Rocks and Minerals Lapbook and Unit Study – Part I

*This series will be a 2 post series. Check back next week for part two!

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to start this unit. I remember my rock collection as a girl. Our neighbor had a bed of river rock in their garden and I would spend hours digging through it always looking for just the right specimens. I imagined finding a glorious Indian arrowhead or a real dinosaur fossil. I would pour over the limestone that made up part of our wall in the front yard and carefully pick out chunks of rock that did have fossils in them. My imagination of what part of the dinosaur it might be from was far superior then the actual fossil sea shells they actually were. I remember combing the shores of a nearby river on family fishing trips searching for pieces of fool’s gold. I remember visiting a real cave and being mesmerized by the stalagmites and stalactites. I couldn’t wait to share this love with my children. As I was pouring over books and settling on activities, my husband would sigh and say, “Are you ever going to be done working?” But all I could think was this is not work!

Our school mission: head to the park and collect rocks. Use recycled egg cartons to hold specimens. Collect only 12 of the most interesting ones you can find. Head back home to identify and classify.

~ Experiments and Activities ~

The first thing we did was sit down and try to identify all the cool rocks we found. We have two wonderful field guides for this that the kids used: Smithsonian’s Rock and Gem and Eyewitness Rock and Minerals. I believe the kids classifie about 75% of their rocks and are still trying to figure out what the others are. This part was by far their favorite part of the week! Part of our identification came in the form of vinegar tests. Apparently any rock that has a bit of carbonate in it (think calcium, baking soda, chalk) will fizz when drops of vinegar are applied. Lily had great fun with this experiment.

Next we discovered how sedimentary rock is formed. We watched the Magic School Bus video on erosion (see below) and then did our own experiment in a mason jar. Fill jar with dirt (sand, soil, rocks) and water. Shake and let sit for an hour or two. Discuss the layering that happens.

We also talked about the layers of the earth. We listened to the kids favorite song (haven’t forgot the layers yet!) and watched this video:

Then we did a hands-on experiment to show how this works. We filled a tub with water (our liquid, moving magma mantle layer) then set pieces of wood to float on top (our continents, or earth crust). I showed how even not touching them they were always moving just slightly on the magma because of a solid floating on a liquid. This transitioned beautifully into a discussion on plate tectonics and how they work. We practiced butting the wood pieces up against each other in different directions to see how direction of force changed the outcome.

This led beautifully into a discussion on how mountains were formed. We used clay to showcase this phenomenon. We layered colors (our rock) into two long strips and then pushed them against each other until they buckled and folded causing both a mountain and the layers we so often see in rocks.

We also discussed climate change and how that affects the earth’s crust. The ice weighs down the crust sinking it deeper into the magma and then, during time of warming, suddenly (or violently) lifts back up to the surface again. Pretty cool stuff that I’ve never thought about before.

All this talk of plate tectonics led to a natural discussion of Pangaea. I had the kids trace the continents with tracing paper and then cut out their own Pangaea puzzle. They first had to fit it together how they thought it might go then I showed them what scientists theory was.

We went to this really cool site: Continental Drift Puzzle and they were able to interactively try their hand at the Pangaea puzzle. The really cool thing about this site is the ability to rotate the continents. And you can do it how you think, you can try with a Pangaea outline, or just see how you measure up.

The main book I used as inspiration for these experiments was an older book I found at our library called Rocks and Soil by Robert Snedden.

~ Geology Living books  ~

Let’s Go Rock Collecting

Magic School Bus: Inside the Earth

Magic School Bus: Rocky Road Trip – this one is a chapter book that we used as a read-aloud at lunch time. It corresponds to the free lapbook below.

 Cool Rocks – Tracy Kompelien

 Geology Rocks!
50 Hands-on Activities to Explore the Earth


~ Free Rock and Mineral Lapbooks, Printables, and Unit Studies ~

Magic School Bus: Rock Road Trip Lapbook  Yee Shall Know

Rocks and Mineral Lapbook – Homeschool Treasure Trove

Geology ideas and printables –  Eclectic Education

Geology printables – Enchanted Learning

Geology Squidoo Lens


~ Rock Videos ~

Eyewitness Rock and Mineral Video

Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls ~ Parts 1

Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls ~ Parts 2

Magic School Bus Rocks and Rolls ~ Parts 3

*Note for you creationist science moms ~ I know many people, Christian and secular, debate the young/old earth theories. You will have to deal with a lot of editing of pretty much all the books if you do believe in the young earth theory. That said, here is a wonderful source via Answers in Creation to draw from if you need.


The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Charlotte Mason Grammar ~ Free Language Lessons

Looking for a Charlotte Mason Grammar book that’s gentle yet thorough? Something with substance yet delightful to look at? A book that  you can curl on the couch and read conversationally? Well, then do I have some gems for you!

