Homeschool 2016 - Our "Plan", Living Books, Charlotte Mason, Notebooking, and how we hope to walk and grow this year...

Saturday, January 2, 2016




So, it's the beginning of 2016.

I can't believe it is 2016. How is it 2016? And this is our 7th year homeschooling?  Time goes way too quickly.  I wish I could hold on to right now forever. Or maybe even go back to rowing Ferdinand the Bull and play with floating corks in a bucket of water for 2 hours?  *Oh, those were the days...*

For the title of this post and throughout it, I have put the word "plan" in quotation marks because most of the 'plans' I made for 2015 changed and also because any 'plan' I make is completely subject to the change.

Let me expand.  One of the BIG things God has been teaching me this year is to let go of control and trust His leading in our home and homeschool.  That means, sometimes, the daily plan drastically changes.  That means, sometimes, an entire year's plans get altered or thrown out the window altogether.  

If you look up "subject to change" in the Thesaurus (and weird homeschool Moms like me do that sort of thing), it has the word, CONDITIONAL.  I think that is the perfect way to describe our homeschool "plans".  Because they are always conditional on if and when the Lord leads us either away from a previous "plan" or towards a new one.  And when He leads me or one (or more) of the children in a totally unexpected direction, we do our utmost to follow.  

This has happened this year to plans for a day, week, month and actually, most of the year!  So, this is one of the biggies I'm praying the Lord will continue to lead me in this year.  I want desperately to be Spirit-led in our homeschool.  To listen to my Holy Teacher and to simply be a tool He can use to reach the hearts of my children in the most loving, grace-based, effective way.  To trust that He knows them better than me and knowns better what our family and each child needs to learn today, tomorrow, and next year.  Our days are in His hands - and He is faithful to guide and direct us lovingly.  It is such a wonderful relief to know He is in control.

So, sure, I can share the "plan" but just remember, the "plan" is always wildly conditional upon God's gracious leading.


It's pretty awesome to serve a God who cares to lead little us in our everyday journey, isn't it?!




On that note, let's take a look at the "plan" we've been following and will continue following in 2016...




History and Geography


Simply Charlotte Mason's Early Modern and Epistles has been a spine for much of our study this year and we will continue with it into 2016.  I really love the way SCM puts together their guides.  They are very gentle, very flexible, and very family-learning focused. (So, the whole family is learning the content together.)  We have all loved two of the major read-alouds for this era as well, Stories of America Volume 1, and Stories of the Nations Volume 1.  (Both from Simply Charlotte Mason.)





Some additional family read-alouds we are using this year for History:

We love history read-alouds.  This is part of our family reading.  These include picture books (many, many picture books which I haven't shown here), chapter books, historical fiction, non-fiction living books, and whatever else we feel inspired to read!







History Timeline:

We have used this Book of Time since 5 years ago.  Really, there should be a LOT more in it.  History Timelines (or Book of Centuries, as some people call them - however, these are slightly different) are a part of Charlotte Mason-style learning.

They really help our whole family make wonderful connections between the people we are studying, the novels we are reading, and the history we are covering.  I try hard to print out color pictures of the things we will be covering with corresponding years.  This year I also started printing out the covers of the actual books we were reading.  This serves as a really fantastic visual reminder of the kinds of things that happened in the beloved stories at this particular time in history.

For example, as you can see below, we have a photo of the Revolutionary War, along with it is our photo of the cover of Johnny Tremain, which we read together.  Then below,  there are two other books my eldest read - Guns for General Washington and The Buffalo Knife.  We can see in correspondence to the timeline which happened when.  Also, on the opposite photo, we can see that Robert Louis Stevensen was alive and writing poetry at the same time as the Ingalls family, which is very interesting when you are reading the Little House books AND covering Stevensen's poetry in the same year.





Geography -

This year, we've really been enjoying the Holling C. Holling books.  They are classic 'Charlotte Mason Book List' books, but they are tried and true living books and our kids do love them.  The one thing I do not love about them is the minor evolutionary lean they have to them in small parts.  *sigh*  As a whole though, I have found this to be very minor in the context of the entire book(s).

