Thankfulness

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)

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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.

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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

https://www.thepeacefulpreschool.com/blog//a-simple-santa-mask

https://www.thepeacefulpreschool.com/blog//christmas-stories

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.
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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. 
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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. 
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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.

The Playful Pioneers is Here!

We are so excited to introduce to you our newest curriculum in The Peaceful Press family. One of the underlying principles for the new curriculum, The Playful Pioneers can be summed up in this quote by Charlotte Mason,

“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” 
― Charlotte M. MasonSchool Education: Developing A Curriculum

The Playful Pioneers aims to give your children a large room to start their education in. Through reading the beloved children's series, The Little House on the Prairie,  and doing related art, science and history projects, your child will develop a love for learning. You and your young children will study famous works of art, copy poetry, learn new handwork skills, and best of all, develop deeper relationships as a family, as you explore new activities together.

The curriculum includes basic letter tracing sheets for beginning writers, as well as gradually more complex copy work sheets so that you can use the curriculum with a variety of early elementary ages and stages.

For each of the 30 weeks of the curriculum, you will have a handy grid so that you can see what activities you will be doing that week. There is also a daily details section with more specific directions. 

Included in your curriculum bundle are instructions for parents, maps, artwork, poetry, recipes, and much more. The curriculum is created to build stronger family relationships as you and your young children explore literature and project based learning together, while you study famous people and events of pioneer history.

You can click here for more information, to download a sample, or to purchase. 

 

Math For Young Children

As a child, I went to a private school that focused on reading quickly, but did nearly all math instruction through workbooks. This method left me ill-prepared to understand more advanced math, and I labeled myself a struggling math learner from then on. 

With my own children, I have been motivated to use more hands on methods to teach math, but have still vacillated between several math programs, because while I might wish for a magical math that teaches itself, there is no such solution. Believe me, I have searched. With my oldest children, I was especially pressed for time and usually chose a method that involved hands on learning, but that was also easy for a student to complete fairly independently. 

As those students grew, each of them struggled with algebra. I used several different programs, Saxon, Teaching Textbooks, Horizons, and Math U See, but it wasn't until they were in an actual math class at the local junior college that algebra began to make sense for them. Although none of my oldest students have gone on to pursue a career in math, those who are pursuing college have been able to complete the upper level classes necessary for their degree.

I feel like there are a few lessons that I can take from the experiences my oldest children have had with math. The first lesson is that math requires a teacher (even a non math loving mother can be that teacher), and the second is that early-hands on math experience is essential for later success.

With these lessons in mind, I have switched to Right Start Math with my youngest son, and I am moving slowly through the lessons. I would rather do each lesson thoroughly and make certain that my child is understanding it, than to push quickly through and end up with roadblocks as he approaches upper level math. Right Start uses many concrete examples and activities to make manipulating numbers second nature for your child. 

Right Start also uses playful activities such as games to reinforce skills instead of tedious drills and flashcards. Playful forms of learning are much more attractive than drills and flashcard to many of us as adults, as well as to our children. They also help us retain the information that we have learned.

Finding the right math program for your early elementary student might require a little research. Each parent and child has a different learning style, and learning styles have a lot of bearing on your child's success with a program. As well, many children are not developmentally ready for abstract learning, so programs that rush this with too many worksheets can ultimately make math more difficult later on.

For your preschool learners, keep using the counting and fine motor skills included in The Peaceful Preschool curriculum, as well as playing math games and counting throughout your day.

For kindergarten students, keep on counting and playing math games. If they are ready for more math, start with Right Start Math or Math U See. 

For later elementary students, if they have a strong command of underlying math principals through Right Start or Math U See, you could try switching to Teaching Textbooks. Make sure they have learned good study skills, including concepts such as writing math problems clearly, and labeling papers before you set them up with a more independent math program. If they need additional help, and homeschooling is your educational choice, look for a math tutor or group class that they can join. Even Khan Academy can be a valuable resource in making math meaningful for your children.

Finally, no matter what math program you choose, try to use positive words to describe math, and help them to see that math skills are an important part of our daily life.

Our The Playful Pioneers early elementary curriculum will be available soon! We are shooting for a June 1st sale date, and will have a free sample before that date, but in the meantime, you can get a sneak peek of the curriculum here.

To purchase the 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.

 

Easy Saint Patrick's Day

It has been a very busy week here. I am sending lessons for The Playful Pioneers to the designer, and recording podcasts for Wild and Free bundles, so my homeschool creativity zone is not getting all the attention that I would wish.

I knew St Patrick's Day was coming and made sure to buy a corned beef for our yearly corned beef and cabbage meal, but totally forgot to rent any seasonal books from the library. 

In a monk's cell at Sauls Church, the first church in Ireland.  

In a monk's cell at Sauls Church, the first church in Ireland.

 

Even though I hadn't done a fabulous job of planning ahead, we had been in Ireland while traveling this last December, and had crawled into an actual monk's cell that St Patrick might have prayed in, and visited the first church that he ministered at. My kids had a pretty good grasp on who the holiday was about. I just wanted a few activities that we could do to refresh their memory.