Today my oldest daughter (7) came to me requesting the grammar books we used to do (from Queen’s Homeschooling). I stopped buying them because she outgrew the phonics book she was using at the time and my eldest son wanted nitty-gritty grammar. We switched to Barron’s Painless Grammar for him (which he loves and reads in his free time…one of his favorite take-to-the-bathroom books) and just allowed her to concentrate on learning how to read fluently. Now she is asking for grammar again and she wants that Victorian feel to her grammar book. She highly enjoys the Charlotte Mason picture study and oral compositions and narrations whereas that part was drudgery for my son.

But as much as I wanted to grant her wish and order a Queen’s book, I’ve made myself a pledge to use what I have and not spend money on more homeschool supplies. Isn’t there a public domain copy of a Charlotte Mason style language lessons book I thought to myself? Yes, yes there was. But only the advanced Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl. The Primary Language Lessons I would have to buy.



    Intermediate Language Lessons, Vol II – Emma Serl

Oh, but what’s this? Primary Language Lessons by another author? Could it be the same? Would it work for us? I was very excited to find this set that covers all of the Grammar stage. I showed my daughter and she was excited and wanted to print it out today. I downloaded it for free, happy with myself for finding a solution when out of the corner of my eye I caught some other titles.                        



 Sheldon’s Primary Language Lessons

Sheldon’s advanced language lessons: Grammar and composition

And I started clicking and reading and getting very excited. Do others know this is out here???? A veritable treasure trove of elegant words and noble ideas and substantial, rare English usage. I feel like I won the homeschool lottery today! My only vice now is coveting the Kindle or iPad…how nice to skip printer and ink and download these 150+page books directly to a tablet for the young student to use. I see this perfect blending of antiquated substance and modern technology! Sigh. Next year maybe!

     Language Lessons: A First Book of English – Wilbur Fisk Gordy, William Edward Mead

Practical Composition and Rhetoric – William Edward Mead, Wilbur Fisk Gordy

I was very excited to see this Practical Composition and Rhetoric. what a perfect carry-over to learn and practice great writing skills…writing skills lost to most of our public school system today. I admit, being a public schooled child, that I will most likely learn as much as my junior high – high school student with this book!



Introductory Language Lessons – Lawton Bryan Evans

Elements of English – Lawton Bryan Evans

I know that sometimes following a more Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum leaves me feeling as if I’m not doing enough…what with shorter lessons, less subjects, less drill and a more gentle approach. Yet looking through these wonderful public domain treasures  left me in awe. We have lost the art of language. In our rush to get better test scores we have left behind words and ideas and language that shaped nations. Sure, we know grammar. Sure, we can diagram a sentence (well, some of us anyway). But can we take that technical knowledge and turn it into ideas and thoughts that capture the spirit and move us forward? I see very little of that these days. And I believe that may be why it is so hard (even for us…gasp…adults) to pick up a classical work and read it. We feel like we are wading through it and I believe it is because that sort of language doesn’t come naturally for us anymore. Reading it feels like going against the grain and leaves us tired and frustrated. How I don’t want that for my children!

Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education.”  ~ Charlotte Mason

P.S. I added all of these wonderful works to my Free Resources Page! Go check it out.

How to File Paperwork if You Are Not a Planner {a.k.a. Unschooling}

That time is upon us once again….

Yep, filing paper work with the state education board. Fun. Fun.

This is my yearly quandary…

One of the huge advantages of homeschooling is following a MUCH more relaxed schedule. For us that contains a fair amount of unschooling…or child-led interests and rabbit trails. These really can’t be planned per say. But our state requires curriculum to be approved ahead of time. How do you balance spontaneity with a detailed plan to your state?

I do plan…in a general large-scale sorta way. We do history generally chronological. This year it will be modern history with an emphasis on the Great Depression, WWI and II, and the Industrial Revolution. But most of my planning comes in the form of strewing. I look for great living books to have on hand during chunks of learning time. I keep a running book list that I can use when purchasing on Amazon or at a library sale. We follow math and phonics in a somewhat sequential order but even these I hate to delegate to a “grade” because each of my children learn at different rates and sometimes we are still in the middle of a book when the school year “ends” and sometimes we are already in the middle of another book.

When I was trying to write out detailed plans to my state I was getting bogged down. What would we cover this year…when would we cover it…when would we be done? These questions my state would want to know and I would start sweating and becoming grumpy mommy as I desperately tried to put something on paper.

Don’t get me wrong…the planning part felt good. When I was done I felt this sense of accomplishment. Oh, of course that’s what we’ll study this year (i.e. science lessons all mapped out in great detai)! Happily I would start our year and miserably I would end it feeling like a failure because we were SO off track. Never mind that my kids were learning at a rapid pace. Never mind that they had filled their time with way more additional learning then I had written down. All I saw was those original lessons plans with a big red F across them!

Then I came up with a brilliant idea. Why not just write down a Scope and Sequence based on everything I had? I just started typing by category. Math? These were the books I owned (text and living). These were the manipulatives I owned. These were the games I owned. I put general grades after them. For instance, after listing Math U See I put K-5th Grade in parenthesis behind it. Suddenly I began to see a skeleton take shape. Eventually this is what I would teach to all my kids through all of their elementary school years and some beyond. Before I knew it I had an 8 page Elementary Scope & Sequence that MORE than covered any paltry state requirements.

