• What's Been Working in Our Homeschool Lately, Resources We're Loving & Things I Need to Change
    month in review,  real homeschool stories,  resources

    What’s Been Working in Our Homeschool Lately, Resources We’re Loving & Things I Need to Change

    I thought it would be fun to start a new series here on things that have been working in our homeschool lately, resources we’re loving and things I need to change.

    We are doing year rounds schooling this year so while lots of people are closing out their school year we will just continue on the way we do. That being said, summer learning looks quite a bit different here than winter learning, since we spend a lot more time outside in the summer than we do in the winter.

    Okay, the video and the resources are below!


    What's Been Working in Our Homeschool Lately, Resources We're Loving & Things I Need to Change



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    The Handbook of Nature Study

    50 Ways to Draw Your Beautiful Ordinary Life

    Free Sermon Notes Printable

    The Beginner’s Bible

    Night of the Ninjas



    Almost Super

    The BFG

    Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione

    Lorne Cunningham

    Simply Piano

    Free Homeschool Mini Planner Printable

  • What's working (and not working) in our homeschool
    month in review,  real homeschool stories

    What’s Currently Working (and Not Working) In Our Homeschool

    We are a few weeks into the new homeschool year and I thought it would be a good time to step back and re-evaluate what is (and isn’t) working.

    This stepping back was very helpful for me and I hope to continue to do it on a monthly-ish basis, hopefully I’ll see some growth from month to month. I did monthly reviews for the first half of the first year we homeschooled and this would be pretty much the same idea.

    This is our third year homeschooling and our style has definitely changed since the beginning of the first year. This year I decided to try a little bit more of a schedule and we are also trying to (mostly) follow the Charlotte Mason method. If you are curious you can check out more details on what the Charlotte Mason method is and why we are following it this year and our CM schedule.

    This is the first year I am officially homeschooling two kids. My son has been right beside us for almost everything we’ve done for the past few years so it’s not that big of an adjustment, the only real change is that I need to make sure I am spending some intentional time homeschooling him as well.

    So, let’s dive in and I’ll share what has (and hasn’t) been working so far . . .


    What's working (and not working) in our homeschool




    What's working (and not working) in our homeschool



    One of the reasons I love the CM method is because it involves reading so many good books. That really speaks to my book loving heart. I get the feeling my kids could listen to me read all day and not do any other part of school. I get the feeling I would be okay with that . . .

    There are a few books we are currently reading that the kids are loving; first of all is Little Pilgrim’s Progress. I’ve been trying to read one chapter a day and they are constantly asking for at least one more chapter. They also seem to be enjoying Tales from Shakespeare, we’ve only read The Tempest so far and while I feel like they didn’t really understand all of it they did enjoy it. Another book I am reading to them is Shiloh, I don’t think I’ve even ever read the book, I’m pretty sure I’ve only watched the  movie, but the book is very good so far. And then our nature study book we are reading through right now is The Burgess Bird Book for Children, it’s cute and informative. Our lunch time read aloud (audiobook) is David Livingstone from the Christian Heroes series, I’m really enjoying it as well and plan on reading his journals myself one day in the near-ish future. And lastly, on the weekends we are listening to the first Harry Potter book. I’ve been wanting to listen to it forever with the kids, I only read it this winter for the first time and I knew that my daughter would love it, she loves everything fantasy and I was right.

    So, obviously we are loving the books.


    What's working (and not working) in our homeschool



    Just like the last couple of years we are continuing with a weekly poetry tea time, I’m pretty sure it’s because they usually get hot chocolate and some kind of snack but the kids are still stoked about this each week, whatever works!

    In addition to poetry tea time we are studying one poet a month this year, well, we will, we are only in the first month. I plan on using the Poetry For Young People series for this for the year, right now we are reading through Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I’ve been reading the kids a poem or two a day and then at our poetry tea time they pick one (or more) of their favorites so far for us to read again.

    Plus, we just bought a couple of new poetry books, those will be fun to add into our next tea time!


    What's working (and not working) in our homeschool



    This goes hand in hand with poetry because the kids are working on memorizing poems this year. So far Raeca has memorized one from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Fairy Poems, and one of Shel Silverstein’s and is on her second one from Fairy Poems. Ephraim has spent all his time so far working on Brother and Sister from Lewis Carrol and is almost done, I’ve been pleasantly surprised first of all that he chose a fairly long poem for his first one and secondly how well he has been doing on it.



