Super Simple Pumpkin Unit: another easy Halloween add-on!

Another simple halloween lesson, for those who want some #easyenchantment while reading, playing games, doing math, covering science, and a craft. It’s raining here, so our outdoor fun is a little limited today.

We read the Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston. If you don’t have the book, they have several youtube clips that have people reading it. Here’s one!

Then, we played The Vanishing Pumpkin by making a spoof off of Doggie Doggie Where’s Your Bone and Hide and Seek. One kiddo would sit in a chair, and another kiddo would get up, “snitch the pumpkin,” and hide it in the room.

Then we’d sing “Happy Halloween, Happy Halloween, you’re pumpkin’s been snitched./ Happy Halloween Halloween, was it me or a witch?” (Do your own thing here, cuz we just made it up and sang it to the tune of “Happy Halloween” from the Nightmare Before Christmas. Which incidentally, my kids have never seen, but are familiar with the tune, just by hearing it here and there.)

After that, we did some math by playing the “Roll a Pumpkin” game! We rolled two dice and followed the rules laid out by Happy Home Fairy’s post.

Our pumpkins definitely were… creative. 😀

We had to add the dice together to play the game, and since we have a preschooler and a first grader, it definitely counts as math for us. In fact, covering simple addition in a fun way? Yes, please.!

Still to do today:

1) a video that covers the anatomy, life cycle, picking, types of a pumpkin, and treats you can make with pumpkin…

AND…

2) painting pumpkins!

Happy Halloween! Enjoy enchantment today! 

Super simple skeleton unit: an easy Halloween add-on!

Want to sneak in some reading and science/anatomy, disguised as a Halloween unit?

Behold, our “halloween” themed impromptu morning time we did this morning!

We started by snuggling on the couch and reading Skeleton Hiccups.

If you have the book, awesome! If not, snag it from amazon (linked above), or here it is to read/watch at home.

After we read, we got up and danced “the skeleton dance.” The 1 year old boogied, the 4 and 6 year old giggled through it, and I’m counting it as exercise for the day. #winwin

After that, I pulled out an anatomy book, and we talked about how the

Then we pulled out an anatomy book, and talked about how the skeleton couldn’t have REALLY had hiccups, because muscles (specifically the diaphragm) controls hiccups. But… it’s a cool story anyway.

(Side note: LeapReader has a Human Body game that covers the skeletal system that would be fun to incorporate. We were going to, but our pen wasn’t charged… #cantthinkofeverything)

Then, we went over the real names of the bones on our skeleton picture in the book (vs. “hip bone and leg bone” like the song), and listened to this song to reinforce:

And finally, we finished off our impromptu lesson with the Scishow Kids show about our Super Skeleton! It’s chock full of neat information that older students could spring board off of, if you have upper elementary/middle school needing to flesh some ideas out more. 🙂

My almost 7 got a lot out of the video, but my 4 yr old was even fascinated. He lifted up his arms and went, “I didn’t know my bones made blood!!!” 

We had other things planned for math today, so we went ahead and did that, but you could easily add that to a skeleton unit by counting the vertebrae in the back, subtracting how many bones babies are born with by the amount of bones adults have, or check out this blogpost for several different skeleton math worksheets, etc.

Hope our little impromptu skeleton lesson this morning makes it easy for you to snag an idea or two that makes school on Halloween more fun for you!

Fairy Tale, STEM, and Brave Learning… oh my!

If you are a learn-at-home family, you know the decision to educate your own children comes for a lot of different reasons.

But no matter what the reason is, one this is for sure: the bulk of your child(ren)’s time will be spent with YOU.

This can be a wonderful, amazing, awesome thing… but if most of us are honest, it is probably daunting, overwhelming, and maybe occasionally claustrophopia-inducing. (At least for fellow introvertish parents like myself.)

Part of living the Brave Learning lifestyle is paying attention to the “Super Powers” (which you can read about in The Brave Learner or snag in her free companion guide!). One of those super powers is “Collaboration”– where insteading of “momming” or “dadding” your kid, you decide to “big sibling” them instead. The idea is to come alongside to help them accomplish something, versus “reign down” the ideas from above.

Sometimes, collaborating means finding something your kid loves, connecting her with people who do it and sitting beside her with a fan to the flame the learning.

That’s exactly why we decided to do a class or two on Outschool!

I enrolled my daughter in a Fairy Tale STEM class— which is just perfect for the ongoing Fairy Tale Jot it Down Project we started in the summer!

The class is super fun and engaging!

Here’s my girlie, holding up a mini-Rapunzel that she is going to design an tower escape for. 🙂

The first week, she watched her class via my laptop, using her unicorn band headphones. I had her stocked with crafty tower-building “tools.” Each week, the teacher sends an email with the things that the next class will need– things that you probably have at home already, but just need to gather for the hands-on part of the class. Each week, they read a fairy tale, have some fun idea time, and then find solutions!

You can see E’s work in progress– a Rapunzel tower. Not pictured: a straw and pipe cleaner ladder. Other students in the class made swings, slides, etc. It was fun seeing all the ideas!