I am free! This year all I had to do was pull up that file, delete and add a few things and in less than an hour I was finished. Print. Mail. Ahhhh….THAT felt good! The best part? Doesn’t matter that I’m homeschooling (officially) three children all at different grade levels. This one paper covers them all. Doesn’t matter where we are at the beginning of the year or the end. We have the freedom and leisure to learn any of this stuff at our own pace and our state has the peace of mind that we will be covering all the bases…eventually!

Here is a peek at my copy (your own will, obviously, vary) as well as a copy of my statement about using living books as that inventory list is WAY too long to send my state!

Elementary Scope & Sequence

Learning History Through Living Books

Feel free to download and steal these and modify for your own use!

Happy planning!!!

(P.S. please let me now if these links do not download right and I will try to fix! I tested them and so far so good.)

The Homeschool Mother's Journal 



The Learning Room ~ Working the Workboxes

This week saw a new change for us. I’ve been thinking about implementing workboxes for a while now. I especially started thinking about it when I serendipitously discovered that two of the boxes I had been holding toys in actually fit hanging file folders. I knew I couldn’t use the traditional method…not with six+ kids eventually all homeschooling at once!

2009-2010 Work Tubs

We had been using basic work tubs in that each child each had their own tub that held all their workbooks, school papers, pencil case, etc. that they pulled out during school time. These worked great for a year or so. My oldest two loved having their own books in their own space. I loved being able to throw everything into a tub and just tuck it away at the end of the school day. Our system broke down this year with a preschooler and two toddlers who thought it great fun to get into and dump out the tubs on an almost daily basis despite being disciplined for it. And I was also finding power struggles over kids wanting to work on a book that I hadn’t planned on for the day just because they saw it in their tub.

I now needed a system that ~

  • Fit on a bookshelf up high in a minimal amount of space away from destructive little kid hands.
  • Allowed the two older kids to pull out their workboxes and know exactly what to do and when/how long they had to do it along with the oder they were to do it in.
  • Allowed for me to work more one-on-one with my younger children who are desperate for my attention during school time.
  • Allowed for me to take 5 minutes in the evening to plan throw things together for the next day.
  • Allowed for me to use it in a very formal we-have-a-good-curriculum-plan-for-the-year sort of way or the spontaneous follow-the-rabbit-trail sort of way or the project-week-independent-interest-led-study sort of way.
  • Allowed for me to implement more of the notebooking/lapbooking pages I’ve collected in an organized manner.
  • Can also be used the same sort of way with the preschoolers/toddlers and guided activities.

So I researched one weekend and found this wonderful site of another researcher who had gone before me. Just love those trailblazers! I looked at all the examples of workbox systems working for others and took a few ideas and made it my own based on my needs. Most of my ideas are taken from how Ruby Slippers implements workboxes in their home. Here is what I came up with that worked wonderfully for us this week.

  • I took the clear plastic totes and hung about 6-8 file folders in it.
  • I took about five minutes to write out 15 minutes, 30 minutes over and over on one piece of cardstock and the numbers 1-6 twice on another piece and generically cut them into about one inch sqares.
  • I paperclipped the numbers to the folders on one side.
  • I put in what I wanted them to work on for the next day when I wanted them to work on it. (If it was something they didn’t have in the box like typing on the computer I just wrote what I wanted them to do on a piece of recycled paper and put that in the file).
  • I paperclipped the timed squares on the other side of the folder.
  • I taped a piece of cardstock in the back of the bin that said: FREE TIME if you have all your chores and schoolwork done.

Now the older two knew exactly what to do, in what order, and how long they had to do it. It really did only take me five minutes to throw together at night before I went to bed! And twice during the week I was too tired before bed so I took five minutes after breakfast to throw it together. The system worked beautifully. I especially like the paperclips. It allowed the freedom to switch things around very easily. And the kids LOVED having control over how their school day went and knowing when it ended. It turned the routine I had in my head into actual reality in our week. It even worked so well that on the day I had my ladies Bible class and daddy is watching the kids, schoolwork STILL got done! This has never happened before. The kids just effortlessly knew what to do and dad effortlessly played with the little kids managed their school time! I did just purchase two clip on timers so they each have their own to use for next week.

Hooray for workboxes!

Linked with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers @

HIS Timing

I wasn’t going to post today. I was planning on really digging in and having a filled, focused day like yesterday. But then I read Elizabeth’s post on simplicity. And then I read Jenny’s post on simplicity. And this is where I have been struggling lately. I was convicted. I want…crave…need simplicity in my life. I see it in Him. I see it in His order. Like Elizabeth said, the simple and complex together in unison. I look out the window at the beautiful snow covered fields with the lightly falling down and the frosted trees and it is simple…simply beautiful.

