Monday, December 21, 2015

Classic Education... the Charlotte Mason way

Classical Education is the age-old method that produced many educational "giants"  like Aristotle, Newton, C.S. Lewis, and Thomas Jefferson, among others. You can't pin one precise recipe for Classical Education, since of course the Greeks and Romans didn't all do the exact same thing, or even label their educational method as "Classical," for that matter. But they did have a common goal. It was not the mere development of the intellect, but also that of producing virtue in their pupils and influencing their conduct. Students were taught to think for themselves and become life-long learners. 

Classical Education involves teaching children is based on their stage of cognitive development: Grammar, Dialectic, then Rhetoric. Most educators today would define those stages as something like this: 
  1. Grammar - Grade school students absorb lots of facts, laying the foundation for future study
  2. Dialectic - Middle school students begin questioning and evaluating the facts, and learn to think through arguments
  3. Rhetoric - High school students apply what they've learned by making arguments themselves through speech, writing, etc.
Interestingly enough, what we call "Classical Education" today isn't necessarily so. I recently read a great book showing the connection between Classical Education and the Charlotte Mason approach. I came to realize upon reading it that today's version of Classical Education (whether in schools or home schools) may be an attempt to replicate doing what classical educators did rather than getting to the heart of why they did it. This actually matters a great deal, as it can result in the modern version no longer remaining true to the original purpose. 

Let me explain. 

Classic Education began with Rich Literature, Not Rote Memorization

Monday, December 14, 2015

Why Homeschooling Rocks For Our Family

There have been so many times over the past few years that I've been thankful we homeschool our children. Today I thought I'd share a few of the reasons that homeschooling ROCKS for our family. 

We declare our own holidays.
Making our own schedule is one of my favorite things about home schooling. We generally start our school year during the heat of summer so we can enjoy plenty of time off in the spring and fall. That's also when we take our family vacations so the weather's great and we don't have to deal with lines or crowds. 

Our field trips rock!
While other kids were cooped up in school, we have climbed a mountain, competed in homeschool olympic days, taken water survival lessons, visited the zoo, a horse ranch, an alpaca ranch, the lake, museums, parks, and pumpkin patches, ridden trains, toured the fire station and Auntie Ann's Pretzels, dug for crystals, gone fishing, hunted crawdads and caught butterflies. Sometimes we join other home schoolers for field trips, sometimes we go as a family, and sometimes it's just me and the kids. One time we took a three-family vacation with a couple of our favorite homeschooling friends at the start of the school year and our kids had the run of an entire huge castle all to ourselves. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Two Months TSW

Since my last TSW update, my son's symptoms peaked and then have shown improvement! 

Week 5 TSW...
Sunday was pretty rough... His face and neck were visibly broken out with red splotches and he was super itchy. It was a struggle to make it through worship services and we decided he had reached the point of needing to stay home in the future. Monday night he had a terrible time sleeping and was thrashing all over the place, flailing about and whimpering. He was absolutely miserable and incredibly itchy. It was a long, rough night. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

One Month TSW

We are one month into topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). 

If you missed it, you can read my original post here about how my four year old began this awful journey because of using over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, as directed, for his eczema. Instead of helping his eczema, the steroid cream gave him a new condition that's much worse, called Red Skin Syndrome.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Two Weeks TSW

In my last post I shared how I discovered that my son (age 4) is addicted to hydrocortisone cream. If you missed it, click here. He's been through about two weeks of TSW (topical steroid withdrawal). People go through it for weeks, months, or even years, and there's no way to know how long or how severe his healing journey will be. All that's guaranteed is that his skin will get worse than it ever has before, and unfortunately we are already to that point. 

What started as a somewhat regular eczema flare in appearance got worse.  

A lot worse. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

My Four-Year-Old Is Addicted to Topical Steroids

How in the world did this happen? 

We used over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream behind my son's knees to treat eczema flares, as our doctor instructed us to do. We emptied a grand total of about two tubes worth of cream over the course of a year.

Now he has a red, itchy, burning, debilitating skin condition known Red Skin Syndrome, which was caused by the hydrocortisone. It is NOT eczema, but it can sometimes be mistaken for worsening eczema, resulting in stronger steroids, leading to worsened symptoms and withdrawal, creating a vicious cycle that's horrendously painful to break. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My Four-Year-Old's Experience with Allergies & Eczema

Almost a year ago our pediatrician referred my son (three-years-old at the time) to an allergist, and since then we've been on a bit of a ride. He tested positive to all sorts of allergies (dust, mold, cat, dog, lots of types of grasses, weeds and trees, and a couple foods). She said those allergies were the cause of his nearly-constant diarrhea, as well as allergic rhinitis (runny nose, watery eyes, itchiness, etc.), and eczema. 