We have been using these for history/geography reading as well as narration.  The chapters are short (Paddle to the Sea's chapters are one page with full illustrations on every page, MINN has 2-3 page chapters).  They work well for Narration and very well for Notebooking... so we use them for both.  I did assign all three children their OWN Holling book, and it worked well.  (Our 7-year-old did Paddle, our 8-year-old did Tree in the Trail, and our 10 year old did MINN).  At his request (begging?), I also started reading Seabird with our youngest and will continue into the new year.

Julie at Butterflies and Barefoot Lasses has created some great FREE notebooking pages to go along with these titles.  They aren't totally Charlotte Mason in their approach, but I pieced together some pretty neat stuff from them, especially the maps and map prompts!

Free Paddle-to-the-Sea Notebooking Pages

Minn of the Mississippi Notebooking Pages

Tree in the Trail Notebooking Pages







We are also using two classic Charlotte Mason geography resources.  Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason herself, and Home Geography for Primary Grades by C.C. Long.  These are both pretty old books that are available for free online.  These are both excellent primers for elementary geography in a very conversational style.  I love both books for the same reasons - they are very similar but it is worth working through both with your children.  I find Elementary Geography to be slightly easier and shorter, so we start there and progress to Long's.

I am working hard on completing free Notebooking Pages for each book and will post them as soon as they are ready.

For now, however, I did create two FREE ebook files of each of these Geography 'curriculums', which you can easily download right here.






Bible and Scripture Memory, Hymn Study, Habit Training, Hero Admiration, Poetry


Bible:

We LOVE Bible Road Trip!!!  It has been a major blessing to our family as we work through Danika's wonderful bible program.  It is available completely free in separate downloads, or you can pay a one time fee for the ease of downloading the whole year in one chunk.  (Worth the savings in frustration and time, in my opinion!)

This program caters to multi-ages (elementary to high school).  There are three years, we are working through Year 1 this year.  By the time we finish year 3, we will have covered the entire bible, which I love!  This program comes with fantastic Notebooking Pages too!   I can't say enough positive things about Bible Road Trip - I have a full review coming soon.

We are also using the Adventure Bible Book of Devotions for Early Readers for daily devotions and most often we use the Chronological Life Application Study Bible for bible read-alouds.










Hymn Study and Songs, and Scripture Memory:

This year, we've really enjoyed learning and singing new hymns and memory verse songs together.  Hymns for a Kid's Heart is a lovely book that covers 12 different hymns in a living book style.  It gives engaging stories about the hymn's author and their inspiration for the hymn as well as a short devotional thought and the music (piano/guitar) for each hymn.  

I also picked up Abide with Me at a used book store to walk us through some of the British hymns we'll be learning.  It is a photographic journey through four popular British hymns.

We have been really loving the Hide 'Em In Your Heart cds by Steve Green.  We've been using Volume 1 and 2 with little printed/laminated verses to go with it.  Each week we do a new verse and a new song to go along with it.  These tunes are so fun and have really helped us get God's word in our hearts!

We also use our Scripture Memory Box and Prayer Basket, which you can read more about here.











Hero Admiration (learning about great Christian role models):

I would say our 'Hero' books are among the absolute favorites, especially for our eldest son.  We have read through all of Dave and Neta Jackson's HERO TALES Volumes and I highly (HIGHLY) recommend them.  They are wonderful, inspiration, devotional books telling the tales of men and women of God.  We have loves every volume!  So rich!  We will complete Volume 4 this year, which is our final Volume.

We also plan to read stories from Trial and Triumph by Richard Hanulla as well as Prayers that Changed History by Tricia Goyer.  









Habit Training/Character Formation:

For a couple years now, we have been using Laying Down the Rails as well as Laying Down the Rails for Children: A Habit Training Companion.  I absolutely love BOTH resources.  I have not found a better resource for a Charlotte Mason-based habit/character study.

