Loop scheduling: how we ensure family culture and our “gentle feast”

Each day, we spend a chunk of time learning together. Our mornings always include Bible time, hymn/folk/foreign song singing, and Bible memory… and we loop through other subjects. Right now, we loop through habit training, poet/poetry study, etiquette, fables, composer/music study, and art/artist study.

Yesterday morning, we talked about the etiquette of making others feel welcome— through simple acts like smiling, waving, saying hello, and introducing ourselves well to new people we meet.

We practiced hellos and introductions… and then made tasty smiles, just to be funny. 😂

Days don’t hold enough time to do all.the.things. Incorporating a loop schedule in our morning together time gives me the assurance that we will slowly and surely cover things that are important to the “gentle feast” I want to offer to my children, as well as foster a family culture that (I hope 🙏🏻) will have a lasting impact.

What’s important to you and your family culture that you weave into your days?

Start your summer with Mermaids and fun!

Does your kiddo love a good under-the-sea story? With the summer NOW HERE (HOW did that happen?!), I thought it would be fun to make a little list of fun mermaid-themed things to do.

Let’s not call it a “lesson plan,” because that might sound too much like school, okay. 😉 For the sake of the post, we’ll name it Mermaid Day. (Sidenote: did you know that there is actually an International Mermaid Day? Oddly, it is March 29. Seems like that could have been a little better thought out and have a summer date, no? Anyhoo.)

I like to keep things organized a bit, so let me follow the structure I have used for my other themed days (like Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day).

language arts

There are so many stories you can enjoy on Mermaid Day. Of course, you could go the classical “Little Mermaid” route, a la Hans Christian Anderson. (I adore the illustrations in this book of Anderson’s works…) But there are other books that would be fun to read and listen to as well. I’ll link a couple below!

Mermaid School
How to Catch a Mermaid

The fun things about these read-alouds is that you can use them to spring board some fun activities. With Mermaid School, you could encourage your children to create their own kind of Mermaid (or anything!) school and go! And of course, with How to Catch a Mermaid, you can give the kids an array of supplies to design their own mermaid trap!

(If you’d rather have copies of the books instead of youtubing it, try your local library or click to order your own: Mermaid School. How to Catch a Mermaid.)

cooking/snacks

Just this morning, my 2 year old wanted me to fix her lunch. At 9:13 am.

Surely, I’m not alone in this, right?

Anyway, we know that snacks and summer go hand and hand, so why not have fun and make them Mermaid themed?

Here is a fun idea!

Although this video is focused more about making this for a party, there’s no reason why it can’t be used for Mermaid Day, right?

ARTs & Crafts

Take some time to learn how to color or draw a mermaid or two! Here are three options that can work well for Mermaid Day, depending on how old your artist(s) are and what they feel like doing. 🙂

Want a plethora of mermaids to color? Check out my Mermaid Coloring Book on Etsy. 🙂 You can print out a book for each kiddo, or just print a variety of sheets to color on throughout the day or summer! Click on the image below (or click here) and it will take you straight to it… with an additional 25% off. Because Mermaid Day. 😉

If your younger kiddos want to take a step further and learn to draw a mermaid themselves, this is a fun step-by-step video that will let them do just that.

Buuuut… let’s say you have some older kids and the other two options aren’t their thing. This video offers more advanced drawing instruction and creates a much more “realistic” option. Just note: her final sketch has a mermaid whose arm placement is strategically around the chest area… but you still see some skin. If your family is not comfortable with that or drawing your own modifications to your own drawing, then just skip this next video. Or at least preview. 😉

Now, if you want to go ALL in for Mermaid Day in the craft department, you can make your own mermaid tale. A post from IKATBAG has a great step-by-step article on how to make a mermaid tale that can be walked in. Definitely check her out if that’s something that you think is something you’d love. Click on the image below to be escorted to her post. 🙂

closing thoughts. 😉

Of course, the list here is NOT exhaustive. For PE, you could always go to the pool and do mermaid relay races. And there’s always movie night, pulling out your Mermaid Popcorn, and watching Disney’s The Little Mermaid and using a fork to make a fun hair-do.

Regardless of what activities you choose, I hope that Mermaid Day might prove to be so fun that you make is a tradition every single summer. ❤

Homesteading school

The end of the school year is fast approaching– if you don’t school year round, that is.

We actually do over here, in a very modified way. We finish up our main yearly curriculum and then jump into a theme that helps unify our summer learning a bit. No structure at all doesn’t work well for us right now… and that’s okay.

