Ocean Themed Learning

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The beach is our favorite place to relax and rest, but it's also a wonderful place to learn and a wonderful place to learn about. The sensory input of waves, sand, and seashells awaken learning in young children and engage their imagination. 

There are so many ways to bring ocean themed learning into our homes, and our new The Peaceful Preschool: Ocean Unit has been created to make the transition from summer fun into fall learning, a playful one. The unit includes developmentally appropriate learning activities to refine large and fine motor skills, phonics and counting skills, and listening skills as your children grow.

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The Ocean Guide includes the same components as our well loved, The Peaceful Preschool, with whimsical, ocean-themed counting, phonics, practical life, and motor skills activities to make learning feel like play.

A Few Favorite Activities From The Guide:

1. Count and sort seashells.

2. Hide cotton ball "sea turtle eggs", in sand. Use tongs to collect and count the eggs.

3. Read ocean themed poetry (included in the guide).

4. Do a crab walk.

5. Make a seashell mobile.

6. Make an octopus craft.

7. Measure and stir salt into water.

8. Fish counting game.

As you do these simple activities with your children, you are building memories, while simultaneously building pathways in the brain that will enable your child to excel in school, and give them the imagination and confidence to help them excel in life.

Do you need help choosing a writing or math curriculum? We share our favorites here and here.

 

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A Peaceful Preschool

The Peaceful Preschool- A Guest Post

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We sat down at the kitchen table this past summer, my husband and I, asking, “What do we want down deep for our family?” Our oldest daughter was 3, we had welcomed our son into the world in January, we were exhausted, but grateful, and wanting more. We’d been prayerfully considering the possibilities of homeschooling for quite some time, but also looking into local preschools as we tried to figure out what would be best for us. Maybe it was God’s sovereignty, maybe it was due to the fact that we had just moved to the middle of nowhere and I couldn’t bear to think of driving 25 minutes into town and back and back again three days a week, maybe it was feeling pressed financially and wanting to be wise with our investments, but whatever it was, we decided to keep her home and to dive in to this new, unexplored, beautiful world that is homeschooling.

 

Upon receiving The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, I devoured those first 26 pages like a hungry child. Oh, the weekly materials are beyond beautiful and I’ll touch on that in a minute, but the heart behind it all… it’s everything. That’s where it clicks and we come back to that overarching question, “What do we want down deep for our family?” and we were met with the resounding answer that, most of all, our deepest desire as parents is to be purposeful and present with one another and with the things that fill our days. Jen’s wisdom and guidance, her experience and practical advice, have helped us solidify a clear vision for why we are doing what we are doing, why it’s worth it, and how we can take tangible action steps toward achieving our heart’s cry for our family. 

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You can tell that every word and activity in the weekly lessons have been carefully chosen and created, born from both rich experience and simple, devoted parenting. Though it requires intentionality, most of the learning that occurs is natural and easy to incorporate into our daily lives. I love having the confidence that we are covering phonics and counting skills, while also focusing on life skills like cooking and cleaning and sharing with others. The framework is there, but there’s also a freedom to take it and run with it… compelling us to more. 

It’s been far from perfect. But it’s been us. I know we’ve got plenty of time to continue learning and growing and patiently discovering our longings, our strengths, our weaknesses, our groove. But, it’s been beautiful, needed and deep. It’s crazy how these simple little lessons have helped meet some of those big, down deep desires in our hearts. And as the new year awaits us, I have such hope that more will continue to unfold as we dive into the rest of the letters… into learning… into living…into loving... purposeful and present, together. 

Humbly,

Kelly-This Humble Hive

You can check out Kelly's beautiful resources for learning with toddlers here-

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Our Year With The Peaceful Preschool-A Guest Post

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As I write this post we just finished up with Letter V and are on the home stretch to finish up our first year with The Peaceful Preschool curriculum. I knew when we started this curriculum that I would be repeating it again, and my kids and I are already getting excited to start again with Letter A! 

 

At the beginning of last year when I was considering whether or not I could homeschool my children, a good friend of mine suggested The Peaceful Preschool curriculum. I decided to purchase it, not sure if we would use it or to what degree. The introductory pages to this curriculum, which provide a family vision sheet and suggestions for daily rhythms, were so inspiring to me. I felt excited and had so much peace and comfort from having everything clearly defined and laid out for me. After purchasing the curriculum I then began reading several Charlotte Mason and Montessori inspired books, websites, and blogs. After having a clearer grasp on our family's goals for homeschooling I felt even more certain that The Peaceful Preschool was the best guide for us in the early years, which Charlotte Mason describes as "a quiet growing time." 