Laying Down the Rails is a HUGE resources for habit training and character formation in children (and ourselves!).  It covers all the major habits and gives pointers for how to implement them in our homes.  I was a little unsure how to 'teach' habits and properly inspire the kids at first, but, I found the companion to be an invaluable resource.  It helped me bridge the gap as I apply these habits and try to 'teach' them on a weekly basis.  The companion reads almost like a lesson book and everything you need is there to walk through each habit.  These books are HUGE (400 pages...) and worth the money, in my opinion!  They will last for years and years as you work through them.






Poetry:

Poetry is one of my favorite things.  I love reading poetry with the children and memorizing poetry together.   We have read through so many poetry books, I couldn't possibly list them all!  This year, we read through A Child's Garden of Verses (not my favorite poetry book to be honest), All Day Long (this is a BEAUTIFUL poem book), both of A.A.Milne's poetry books, and A Child's Book of Poems.

For poetry memorization, we are using Christina Rossetti's shorter poems.  (For example: The Caterpillar, Who Has Seen the Wind?)







Morning/Family Basket:

One thing we've started this year is our 'Morning Basket'.  You can search online, Pinterest, etc. and you'll easily find lots of information about Morning Baskets in Charlotte Mason homeschools.  Our Morning Basket is a basket full of books that we try to read through at the beginning of our day.  This includes things like: Bible, Scripture Memory, Poetry, Hymn Study and Bible Songs, Prayer Books, and things like that.  It has been lovely.






Composer Study, Music, Art, Aritist and Picture Study (and some biographies):


For Composer Studies this year we are covering Tchaikovsky and Beethoven.  We have a lovely book called Tchaikovsky Goes to America as well as Beethoven Lives Upstairs.  We will also use both of the "My First" albums for these composers.  (These ones.)

For Music, we are learning to play Ukulele and Piano.  We have been LOVING the program,  Yousician.  We've been using the free trial for Piano, Ukulele, and my husband is learning Guitar.  What a great program!

For Artist and Picture Study we are covering Claude Monet, DaVinci, and Michelangelo.  We have several living books on these artists, two of which are photographed below (Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo by Diane Stanley).   

We also use a ton of Naturalist paintings for picture study.  Last year we used paintings by Robert Bateman, and this year we will study more Bateman, along with several other Naturalist painters found in the book From the Wild (seen below).

The Come Look With Me books are also fantastic for beginner picture study!  We are working through the volume shown below about children at play.

For Visual Art we use ARTistic Pursuits along with some of the great stuff on Art for Kids Hub.








Nature Study and Natural Science


We love Nature Study and we love Natural Science.  Nature Study has played a huge role in our homeschool since the beginning.  We have found so many incredible resources over the years but by far, the best resources are... wait for it... books.  Yep.  Just good old fashioned living books about all things Nature Study.  Biographies of Scientists and Naturalists, books about animals and nature, and living non-fiction books.  I would encourage you to purchase as many living books about nature as you can.  They are invaluable tools that you will visit over and over again.

Anna Botsford Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study is a resource we use constantly in our homeschool.

We also use our Nature Notebooks as often as we can.


Here are some of the books we are using this year:






NaturExplorers 

I love, love, love NaturExplorers from Shining Dawn Books.  I have written extensively about this fantastic program and you can visit my main review right here.  We will be hopefully working through some of the stuff from the units for Ice and Snow, Constant Conifers, and Captivating Clouds this Winter and Spring.







Language Arts

Hello, my name is Cassandra, and I'm a Language Arts addict.  Now, if only I could get my two sons on board...  No, really though, I love English and all things Language Arts so I have spent the past 7 years trying to find the *best* programs, curriculums, etc. for Language Arts and I have realized this - you don't really need much, my friend.

We've narrowed it down to a few tried and true resources and we will stick to these.  They are gentle, Charlotte Mason-based Language Arts programs.  We do not use a 'writing program'.   For writing, we use written narration as the children get older.

So, here's what we are using/have used...


Grammar:

Alright.  I have this huge internal struggle with Grammar.  Part of me (the logical part, which is hard to find most days) knows that grammar is important.  But another part of me wants to stamp and scream when I see anything along the lines of diagramming sentences or classifying parts of speech.