But then I stare at the frosted window and marvel at the actual complexity of an ice crystal. My mind can’t even begin to wrap around it…the mathematics, the science, the geometry. How can He be so simple…I AM…and yet so complex…Alpha to Omega?

But it is really only me who makes it too complicated. It is me who gets distracted as I am in the middle of one chore and start doing another without finishing the first. It is me who thinks I must have a perfect plan in order to do school, assign chores, make a menu or grocery list. And it is me who gets derailed because I don’t have a perfect plan therefore the thing doesn’t get done because I am still “working” on my plan. Not that planning is bad, but my planning always seems to stay in planning and never moves to action.

Why did yesterday work so well? Aside from the obvious praying and staying in Him, I think it came from the simplicity of me not getting sucked into my own complexity. Does that make any sense? I stayed in the moment. Instead of getting distracted by another chore I was reminded to stay with the one I was doing and when I did that the chore got done in a timely manner and I was still on schedule. Did everything get done that I wanted in the day? Well, no. But then no day ever will. When I was tempted to hop on line I was reminded that I would have the freedom later and that allowed me to give attention ~ simple, blessed attention ~ to the one who needed it. When I needed to pull together a menu for the week and everything in my being wanted to sit at the computer and map it out I, instead, pulled out a piece of scratch paper and spent 10 minutes chicken-scratching a rough menu based on what I knew we had in the house. Does it look pretty hanging on the fridge? Nope. But I do know exactly what to make for dinner tonight and I still had time to finish up dinner yesterday while the little one napped.

And, of course, knowing all this does NOT make it easier to do or apply to my own life. I still must live in His grace and strength moment by moment or else I end up caving to myself…my fleshly desires. Not the obvious drinking and gluttony we all think of but the subtle flesh cravings…perfectionism, organization, doing what I want when I want. None of the things I want to do are bad. Most are really quite good and uplifting and helpful. But the time in which I do them is all wrong. And I think that is the key. His timing. His timing is always perfect. If we rest in Him our burdens will be light not because the work is easier but because His timing of the work will edify, purify and make us into who He plans us to be.

It is this truth I will rest in today as I am wrestling with caring for six very individualized, complex, perfect little beings.

Thank you Elizabeth for allowing us to link up and explore this ever-needed conversation of simplicity for mothers in this very complex, fallen world.

Small step buttonD1

Scheduling…or not!

While I am taking a break nursing in the middle of our put-together-the-playroom-by-the-end-of-the-day project, I linked to the site of another homeschooling momma who journals a little of everything. (Can you tell the name of the blog drew me there? Gentle Art of Chaos…ahhh, how that spoke to me!!!) And then I linked to her How I Schedule School Subjects  post and then I read and laughed the whole time shaking my head. And then I read and laughed and shook my head some more as I thought of my husband who JUST had this conversation with me the other day on how I just frustrate my own self by setting up systems that are bound to fail. And then I laughed as I cried as I read…

In case you want to make your own chart (and really, who wouldn’t?)

…and, again, thought of my husband tsking me as I DO want to make this chart!!! (Really, I’ve been thinking magnets for a while now. Now I know, it can work. Right? Right?)

So, stop on over and read about how we schedule too! (Well, not the chart part…yet…but all the rest is how we fly!)

She is definitely getting added to my blogroll!!!

Free Printable Worksheets!

While looking up some help for Lily with spelling today, I ran across this site.

It’s called Super Teacher Worksheets and is full of free printable worksheets in pdf format. Since I’ve been thinking alot about pdf’s and how to organize them (post here, forum question here), I was excited to go ahead and add a bunch of these to my own growing collection before official organizing took place.

My especially favorite downloads today:

Happy Browsing!

Organizing Technology

I am contemplating the New Year and how to best go about what the Lord has asked of me…mainly to use what I have.

And what I have is a lot!

So many pdf files saved from wonderful homeschooling mothers who share their visions and hard work openly wanting to knit community. For these women I am thankful!

I took last year to organize the files by creating folders and subfolders within folders based on subject. This worked well for maintaining a database of information on my computer and made it relatively easy to keep up with as I added new things throughout the year. I kept up the orginization and am still going strong.

Only problem…I forget what I have at my disposal. And there is a lot of good at my disposal! Some I can use now. Some I will use later. My quandry is in the forgetting. I forget the treasure trove I have and therefore don’t utilize the printouts.

While reading this post over at Amongst Lovely Things I thought to myself, I need some sort of system like this. It looks beautiful and I am all about mixing beauty with function But after my post the other day about crashing computers and bookmarks I started thinking more expansive. What if I did a whole system like this, not just Christmas?  Would I print out a full binder of printouts (maybe one binder per subject) with a table of contents in the front? Or would I make one binder with a sort of master list of all that I have saved on the computer? Would I convert my ever-failing file crate system (sorry, Dawn, just can’t seem to make it work for me!) into folders with master printouts? Or would all the printouts be missing the whole point of having them neatly saved and organized on computer?

