Tag Archives: Charlotte Mason

Best ‘Ancient’ and ‘Middle Ages’ Historical Reads {Elementary Level}

Best Ancient and Middle Ages Reads

History is by far our favourite subject, and I’m always on the look-out for great titles to add to our homeschool library. We are working our way through Ancient History at the moment, and gearing up to study the Middle Ages in a few months time.

This list below has some historical fiction, and I’ve also included titles where the historical setting paints a wonderful picture of what life was like during that time period. I’ve also included some really great biographies.

If you click on the link, you will likely find the approximate age level and also some reviews on the content itself. I haven’t read all of these books myself, but have read reviews online to determine whether they meet the ‘living book’ criteria for our family. I’m fairly confident they are good picks, but make sure you read reviews to determine if they’re the right fit for your family. Many of these will be on the next round of our 4-year history cycle, particularly those that have philosophies and worldviews that are much different from our own.

Ancient (5000BC to 400 AD)



The Middle Ages (400-1600)



I hope you find some great reads here.  If you’re about to take a break from school for the summer, you might just be able to inspire your elementary aged children to keep learning through the break. 😉

If I’ve missed any great titles, let me know and I’ll add them to the list.




Favourite Homeschool Curriculum for Elementary Ages

Favourite Homeschool Curriculum pin

In our 5 years homeschooling, we have used a number of approaches and curriculum options. In the beginning, I went for a complete package in its entirety from Sonlight. But over the years, I’ve customised more and more, as I’ve gotten to know each of my children more, I’ve found my own rhythm in managing our little home school, and I’ve also continued to evaluate and prioritise our learning goals as a family.

The following are my favourite curriculum choices, some of which we’ve yet to purchase and others that we regularly use. I’ve also included some that we won’t be using anytime soon, but I still consider them great choices.

I’ve spent many hours over the years researching and looking for the best fit for our family, so I hope my searching benefits your family also.


Story of the World (4 volumes) –is written by a Christian author (although not a Christian curriculum) and takes a chronological approach to presenting the history of the world. The volumes progress in difficulty, and it is intended you start with the first volume and work your way through the subsequent volumes in chronological order (which is the Classical approach to history). We love the narrative style, and the accompanying student workbook has just the right variety and amount of work and activities to bring history alive and help with your child retaining what they have learned.

SOTW Vol 2

Mystery of History – is a chronological and Christian text of complete world history, also four volumes, and weaves world history and bible history together into a complete story. It is also Classical in style, and seeks to tell the story of God as revealed through history.

M of H Vol 1

Homeschool in the Woods – is by far our favourite place to purchase complete lap books/project packs (on CD or downloaded), and are comprehensive enough to use on their own, or to supplement other history programs. The products range from composer and artist packs, world history, US history, and incredible timeline resources. I strongly encourage you to take a look at the samples and consider adding these incredible resources to your homeschool.

HITW Old Testament (3) sm


WinterPromise – have a number of themed programs (amongst other subjects), and also some smaller downloadable studies on their sister site, Spirited Autumn Hope. The one I want to mention is Children Around the World, which has a unique way of understanding geography through looking at how children of the world live. It is more than just a geography-based program, and includes activities and learning ideas, timeline activities, and a Prayer and Personal Involvement Journal that encourages your child into faith and action.


Geography Songs: Sing Around the World – has the countries of the world set to some catchy music to learn them, with an accompanying book and markable world map. This is still a favourite of ours.

Geography Songs

Globalmania – is a free downloadable course to learn the countries, capitals, major cities, mountains, rivers, and more. It is a full-year curriculum, designed to be completed in 7 months, and utilises online games and activities as part of reinforcing what your child learns.



Apologia ‘Who is God series’ – this has been our favourite discipleship resource so far. This series gives a solid scriptural foundation to the Christian faith, using real life illustrations and a student workbook, and achieves exactly what it sets out to do. Because of our values and theological emphasis, we still add in other resources to give a balanced approach to our discipleship program.