    We aren’t very far into learning French yet (to be honest, I still miss Spanish, that language is so much easier to learn) but the kids are still really excited about it and I found a couple of good apps for them to use. I have plans to do a lot more with French yet but I’m not feeling immediately discouraged like I was afraid I was going to so that’s a positive!


    What's working (and not working) in our homeschool



    In the past, every time I asked Raeca what she wanted to learn she always said cooking or baking and I never really followed through. I love my kids but cooking and baking are not enjoyable tasks for me to begin with and adding in all their talking and questions is just not something I have the patience for on a regular basis. But so far this school year we’ve done some cooking or baking together at least once a week. Progress!





    I have plans for us to study different artists throughout the year and do our own art as well and we haven’t done anything so far . . . I’m just feeling uninspired when it comes to art right now.



    My family loves music but it’s not as big of a deal for me as it is for them, so this is something I need to work on. We haven’t done anything for music so far this year but we did just get one of the Classical Kids CD’s (Mr. Bach Comes to Call) from the library so hopefully this will be the start of something.

    I also realized last week that this is probably a good age for Raeca to take piano lessons so I’m trying to see if we can get her in somewhere, I thought of this really late so we’ll see if I can find a spot for her somewhere.


    What's working (and not working) in our homeschool



    Winter came early here to the Canadian prairies. We had snow while it was technically still summer, not cool. Actually, very cool, cold even. So, fall came early and winter came early and I’m not the kind of person that really enjoys cold weather so I’m just ready to hibernate and not leave my house until it’s warm and sunny again. Because that’s my natural tendency I have a hard time convincing my kids to go outside, well to be honest, I don’t often try. I know I should but maybe I can move somewhere warmer first?


    I think that sums things up! There are some things that are going quite well, some things that are fairly neutral and a few things I would say we are failing at, there’s room for improvement!

  • Our homeschool mid-year review - what is and isn't working!
    month in review,  real homeschool stories

    Our Homeschool Mid-Year Review – What Is (And Isn’t) Working

    We officially started homeschooling about mid-August so here we are now, about four months into grade 1 and three-year-old preschool.

    My main reason for starting this blog in the summer was to document out journey, I’m one of those people that likes to write out what I’m going through (like with our adoption). I also thought it would be a good place for me to come back to in June when I have to send in a portfolio of what we did this year (instead of beating my head against the table wishing I would have taken better notes).

    Even though December isn’t quite the middle of the year I thought I’d take some time to write a bit of a mid-ish-year review and share a few things that have and haven’t been working and a few things I’ve been discovering along the way.

    We have just started an almost complete schedule/system change which I plan on sharing after we’ve been implementing it for a bit, that should be coming some time in January.

    Our homeschool mid-year review - what is and isn't working!



    Poetry tea time has been one of our favorite things so far this year. Each week both the kids look forward to it. This will definitely be continuing for the second half of the year. If you missed it you can read how we do our fun and simple poetry tea time here.


    We started out doing some ancient history and are on to the middle ages right now, we’ve mostly just been reading a lot of books on the subjects and documenting a bit of it on our timeline. I was originally thinking of doing The Story of the World which separates history into four sections and you study one a year for four years and then repeat them going more in-depth (so you would study ancient history in grade 1 and then again in grade 5). I think it’s a good idea but seems like a long time to go through history so we are doing the entire world history in a year and next year we’ll do it again studying a different area (like for ancient history we mostly focused on Roman history this year but maybe next time we’d study ancient Egypt or ancient China). I haven’t actually shared a history post yet so I’ll try to do that in January.


    People might be sick of me saying this but the bond my kids have formed this year has made the whole homeschooling thing completely worth it. Even if they didn’t learn anything academic this year they have learned to play together and that is huge!


    Nearly everyone of our subjects are literature based which means for each subject we read a lot of books. For example, for our history, instead of buying The Story of the World like I originally planned, we just take out a bunch of library books on the time period we are studying and read those.




    The theme for 2017 is going to be simplifying our homeschool and one way we will be doing this is by getting rid of excess and merging subjects whenever possible. I got a bit excited at the beginning of the school year and tried/wanted to do too much.


