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We’ve spent the past nine months ebbing and flowing between six weeks of home-schooling and one week of rest. This on/off rhythm works for us, and is a practice I’m likely to continue, possibly shifting to a ‘five week on, one week off’ flow to avoid us burning out on that last week.
This happy rhythm was largely made possible due to a heap of planning and prep I did last summer. Having burned out from too many late nights trying to figure out what and how to teach during my first year of homeschooling, I decided to invest in my sanity for our second year by working through Pam Barnhill’s course “Plan Your Year“. It was an utter game changer! I highly recommend it to any home-schooling mums out there looking to ease the planning load.
At the time of writing this, we’ve only five weeks to go before we wrap up the school year and shift gears into a more relaxed summer schedule. In a fit of nostalgia (where has the year gone?!) I thought it might be fun to share what is in our Morning Basket (i.e. the bunch of books I read aloud to the girls from every morning) this term. I always find it hugely helpful to peek into other home schooling mama’s plans as it sparks ideas of my own.
When reading the list below, it might be helpful to note that:
- My girls are currently almost 7, 5, 3.5 and 1.5 years old. I try to pick books that will keep everyone happy, mostly.
- This list doesn’t cover any disciplines like maths and language arts – we work on those in a separate sitting (hop over to this post for quick overview of our schedule).
- In case the list looks crazy long, remember we literally only read for five to ten minutes from each book max.
Bible Studies and Devotionals
- The Bible – we’re working our way through the whole bible as a family, one chapter a day. Currently in Proverbs!
- How the Bible Came to Us: The Story of the Book That Changed the World (Meryl Doney) My budding history buffs love it.
- Everyone a child should know (Clare Heath-Whyte ). Our second read through. The one page biographies are pitched at just the right level for my girls, and can work as great conversation starters.
- Then Sings My Soul (Robert J. Morgan) We’ve loved reading about the history behind old hymns and learning to sing them together.
- Memory Work:
- Scripture: I made a little memory verse box from a discarded Melissa and Doug toy fruit crate to create our own version of this Scripture Memory System. It’s helped us learn a tonne of new verses and to not forget ones we have learned in the past. I’ve used a mish-mash of scriptures from cards my home-ed buddy gave me, ones I wanted us to focus on based on what we were reading or experiencing as a family, or ones we jotted down at the breakfast table after something from our bible reading jumped out at us. I’m looking forward to receiving our new memory verse cards from Living and Powerful soon! They have put together some BEAUTIFUL memory cards, true works of art. I’ll let you know as soon as we have them. In the meantime, do check them out.
- Our 24 Family Ways: A family devotional Guide (Clay and Sally Clarkson). I think the kids are too young for the level of discussion the questions in the study guide are trying to drum up, but they loved the colouring sheets that went with the devotional. We worked through the first 8 ways and then set it aside a few months ago. This time I’ve decided to get the kids to memorise the family ways one week at a time off of their colouring sheets. It’s working, for now.
I started off following Ambleside Online’s free year 1 curriculum, but have had to drop so many titles along the way. My eldest (almost 7 year old) loved all the books, but my 3 and 5 year old were getting bored and antsy, so we needed to mix things up. Here’s the remnant of what I planned all those months ago, with a few new ones I dropped in at the last minute:
- Aesops’ Fables. (Retold by Graeme Kennt and Ilustrated by Tessa Hamilton). I only opted for this version as we found it at my mum’s house. It was my brother’s when he was a boy.
- The Bard of Avon. The Story of William Shakespeare. (Dianne Stanley and Peter Vennema). We’ve read a few of (Usborne versions of) Shakespeare’s plays this year, and I plan to continue to weave the Bard into our booklist next year, hopefully after picking some tips from Ken Ludwig’s How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. In the meantime, the girls are enjoying this picture book snapshot into Shakespeare’s life and work.
- James Herriot’s Treasury for Children (James Heriot). This book is a thing of beauty. Every page a work of art, literally, and the stories about the various animals Heriot treated over his years as a vet have a wonderful way of drawing all four girls in.
- The Hundred Dresses (Eleanor Estes). A great one for starting conversations about kindness and bullying. The simple illustrations make what is essentially a chapter book more enticing for my three year old, and the story line is compelling enough to keep my older girls interested.
- By the Shores of Silver Lake (Laura Ingalls Wilder). The Ingalls feel like family friends. We are currently on the fourth book in the Little House series, having chipped away, a chapter a day, over lunch and dinner with my husband since Coronavirus kept us home. We’ve lamented the family’s heartaches and disappointments and celebrated their victories and treats. I’ve learned a lot from Ma Ingalls on persevering through difficult times.
- The Family Pilgrim’s Progress – From the Original Story By John Bunyan. (Retold by Jean Watson) A book from my husband’s childhood that he reads to our girls most nights at their request. I think they are currently on their fourth or fifth read through!
Poetry and Nursery Rhymes:
We rotate through this pile, reading one from Arnold Lobel most days because my kids love the nonsense, cadence and illustrations, and another poem from the larger compendium, having wrapped up a few months of I dip into Beskow’s sweet little compendium at the start of every new month.
- Around the Year (Esla Beskow)
- The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose. A treasury of more than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes.
- I am the Seed that Grew the Tree. A nature poem for every day of the year. (Selected by Fiona Waters. Illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon)
History, Geography and Nature Studies
I loop in one of these books every day (a tip I picked up from Sarah Mackenzie). So they take longer to read over the course of the year, but looping them means we consistently chip away at them.
- Our Island Story (H.E. Marshall)
- Fifty Famous Stories Retold (James Baldwin)
- Elementary Geography (Charlotte Mason)
- The Burgess Bird Book (Thornton Burgess)
Music and Art appreciation
We’re looking at J.M.W Turner and Robert Schumann this term. I’m keeping it simple by looping the resources below with Spotify playlists of Schumann.
- Katy and the British Artists (James Mayhew)
- British Artists – J.M.W. Turner (Sam Smiles)
- Classics for Kids podcasts: Robert Schumann
There you have it! I’ll pop our summer reading list up once I’ve worked out our plans.
In the meantime, if you are looking for more booklists and resources for children, you might be interested in:
- Resources and reference guides on race, racism and loving well.
- Pam Barnhill’s FREE summer reading program with loads of printables, books, ideas, and helpful tips to encourage kids to read all summer long.
If you are looking for some titles for mum, you might enjoying through my Summer 2020 Reading List.
Last but not least, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial of Amazon Primeto get guaranteed FREE two-day shipping (and possibly one-day or same-day shipping). After your free trial, Amazon Prime is just £7.99/month. You can cancel any time.
Until next time!