My very unorganized desk/filing system. Can you see the two file crates artfully hidden under the miscellaneous mail, bills, and school papers?

What do you think, dear readers? Any other homeschooling moms dealing with this issue? How do you keep track of all those freebie goodies in cyber world and translate that over to your homeschooling orginization/utilization? Maybe I need the forum for this one! “Sigh”

Little House on the Prairie Lapbook Unit Study

Updated 10/11/15 – check below for more links including this incredible documentary! Like what you see in this post? Come join me for More Little House on the Prairie for more activities and book suggestions!

Now that we are done with the Civil War era (will back post on books and links this winter when I have a bit more downtime at home – but notice how I finally updated the book bar on the side!) we will be moving on to the Pioneer era. And what better way to do this then through the Little House on the Prairie book series? In fact, I know of very little who don’t love this series.  I remember watching the TV series as a small girl and falling in love with this time period. I can’t wait to share this with my children and let it become a memory of their’s as well. We will be studying the period lazily over the winter. By lazily I mean taking our time, delving deep, letting the books speak and guide our direction and interests. I have no idea how long it will take us.

We will be continuing our use of lapbooks with this study. We have found, through a bit of dabbling in it this year, that the kids respond to my choice of books better and remember the information better if they have this to look forward to after the readings. Lily loves lapbooks because it is much like scrapbooking our history information. Gabe loves it because it frees him of the burden of narrations. I have narrowed narrations down to one main narration per time period that they will stick in their lapbook/scrapbook and it will be based on a book of their choice to read from that time period. I know this isn’t quite the Charlotte Mason way but it still fits and I have to do what is right for my family as God whispered to a dear church friend who wrote it to me in an encouraging note. This worked so well while studying the Civil War and Gabe ended up doing a lovely narration effortlessly when allowed to choose what he thought was an exciting book, not what I thought.

Luckily, Homeschool Share has a free lapbook for each of the original Little House series beautifully made by Heather L. This is the main site I used to download pdf files for our use. I have fallen in love with this site! I encourage every homeschooling mother to go there and poke around.

First of all, here are the living books we will be using:

The Little House on the Prairie Book Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

starting with

Little House in the Big Woods (perfect now that we have a forest in our backyard!)

We will also read all of the My First Little House Picture Books concentrating on the winter ones first since we are in that season.

And read a living biography on Laura Ingalls Wilder

As spines alongside our literature study we will use If You Were a Pioneer on the Prairie

as well as A Pioneer Sample: Daily Life of a Pioneer Family in 1840

and Look Inside a Log Cabin by Mari Schuh

These three books will be great sources of information for making the lapbooks and answering questions about the time period. And to delve into the science of the period we will be, obviously, studying prairie grassland habitats through these books:

One Day in the Prairie by Jean Craighead George

A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet by Claudia McGehee

Prairie Food Chains by Kelley MacAulay

and America’s Prairies and Grasslands Guide to Plant and Animals by Marianne D. Wallace

And for activities to supplement or add to the study:

Updated – 10/11/15

I’d have never guessed when I first wrote this post almost 5 years ago how popular it would become! Besides my Rock and Mineral Unit Study post, this page keeps my tiny blog afloat amid the absence of current posts that my seven kids lovingly prevent me from writing! 

And today I’m excited to add a few nuggets to the Little House extravaganza. Thanks to the generosity of the blog Little House on the Prairie, I’ve been able to add a number of free activities above such as how to host a Little House on the Prairie party, how to make rock candy, and even free printable Little House paper dolls – which are way super cute! They are also sending me a copy of their new documentary “The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder” to review which I’m super excited about. Will be reviewing and linking back to here very soon. You must go over and watch the trailer. Maybe I’m a bit of a nerd, but watching this has me like a child running to check the mailbox everyday looking for that package! 

And now you can also enjoy a little slice of this Americana too. The people behind  Little House on the Prairie are offering a coupon code which allows you 20% off the already low price of $19.95. This is an excellent addition to any homeschool living history library. Just click on their  Amazon link and add to your cart. Enter LHSCHOOL into the promotion code box when checking out. Voila! Instant savings!

A Day in the Life of…

I try and stick to a schedule, I really do. I made a simple one for this year. One that allowed for chores worked in and daily habits set up. One that allowed for lots of leeway for daily life interruptions and one that is stripped back to essentials that I want covered. And by essentials I am including art and nature study because even though they are the fun subjects, they often get pushed aside for more academic work. So I have this completely workable, flexible, well-rounded plan for the year. We’ve been at it for 2 weeks, this week is our third. I was glad for the leeway time because we used up every bit of it working out kinks the first couple of weeks. We, and by we I mean I, are starting to get into a routine, at least for the morning part. But there is just this part of me, this hippie-idealistic-spontaneous part of me, that just can’t stick to it…no matter how simple. Life just doesn’t work that way. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t change anything for at least three weeks…no tweaking, no diverting, no extra plans, no changed plans. And while this schedule is much more realistic for our lifestyle of a large family, I can’t say I’ve totally stuck to that promise.

