When we started homeschooling this year, I knew our library needed a good jump start. I went on a hunt for all the beautifully illustrated, full of information, awesome kid books. I wanted to fill our school room with books that sparked their interest and imagination. I wanted to have books there and ready when they asked questions about all the different things we would be learning. Oh man, there are sooooo many wonderful books out there!! My amazon cart is always full with new ones but here are our top favorites so far this year. If you have any in your own collection that aren’t on this list, please let us know! I would love to keep adding more!
1.Smart About Sharks by Flying Eye Books
2. The 50 States by Wide Eyed Editions
3. Cabinet of Curiosities by Gordon Grice
4. Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska
5. Timeline: A Visual History of Our World by Peter Goes
6. The Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer
7. Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by AJ Wood and Mike Jolley
8. Beautiful Birds by Jean Roussen
9. Wild Animals of the North by Dieter Braun
10. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
11. Atlas of Adventures + Atlas of Animal Adventures by Rachel Williams
12. Animalium + Botanicum
13. Diary of a Time Traveler by David Long
14. The Wonder Garden by Jenny Broom
15. Nature Anatomy, Food Anatomy and Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman
If I am honest, this birthday was a hard one for me. I think when there’s a greater chance that it’s your last baby, everything feels so final. It’s the last this, and the last that and the last little baby who will turn one (sad face). I am definitely looking forward to all the new stages in our kids lives as they get older. However, something about the baby not being a baby anymore had me very emotional on his birthday. We started the day off with a bang! (or maybe a pop!) by filling his crib with balloons. He loved it, then wasn’t sure, then loved it, then his sisters got in and he wasn’t sure again and then he loved it again. Typical baby style. The kids played in his crib with him forever! I love the pictures we captured of them. My favorite thing this past year has been to watch all their relationships grow. Siblings are the best! It’s just the sweetest thing a mama can witness. Going from 2 to 3 was an adjustment for sure! More so than I thought but once we got there and things felt like the new normal… Oooooooh it’s been such a sweet spot to be!! I love having 3 kids.
For Kev’s birthday last year we got him a Micro scooter, then for Christmas we got each of the girls one as well. For Mother’s Day guess what I got from the kids? You guessed it… A Micro scooter. Soooooooo it only seemed fitting to get our little Boo a scooter for his big day. He loves it!! Micro scooters are the best!
In the afternoon, we decided to bring Orion to get his very first ice cream! Yay, for ice cream! We headed to the playground from there for some family fun before Rowan had gymnastics. Everything was going great, lots of laughs and games until well, Orion had an accident that left us at the ER (he is totally ok! I’ll just put that out there first before I continue). But, Oh man! Poor dude. Not the way you want to spend your first birthday. There were plenty of tears from everyone that afternoon. We were all pretty scared there for a moment. It was the first time one of our kids have gotten hurt so badly that an ER trip was needed. It was definitely not something I enjoyed or something I will look forward to happening again that’s for sure. Whew! Totally made me realize how in control I think I am of everything, especially my kids. I’ve never been a parent that’s been overly protective. Kids will be kids, right? After we got home though, I felt so full of fear over what could happen next to one of them. Ahhh, what a terrible way to live! I spent a lot of time that night praying for peace and that I could trust that my kids are also God’s kids and that He is in control. He has a purpose and a plan for each and everyone of them. That doesn’t mean there won’t be anymore ER trips (my friend texted me that night and said “welcome to boyhood” Hahaha!!) but knowing God has a greater plan definitely gives me such reassurance.
Ok, back to our little Starman (you can sing David Bowie now if you would like). Orion you have the best personality. You laughter is contagious! You love to laugh at your sisters, to push cars all around the house, to hear the sounds of big trucks, to climb the stairs, to crawl through small spaces, to go down slides, to get into allllll the trouble, to push your scooter around, and to eat snacks. I never knew my life was missing a little boy until you showed up Boo Boo. Everyday you have spent with us has been such a blessing. We can’t wait to find out what this year has in store for us all!! Love you!!
I kind of thought this day would never come!! Buuuuut at the moment, I am siting at my kitchen island watching the girls through the window play… Star Wars! Yes!!! I am so much more of a Star Wars fan than say, Sofia the First. So this is a pretty exciting day. The neighbor boys are over as well. We have Yoda, Rae and the Bounty Hunter all running around with lightsabers. It’s pretty stinkin’ cute. What are you guys going to be for halloween? Do you do the family costume? I love themed family costumes.