Honestly?  I think most children learn most grammar by reading (and being read) high quality literature and taking part in every day conversations.  So, our grammar is introduced at about age 8 or 9 and is done with a very gentle approach.

We bounce between English for the Thoughtful Child (Volumes 1 and 2) and Simply Grammar.  I do, however, use both mostly orally.  We stay away from a lot of grammar drill or writing 'drill'.  Grammar is learned through copywork, dictation, and oral and written narration.


Spelling and Dictation:

We don't use spelling lists.  We use dictation.  There are a few resources for dictation I can recommend.  The first is a series of books by Kate Van Wagenen published in the early 1900s.  These are called, Dictation Day by Day and you can easily find year 2-6 online on open archives.  We use these daily and they have improved our children's (our 8 and 10 year old) writing, spelling, punctuation, and attention skills!

Simply Charlotte Mason also has a spelling program by the way of dictation called, Spelling Wisdom.  It progresses much faster than Dictation Day by Day.  I think this is partly because it is made for once-a-week use.  It is also a very good resource, however, quite challenging.  I feel like a child who completely Level 5 would be a PHENOMENAL speller, far better than me!  (See... I had to spell-check the word phenomenal...haha!)






Thoughts on Narration:

Narration is something we are still working on.  I think part of the thing with Narration is that it doesn't need to be so formal as many of us think.  Narration is really just your child telling you what they know and when we approach it this way, it is easier.  For narration, I try to use specific books for our narrations.  These include age appropriate levels of difficulty and length.  So, for example, 7-year-old Alex uses stories from Aesop's Fables for Children, 8-year-old Audrey uses stories from 50 Famous Stories Retold.

Often times, I have simply used the, "Tell me everything you know about..." question and recorded their answers. It is amazing what they retain when they learn through living books!  I find the whole, "Tell me what you know" process works better for us than narrating back right after a reading.  Though, we do use both methods.

We also narrate from our History readings, and various novels, Bible readings, etc.






Reading:

Oh, reading.  I would say this topic of reading is the topic many Moms find stressful, especially homeschool Moms.  And, rightfully so, I suppose - reading is IMPORTANT!

We have just started looking at Delightful Reading from Simply Charlotte Mason but have not used it yet (it looks awesome...).  We have, however, used and LOVED All About Reading.  I see many of Charlotte Mason's theories about reading applied to the All About Reading Program, to be honest!

My son went from non-reading to reading in only a couple months using AAR Level 1 (read my full review along with all my AAR posts, here).   It's a great reading program.  We have worked through Level 1 and are currently working through Level 2.




Readers:

Okay, so, I've heard the debates about Charlotte Mason educators saying no to 'readers' and I understand it in part.  In my opinion, the kind of readers Charlotte would have considered 'twaddle' would be very basic, boring, word-focused readers with no living stories and minimal vocabulary.

They exist, but there is so much out there for beginning readers now, including TONS of great living books!  Here are some of the 'readers' we are using:









Thoughts on Copywork:

I think copywork is way over complicated by so many Charlotte Mason homeschoolers.  You don't need a specially purchased "copywork" workbooks, which are often marketed.  All you need is good paper, pencils, and worthwhile, age-appropriate content for your child to copy.

Copywork doesn't need to cost you a penny.  We have spent years using simple poems, scriptures, sentences from books we were reading, quotes from great thinkers, and short fables and riddles to name a few.

If you are looking for a specific resource for copywork, one I do recommend is Draw Write Now (I did a huge review of the books here).  These are beautiful, non-consumable copywork and drawing books that encourage children to really enjoy doing their copywork!  They are also wonderful drawing books.  All three of our children truly enjoy working through these and they have been completely invaluable in our homeschool for a massive variety of topics!





Notebooking

Notebooking is a huge part of our homeschool, so I felt it was important to add it to a post about our 'plans'.  If you are unfamiliar with the idea of Notebooking, I would recommend maybe checking out some of my posts about Notebooking right here.