The next week, was Robin Hood… where they crafted their own bows and arrows and figured out the science behind shooting. (We are still figuring that out over here. Ha!)

Here’s E, looking all tough with her bow and arrow! I actually put her class on the ipad this week, which worked better as she was about to move it easily if it got in the way. (She tends to spread all.the.stuff.out.everywhere.)

She would look a little more menacing without the unicorn smile on her forehead, don’t you think? 😀

E looks forward to her online class every week and loves it, and she enjoys “teaching me” and showing off her projects to me each week.

We chose the Fairy Tale STEM class because it fits with what we are doing right now, but I am definitely looking ahead to other classes that can add more surprise, curiosity, and celebration to our homeschool, Brave Learning journey!

My Fall Mother Culture Event Line-up!

I don’t know about you, but in the middle of doing the mom/wife/work/homeschool thing, it can be too easy to forget that we women need community and learning of our own.

It’s the whole “can’t pour from an empty cup” thing.

I’ve said this before, but before I learned about Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy, I came across her advocacy for “Mother Culture” and…

I. was. sold.

Because it can be hard to find something in the community to fit my schedule for me to come to, I’ve started making small events in my home for others to come and attend. As a result of this time, I find motivation I need to tie up cleaning loose ends around the house (ahem…), learn something new, feel the fulfillment of seeing a project/event “completed” (versus chores, etc., that never stop), and opening my home to both my friends and any friends that *they* have… which allows me to meet new people at the same time.

I’ve just spent some time plotting out the fall classes, and can’t wait to get started prepping for them.

If you are in the upstate SC area and happen to come across this blog post, please connect! RSVP to one of these events and come on over! I’d love to meet you!

For those of you who are interested in doing events like this for yourself and want some tips on how to get something like this started, shoot me an email or leave me a comment! I’d love to chat and walk you through the process! It really is easier the more you do it!

Without further adieu, my upcoming Mother-Culture-inspired Community events!


(Click on pics to read more details!)

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Consider yourself officially invited to our Beanie & Brunch event! Grab yourself some thick, soft yarn and come learn how easy it is to knit with a loom!

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Are you a fan all things fall, pumpkin, and latte? Me, too!

I’m planning a small paint, sip, and sniff event at my home, and would love to see some old friends… and make some new ones!

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Did you know that November 14th is National Pickle Day?

In preparation for this amazing new-to-most-of-us holiday, come join us to learn an amazing new pickle recipe, packed with fresh veggies, herbs, and even some essential oils!


Fellow momma teachers, do yourself a favor…

If going to or planning events isn’t your thing, no worries. But please DO something for YOU.

As you plan a lesson for your kiddos, or sign them up for some class or extracurricular, make a commitment to invest time– and even money?– in your own enrichment, too.

YOU are worth it!

“Say more ‘yes’ to the right things.” (with My Right Things FREE DOWNLOAD)

The title of this post is a quotation I just read, like, 5 seconds ago. The words are from a successful mompreneur I’m reading right now, Lindsay Teague Moreno.*

Her quote actually summarizes the whole point of this post that I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of days, so voila: instant blog title.

I’ve posted about several “specifics” of what we are doing over here for school and how we are doing it. We’ve talked about:

And all of those things– checklists and curriculum and planning– come with small boxes to check and, often, to-do lists to do.

It would give you the impression that I thrive on details.

Confession: that’s not true.

If I get TOO locked into something, I start feeling twitchy and claustrophobic. That will eventually override my (needless) fear of not doing enough, and eventually make me cranky and shut down. If I feel like my day is a huge “DO THIS” instead of “BE THIS,” I languish.

That’s a very old word that seems a bit hyperbole-ish, doesn’t it?**

It’s not, in this case. Ha! I vascilate between all of the definitions up there. It’s pretty pathetic.

I’ve tried to talk myself out of this part of myself. But it hasn’t worked.

And you know what? Maybe it isn’t supposed to.

Maybe I’m not supposed to be a super checklist momma, as convenient as that might seem to be.

Instead, probably since my youngest was born, I’ve had to just come to terms that I have to stop being a control freak– not just over my circumstances, and my kids, but myself, too. At some point, you have to stop wasting energy to erase your weaknesses and instead, highlight your strengths.

You know what? Big picture is my strength.

And it is going “big picture” that saves my sanity a lot of times. The Big Picture showcases what is essential to me.

A brainstorming exercise that I recently did instructed me to write a list of values for my business. As I was writing them, it occurred to me that those values incapsulated 4 key areas that I wanted in EVERY area of my life, not just my business. I want these 4 things in myself, my home, and my homeschooling.

These 4 things can serve as My Right Things checklist for almost everything I want to do, and every lesson I want to teach. I’ve put them altogether in a print-off that I’m going to include on my walls in a few key locations in my home… and I’d thought I’d attach it here, in the hopes that these words resonate with any other Big Picture people.