    I think we managed to do a few pages in the Handwriting Without Tears book at the beginning of the year, it was my plan to complete the book but we only did it for a few days and then ditched it. Yes, kids need to know how to properly print their letters but I’ve found that we do other writing in the day (dictation, copy work, etc) and we can work on printing then.


    Well, piano lessons have been non-existent. I’m not sure yet if I am going to try to bring them back in the new year, try a different instrument with her or just leave it for the year . . .


    Another thing I was trying to do that just ended up being too much was trying to teach geography as a subject. Raeca is in grade 1, we didn’t really need to make it a subject. That being said, I really want her to have knowledge of the world and different cultures but I’ve realized that it is something that comes up in our conversation a lot so I plan on just continuing to capitalize on those conversations. I’ve also moved where we keep our globe so it is more accessible and she’s been spending a lot of time looking at it lately reading the countries and asking me to quiz her on where countries are in the world.


    I still want to teach them some Spanish but need to fit it in the schedule better. I think I’d also like to buy a few kids Spanish dictionaries (like this one or this one) or some thing like a first 1000 words in Spanish book.


    I had a plan to do one super simple thing with Ephraim each day just to include him a little but yet not have any real expectations but he has surprised me with how much he wants to learn. So, I need to come up with a bit of a more academic plan for him for the second half of the year. It’s a good problem to have but one I was definitely not expecting; prior to starting to homeschool he had no interest in letters, numbers, drawing, coloring, or sitting still for more than three seconds and now he’s often asking me what letter things start with and showing a lot more academic interest.

    That’s a little review of our year thus far. I’m really excited to implement a few little changes in the new year and tweak our homeschool to suit us a little more.

    How’s your homeschool year going?
    What has (or hasn’t) been working for you?
    Do you have plans to make any changes in the new year?

  • Our Homeschool Month - October in Review - poetry tea time
    month in review,  real homeschool stories

    Our Homeschool Month: October in Review

    October taught me that while I have a plan for what we will learn each day, there is so much unintentional learning that just happens in our home. I guess that’s what happens when you have two parents that value knowledge as much as we do.

    Our Homeschool Month - October in Review


    Lots and lots of good books were read this month.

    We were good this month with having our weekly poetry tea time, both the kids love it. We use a teapot, tea cups and saucers but we snack on whatever is in the cupboard, even if it’s not something fancy, like chips or leftover desserts. I love how much the kids love poetry tea time.

    The last week of the month we added in some dictation. A friend of mine went to a homeschool conference where Bonnie Landry was speaking and told me a little about her method of dictation. I promptly purchased her little book, Homeschooling, Simplified: Dictation, on Monday morning and started implementing it that day. We’ve been doing it for a few weeks now and I plan on writing a post about it soon.


    We spent the beginning of the month learning about more animals, the kangaroos and the springbok.

    Then for the last half of the month we played Circuit Maze and learned about circuits, it was a nice little change and the kids both enjoyed it, Rae is quite good at the game.

    Our Homeschool Month - October in Review - Circuit Maze


    Rae started a tumbling/gymnastics class this month and has been practicing cartwheels, handstands, bridges and all sorts of somersaults and flips at home.

    We are also continuing to go swimming most Fridays, it surprises me how much better the kids have gotten in the water over the last couple of months.


    We continued working in the little workbook we have, learning about addition and subtraction.


    Raeca drew a family tree and we wrapped up our study on Ancient Rome and started a little introduction to the Middle Ages.


    We spent the month learning about South Africa. Rae drew the flag and we read a number of picture books about South Africa. We also flipped through some photos from when we went two years ago and Raeca shared with Ephraim what she remembers of travelling there to pick him up.


    Raeca got a number of craft kits for her birthday and she spent quite awhile working on them; working with her knitting loom, paint by number, a personalized pillow and a felt cat.

    In addition she also did a number of drawing videos from Art for Kids Hub, always a favorite over here. And we did some acrylic abstract painting together and made some paper snowflakes (flashback to childhood right there).

    At the end of the month we started to study Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Rae made her own version using oil pastels.


    Ephraim has still been working in his simple preschool journal and enjoying it most days. We are slowly going through the letter sounds and he’s often asking what letter words start with. This has been a surprise to me since he was not the least bit interested in letters just a few months ago.

