Learning About Saint Patrick


We've always enjoyed celebrations of St. Patrick's Day as a family. When my children were very young, a sweet neighbor invited us over for a festive St Patty's Day celebration complete with the best of green food and Guinness, and we were hooked on the whimsy of the day. 

As our family has gone through a rotation of history studies through the years, we have come to see what a big impact Saint Patrick had on the world. Some might even say that he helped save civilization.

One of our favorite books to introduce young children to St. Patrick is a classic by Tomie de Paola. His lighthearted illustrations gently introduce children to a man who we can learn much from today. The trajectory of his life, first a long period of contemplation, followed by a period of study, which preceded a life of great impact, can give us and our children clues to living a meaningful and visionary life.


Even a reading of his prayer is instructive, living in a dangerous time, he invoked a prayer of protection over every aspect of his life, a prayer which still speaks to us today.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,


We still make a nitrate free version of corned beef and cabbage, gather shamrock bouquets, and celebrate Ireland, but our celebrations now are deeper, knowing that Saint Patrick faced death ad danger to bring hope to Ireland.

Favorite Saint Patrick's Day Resource

The Peaceful Press Saints Study- A four week study of the lives of four prominent saints. This study includes recipes, book suggestions, copy work, art, history and science to bring more depth to your study of famous people of the early church.

The Peaceful Press Saints Cards Biographical sketches of the lives of 30 saints accompanied by beautiful art prints. Print, cut and laminate for a morning time resource, art memo game, or prompt for written work about saints.

Patrick:Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie De Paola A fabulous children's version of his story.

How We Celebrated Last Year

Do you want to fill your home with meaningful learning centered around books? Check out The Peaceful Preschool and The Playful Pioneers. These project and literature based parent guides provide a school year full of delightful experiences and deeper exploration into books.

Favorite Math Resources


Since the day I began homeschooling, over 20 years ago, I have tried many math programs. I spent my early childhood in a private school that used a workbook style program for math, and it definitely stunted both my enjoyment and confidence in my math abilities. I want something better for my own children.

My hands down favorite of all the math programs I have tried for early childhood is still Right Start Math. Their hands on approach appeals to my child, and I can see the connections being made as we learn together. Even with the first few levels, I felt like my own skills at mental math were improving.

This year with my 3rd grade student, I also added Teaching Textbooks. I have used later grades with several of my older children, and was excited about adding as many math resources as were enjoyable. As my first set of children have reached college age, I’ve seen them manage their higher maths but not necessarily enjoy them, and I want to develop more of a love for math, as opposed to just a tolerance for it in the youngest two. Teaching Textbooks grade 3 is very engaging and simple, while incorporating a great amount of review.

Another resource we have tried this year has been Smartick. It is an app that claims to help your child advance rapidly in math in only 15 minutes a day. It has been a great  addition to our repertoire of math resources as well, giving me the help of a tutor without actually paying the hourly rates of a tutor.


When a little younger, my children also enjoyed using the app, Montessori Preschool. Montessori style math produces amazing results and even the app helped my children with skills such as place value and other numerical skills. We limit use of devices, but found these two helpful exceptions when used a few minutes a day.

We also recognize the important math benefits of other skills and subjects such as music, art, and cooking. As we continue learning in those areas, we are developing greater levels of understanding that can also apply to math.

You can also find insightful articles about teaching math in recent bundles of Wild and Free, the one by Rachel Kovac was especially encouraging to me. Her thoughts on how the attitude of parents towards math, directly affects the math performance and understanding of children, were very helpful for me as I work to develop a love of math for my children’s sake.

What are your favorite resources for teaching math?

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Our The Peaceful Preschool curriculum includes phonics, math, and motor skills training connected to beautiful literature, to help prepare your child for school success. Order your copy today!



Introducing The Precious People


 I'm so excited to introduce the newest member of The Peaceful Press curriculum family. This new 30 week curriculum will have a similar flow as The Playful PIoneers, but with The Precious People, we are taking a trip back in time, to the beginning of recorded history. Through Bible stories, historical fiction, nonfiction, and source quotes we will take a look at how ancient people lived, and through experiencing a few of the Jewish feasts, even how they celebrated. While the study of ancient history can sometimes be heavy for young children, we are working to keep it a little lighter with the book selections, while still providing an extensive independent reading list for parents and older learners.

