Digging Deeper – Progeny Press – The Minstrel in the Tower E-Guide Review

Digging Deeper – Progeny Press – The Minstrel in the Tower E-Guide Review

Books. There is no doubt we love them in our house. Reading either alone or aloud is one of the things we all enjoy doing. Most of the time, I require a narration which allows me to see what they gathered from the readings and how well they are comprehending and listening during the reading. However, every so often it is nice to throw in a book report or a book study. We got the chance to dig a little deeper into The Minstrel in the Tower with the Progeny Press The Minstrel in the Tower E-Guide!

Read more

Time For Us – Mother-Daughter Bonding Over Coloring Books

Time For Us – Mother-Daughter Bonding Over Coloring Books

Since my kids were small, I’ve colored with them in their coloring books. This is fun but nothing like the mother-daughter bonding Sunshine and I enjoy with our coloring books and colored pencils. In fact, I bought Sunshine a mandela coloring book so that we could color together, but once she saw my big thick Wonderland Coloring Book from Amily Shen, she wanted one for herself. So on our date day, she picked her very own grown up coloring book so we could color together.

Time For Us - Mother - Daughter Bonding Over Coloring Books - Modern Momma Musings

And color we did, for a few hours! We enjoyed the beautiful day with some music, a coloring book and some colored pencils. It was delightful!

From the moment my Wonderland Coloring Book arrived, I was itching to get started coloring. The book follows along with the Alice in Wonderland story and it is beautiful!

Time For Us - Mother - Daughter Bonding Over Coloring Books - Modern Momma Musings

I love that the words on the page are an inspiration for the illustrations. There is something wonderful about getting lost in words and a bit of color!

The illustrations are gorgeous and not overwhelming which, in mommy time, is nice. I can feel as if I accomplished a whole page of beauty and it doesn’t take days and days to complete. Some of the pages have extra space for your own additions, which is a fun extra for those creative types. However, even if you don’t have a creative bone in your body, this type of coloring book, is a wonderful way to relax, no artistic abilities needed. Just let yourself go and embrace the extra white space!

IMG_7831

So if you enjoy Alice in Wonderland, are looking for a coloring book that will inspire your creative juices, or want a fun way to bond with your kiddos, this Wonderland Coloring Book is a great option!

Time For Us - Mother - Daughter Bonding Over Coloring Books - Modern Momma Musings

Relax and enter the world of Alice.


Disclaimer –  I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books bloggers program. The opinions stated above are my own.

Homeschool Curriculum 2015-2016 Recap

I can’t believe it, we finished our second year of homeschooling last Friday!

Homeschool Curriculum 2015-2016 - Modern Momma Musings

The kids and I are ready for a little break and I feel like we accomplished a lot over the last year.

We started the year with lessons of mostly workbook activities. The kids were not loving school time and were getting extremely frustrated with the amount of workbooks we were using. I felt something wasn’t working and so I started rethinking our plan. I had been feeling a call to use Charlotte Mason’s ideas especially the living books more. And after researching, reading and praying, we made the switch to Ambleside Online after Christmas. I used our Christmas break to rework the schedule for Year One so we could fit it into the last 4 months of our year and be able to start Year Two over the summer (slowly) so that we would get to Year Three sometime next year and be caught up at Year four the following year. Fitting Year One into a few months was a lot of work, but the living books were amazing and the kids were always asking for more which was in complete contrast to the previous few months.

Here is a look at what we used in our second year (first/second grade).

Math

Horizons (First Grade – Mister Man, Second Grade – Little Miss) – beginning of the year

Math-U-See – (Beta) – Second half of the year – this change proved to be one of the best decisions I had made. Mister Man was excelling at math and Sunshine was struggling, so I pulled Sunshine back to help her grasp the concepts better and Mister Man kept excelling. A few weeks after the switch, Sunshine started loving math and was excelling as well! I am so very glad I decided to make this switch!

History

Mystery of History – Volume 2 – This just wasn’t working for us.

Story of the World – Volume 2 – Better but still not what I was looking for.

Living Books

Science

Burgess Bird Book – Loved this book!!!!

Apologia Exploring Creation – Flying Creatures of the Third Day– This was a great reference for the Burgess Bird Book.

