• Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader
    real homeschool stories,  week in review

    Homeschool Week in Review – Volume One

    Way back when I started this blog I used to do a monthly review of our homeschool and I kind of want to bring that idea back. Over on my personal blog I just started doing weekly reviews and I want to do the same thing here homeschool style.

    Because we don’t follow a particular homeschool method and are a bit more on the unschooly side no week (or day!) looks the same.

    Since we added a toddler and a preschooler into our home* just over two weeks ago things really don’t look the same!

    *Added to our home via foster care, if you are curious you can read more about it on my personal blog.

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader

     

    OUR HOMESCHOOL WEEK IN REVIEW

     

    For reference, here’s the low down on all the kids:

    The Daughter – she’s 9 and in grade 4
    The Son – he’s 6 and in grade 1
    The Preschooler – he’s 3
    The Toddler – he’s 1 (almost 2)

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader

     

    + For the first time this year we are fairly consistently using workbooks. We grabbed some MathSmart (Canadian math curriculum) books from Costco a couple months ago and the days we sit down and do school the kids generally each complete two pages. This week we actually sat down four days of the week so they each got eight pages done.

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader

     

    + My son has been using these pencil holder thingys to help his printing and pencil grip and I have noticed a difference since he started using them (when he’s actually using it correctly and not being lazy). The preschooler is left handed and I’m finding it hard to figure out how to tell him to hold a pencil correctly, it just dawned on me that I should use one of these with him!

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader

     

    + I actually tried to do our sit down work with the littles this week. So, we’ve been trying to figure out ways to keep them busy. Puzzles, coloring, magnets, mazes, stamps and painting/coloring with water have been the big entertainers so far. I may eventually write up a full post of different ideas on how to entertain toddlers while doing school, this is new-to-me territory.

    + On Tuesday we spent some time learning about Guy Fawkes, I shared a number of resources in this post.

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader

     

    + This week also involved a lot of Mad Libs! They can be pretty hilarious and are excellent for learning the parts of speech. We got some free printable sheets from this site and I learned from Instagram that there is also a free app which I have now installed and we will use the next time we are in a waiting room or need to kill some time.

    + I made gluten free playdough last week and it has been played with this week as well. I personally don’t like playdough (I can’t stand the feel of it) but kids seem to like it so I made a batch every few months.

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader

     

    + On the weekend the kids went to a birthday party. It was Star Wars themed so my daughter drew a Princess Leia card for the girl thanks to YouTube channel Draw So Cute’s tutorial. She has been drawing quite a bit from this channel lately, I would recommend it for kids around her age!

     

     

    + I’ve been reading this kids Bible to the preschooler and he’s been really into it. I love the illustrations. It’s a pretty simple Bible, so far it seems like a younger version of The Jesus Storybook Bible and I’ve added it to my to-buy list. (Other books on my to-buy list are this one and this one.)

    + Some more books we’ve had on repeat with the Preschooler include:

     

    Our Homeschool Week in Review - what we did and resources we used with a toddler, preschooler, first grader and fourth grader

     

    + The first grader is continuing to slowly improve his reading, though I’ll admit that we didn’t work at it very much this week. I think the only book he read to me was this one.

    + Technically it’s Friday so normally I wouldn’t post this until at least Saturday since the week isn’t over but my husband’s family is butchering pigs today and the older kids are going to go there and hang out/play with cousins so I’m counting our week as done!

     

    That’s what I can remember from this week in our homeschool! Do you have any highlights from your week or resources you’ve been enjoying?

     

    INTENTIONS FOR NEXT WEEK

    I thought it would also be fun to set some goals/intentions for the coming week. We’ll see if I actually keep this up or not!

    + Try bringing out Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons again for my first grader. We weren’t progressing any more so I put it away for a long time but I’m curious to see how it goes if we bring it back out.

    + Start a letter a week with the preschooler. I have never liked the whole letter a week idea, mostly because by the time my kids were ready for it they knew all the letters but now that our preschooler came to us with no idea of the alphabet it seems like a good time to try it out!

    + Find a bigger project for my fourth grader. I have no specific ideas at the moment but I think she needs something big to work on, I hope to spend some time brainstorming in the next few days.

     

    There we go, a bit from our week and intentions for next. If you like the weekly wrap up format let me know!

  • How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum
    homeschool planning,  real homeschool stories

    How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum

    When sharing about our homeschool rhythm a few weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted to write a post about how I plan our year without a curriculum and I got a few online and in-person questions and comments on how I do it so here it is!