We use NotebookingPages.com and absolutely LOVE the site.  They have pages for just about every topic you could need or want.  We use Notebooking for most subjects, including: Bible, History, Geography, Nature Study, Artist and Composer Study, Poetry, Copywork... you name it!  Everything goes in one book and at the end of the year it is a work of art worthy of keeping and treasuring!





Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Membership






Just a few of the books our eldest (10 year old boy) is reading this year:


Math

Ok.  So, Math is one of those things that I feel we just 'have to do'.   I'm trying really hard not to pass on my mediocre sentiments about Math to our children, but it is a struggle...

We do, however, love Teaching Textbooks and have used it for about 3 years now.  I will stick with these from grade 3 onward for all of the children (that's when they start).  Our youngest is finishing up Singapore 1B and then will move to Teaching Textbooks grade 3 (which is really more like 2, to be honest) and slowly work through it for his grade 2 year.

We also play a ton of games, read books dealing with numbers and mathmatical thinking.






Five in a Row

We are still loving our rows through many Five in a Row titles.  I think we're coming to a point where we have rowed almost all the books in all 4 volumes!  Even though our children are technically beyond the age recommendations for this program - we still pull tons from the books and truly enjoy this amazing program.  (Read my full review of Five in a Row right here.)

When we row a title, we pause our typical history and geography readings and use Five in a Row instead.

Here are the titles we hope to work through in 2016.


Home Education/Charlotte Mason books I highly recommend:

I am always seeking out great homeschooling literature to share.  These are some of the titles I've read this year and continue to read and revisit as resources.  The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach (Bible-Based Homeschooling) is fantastic, A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola,  For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison, and Love the Journey by Marcia Somerville has been a wonderful inspiration!











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28 comments:

  1. I must say Cassandra I drool! lol I love your picks for 2016 and once again we are on the same road. I am looking at our Language program much the same way you are. As you know we were doing HOD and so I went with the R&S Language texts. Unfortunately I feel like grammar doesn't need to look like this. I was thinking of at least finishing up out R&S year but I am so very nervous about changing to non-traditional, PS style work. I just finished reading Designing your own language arts program and it has inspired me, now reading your post has inspired me more. The book lists you have look wonderful. Did you get your 'readers from the HOD emerging readers set? I am looking into those. You inspire me with your posts all the time to follow where God is leading despite how different it looks from what you are used to… :) Thank you for posting again.

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    1. :) Thanks! I agree with you on the R&S... it was not at all for us! I searched far and wide for them, got them all and then after a month realized we were all struggling with them and they really didn't fit our philosophy (I have no idea why people say they are CM?). I've never heard of the program you mentioned - sounds neat. Well, I didn't get the readers from HOD but I did purchase many of titles they recommended and our kids have loved them all. We never used to have readers but I am seeing this year the great value of having living book, levelled readers on hand! They work through them with excitement! So glad this can be an inspiration to you... we're a work in progress but yes, as we grow in homeschooling, I'm becoming more and more at peace with following how God leads us - and not worrying about the masses. ;)

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  2. I love your curriculum choices! I want to try the draw write now books with my kids! I also started a link up for BFIAR and FIAR on my blog, if you want to link up any old posts or new ones, I would be grateful!

    http://myfullhandsandheart.blogspot.com/2016/01/kindergarten-week-in-review-december-28.html?m=1

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    1. Thanks, Megan! I'll take a look and try to link up. :)

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  3. Wow, so many wonderful books! How do you plan each week and decide which books to do when? I would love to see how you organize it all :) Great post!

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    1. Hi Amy! :) I just posted all about how we organize - right here: http://www.unplugyourfamily.blogspot.ca/2016/01/a-charlotte-mason-education-simplified.html

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  4. This is so wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to hearing more and see how your year progresses!

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  5. Planning on doing heart of Dakota this next school season. I'm used to putting our curriculum together like you, but saw your hod posts not too long ago and it looked so fun and easy to just follow without all the work on my part. Can you give me some feedback on why you chose a different route? I'm nervous to go with it as its a lot of money. Thanks!!! Your plan looks great!!!