While our other curriculum has been especially focused on learning we are loved, and learning to love learning, this study offers a sweet chance to add some character studies, through the lives of saints, Bible characters, and everyday people, as well as a weekly Aesop's Fable. While love is the principle thing, healthy habits make learning more peaceful and this curriculum offers projects and prompts to work towards healthy habits, while still promoting loving relationships.

As with The Playful Pioneers, you will find student sheets in print and cursive, illustrated copy work, art, history, science, timeline work, geography, practical skills, recipes, and more, making this a nearly complete curriculum. Just add math and phonics, grammar, or spelling.


While the entire 30 week curriculum will not be available until this summer, we have completed a 4 week unit early to help with your celebration of spring. This unit, which falls chronologically toward the end of the period we will study, gives a brief overview of a few favorite saints, whose sacrificial love impacted the world for good. This 4 week study of the saints will be a beautiful addition to your family celebration of Lent and Easter, with many meaningful discussion prompts to promote more love in your home.

The Precious People:Saints includes read aloud suggestions, copy work sheets, practical life skills, scripture readings, source quotes, science activities and more. We hope that this study doesn't just make you love learning more, but that it helps your family love more.

Click here to purchase your copy of The Precious People:Saints

Celebrating President's Day

While The Playful Pioneers curriculum provides an overview of some favorite U.S. presidents, we love to strew more books and activities about the presidents in the hope that our children will continue to study on their own. Although the independent reading list that is included in The Playful Pioneers contains an extensive list of favorite books about U.S. presidents, we wanted to highlight a few of our favorites to make a celebration of their birthdays extra special.


The Buck Stops Here by Alice Provenson

George Washington:The First President by Sarah Albee

George Washington by Ingri and Edgar d'Aulaire

Abe Lincoln:The Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters

Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar d'Aulaire




We also love doing projects that relate to the presidents. Cooking and baking always make holidays come to life, and we especially love this recipe, adapted from the Tasha Tudor Cookbook.

There are so many fun projects from The Playful Pioneers curriculum that could be revisited for a celebration of President's Day, and our children will remember what they've learned much longer when it is followed with active play.

1. Build a pretzel and peanut butter log cabin

2. Plant a cherry tree or other fruit tree.

3. Pretend to be a surveyor and make a map of your own lot.

4. Play charades, using the president descriptions from The Buck Stops Here for prompts.

5. Paint a cherry tree and use your pinkie finger to finger stamp cherries on it.

6 Follow this watercolor tutorial to paint a cherry tree.

7. Recite the Gettysburg Address

We hope your celebrations are full of joy. These special days in February can help bring fun into a winter season that often feels long.

To bring even more joy into your homeschool, check out The Peaceful Preschool and The Playful Pioneers. These weekly guides are full of ideas for making connections with your children over beautiful literature.


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Resources For Young Readers

We have loved learning to read using All About Reading and Spell To Write and Read, but as my youngest child becomes more comfortable with reading, I am constantly on the look out for books related to our studies that will not overwhelm him. 

The Playful Pioneers book list is what we are mostly pulling from, but every time I hit up the library I look for more readers based on our history studies. I thought it would be fun to share a few here.

Abe Lincoln and the Muddy Pig by Stephen Krensky

From Slave To Soldier by Deborah Hopkinson

The Drinking Gourd by F.N. Monjo

Sam The MInuteman by Nathaniel Benchley

Wagon Train by Sydelle Kramer


We also just released an updated version of our Picture Word Cards product. This new version includes 26 rhymes to correspond with each letter of the alphabet. For readers who are reluctant to actually sit down and read, this card set can provide several levels of interaction. You can start your child with just matching upper and lower case letters, and then move onto matching letter sounds with the pictures. Once they have mastered initial sounds, you can introduce the corresponding words. You can then add reading the simple rhymes and once your child is reading, they can read the rhymes and match them with the letter or picture. Best of all, the set is only $5 for the download.