    When people find out that we homeschool and that our school division has zero curriculum requirements I can see the looks of concern and worry start to creep up on their faces. If I know homeschooling is not something they are interested in ever doing I’ll usually be quick to appease their fears by letting them know that I have my degree in education and am qualified to teach K-12. Those looks instantly change and I can see they feel confident in my abilities immediately.

    But can I tell you a secret that I don’t tell those people?

    My university degree taught me nothing about how to follow a curriculum. Honestly, I feel like my university education was, just as I feel like the school system is, a complete joke and waste of time (and money).

    I have learned so much more in my three years as a homeschool parent than I ever did in university and if I ever decided to teach in a classroom again I would teach like I homeschool, at least as much as I could get away with in the school system.

     

    How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum

     

    WHY WE DON’T FOLLOW A CURRICULUM

    I do understand why school systems have a curriculum, in that kind of setting you do need a standard for teachers to follow and there needs to be consistency from school to school.

    But I do not think that homeschoolers need to follow a curriculum.

    No child is at the exact place the school system thinks they need to be in every subject for their grade.

    Both of my kids are a few grades ahead in a couple of subjects and a bit behind in others.

    This is completely normal, even for kids that are in the classroom.

    But, as a homeschooling parent I have the benefit of being able to create a custom educational plan for each of my kids that will serve them in the best way so of course I am going to take advantage of that!

    Even the idea of an all-in-one homeschool curriculum rubs me the wrong way because who is to say that is all going to work for your child? If you do go ahead and purchase a homeschool curriculum I would strongly suggest being okay with not getting it all done because that curriculum was not made with your particular teaching style and your child’s particular learning style in mind. Most all-in-one curriculum end up recreating school at home, which is not my homeschool goal.

     

    How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum

     

    HOW I PLAN OUR HOMESCHOOL YEAR WITHOUT A CURRICULUM

    Okay, so now you know a little about why I don’t like curriculum and I’m assuming you at least agree with me a little since you are still reading so I want to share how I go about planning for our year when we aren’t using a curriculum.

    There are a few steps involved:

     

    Free Homeschool Vision Planner Download

     

    #1 VISION PLANNING

    I always start with a lot of vision planning. I ask myself (and my kids and husband as well) a series of questions that remind me why we are doing this, what our priorities are, what the kids’ interests are, etc.

    I actually have a free Homeschool Vision Planning Guide Book which you can go here to download. There are a few pages of questions that will help you with your vision planning and will help you with many of the following steps as well.

     

    How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum

     

    #2 WRITE OUT YOUR SUBJECTS

    After I have gone through all pages in my Vision Planner I grab a piece of paper and start writing down all the subjects we will be covering in the year. Some are the regular school subjects and some are less so.

    To give you an example, here’s what I ended up with for this year:

    • Bible (together)
    • Scripture copywork
    • math
    • read alouds (audio)
    • art
    • language arts
    • free reading (for my fourth grader) and reading practice (for my first grader)
    • Bible reading (independent) 
    • current memory verse
    • character study
    • artist study
    • composer study
    • handicrafts
    • creative writing
    • Spanish
    • verse for the year
    • science
    • history
    • nature study
    • poetry tea time
    • geography
    • fairy tales and Aesop stories

    Honestly, when I wrote it all out I got a little overwhelmed so don’t be worried if you feel the same way.

    Remember: not every subject has to be done every day.

     

    How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum

     

    #3 WRITE A FEW THINGS YOU WANT TO STUDY IN EACH SUBJECT

    Using what I all figured out from my vision planning I like to take some time to write down what I kind of want to cover in each subject for the year. This is not an exhaustive list, I usually just write down the first things that come to my mind.

    To give an example, here are some of the things from my list:

    • Bible (together) – reading plan & Bible journaling
    • Scripture copywork – a verse or passage a day depending on child’s ability
    • character study – using the Book of Virtues, Bible verses and maybe Learning Through Literature’s Character Study
    • artist study – approximately one artist a month
    • composer study – approximately one composer a month
    • science – grade one: animal science, human body & plan science – grade four: physics, mainly through simple machines
    • history – listen to Mystery of History, possibly journal through it
    • poetry tea time – weekly on Tuesday afternoons

     

    How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum

     

    #4 FIGURE OUT HOW OFTEN YOU WANT TO DO EACH SUBJECT

    This is the first year I’ve created a bit of a rhythm for our homeschool days and I gotta say, I’m loving it. Yes, even this rebel-who-doesn’t-like-routine is enjoying a rhythm to her days.