Geography

Northeast Study – We went through the states in the Northeast one by one, reading books about each, eating their famous food and locating them on a map.

Paddle to the Sea – We read this and loved it! As we read we mapped Paddle’s journey from Canada, through the Great Lakes and down the St. Lawrence River eventually to France.

Religion

Finding God

Our Island Saints

Grammar

First Language Lessons – (Level 1 – Mister Man, Level 2 – Sunshine)

Spelling

Spelling Workout – Level B

Writing

Copywork (Bible Verse and from readings)

Handwriting Without Tears – Cursive

Literature

Parables of Nature

Aesops Fables

Just So Stories

Tales From Shakespeare

Blue Fairy Book

James Herroit’s Treasury for Children

Stuart Little

Homer Price

Indian in the Cupboard

Mary Poppins

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency

The Family Under the Bridge

A Christmas Carol

White Fang

The Borrowers

Pinocchio

Redwall (AudioBook – from the library)

Poetry

A Child’s Garden of Verses – Robert Louis Stevenson

When We Were Very Young – A. A. Milne

Now We Are Six – A. A. Milne

Ambleside Poetry – Year One

Foreign Language

Song School Latin

Art – Picture Study/Artist Study

Da Vinci

Monet

Art – Drawing/Process

Artistic Pursuits – Book One – Review Coming Soon

Music – Artist Study

Mozart

Beethoven

Books Books Books – Booklist – April 2016

Books Books Books – Booklist – April 2016

April Booklist

Here’s what we have been reading in April. Enjoy!

Books Books Books - April Booklist 2016 - Modern Momma Musings

Read-A-Louds

The Borrowers – We finished this a few weeks ago and we all loved it. We had a lot of fun pretending there were borrowers in the house and talking about what they were taking for their homes.

Pinnochio – This is our latest read-a-loud. We are all loving this. They have seen the movie but the book is so much richer and more interesting than the movie and we are all noticing that as we read. We should be finishing this one up next week.

Morning Time Reading

Our morning time still consists of the same books and we are loving them all still. Morning time and evening reading time are our favorite times of day! The morning time books are: Parables of Nature, Blue Fairy Book , Just So Stories, Tales from Shakespeare, James Herroit’s Children’s Treasury, and Aesop

Poetry

AmblesideOnline Poetry: Year One – The kids are loving this poetry as much as the others and I have been loving reading poetry daily with the kiddos.

Picture Books

Muddy Paws Busy Day – Finger Puppet Book – This is sure to get a laugh with the finger puppet. Sugar Plum cannot get enough.

When You’re Not Looking – This is a funny book that is extra large and colorful which is great for Sugar Plum.

Read Alone – Kiddos

Squanto: Friend of the Pilgrims – Mister Man has been loving the Clyde Robert Bulla books and this one has been especially fun for him, as he made the connection of John Smith with our reading of Pocahontas. It was so fun to see the connection come alive for him. He thought it was the neatest thing to have them intersect!

Riding the Pony Express – Mister Man loved this one as well. The Bulla books have been quick easy reads that both kids are enjoying right now.

Star of Wild Horse Canyon – Sunshine is reading this at the moment and loving it. She struggles to finish a chapter book I think it may be that she gets bored but it seems like she gets started and is excited to read them and then just abandons them half way through. We are working on this and one way is that I am doing more of the picking of books for her and the Clyde Robert Bulla books are easy reads and less intimidating than the ones she was getting about horses from the library. I’m hoping this will help in her book choices later on and the ability to finish a book. So far she has loved the few that I have picked out for her to read.

Audio Books

Redwall – We just finished this one (all the books in the series). The kids loved it! Such a fun adventure story with great characters and the reading was wonderfully done!

History

We are still loving  Our Island Story and we added in Viking Tales which have been a lot of fun too. Both kids are loving these which makes reading about history much more fun!

Pocahontas– This is another one the kids thought they knew the story from the movie but loved the book and the illustrations are beautiful as well. The connections the kids are finding in other books has been a fun extra to having read great books about history.

Religion

Our Island Saints – We are on the last saint right now, and will be finished next week. We’ve learned a lot about the saints and will continue our saint studies next month, but until then it will be the Bible for our religion readings.

We officially finished AmblesideOnline Year One studies this week and will begin Year Two studies soon.