Who is God

Homeschool in the Woods – Also mentioned above under history, Homeschool in the Woods do Old Testament and New Testament Activity Packs which are a fantastic hands-on learning experience, with great content as well.

HITW Old Testament (5) sm

What’s in the Bible DVDs – From the Creator of Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer has put together these fantastic DVDs that introduce children to every book of the bible. The content is comprehensive but not too overwhelming for children. We just love these!

Whats in the bible

ENGLISH/LANGUAGE ARTS (including Spelling)

Writing with Easethis has been one of our mainstays since the beginning, and we love the living and ‘whole’ literature passages chosen to learn comprehensive, narration, dictation and copywork.

Writing with Ease

Handwriting Without Tearsanother mainstay in our home, I now have two very different learners loving these books and asking to do them. These books teach handwriting from Pre-K through to 5th Grade, both manuscript and cursive, and early on children use a slate board, playdough, wooden pieces, music, and other multi-sensory methods of learning their letters.


All About Spellingour favourite spelling program, All About Spelling uses the phonics method and also a multi-sensory approach to learning spelling (tiles, writing, and colour-coded flash cards, and phonograms CD-Rom or app). It never feels like work for us, and it’s one of the favoured subjects in our house to learn because it’s so hands-on and the results are evident immediately.


Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessonswe’ve just started this bumper book with my pre-schooler, who loves the time with me and loves to run her finger across the line. It is so detailed that you only have to read what’s there (although I find a cut a few corners). So far, this little experiment is working well!

Teach your child to read


Math-U-Seewe have stuck with this program simply because it covers everything so well (using the mastery approach) and comes highly recommended from all my favourite curriculum sites. It has a teaching DVD, teacher’s manual, and student workbook. It’s my eldest child’s least favourite subject and I’m not sure if any maths program would achieve a different result – she’d much rather be doing something arty or reading! For now, I’m confident that it will be our choice of program and cover all the bases we need.


Life of Fredcurrently on our wishlist, the Life of Fred series is written by a retired maths teacher who wanted to bring maths alive to children through the story of a genius child named Fred. Some parents use them as standalone maths curriculum, but based on reviews I’ve read, we’ve going to use these to supplement our current program. It is recommended to go through the entire series from the start, even if your child is at a higher level. I’ll keep you posted on what we think of these once they’re in our hands.

Life of Fred


Apologia Young Explorers SeriesWe are in our third year of using these books and are continually impressed by how great the content is, and how much our children enjoy using them. They are written from a creation science perspective, and take an immersion approach to science, focusing on one subject in depth for the course of the year (eg. astronomy, zoology). The Notebooking Journals are optional, but in my opinion they make it into a ‘whole’ curriculum for the year.

Apologia Young Explorers


See the Lightthis is a hands-on, art technique DVD series, teaching the basics, blending, proportion, texture, and much more. The CDs can be purchased individually or as a complete set.

see the light

Artistic Pursuits – we love this approach to learning art, through art history, art appreciation and hands-on skills. We have sometimes jumped around with the lessons, if there is one that particular week that goes along with our history (eg. Greek pottery). A little pricey, but a really unique and beautiful resource.

That’s about all I have space for in this post – if we’re talking curriculum I could go on for a while! Please let me know your favourite curriculum and resources – I’m an open book!

Artistic Pursuits


PS.  Here’s a full run-down of what we are using for the 2014 year (January-December)

Our 2014 Curriculum sm

Read some of the other Favourite Curriculum Choices of the TOS Crew:
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Maestro Classics {A Review}

Maestro Classics review

Maestro Classics is a company that produces ‘Stories in Music’, a series of CDs that introduce children, ages 5-12, to classical music through stories.  The stories are engaging and educational and the music is performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which Maestro Classics claims as being the ‘greatest recording orchestra in the world’.

