Hello, sweet friends!
I’m super excited to share our plans for Morning Time and our Family Learning (which we are calling our Family Loop this year).
It has been about 2 months now that I’ve been really in the reflecting, thinking, and planning process for the upcoming year. It is a lot of fun, but, as many of you know – a lot of hard work! I think I’m on information and decision making overload… but I’ll recover. *wink*
I’m thankful to God for His guidance and the undeserved grace He continues to pour on me as I plan. I feel I have a good vision for the upcoming year and I’m super excited about it. I have carried over some of what really worked from last year and also implemented some new ideas into our structure and flow.
In case you haven’t seen it – Here is my post about how we put together our own Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool plans. I’ve used this system over and over again to plan our own stuff!
So… I am a HUGE fan of Sarah Mackenzie. Have you heard of her? She blogs at Amongst Lovely Things, has a fantastic podcast with The Read-Aloud Revival, and wrote one of the most insightful and inspirational books about homeschooling I’ve ever read, Teaching from Rest. She’s pretty awesome.
I say all this because I have to admit that I kind of steal some of her ideas. *shrugs* I have no shame! I’m so grateful for Mamas like her who so graciously share their wisdom and knowledge for other Mamas like us to draw from and potentially utilize. (Or copy, however you want to say it… hehe!)
So, if you see some things in our planning that looks similar to what she’s spoken about- that’s because I’ve likely implemented some of her amazing ideas! I just wanted to give credit where credit is due!
Wait? Schedule? Who am I kidding? Our days don’t have a schedule. We’ve never had a schedule. Well, I mean, I used to TRY to implement a grid that showed what we were supposed to do in 15 minute increments all day long buuuut, for some reason the kids weren’t digging it.
So, yea… no formal schedule for this little homeschool.
What we do have, however, is a rhythm. ( Some might say a routine, but I think rhythm makes us sound so much cooler…) Julie Bogart from Brave Writer talked about this right here, and I love it.
Here’s what our Rhythm it looks like:
1. Morning Time
2. Individual Work/Morning Rotations
3. Family Loop
Yep. That’s it. THREE things. That’s the rhythm of our days. Some days when we get real crazy and the boys build Lego for 4 hours straight… it doesn’t start until noon and goes, Family Loop, Morning Rotation, Morning Time. I know.
The main idea is this – every day (pretty much), we do those 3 things.
One thing that I would add to this is reading aloud. We read aloud in nearly every part of our Rhythm BUT it doesn’t include free reads and family read alouds that we do after dinner and before bed. So, there is usually about 30 minutes or more of family reading that happens in the evenings apart from our ‘daily’ rhythm.
In this post, I want to talk about our plans for Morning Time and Family Loop.
I will cover the kids’ Individual Rotations in an upcoming post. This includes their Math and Language Arts. *smile*
These plans do not span our entire year, but instead, show Term 1. I’ve started being more intentional about scheduling term by term because I find it gives me more flexibility and allows me to follow our passions and God’s leading more carefully as we journey through the year.
It’s important for you to know that we do a huge chunk of our work together as a family. This includes pretty much all our subjects except individual Math, Language Arts, and Notebooking.
This is also a big reason why we chose to follow along in the Simply Charlotte Mason guides – because they are family-centred.
In a nutshell, Morning Time is an every day practice/habit that brings truth, goodness, and beauty into our homeschool. This is where we cover those things that I deem to be incredibly important to our souls and minds. Things that open our hearts to truth, inspire us, broaden our horizons and view of the world around us, and help us engage with the arts, poetry, literature. It’s pretty much the best thing we’ve ever implemented into our homeschool.
I realized as we worked through last year’s Morning Time plans that we were almost never getting through everything. Also, I envision Morning Time as being something we can start and finish in a reasonable amount of time. An amount of time that can be done all at once with a start and finish.
Our plans last year would drag on and move into lunch hour and other parts of the day. It was just too complicated.
See the difference between last year’s Morning Time plans and this year’s plans?
|Much more simplified Morning Time this year.|
How and why we changed Morning Time –
I LOVE the practice of Morning Time. Our children love it too. What I did discover, however, was that I was over-complicating things. (As usual…)
I was making Morning Time too long and confusing. We had EVERYTHING in there! At the beginning of the year, it all looked fine and dandy, but it just didn’t prove to be realistic.