For the sake of his eczema, she had us change over to 100% cotton in everything that touches his skin. This took us some time, as that process was much harder than I thought... no more gym shorts, no fleece (jackets or blankets), no quick-dry material including swim suits, etc. Coats and socks were a challenge too.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Weapon Wall

For any moms of little boys out there... nerf guns are probably in your house or in your future. So with that in mind, I present to you our weapon wall!

After looking at various ways to organize nerf guns and the like I decided to try peg board. I like it b/c several of these toys are too big to fit in a drawer or toy bin, not to mention that the boys think having a weapon wall is the coolest thing ever. Since I know more nerf guns are probably in our future, the board has room to spare so we can easily hang these toys closer together, making room for more. 

The cool thing about this project is that it cost me nothing. We already had some peg board and pegs, and I had an array of spare green and yellow paint due to my indecision when choosing wall colors a year ago. 

Since the peg board had been sitting in the garage and had some visible water staining on it, I went ahead and sprayed it thoroughly with mold control spray. Then I painted the peg board with camo. Here it is in progress...

My son helped me paint some of the camo, which was fun. But mostly he just likes hanging his weapons on the finished product! 

Oh and in case you're wondering, the tin lunch box is full of nerf bullets. 

Gear up and get to battling! :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Living Books by Level for Mystery of History Volume 4: Wars of Independence to Modern Times

Key: MOH = Mystery of History, SCM = Simply Charlotte Mason, SL = Sonlight, TT = Tracy's Treasury

I'm just going to jump right in to posting this book list. If you're feeling a little lost and want to know what this list is or how to use it... OR if you want to find my similar book lists for other history timeframes, click here! Without further adieu, here we go! 

I made these book lists as a reference for choosing the best living books to enhance our MOH world history course. After completing it, we plan to take a course specifically on American History (Sonlight core D & E for grades 3-7, core 100 for grades 7-11). Due to the incredible amount of books on this list (which combines book suggestions from SCM and SL), I broke the modern timeframe into two book lists: 

  • The first list (this one) is what I’ll choose from during our general world history study (MOH 4 supplemented by SCM and SL world history books)
  • The second list is specifically for American History study, and the books are primarily those used in SL cores D,E, and 100 (SL's American History cores). There are only a very few books that I included on both lists (for the benefit of those who only use one list or the other), and those books are marked on this list with the notation *AMHIST (showing that they're also listed on the American History book list). 
If you’re planning to combine American History and World History rather than taking a separate American History course after MOH 4, then you’d combine this list and the next one and choose from the combination of the two. But that’s an awful lot. Without further adieu here are the living book suggestions for MOH 4...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Better than Worksheets, Quizzes, Tests!

One of the beauties of home schooling is that we can utilize different methods of education for our children than the school system does. After we realize that home schooling isn't school at home, we open ourselves up to a phenomenal wealth of possibilities. The more I read about education, the more I find myself identifying with the Charlotte Mason Method. There are so many gems within it, and today I want to share one of them with you. It frees you and your child from the mundane grind of endless busywork, worksheets, quizzes, and tests. Best of all, it helps students to truly own their knowledge and keep it, rather than regurgitating it temporarily only to lose it later.

What I'm referring to is narration. 
What exactly is narration? It is the telling back of what the student knows. "As knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, children should 'tell back' after a single reading or hearing: or should write on some part of what they have read" (Vol 6, Preface and p. 155)  

In practice, it goes something like this:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Living Books by Level for American History

Key: MOH = Mystery of History, SCM = Simply Charlotte Mason, SL = Sonlight, TT = Tracy's Treasury

I'm just going to jump right in to posting this book list. If you're feeling a little lost and want to know what this list is or how to use it... OR if you want to find my similar book lists for world history, click here! Without further adieu, here we go! 


1492-1850 - Stories of America, Volume 1, by Charles Morris and Sonya Shafer
Though written for the younger grades, this gentle introduction to American history will make a nice Family spine, contribute some additional biographies and information, and help tie together the different characters the older students will be reading about. (SCM Family book or grades 1-6, Exclusive to SCM. *MOH volume 3.) 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Living Books by Level for Mystery of History Volume 3: The Renaissance, Reformation, and Growth of Nations

Key:  MOH = Mystery of History, SCM = Simply Charlotte Mason, SL = Sonlight, TT = Tracy's Treasury

I'm just going to jump right in to posting this book list. If you're feeling a little lost and want to know what this list is or how to use it... OR if you want to find my similar book lists for other history timeframes, click here! Without further adieu, here we go! 