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    1. Hi Amanda. :) This is part of my struggle with sharing our 'plans', as I mentioned above. Our plans change and then I feel guilty/bad/upset that others are confused by our sudden change of direction after getting them all excited about a certain program! (ha!). Heart of Dakota is a WONDERFUL curriculum. By far, I think they have one of the most comprehensive, Christ-centered, delightful programs I've seen (and I've seen pretty much all of them!). The reason we moved away from HOD in its totality (ie: doing the WHOLE program with the guide) is because it was a bit too structured/rigid for us. Also, because of the way they break up the ages (ie: if I followed the ages, all 3 kids would be in 3 different guide or at LEAST 2 guides going in our home) it was way too much for me. A program that was supposed to be easier, open and go, etc. because very time consuming and stressful with too much on my plate. Also, they are very writing intensive, which did not work at all for my 2 boys who are not big writers. If you look through my reading choices you will see LOADS of HOD stuff though because we love their book choices. (Seriously, AMAZING!). How I've approached it is simply taking their suggestions for books. (Is this allowed...? ha) I can't do the guides, it's too frustrating for us and too restrictive, to be honest. But, we can take the suggestions for history reading, read-alouds, hymn, etc... and put them into our own program. If you do not feel like you need your program all laid out for you, I would highly encourage you to consider this approach. You can purchase the majority of the books on Amazon at a fraction of the price or even borrow quite a few from the library. Then you can plug them in when it works for you. Also, the spelling/dictation they use in the guides is just Dictation Day by Day that I mentioned above in this post. What guide were you looking at? Does this help?

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  6. Ah! Excellent! I am looking at Preparing, but am used to piecing our things together. We have come to love our simple approach, but because I do it that way it is more laid back when it comes to the history/science portion of our school and therefore does not always get done! :O Yes the book choices look AMAZING! I thought if there were a guide telling me what to do when then I would stick to it better lol ! Also the projects looked neat. I would only be using it for history and science as we already have our core work how we like it (spelling wisdom, cle math, cle graded reader) If just using it for history and science do you think its doable without the guide and just the books?

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    1. Yep, totally doable. And, if you are only interested in the history and Science read-alouds, I would really recommend NOT getting the guide! You won't need it, really... it is just reading, narrating and throwing in a few notebooking things and maybe an experiment or two if it applies. We do almost no experiments typically... because what we cover is typically nature study - we do observation stuff more so than experiments. The projects are cool, but they are typically the things that never get done in our house... ;)

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    2. Ha! Same here! Thank you thank you thank you for your honest feedback! Excited about planning next school season! (We school year round) !! Blessings on you and your school year!! Thanks for all your lovely school posts!!!! ☺️

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  7. Lovely post! Very helpful. On some of your spiral/comb bound books like the Dictation Day by Day, you link to an internet book. Did you print and bind that copy yourself?? If so, how do you do it? Is there a post somewhere? And is it expensive? I would love to do some of the books I have seen as internet books like that. Thanks.

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    1. Hi! The Dictation Day by Day is just on open source sites ... Search Dictation Day by Day by Kate Van Wagenen. :) I printed out level 2-5 in a combined file and added a cover of my own design, I love it.

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  8. We love Pioneer Story! I used HOD once upon a time and that book was part of Bigger. When I decided that I no longer needed the "boxed" curriculum I sold that as part of the set. My kids cried. I need to buy it for our shelves again. What do you think of House Calls? Question about TCOO. We are currently reading TCOO and OIS (my son requested the later). I've long looked at SCM modules but I'm not sure how I would blend TCOO with A Story of the Nations. I LIKE how much TCOO covers. From there I throw in books for the time period that are living. I don't know. I feel like even SCM module may be too "boxed" for me anymore. LOL. I should just keep on keeping on. ;-)

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    1. I know! We love the Pioneer Story book too... and we're Canadians! :) We have not read House Calls yet... so not sure yet, though it looks really good. For TCOO - yes, it is very indepth. My son likes the style of writing thought so we have read it a bunch with him specifically (he's 10). I find though, that I do repeat stories sometimes... we aren't really using is chronologically along with the rest of the SCM stuff... we are just reading it as we please... so I'm not much help. I TOTALLY know what you mean about SCM! I don't follow a good 1/2 of it anyways, so I get it... but I do find it helpful to have a timeline of what to study/who to read about as we go through history. Though, I'm not sure that the whole guide is always needed for that... Yes, there is a lot from the SCM stuff we don't do, actually... ha.

