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.)
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!
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!)
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!
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!
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.
Now, let’s look–specifically– at what we have to look forward to this year!
For the bulk of language arts, science, nature study, and art/math appreciation, we are so excited to use Blossom & Root!
I went ahead and got the full bundle for first grade, since it all looked wonderful. You can piecemeal what you want, however.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know that my degrees and background are all things Communication, Story, and Persuasive speaking. It is so very important to me that my kids grow up with QUALITY literature that’s appropriate for them– not twaddle. Of course, literature selections will look different at each age and stage, but I believe that exposing children to quality stories young shape them so well to love Story and become great Storytellers themselves. (It’s no secret that great readers make great writers.) There has to be good input to get good output.
B&R’s LA merges quality literature with age-appropriate analysis/discussion with wordplay with copywork with journaling with poetry. By default, it incorporates several elements of the Brave Learner lifestyle that I want for our homelearning journey. So when I saw it laid out with beautiful booklists… the curriculum had my attention. (See a sample for yourself here.)
We are also using The Good and the Beautiful as a supplement, as she has done really well with that during kinder.
But what sold me– like, literally made my searching for 1st grade curriculum come to a blazing halt and made me push the “add to my cart” button– was the science.
Science & Nature Study
The irony is not lost on me that it was science that sold me (literally) on this curriculum– in a couple of ways.
I’m much more of an LA and history curriculum junkie than a science one.
the Science is secular, when I’m definitely faith-based/Divine Design/creationist
So what was it?
THE OPTIONS. ALL OF THE OPTIONS.
Here’s the thing. I want to be the mom that doesallthethings with my kids every day. I do. I want to do all the science experiments and all the nature walks and all the everything so my kids don’t miss anything.
That’s not life. I have 3 kids– the oldest that is six. The youngest doesn’t walk yet, and the middle child is a boy that has one setting: non-stop. The interruptions are more than FEW. They are constant. I’m sure I’m not alone here, as there are many mommas who know exactly what I’m talking about.
There are other things that press for my time, like cleaning and laundry and meal prep and shopping and alltheotherthingshavingahome means doing.
So I needed something that I could still pull out and do, even if it was a heavy grading/working week and still feel like I covered science well. I also still wanted all the options available to me for when I could incorporate them.
Check out the science sample to see how B&R breaks it all down! Look specifically on pages 15 on to see what I mean. Six different options to choose from! The separate lab guide really breaks down the experiments and activities into super-useful steps. The students then can record what they have done/found into an open-ended workbook.
On to the nature component!
I love how she merges/overlaps the nature study with the science week so it all has a really great cohesive feel!
She has weekly nature tasks, but combines a few weeks together to create larger projects, like A Book of Firsts, etc. Again, there’s the ability to record it all down.
When you get the full first grade bundle, you also get a really neat art/math integrated studies unit!
I was already planning on having art as a part of our enrichment basket, so this was a nice bonus for me to be able to get with the other “required” parts of our curriculum.
Every week, you study a new piece of art and change artists every few weeks or so. Each piece is linked to a math concept– like geometry, symmetry, etc. so you can see how the mathematical principle plays out in a visual, artistic way. It’s a great way to cover different art pieces, have artist study (since you cover the same artist for a least a couple of weeks in a row), and introduce all kinds of math.
It isn’t, and doesn’t claim to be, a complete math curriculum, so we have another thing for math itself… but hey! Showing kids math while doing art?! Bonus!!!
And yes, they have a sample for this as well… Here it is!
Other B&R stuff
We are using bits and pieces of B&R’s kindergarten ARTS program for composer study and also for Geography/History. The K History and geography workbook focuses on the child’s own ancestry, family, and community. Besides being a great way to introduce what history is, and how it works, the workbook is an amazing keepsake, as it begins to show and track what the child’s personal ancestry is. Cool!
I’ll show you how I’m incorporate it with our 1st grade history below.
I’m super excited about trying a few different things this year!
First off, I was able to get Miquon Math stuff at a great price at a homeschool consignment store earlier this summer. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Miquon, it is a hands-on “math lab” for early elementary students.