The production and quality of these CD’s speak for themselves and they have previously won over 50 awards from top children’s reviewers.  The music is composed and conducted by Stephen Simon, and the stories narrated by Yadu (Dr Konrad Czynski).

About the Product

I had the opportunity to review the digital download versions of ‘Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel’, and ‘My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music’.

Each CD (or MP3 download) has narration set to classical music, and other listening selections, designed to give your child a love for classical music and story-telling.  Maestro Classics write these three benefits of listening to stories in classical music, and I wholeheartedly agree:

  • Expand listening horizons;
  • Develop listening skills and accumulate musical memories;
  • Encourage adults and children to listen to music together.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (duration 51:14 minutes)

Mike Mulligan

‘Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel’ is a timeless classic by Virginia Lee Burton.  The story of Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel MaryAnne is beautifully set to an orchestra and Irish pipes, with music composed and conducted by Maestro Classics own Stephen Simon.

Other selections in this include learning about the author Virginia Lee Burton, and how a composer creates a musical score.  After listening to how the music was composed, we listened again to identity and listen closely to the different instruments and sounds.  There is also a song to learn and sing along to.

The CD and download version also contains a24-page activity book with biographies, the words to the sing-along song, sheet music to the ‘Mike Mulligan’ song, information on the Irish pipes, and puzzles for children to do.

This CD/download is recommended for ages 4+.

My Name is Handel: The Story of Water Music (duration 48:45 minutes)

My Name is Handel image

‘My Name is Handel’ is dedicated to the life of composer George Frideric Handel, with excerpts from his biography woven through some of his most famous pieces of music, ‘Water Music’ and ‘The Messiah’.

The narrator tells the story of German composer Handel who, while living in London, composed a suite of dances, hired a boat and musicians, and headed down the Thames River to surprise King George I.   The music became known as “Water Music,” one of Handel’s best-loved compositions. This section of the CD forms the largest component, at 38:09 minutes, with the remainder including short selections on the story and a sing-along song.

The CD and download version also contains a 24-page activity book with a biography of Handel, the history of the harpsichord and organ, words to the song, puzzles for children to do ,and other historical information.

This CD/download is recommended for ages 7+.

Who Would Enjoy ‘Maestro Classics’

Maestro classics selection 1

Classical music is well-documented and widely understood to be a significant tool for stimulating brain development.  Maestro Classics provide an entertaining and educational way of bringing the life in classical music into your home, perfectly coupled with story-telling.

If you are looking to bring opportunities into your homeschooling to develop musical appreciation through classical music and story-telling, this is by far the best resource I’ve come across to introduce and cultivate a love for both.

We listened a number of times as a family, and found that our younger children were not as interested at this stage (under 5) as they lacked the ability to sit still and listen for more than a few minutes.  My 8 year old however, enjoyed both these downloads.  So the suggested ages for both were our experience also!

Supplementary Material

Maestro Classics have also put together a well-thought out list of free Curriculum Guide’s to accompany each of the CD’s, with learning ideas for all subject areas: History, Science, Geography, Language Arts, Art, Music, and Math.

They also link up accompanying lapbooks which I’d like to try, sold by ‘A Journey Through Learning’, which you can find on their website under Educational Materials.

Pricing and Further Information

Pricing is as follows:

For further information, visit:

Don’t forget to look at the other great titles available – we are already looking at ‘Swan Lake’ as our next favourite. 🙂

Review Crew permalink

TOS disclaimer graphic

“Mix It Up May” – taking a break from our regular curriculum

MIx it up May

We’re almost halfway through our school year, and although we love the curriculum we’ve chosen for the year and have no plans to change anything permanently, I thought we’d take about a month to do some different things.

The last thing I want is for our learning to become monotonous and dull.  Before we get to that point, we’re going to side-step a bit in our main learning areas, and come back to our familiar programs a little more refreshed.