After I asked them what they remembered about St. Patrick (which was surprisingly extensive considering it had been a year since we'd done any formal study) we watched a few YouTube videos about the saint.

Next, I sent my children out to collect a shamrock bouquet, while I threw the corned beef and potatoes in the crock pot. Once they came back with some clover, we painted a watercolor version, and labeled it with a short narration.

We love celebrating holidays here, and as often as possible we make our learning fun and engaging by involving projects. Sometimes the projects are simple, such as the shamrock painting, and other times they are more involved, but projects are a great way to connect with your children, and develop many skills.

We are celebrating spring with a special sale on the full 26 week curriculum. Just use code "Spring" at checkout to get $5 off your purchase. Offer ends April 16, 2017.

To purchase the 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.

Teach Your Child To Read

My seventh child is now reading on his own, and I am thrilled to have successfully taught all of my children to read, and for the most part, to love reading. 

When I started homeschooling 18 years ago, my research led me to the Spell to Write and Read program. It worked very well with my oldest child, but with my second daughter, who had auditory processing difficulties, I needed to supplement with sight words. Because her auditory sequencing was poor (activities in The Peaceful Preschool program work on building this skill) she needed the boost of sight words to make reading less laborious. It was just too frustrating to try and sound out every single word.

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I continued to use Spell to Write and Read with my children, along with reading games that I created from Montessori literature I had read, and it continued to be effective. None of my children were super early readers, but they all (so far) have become avid readers. The child who learned to read the latest, is also the child who has read all the works of Shakespeare.

With my youngest child, who being the baby, had less well-defined motor skills, I switched to All About Spelling materials. It is very similar to Spell to Write and Read, except that their approach is slightly more multi-sensory, and their teacher guide is much easier to understand.

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This system worked very well with him, and when he occasionally lost interest his All About Spelling lesson, I would introduce a reading game, such as the Montessori Object Game, or Command Game. The process took a little longer with him, in part because I was a more laid back teacher, and content to let him play, but he is reading, and especially loving the easy readers produced by All About Spelling.

With all my readers, I supplemented with workbooks such as Explode The Code, and with easy books to read. Teaching my children to read wasn't hard; it took some steady reinforcement of phonics sounds and the discipline to set aside time each day to listen to my children painfully sound out words, but once you get past that learning curve, schooling your own children becomes much easier. A child who can read, can also read a recipe, or directions to build an Ikea shelf, and they can certainly get lost in a great novel, which you can then count as "history reading".  A child who loves to read, is a child who can take initiative over a large part of their schooling, and ultimately, is a child who becomes a very interesting adult and friend.

If you are just getting started with teaching your child to read, I hope that you feel excited. It isn't rocket science, and the same skills that you used to teach them to eat with a fork, and get dressed by themselves will help you to guide them into this new skill as well. The steps are simple, teach them the sounds that letters make, teach them to blend those sounds together to make words. You can do it.

 

Our Favorite Resources

All About Spelling

Explode The Code

Spell To Write and Read

Reading Games Post

Living Montessori Now

This post contains affiliate links for products we use/used and love. 

What letter are you on? Share, by tagging #thepeacefulpreschool on Instagram, or in our encouraging private Facebook group, available with your curriculum purchase. 

To purchase the 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.

The Playful Pioneers

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This past year since we first introduced The Peaceful Preschool course has been such a lovely journey. I am overjoyed that so many amazing families have joined us on this joyful learning experience, and have added their voice to this community through blog posts and the private Facebook group available to curriculum users. Simply Learning is one of those families, and if you are just getting started with The Peaceful Preschool, I highly recommend checking out the thoughtful planning posts that she created. The recent post linked here, also included a handy supplemental PDF. 

Click here to purchase The Peaceful Preschool curriculum.

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As your family grows, and your children transition from the preschool years, we want to be there to support your journey. One way we are doing this is through the new curriculum we developed. The Playful Pioneers, which will be released in the summer of 2017. We are busy writing, testing, and photographing this literature based kindergarten curriculum. 

(update, 5/8- you can now order the curriculum-just visit our shop link!)

One of the underlying principles for the curriculum can be summed up in this quote by Charlotte Mason,

“The question is not, -- how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education -- but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” 
― Charlotte M. MasonSchool Education: Developing A Curriculum

The Playful Pioneers aims to give your children a large room to start their education in. Through reading the beloved children's series, The Little House on the Prairie,  and doing related art, science and history projects, your child will develop a love for learning. You and your young children will study famous works of art, copy poetry, learn new handwork skills, and best of all, develop deeper relationships as a family, as you explore new activities together.

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We are busy compiling resources for the curriculum so that each chapter from the Little House books will lead to further exploration. If you have a book or activity that you would love to see included, we would love to hear from you. We are so excited about learning new things as a family, and as a community, and we look forward to joining you on the next phase of this journey.

You can keep informed about the special introductory pricing for the curriculum by following us on Instagram, or becoming a subscriber.

What letter are you on? Share, by tagging #thepeacefulpreschool on Instagram, or in our encouraging private Facebook group, available with your curriculum purchase. 

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.

To purchase The Playful Pioneers Curriculum, click here.

For the complete list of books used for The Playful Pioneers, click here