Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Homeschool Morning Time Plans: Late Winter

The snow is melting.  So quickly, in fact, that we've had severe flooding in our area.  Our basement flooded, but not as extensively as some of our neighbors.  We've experienced a huge outpouring of love and concern from friends and neighbors over the past couple of weeks and we've felt so blessed.  We've had people bring meals and many thoughtful friends just dropping in to check on us. Jason spent three full days battling to keep water out of the house. We're back to mostly normal now and are working on replacing flooring and getting the house back in order.

After taking last week off, we're back to the proverbial grindstone for another term of homeschooling. We are a dedicated Morning Time family.  Each morning we gather around our big table in the school room and work on memory work, I read aloud from several books. Depending on the day they could included history, science and literature selections.  Or all three on a good day.  We also work on art and narration at this time.

Our Morning Time plans for this term include the following:

Memory Work

Hymn: Did You Think to Pray?
Scripture verses: Psalm 23
Poems: Caterpillar by Christina Rosetti (Ethan, 8)
           I Love to Live by Hannah Cropper Ashby (Ellie, 12)
           The Canyon is Calling by Hannah Cropper Ashby (me)

This term Ellie (12) and I are both memorizing poems that were written by my great-great grandmother, Hannah Cropper Ashby.  Her book of published poems is one of the greatest treasures I possess and her words have often been a comfort and have eloquently expressed the feelings I was experiencing during difficult times.  I've included the poems below so you may enjoy them as well.

I love to live when the sun shines bright;
Yet just as well in the starry night,
Or when the clouds float heavy in air,
And lightning’s flash and thunder’s blare--
The weather for me is always right.

If I can climb to the dizzy height
Of a mountain top or take a flight
In a stratocruiser with time to spare,
            I love to live.

A clamoring city is a marvelous sight;
With its crush of traffic and neon light.
Whereever I am I want to be there,
From Yellowstone Park to Madison Square.
To me this life is one huge delight.

I love to live.


The canyon is calling with soothing refrain;
The valley is seething with heat.
The young of the forest are roving again
in the depths of their mountain retreat.
I long to rest there in the shade of the trees
And drink from the brooklet so cool,
With mind and with heart as completely at ease
As lilies that float on the pool.
The song of a thrush and the whiff of perfume
Caught up by a zephyr of air
Would bring me respite from the heat and the gloom,
I long, how I long to be there.
The canyon is calling with wild luring strain;
A chant that the wood fairies know.
I cannot ignore it, resistance is vain
The canyon is calling, I go.

Read Alouds


We're currently reading The Unfinished Angel  and Favorite Medieval Tales.  Once we finish those books we'll move on to the following.  I'm hoping to read each of these over the next few weeks.

Outrageous Women of the Renaissance
The Kite Fighters
The Story of King Arthur and His Knights

We're also working our way through the picture books on our Medieval History reading list. 

Educational Games

We've fallen in love with playing educational games this winter. Taking even just a few minutes to play a game is a huge mood booster for all of us. They even sometimes turn into a rousing game of Find it On the Map (as shown above). Some of our favorites include:

Flag Frenzy (like Spot It but for country flags)
Timeline (there are a ton of versions of this.  We love the US History version!)

Additional Resources

 We're loving the direction given in Drawing with Children  We finished the Squilt Baroque Era music appreciation curriculum last term, and we're on to drawing this term.  I plan to keep things really simple.  We follow along with the exercises in the book, doing two to three more formal lessons each week.  But every day during our Read Aloud time,  the kids spend time drawing.  We either set up a still life on the table or they each choose a picture to use as inspiration and they draw while I read.

Super simple, but extremely effective.  I can't wait to see how their talents progress over this term.

Draw Europe, Draw Asia (and volume two) and Draw Africa is something my big kids look forward to every day.  It's a simple, fun introduction to European geography.   (And, again, easy for Mama!)  

What's happening in your homeschool?

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Friday, February 17, 2017

FREE Articles of Faith Flipcharts

I'm so happy to share some more LDS Primary Music leader flipcharts today!  These flipcharts are for all 13 of the Articles of Faith songs.  I hope they are useful as you teach the children in your Primary (or your own kids) the Articles of Faith!  The graphics I drew are simple and black and white. (Ink is pricey!) You can color these flipcharts yourself, if you want, or leave them black and white. I've used them both ways and they work well either way.

You can download all the coloring pages for free by clicking ADD TO CART below. 

I really enjoy creating these pages, but as you can imagine, drawing and designing them takes me many, many hours. I love to be able to share them for free with those who are in need, and I ask that if you are able please donate a small amount to help me continue to be able to provide resources like this.

I set up the cart so that you can donate as little (even nothing!) or as much as you'd like. I hope that if you find these helpful, and if you use them in your Primary, you'll support my work.

You can find the master list of all my FREE flipcharts here.

Much love and Happy Singing!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Quick Lit: What I've Been Reading Lately

I'm joining Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy to share what I've been reading lately.