Family Books...

·   Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation by Rob Shearer - While the previous Famous Men books were written for elementary students, this one was written with an upper elementary and older audience in mind. If you are teaching only grades 1–3, you may want to skip the readings from this book. Look at a sample online and decide for yourself. (SCM Family book. Rated 3.9 stars.)
·  The Man Who Laid the Egg by Louise Vernon
 - The story of Erasmus. (SCM family book. Not adequately reviewed. 3.7 stars. MOH lesson 15.)
· Thunderstorm in Church by Louise Vernon (The story of Martin Luther.) (SCM family book. Am grade 4 and up. Rated 4.5 stars. MOH lesson 18.)
·  The Bible Smuggler by Louise Vernon - The story of William Tyndale.
 (SCM family book. Am grade 4 and up. Rated 4.6 stars. MOH lesson 34.)
·  Master Skylark by John Bennett
A living picture of England during the days of Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare, with appearances by both. Enough plot twists to keep the interest of the whole family, yet innocent enough for the young ones. Highly recommended as a Family read-aloud. (SCM Family book. Rated 5 stars. Around MOH lesson 38.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Our Plan for Second Grade

Remember when I told you my big plans for First Grade? Well, I went back and wrote in updates on that post telling what we actually ended up doing, and how things went. You can read it here

Today I'm sharing what we'll be studying next year, because
Language Arts: 

This year we are using Presidential Penmanship for writing. It's a neat program because after purchasing ONE CD (a printable file), you've got handwriting/ copywork covered each year from K-12th grade. Pretty cool. I printed and bound the copy work book for 2nd grade. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Life of Fred. Say What?!

You may have heard that kids regress academically over the summertime. If you haven't, just google it. You can read all about "Summer Learning Loss," how awful it is, and what you can do to battle it. 

With that in mind, I totally intended to play lots of math games this summer to keep my son's brain juices flowing. As you know, I'm a fan of our homeschool math program, Right Start. It's fantastic. But every lesson requires my one-on-one attention. So by the end of the school year, I'm ready for a break. 

This summer we met Fred. 

A friend of mine lent me the first book in the Life of Fred elementary math book series. I think I told my son to do a lesson in it a grand total of two times before he finished the entire book on his own. He LOVES it. Fred has changed my life. (Ok, perhaps I'm being a little dramatic, but I am really happy to have found Fred!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Raw Honey to the Rescue!!!

Did you know that raw honey is full of health benefits and surprising uses? I'm not talking about the cute little bears full of processed product. When you leave it in its natural state (i.e. RAW, not processed or pasteurized), honey has some amazing properties, and you can use it in a variety of ways.

In fact, we recently started buying honey directly from a bee keeper located a couple towns away from us... By the GALLON! Did you know that raw honey never spoils? Archaeologists have found it in Egyptian tombs, and it's still edible!

Here are a few ways to use it...

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Wash My Face With Honey!

If you told me a few years ago that I'd prefer washing my face with raw honey over Arbonne's face wash I'd think you were nuts. But it turns out that honey is an amazing skin and hair treatment... that's why it's no surprise to find it listed as a nourishing ingredient in many natural skincare products. Why???

Raw honey's full of anti-oxidants, which can combat free-radical damage, promote cellular repair and healing. This is a strong defense against wrinkles, skin discoloration and dullness. It also has incredible antibacterial properties, which aid in both acne treatment and prevention. It's a great anti-inflammatory, which helps combat redness and swelling. It can even naturally tighten the pores.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Living Books by Level for Mystery of History Volume 2: The Early Churchand Middle Ages

Key:  MOH = Mystery of History, SCM = Simply Charlotte Mason, SL = Sonlight, TT = Tracy's Treasury

I'm just going to jump right in to posting this book list. If you're feeling a little lost and want to know what this list is or how to use it... OR if you want to find my similar book lists for other history timeframes, click here! Without further adieu, here we go! 

Family Books...

City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction by David Macaulay - In typical Macaulay style, the story of planning and constructing a fictional Roman city is presented and detailed with lots of illustrations. Fascinating for all ages.
 (SCM family book. Rated 4.8 stars. This one is really neat. It could be used near the end of Volume 1 around lesson 95 or in this volume at the very beginning.)

Peril and Peace (History Lives series, Volume 1: Chronicles of the Ancient Church) by Mindy and Brandon Withrow - Living stories that introduce important men in church history. Students in grades 10–12 will read all of this book, while the Family reads selected biographies from it.
 (SCM family book, Am grades 3 and up. Rated 4.5 stars.)