My preschoolers are happy enough with our learning times, so I’ll keep our current hands-on approach with them.  It’s fairly simple at their ages.  I’ve also started ‘Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons’ with my almost 5 year old, and am finding it really fantastic so far (it’s only about $12 for a bumper book of 395 pages – great value too)

My oldest child is 8 ½, and it’s her program of learning that we’re mixing up a bit for the month.  Some of these things we’ve already begun at the time of writing.

Our Plan for May


Instead of Story of the World (Ancient History), we’re going to focus on these areas of history:


We normally use Writing with Ease and All About Spelling, but for May will look at only using ‘Story Starters’ for some creative writing.  My daughter already does enough copywork practice daily with her Handwriting Without Tears.  I’m also going to encourage her to write in her journal each day, and we’ll be keeping up with the writing in ‘Who is God’ and her nature journal.


We’re currently doing Math-U-See and I like the confidence it gives me that everything is covered very thoroughly.  Maths is not our happiest subject, and I’m not sure that any different curriculum would produce better results where that is concerned.

The left-brained vs right-brained theory asserts that some people are more dominantly creative (right-brained) or dominantly left-brained (analytical).  Scientists don’t all agree that the notion actually exists (I did a test for fun – I was equal!).  Whether the theory stacks up scientifically or not, I’ve certainly noticed that my 8 ½ year old finds areas of learning that have a creative and artistic component much easier than those that are more logical and methodical.  Even a word search can be an unhappy experience.

Her struggle with Maths isn’t so much her lack of natural ability as much as it’s the discipline of working through something methodically, and sometimes it’s also the time it takes to do it.

Instead of trying to make Maths more creative this time, I’m going to try and work on strengthening the areas she’s weaker in.  Here’s my plan for this month (and maybe beyond):

  • Critical Thinking Activities, book 1 and book 2 (K-3, and 4-6) – to use the left side of her brain more.
  • SchoolhouseTeachers.com – has a variety of short videos, including some applied maths, which I think will give my daughter a different way of seeing things.  There are also elementary maths lessons listed by grade that we will revisit for some revision.  Sometimes it helps to have a different teacher or method to explain the same concepts.  I’m hopeful this will be effective!
  • Yahtzee and card games.
  • Xtra Math – a free online resource for addition and subtraction practice.


We’ve just finished Apologia Zoology 1 (Flying Creatures), so before we launch into Zoology 2 (Swimming Creatures), I’d like to review what we’ve done.  We’ll do this by doing a Flying Creatures lapbook, and going through our Notebooking Journal and tidying up any loose ends we didn’t finish.

We also still have a Supercharged Science subscription, so will look at some of the other experiments at my daughter’s grade level.

Fine Arts

We have yet to purchase all the books on our wishlist, so I’m going to make a concerted effort to get these on our bookshelf soon!  Here are my favourites:

We have Maestro Classics downloads that are new into our hands (‘Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel’, and ‘My Name is Handel’), so we’ll keep enjoying those and I’ll have a review coming to let you know what I think of them!

As for art, we rarely have to be very intentional about doing enough of this as it’s one of our most favourite learning times.  I’ll most likely make use of the ideas I’ve filed away on Pinterest, and until we can purchase ‘See the Light’, we’ll keep finding creative ways to develop new skills and enjoy ourselves.  Schoolhouseteachers.com also has some Art Technique Lessons we might do (by Brenda Ellis from ARTistic Pursuits).

If you’ve tried mixing things up halfway through your school year, I would love to hear some things you’ve tried.

{This post contains some affiliate links}

[Linked up at The Homeschool Post]

Keeping a Nature Journal

Keeping a nature journal

Recording and collating is an important part of nature study, as it’s where your child can journal the things they have investigated and experienced.  With a little guidance, their nature journals will become something to treasure in the years to come and a wonderful resource to look back on.                     

Ideas on Getting Started

You can simply use a plain unlined spiral-bound notebook, although I love to print pre-designed notebooking pages as they make a lovely end result to look through.  It also helps with my children’s interest level when the pages are bright and engaging.