 

The Peaceful Preschool lessons are engaging, gentle, and fit fluidly into our regular daily rhythm (which I recently blogged about here). The preparation is minimal; most supplies can be found around your home or you can easily find a suitable alternative. You only need to find 2-3 books at your library for each week's lessons, but if your library isn't great, you will not regret purchasing any of the books on the booklist! The curriculum also will not break your budget: I had to spend money up-front to gather basic supplies (I really did not have much before starting preschool at home), but on a week-by-week basis there is very little to no requirement for spending money on additional materials, or even burdening you with extra cost of printer ink. What a blessing!

 

For this past year, I structured our weeks so that we could spend two weeks on each Letter Unit, enjoying two days from The Peaceful Preschool each week. The other days of the week I would add some  based on my children's interests (for example, B is for Birds or C is for Camping). 

My memories of our time spent with The Peaceful Preschool are rooted in reading and re-reading the books that come from the weekly booklist. The books are, in my mind, the heart of the curriculum. The stories are rich, most have stood the test of time, and are what Charlotte Mason would describe as twaddle-free. My kids have latched on to so many of these stories in lasting ways. 

Okay, so the books are wonderful, the prep is manageable, the activities are simple and engaging, but really the core reason why I plan to do this curriculum all over again is that it fosters connection with my children. The activities are not simply tasks to check off on some academic-attainment list; they are invitations to take a break from the adult world, be present, connect with your children, and come alongside them in a slow and purposeful way. When we engage in these preschool activities, my children receive the message that they are valued and who they are matters. Plus, it's fun!! What could be more fun than gathering every hat in your house and stacking them all on your head like the "Caps For Sale" peddler? Or, playing Follow the Leader, acting out animals from stories, and building a fort? Preschool is the best!

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I do also add on a few things to the curriculum over the two-week-per-letter period, like 3-Part Cards for our letter learning, other Montessori-based resources, or just fun ideas I find on Pinterest or Instagram. 

I also consider our weekly Bible lessons and daily outdoor time as essential elements to our Preschool at Home. For each Letter Unit, I chose to add on a Bible lesson using The Jesus Storybook Bible -- you can view these lessons on my blog here. These are based on Letter Unit themes and sometimes nicely pair with the memory verses from The Peaceful Preschool. 

For our daily outdoor time we have lots of unstructured outdoor play in our yard, and we also walk and explore each day. My family lives on a camp property in Indiana where my husband works -- it is situated on 2,500 acres of woods with lots of trails and a lake. We feel incredibly grateful to give our children a childhood like this where they can explore the woods so easily each day and already know so many trees, birds, and plants with not much effort on our part. With that in mind, it always brings me joy to see how many activities in The Peaceful Preschool coincide with our desire to be outdoors. Many activities in the weekly plan are intended to be done outdoors, and even some of the counting skills and fine motor skills can be completed using natural materials. Build a fairy garden, collect wildflowers and make an arrangement, gather leaves and make leaf rubbings, etc.

Again, I am so grateful to have a curriculum that fosters connection with my children, and am excited to repeat it again next year! For the first 3 years of my oldest child's life, I would have never considered homeschooling. This last year has been such a confidence-builder for me in all the right ways, giving me the encouragement and inspiration to view home education as "an atmosphere, a discipline, a life" (in the words of Charlotte Mason) and not just public-school-done-at-home. Lastly, I am grateful for the community of homeschooling moms I have as support through The Peaceful Press Facebook group and the Instagram community as well. It is a true gift to know I am not alone.

Written by Sarah Street

https://www.instagram.com/the.silvan.reverie/

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You can check out the full booklist for The Peaceful Preschool Here

Click here for a helpful post on math with young children.

Summer Reading and Projects

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Summer is nearly upon us, and we are excited about all the memories we will make. Each year I grow more aware of how fast the precious years of childhood are flying by, and I am doing my best to make the most of them. 

Although every summer is a little different; sometimes we school through the summer, and other years we take the whole season off, this year we will continue working on literacy and math, while staying close to home. We will be starting The Precious People curriculum in September, so I'm excited for the opportunity to plan for our fall celebrations and learning.

We found some great summer themed books we wanted to share so you can make the most of this season with your children as well. We have even paired the books with easy activities to build sweet memories in your own family.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Activity: Find a body of water and look for minnows, or head to the ocean and see if you can spot a Swimmy in the tide pools.