(A little caveat: We actually just got back from a “end-of-year” celebration trip to the “Historic Triangle” in Virginia– Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. It was so great to wrap up Cycle One of our Gentle Feast learning this year. In history, we studied the discoveries of the Americas, indigenous peoples, and the first settlements/colonies. With Jamestown being less than 8 hours away, it seemed like a great way to see history, and not just read about it. I was amazed at how much my 2nd grader retained from our readings! Williamsburg and Yorktown were a little out of her knowledge-base at the moment, but both places definitely set the stage for this coming year of Colonies through Revolutionary War through George Washington. More on all of this later!)

Back to summer learning.

Last summer, we did Gather Round’s Oceans unit as our main summer “spine.” It was fun and we liked it… and I seriously considered doing GR’s Human body unit this summer for a while.

Instead, I’ve landed on to doing my own kind of thing: Homesteading school.

We are going to take the summer to learn about life skills, survival skills, safety skills, and how people used to live back before we had a lot of modern conveniences. I think these skills aren’t something that should just stay in the past– for a lot of reasons.

(That’s another blog post sometime, I think.)

So, to go along with these skills, I wanted to find some living books to support and enrich us.

Enter Little House books.

We haven’t read them together as a family yet, and I think they will definitely fit the bill with what we are trying to accomplish together this summer.

Because we are all eclectic Charlotte Mason-y over here, and my daughter has asked to start learning how to write and practice cursive, I decided to go ahead and make us some copywork pages to go along with it.

And then I decided that I might as well have a print version of the copywork as well, since J occasionally likes to do letters as well (I don’t push it, since he’s not 6 yet… but if he wants to participate, I don’t discourage him).

Something my girlie likes from a handwriting books she did back in Kindergarten was when copywork was paired with a coloring or drawing/thinking prompt, so I included that in the sheets that I put together as well. Take a peek!

Click here to be taken to the FREE download!

I’ve decided to go ahead and make a page where I will put any samples, pages, etc. that I make as we learn and go along this summer. I’m even making resource of songs that are included in the books for my husband to make simple piano arrangements of! So excited about that. (#perksofacomposinghusband)

If you are interested in downloading Little House and Homesteading freebies, seeing where to get entire downloads and getting ideas to incorporate in your own family, feel free to check back on the Little House/Homesteading Resource page! It’s a work-in-progress right now, but I can’t wait to see what it grows into!

Also, if you have any cool resources, ideas, or have done something amazing with either Little House or Homesteading, I’d LOVE to learn from you! ❤

Gather ‘Round Oceans Unit Study Playlist: for pre- and early readers!

Hello there, fellow Gather ‘Round users! Although I don’t used GR for our main curriculum during the school year, I LOVE using it for our breaks. We loved the Christmas unit, and decided to use the Oceans for “summer” school this year. I find our family works best with some “structured” time during the hot months– and this Oceans unit study seems like it will fit the bill so nicely!

We just finished our first lesson, and are already loving it!

Before starting Oceans, I did hit Thriftbook.com and an Usborne party to snag some great picture books, etc. (You can check those out in my saved “Oceans” Insta Story!)

I would normally head to the library to snag most of these, but since libraries are closed right now (thanks, Covid!), these links are the next best thing!

These videos are in no particular order, but all of them are recommended in either the pre- or early reader levels, and both ages are close enough to enjoy them together in my opinion. 🙂

Here we go!

The Dolphins at Daybreak Chapter Book Links

There you have it!

Hope these links help you and your kiddos enjoy your Oceans unit even more!

St. Patty’s Fun!

Want a little St. Patty fun tomorrow… but don’t have time to print a bunch a stuff out or prepare a lesson plan?

Here’s a handful of ideas to throw together a great day of Irish-themed learning!

Language Arts

Irish Storyteller Michael R. Kasony-O’Malley of Columbus, Ohio shares “Bridgette and the Lurikeen,” an old Irish folktale about a girl and a leprechaun. Fun storytelling and Irish culture combine in this fun retelling!

Feel free to ask your kids to narrate the story back to you, ask them their favorite part, or even to reenact it to check their understanding and attention. 😉

For those kiddos who are older and might want try their hand at some creative writing, have them try writing their own limerick! According to britannica.com, “the origin of the limerick is unknown, but it has been suggested that the name derives from the chorus of an 18th-century Irish soldiers’ song, “Will You Come Up to Limerick?” So, definitely some strong Irish roots there!

Cooking (and math. and science. and snacks.)

Make a whole Irish meal! Or just pick one or two! Snacks are good, too!

What’s great about being in the kitchen is that it can cover soooo many subjects! Measuring? From counting, to fractions, to multiplying (if doubling or halving a recipe), it’s math.

Wanna dig a little deeper about why and how bread actually becomes bread? That’s science, my friend!

Music & Arts

Traditional Irish music is so fun! This video pairs some pretty photographs of Ireland with The Chieftan’s recording of O’Sullivan’s March.

Learn how to draw a leprechaun! This is such an easy step-by-step for several ages.

Physical Education

And last but not least, grab your kiddos and learn how to do a little Irish jig… all while getting your exercise in!

Hope that this offers a fun, St. Patty-shape to your time at home!

Introducing Essential Speaking

For those of you who don’t know, prior to becoming a homeschool momma and having an at-home wellness business, I used to teach. You know… like, outside my house.

In fact, I still do. One day a week, I get the major blessing of teaching some pretty amazing homeschooled highschoolers speech and debate. They work hard, learn a lot, and go out and actually compete with their communication skills. I’m pretty proud of them. 🙂

Before that though, I taught communication courses in storytelling/performing and public speaking on the University level. I traveled as a debate coach and judge in colleges and universities from SC up to PA and through the midwest. I was the faculty advisor for our collegiate debate program. I was crazy busy, but it was so fun and rewarding.

Since then, I’ve exchanged road trips with college students for field trips with my own kids… and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve been asked so many times if I can tutor speech and debate, but I don’t want to spend my all day trying to arrange and remember tutoring slots.

Instead, I’ve come up with the idea of an online communication coaching “club” of sorts. There are lots of perks for a very reasonable price. Space is limited, however, because of me wanting to keep things in balance over here with my own kiddos and responsibilities/privileges.

If this resource seems like something you’d be interested in, read all about it by clicking here.

Fine Arts Fridays, Flies, and a Neat Resource

As the instagram post below mentions, my kiddos and I had fun this week reading the Vietnamese folktale, The Fly. It opened up a lot of fun conversations about how to be clever with words and use them in creative, problem-solving, even funny ways.

Language Arts is such a GREAT way to sneak in some of those Big Juicy Conversations that we love to have over here… but you know something else I love to use Language arts for?

As a springboard for Art… art.

Today, staying in theme of flies, we decided to draw them.

Now, we do have a separate, more “classical” art curriculum that we use and enjoy. It officially covers things like shape and light and balance.

But there’s a time and a place for all types of learning, right?

If you don’t already know about, please check out Art for Kids Hub on Youtube. My 7 year old, especially, could watch several of their videos and just draw her day away!

Now, their channel isn’t an art curriculum, per se. But there is definitely value in learning basic things like step-by-step instructions, watching how people make and do certain techniques, etc. It’s nice to see a demo and to be able to pause and rewind if they need to see something again. There’s also a more immediate “look at this!” pride that comes from doing these little videos and being able to draw something in just a few minutes.

Art Hub has SO many videos of all different types of things to draw (and even simpler ones for pre-school ages) that you can more than likely find a video to incorporate in whatever you are learning about. (Hello there, unit study activity!)

With easy resources just a click away, there’s no reason to not incorporate a drawing or two on a Friday.

Or any other day that ends in Y.

Nightschool… and how it works for us

Nightschool came about by accident.

An impromptu remedy.

We do a LOT of “together learning” over here, so one would think that all the kiddos would be okay with breaking up and rotating through some one-on-one time for individualized language arts and math. But no…

Anytime I just needed to work with my 7 year old for a few minutes, the 4 year old and 18 month old would interrupt 24,301 times… drawing our simple 15 minute individual lessons WAY TOO long. Frustration would grow, and it just wasn’t happy. So, I started saving those quick lessons for 7 o’clock at night– after the two youngers went to bed. Uninterrupted, we breeze through the lessons, especially since E is excited that she gets to stay up “late.”After we finish the “leftoevers” from the day, I let her choose something she wants to learn with me. Sometimes, something from our learning from the morning inspires it… sometimes, it’s just her and her amazingly random interests.

It is so fun, sitting together, looking through resources, using keywords on Google to find articles. Of course, YouTube comes in super handy, too. (Depending on what she is wants to look up, I’m a little more careful about videos. Sometimes innocent-looking videos suddenly can throw language or content in there that I don’t prefer for her at her age.)

Here’s a sample of how nightschool looks for us most nights.

I honestly love what we are starting here. I love the collaborative feel of the last hour together. I love being free from distractions and just concentrating on her– my oldest. I love learning beside her, and fanning the flame on her interests. I hope she learns a lesson that is more important than spices or mummification or cricket or whatever it is that strikes her fancy– that learning doesn’t stop at a certain age.

That life itself is learning.

We just need to take whatever tools we have at our fingertips…

And become our own teacher.

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 dissects a pumpkin, while covering its anatomy and life cycle

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!

To see/plan even more Halloween school,
go to this PUMPKIN-themed post!
or check out this guide to Halloween Handicrafts!