What’s on your reading list this month?

Books Books Books – Booklist – March 2016

Books Books Books – Booklist – March 2016

Our reading continues and we are loving every minute of it! Here’s what was on our booklist in March.

Booklist – March

Booklist - March 2016 - Modern Momma Musings

Read-A-Louds

White Fang – We finished this…. Finally! It seemed like it continued on forever, but Mister Man loved every bit of it so it was well worth it! Sunshine was ready for it to be over about half way through. I loved it as well. I kinda wish we would have waited a few years, but they followed pretty well and understood, so I think it was a good read overall.

The Borrowers – This we started mid-way through the month, we should be finished with this next week. We are loving this book, it’s an easy, quick, fun read that was great to start after reading White Fang. This is my favorite part about reading, we can be tranported into so many different worlds in a matter of days!

Morning Time Reading

Parables of Nature – We are still loving this book. Hearing the kids narrate the story and tell me the lesson of the story is sometimes funny… I need to start writing them down. I would love to read them again years from now!

Blue Fairy Book – Still loving these. There’s nothing like a good fairy tale to start the morning!

Just So Stories – These are both kids favorites. They are the perfect length to keep them interested and they have so much fun trying to figure out what the story will be about.

Tales from Shakespeare – Mister Man is still asking daily for “More Shakespeare” – I love that he is loving Shakespeare!

Booklist - March 2016 - Modern Momma Musings

James Herroit’s Children’s Treasury – We’ve almost finished this and I am actually kinda sad. Sunshine has LOVED this book, it has given her even more interest in being a veterinarian. I haven’t told her yet, but I downloaded a collection of his stories on her kindle…. it’ll be a great surprise when she finds it!

Aesop – I had been reading this from my Kindle but I just bought the hardback version and I am loving it! I definitely recommend this as an actual book! The illustrations are beautiful and there is something about being able to hold and read the book that the kids are loving as well.

Poetry

When We Were Very Young – We just finished this and the kids actually read the poetry for the last few weeks. They did so great, even keeping a good rhythm and reading slowly so everyone could understand.

Booklist - March 2016 - Modern Momma Musings

Now We Are Six – We also finished this one in March. Another one that we all loved. A.A. Milne has a way with words and we loved the fun poems and illustrations.

AmblesideOnline Poetry: Year One – We are just starting this. So far we are loving it as well. I think we are all just enjoying poetry!

Picture Books

Tickle Time– Yes another Sandra Boynton, this one is fun because Sugar Plum is starting to anticipate the tickling. She gets a big smile on her face right before I go in for the tickle. Adorable!

Booklist - March 2016 - Modern Momma Musings

Sassy – Baby Sees – Sugar Plum loves seeing the waving illustrations of family members. But she especially loves the mirror in the back of the book. This has been a great book to make her smile and practice waving.

Make Van Gogh’s Bed – This was a purchase I made because I wanted to expose her to famous art early on. This has been a hit from the beginning. She loves the interactive touch, feel, move, etc..

Read Alone – Kiddos

John Billington: Friend of Squanto – Mister Man started this and read it in a day. He absolutely loved it. As soon as he finished he was asking for another one from the inside cover. Luckily I had one more Robert Clyde Bulla and he started that one.

The Sword in the Tree – This is the other Robert Clyde Bulla I happened to have. He is about halfway through this one, but I am guessing he will have it finished in a day or so. He seems to be enjoying this one as much as the previous so I may be purchasing some more soon (the library does not have any of his books).

The Hundred Dresses – Sunshine really enjoyed this book and has been referencing it randomly since she read it. Always a good sign with my less eager reader.

Audio Books

Redwall – I decided to get an audio book from the library for car rides. This has been a wonderful addition to our day. The kids are quiet, it keeps them from bickering and they are enjoying the story all at once! Score on so many levels!

Literature Study

Billy and Blaze  -We had a great time working through Billy and Blaze for a literature study with More StoryTime Treasures. It was a fun book and the study guide helped us look closer at the book, grammar, and more.

Geography

We just finished Paddle to the Sea for our Geography the kids loved this book!!!! In fact, Sunshine wants to make a boat and send it on the river to see what happens. So we may be making a boat this week. I love when books make an impression like this one did. Next week we plan to watch the videos of the book as a fun easy Geography lesson!