I prefer to take paper and clipboards on our walks, and then paste into our journals when we get home.  This way their journals are kept nice.

What to Record in a Nature Journal

Nature journals don’t need to be a place of facts and exact scientific names.  In fact, I prefer not to go overboard with learning all the correct scientific names with my young children yet.  But rather, let them creatively record their observations with sketching, pastels, diagrams, words and short sentences, poetry, and simply their thoughts if they’ve been stirred by something they’ve seen.

You like might to encourage your children to keep a simple list of things observed in the back of their journal for each season, and date each entry.

For Younger Children

My 4 year old daughter has a giant scrapbook that she uses for her nature journal.  At her age, I encourage her to simply draw what she sees and hears, and I label and date it for her.  If she’s not interested, I don’t pressure her to draw.  If she’s interested, we might talk about what she notices, thinks and feels.

Once your child is writing more competently, they can record what they see and hear in just a couple of words, or you could also write what they tell you.   Encourage them to observe for about 10 minutes first, and ask them questions about the environment they are seeing, hearing and touching.  You could collect things like leaves and flowers, press them, and add into their journal.

A fun thing to include is their photos, which you can just print onto paper and glue into their journal.  Let them take photos of your walks out, things they’ve grown in the garden, or of each other holding some of the treasure they’ve found.

For Older Children

Nature Journaling is something to grow in over time, and eventually you’ll find your child will be ready to record more detailed observations as their written language develops.  Encourage them to research the names of flora and fauna, and to research things further that they have interest in.

Let your child experiment with using coloured pencils, soft pastels, watercolour paints, and different ways of presenting their work.  If you make this a regular event in your homeschooling, in no time your child will have a beautiful journal filled with their own observations.

The natural cycles, rhythms and seasons speak and have the handprints of Creator God evident.  Encourage your older children to write scriptures and record their thoughts in their journal on what they see and hear God saying to them through his creation.


For all ages, the most important thing is to encourage a love for God’s creation and be enthusiastic yourself about the experience.

We find we go through seasons where we do very little, and then find our enthusiasm again once we jump into the experience and realise how much we enjoy it.  I know all the core subjects are important to get through, trust me, I know the struggle of juggling essentials and electives!  But if you make nature study and journaling a priority in your homeschooling, you might find that the rest just falls into place.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series.  I would welcome any thoughts you have, and further ideas for making nature study fun.

Further links

Nature Study: Out and About

Nature Study Out and About

There are so many different encounters awaiting you in nature, no matter where you live and what you have access to.

One of the things you might like to do, is plan out a year-long schedule, and spread out some of the bigger trips further afield, with the smaller and more accessible in between.  Planning ahead also makes it more likely to happen amidst all the other commitments that homeschoolers have.  You’ll also want to consider the different seasons, and what might make a fun nature study during those months.

Here are just a few ideas and topics for your nature studies which can be easily adapted for all ages:

  • Nature scavenger hunts – especially great to do with younger ones, compile a list of small things to collect of different colour and texture.
  • Beach walks – study the tides and currents, sand and stones, shells, tide pool life, plant life, erosion, things that wash up including driftwood, and birds.
  • Cloud study – observe and record cloud types on different days.  Note the seasonal differences.
  • Gardening – teach your children about planting and managing a garden of their own, and sustainable practices for pest control, soil health, harvesting, and seed saving.
  • Leaf study – collect leaves and bark to do leaf rubbings or sketch.  Look up in your identity guide and record what tree they come from.
  • River or stream study – observe and record animal life, erosion and soil, plant life, animal life in and around the water, habitats, and see what you can scoop up in your net.  Collects stones and rocks to draw or photograph.
  • Weather and climate – this is great to do all year around.  Record the weather every day over a month, and note the differences in temperature, clouds, rain or sun, and wind.
  • Erosion – find an area where erosion is prominent, such as by the beach, and record the different soil types in the layers, the effect on its surroundings, and the speed at which it is occurring (you’ll need to do this over regular intervals, every 3-6 months).
  • Backyard birds – set up a birdfeeder and birdbath in your backyard to encourage birds.  Identity your backyard birds using a field guide.
  • Wildflowers – observe and record wildflowers and their growing conditions.  Where permitted, dry and press, or simply sketch in your journal, noting how and where they grow, what the soil is like, and use a guide to find their identity.
  • Tree – Choose a particular tree and record its changes through the four seasons.  Note the changes in its bark, leaves, soil and whether there are blossoms or fruit.