So I thought I would record here, for posterity purposes, what my schedule was suppose to look like versus the actual of what happened. A note of caution ~ I am not belittling our day or beating myself up or feeling guilty. I see how much we accomplished and moved forward and learned even if we didn’t follow the schedule to a T. This is just more of  a reminder to myself that the best laid plans are still my plans. I still deal with 5 very independent wills each day with a sixth kicking me as a reminder that his, too, will be reshaping my plans. And I daily learn to trust that God’s will is the only essential for the day, which may look completely different from my own!

My purposed schedule:

8:30 AM ~ Breakfast

9:30 AM ~ Morning Chores

10:00 AM ~ School Time

  • Bible ~ Scripture memory verse, Bible story, Song, Prayer
  • Math ~ Gabe works independently while I work with Lily
  • Literature ~ Mom reads aloud (my choice)
  • Poetry Memorization (their choice)
  • Grammar through Dictation

12:00 PM ~ I prep for lunch while they have 5-minute tidy then a bit of free time.

12:30 PM ~ Lunch

1:00 PM ~ Afternoon Chores

1:30 PM ~ Break (They watch Fetch on PBS and I set up for afternoon activities or nurse baby to sleep.)

2:00 PM ~ School Time

  • Science ~ Read from Exploratopia and do corresponding experiments
  • Art ~ Go over a new technique, practice time to play with technique

4:00 PM ~ Free Time (for them, chores or dinner prep for me)

Sounds simple enough, right?

Here was my actual day:

6:15 AM ~ Adam leaves for work.  I sit nursing baby wishing desperately that she would go to sleep so I could get at least one more hour before having to be up. (She was up from 2-3:30 AM and from 5-5:30 AM already and I am extremely exhausted.)

6:45 AM ~ Tried laying baby down, didn’t work, still trying to rock, nurse, and console over two molars trying to come in. Gabe has gotten up and gone downstairs for his allotted video game time. Luc is up and begging me to find his Green Lantern mask so he can be a superhero as I am trying desperately to ssshhhh him so I can lay the baby down. He finally relents and goes downstairs with Gabe.

7:15 AM ~ Baby is NOT sleeping and decides to join the boys downstairs (She can now maneuver herself up and down the stairs and up and down the bunk beds…15 months old…incredible!!!) and I collapse on my bed, letting the morning breeze wash over me as I bury my face in a pillow and lay there dozing.

7:20 AM ~ Luc comes to ask for cheese crackers for breakfast. No, we are NOT having cheese crackers for breakfast! I encourage cereal (was going to bake muffins but who has the energy?). I hear him rummaging through pantry, pull out bowls and try to open the cereal box, which is a new one, and know he will be back shortly.

7:30 AM ~ Trying to ingnore Ivy by my bed babbling for mommy to get up. Think she wants cereal too. Trying like crazy to force myself to get up.

7:40ish ~ Luc brings me the cereal box and I open it for him. Lilah brings me a different cereal box and I open it for her.

7:47 AM ~ Ivy babble-yells at me and I finally drag myself from the bed. We get for-real cereal on the table, I pour milk, Luc prays, I yell for Gabe to come upstairs.

8:15 AM ~ Luc and Lilah have run off to play. I bring my bowl to sink and put on water for coffee. Gabe and Lil sit at table talking and pull out their Fire Fighter Safety booklets (free from a neighborhood park get-together). I stumble to the back to get dressed and make my bed. I also pull sheets of Ivy’s crib to be washed for the day and gather laundry together.

8:30 AM ~ Put hot coffee in carafe to stay hot. Gather diapers downstairs for a day of stripping (to remove detergent buildup from cloth diapers and give them a bleach – only do a couple of times a year when needed in order to refresh and keep cloth in good working order). Pull Lilah upstairs with me to get changed for the day.

9ish AM ~ Change Ivy and Lilah, putting both in disposables since cloth is out of order (which also means Lilah’s potty training is interrupted for the day – she won’t potty train in disposables). Put cereal away in pantry and remind the kids, who are busily working at the table, that the table still hasn’t been cleared or cleaned and it is a school day.

9:30 AM ~ Kids have done chores and still want to work on fire safety books. Littles are downstairs playing blocks and Yoshi. Lily comes to show me a story she has written (i.e. drawn and told to me orally) this morning about a ghost who goes to school, has craft supplies, makes two posters and a craft paper, drives home on the school bus. I praise and am amazed she already had time to squeeze that in. I check to make sure her bed is really made and think about starting school a half hour early. Then I remember my promise not to change. The kids are expecting 10 AM and relish having this extra time for their stuff. I grab a cup of coffee, sit in my chair and go over World War II living books.

10:00 AM ~ We actually start school on time. Verses are said from memory. A story about Joseph and his coat is read from an over 100-year-old catechism book. We talk about still trusting God even when things don’t seem to be going your way and Him having a purpose for your life, even when it doesn’t seem like it. We sing “Trust and Obey” with Lily assuring me she doesn’t need the lyric sheet anymore and me wondering why I still do when we’ve been singing it for over two weeks and it is a familiar song to me anyway. I discipline Lilah several times mid-song to stop sitting on Ivy. Despite the correction, she is still merrily singing away with us.