The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice by Wendy Pfeiffer

Activity: Find a map of the world and show your littles the different time zones. What time is the sun setting in Iceland? In India? Is there any sun in Antarctica in July?

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Activity: Go on a scavenger hunt, make it a competition or an expedition.

The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing

Activity: Find a trampoline or spread out some blankets, can you find the first star in the summer sky, the big dipper, or make your own constellations with dot paint on black construction paper.

S is for S’Mores: A Camping Alphabet by Helen Foster James

Activity: Make s'mores. How many different types of chocolate and biscuit combinations can you use to make a s’more?

Summertime in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Activity: Find a local farm to pick some stone fruit or a field with blackberries or raspberries.

For more fun with The Little House on the Prairie, check out our The Playful Pioneers curriculum.

Join the conversation and share your favorite books and ideas for summer fun! 

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Click here for helpful hints on teaching your child to read.

For a full year learning plan that incorporates books and projects, check out our open and go parent guides.

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Charlotte Mason and The Playful Pioneers-A Guest Post

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Going into this past school year I was really feeling lead to more of a Charlotte Mason approach as I put together our curriculum. I wanted something that would incorporate fine art, scripture, poetry, narration, living books, practical skills, and hand crafts into our days in a way that would allow for short lessons that wouldn't overwhelm our days. I was also looking for a curriculum that all of my children could join in and that would be fairly open and go for my sake. 

I was elated to find that The Playful Pioneers was all of this and so much more! 

My children, a mix of girls and boys, range from ages seven through eleven and with The Playful Pioneers there was something for everyone. 

The younger ones used the print copy work while the older ones used the cursive pages. In addition to the basic daily coursework my older children read from the American and World History recommended independent reading book lists during their daily quiet time. 

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One of the first things that attracted me to Playful Pioneers was the main spines that are studied were from Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House series. As a family we had read through the series once before and my two oldest had read them over and over again until the poor books showed how well loved they are. 

What a blessing it was to share my love of the Little House books with my children as I had with my own mother growing up.  

I knew that we would be incorporating many living books into our days so one of the things that we enjoyed was listening to our Little House read aloud each day on audio book. My older children followed along in the books and my younger children would work on their copy work or illustrations while they listened to the story.

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My children loved the invitation that The Playful Pioneers presented to dig deeper into the history of Laura's prairie days! 

From the timeline that plugged in other events in American History alongside of the Ingall's lives and travel, to tracing the Ingall's journey across the United States, to the fantastic living books that brought the time period to life, this curriculum quickly won over our hearts and minds. 

For the timeline I printed one set for each child, hole punched one corner, and held them together with a ring. We don't have a lot of space in our home to display the timeline so this was a compact way for them to each have their own. 

We enjoyed many handicrafts and recipes along with practical skills which are so important for children to learn for useful lifelong skills. We enjoyed dyeing handkerchiefs with natural dyes, rolled beeswax candles, made butter, lemonade, ricotta cheese and so much more.  

We even learned many homemaking skills that were not only relevant in Laura's day but for us today as well. 

We have come through this year with so much more then any other year thus far and we have done it through short lessons full of beautiful memories in so many areas of learning. 

What a blessing The Playful Pioneers has been for our family!

Guest post by Kristin Dahman-The Quiet Way Home

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Learning With The Playful Pioneers-A Guest Post

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Late last summer, just before we were set to start back to schooling our little Miss 6 and Miss 4...I stumbled upon The Peaceful Press.  When I researched The Playful Pioneers curriculum and saw that it was based on The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, it spoke to me right away.  I grew up reading this series over and over again and wanted my girls to experience that life changing adventure for themselves.  I loved the appeal of one curriculum for both girls and that our whole family could be included in the activities!

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Our expectations were far exceeded as we have now completed our year with The Playful Pioneers.  Our way of life has changed, a peace has fallen over us...our "school work" has blended so seamlessly with the rest of our day that we don't feel the rush to "get school done" like we used to.  An education happens continually, in every facet of your day...you are always teaching your child even if it is just by your actions or by allowing them the freedom to play or dream. 

Imagine your childhood days filled with handiwork...weaving, sewing, knitting, embroidery...

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Learning about life on the farm, artist studies, and self care.....

 

baking fresh simple recipes...

and learning where your food comes from...

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Learning about the world, and nature, and all its gifts...