Places to Visit

Your local town or region might have some of the following (some of these are indoors):

  • Zoo or animal park visit
  • Aquarium
  • Quarry park
  • Beach
  • Trails
  • Wetlands
  • Caves
  • Tide pools
  • Desert
  • Botanical gardens
  • Inner city community gardens
  • Planetarium
  • Observation decks
  • Orchards
  • Farms
  • Mangroves or swamp
  • Garden centre or nursery
  • Forest
  • Historic sites
  • Science museum

Getting Equipped

You’ll probably find there’s very little you’ll need most of the time besides your paper and pencils, but here are some things that might come in handy depending on your nature walk:

  • Nature Journal
  • Compass
  • Binoculars
  • Magnifying glass
  • Containers
  • Paper bags
  • Camera
  • Field guides
  • Pencil, eraser and coloured pencils
  • Bucket and spade
  • Butterfly net

Through the Seasons

In the course of doing our nature studies, I’ve found there are some things that are best studied at different times of the year.  Below I’ve put some suggestions, based partly on what is in abundance through that season or where interesting and notable changes are taking place.  It might vary in your area, so feel free to use this as a starting place, and adapt accordingly.

As a suggestion, you might like ensure you have spread different topics within life science and earth science over the course of the year.


  • Birds
  • Insects
  • Ocean life
  • Trees


  • Harvest and crops
  • Rocks and minerals
  • Mammals
  • Leaves


  • Stars, planets, constellations
  • Weather/climate
  • Invertebrates
  • Landscapes


  • Wild plants and spring flowers
  • Amphibians and reptiles
  • Garden plants and soil
  • Seeds and seedlings

So far I’ve shared on the ‘why’ of nature study, and some ideas for how to go about it.  Next time I’ll write more specifically on keeping a nature journal.

{Shared at Hip Homeschool Mom, Teaching What is Good}

Connecting with the Creator Through Nature Study

Connecting with the Creator through Nature Study

Nature study is simply the practice of observing and recording our time in the outdoors.  It’s one of the most well known areas of learning promoted by Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, although any style of homeschooling can enjoy the study of nature.

Nature study lays the basis for much of formal science study, particularly so with life science and earth science.  I’m of the belief that science shouldn’t just be learned from books, and children will learn and retain better with a hands-on experience or encounter, and by observing and recording the experience.

For us, nature study is also creation study.  It’s about intentionally looking at the handprints of our Creator all over the created world.  Consider these:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.  – Psalm 19:1

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? – Job 12:7-9

The Creator speaks to us through the work of his hands.  How much more, as Christians, should we be connecting to the visible created world, and listening to His voice speak to us of his invisible attributes?

Sow a Habit, Reap a Character

Charlotte Mason said this: ‘Sow a habit, reap a character.’ But we must go a step further back, we must sow the idea or notion which makes the act worthwhile.”Charlotte Mason

God’s voice is heard in creation – doesn’t that in itself make the act of connecting with nature worthwhile?  I believe nature study also stirs the desire to seek out answers, and awakens a sense of stewardship towards the world we’ve been given.

We really desire to foster the desire in our children to worship God as their Creator, as well as the other aspects of who He is, and to know and understand this side of Him they have to encounter Him in this way.