    I decided there were some subjects I wanted to do each day (our priority subjects) and then I wanted to add in two loop schedules into our day. You can read the full details here but here’s the general breakdown I created:

     

    DAILY (AKA TEA TIME)

    These are the things I would like to do “every day” (but, here’s a secret: we only do “school” about three days a week):

    • Bible (together)
    • Scripture writing
    • memory verse
    • language arts
    • math
    • independent Bible reading
    • independent reading/reading practice

     

    OUR MORNING LOOP

    Ideally we do one or two of these each morning after our tea time.

    • artist study
    • composer study
    • handicrafts
    • creative writing
    • character study
    • Spanish
    • fairy tales & Aesop

     

    OUR AFTERNOON LOOP

    These subjects are a little more intensive and we will only do about one an afternoon:

    • science
    • history
    • nature study
    • geography

     

    Free Owl Unit Study Resources

     

    #5 CREATE A MONTHLY OVERVIEW

    From there I went and created an overview for each month of the year. I generally make one for August-May but should really adjust to September-May because we don’t really do a whole lot in August. I’m still learning what works best for us.

    All I did was write the month at the top of the paper and then write out each subject and one or two things I would like to get to that month in each subject. For me this is not a list to cling to with everything in me, it’s a guide.

    I don’t even fill out all the months for the year. I only went to December and then for January through to May I only filled out a few things because I want to leave room to make some adjustments as needed.

     

    How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum

     

    #6 KNOW THAT YOU CAN CHANGE THINGS

    On that note, one of the benefits of homeschooling is the flexibility we have if we notice things aren’t working for us or for our kids. Don’t be afraid to change your plans halfway through the year or even halfway through the first month!

    Last year I really wanted to follow the Charlotte Mason method but quickly realized it wasn’t right for us for that year.

    As a homeschool parent you have the benefits of looking at every moment as a potential learning opportunity and kids naturally learn so much in that kind of environment.

     

    I’m happy to share what does (and doesn’t) work for us in our homeschool but just because things work for us don’t mean they will be right for you. We are all unique creations raising unique creations and there is no one-size-fits-all method, which is why following a curriculum is often not the best for anyone.

    If you are a fellow non-curriculum follower I would love to hear how you plan your year in the comments below, who knows, the way you approach your year may help another homeschooling family that is looking for a rhythm that works for them!

  • A peek inside the Elementary Homeschool Bundle - what we are using and how we are incorporating it
    real homeschool stories,  resources

    A Peek Inside the Elementary Bundle and What We’re Using This Year

    The second annual Elementary Bundle is available this week over at Intentional Bundles and I wanted to take a few minutes and share a peek inside some of the products and what and how we will be using them in our homeschool this year.

    UPDATE: The Elementary Bundle is now over BUT from time to time the bundles are brought back for a short flash sale, so make sure to be signed up for my newsletter to hear if that happens for this one!

    The thing I like about the bundle is that even if we won’t be using a product this year I can download it and use it in years to come, I’ve already done that with some of the past bundles!

    We’ve already started using some of the products and I have plans for many of the other ones so I thought I would take some time today to break down what we have and will be doing with them to incorporate them into our homeschool year.

     

    Elementary Learning Bundle - over $270 in products for just $25

     

    LOOKING TO SEE WHAT OVERLAPS

    The first thing that I did was look to see what products overlapped with things I already had planned for the year.

    There were a number of different products that jumped out right away like the Autumn Seasonal Bundle which we will be using for our fall nature study, I’m especially excited about the mushrooms unit.

     

    A peek inside the Elementary Homeschool Bundle - what we are using and how we are incorporating it

    The Vintage Moth Study cards

     

    For grade one we focus on living things for science including animals, the human body and plants so there are a number of great resources we will be using for that including: From Seed to Table, my Bird Literature Guide, the Black Bear Mini Unit, Life Cycle of a Frog, Life Cycle of an Ant, Pond Unit Study and the Moths Study!

    Another product we are going to be using this year is Menu Math. I love that there are different pricing options for the different restaurants so there is an option with whole numbers that will work well for my first grader and a couple of menus that include more complicated addition for my fourth grader. Plus, if we want to do something different there is even a blank menu we can add our own prices too! Oh, also there is a legitimate looking receipt for kids to write on, I know mine sure enjoy playing restaurant and they may not even notice they are doing math!

     

    A peek inside the Elementary Homeschool Bundle - what we are using and how we are incorporating it

    He’s in the 60’s in the TYCTR lessons so we started with those word cards.

     

    Another focus for this year is to get my first grader reading, he is getting so close and I’m so excited that there are Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lesson Compatible Word Cards included and I love that the lesson number the words go with are included! I just wish I would have had these years ago!

    A major focus for our homeschool year is teaching my kids to love God and enjoy studying the Bible so I am really excited about going through the Prayer Bible Study with them.