Here’s a video that explains a little more about the what/why behind it…
Our 1st grade girlie has already begged to get the Cuisenaire Rods out, so I’ve let her explore with them a bit. I know she’ll jump right into the workbook/lab part really easily once we gear up!
We are also excited to be taking some of our math outdoors with Wild Math! I’m doing this more for our 3 yr old to tag along and learn/play during nice days… so many of the activities can be done anywhere and are super adaptable for grade level. Check it out here!
I’m also incorporating Life of Fred as a part of what we are covering as well. I’ve actually started reading it as a part of our summer enrichment, and E thinks it is funny and quirky– so it keeps her interest. She is remembering the math portions as well, and it just another good way to show how math can be incorporated into stories as well, and isn’t just numbers on a page. (I’m looking at you, word problems.)
Also, this past spring, Teaching Textbooks had a “free sample” download period, in which I download 15 free lessons of their 3rd grade math. On days where we just need a change of pace or she wants to work on the computer, I will sneak that in here and there as well.
E’s 1st grade History time is going to be divided and rotated into 3 parts: personal/regional, national, and international.
For the personal/regional component, I’m doing the B&R workbook like I mentioned above.
For the national part, we are doing a couple of things. We are going through a workbook on states that I’ll use as jumping off place to learn.
She will do the little activity, we will find the state on a map (found a fun interactive felt one at Target in the dollar section!)… and then we will incorporate this fun US Bingo game here and there to reinforce things that each state is known for!
It has great prompts for learning about each continent. This workbook would be great for older ages… and to be honest, I’ll probably be jotting down her words until her reading/writing skills develop further. However, she is super interested in learning more about different cultures and LOVES maps, and I thought this would be a great way to fan that interest now, versus waiting until she is older.
Here’s a nice walk through of the book, for those who are interested!
Also, we are going to incorporate info from The Hungry Planet (a book that is a part of a unit in B&R) to see how different cultures and countries eat as we cover them.
A fun little add-on that we are going to do is courtesy of Target’s dollar section (yes, again… ha!) They had an inflatable blank globe, complete with plastic cling continents that can be placed and replaced on the sphere. So it will be a neat way to get her to practice geography and figure out how the continents relate to each other.
So that’s most of it!
Language Arts, Math, Science and History (<— we are looping those)
I’m also super excited for our Enrichment Basket, and will share what are plans are for that as well. Stay tuned!
I didn’t realize how popular my hand-copied Brave Learner checklist would be when I posted it the other day! For those of you who mentioned that you wanted to make one, I went ahead and threw this together for you!
It’s not my handwriting, because I don’t have one of those fancy IPad pros and pens to draw it electronically… so I just used what I do for graphic design and made a close replica! Just right click, save image as to your desktop, and print away!
So, I’m in the middle (chapter 10, to be precise) of reading Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read-Aloud Family. And by “reading,” I mean “listening.” Ironically, the only way I can read right now is to be read-aloud to myself. 🙂 I much prefer reading an actual book. I love underlining and circling and underlining and dog-earring. I love writing my thoughts and mini-essays in the margins. I process and remember so much better that way.
But after going through a LOOOOONG season of not reading much of anything besides board books and debate briefs, I decided a subscription to Scribd was a small price to pay for my own mental health and investment in mother culture.
I have no regrets.
There are lots of great parts in Read-Aloud that I wish I had pushed the “bookmark” button for, but didn’t get to, (alas, the downfalls of listening and driving…) but this one I managed to scramble and tap the small icon before it moved on too much past the thought.
Mackenzie is quoting children/YA author, Katherine Paterson, when she writes,
“When I write a story it is not an attempt to make children good or wise. Nobody but God can do that, and even God doesn’t do it without the child’s cooperation. I am trying, in a book, to simply give children a place where they can find rest for their weary souls.”
These three sentences sponsored several thoughts.
First, I have written Christian drama, adapted books for stage, and even dabbled in children’s writing myself–although I want to do more. I have personally felt the conflict of wanting to make the best decision for the story, and the expectations of a conservative Christian audience to insert clear black and white messages and even work in a salvation prayer or a character hug somewhere. But you and I know that life isn’t like that. It isn’t black and white. We don’t know all the answers. And I don’t know why writers are expected to inject all of that in a play that’s 90 minutes long, or a story that’s barely 10 pages (in the case of a child’s picture book). I mean, we aren’t all script writers for Full House, you know?
