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!
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.
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.