     

    PLAN MINI UNIT STUDIES

    One thing I decided to do this year was to plan weekly mini unit studies. I shared a little about it in our homeschool rhythm post and each week I hope to share a list of the different resources we used for our unit study.

    We did our first mini unit study this week on owls and one of the resources from the bundle we used was the Nature Themed Word Search and Coloring Pages, there is a word search on owls which we started right away. There are also word searches and coloring pages on a variety of other nature-y things so I know we will be using it many times throughout the year.

     

    A peek inside the Elementary Homeschool Bundle - what we are using and how we are incorporating it

    Doing the word search from the Nature Themed Word Search and Coloring Pages.

     

    Another topic on my list of mini unit studies is color theory and we will be using some pages in the Colors Art Journal as we go through the unit study.

    A fun topic that I know the kids are going to love to study is gemstones, I mean, it just sounds fancy and fun! We’ll be using the beautiful Gemstone Fact Cards to help us with this study.

     

    PLANNING & RECORD KEEPING

    There are some great resources included in the bundle for planning and record keeping, including two different homeschool planners, a daily docket, Simplifying Planning Pack and an ebook on How to Plan a Unit Study. Everyone plans in a different way so with a couple of different options available you should be able to find something that works for you.

    I created my Homeschool Mini Planner earlier this year and plan on continuing to use it, it made my year end reporting so much easier.

     

    Homeschool Mini Planner - includes monthly planning sheets, weekly record sheets, unit study planner sheets and book lists sheets! Perfect for eclectic and minimal homeschoolers

    The weekly spread from my Mini Planner.

     

    YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE IT ALL

    There are some other products included in the bundle that I don’t have specific ideas for right now (like the Travel Journal because we have no trips planned!) but I hope to use in the future.

    In addition, there are a couple of products more geared towards preschool and kindergarten like the Play and Learn Calendars and Colors of the Rainbow Number Tracing printables that my kids are both past but because we are in the process of becoming foster parents I may be able to use these products yet! (That being said, there are definitely parts of the Learn and Play Calendars that I actually may use for my older kids, there are some fun activity ideas in there, plus a recipe for apple pie playdough!)

    One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to use every product in the bundle to make it a good deal. Really, if you add up the value of the products you plan on using and they total $25 or more it’s a good deal because you’ll save money.

    I personally find that bundles like this enrich our homeschool experience. If I had to buy all these products individually I wouldn’t but because they come at such a great deal I now have all these different resources that we can use for our unit studies and throughout our year.

     

    A peek inside the Elementary Homeschool Bundle - what we are using and how we are incorporating it

    The mushroom nature study from the Autumn Seasonal Bundle.
     

    Remember, the bundle is only available until Saturday, August 24th at 9am PST so if you are interested in buying it you need to do so as soon as possible!

     

    Check out the bundle here.

     
     
  • Our Homeschool Rhythm - Tea Time, Morning Loop & Afternoon Loop
    homeschool planning,  real homeschool stories

    Our Homeschool Rhythm – Tea Time, Morning Loop & Afternoon Loop

    As I was planning our homeschool year it became clear to me that this was the year to finally get on board with loop scheduling!

    My oldest is in grade four this year and I’ve really noticed an increase in the amount that I want her to learn this year and have decided that this is the year we start sitting down and having more focused “school time”. After our first few years being more on the relaxed/semi-unschooling side this is definitely a change.

    I’ll be honest, there has been a bit of push back on her part, especially since we “started” a light version of our rhythm a couple of weeks before the school system here but I keep reminding her that we take lots of breaks (even our first week had two days off), plus this will take us maybe three hours a day if we do all the things I have planned for the day as opposed to the six hours kids are in school.

    That all being said, I am contemplating running one day like the school system, making sure the kids are up, dressed, eaten, etc for the day, make them walk the distance of the bus stop and then make them do a regular school days work, have recess only at designated times, eat only at regular times and not talk while working. Ha, I think I may have the hardest time getting through the day! But I do think it would be an interesting experience.

    Anyway, on to our rhythm for our year and the loop scheduling!

     

    How I Plan Our Homeschool Year Without a Curriculum

     

    WHAT IS LOOP SCHEDULING?

    Before we go any further I need to break down loop scheduling, thankfully it’s really simple.

    For loop scheduling you just make a list of the subjects you want to cover and each day during your loop time you will go down the list and spend time doing the subjects until your loop time is over.

    So, let’s say you have artist study, composer study, nature study and art on one loop and you spend one hour each day doing that particular loop.

    On Monday you would start with artist study and let’s say it takes you 45 minutes, then you will move on to composer study.

    Then on Tuesday you will continue down the list, meaning you are on to nature study. Let’s say nature study takes you the full hour.