I hope your day lets you imagine and spark imagination in others.
I hope you have the opportunity to both encourage and be encouraged yourself.
I hope you enjoy the power of education today– and that the knowledge you give and receive blesses you intellectually, morally, and socially.
I hope you take the time to truly enjoy today and everyday by seeking pleasure within the menial, noticing the benefit of each hour, and truly finding satisfaction with the ones you share your life with.

*She drops a lot of business goodies and truth bombs in her book Boss Up! You should check it out if you are balancing momming and businessing at the same time– or thinking about it. I wish I had several of her suggestions and early business walk-thru when I went into business a few years ago. But alas. Better late than never.

**Seriously, languish is an old word. Its origins are from the 14th century and comes from the latin word, languire, and means to “fail in strength and exhibit signs of approaching death.” It was probably originally used by a mother of 13 kids at a river, who was trying to pound a stain from a loincloth against a rock while simultaneously keep her 5 kids under the age of 4.5 from drowning. The other moms around her doing the same thing overheard, quickly made the word a part of their normal vocab, and the rest is history.

Why I “plan from behind.”

I first read about this brilliant concept from Julie Bogart’s The Brave Learner book, and it was so incredibly freeing! It felt wonderful to “have permission” to not stress and plan my life away in order to homeschool! I can spend my time actually teaching and learning with my kids, instead of just planning to… imagine that!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of planning from behind with homeschooling, it is when, instead of spending time to write in what you will be teaching all week/month/year in a planner, you write down what you actually accomplish in the planner as you do it throughout the day. No getting stressed and having to draw arrows and erase and re-write and scratch out things in the planner if things don’t go according to plan. Instead, your record is what you actually did on the actual day you did it.

I will say I do have a game plan for every day, so we aren’t unschooling. There is a rhythm of our day in my head, but my brain doesn’t store the details. The details work themselves out throughout our day and get recorded in the planner.

Speaking of the planner… it’s been three weeks since it came in the mail and I’ve geeked out over it! It’s a custom-made Plum Paper planner*, and I LOVE it! You can find a little bit of a virtual flip-through in my instagram post.

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Guuuuuuyyyyyssssss… I’m totally geeking out over here! This is my first ever purchase of anything @plumpaper and I 👏🏻 am 👏🏻in 👏🏻love! 😍 I was having such a hard time finding a planner that did everything I wanted it to… I wanted my life in one place— personal, business, and homeschool. I finally decided I was just going to design my own. Fast forward a month later, a project that was turning into a major timehog, and was going to need a loan to print off. 😂 And then I saw something about how Plum Paper had a design-your-own option. It was love at first sight! ❤️❤️❤️ I personalized the cover, the tabs, the inserts… even the categories for each week to include my schooled kiddos, home list, business list, etc. I even have a designated space for bravelearning and mother culture! Time will tell if it will stand up to the use I’ve planned for this, but the quality is so amazing, I don’t think I will have a problem at all! Sure sure. It was more money than I ever spent on a planner… but considering I was buying 3 different planners, it really isn’t that much more. The customization and the convenience of having it all in one place is worth it! Take a gander at just some of the pages in the planner! 📒 . . . #willowhome #willowacademy #embracingessentialism #essentiallearning #essentialliving #plumpaper #winplumpaper #calendar #planning #organizing #homeschool #homeschoolmom #bravelearner #bravelearning #motherculture #eclectichomeschool #homeeducator #mompreneur #writeitdown #document #planner

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I’ve gotten a few questions about how I personally make planning from behind work for me, so I thought I’d just explain the process that my brain goes through every day we do school.

I plan from behind by doing the next thing. I know we are going to do some enrichment basket, LA, Math, and either Science or History every day. Each of those things has its own pattern. So I simply follow the pattern based on the day before.

The way our LA rhythm works is: read aloud/journal/play (Blossom & Root), read aloud/narration/play (B&R), word game/reading word list/mini poem (B&R), copywork/a lesson from The Good and the Beautiful/free write. So, yesterday, was a read aloud/narration/play day, so I know today is going to be a word game/reading list/mini poem day. So I go to the relevant places: the next section of the book, the next list, the next poem worksheet. We do them. We write those pages, lists, etc. down in the planner.

And we do the same with everything else we do: math, science… even our enrichment basket. (I know some people don’t record what they do in the basket in their planners, but I do. Our enrichment basket covers art, music, poetry, nature study, growth mindset, habit training, Bible, life skills, Spanish, and handicrafts. Some of that is covered every day we do the basket. Some of it is looped. But either way, I think it is worth writing down and noting that we are incorporating those learning areas in our lives.)

So, that’s it. I follow our rhythm (basket, LA, Math, science or history), do the next thing, then right it down.

And it completely works for us! I KNOW and feel confident in the fact that I am keeping a good record of work for my children, yet enjoy that I don’t have to spend hours writing it all in just to feel disappointed or like I’m failing if I have to rearrange it for some reason.

It’s just another way that I’m determined to keep the essentials/most important in my life– and in our homeschool journey, that’s not just what I plan, but actually HOW I plan, too.

* If you’d like to try Plum Paper for yourself, feel free to use my referral code and get a discount!