History

We are still loving Fifty Famous Stories and Our Island Story. I did buy the softcover versions of these, I am not sure I needed them, but it does make it easier to find the next reading, especially in Fifty Famous Stories, since we are skipping around the book a bit.

Buffalo Bill – This is our newest bio and we are loving this one as well. I’m learning all kinds of information as well!

Religion

Our Island Saints – We are on the last saint right now, and will be finished next week. We’ve learned a lot about the saints and will continue our saint studies next month, but until then it will be the Bible for our religion readings.

That’s what we have on our bookshelf this month. This will be the final month for our AmblesideOnline Year One studies but we will move right into our Year Two studies following so it should be an easy transition. We plan to take Year Two slowly over the summer. The beauty of homeschooling year round is we have a nice schedule and structure throughout the year (something my kids thrive on), we don’t lose anything over the summer and we can take vacations and breaks whenever seems fitting. Yet, a few more reasons we love homeschooling!

What’s on your reading list this month?

Living Books – Literature Guide – Memoria Press Review

Living Books – Literature Guide – Memoria Press Review

If you’ve been reading any of my homeschool blogs, you know we love books. Especially living books! It’s no surprise that the Memoria Press More StoryTime Treasures Literature Curriculum was something I was excited to review.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
With so many classic books in one literature curriculum, it was very appealing as an addition to our homeschool curriculum. More StoryTime Treasures includes seven study guides for some of our favorite classic books.

  • Billy and Blaze by C.W. Anderson
  • Blaze and the Forest Fire by C.W. Anderson
  • The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese
  • Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie by Peter and Connie Roop
  • Stone Soup by Marcia Brown
  • The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

For our review, we received More StoryTime Treasures and used the curriculum to dig deeper into Billy and Blaze.

This was a book we have read a few times but only casually so I was looking forward to spending more time with the classic book.

Memoria Press More Storytime Treasures - Modern Momma Musings

We received the study guide and answer key (which included both the StoryTime Treasures and More StoryTime Treasures). The workbooks were well made, sturdy, easy to follow and my 5 year old was not overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done on each page.

Each study contains multiple lessons which are broken into chunks. The pages of the book that the lesson will be referencing are indicated which makes planning simple.

For Billy and Blaze, there were two lessons (Lesson 1 – p.1-22; Lesson 2 – p.24-48). We broke each of the lessons up over a week to keep them at about 20 min each over two weeks.

The first day, we went over the vocab we would see. This was a great way to introduce new words, use the dictionary a bit more and be prepared to understand the reading more clearly. I will say most of the words were easily recognized, but it was a good review and an easy way to be sure he had the right meanings.

Memoria Press - More StoryTime Treasures - Modern Momma Musings

After we had gone through the vocab, he read the indicated pages out loud to me. Then we narrated a bit for memory before doing the next section of the workbook.

The next day we recalled what we read and did the comprehension questions. If he could not recall the answer, he used the book to find the correct answer and we talked a bit more about the story.

After completing the comprehension questions over the next few days, we completed, my sons favorite part, the art project. Anything creative helps to make the story stick and this was a great lesson on illustrating.

The following week we completed the second lesson. We really could have worked through both lessons in a week or even a couple of days, but because he was reading the book out loud and we are trying to keep our lessons to 20 min max. I didn’t want to push him too long on one lesson. I also felt that having to recall the story the following days helped with comprehension.

Memoria Press - More StoryTime Treasures - Modern Momma Musings

I loved that the lessons were specific page ranges. These provided nice breaks and kept the information from being overwhelming. The amount of grammar, vocab and comprehension, not to mention the extra items that were included were great for variety and helped to hit those other subjects areas as well.

The greatest thing about this curriculum is that there are many other editions of the literature guides that can take you from 1st grade all the way up to 9th grade. So if these fit well with your family you have a great curriculum set for many years!

Overall, I was impressed with the study guide and answer key. I personally did not need the answer key, but it would have been handy if I had not been working with my son on the readings and workbook. I feel like the study guide was a great fit for 1st graders and covered a lot of information without being overwhelming. We are looking forward to working on a few more stories using the study guide – I believe Miss Rumphius is next on our list!