    Wednesday comes around and you’ve planned a play date for the afternoon, so you don’t do anything off your loop.

    On Thursday you continue on where you left off: art. Let’s say art takes you half an hour, you still have half an hour left so you start back at the top with your artist study.

    Friday the kids are really interested in your composer study and you spend the whole hour on it.

     

    How we use Loop Scheduling in our homeschool - what it is and how it fits into our homeschool rhythm

     

    WHY LOOP SCHEDULING IS GREAT

    The nice thing about loop scheduling is that it can keep you from consistently missing a subject like you may if you were doing a weekly schedule. For instance, if you always wanted to do nature study on Friday afternoons but that turned out to be a day when you end up planning a bunch of play dates you would “fall behind” in your nature study.

    With loop scheduling, even if you miss a day there is not one particular subject that suffers since you just pick up where you left off.

     

    Our Three-Part Homeschool Rhythm - tea time, morning loop and afternoon loop

     

    OUR THREE-PART HOMESCHOOL RHYTHM

    I did some research on loop scheduling because it had been awhile since I had really thought about using it and I came across this 3-part homeschool routine that really resonated with me (though not the word routine, there’s a word I don’t like!).

    There were a lot of changes that I wanted to make to have it suit our needs but the bones of the three-part rhythm (that’s a better word!) would be perfect.

    I already knew there were some things I wanted us to do each day in our homeschool and then other things that we could loop. I wanted to start with the daily tasks to make sure they actually got done, but, let’s be honest, tea time sounds way better than tasks.

    After we were done our tea time we would do some chores around the house and then do our morning loop (couch time), after that it would be lunch and then time for our afternoon loop.

     

    Our Homeschool Rhythm - Tea Time, Morning Loop & Afternoon Loop

     

    TEA TIME

    Tea time is how we kick off our homeschool morning. Truthfully, for my son this is actually breakfast but for my daughter who likes to eat at the crack of dawn this is usually second breakfast, and this is when I have my daily cup of homemade, dairy-free hot cocoa (so it’s not really tea time at all).

    Here is what we cover during this time:

    1. Bible reading and journaling (check out how we do that here)

    2. Scripture writing

    3. memory verse

    4. language arts

    5. math

    6. independent Bible reading

    7. reading (independent reading for my fourth grader who reads one of the books off of the list I’ve given her and reading practice for my first grader)

     

    These are the most important “subjects” I want to hit each day and if we only get the tea time portion of our day done I am okay with that.

    I plan on writing a separate post for exactly what we are doing for each of these subjects and will come back and link here when I do so.

     

    Our Homeschool Rhythm - Tea Time, Morning Loop & Afternoon Loop

     

    MORNING LOOP/COUCH TIME

    The next portion of our day is our morning loop/couch time, this is the shortest portion and we will generally just do one of these a day, which means it will take us a little more than a week to go through the loop.

    1. artist study

    2. composer study

    3. handicrafts

    4. creative writing

    5. character study

    6. Spanish

    7. fairy tales & Aesop stories

     

    Once again, I’ll share these more in-depth in the upcoming weeks.

     

    Our Homeschool Rhythm - Tea Time, Morning Loop & Afternoon Loop

     

    AFTERNOON LOOP

    Our afternoon loop has less subjects on it but we won’t be doing it every day. On Monday afternoons I’m blocking that time for our “Monday unit” (more about that later in the post) and Tuesday afternoons are poetry tea time, though we may also do one of our loop subjects that afternoon as well.

    1. science

    2. history

    3. nature study

    4. geography

     

    Our Homeschool Rhythm - Tea Time, Morning Loop & Afternoon Loop

     

    MONDAY UNITS

    One thing I wanted to try out this year was very, very short unit studies. So, I got creative and I decided that on Monday afternoons we would take some time for a mini unit study and then if the kids were interested we could continue learning about the topic throughout the week.

    If I’m being honest, a big part of the reason I want to do some unit studies is totally because I’ve been suckered in by all the beautiful unit study flat lays I see on Instagram all the time.

    Thankfully that’s not the only reason though, I also wanted some time in the week to be able to add in learning about topics that aren’t really in the “schedule” for the year. I’ve been creating a list of random things that we may use for these mini units including: owls, constellations, print making, Canada, spies, colors, mountains and more!

    You can check out our completed unit studies here.

     

    And there you have it, a bit of an overview of what our homeschool rhythm will (hopefully) be looking like this year! We started things off easy last week by “homeschooling light” meaning we’ve just been doing the tea time portion and are slowly adding in our loops.