If you look at last year’s schedule (in the above photo), you’ll see that I scheduled History EVERY DAY. (Why?!) I would also add in Nature Study AND Geography on many days and this was happening within Morning Time. *shakes head*
Mamas – don’t do this! Don’t over-complicate things. Simplify. (Can I just add that reading Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie was the best thing I did for my homeschooling journey all year!)
This year, I dropped History, Geography AND Nature Study from Morning Time.
They are all now part of a Family Loop Schedule which happens much later in the day. I am SO excited about this – it is so much more realistic. On any given day we will do History OR Geo OR Nature Study. Never more than one per day. *breath of fresh air!*
This year’s Morning Time Plan (at least for Term 1):
Here’s what we’ll cover in Morning Time –
Every Day –
One Review Item
Add to the every day work the following for each day of the week:
Greek and Latin Roots
Math and Logic Games/Puzzles
Art and Picture Study
Fables, Parables, Folk Tales or Shakespeare
Habit/Character Study (2nd time in the week)
Poetry Tea Time
I tried to calculate the timing and I think we can get through Morning Time in about 30 minutes. I think. I hope.
Our Morning Time Binder –
There are tabs for Daily, Monday-Friday, and then a second set of weekly tabs for every day of the month (Monday through Friday). These are used for review. Everything is in clear sheet protectors and the dividers are the extra wide ones so they can be seen beyond the sheet protectors (LOVE THIS!). I totally stole most of my ideas for this binder from the Your Morning Basket resources and from Pam Barnhill’s video about her binder... I promise, there will be more details coming…
Here’s a peek at some of our daily pages and a little procedure tab for Greek/Latin Roots –
A Closer Look at Our Morning Time
Bible, Prayer, Scripture Memory and Inspirational Books
Bible and Scripture Reading –
Well, it’s pretty simple. We read scripture or a really great bible story book together and we sometimes discuss what we read (sometimes not!).
We use various styles of bibles and translations. We really like the Chronological Life Application Study Bible for bible study (it’s so good!). We also use the kids Adventure Bible in NIrV which is easy for the kids to understand. I will often read from my NKJ version of the bible as well. We actually do not often use King James Version in our homeschool despite what many Charlotte Mason enthusiasts seem to say.
So, right now we are reading through a pretty old-school set called The Bible Story by Arthur Maxwell. My parents actually had this kicking around at their house from when I was a kid. I don’t remember reading them when I was young but our kids absolutely LOVE them. They are basically living book style narratives of scripture with wonderful, engaging illustrations.
Something very unique about this series is how they combine more modern language with the King James Version of the bible. (THIS is where we are getting our good dose of KJV!) All the quotations and dialogues are written in the original KJV of the scriptures, so it is a neat way of having the kids exposed to it while they still can easily understand the basis of the scripture/story line.
We are using A.C.T.S to help guide our morning prayers. Adoration – we are using a praise bucket to draw out things to praise God for (or thinking of our own!), Confession – admitting things we’ve struggled with and the things we need help with during our day, Thanksgiving – at least one thing each to be thankful for and the thank God for, Supplication – pray for some one near, pray for some one far.
For Supplication, we also use a Prayer Basket and our Map of the Persecuted Nations to pray for various countries and people groups. This is where we also pray for those we know and/or support who are working overseas (like our cousins in Guatemala, our friends in central Asia, Nuture A Child Uganda, and so on…).
Scripture Memory –
This year we are starting Term 1 by working on the 23rd Psalm for memory work. It is very simple. Every day we read the Psalm and every day we are working on memorizing a new small part of it until we have memorized the entire Psalm.
Inspirational Book –
This term we are reading And the Word Came with Power by Joanne Shetler.
Inside Volume 4 of The Bible Story series. We will hopefully read through several volumes this year. We are currently at the part in scriptures where Saul is continuously chasing David.
Hymn Study is very, very simple yet SO meaningful! Basically, I introduce a new Hymn every month or so. We read through the lyrics, listen to it sung in several different ways, and learn the hymn ourselves. We also read biographies of the authors of the hymns by using books like Hymns for a Kid’s Heart and various other living books I find.
Then, we sing it together several times a week, mixed in with past hymns we have learned for review. Easy as that!