If you need more ideas for helping your child gain school readiness, check out The Peaceful Preschool. It has 26 weeks of activities aimed at helping your child gain the developmental skills they need for academic success. 

If you have school aged children, check out The Playful Pioneers our delight directed year of studying the pioneers, using The Little House on the Prairie series as inspiration.

What people are saying about our curriculum;

"The Playful Pioneers helped me dive into things a little deeper. "

"The drawings, introduction to poetry and other book recommendations were helpful and inspiring."

"The Peaceful Preschool was super organized and had a wonderful book selection"

"The Peaceful Preschool is very easy to follow and my kiddos love it"

You can read more about our curriculum at https://www.thepeacefulpreschool.com/

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My daughter recently wrote a letter about thankfulness for our e-mail subscribers, and we wanted to share it here as well.

"I recently wrote pages of things I was thankful for because I realized I was slipping into a skewed view of life. Most of my focus was centering on areas I messed up in, and the things I wasn't doing well.

Over the years, I have seen many of my peers grow up dissatisfied with the education or experiences they received because they have focused on the wrong things.

It’s easy to do. We forget and are jealous and insecure about our and other people's education or lifestyle. But one thing I truly believe is that I had the best education ever. Not because it was always perfect, and not because there aren’t things I missed, but because it was genuine.

It was unique, and thanks to my mom it was genius and motivating and outdoorsy and beautiful. I had a good education. But here’s the second thing that made it great; thankfulness.

I recently read Viktor Frankl’s “Man in Search of Meaning’ and he talks about how in the concentration camps, the men he was with, dying men, would leave what little warmth they had to watch a beautiful sunset. They displayed what Frankl calls the greatest human freedom, which is our freedom to choose our response to life.

You and I get to choose our response to circumstances in life. And when I am thankful for my education I am also able to take full advantage of every bit of it. 

Thankfulness started early, with my parents gently and lovingly equipping me to deal with a world that sometimes hurt, with people who don’t always love themselves like they should, and with way too much advertising and competition trying to tell me that I am not enough.

So, we read books about thankful people like Mother Teresa, Amy Carmichael, the Arnold Pent Family, Rani Snell, and Corrie Ten Boom. We would go around the dinner table sharing what we were thankful for. When we went tide pooling and watched hermit crabs molt, or grew gardens, or nature journaled, or sweat our way from historical monument to monument along the East Coast, we embraced the wonder of it and were thankful. And we continue to be mindful of when our hearts are thankful and when they are not.  Thankfulness creates joy in us, and an ability to enjoy our life, no matter the circumstances." (Emelie Pepito)


This Thanksgiving season, we wish for each of you the ability to cultivate gratitude in yourselves and your children. As you prepare for the holidays, take the time to jot down your intentions for this season, and then create traditions that fit with the values of your own family.  Perhaps even take time to interview your children about their own favorite holiday memories and then prioritize the activities you will participate in.

The holidays don't have to be characterized by exhaustion and disappointment. We can take the time to create our own traditions, and break free of expectations that don't reflect the gratitude and peace that we are working to cultivate.


If you are looking for creative activities to build more connection in your family, check out The Playful Pioneers and The Peaceful Preschool. Each parent guide is full of weekly lesson plans for literature based learning, using lovely books that encourage gratitude. You can take 20% off your purchase until November 26, 2017 with code "Thankful"

More posts on creating a happy holiday



The Art of Notebooking

Guest Post by Erica Haning-
A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to experience one of those exhilarating moments all homeschooling mamas hope to enjoy. I came across something new to add to our homeschool lessons that I instantly realized was going to inspire my children, streamline instruction and deeply enhance the learning going on inside of our home. It is called notebooking and I'd love to share with you the basics of what it is and how we implement it with curriculum like that of The Playful Pioneers.