    Now, over the next few weeks I hope to share more details about what each of our “subjects” all entails and I’m also planning to write a post about how I plan our year without a curriculum. I wish I was able to be a little more ahead of things because I feel like that probably would be more helpful for people if I could share it before the school year started but hopefully it will still be helpful to some this year and others in years to come.

    You can check out my step-by-step process for how I plan our year without a curriculum here.

     

    Our Three-Part Homeschool Rhythm - tea time, morning loop and afternoon loop

  • A Look Inside My Mother Morning Basket
    mother culture,  real homeschool stories

    A Look Inside My Mother Morning Basket

    Last week I asked on Instagram which post out of a few ideas that I had you guys wanted to see on the blog first and my mother morning basket was the most popular response!

    I do think it is important to continue learning and growing as adults and making a morning basket for myself has been a way to make sure what I think is the most important learning gets done.

    A big key for me has been to start slow. I started with just two things in the basket and have slowly worked my way up to more and I assume once the weather cools down and winter hits I will be able to add more because there is more time for indoor activities than in the summer.

    I would recommend starting with just a couple of things in your basket for the first few weeks so you don’t get overwhelmed, then when the morning basket habit is established and when/if you feel ready to add more then you can do so.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Morning Basket

     

    WHAT IS A MORNING BASKET?

    I thought the term “morning basket” was one all homeschoolers knew but it turns out it’s not as popular as I thought. If you’re new to the term it can actually be called a lot of different things: morning time, circle time, morning meeting, we’ve called ours brain stain/brain box, etc.

    The purpose of the morning basket is that it is a time when the family comes together and does some learning as a group, often before splitting off to do their own age appropriate learning. It’s supposed to be a time when you can cover quite a few subjects together in a short amount of time.

    I think the idea become popular when Sarah Mackenzie included it in her book Teaching from Rest and then Pam Barnhill started the podcast Your Morning Basket.

     

    So, I decided to take this idea of a morning basket and make it my own by making a mother morning basket with a few different things I want to read/do each day.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Culture Morning Basket

     

    WHAT’S INSIDE MY MOTHER MORNING BASKET

     

    Now that we’ve covered all of that, here’s what’s actually in my morning basket. I’ll share them in the order that I added them in my basket. I started with the first few and then slowly added one at a time until I reached where I am currently at. I plan on adding a few morning things once winter comes so maybe then I’ll share my winter morning basket.

     

    PRAYER JOURNAL

    I use a traveler’s notebook for my prayer journal and each morning I spend some time in prayer. I have lists of different requests and answered prayers.

    I also keep meaning to make one of the inserts a place to just praise God for who He is, I was doing this in a different notebook a few months ago and want to bring that idea into the traveler’s notebook so I have it all in one place.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Culture Morning Basket

     

    BIBLE

    I made a big realization (for me) in February that there is a difference between reading the Bible and studying it. Not that just reading it is bad but I’m a speed reader and don’t retain a lot of details when I read and it was an ah-ha moment for me when I started to actually study the Bible, I was learning so much more! It takes longer to get through a single book of the Bible this way but it is worth it.

     

    COMPOSITION NOTEBOOK

    This is where I am writing all my Bible study notes, I’ve written a lot since February and have almost filled it up.

     

    PENCIL CASE

    This holds my pencil crayons that I use for highlighting in my Bible and a little mini ruler for the same purpose. As well as highlighters for color coordinating what I underline in my Bible and what I write in my composition notebook and then I also have some plastic page tabs for marking some of my favorite verses.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Morning Basket

     

    The following items are ones I’ve been slowly adding over time.

     

    ONE LINE A DAY JOURNAL

    I got a five year memory journal for Mother’s Day this year (though I do wish I would have bought this one or this one, I like the hardcover better and didn’t realize the one I bought was paperback until it arrived in the mail) and I do think it will be a treasured possession once it is filled! It already has ridiculous quotes like my son saying “Cat food is my third favorite food.” – that’s definitely going to make me laugh in years to come.

     

    SCRIPTURE WRITING PLAN AND NOTEBOOK

    I’ve really come to appreciate writing out Scripture over the year and so I printed out the free monthly Scripture writing passages from Mom Strong International and have been writing out the passage for each day. I write them in this awesome alpaca notebook my husband got me last year that was just waiting for the perfect use (freshly shaved alpacas are my favorite animal).

     

    A NON-FICTION BOOK

    I usually have some kind of non-fiction book on the go – usually Christian non-fiction either in the Christian living or parenting categories. Currently I am reading The Life & Faith Field Guide for Parents which fits both categories. The sub-title is: Help Your Kids Learn Practical Life Skills, Develop Essential Faith Habits, and Embrace a Biblical Worldview. I’ve read most of it and would highly recommend it!