Girl Waits with Gun

I was delighted to learn when I was about 75% finished with this book that it is based on a true story.  I loved the spunky, full of life Kopp sisters, the bravery they found in the face of danger and the evolution each of the sisters goes through as the book unfolds.

Loot by Jude Watson

I'd call this book Ocean's 11 for kids.  It's a fast-moving, fun, side-with-the-thieves kind of book. March is a boy who has joined his father, a career criminal, around the world for various "jobs" his whole life.  We get to join March on his first solo job and the adventures and discovery of true friendships that happens along the way.

Being Mortal  by Atul Gawande

A lot of people lump this book in the same genre as When Breath Becomes Air, and they are fairly similar. Being Mortal is much more of study of the act of aging and how little dignity and freedom is afforded to the elderly in our current social system.  If you have elderly or terminally ill loved ones, I highly recommend that you read this book. It's a great jumping off point for discussions and helped me understand more deeply what my own loved ones are facing.

Trumpet of the Swan
Somehow I had never read this children's classic.  We read it together as a family.  And I must say that it's not at all what I was expecting.  In my mind I thought it was going to be a much more serious book.  But no, It's actually about a swan with a trumpet. While there were lots of silly events that had us all shaking our heads and making hilarious (to us) comments, in the end we all enjoyed the book.


I found Columbine absolutely fascinating. The author, Dave Cullen, paints a very different picture  of the killers than the stereotype ingrained in my mind. Through their journals and videos intentionally left behind, we learn about the boys who committed such a horrible act of violence and why they did it.  And it's different that what you expect.

Boy by Roald Dahl
I've always adored Roald Dahl.  His children's books are among the best of the best.  I read the memoir of his adulthood years ago, but just discovered this book about his Childhood experiences.  It was so fun to pull back the curtain into the experiences that formed his imagination.  It's very easy to see where some of his characters came from, especially the horrid adults we come into contact with through his books.  Several times I found myself laughing out loud and marking passages to share with my husband because Dahl puts on paper so charmingly the thought processes of a child.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
My big kids and I have slowly been working our way through the audiobooks (read by the incredible Jim Dale) together.  Ellie has read all the Harry Potter books multiple times and likely has them memorized.  But Ethan is experiencing them for the first time.  It's important to me to be part of this for him, but reading them aloud is not something I can do right now.  We read aloud a lot each morning for school, but by the time afternoon rolls around I can hardly keep my eyes open if we sit down to read.  I have been known to fall asleep while reading aloud before.  My voice trailing off into nonsense words until one of the kids elbows me to wake me up.  Audiobooks are a great solution to this problem.  We listen while I nurse the baby or while the little ones are sleeping and we all work on our own quiet projects.

Barefoot and Balanced

Loved this book about the importance of time outdoors for children of all ages.  It's packed full of interesting scientific studies and practical tips to help kids have the time they need outside on a daily basis as well as ideas to help adults actually spend time outdoors with their children.  I think I'll be re-reading this one for inspiration periodically in the future.

Up from Slavery
I have mixed feelings about this book.  I was inspired by Booker T. Washington's story and the way he overcame his childhood begun in slavery and became a well educated and prominent educator and leader. However, at the time this book was written, "separate but equal" was considered a really great system and while that was certainly a major step up from how black people had been treated, it still makes me sad to remember that it was not all that long ago that my sweet black son would have been unable to use the same entrance, drinking fountain etc. as the rest of our family.  And for that matter, he would not have been able to even be a part of our family.  I can't imagine my life without his sweet smile and destructive tendencies, and it hurts my heart a little to think about it.

The Wonder
Love. Love. Loved this book.  It did take me a little while to get into, but the story was so compelling once I got into it that I couldn't put it down.  You know how some stories sound really strange if you describe them out loud? That's how I feel about this one.  I'll leave my description vague and just say that it's about love, loss and a mystery. That could be just about any book ever written.  But trust me, you should read this one.

Surprised by Joy
This memoir of C.S. Lewis's younger years and his return to faith.  It followed much the same lines as Boy (above).  I was horrified at the conditions in the British boarding schools that both authors attended.  The stereotype of abusive headmasters certainly seems to hold true in both of their cases.  I felt like very little of this book actually dealt with Lewis's faith, just the last little bit turned to his conversion and the way he became a Christian.  But it was still fascinating to read.

What have you been reading lately?

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bullet Journal + Project Life. How I'm Catching Up.

I have gushed about my love for Project Life in the past.  I love how simple and easy it is. And now with the new Project Life App, I'm even more in love with this simple scrapbooking system. I've been using the App to stay up to date on our recent goings-on and all it takes is a few minutes each week to stay completely on top of my memory keeping.

I was recently going through some photos to draw and watercolor for my painting project when I discovered we have three missing years in our scrapbook stack.  For several years I used Blurb to convert this blog to a beautiful photo book each year.  For whatever reason (I don't quite remember now, though I have a vague sense there was a reason) I quit doing that in 2011. Since then this blog has become less of a place to record our family story and so I began using Project Life  in 2014 to document everything that happens around here. I began where we were instead of going back to finish the unfinished years.