10:20 AM ~ I read aloud chapter one from Addy story (American Girl History series) and we talk more about slavery, which leads to an Underground Railroad discussion and Harriet Tubman. I ask Gabe to pull a book from shelf. We quickly read that as well. Meanwhile, Lily is flipping through the Addy’s World book and exclaiming on all the projects she could do.  She notices American Girl dolls in back which reminds her of her birthday wishlist and decides, for today, that Addy is the doll she wants, then decides on Molly who I remember I just checked out a book on because Molly is from WWII period and I am in the middle of reviewing for that. Lily is ecstatic and wants to read now. I remind of her of math and tell her she can look at it later.

10:40 AM ~ Gabe and Lily go to kitchen table to work on math. I turn on “Follow the Drinking Gourd” for them to hear while they are working. I am sitting here realizing I have picked no dictation for them to do. Should I just pull something together? Adam’s new job kept me from my normal planning day. I’m winging it this week. And do I pull them over to do poetry recitation? Gabe already has his memorized and Lily still hasn’t picked. And what about Grammar? No dictation means no grammar. Just skip for today?

10:45 AM ~ Work with Lily on her math, mainly checking. She is doing well with subtraction book. Remind Gabe…again…to stop talking with Lily and concentrate on his own work. Go down to restart diapers and check on littles. Sit on couch with Luc and Lilah (who are watching Word World) and discuss how apple starts with ‘a’ and pie starts with ‘p’. Lilah requests that I sit with her downstairs. I go up, grab a cup of coffee and snuggle with her and Luc on the couch and nurse the baby.

11ish AM ~ Put Ivy down for a nap. Forget that I pulled off her sheets and replace them quick. She cries but I know she needs sleep. Get out Lily’s phonics workbook for her to work on. That counts as grammar, right? Tell Gabe to practice his Latin flashcards twice in his room then come review with me. I count that as grammar too – vocab roots. Sit down on the floor with Lily and let her cut recycle paper and practice taping to construction paper. Luc soon joins us and both are excited to be working with me and talk about how much they love projects. I like that they are learning cutting and taping skills without using an expensive preschool curriculum. Simple is the key.

11:30ish AM ~ I juggle going over Lily’s phonics work (making a sentence) and reviewing Latin with Gabe while still getting tape for Lilah and Luc and keeping their fighting to a minimum. I then have to get the baby who awakes because of the Air Show practice. Lily, inspired by the littles, decides to cut from old magazines and make a grocery list. She soon runs out of tape and we switch to glue sticks. Gabe soon joins in and a project is going on.

12:00 PM ~ I realize I should be making lunch but no one seems to notice, no one wants to stop, and the table is a wreck.

What to do? It’s still nice out. Back porch for lunch it is.  But before I can start prep, Luc asks me to read to him. It’s the Santa book and in it he is kissed by Mrs. Claus and Luc wants to know why the kiss is on his cheek. So we divert into a discussion on painted lips and I model with my lipstick. The kids are fascinated and running around with lips on their cheeks. Lily puts some on and kisses her grocery list. I finally shoo them outside and get lunch ready.

1:00 PM ~ Lunch. A half hour behind. Are we even going to get to science today?

1:30 PM ~ I finally sit down to my lunch while kids run outside, completley ignoring the dishes that need brought in. Suddenly Gabe runs in with a cardinal feather he found, ecstatic. He goes to clean it and wants to draw it. Well, I think, that solves what we’ll do for nature study tomorrow.

2:12 PM ~ I shooed the kids downstairs to pick up while I vaccuum upstairs. I can’t stand stepping on another scrap of paper (found three stuck to my feet as I started laundry again). Well, maybe we won’t be too far behind today. The phone rings. It is Pop and he wants to take the older two out to hit golf balls. We must finish science first I insist and quickly scramble to put an experiment in place. Only, because I didn’t get my planning time, I realize I need 24 hours for it to set up. So I vow to set it up tonight to do tomorrow as I let Gabe call Pop back and they go out for some physical education.

2:30ish PM ~ I start this blog entry while the littles are playing and happily chewing the gum Pop gave them. I try not to feel guilty that we missed science. I figure their earlier project covered art.

3:15 PM ~ Luc and Lilah come up for a snuggle. Ivy sits on my lap and scribbles on paper. I break from blogging. As I put Ivy down I realize that Lilah is on my kitchen counter and has spread green food coloring everywhere.  I redirect and Luc wants the Curious George Audio CD.

3:30 PM ~ I sit down to finish my post and the older two come home. I chat with Father-in-law about rusty golf games and the tournament this Saturday.

3:51 PM ~ Gabe comes to me with Explorotopia book and finds an experiment about cleaning with vinegar and salt. I break again and get him his supplies. Lily comes to help. I guess we did science after all.