    The non-fiction book often doesn’t get read at the same time I do the other things, I will often keep it out and pick it up when I have a few minutes here and there throughout the day.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Culture Morning Basket

     

    SOME TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR OWN MORNING BASKET

    If you just read through all of what I include in my morning basket and also the fact that I want to add more things and were just completely overwhelmed I just want to share some tips that may help you.

     

    KNOW YOUR SEASON OF LIFE

    First of all, it’s important to know what season of life you are in and factor that in. Right now I don’t have any babies or toddlers – just two school aged kids, so obviously that makes it easier for me than for some of you.

     

    SET AN EXAMPLE

    Originally I started out by trying to get all my morning basket stuff done before my kids woke up but then when I started reading The Life & Faith Field Guide he talked about how children like to copy their parents and the importance of them being able to see you reading your Bible. Since then I’ve decided to do some other work (like writing blog posts) before my kids wake up and then getting my stuff out once they are awake. Now, this does mean there are interruptions but part of being a mom is being okay with interruptions.

     

    CREATE A SIMILAR BASKET FOR YOUNG KIDS

    One thing you could do if you have toddler/preschool aged children is create their own morning basket for them to do stuff out of while you do yours and they could snuggle up beside you on the couch and look through a children’s Bible, practice their pencil grip by “writing” in a notebook, etc.

     

    TAKE IT SLOW

    I’ve mentioned this a few times already, but just start with a couple of things in your basket and add to it as you feel comfortable.

     

    KNOW IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE DONE IN THE MORNING

    We have a large kitchen table so that is where I like to do my morning basket, I’ll have my stuff on one part of the table and if I get interrupted I can just leave it there and get back to it when I have a few minutes. There are some days where my stuff doesn’t get done until after lunch and because I don’t have unrealistic expectations for my “morning” time that’s okay with me.

     

    Okay, I think that is everything about my mother morning basket, if you have one (or will after reading this) I would love to hear what you include!

  • Our Summer Homeschooling - Heartschooling Ideal Rhythm
    heart schooling,  homeschool planning,  methods & philosophies,  real homeschool stories

    Our Ideal Summer Heartschooling Rhythm

    If you have been here for any length of time you’ll probably already know that I am not big on schedules.

    I mean, I’ve created broad annual goals each year to avoid them and my mini planner is perfect for those with schedule avoidance. But I wanted to go a little deeper into my heartschooling plan for the summer.

    I actually think this is more than a schedule, I think it may be . . . dare I say . . . a routine.

    Me and routine, we have a love-hate history. I’m not a fan of her but I see the benefits of getting to know her so I’m slowly exposing myself to this idea of routine and honestly, the more I get to know her, the more I see her benefits.

    I don’t even know who I am any more.

    In the past my beef with routine has been this idea of monotony and the only routine that I had was to not have a routine. But in the past year I’ve gotten into a few good personal routines and I’ve come to realize how they can benefit my children and our days (even though I’m still not a big fan of the word – let’s officially call this a rhythm – that is a way better word).

    I am still waiting on a few resources to arrive but I think I have finished creating my ideal heartschooling rhythm for the summer and thought I would share it with you all.

     

    Our Summer Homeschooling - Heartschooling Ideal Rhythm

     

    Before we get into it, I guess I should back up a few steps and explain what heartschooling is.

    I’m sure someone else has used the term “heartschooling” before but I’m not drawing from anyone else’s words or ideas when it comes to this idea of heartschooling. It is something I feel like I need and want to do with my kids and the definition I came up with is as follows:

    HEARTSCHOOLING
    Heartschooling is teaching and reaching the hearts of our children so they can know the heart of God.
    This is done by spending time in God’s word, setting a gentle and loving example for them to follow and showing them how to love and forgive in their daily lives.

     

    With that bit of information, for the rest of the post I will share some ways I plan on going about this.

     

    Our Summer Homeschooling - Heartschooling Ideal Rhythm

     

    HABITS

    I think we need to start with this one even though it is not the most important item on this list. I am working on instilling some good habits in my children this summer and I really think a regular rhythm or routine will make this a lot easier. I am so out of my element in this area though, I would appreciate any advice.

    One thing that I am not a fan of are rewards charts/stickers/jars/etc. I know they work for some kids and families but not for ours, nor do I really care to make them work for us.

    That being said, I do think rewards can be motivating and my kids to get some screen time a couple days a week but only once the things I want them to get done are done. These days where they have this screen time the list gets done a lot quicker.

    I know the formation of habits will require consistency from me, something I am working on.

    Some of the habits I am currently trying to instill in them are things like: getting better at cleaning up after themselves, helping more before and after a meal, getting some of their chores out of the way in the morning, etc.