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S.T.E.M activities, and inventions and advancements,

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and so much more, all with your best friend(s) by your side.

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We loved the freedom this curriculum offered us...we could delve a little deeper into subjects that sparked an interest and we could leave out any activities that didn't fit with our family at that time.  Everything was prepared for us, the materials needed were simple to find and the books were easy to access.

As expected, the girls fell in love with Laura Ingalls and her free-spirit, yet kind heart.  What I didn't expect was the amount of emotion they would feel with each passing chapter.  We discussed topics that I am sure we wouldn't have otherwise...not for years to come at least.  They felt the pain and hardship that continually afflicted the Ingalls family. Yet they noted their positive attitudes and how they always made time for music, laughter and stories together.  I now see these stories and lessons resurface in their play and the way they interact with each other, it has forever changed their hearts.  

I also, as a mother, deeply connected with Laura's dear parents.  I loved the way Pa took the time to stop and explore nature with his daughters, to patiently teach them how and why things needed to be done and most importantly, true acceptance of others.  I also loved the way Ma, although stern at times, taught her daughters to look out for and care for one another, how to be happy with little and the importance of an education.

Somehow we lived and learned more simply this year yet our "harvest" from our studies was so rich, full and completely irreplaceable. I can't thank "The Peaceful Press" enough for this gift!

Sue

www.reachinghappy.com

Ready to transform your learning experience? Click here to order your copy of The Playful PIoneers.

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Our Year With The Peaceful Press-A Guest Post

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We started the Peaceful Preschool when my daughter was three. She was simply ready for structure and a course that appealed to our gentle parenting style already in place. The Peaceful Press was my first introduction to some kind of homeschooling system, environment, and schedule. It profoundly set the tone for us and more than that, it gave me the confidence in knowing and feeling that I could actually do this! I remember the opening letter and the great comfort it was to me, along with the resources, the guides and planning sheets, even the menu ideas were all so helpful! It all felt as if I had this wise, soft-spoken friend gently guiding me through this incredibly overwhelming endeavor as I was first starting out!

The following year, we started with the Playful Pioneers as a pre-K guide and “enrichment course” as I call it. We fell in love with the book suggestions, the gentle guide into US history and so forth. We worked at our own pace and gleaned from every step along the way. I particularly love how intentional about beauty it all is and how everything comes together so well, from the literature to the poems and themes. 

Now my daughter is five, and my son is three and we’ll be using the Playful Pioneers again this fall and more heavily as they’re older now. The amount of confidence I have in this journey still amazes me! Our home and schoolroom is filled with living books, organized Montessori manipulatives, a nature shelf, and so much more! The Peaceful Press has absolutely given us the foundation and building blocks to help us reach our homeschooling goals at this point. Our school rhythm is simply one we look forward to every single day, and when I will inevitably hit those road bumps, I know I have the support and help through this beautiful community.
 

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This is what a typical school day looks like for us. We gather around our school table after self care and breakfast. Our Morning Time shelf/basket is prepared well in advance and ready to go. We always start with Scripture, a hymn, and prayer. We then do some memory work and discussion. If we have a nature study on the table (currently caterpillars) then we’ll observe and talk a bit about that. Next is a picture study, then a read aloud from the lovely Little House series or a few letter themed books. While I read, they are working on an activity of some sort; a handwriting/student sheet for my daughter, or their US map puzzles, lacing, wooden beads, etc. After I finish a chapter, we all go and get dressed for the day! Morning time is a luxurious one to two hours for us.

If the weather is nice, we usually grab a snack and head outside and romp around for a half hour or so. We then gather again for an AAR phonics lesson for my daughter and the daily preschool activity for my son. After lunch, we usually curl up together on the couch with a book. Once the baby (10 months) takes her afternoon nap, we then work on a little project, puzzle, or painting/drawing together, sometimes it’s a felt interactive or a recipe, and once a week it’s poetry teatime! Once the baby wakes up, it’s sometimes a nature walk or free play outdoors! Then we call it a day.

One thing that is important for us in raising our children at this stage is not only limiting screen time completely (except for the occasional family movie night) but also establishing a strong family bond and a nurturing home environment that stimulates imagination and provides ample opportunities to learn together. I know planting these kinds of seeds will reap a beautiful harvest later on in our family life together. The Peaceful Press has been the ideal resource to help guide our family and homeschool in the directions our hearts have always envisioned. 

by Christina Umbriaco- https://www.instagram.com/wildandfree_inutah/

 

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