Second, I love the implication here that, just like we shouldn’t expect an author to shoulder the burden of “making children good or wise,” we CAN expect THE Author to do that. I believe that each story has the Gospel in it– Creation can’t escape it. Every time a story has good triumph over evil… every time sin has a consequence… every time a character struggles to make the right choice… every time a princess is rescued or ANYONE is rescued– that’s Gospel. That’s Truth. That’s the Story that is inscribed on our hearts. I believe God can and does use story–all of it– to impress Truth on us. That’s His Craft. His Business. His Work.
The third thought Paterson’s words provoked had absolutely nothing to do with writing and everything to do with parenting. Ah, parenting. You know. That 24/7 job that, at least for me, takes 98% of my brain’s CPU when its in problem-solving mode.
I very much feel the heaviness in my heart when my children do things they aren’t supposed to do. The problem isn’t that they are “misbehaving” or “acting their age.” Children do silly things, have maturing brains, etc., etc. I get that.
My thing is, so often, I have a hard time discerning if something is “just a phase,” or the beginning of a horrible character flaw and sin habit. The first possibility requires more patience than anything else. The second requires intentional consistency that is exhausting, but necessary.
Unlike bookwriting, parenting does have more of a goal and obligation of imparting goodness and wisdom in their children. It is the parents responsibility to take care of their specifically-given children, unlike an author that writes for an age-group of people they don’t personally know.
But here is where I think the quotation hits home. Literally.
Like a story, I can’t make my children good and wise. I can’t. Sure, I can *try.* Sure, I can encourage it and make choices that help deposit those things in the heart of my children. And sure, I can do my best to NOT GET IN THE WAY of goodness and wisdom taking root. But the burden of squeezing in all goodness and wisdom in my children in the 18 years I have them? I can’t do that.
But you know what? Making my children good and wise isn’t my job. Because “nobody but God can do that.” And Paterson is also right– God waits for cooperation. A willingness. He waits for me– and will wait for my children– to come to Him, after feeling the tug and persuasiveness of His Love and Truth and promise of Rest.
And that leads us to the end of the quotation: “I am trying, in a book, to simply give children a place where they can find rest for their weary souls.“
Recently, I have been full of my own wonderings of “what should I do?!” as a parent. I don’t want to under-react or over-react, so I don’t know how to ACT at all.
But when I heard this quotation, it was like a little light went off in my head and heart.
What if I tried, in my home, to simply give children a place where they can find rest for their weary souls. That was it. To offer rest.
So when drama happens? Offer rest.
When they are tired? Offer rest.
When they are sad? Offer rest.
When they don’t know what to do? Offer rest.
And we might think to ourselves, “how much rest do they really need? How ‘weary’ can a 3 year old be?” (Or a 6 year old or 10 year old or 13 years old or 35 year old… <<ahem>>)
But weariness affects our children just as much as it affects us. They have their version. We have ours.
And in our weariness, what do we want most?
And think about it. Isn’t it life-Rest and soul-Rest that draws us to Jesus?
So, it makes me wonder. What would happen if I stopped trying so hard to “make” my children good and wise, and instead, focused on making a home that invited them to experience True rest?
Wouldn’t I be inviting them to Jesus?
Wouldn’t I be ushering them to the One who CAN make them Wise and Good and Whole and Well?
And in focusing on Rest for them, an interesting thing happens.
We are on week four of our Fairy Tale/Wonder Story Summer series! I’m loving getting to re-read the stories I grew up with. I’m noticing that some of the stories I know best are actually variations– not the originals. #learnsomethingneweveryday
Before we jump into the week, let’s see some Mother Culture!
MOTHER CULTURE Some thing that I have missed since being in college/grad school/teaching college is learning alongside people my age/maturity level. Ha! I do work from home, and of course I teach– my own kiddos and a homeschool high school debate course during the academic year– but I really miss the peer component. Our community does have a lot to offer in regards to classes and ongoing interest education, and I definitely plan on doing more of that as my kids get older and don’t need me as much/as often (for things, like, for food. Literally. #nursingmom).