     

    Our Summer Homeschooling - Heartschooling Ideal Rhythm

     

    BIBLE & MEMORY VERSES

    This is one of those things that is really the most important but I struggle with doing consistently – with the kids that is, I am fine with studying the Bible on my own but for some reasons have a hard time sticking with Bible reading with the kids.

    I did mention in my original heartschooling post that we plan on going through Our 24 Family Ways, I ordered the book and it should arrive early next week. Each week we will be going over a different “way” – each of which include a memory verse so we will follow along with that.

    Currently we have been listening to the first week of the Same Page Podcast and memorizing those verses (the also have a passage from Shakespeare, a poem and some US president history in each episode).

    I’ve heard really good things about The Life and Faith Field Guide for Parents, the subtitle is: Help Your Kids Learn Practical Life Skills, Develop Essential Faith Habits, and Embrace a Biblical Worldview. I know there are chapters all about teaching children how to read the Bible based on their age and it seems like a really good resource. I hope to also grab this book soon and put some of what I read into action.

     

    Our Summer Homeschooling - Heartschooling Ideal Rhythm

     

    IMMERSE OURSELVES IN GOOD LITERATURE

    The last few months I feel like I’ve been even more intentional with making sure we are reading good books and listening to good audiobooks. I want my kids to be exposed to characters who love God and are willing to stand up for what they believe in.

    Here are just a couple of recommendations:

    The Chronicles of Narnia – it has stood the test of time for good reason. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe will also be my favorite book in the series.

    Frozen Fire – this audio drama is so, so, so good. We’ve listened to a few audio dramas from Lamplighter and have enjoyed them all but this one has been my favorite by far. My kids are 6 and 8 and I think they were a great age for it, though it would also be good for an older crowd (maybe up to 14 or so?).

    Redwall series – we listened to the first book on audio and Raeca is currently reading book two, if you have kids that enjoy animal fantasy books, this series is great.

    The Wingfeather Saga series – I read this one myself and plan on listening to it with the kids soon. The book is funny and yet has strong good vs. evil, with characters showing real courage and learning to use their gifts to help others.

    Christian Heroes Then & Now – fiction books can be great but there is something special about listening to true stories of courage and bravery and this series has some great ones.

     

    Great Nature Study Resources - Exploring Nature with Children

     

    EXPLORING GOD’S CREATION

    I want to take some intentional time this summer to explore and learn about nature. I bought Exploring Nature with Children last year and am only starting to use it now.

    I plan on sharing some snippets of our time with this curriculum over on my personal Instagram in the following weeks, we’ll be starting with Summer Solstice next week, I’m looking forward to diving in!

     

    Our Summer Homeschooling - Heartschooling Ideal Rhythm

     

    BEING CREATIVE

    I come from a line of crafty women and it appears that trait has been passed down to my daughter. I want to make sure we all work on handicrafts of some sort – things that are useful and are not going to just get thrown out immediately.

    Lately Raeca has been making notebooks for her travelers notebook – she’s been taking pages of a phonebook (that for some reason still get dropped off in our neighborhood even though I doubt anyone even uses the things) she then glues decorative pages over top to make the pages sturdier and prettier. I might just have to get her to make a couple of notebooks for mine.

    I have lots of other ideas for handicrafts as well and we will experiment with the ideas as needed.

     

    Our Summer Homeschooling - Heartschooling Ideal Rhythm

     

    THE RHYTHM

    I’ve said so many times over that there is so much that I like about the Charlotte Mason method, but for us, in this season, it’s not the method that we are following, but I still pull so much inspiration from her method. When I look at the rhythm that I want this summer it comes down to this simple idea that Charlotte Mason shared, that each day, each child should have: something to do, something to love and something to think about.

    SOMETHING TO DO – the kids have been doing a bit of school work in big curriculum books we recently picked up, they are currently in the stage where they are excited about this because they are already “in” the next grade. They are also doing their daily chores and some days also doing some handicraft stuff.

    SOMETHING TO LOVE – we are in a season of learning to love the people in our home, even as we recognize they may have personalities that totally clash with our own. Some days there is more love than others.

    SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT – they are thinking about the stories that we read, the verses we memorize and the nature we learn about.

     

    We may not get to every single thing every day but it has been nice to stop throughout the day and think about just these three things and ask myself if they have had something to do, something to love and something to think about. I find it to be a nice, simple rhythm for summer.

     

    Our Summer Homeschooling - Heartschooling Ideal Rhythm - Simple Summer Homeschool Rhythm

     

    What does your summer rhythm look like? I would love to hear all about it!