At it's core I see notebooking as a delightful way for a child to retell (or narrate) a story, poem, lesson, or activity and to then take that retelling and put it onto paper. Our favorite way to make a notebook entry for The Playful Pioneers is to begin with a read aloud of the morning's chapter from The Little House on the Prairie series. After my children have listened to the day's selection I ask them to tell me as much as they can remember from what they just heard.
Once they have completed their retelling I have them stop and think for a minute about what the most important idea was from the chapter and then that single idea becomes the basis for our notebook entry for the day. Coming up with one important idea is a way for us to take a long narration and condense it down into one manageable sentence for them to write out. As their writing abilities improve (or for those with older children) they will begin to write out more, or even all, of their narration. 

Now here is where I find the use of notebooks to be valuable and why I find it so exciting. Once they have decided on their important idea we work together to make that sentence as detailed and interesting as possible. For example, we might take a sentence they have come up with like "the wolves sat around the house" and with a little coaching they will turn it into "the large wolves sat howling in a circle around the log cabin." They spend time coming up with the most descriptive language possible and we also quickly discuss the proper use of grammar and spelling in their work. I write the final sentence out for them and they use their best handwriting to copy it down onto a piece of white card stock. 

The last steps are to illustrate their sentence with an original sketch, or they may trace the simple graphic provided in The Playful Pioneers copywork sheet for the week. Then, they do a watercolor wash over the final product and it is ready to add to their notebooks once dried. 
As I look back over what we have just accomplished I see we have completed an oral and written narration, a grammar and spelling lesson, a handwriting and an art exercise all in one lovely activity. This is so important for busy homeschooling mamas trying to check off everything on their list for the day and it is an activity we all joyfully accomplish together. Best of all, my children have a compilation of works they are immensely proud of and I have a memory book of priceless treasures to look back on from our year. We have also used notebooks with our math lessons, our nature studies and we are looking forward to implementing it with our hymn and verse memorization. The possibilities are truly endless! I hope this sounds like something you and your children would enjoy together and that you will be inspired to give it a try. I'm sure it will be as rewarding for you as it is for us.

You can see more photos of Erica's beautiful notebooking here https://www.instagram.com/this_little_homeschool/

Resources for further study

The Playful Pioneers

Notebooking Manual by Jodi Mockabee

Whole Families Guide from Wild and Free

The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater

Art Supplies-

Budget Watercolor Paints

Watercolor Paints

Prismacolor Pencils

Card Stock

Wrapping Up The Year

We are getting close to having completed our recommended 185 days of school for the year. Although I enjoy doing some school through the summer so we keep a rhythm, there are a few chores that I tackle right about now to help our summer feel a little more free.

1. I really like to start planning the coming school year at the end of the current one. I feel like I have a better grasp on what worked and what didn't work, and I'm more realistic about expectations when I'm at the tail end of a long semester. Often I'm just following a progression of whatever I've been using; heading on the next level in Analytical Grammar, Right Start Math, or Teaching Textbooks, or following our chronological flow of history. Since writing The Playful Pioneers this past winter, I've grown more and more excited about our upcoming year of American history. I'll add a college class or two for the older boys, and I'm excited about all the fun projects we will participate in to make the time period come alive.

2. The next thing I do to wrap up the school year is prepare report cards. My children are enrolled in a small private cover school, and its my responsibility at the end of the year to submit report cards and work samples. I try to keep a log of any tests or grades my children get throughout the year in my teacher plan book, which makes it much easier at the end of the year to figure out their grades. I am very low key about grades until high school, but try to abide by the policies of our school.

3. The last task of the year is to shelve the schoolbooks we are finished with. These books get placed in a cupboard for future use, or donated. I put the new books we will be using in each child's basket, and also create a special read aloud basket with selections from our history studies. I also keep a few work samples from the year and file them with my child's name and grade, or place them in a special portfolio of work.

With these tasks done, I am free to enjoy a vacation from the more intense school days, and instead spend that time connecting with my children.

The Playful Pioneers early elementary curriculum is available! You can get a sneak peek of the curriculum here, or purchase by clicking here.

To purchase the Peaceful Preschool CurriculumPicture Word Cards, or even grab some of our freebies, click here.

For a complete list of picture books used for The Peaceful Preschool, click here.