In the meantime, something that I like to do is to find a theme of something I want to learn/teach/make/do myself, and then open my home and do it with my friends (and their friends… it’s an open event for acquaintances!). My husband and I have done a night of culture, where we offered homemade kombucha flights in all flavors and I taught myself to make cheese and let people taste-test it. That was fun! I’ve also done a handlettering class, a succulent learning and potting event, etc. I firmly believe learning is essential, and that includes for us moms and adults!
I’m pretty passionate about natural living, and using things on my skin that aren’t full of junk. I also wanted to make a fun theme because my daughter really wanted to invite some of her little friends over to the event, too. So, I did a little research, got out my natural tools/supplies/ingredients, and made an mermaid make-and-take evening, concentrating on 3 summer pamper products– bath fizzies (like bath bombs, but in a powder for that you can sprinkle in a pool/tub), whipped body butter, and lip scrub. We made it in lots of colors, had fun jars for people to use and customize their products with, and put out some snacks for everyone to enjoy.
E and I even decorated with some original ocean-inspired chalkboards. Along with mermaids, she is kinda into those creepy deep sea fishes that look like something out of nightmares. You can see her drawing of a hatchet fish below. It is definitely cuter than the real thing.
Moms and daughters went around and made their items and then all the girls destroyed played in my daughter’s room while all the ladies talked life downstairs. It was a great night, and helped fill that adult conversation lack that every momma of littles has. I made a resource that has our event’s recipes in it and emailed it out to those who came. If you are interested in seeing what we did and want to try your own momma/daughter mermaid make and take, click here to get the recipes we used.
Note: the bath fizzies make for a super fun science lesson. #homeschoolbonus
On a completely unrelated note, a new subject I’m researching as a part of learning more about health and wellness as it relates to food is Intuitive Eating. There may or may not be a post on that at some point. 🙂
Alright, that’s mother culture for the week. Next stop: our wonder story!
DAY ONE As with all of our Day One’s so far, we read the most original version of the fairy tale to get a “baseline” for the rest we will enjoy through the rest of the week.
It is Hans Christian Andersen that has the original Princess and the Pea story… and it’s actually pretty short and too the point. The last line made E balk a little bit. It reads:
“So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess; and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has stolen it. There, that is a true story.”
“Seriously?!” She asked, at the true story part.
In her defense, no other story declared itself to be true so far.
We were going to do an art project that day, but decided to take an impromptu trip to a local dairy farm instead. We saw the cows up close, and visited their little dairy and veggie storefront. Jbuddy really loved the cows and wanted to get up close and personal… which sparked an impromptu learning opportunity about what electricity is, how it is in some fences, and we shouldn’t touch them. #noERtripstoday
With fresh veggies, cheese, and milk in hand, we had a full day and the makings of dinner. We took the long way on the country roads back home, and honestly, it was delightful. I’m planning on returning and scheduling a farm tour when I can weave it in.
DAY TWO In keeping with tradition, it was fairy tale variation day!
We actually couldn’t get our hands on very many books about the Pea story, so I looked up the books I wanted to get on YouTube and we “read” them together via watching them online. It isn’t ideal, as I love to read and work from a hard copy when we go over the story together, but if it can’t happen, this work-around is definitely better than nothing. We actually came across online versions to watch as well, and I particularly loved How It Should Have Ended’s version. More on that in a second… 😀
We read Princess Pigtoria and the Pea. We both loved the alliteration, the fact that the princess was a pig, and how <<spoiler>> she decided not to marry the prince because he was a jerk and a half… and instead, married a nice common pig and opened a pizza parlor. (Can you guess which letter was used for the alliteration? #prettyperceptible
The second variation was one produced by Cool School. E thought this one was the funniest one, and she actually borrowed one of the lines from their version to put in her own. The voice of the princess when she finally appeared just cracked me up!
The third story was fun, as the point of view of the tale was from the PEA, versus the normally 3rd person narrator. This story, called The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be, gave E and me an excellent opportunity to talk about point of view and how each person in a story–and in life– have their own way of looking at things.