Find Memoria Press on social media to learn more about their curriculum!

Facebook
Twitter (@MemoriaPress)
Instagram (@memoriapress)
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Google+

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
disclaimer_zps7f3b646c

Books Books Books – Booklist – February 2016

Books Books Books – Booklist – February 2016

We are reading a ton around here as usual. Here are the books we’ve been working on this month.

Booklist – February

Booklist - February - Modern Momma Musings

Read-A-Louds

White Fang – We’re still working on this one. Almost finished, but it’s taken a bit to get through. Sunshine is ready to move on to the next read-aloud but Mister Man is still loving it, I am as well.

Morning Time Reading

Parables of Nature – This is a fun morning time book that the kids are enjoying. Anytime we combine nature into a book the kids are excited about it.

Blue Fairy Book – The kids have been enjoying all the fairy tales they thought they knew from Disney and then some fun extras. It’s been a joy to read them the stories they really only knew from the Disney movies. To see them realize the connection and differences has been a lot of fun from my end.

Just So Stories – These are fun stories about how animals became the way they are now. The kids are having fun guessing what the story will be about just from the title. They get excited when they are right or wrong because it’s fun to hear a funny reason why the elephant has a long trunk, for instance. These are fun morning time stories and the kids enjoy hearing them and narrating them.

Tales from Shakespeare – I never thought my kids would enjoy Shakespeare as much as they do. They beg to hear another Shakespeare story. It’s been a lot of fun reading these with them. The characters are easy to confuse so we are using a whiteboard to keep everyone straight but the kids are eating them up! This version has been great because it is an easy to read and understand version of his plays so that later when they really read Shakespeare they will have an understanding of the stories and be less intimidated by his writings.

James Herroit’s Children’s Treasury – These stories are timeless. Sunshine adores this book because it involves animals and the stories are beautifully written and illustrated.

Aesop – This has been a fun addition to our mornings as well. The kids enjoy the short stories and are starting to understand that they are not just a literal story, they can dig a little deeper. It’s fun watching them realize this.

Poetry

A Child’s Garden of Verses – We just finished this collection of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson and we all really enjoyed it. This was our first real attempt at reading poetry daily and the kids and I all loved hearing the poems first thing in the morning.

When We Were Very Young – This collection of poems by A. A. Milne has been a fun morning read and a great way to get our minds working.

Picture Books

Moo Baa La La La – Sandra Boynton may be my favorite author for babies. Her books are simple, catchy and my kids have always loved them. In fact it’s a favorite for Mister Man and Sunshine to read to Sugar Plum as well.

First Words – This is a fun one for the kids to do with Sugar Plum. They have a good time pointing to the pictures and telling Sugar Plum about the images.

Corduroy – One of my very favorite picture books. The story just touches my heart. This has been a fun one to read to Sugar Plum before bed.

Read Alone – Kiddos

Magic Tree House Series – I believe Mister Man is close to finishing all of these, it takes him about an hour to read the whole book and he is loving them.

House at Pooh Corner – He was into the Pooh series this past month, finishing Winnie The Pooh and then completing Return to Pooh Corner. He enjoyed these.

Paddington Bear – Mister Man just started this after finishing both Return to Pooh Corner. He seems to be enjoying this one as well. Paddington always made me smile and he is laughing and smiling along with the book.

Misty Inn Series – This is a child’s version, inspired by Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague.  Sunshine picked it at Barnes and Nobles as her book this month and she seems to be enjoying it. She is still working through it but has been telling me all about it as she reads a few chapters.

Geography

We are still working through Paddle to the Sea for our Geography and the kids are constantly asking for another chapter. We are learning so much about the Great Lakes and the surrounding areas. These are two reasons I am loving the Charlotte Mason – Ambleside Online curriculum; the books are amazing and spreading them out over a long time, makes the kids want more and more but making them wait really makes them crave more and take in more of what we are learning. This concept never occurred to me until now and I wish it would have sooner.

History

We are continuing our reading of Fifty Famous Stories and Our Island Story and are still loving both of them.

Benjamin Franklin – We just finished this and the kids loved it. We learned a lot about Ben Franklin and they were already begging for another similar book to read.

We also added in an audio adventure The Dragon and the Raven – this was a great supplement to our King Alfred studies.