Hymns for a Kid’s Heart is a mix between a living book for the biographies of men and women who wrote the hymns, a devotional (one per hymn), and a song book. It is truly a gem.
Abide with Me is a really neat book I found at our local Christian Bookstore. It is a ‘photographic journey through great British Hymns’. It takes you into the time and place of where these hymns were written and speaks of the men and women who wrote them. It’s a really neat book. Not really specifically for kids but will work as an add-on.
This Term we hopefully will cover:
Doxology – I have always been so intrigued by this old call to worship. This term we will learn it, and use it as our opening to Morning Time along with lighting the candle. (This is in Abide with Me.)
Rock of Ages (This is in Abide with Me)
A Mighty Fortress is Our God (This is in Hymns for a Kid’s Heart)
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (Abide with Me)
(I’m not sure what else yet…)
Habit and Character Study
The Habit Training Companion (book 1 and 2 come together as one resource) walks you through the habits in an open-an-go format. You literally open up to the habit you are working on and do the next lesson. SO easy.
I like to add in readings from The Book of Virtues from William J. Bennett. I love this book for insightful poetry, inspiring stories, and tales and fables that teach.
This term we are working on Truthfulness which goes very nicely with the section on Honesty in the Book of Virtues!
Art and Picture Study
So, we will read through Leonardo DaVinci by Diane Stanley (LOVE her books!) as well as Katie and the Mona Lisa. We will also study a new print every week. I think there are 7 to work through, which is perfect.
ARTistic Pursuits is used for visual arts and will take the slot of Art Study in Term 2. For Term 3, we will pick an artist again.
Music and Composer Study
Over the past several months we have been loving SQUILT for Music and Composer Study.
The typical way we have done Composer Study over the past several years is to just pick a composer, read his or her biography (I try to find a great living book for this!) and listen to several pieces of his or her music together. We try to memorize the names of the pieces as we listen and who composed them for our kids’ cultural literacy, so to speak. And mine, actually… *wink*
That method certainly works… but this year I found SQUILT and we totally love it. It stands for Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time. Which is slightly ironic because ours is almost never uninterrupted or quiet… ha.
I did a full review of SQUILT right here.
Basically, we pick an era (these are pdf download unit studies) and we open and go when it is time to do Composer and Music Study. Easy, easy, easy. And the best part? The kids love these little lessons, the activities, the music. There are also Notebooking Pages that go along with the program!
Greek and Latin Roots
Shakespeare, Parables, Fables, and Folk Tales/Lore
Hero Admiration/Inspirational and Faith-building Stories
This year we are reading through Heroes in Black History by Dave and Neta Jackson as well as parts of Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula.
They are very “Morning Time-esque” but they are not read DURING Morning Time… We often read these types of stories during or right after supper time with Daddy.
I highly recommend the HERO TALES series from Dave and Neta Jackson – they are wonderful!!! (We’ve read Volume 1 though 4.)
Poetry Tea Time
Family Learning/ Family Loop
History, Geography and Epistles/Revelation
I actually plan to stretch this era/guide into more than 1 year… possibly even two years. It might sound crazy to do that – but there is SO MUCH to cover in the Modern Era of history and I do not like blazing through topics. I honestly don’t think we can go into things with the depth we want in only one year. We’ll see how things go though!
We will be working through what’s called the “Appetizers” section of the program. This introduces the children to concepts like: basic map understanding, latitude/longitude, contour mapping, thematic maps, local geography, and more. Once we work through these, we will move on to Mapping Canada By Heart which teaches us how to (literally) draw and map our country completely from memory. LOVE IT.
For Nature Study this Term (and this year) we are using both NaturExplorers as well as Exploring Nature with Children. Both are fantastic Nature Study programs but quite different in their layout/presentation. Let me tell you a little bit about each of these.
This is one of my FAVORITE resources I’ve found for Charlotte Mason Home Education. Cindy (who created it) is one of the nicest people on the web and I reviewed the program in great detail RIGHT HERE.
This is a unit study based program. You can purchase various units (for example: Flying Creatures of the Night, Delightful Deciduous Trees, Captivating Clouds, Peaceful Ponds, etc.) and each of these units functions as its own complete Nature Study unit. You can also purchase bundles (which I highly recommend because it is such a great deal).