Once I discovered all those photos that were not printed or in any way usable and enjoyable for our family, I started looking into the best way to easily finish that rather daunting project.  After looking into lots of resources and methods, I've decided to use Digital Project Life to complete those pages.

Now that I'm ready to tackle those missing years, I'm using one of my favorite organizational tools, my Bullet Journal, to make that happen.

I created a very simple spread with a list of all the months missing with check boxes next to them. I've also included check boxes to remind me to check the blog to see if I have already written about experiences from each month.  If so, I'll include it in my journaling.

I am excited and a little intimidated to move ahead with this project. I'll keep you posted with tips I learn along the way as I progress through three years of photos while staying up to date with my current photos.  

I'd love to hear if you have any recommendations for me! Have you taken on a project like this?
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Thursday, February 2, 2017

What's saving my life right now

Winter months are hard.  Especially for homeschool families, those with new babies and those who live in the frigid North where many days the temperature doesn't reach double digits.  We fall into all of those categories. So in order for me to keep my sanity, I'm doing the following things.  Maybe not every day, but as often as I can.

Time Outside

I know that time outside, soaking up as much sunshine as possible from our often bleak winter sky is necessary for my health and happiness this time of year.  Whether it's sledding, a short walk or a more elaborate snowshoeing excursion, I need time outside frequently to feel more like myself.

It's difficult to make that happen on a regular basis with a tiny one, but we're working on it.  One of my goals this year is to take each of my three big kids hiking one-on-one each month.  At this point in the year that looks more like snowshoeing.  While I've already semi-failed at this one (due to illness, I missed one of my kids in January), I'm going to keep going with it.  Hitting that goal on some months will be better than not trying at all. And when we do make it out, I love the dedicated solo time with my little people.  Ellie (12) is a non-stop talker.  When she gets a chance to talk to a parent uninterrupted, it seems she's preparing for a most words per minute race.  The parent needs to make appropriate noises periodically, nod and smile when necessary, but she carries the conversation along and darts from subject to subject like she's been saving a list of topics in her mind for weeks and can't decide which to talk about first.

One of my boys has surprised me with how much he looks forward to our time together.  It makes him so happy to have me all to himself.  He holds my hand and we talk about silly things.  Every two minutes he says, "I like to be with you Mama." Or "I love you Mama". Then slowly he begins to tell me stories about funny things his friend said, or elaborate hero battles he's enacted in his head.

Creative Time Together

This is the hardest part of the school year for me.  In order to add a little happiness to our day right off the bat we've been starting each day with what we call "Art Video time"  This happens even before our Morning Time routine.  Each morning during breakfast one of the kids gets to choose an inspiring video from CreativeBug or Skillshare to watch together.  So far they've always been art videos, but we could go so many different directions with this if we wanted to.  I love seeing how watching these videos together sparks similar drawing or painting projects from my kids after they've been inspired by the artists we've watched.  (By the way, you can get a free month on CreativeBug and a coupon to Joann by clicking here.  Or get 3 months of Skillshare for $1!)

My habit of painting or drawing something every day (now in my third year) is a huge source of joy and inspiration for me.  You can follow along on Instagram to see what I'm creating every day.

Time with Friends

I didn't know I was an introvert until I reached adulthood. I just thought I was weird because in situations where I was comfortable I could be bubbly and outgoing and loud and in other places or different company I had a different temperament all together.  As it turns out, I'm an INFJ, which is the extrovertiest of introverts. So I need people and I like to connect with others, but then I need some time by myself to recover.

I sometimes find myself feeling cooped up and frustrated and then realize that I need to interact with someone who is not a tiny person living in my home.  We've had friends over to play educational games for an afternoon (see below) and we've started going back to co-ops and other group activities after a few months away since little Edith was born.  Connecting with people is high on my list of things that make me happy, but I often forget about it since I'm continually surrounded by people.

Educational Games

We've fallen in love with playing educational games this winter. Taking even just a few minutes to play a game is a huge mood booster for all of us. Some of our favorites include:

Flag Frenzy (like Spot It but for country flags)
Timeline (there are a ton of versions of this.  We love the US History version!)

Fun Things to Watch

A Series of Unfortunate Events-- Our whole family is loving this.  We're watching it slowly and making it last as long as possible.  We really only watch things on the weekends all together, so we watch one or two episodes each week and we really look forward to it all week long.

The Crown-- Jason and I are watching this one slowly, also.  We like to have a "smart show" to watch when our "dumb show" feels too dumb.

Our "dumb show" right now is Speechless.  It's funny and silly and perfect to watch an episode with Jason while I nurse the baby one last time before bed.

Timeless is also a favorite, and it's on the smart show side, if you can suspend your critical thinking a little bit.

What is helping you stay sane this winter?

Head to Modern Mrs. Darcy for some more mid-winter inspiration.

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