Religion

In addition to our Bible readings we are also continuing to read Our Island Saints. We are still enjoying this one as well! I’ll be reviewing the audio adventure this week. So look for that soon!

That’s what we have on our bookshelf this month. Most of these will continue for another month or so which has been working really well for us.

What’s on your reading list this month?

Watercolor Beauty – Just Add Watercolor Book Review

Watercolor Beauty – Just Add Watercolor Book Review

Sometimes a book is beautiful enough to be put on display, Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch is a book that is that and more.

Just Add Watercolor - Book Review - Modern Momma Musings

As a graphic designer, I am always looking for new ways to find inspiration. Just Add Watercolor was a book that fulfilled that need.

An artist at heart I have dabbled in many different mediums. Watercolor has always been a medium I have experimented with but never excelled at. I’ve always looked up to watercolor artists, the beauty in a watercolor piece is amazing. The skill and talent of the artists in this book was outstanding. I found the artwork to be a great inspiration for both my painting hobby and graphic design work. Just flipping through the book was enough to spark my creativity and desire to push myself further in my creative endeavors. The modern watercolor artwork is gorgeous and the tips and instructions are well written and inspiring. Even my kids have enjoyed flipping through the book for art inspiration.

Just Add Watercolor - Book Review - Modern Momma Musings

Just Add Watercolor is a great addition for any artist or creative mind, you will find that the artwork is beautiful and the writing is inspirational as well. This book would be good for anyone hoping to find some artistic inspiration. Sometimes looking at a beautiful piece of art is all it takes to make that spark start a fire. Just Add Watercolor can be that spark.


 

Disclaimer –  I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books bloggers program. The opinions stated above are my own.

Books Books Books – Booklist – January 2016

Books Books Books – Booklist – January 2016

We are starting the new year with a lot of pep in our reading journey! Here’s what we are enjoying this month.

Booklist - January 2016

Read-A-Louds

White Fang – Mister Man has been asking to read this ever since he saw it on the bookshelf. We started it after Christmas and he has been enthralled ever sense. I did have to change a few bits of language as we were reading but for the most part it has been a great read aloud for my kiddos. Sunshine really isn’t very interested but Mister Man wants more and more each night. I don’t remember ever reading it as a child so I am enjoying it now with the kids which is a fun experience in itself.

Picture Books

On the Night You Were Born – I love this book. Sugar Plum seems to love it too so we read it quite a bit.

Love You Forever – Seriously, if you need a good cry, this is the book to pick up. I cannot read it without getting teary-eyed and I have now read it too many times to count!

Read Alone – Kiddos

Winnie the Pooh – Mister Man just finished this and loved it just as much as Sunshine. He even decided to continue on the Winne the Pooh series and read House at Pooh Corner next. He is about half way through this one now and seems to be enjoying it as well.

Boxcar Children – Mister Man finished these up quickly. He would start one and it seemed like the next day be asking to have the next one loaded onto his Kindle. I’d say he enjoyed them!

Horse Diaries – Sunshine is still loving this series and continues to pick up new ones each library trip.

Because of Winn Dixie – Sunshine just finished this and loved it!

Science

Burgess Bird Book for Children – Finally finished this before Christmas! The kids and I really enjoyed it. We are spending some time digging deeper into our studies of birds and will start Burgess Animal Book for Children in a few months.

Geography

We are reading Paddle to the Sea for our Geography to round out our study of the Northeast. We have finished the Northeast and I plan to dig a bit deeper as we read Paddle to the Sea so that they have a real understanding of the area.

History

We have been reading Fifty Famous Stories and Our Island Story and are loving both of them. In fact the kids ask for more than one chapter each time which makes them really excited the next day.

Benjamin Franklin – We just started this and it’s been very good so far. We really enjoy the d’Aulaire books so I am assuming I will like this as well.

Religion

To add to our study of England’s history we are also reading Our Island Saints which is beautifully written. I am loving this up close look at the saints in story form and the kids seem to be getting much more out of the stories as well.

That’s what we are reading. What are you reading?