Our Favorite Science Book!!!

4:00 PM ~ Start my posting again.

4:09 PM ~ Lily wants to finish reading the Molly’s World book. We have discussions on WWII and American Girl Dolls. She wants to know if Molly or Addy is real. We discuss fiction versus non-fiction and fiction using historical facts. She gets out her American Doll magazine and pours over her birthday decision. Break and talk with her while reading a Bob book to Lilah two times.

4:22 PM ~ Start rice in rice cooker for casserole. Nurse baby while finishing this post.

5:00 PM ~ Baby finally asleep and I head off to make dinner and switch over laundry.

And, of course, that doesn’t even begin to count all the interruptions for diaper changes, disciplining, bathroom breaks, and the zillion questions that interrupt our activities. At least I know tomorrow is a new day!

John James Audubon Study – Part II

Sorry this second part of the post has taken so long to get to. There are a few reasons that is…the first of which is we actually started the study this week so we have been busy with school. The second of which it is nice outside and we have been trying to get the first of garden preparations done.

Now I have split this up into categories to be user-friendly, but we will actually be tackling the study on a much more interest-led-see-where-the-day-brings-us way. I find we actually accomplish more this way because one thing will lead into another. If I just do a “Well, children, this is what we are doing today,” I get accosted with groans and mumbles. I leave those for our formal math-latin-grammar work! Some of the books fit into more then one category but I tried to pick the category we would most be utilizing it as. And you may think that you have some books that you would add to categories as must haves, especially in the Literature section. That may be. I only listed what I had available to me that we already owned or that I could readily find at the library.

Our Bird Shelves


  • Learning the history of who John James Audubon was and what he contributed to America. (History)
  • Learning about naturalists ~ who they are and what they do. (History & Social Studies)
  • Narrations on books read (Reading Comprehension, Assimilation & Logic, Grammar, Writing)

  • Learning about the egg and its development from embryo till birth. (Science)
  • Learning about the feather and how flight works. (Science)
  • Learning Bird Anatomy through 3 part cards Download here for free. (Science)

  • Learning to recognize bird calls and songs. (Science and Music)
  • Learning to identify birds by sight. (Science Classification)
  • Playing our Montessori Bird Puzzle. (Good for the toddlers to do while reading bird books to the older children.)

  • Taking nature walks to practice birding skills and look for treasured feather finds. (Science, Physical Education)
  • Practicing sketching and watercolor/colored pencil techniques with drawing birds and eggs. (Art)
  • Playing with our Audubon stuffed birds (also helps in recognizing bird calls) (Assimilation)

  • Reading poetry and children’s literature about birds and other springtime animals. (Literature & Poetry)
  • Memorizing poetry about birds. (Poetry)
  • Copywork on spring poetry, narrations, original Audubon writing excerpts (Penmanship, Grammar, Poetry & Literature)
  • Listening to our For the Birds CD (Music, Poetry, Science)

John James Audubon History Biographies (all preread to be excellent living books although the first two are my favorites!!!)

Birds (References, Field Guides, Science)

Bird Music

Bird Art & Sketching

The basket that holds our colored pencils and sketchbooks.

Inside our Nature Walk basket.

Other Naturalists (Supplemental Reading or rabbit trails – these are just the ones we happened to see at the library, by no means the only good books on them!)

Literature (have included other spring animals as well for the season of spring)

Foreign Languages ~ French (Audubon was sent over from France to avoid the Napoleonic French War ~ Lily picked up on the French phrases in the biographies we’re reading and wnted to know more)

And, last but never least, our Easter selections. They are included here because we will be reading them alongside this study. It goes perfectly with spring and the egg ~ the renewing of life. And we want our children to know that the only reason we get to enjoy all else is because of this most amazing sacrifice on the cross. Would love to celebrate this more formally with Lent but did not have time to research a book I wanted to put the time or money into. We will do that for next year. Am open to suggestions in the comment box.


Our marbled eggs that the kids love to feel and play with.

Schedules…Getting on Track

The beginning of January…a fresh start…a new beginning…this time things will be different.  That’s what most of us think. Why shouldn’t we homeschool moms be any different? I spent last week organizing fussing over all the school shelves.  I spent the past two nights tweaking a schedule I had already planned out extensively over the summer.  “We must have a place for everything with everything in it’s place before we begin!” I emphatically shouted to myself.  This time things will be different.  This time we will stay on track.  This time I will make a plan.  This time my plan will go accordingly. This time my kids will sit patiently, shout hooray when I announce it’s time for school, come running excitedly when I call, and quietly color as I read great literature and teach them about our founding fathers.

Just got interrupted in the middle of this post by a 2 year old dumping toilet water all over the laundry room floor.  Which, I’m pretty sure, just made my statement for me about our first day back in school!

Maybe tonight I will get a bit of peace and quiet to read this book:

Oh…who am I kidding?  Maybe will get a post in about our school week by the end of the week.  Obviously daily isn’t going to work!