The Story of the Romans by H. A. Guerber, edited by Christine Miller (Nothing New Press edition) A living narrative that weaves the story of Ancient Rome. This edited version removes evolutionary comments and honors the Biblical accounts.
 (SCM family book. We really like another book in this series, The Story of the Greeks, so I anticipate that we’ll like this one also. There are several editions of it, so be sure to get this one. The publisher must be “Nothing New Press.”)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Living Books by Level for Mystery of History Volume 1: Creation to Christ

Key:  MOH = Mystery of History, SCM = Simply Charlotte Mason, SL = Sonlight, TT = Tracy's Treasury

I'm just going to jump right in to posting this book list. If you're feeling a little lost and want to know what this list is or how to use it... OR if you want to find my similar book lists for other history timeframes, click here! Without further adieu, here we go! 

Family Books...


Children’s Illustrated Bible by Selina Hastings – (TT grades preschool and up, Am grades 1 and up. 4 stars. This is our bible story book, which I scheduled along with all the corresponding MOH lessons. Don’t confuse it with this one b/c it’s TINY and the illustrations need to be full sized!)

The Great Pyramid by Elizabeth Mann - A story of the Great Pyramid and the people who built it. Similar to David Macaulay’s Pyramid, but shorter and not as much construction detail. (SCM Family Book. 4.7 stars. Great book. MOH lesson 11.)

 The Great Pyramid by Elizabeth Mann – Meet a nation of farmers living on the green edge of a harsh desert with a king who was a god in life and in death. Tens of thousands of farmers left home each year to chisel hard stone without iron tools and move 10-ton blocks up steep grades without the use of a wheel, all to the glory of the Pharaoh. (TT K-8, Am 4-8. SCM recommends other books in this series. It was great! It shows what a massive undertaking it was to build a pyramid. It's similar to David Macaulay’s Pyramid, but shorter and not as much construction detail. My first grader and I both loved it. Rated 4.7 stars. MOH lessons 11, 22-24.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Ultimate Book List!!!

I love Charlotte Mason style “living books”, and think they are a great way to teach history! My favorite two sources for finding these fabulous books are Sonlight and Simply Charlotte Mason.

I’ve taken the time to go through the SCM (Simply Charlotte Mason) book lists and SL (Sonlight) book lists, and organize them chronologically and by age to easily go along with our Mystery of History study. Anyone who's looked at either list knows what a massive undertaking this is. But looking for the books as we went didn't really work for me, not to mention that I found myself looking more than once at the same thing which is really not an efficient use of my time. So I bit the bullet and went through them both in their entirety... once... and made a master list.

This list is for:

  • Anyone wanting to supplement Mystery of History with Sonlight
  • Anyone wanting to supplement Mystery of History with Simply Charlotte Mason
  • Anyone who plans to use any combination of MOH, SL, or SCM over the years and wants to avoid buying duplicate books. 
  • Anyone interested in finding carefully-chosen quality literature book suggestions organized by time period and reading level. This may be to supplement ANY history curriculum. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Let's Learn About Ancient Egypt!

Here are a few of our favorite books, activities, and online resources for learning about Ancient Egypt...

Online Resources

Explore Ancient Egypt! You've got to visit this site!! We took a virtual tour through the Great Pyramid, walked around the Sphinx, and visited other tombs and temples with 360 degree tours. It was excellent!! Thank you PBS!

Discover the world of Ancient Egypt playing our games! Explore the Egyptian landscape, join an exploration expedition through Egyptian tombs, dress like an Egyptian queen or craftsman, translate hieroglyphics, and run a temple store! My son loved these games from National Museums Scotland!!!

Our Favorite Books

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hands-On History: Ancient Egypt

I lead the hands-on History portion of our Co-Op, so I thought I'd share the projects we did this year. This was our first year in Ancient History, and most of our projects this year related to our study of Ancient Egypt. Here's what we did...

We talked about how ancient people wove fabrics, and then the kids got to weave with a  loom. To do this, I propped a dowel rod between two chairs and tied strings to it, weighted at the bottom by washers. Then the kids wove it as you see here...
(I found this project idea here.)

They made mummies by wrapping little duct tape people with strips of linen, and gluing them in place with "resin." (I labeled our Elmer's glue as "resin" and no one was allowed to call it glue. They had to say "please pass the resin" not "please pass the glue" when they needed it.) Inside of the wrappings they also added "amulets" (rhinestones). For the sarcophaguses, we used this free printable pattern.