Living Books – Refreshing my Love of Reading

As the year began I re-evaluated our homeschool. After much thinking, praying and researching, I decided to take a more Charlotte Mason approach. While I have always leaned towards a mix of Classical and Charlotte Mason; adding in as much living books as possible, while still using textbooks as our main spines. However, this was the first time I had really looked hard at Ambleside Online‘s offerings. We are Catholic, so I did take a good look at Mater Amabilis as well, but found the Ambleside books and overall program to be more of my liking. With a little tweaking, I knew I could make it work for our beliefs as well.

Previously, I had found living books to supplement our textbooks, but now we are using living books and supplementing with library books and online information instead. What I loved about the Ambleside curriculum is that it uses older books as well as newer options. I’ve always believed politics made their way into our textbooks and you only learn what they want you to know (even more apparent with the new addition of common core)*.  The beauty of the older books is that they are, first of all, living books so the story is beautiful, the words are enticing and pull you into the story, but they also tell it like it is, without all the extra political opinions getting into the mix.

On top of that majority of the books are online as free downloads so my kindle is getting a lot of use for school, which makes doing school anywhere quite easy! I believe in the next year or so, the kids will be using their kindles more and more for school reading as well. Right now, they listen and narrate back, but I know we will be transitioning to them reading and then narrating some of the readings soon and it will be nice for them to be able to take that with them wherever we may be at the time.

As for using it in our day-to-day, I cannot believe how much smoother our 2016 is going. We were doing great before Christmas, but this has been an eye opener! Not only are the kids listening, learning, and narrating really well, but I have fallen in love with the books as well. The language. The stories. Everything! It makes me want to spend the whole day reading aloud to the kids. The words just flow off my tongue and the kids continually ask to read more and more, which makes them very excited to hear the readings the next day.

I feel like our homeschool is the way it should be, a fun learning environment where they are taking everything in, but hardly realize it’s school. I don’t want them to dread learning, I want them to want to learn more, pick up a book to find out more and take off. In my opinion, that’s what education should be about, opening their eyes to all there is to know and learn in a beautiful way. Staring at a textbook and memorizing dates/facts will not stick with them, a great book can stay in their hearts and minds forever.

Our days are filled with books, great books.. living books.

Our morning starts with reading during breakfast and ends with reading during lunch. Not to mention the reading we do in the evenings before bed and the quiet reading the kids do throughout the day. Our life revolves around great books right now and it makes me so happy.

I’m pretty sure it has also rubbed off on the kids with their independent reading. They cannot wait to sit and read for their 30min quiet reading time many times sitting for much longer than the required 30 minutes. Sunshine is so excited to finish her book, Because of Winn Dixie, and Mister Man just finished his, Winnie the Pooh. They are suddenly reading whenever they have a few extra minutes, at home, in the car…anywhere. I think the great books they are listening to me read has put excitement into their lives. I know it has mine.

I have always been a reader and almost always have at least 3 books going at one time each for a different aspect of my life (pleasure, spirituality, education, etc.). Each book is read at different points in my day (spirituality – morning, education – throughout the day, pleasure – evening before I fall asleep). The living books we started last week have opened my eyes to the major differences between a living book and twaddle. I knew certain books were better than others, but the difference never stood out as vividly. I can see and hear the differences and now am even more of a book snob than before.

Yes, it’s true, I became a book snob when we had kids. I quickly became annoyed with poorly written children’s books that talk down to kids (twaddle). I’ve always believed that you should talk to kids like adults so that they will learn the correct way of speaking. There is absolutely no reason to dumb down your language. If we speak in words they do not understand they will learn those words instead of baby talk and their vocabulary will soar. My kids amaze me with their vocabulary and usage, daily. I firmly believe it is because we made, and still make, it a point to talk to them like we would an adult. Baby talk is like fingernails on a chalkboard, in my opinion. But that’s another blog all it’s own!

And I regress. I love being able to homeschool my kids, but this revelation and new beginning has brought so much joy and happiness into our lives. I look forward to every morning and am sad when we do not read our schoolwork on the weekends. Thank you Charlotte Mason for opening my eyes to a new world of books.

*While I realize there is still some sway in almost any book, because everyone sees things differently, however, in my opinion it is not so apparent in living books as in the textbooks available today. Plus, reading multiple living books for each event/timeperiod gives a more well rounded education and lets the student become a part of history rather than just memorizing dates and reading a paragraph or two that tells them what they want them to know.