Getting Outdoors

As a culture we have become more inclined these days to be indoors, so it can be a discipline at first to get used to having time outside every day.  Perhaps many of us do not realise just how disconnected we have become with nature.  It’s amazing how some sunshine, fresh air, and a walk in the sand can lift our spirits, especially when we’re with our loved ones.

A good goal to set for getting outdoors is an hour a day, plus some time in the weekend as a family.

Can I suggest that this becomes about something you all do together, and not just sending the kids outside while you are indoors doing something else?  You’ll be glad you did!  Watch and listen to what He is speaking through creation together.

Nature walks and study can form some of these times outdoors, at just once or twice a week where you plan something specific to do that your children record in their journals.

Next time I’ll write on some ideas and topics for your nature studies, and places to visit that you may find in your local area.

{Shared at Roadto31, Hip Homeschool Mom, Teaching What is Good}

Our Simple Homeschool

our simple homeschool pin

The pace of life around here has changed lately.  We’re enjoying learning so much more, there’s less busyness, and we aren’t going out as much as we used to.  Life and homeschooling has become much more simple, even though all our children are actively learning through the day.

I’m beginning to embrace this season of life so much more than when I was trying to juggle too much.  The homeschool life just requires me laying down all my immediate wants and desires, if I’m to do this well.  This is my ministry, and will be for some time. And if I’m really thinking long-term, my greatest desire is really to raise wholehearted children.  Everything else can wait.

Homeschooling also demands a different way of looking at learning, relationships, and priorities, just to name a few.  It’s taken some years, but I think I’m finally free from trying to do public school at home, and now think more in terms of becoming a family that learns and grows together.

So on that note, here are some highlights from this week in our homeschool, in all its simplicity, mess, delight, unfinished tasks, and freshly doggy-eared books.

Our Simple Homeschool (2)

The kids are rolling out dough for our unleavened bread.  We studied the Exodus account of the Israelites leaving Egypt inStory of the World’ chapter 14.

Our Simple Homeschool (3)

For lunch, we cooked up our bread and made some hummus.  Just for fun we had our lunch spread on the floor.  We read about Passover and also made some charoset.

Our Simple Homeschool

My daughter is starting to make candy rock crystals, one of the experiments in SuperCharged Science.

Our Simple Homeschool 1 (2)

Our Simple Homeschool 2

We did some finger painting outside from a simple print-out from Meaningful Mama.

our simple homeschool collage

The girls had some free time Friday afternoon, and did some art in their activity books.  My 8 year old has The New Zealand Art Activity Book, and my 4 year old has Do You Doodle.  Both of these are really fantastic.

Our simple homeschool 5

We’ve taken 2 soil samples from our garden and will be doing an experiment from our Apologia Flying Creatures chapter 13 on what lives in each.

Our Simple Homeschool 1

A happy scene when I went to gather us all for lunch.  Sibling relationships is something we are intentionally working on at the moment.  I don’t just want them to tolerate each others company, I want them to love each other!  The small victories make me smile.

Tonight we are watching Anne of Green Gables for our Friday Family Night… on video tape might I add, on loan from a homeschool friend.  So the kids have also had a lesson in how to work a video player.  Like in the olden days.

Have a great weekend, and I hope you are enjoying every small and wonderful moment with your children.


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{Shared at Every Bed or Roses, Hip Homeschool Mom, The Homeschool Post}

Reading Aloud Together

Reading Aloud Together

I’ve had the privilege this week of writing for Lindsey at ‘The Road to 31’ on ‘Reading Aloud Together’.  Lindsey writes on similar things, including homemaking, natural living, homeschooling, and faith, and much of how she lives resonates with me also.

I’ll be writing each month on her beautiful space on the internet which I’m so looking forward to doing.  I hope you’ll stop by and leave me a note there. 🙂

I would love you to take a read of this one and let me know what you think. 