There is no set time frame for the activities in the unit. You move along in any which way you choose and you can schedule the units for whenever you want. I like this kind of freedom and flexibility in a Nature Study Program! The units are jam-packed full of literary ideas, nature exploration ideas, projects to do, hands-on science experiments, poetry, picture study, composer study, and more.
This year we actually plan to use NaturExplorers in a Block Schedule where we literally drop all other Family Loop subjects to completely DIVE into one NaturExplorers unit for 3-4 weeks.
I will be posting about how I plan to do this with some free planning tools. (This week?)
For Term 1- we will be launching into our ‘year’ (August bridge schedule) with Flying Creatures of the Night. (I will post a full review of this unit in September!)
We often dive into a Nature Study unit in August… this helps us transition from a July of doing nothing but playing, swimming, and staying up late to structured ‘school’ time in September! It will be our full-out unit and we will dive deep into the topics and activities.
We will do this again in Autumn with Captivating Clouds – (using it as a complete unit study). We’ve studied Autumn leaves, photosynthesis, and all things Fall WAAAAAY too many times, so I think it’s a good time to do clouds instead.
I hope to cover 3-5 units this way over the year.
Exploring Nature with Children:
I am working on a full review of this program, which will be up in a couple months. I love everything I’m seeing! Exploring Nature with Children is very Charlotte Mason-friendly and beautifully put together as an OPEN-AND-GO Nature Study program.
This curriculum is based on a full-calendar year program. It gives you everything you need to implement very simple but meaningful Nature Study all year round. There is a different topic for every single week of the year (including the Summer months). You just open it up, and go.
It is SO simple. It does not go into great depth with each topic (how can you in just one week, especially if you are only doing Nature Study 2 or 3 times per week!) But it is a lovely option for open-and-go Nature Study that is living books based and filled with wonderful, easy to approach ideas.
It does offer a fairly ‘strict’ schedule (goes month by month, week by week). So, if sticking EXACTLY to a schedule presented in a program is a big deal for you – it might be challenging to fit everything in exactly as it is presented. (I never really worry about this as much, to be honest… but I know some do!) On the other hand, having it all typed out in black and white is actually very soothing and helpful to many – so there are pros and cons to this layout!
Just to give you a very basic idea of what this program looks like, here are some examples:
September – Week One: the topic is Seeds. There is a nature walk idea for collecting “approaching Autumn” seeds, extension activities for understanding dispersion of seeds, book lists and reading suggestions, a poem, and a piece of art to enjoy.
November – Week One: the topic is Lychen. We learn to identify different types of Lychen, we go on a Nature Walk in search of these various Lychen and sketch them if desired. There are suggested readings, a poem, a piece of art, and several extension activities to choose from.
I’m excited to implement Exploring Nature with Children in our Family Loop all year long.
Our go-to for all things Nature Study. We LOVE this book.
(Some of the) Read-Alouds we’re planning to read:
I’m always hesitant to post our book choices because they often change and expand depending on what we are interested in and what we find at the library, throughout the year, etc. This also doesn’t include the countless picture books we will read from the library, etc.
But as for family read-alouds, here’s a good start… *smile*
A (tiny) peek at some of our organization
There is a bit of a rhyme to it though… below is a photo of a shelf in our back ‘discovery’ room. On the middle shelf is mostly the books we hope to read (as family read-alouds) this year. I like to keep them together. Many of them go with our time period of Modern History.
The bottom shelf is Nature Study and nature themed books on the left and readers on the right.
This middle shelf in the bottom photo is where I have put all the resources and some of the ‘spine’ books we will use this year. I like to keep them all together for a couple reasons. The first is that it gives me a common place to go to when I need to quickly grab one of these, the second is that it gives me a visual reminder of just how much we are using and covering this year! It’s like my little personal pile of ‘curriculum’, kind of like the pile you’d get in the mail if you ordered a boxed-living-book-curriculum. *smile*
Links to the ‘How We Homeschool’ Sarah Mackenzie Videos that inspired me and I really wanted to share:
Coming next –
-A look at our Individual Rotation curriculum and resource choices for each child’s Math and Language Arts.
Coming up soon –
-How we use NaturExplorers as full-out curriculum units and free planning tools.
-How we organize our day (a peek at how I plan our weeks/days – my Morning Time Binder, planner, and this year’s Spiral Bound Book system for the kiddos)
-Review of Loving Living Math from Shining Dawn Books.