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  9. For spelling are you using All About Spelling?

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    1. Hi! Nope, we use Dictation Day by Day (free online if you googles Dictation Day be Day by Kate Van Wagenen), and also Spelling Wisdom from SCM. :)

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  11. So....I was thinking about our timeline tonight and I remembered yours. :-) Our clip art (when we use it) is black and white and well, just boring. Where are you finding your colored pictures that you add to your timeline? Also, how in the world do you shrink pictures small enough of the books (or where do you get these pictures from)? I think it's genius that you add the books. I imagine it helps tie things together.

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  12. I love this post! It's so helpful!
    I'm trying to plan our next year and I'm wavering between my love for the Charlotte Mason approach and my need for sanity. I find that a lot of CM stuff is very time-consuming in terms of preparation. So despite my strong pull toward CM, I am feeling drawn to other more workbook-based programs which allow the boys to work independently. My oldest boy also LOVES workbooks. I'm a language lover like you, so I really struggle with the Language Arts decision. I tried using Spelling Wisdom and Using Language Well this year and my 11 year old HATES it! On the other hand, my 9 year old loves it and has already finished the first 70 lessons of Book 1.
    So far for next year, I'm pretty sure we're going to be using The Mystery of History Volume I as our spine, along with some SCM enrichment stuff. As for the rest, I like some CLE material (for math especially), but I'm really not sure! Just when I think I've decided what to do, I read something else which changes my mind. Decisions, decisions...

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    1. Hi! It's funny that you wrote that - because I need for sanity was why I started implementing Charlotte Mason's philosophies in our home!!! :) Her methods should not be cumbersome or take tons of time to implement, honest! :) I think, if you have the right resources, it is very easy. Also, like you said, many people use an eclectic style, of course! Using a little bit of this and a little bit of that can be the best way to really tap into how our individual kids work! You can still do some workbooks along with loads of great literature and living books and have different kids doing different styles of language arts! :) The Mystery of History is neat, we've done it. I do, however, really recommend using living books along with it (she recommends a bunch at the back of the guide), otherwise, it can be a bit too text booky to really captivate the kids. (In my humble opinion!) I know, there are always so many decisions to be made, eh? That's what started pushing us more and more towards just using living books and doing more Notebooking. :)

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  13. Thank you for this very indepth, but bullet-pointed list 😊
    AAR has really caught my eye. I have 4 6yo - 1yo, I did MFW K last year and had my eye on HOD for this year for 1st, now I'm swaying and my husband is going to shake his head. LOL. take care!

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  14. I think I have almost every book in your pictures! Haha! We are using the SCM Modern guide this year. Do you try to math up Hero Tales by time period or just read through it using one each year? I love the idea of notebooking through history(we do that with the Apologia notebooks for science) but with 6 kids I struggle to put that together. Any advice for putting together some generic notebooking pages?

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    1. I have, in the past, been much more specific about planning what to read exactly when... now, we go with the flow of how we feel led and what to read when we feel prompted. I do sometimes match up time periods when it is easy to do. My advice for notebooking history is to search free notebooking pages... don't try to put them together yourself, that's just crazy and so time-consuming. there are SO MANY free notebooking pages online. :) Just figure out the events/people/time periods you want and search free pages. :)

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  15. Hi there :) I see you have used Simply Grammar, Using Language Well, and Spelling Wisdom now; could you tell me how you've liked them, how they've worked for you, and if you'd continue? I think they all look great, but do they work great? I'm a gentle grammar gal myself, but do like to be led in this department a bit, or else I'd wing it and pray. πŸ˜‰ So here I am asking and praying instead! Thank you much!

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