“Reading aloud together is quite simply one of the best things you can do in your homeschool.  It’s where language is learned.  It’s where memories are made and relationship fostered.  It’s where a love of learning is cultivated.  It will leave an imprint on your child’s heart of being close with Mum or Dad, while discovering together the hidden treasure that lies within the pages of a book.”…


Have a great week friends,


{Linked up at Teaching what is good}

Nature Journals – List of Resources

Nature Journal list of resources

Nature Journals or notebooks are simply a way for your children to record observations from their nature walks and outdoor time, and usually involves sketching, writing descriptions, and noting the date, weather and environment for each entry.  It’s best to take them with you, but can also be worked on after your time outdoors.

Some people prefer a journal with blank pages, or a combination of lines and blanks areas.

For younger children, they can simply draw what they see and you the parent can write in descriptions or type up their ideas.  My daughter’s earlier nature journal has mostly sketches, some coloured, the odd poem, a couple of lapbook components for a different way of recording thing, and always a date with each entry.

For elementary children, once they are writing competently themselves, they will be able to write their own descriptions and observations along with their sketches.   Printable downloads are a fun way of creating a colourful and inviting journal, and some have some great prompts and ideas for your nature walks.

For older children, you could extend their studies by using field guides and having them find out the correct names for the things they observe and record.

Nature Journal resources image 1.2

Nature Pages to Download

Nature Journaling for Kids: a free 28 page guide on how to create and keep a journal, with some sample pages and a couple of pages to colour

Handbook of Nature Study: lots of free pages to create your own nature journal, including insect, tree, bird, weather, garden and blank pages.

Harmony Art Mom’s Homeschool Freebies:  a handful of free nature journal pages including those on the four seasons.

Nature Planning Pages from Jimmie’s Collage: Free pages for planning your nature studies.

Nature in Your Notebook: free printables to record your seasonal and weather data

Donna Young: free generic nature journal pages

Notebooking Nook: free nature journal pages for recording the weather, clouds, bird observations and others.

HomeschoolShare.com: free nature journal pages (including for 2-4 and 3-5 year olds)

Notebooking Pages:  some pages free and some available for purchase on everything you can think of in one place (the Nature Notebooking Set has 399pp).

Creative Nature Study Ideas to Jump Start or Invigorate Your Nature Study:  a fantastic resource of ideas, book lists, scavenger hunt pages, notebooking pages, and walks (plus much more). [for purchase]

Homeschool Helper Online: free elementary notebooking pages

Practical Pages: free classification tables and cards from one of my favourite homeschool blogs.

Wildflower Ramblings: free leaf Identification cards.

Nature Journal resources image 2.2

Related Resources for Nature Study


Handbook of Nature Study: home of the outdoor hour challenges and nature study for homeschoolers (lots of great tips and guidance)

Our Journey Westward:  links to other guidance and resources found online

Nature Friend Magazine: A magazine for children aimed at ages 8-16. View sample online.

The Kiwi Conservation Club (for New Zealanders): an affordable magazine subscription plus other member benefits such as connecting with local KCC families to do activities and exploration in the great outdoors.

Keeping a Nature Journal (Homeschooling DownUnder) – guidance and resource links especially geared (but not exclusive to) Australian homeschoolers.





  • Nature Study (my own Board on nature study in homeschooling)
  • Nature – (Nadene’s Board ‘Finding the joy of nature with fun outdoor discoveries and creative, educational activities’).
  • Nature Study Homeschool Co-op
  • Nature Study (Jennifer’s Board ‘exploring God’s creation’)
  • Nature Study (Karyn’s Board ‘exploring and learning in the great outdoors’)

There a ton of resources that I came across online, but rather than flood you with too many than you can actually use, I think from the list above you will find plenty of options to choose something that works for your family.

Enjoy your nature discoveries!


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{Shared at Hearts for Home blog hop, Frugal Homeschool Friday, Tending the Home Tuesday, Hip Homeschool Mom}

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