What a year! I cannot believe the child I see in this picture was my precious John around his 6th birthday. He is a much bigger 7-year-old now who has grown and changed in so many ways throughout the year.

He has always been my child who humbles and teaches me. I push him too hard and he lets me know. I'm so thankful that he shows me in many different ways when I am lacking in patience and not doing my best. This year there were so many times when I would feel like he wasn't paying attention or trying only to realize that he just needed more time (minutes, weeks, or months) to get a concept.

At the beginning of the year, I feared he would never remember how to read "the," but, of course, he does now. At the middle of the year, I didn't know what it would take for him to understand how to "carry the one." But he surprised me by getting it about a month later even though we had just left off and never tried again! And at the end of the year, I thought it would be years before he could manage his own piano practice sessions . . . but he is doing it already! He surprises and delights me . . . when I can remember to take a chill pill, that is.

On to the recap . . . .

July 2, 2019

3rd Grade Recap and Review of our Homemade Charlotte Mason Plans

I had so much planned for my son's third-grade year!!! Here is what worked, what didn't, what I changed on the fly and how this is all going to affect next year's plans.



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Overall, most subjects went according to plan. But it was an exhausting year for me. With a new baby born a few months before we started lessons and two children doing lessons instead of one, I really had to learn a lot about juggling lots of differing needs at the same time.

My expectations were too high! Too high about how easy it would be to switch between so many lessons with two children and so many interruptions. Too high about how much everyone would love everything. And too high about how easy it would be to really step up my oversight of how the kids would spend some of their afternoon hours--basically I wanted to institute afternoon occupations and I wanted it to be easy and didn't understand how draining it would be for me to have so little personal downtime in the afternoon.

Throughout the year I did a lot of tweaking and a lot of contemplating. A lot of things clicked for me when I listened to the A Delectable Education podcast episode When the Feast is Too Much which was very encouraging. I realized that some of the "extra" things we do as a family need to be taken into account when planning what we do and don't do in our lesson time. Stay tuned for how next year is going to look a little differently.

Confession time--This was the first year we were subject to the homeschooling laws in our state so it was the first time we had to count our homeschooling days. Even though I planned out 36 weeks of homeschool lessons, which would have equaled the mandated 180 days, I was also able to count other days that we did field trips or other educational activities. So we hit 180 days way before we were finished the lessons I had planned before I gave birth. I meant to finish our lessons strong . . . but I didn't!

We did take an hour a day to finish up several books that we were in the middle of, but then we just stopped. No end of term exams, no 12-week term, nothing. We just fizzled out into an early summer break at the beginning of May. So you may notice a lot of books that we didn't get to or didn't finish!

So, on to the recap!

May 1, 2019

15 Living Book Authors to Buy at Used Book Sales

In the past, I've shared my best tips for scoring big at used book sales and I've explained how buying used books fits into my Charlotte Mason homeschooling with free books (or at least really cheap ones).

But it is book sale season and I'm getting excited thinking about what special living book is just around the corner in my future. Someday very soon, I'll be leafing through shelves and stacks of books only to find another treasure to add to our library collection.

In the mad dash to the perfect books to take home, I'll be consulting my list and my memory to find my favorite authors to look for. Below are 15 of the authors I'll be hunting for this year and for many years to come.