So here is an outfit. hahahah! I love posting outfit photos but I never really have anything profound to say about them. I woke up, I got dressed and this is what I wore. Inspiring huh? It was a very warm and lovely fall day and I was glad to get to wear these mules another time before I’d have to put them away for the winter. Can you believe they’re Toms? Way to go Toms!
Ahhhhhh I feel like I can finally take a small deep breath and relax just a tiny bit over this whole homeschool thing (maybe that’s because I am about half way through a pretty strong but totally delicious margarita at the moment, but who’s to say??). It’s been such a major stress for the past few months. All in a good way if that makes sense, but it’s just been a lot to process, plan, figure out, order, set up and get started. THERE.IS.JUST.SO.MUCH.OUT.THERE.TO.CHOOSE.FROM! That was my biggest stress. How did I know what exactly to choose?? I knew from the beginning we did not fit into an all-in-one packaged curriculum sort of deal. First thing first, I did lots (LOTS!) of reading and researching on what kind of teaching philosophy I thought felt right. That was a good starting point. It helped me focus on where I wanted us to head and what my school goals were for our family. This book will be super helpful if you are just starting out! We’ve been following classical education for the past 2 years and have really loved it but as I started reading more and more, I became drawn to the philosophies of Charlotte Mason. I listened to every podcast from A Delectable Education and felt so pumped by everything they were saying. I just LOVE what Charlotte Mason has to say about education, it felt so right! Another good resource and one that I’ve really loved is the At Home podcast. Those ladies have A LOT of wisdom to share on where to start and the up’s and down’s of homeschooling.
Once I decided that Charlotte Mason was the path we were going to head down, I spent countless hours on the Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason websites. I printed out the Year 1 schedule from Ambleside as the starting point for our year. I read so many reviews raving about the booklists that I knew we couldn’t go wrong. I did switch out a few things that I think work better but still have stuck to a Charlotte Mason type curriculum.
You can find the Year 1 Schedule here.
We follow it exactly for our natural history/geography, read-a-louds/extra reading and then parts of it for our literature (I’ll explain below).
Science: We’re doing nature studies. The topics sort of come up naturally as we spend a lot of time outside. We collect items and bring them back to journal our findings. For example, last week we went to a farm and learned about bees. When we got home we did a journal page diagramming a bee and common nectar sources. However, we do have this guidebook from Simple Charlotte Mason that’s helpful if you wanted a little guidance. The point of our science time is to spent a lot of time outside just exploring and being surrounded by nature.
English/reading/grammar: We are using English Lessons Through Literature and Reading Lessons Through Literature. We love them so far. This is the only reason why we aren’t following the Ambleside schedule exactly in these subjects. A lot of it overlaps with what we need to read daily for our English Lessons Through Literature work. We do lots of narration and copywork based on what we are reading. We also work on memorizing a poem. 1 or 2 per month- right now our favorites are from Robert Louis Stevenson. I really highly recommend the Ambleside booklists- such wonderful books to read to your kids.
History: Beautiful Feet: History Through Literature. For 1st and 2nd grade you use the Early American History Primary and Teaching Character Primary. I am in love with this curriculum so far! LOVE IT!
Bible Study: We read a chapter from The Bible Story by Arthur Maxwell and then we read Training Hearts, Teaching Minds everyday. Each week we memorize a new bible verse, as well as work on a hymn study(probably one per quarter). I am not following a specific hymn study, I am just working through old hymns that mean something to our family. The bible verses are either from Finley’s preschool curriculum or a bible verse from The Rizers because we love that cd.
Each quarter we will choose an artist and composer to study. Right now we’re learning about Degas and Bach. I take out all the books I can find and we read about them and then study the work as much as we can. We listen to Bach during the day, we paint pictures like Degas, we visit museums, etc…
We also have a monthly handicraft we’ll work on. This month and maybe next we are working on sewing. Rowan has been begging me to teach her how to sew, so that’s where we started. I like picking things based on what is sparking her interest at the time.
Miss Finley: she goes along for the ride with most of what Rowan is doing. She listens to all the stories and has the same memory work for bible verses and poems. I just don’t force any of it on her, we take it slow and if she wants to participate she is more than welcome. She of course wants to be a part of it all though! I do follow The Peaceful Preschool Program with her. It’s such a wonderful curriculum! I can’t say enough good stuff about it. I didn’t want some crazy, complex curriculum to do with her. She’s still so small! This is the perfect balance of good literature, gentle learning and fun activities.
Another lovely resource I highly recommend is the Wild and Free community. I love everything they share!!
Well that’s about it for now. We’re only a month in, but we are really loving it so far. It’s been such a blessing. I’ll write another post soon with more specifics of our daily schedule and how it all works out with Orion in the mix.
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