Note: E did NOT like the mother’s eyes in this story. I have to admit; it is an odd choice for a children’s book. #nopeasforeyesplease
And last, but not least, is my favorite version, The How it Should Have Ended for Kids one. It didn’t escape me when I read the original version and most of the more common variations that the princess had to be tested for her purity and worth before being allowed to married the prince, but yet the worth of the prince to have HER wasn’t really questioned. Although I don’t want to get into feminist theory with my 6 year old– both the pros AND the cons– I don’t mind her learning sooner rather than later that stories/messages communicate more than what you might notice at first reading/hearing.
Overall, I felt like this week’s versions gave us a lot of things to think about, and I can see how they gave her ideas– and freedom– to get creative on her own version by the end of the week.
DAY THREE Remember that craft we were supposed to do on day one? Yep, it made it’s appearance here. #betterlatethannever
What was nice about this activity is we practiced math with it as well. I asked her how many mattresses the original story used, and she answered twenty. So, she cut 20 “mattresses” out, and we used them to discuss and practice skip counting by 4s and 5s and did some adding and subtracting before gluing them onto our bed.
She drew the princess with “super crazy hair” because she was tossing and turning all night, “and everyone knows that you get crazy hair when that happens.” In the end, she made a little video explaining her art and narrating the story to me using her piece.
She likes math and crafts, so she enjoyed making something so large. It’s now a mural on her wall in her bedroom. Ha!
DAY FOUR As always, our last day with our Weekly Wonder Story is spent creating our own. This time, we took Babykins with us on our momma/daughter writing date. E likes it when it is “all of us girls.” We hit Target first and did some father’s day shopping… and decided to get some dollar sunglasses from the dollar section. This is the first time Babykins has worn a bonnet and sunglasses (let alone star ones), and I just think she looks so incredibly cute! #biasedbutidontcare
Aaaaaand lucky us, our Target has a Starbucks, so we did our wonder writing right there. 🙂 I haven’t shared any of E’s actual wonder stories with you so far, but I will this week. All ideas are her own; I have not coached her in any way.
The Princess and the Pea – An Original “E” Wonder Story
Once upon a time, there was a Princess. The Princess wanted to get married. She really wanted to marry somene. So she looked up the princes near her. But the 1st prince was too short. The 2nd prince was too tall. The 3rd prince she looked up was too furry. She found a 4th prince and asked him, “do you like dogs or cats?” The prince replied, “I like hamsters.” She didn’t like that so she said, “Next!”
She talked to a 5th prince. And she said to him, “Do you like dogs or cats?” And the prince replied, “dogs!” She liked that. Then the princess said, “You’re the one!”
Then she whispered to herself, “if he’s really a prince, I should test him to be sure. I’m gonna have him sleep on lots of mattresses– like 100, because the castle is super tall. Then I’m gonna put a pea under all the mattresses. He will feel the pea if he’s a real prince.”
Then the cooker names Baileywick cooked a delicious dinner made of chicken and pasta. Then after all that chicken and all that pasta, the prince was tired and said, “Where’ my room?” Then the princess sighed, “It’s in the guest room,” and she said, “Baileywick!” And Baileywick came right away. And Baileywick showed the Prince right where the guest room was. Then the prince said, “Ooooooooooooh. I’m really tired!” And he went to go to sleep right away. So he climbed a latter. Up up up he went! Then the Princess said to herself again, “If he is definitely a prince, he will feel that pea!” And the Princess got a dessert and it was called a smoothie. The Prince feeled the pea. Then the Princess went upstairs to her bedroom and fell fast asleep and woke up in the morning. She called Baileywick and Baileywick came right away and made breakfast. The Princess had breakfast with the Prince. She realized that he didn’t sleep a wink so he must be a real prince. So they got married right away and lived happily ever after.
I must admit, I love how she switched the roles of the prince and the princess. As a sidenote: I’m not sure what she meant when the 3rd prince was too “furry” except she saw a man with a lot of body hair without a shirt on doing yard work in our neighborhood the other day and seemed kind of shocked. Ha!
And that about wraps up our week! Hope you enjoyed another week’s worth of ideas and links and seeing how our Wonder project is working for us!