Monday, May 11, 2015

My New & Improved Home Education Planner (With Downloadable Cover Art)

As we're wrapping up this school year and I plan for the next one, one step is making my planner to track our school days. You may remember My DIY-Planner from last year. It worked out really well for me so I used much of the same format when printing one for this coming school year, BUT I got a major upgrade for the cover! I love the artwork, complete with a couple Charlotte Mason quotes.

Isn't it lovely? The artist is Ally, a fellow home school mom in the Simply Charlotte Mason Facebook group. She shared it with the group saying that she thought a few other ladies might like to use it, and was kind enough to give me permission to post it on my site as a free download as well. I just love it! Thank you so much for sharing Ally!!!

To view or download Ally's Home Education 
Planner Cover, click the links below...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Some Sewn Cuteness From My Featured Readers!

I love receiving pictures back from readers who make projects using my tutorials! (Although it may take me a while to finally post them!) Here are a few new ones... 

Mary G in North Carolina used my Custom Bible Cover tutorial to make this pretty case for her bible... 
After corresponding with a few people making their bible cases, I also updated my post with a few new tips and FAQ. 

Kristie H from Baltimore Maryland shared her little one's frog costume, which she made using my Hoppy Halloween Tutorial. (This tutorial includes instructions for making both frog and tadpole costumes)...

Melissa used my Pack & Play Sheet tutorial to make this cute sheet for her future foster kids...

Jennifer, from St. Louis Missouri used my ear flap hat pattern to make this hat for her son...

And Beth, from Iowa, used my dishtowel bib tutorial to sew her first dishtowel bib... 

Thank you ladies for sharing your pictures! :D 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Comparing Simply Charlotte Mason History with Mystery of History

I started our year with Simply Charlotte Mason (SCM) history, and mid-year switched to Mystery of History (MOH). This blog post is for anyone who may be comparing the two curriculums and trying to decide between them. If you're not then you can just skip this post and wait for the next one! :)

For reference, we did volume one of both curriculums which is Ancient History. 

This is SCM Genesis to Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt 

And this is MOH Vol 1 Creation to the Resurrection

Similarities between the two curriculums:

Monday, April 20, 2015

You Can Make a Burlap Wreath

Check it out, I made my first wreath!

I have seen some cute burlap wreaths lately and wondered how big of a deal they are to make. Surprisingly, they're pretty easy. And once you have the hang of it, you can make all sorts of different looks to suit your tastes. Take these for example...  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Learning to Read: What Worked for Us

Learning to read is a messy process, and there isn't one clear-cut way to do it.  I've shared many of my favorite reading resources here, and today I'm going to share with you what exactly worked for us.


I did NOT push formal reading lessons on my kids early-on. If you're not sure why on earth I chose to wait then please read this. Instead, we strongly encourage a LOVE of reading by reading aloud, a lot.

Gentle Introduction:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Stick Figuring Through The Bible

Today I'm sharing with you one of my favorite finds for parents of young children. It's called "Stick Figuring Through the Bible," from Grapevine Studies, and it's a great way for children to begin making a bible timeline of their own. This is not just for home schoolers! It's for any parent or bible class teacher who is reading through the bible (or a bible story book) with their kids.

It's amazingly simple and a great way for children to begin visualizing the story of the bible as a whole. Here is a peek at the first few pages of my son's timeline...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Most Fabulous Timeline Notebook, EVER!!!

Timelines are great when learning world history! There are several ways to make one... some people have them pasted onto a huge wall... my sister-law has her kids make note cards that are put into a baseball card album... and others make note cards and file them in order. I like having a timeline notebook. We started out with Charlotte Mason's Basic Book of Centuries, which is free. But we recently upgraded to the Record of Time timeline notebook, which is absolutely lovely!! 

And my sister-in-law gave me a copy of the History Through the Ages Collection CD which is just fabulous. It's a collection of impressively-drawn black-and-white images to print and paste into your timeline notebook. You can use the image alone, or the image with text (including date and a short description). You can print them large (for use on a wall) or small (for use on index cards, flash cards, or pasted into a timeline notebook). I LOVE IT! Here's a peek inside our timeline notebook...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Movie Screening for Kids

Did you know there are some good websites that help you make a more informed decision on what movies to let your kids watch? 

Here are some of the top sites for movie ratings and reviews for families...
  • Common Sense Media: this site gives a straightforward parent's guide to what's in the movie. 
  • Screen it: very thorough entertainment reviews for parents (they offer a paid subscription, but you can use it for free- just scroll to the bottom of the page & check no thanks) 
  • Kids in Mind: movie ratings that actually work 
  • Plugged In: shining a light on the world of popular entertainment 
  • Dove: family approved videos, DVDs, and movies 
  • IMDb: The Internet Movie Database 

Happy Family Movie Night!