  • Our Homeschool Month in Review - August
    month in review,  real homeschool stories

    Our Homeschool Month: August in Review

    I am definitely learning from experience that I shouldn’t take so long to write our monthly reviews, August has been over half a month ago, and now I’m straining to remember what we did during the month.

    Well, we officially started our homeschool year on August 24th, so most of the month leading up to that was just intentionally soaking in the last bit of the official summer. Then when we did start we eased into it by starting on a Wednesday so most of the week was an introduction to what we would be learning.


    We started off the school year doing a bit of printing. Raeca writes a lot of her own stories in her free time, which is awesome, but there are some areas we need to work on in printing, like the size of different letters, that “g” and “j” go below the line, etc.

    Other than some printing we continued to read a number of books, check out the books we read this month here.


    We spent some time learning about monkeys, and watched the Disneynature: Monkey Kingdom video on Netflix, which the kids loved, admittedly, I did too.


    A lot of outside time again for August, soaking up as much of that summer sun as we can.

    Our Homeschool Month in Review - August


    For formal math we started into Raeca’s math workbook, it was mostly addition and subtraction up to 10. We are also constantly talking about math throughout the day, like when we are measuring in the kitchen or adding and subtracting random things.


    We just did a little introduction to history and explained what a timeline is.


    We spent August learning a bit about France but we mostly focused on Paris. We read a number of picture books about Paris and found it on the map. Raeca also drew the French flag (a nice easy flag to start with) and the Eiffel Tower via this Art for Kids Hub video.


    Rae is doing a little bit of art in geography and through the notebooking she does for science. She is also just naturally taking time to lots of drawing. In September I plan on starting to teach her a bit about some famous paintings and using them as inspiration for creating some of her own artwork.


    Ephraim has been my big surprise when it comes to homeschooling so far. This little boy who has not been interested in any letters or numbers or any type of writing asks me everyday what he will be learning. I do have a list of one simple thing I am going to do with him each day for a little 3 year old preschool curriculum and because that wasn’t enough for him he now has a simple preschool journal that he works in a little bit nearly every day.

    I am curious to see if his interest in learning continues or if it is just a phase. Either way, I’m going to take advantage of it now while he’s interested!

    How has the beginning of the school year been going for you?

  • Our Homeschool Month - July in Review, what we did for a variety of subjects, but, let's be honest, we mostly took a summer break.
    month in review,  real homeschool stories

    Our Homeschool Month: July in Review

    Well, July was a bit of a different homeschool month than June. Our month started out with a few days of camping with family and then Ephraim had eye surgery, so I knew those two weeks would be slow on the intentional learning front and be more of a vacation, but what I didn’t expect was for it to last the whole month.

    This month we did almost nothing to work towards our summer homeschool plan. The break has been nice in a way but it has shown me that I’d prefer to do more of a year-round schooling approach, maybe something like 6 weeks on, one week off, we’ll have to see.


    We’ve still be reading quite a bit, mostly picture books lately, which is good with me. I find I’m not that great at reading novels out loud (there is a reason I love audiobooks) but picture books I love reading aloud. (Check out the books we read this month here.)


    We are still spending quite a bit of time outside, mostly biking around. Ephraim even learned how to drive his bike without training wheels (which I think is a pretty big feat for a little boy who just turned 3 in May).

    Our Homeschool Month - July in Review, what we did for a variety of subjects, but, let's be honest, we mostly took a summer break.


    We have observed some bugs and birds in our backyard. Raeca has enjoyed watching Octonauts lately and has been learning a bit about sea creatures, we’ve looked a few of them up after she watches to learn more and done a little more reading about the sea and the creatures that live in it.


    Hmm, just a little bit of math in day-to-day life, we didn’t do anything formal.


    Just some general looking on the map as we talk about different countries and places. Because of our science reading on oceans Raeca has decided she now wants to go whale watching off the coast of BC and go to Mexico to see dolphins, she better start saving her money!


    We have continued to work with Ephraim to learn his letters, numbers and counting. Finally he seems to be making some progress with letters, they are actually starting to stick. So far we’ve just been focusing on uppercase letters, in the next few months we’ll start working on lowercase as well.

    I thought we would be a bit more intentional with homeschooling this month but between the nice weather and me working on a few projects it’s hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing. Though I think we would all prefer our days to be a bit more structured so I’ll aim for that for August.

    How has your summer learning been going?

    Linking up with Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling.