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?
With October in full force, Halloween will be here before you know it! We typically do more fall-themed things in general vs. “Halloween specific,” but it is fun to pull out a couple of specifically themed things for this month.
If you have it, that is…
The only Halloween decor we have is the leftover spider rings and webs from my son’s arachnid-themed party last week, ha!
Instead of going out and buying things, it is a perfect time to apply those handicraft skills, both in ourselves (hi there, Mother Culture, looking at you!) and for our kids.
I wanted to take a moment to compile some themed ideas for the 31st that– in my opinion– harken to some of the “authentic” handicrafts that most Charlotte Masony people recognize… versus toilet paper holder Frankenstein construction paper projects. (Note: if you like those, do those! No judgement here, I promise!)
Anyhoo, let’s get started!
I love several of the different cross stitch ideas that open when you click the pic below! What’s great is there are several simpler ideas for those kiddos, like mine, who are still learning the basics of stitching.
If you are familiar with tradition Charlotte Mason handicrafts, you know that she advocated teaching/learning “paper sloyd.” Paper sloyd uses simple tools to measure, cut, and construct things from paper and cardboard.
Origami captures the same spirit without the cutting… and if you currently have several books going at once, you will need just as many bookmarks. These cut little bats are just the thing to add some enchantment in an unexpected place— your page corners.
Click the image to snag the instructions. (This instruction will be true for each handicraft, btw.)
Isn’t this garland just so cute?! The Etsy shop that offers the patterns for this banner has so many other cute ideas for decor, too. The best thing for me is that you don’t have to use them on a garland if you don’t want to. They can act as little ornaments, or can simply be made into palm sized toys for play. So fun!
When most Mason families talk about carving and handicrafts, they mean wood… but aren’t pumpkin just perfect for practicing these basics? I think so! Tackle a big pumpkin or lots of small ones!
Just like pumpkins are great to carve, they can also make pretty awesome canvases to practice painting skills on. In fact, I have fond memories of my living room when I was little, being covered in painted pumpkins. My grandfather had a fruit and vegetable stand, and during this season, my parents would hand paint hundreds of pumpkins for people to buy from him at his stand! It’s one of those things that you didn’t realize at the time would be one of those nostalgic memories that would make you smile in remembrance decades later.
I’ve included a dual carved/painted idea here, but the sky is the limit: characters, landscapes… whatever floats your boat! (I think an Edgar Allan Poe pumpkin would be fun, surrounded by smaller raven and black cat pumpkins!)
For those kiddos (or mommas!) learning and practicing the skill of crochet, these little imaginative play puppets looks so cute! They would be fantastic to pull in for narration after some seasonal read alouds! The best part is, the pattern for these puppets are free! Just access by clicking the photo below.
Baking & Decorating
Obviously baking and decorating are two different skills, but I’m lumping them together here because they cross apply so often. For beginning bakers who might not be ready for piping, etc., this pumpkin sheet cake is easy to make and would make a fun addition to any poetry tea time!
The recipe linked below is all about making this cake from scratch… but I’m assuming that if you are more of the pre-fab boxed cake type, you can simplify it a smidgen. However, I think this cake offers perfect practice for more advanced/fine piping! Check out the intricacy of the spider web! So cool!
Other options (aka Non-handicraft, ha!)
As much as I love handicrafts, I will fully admit to not having them work so well for younger kiddos. I have a 3 year old that doesn’t have the fine motor skills to truly attempt to decorate cakes or sew a stuffie… but she simply loves to color and hang up her pictures on the string on the wall down our hall.
If you can’t quite squeeze a new handicraft in before Halloween (or simply like to color during read alouds), no worries! Click on the button below to download and print 2 free Halloween pictures for those in your house to color.
Charlotte Mason once said, “The child is only truly educated who can use his hands as truly as his head.”
I will admit: as an adult, there have been many times that I have felt handicapped… not by my lack of knowledge (because I know how to get more of it if I need it), but my lack of skills. I wish I was more “handy,” and find the learning curve a bit harsh at times. (Leaky roof and broken fence, looking at you.)
Right now, I feel it’s so important to teach my children 1) handicrafts (skills that merge both beauty and usefulness) and 2) that generosity and gift giving isn’t just about using money to buy stuff.
When E (my 8yo girlie) began talking about Christmas, we sat down and talked about the gift of creating… and she has decided to put her growing skills in hand sewing and loom knitting to work to make things for her brother and sister (like we read about in Elin’s America).
And together, we are learning the process of scenting and designing goat milk soap with essential oils, mica powders, and flowers.
One day, I’d love to actually learn the processing of making and curing soap from scratch, but the chemicals and storing for the entire process isn’t something we can do right now.
So here is to learning and creating what we can, without waiting for all.the.things to be perfect to do so.
(What do you know… another life lesson. 😉)
(To see what we used for the soaps, go here, here, and here. 😀 I’m obligated to say that these are referral links, which means our family gets a small smidgen of a boost to our budget if you use them. There is no additional cost to you at all, though. So yay!
Note: the mica powders and essential oils I already had on hand from other projects and needs. Also note… we got the 2lb soap base because I didn’t know how much each bar would make, and how much we would want to do it. We will probably order a 5lb bulk next, to reduce the cost of making it per bar and to give more as gifts this Christmas.)
This summer, we had a fabulous time incorporating all kinds of homesteading and pioneering fun!
I will be honest— we didn’t get to all the things my brain had planned. But we enjoyed the slower pace and worked with the realization that learning comes in all shapes and forms and in moments not jammed full of all the things.
I am sometimes better documenting the day-to-day on Instagram; so you’ll find this post to be a one-stop-shop on the smatterings of homesteading moments I have shared over there.
Here we go!
Although they made a version of a hard cheese in The Little House in the Big Woods, we did an easy, faster version at home!
Listening Ears and Busy Hands
We did a lot of reading aloud this summer, learning all about the Big Woods and then how life looked on the Prairie before packing up and moving again. Here’s how we spent a good chunk of time: making fun messes on the patio while joining the Ingalls on their journey.
Tracking our Travels
Because we embrace a Charlotte Mason approach to literature, we want to fill our time and minds with living books. Although “school” wasn’t happening in “full,” we liked to narrate the chapters as we read them and write our progress down on our chalkboard.
A large chunk of our activities focused on life skills: we learned how to wash and hang clothes by hand. We made cheese, sourdough bread, and cookies. We used our Daybook to track meal planning, planting, and other skills. And although I doubt Ma Ingalls ever made this simple version of oatmeal cookies, she definitely used the few ingredients she had to make something delicious and filling.
After reading about the prairie fire, the kids had a lot of questions about how starting a fire actually helped keep their home safe from fire. (Good question, huh?!) So we chatted and did a little experiment, learning about what fire needs to actually stay a fire. Once we learned those few little things, the kids could figure out the answer to their own question! Learning at work!
The Highlight Reel
To see the highlights of our summer, check out our InstaStory HERE. You’ll find cross stitch, life skills, snack ideas, cabin building, cornbread making, and more! We actually didn’t document a lot this summer because we were in the middle of doing… but that’s okay. 🙂 Just because no one sees it doesn’t mean we didn’t have a lot of fun doing it.
If you are interested in Little House Copywork that we did (print & cursive), the Daybook that was designed and used and/or the beginning piano book that my husband arranged… check out the freebies and links by clicking on the image below!
Because so much of our summer was developing good habits surrounding life skills, I decided to help my kiddos visualize some of their tasks and organize how they want to structure their time and plan their work. My kids– especially my oldest– really like working with these care task cards!
Home Care Cards
(Also, as a thank you for reading and checking out the resources, click HERE for 15% off the resources mentioned in this post. 😉 )
Since the summer, our schedule has started picking up… as it always does. Music lessons and kindermusik are back. I began teaching debate for our homeschool community again, and coaching our communication club. Our birthday season is in high gear.
I’ll be honest; I do love fall. Autumn has, and probably always will be, my favorite season. But I’m so glad that our days were spent in the Woods and on the Prairie during our warmest season… and I look forward to next summer of learning and doing and going a step further in our small version of homesteading. ❤
(I know, I know… I still haven’t done the Historic Triangle posts! It’s coming. 🤞🏻)
This past weekend, we down to Charleston, SC to sneak in some history, science, and cultural studies in the middle of fun and family time.
We started off with a downtown Charleston history tour and carriage ride. Maybe it is because I’m gearing up and buying books for our Revolutionary War study, but I was particularly drawn to how SC was influential in the Revolutionary War— instead of the Civil War, which is what I naturally think about due to Ft. Sumter being right there.
We hung out at the Old Slave Market before heading to our hotel. Interesting Sidenote: they didn’t actually sell slaves at the slave market. It was where the slaves (and other household workers) would go to get groceries and other sundry things. (Charleston, tragically, was a major import and contributor to slavery, but most of the selling/trading occurred on the docks of the city.)
My husband has been wanting to go to Rodney Scott’s BBQ ever since we saw the documentary about Scott and his delicious craft on Netflix. Father’s Day in Charleston was the perfect excuse to go!
After indulging in delicious ribs and the like, we spent a few hours at the SC Aquarium, learning about sea turtles, ocean life cycles and ecosystems, and even got to feed the sting rays! It was very fun and we learned a lot… although I will say that the price point for the aquarium was a bit inflated. If you live nearby and snag the annual membership, though, it would be very cost effective after a few trips! (We probably would have spent the afternoon at the beach, but the weather didn’t cooperate… so Plan B it was!)
After checking out, we spend several hours at Boone Plantation. Definitely check out the website for what all it has to offer! I didn’t tell the kids about the tractor tour before we got there, and I’m super glad I didn’t because they had to cancel it due to all the mud from the rain the day before. BUT even without the ride, the time at Boone was worth it!
My 5 year old loved the Butterfly room (we had to go in several times), my 8 yr old loved seeing the horses… and all of the kiddos loved climbing on and in the secret spaces of the gorgeous “Gone with the Wind” oaks.
I appreciated so much how each of the still-standing slave quarters had been turned into mini-museums, documenting the atrocities of that dark time in our nation’s history… and following the timeline to the Emancipation and beyond.
Boone also offers a unique opportunity to learn about Gullah culture, and we got to listen to and watch a wonderful lady speak to us in and about Gullah, sing beautiful spirituals, and give us the gift of learning more about her heritage. If you get an opportunity to go to Boone, please check the times of when the presentations are and fit it into your tours and time there. ❤️
The sun was high and hot by the time we were done at Boone… so we finished out time at Charleston at the fountains downtown. We got to watch our kids get hit by water coming at them at who-knows-how-many-miles-an-hour.
(Yes, the same children who can’t stand to have their hair washed and get water in their eyes. Those ones. 😂)
Like I’ve said before, we aren’t “roadschoolers” in the full extent of the word. We have a mortgage 😂, and can’t take long extended trips, due to an 8 to 5 “normal” job.
But we find firsthand encounters and experiences essential for us in our home learning— so we do it how we can, when we can.
I had a tab working on these already when a friend posted about how her summer checklist with her kiddos is working wonders for their rhythm… and I was like, “I need to hurry and finish these so we can get the benefits, too. Ha!
I’ll be honest; I’m not going to “stress” over whether or not this get fills out completely each day. That’s the great thing about charts and lists and things like this: they are meant to serve you, NOT you serve them.
Can we say that a little louder for those in the back?!
Lists are made to serve you, not you serve them! 😀
Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy these freebies. I’ve made 2 versions: the list we will use over here with what we are planning on doing, and then a blank list for you to customize what you need with what’s essential at your house. Print out as many as you need; laminate them; do whatever you like. 😉
I’m probably the only homeschool mom on the planet that doesn’t have a laminating machine. I stick my lists in plastic sleeves and use wet erase markers (which I totally prefer over dry erase, so my kids don’t wipe it off by accident with an elbow).
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).
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!
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!
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. ❤
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!
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! ❤
We talk about how learning (and life) should be a delight… and often we think that involves huge, elaborate plans or trips to amusement parks and Disney World.
But enjoyment displays itself so beautifully in the minor moments— in the time we take to embrace the little things.
This week was full of enjoyment for us over here! First of all, E wanted to do lots of Valentine’s day crafts– too many for one day. So, we spread them out and did one a day while doing our reading and morning time. Insert mornings of valentine heart paper chains and paper hearts and homemade heart poptarts and valentine making… all leading up to “I love you” fondue-– our yearly Valentine’s day tradition.
I don’t know about your kiddos but mine like small bites, sticks, and dip… so “I love you” fondue has been and continues to be a hit. I mean, sure, some strawberries were lost in the pot of chocolate… and the toddler ate the cheese like soup… and my table looked like a Pollock painting 😂, ..but the giggles and memories and the comfort of this simple tradition brings up a spring of gratitude every year.
My best enjoyment.
BUT there was another holiday we celebrated this week, in the midst of all that brought enjoyment over here, especially to my 5 year old boy!
We celebrated National Pizza Day! (which for your future pizza-loving pleasure is February 9th. Mark it down!) It’s one of those silly random holidays that most people ignore… but man. Why ignore National Pizza Day when it would bring a day of delight to your buddy?
For breakfast? We used hashbrown patties as a base, used gravy as a sauce, added cheese, and used cut up bacon as “pepperoni.”
For lunch? We used homemade pitas, spaghetti sauce, and cheese and made our own little pizzas “lunchables.”
For dinner? You guessed it. This time, we ordered pizza. (Which we rarely do.)
J, my buddy, was in HEAVEN all day long! (And no worries– the pizza was rounded out by lots of cut-up veggies, fresh fruit, lalalala. 😂)
If I wanted to take it a step further into it’s own educational celebration of pizza, we could have delved into the origins of pizza, variations of pizza by location (in Europe and/or in the US), how to divide a pizza into fractions, etc., etc. So many things you can do!
Maybe next year.
This year, we just had fun eating more pizza(ish) foods in a day than we do all month. 😂
Having each day be a holiday would be a bit much, I think. BUT making more days holidays than we currently do would be a delight.
In case you are wanting to add some more holiday fun and enjoyment into this month, let me drop some lesser-known holidays down below.
I’m eyeballing “Random Act of Kindness,” “Chocolate Mint,” “Tortilla Chip” and “Tell a Fairy Tale” Day. In fact, I have a brand new fairy-tale themed game that would be perfect to whip out for telling any fairy tales!
I’ll leave off with a quotation from Julie Bogart, the author of The Brave Learner. She talks soooo much about enchantment and celebration: “Enchanted education and living are all about small surprises of happy—scattered, littered, peppered throughout garden-variety days.”
What surprises will you scatter in your week today– for your kids AND for you?
The Big Four
Imagine: When this crossed my feed, I instantly fell in LOVE! Kelli, at well_oiled_farmhouse did a collaborative embroidery piece with her daughters that turned out just GORGEOUS! What a great way to be creative and create a memory, a story, AND a beautiful piece of textile art!
Encourage: I love this post by give.them.beauty on Instagram about having faith while we are waiting lessons and knowledge to grow. (Also, love that she connects this to sourdough starter/bread!)
Educate: One tool that I love for my own personal development, as well as for learning over here is my subscription to Scribd. I know that there are other free services (Hoopla, looking at you), but Scribd has a TON more bestsellers and audio options on there than what I find on the free services. We currently use Scribd for two of our school read alouds, and I play audiobooks from it while we are in the car. There’s a super delightful audiobook of a collection of stories by Julia Donaldson (author of the Gruffalo, etc.). They have fun sung narrations after each story, and the reader is fantastic. (I tend to be super picky about readers and can argue with them in my head about how they interpreted a line or character, ha!) If you have Scribd, include the stories in read aloud time… and if you don’t have Scribd, take a look at it. You might find it super helpful! (Get a free 60 days trial if you use my link!) If you have Audible or just want to check out the recording I’m talking about, here’s a pic to help find the right one. 😉
Enjoy: This tidbit adds to what we were talking about above, but let me tell you about what we did just the morning. Our family is down to one car right now (a LONG story that includes a windstorm that felled a tree on our SUV and other odd circumstances), so we all load up to take my husband to work OR stay at home all day long. Most days, the husband takes the car and we just stay home, because pandemic. Today, we have music lessons in the afternoon, so I need the car today. It’s been raining for 40 days and 40 nights over here (#jokingnotjoking), and this morning was the first in FOREVER that the sun actually shined. The kids immediately began BEGGING to go to all the parks within a 50 mile radius since it was sunny and we actually could go somewhere. However, it is hovering at freezing, and there is standing water everywhere. In other words, we can’t go to the park.
So what did we do instead? Something we never do.
I went through a drive thru, and ordered 3 different kinds of breakfast biscuits and some hashbrowns. We went home, where I made a charcuterie board of it all, along with cut up fruit, and we had a breakfast tasting. The kids ranked their favorite sandwiches and we put juice in tea cups. Mood lifted.
Now, excuse me as I go and use a hair dryer on my lawn to speed up this drying process… 😂
Goodness, as if talking about racism and privilege and protests and rights and equality and riots isn’t hard enough for adults… where do you begin with your 7 year old? Her mouth dropped open when I told her about George Floyd and the atrocity that happened and the why behind it… and I know her shock is proof of privilege.
We talked about how she will hear about people protesting— and how all people have the right to peacefully protest. To let their voices be heard. To make signs and march and tell the world that something is wrong and that things need to change. She asked if protests make windows smash. And that led to tricky conversations about what riots are. And I told her that just because riots happen, that doesn’t change the fact that all people have the freedom of speech and right to protest.
I loaded the dishes in the dishwasher, noticing my girl had gotten out a marker and construction paper. She came to me once she was done.
“It’s my sign, momma,” she said.
“What is it that you don’t want?” I asked, reading her print.
“I don’t want meanness. It’s wrong to be mean like that to people, and I don’t want it. So I made a sign to let people know.”
Oh girlie. I pray you will always use your words and have a heart to speak up to stop the meanness around you.
If only everyone was so brave.
If only everyone in my generation and your generation and all the ones to come look at what has happened and is happening, declare “we don’t want it,” and do something about it.
Song on repeat this week:
Because the world groans. The world weeps. And He is still worthy.