Our 2018-2019 Family Time Plans

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m going to do a “family time” where we combine everyone for a variety of subjects. I wanted to write out what tools we will be using for FT and a basic schedule outline.

First, the subjects and resources:

  • German – Deutsch Mit Felix Und Franzi, found free at the Goethe Institut.  My father-in-law also has a massive German library, including a plethora of easy readers and kid-books, movies, tapes, and more. Both he and my German mother were excited that the kids are going to learn German and thought the lesson plans were quite good.
  • PE – I don’t really feel the need to have an actual PE “curriculum” as the kids are already outside running around, riding bikes, climbing things, going to the park, etc.
  • Artist study – AmblesideOnline has a very phenomenal artist study rotation, with artists and pieces already selected. I wanted to weave in as much Montana history as possible; so we will be studying Montana artists this year. I’ll list them when I post about Montana history resources. 🙂
  • Composer study – same as Artist Study
  • Real Science 4 Kids: Geology – I wanted to add some more science onto AmblesideOnline, specifically experiments and a deeper focus on some topics. Due to my involvement with the local mineral club; the older kids have been on geology field trips and therefore have wanted to learn about geology in-depth. I found that RS4K has the most of what we’re looking for – focus on a specific topic, experiments, and isn’t overwhelmingly expensive. There are five ‘focus on’ subjects of RS4K, I plan on doing one per term until we’ve done all five.
  • Nature Study – honestly, this is my weakest thing to do because sometimes it feels like I have 500 kids versus 5, and I am at a loss of where to go that is interesting but also safe for littles. A friend of mine who does nature study with me suggested we focus on learning about local flora and fauna, which is fine with me.
  • Typing and Programming – We have used typing.com in the past for typing with Peanut and have been successful, so we will use that site again. I may put Moose on it but his frustration tolerance is rather low so we may just focus more on programming. Speaking of Programming, we plan on using Scratch Jr to play with, as well as other resources like the Hour of Code and some great coding games I found at Target to supplement. We don’t want the kids to program for the sake of programming but want them to learn how think like a programmer. If you know how programming works in general, then learning programming languages should be considerably easier.
  • Shakespeare – nothing fancy here – read from Tales from Shakespeare, then watch the play. I’m skipping the “read the actual play” because it’s just too confusing for the kids since I’m the only one who can read the plays. I could have Peanut read with me but I still think it will be too confusing.
  • Montana History – post coming soon!
  • Folk songs – We plan on using AO’s folk songs that are already selected as well as some Montana-centric songs. And a couple of cowboy songs for good measure.
  • Hymns – We will be using Erin McFarland’s Sacred Music Studies (starting with Year 1).
  • Read-aloud – I selected a book from the free-reads list from AO for each year I’m teaching to read-aloud. I selected Pinocchio, Men of Iron, and Anne of Green Gables. We should be able to read one book a term.

The plan for getting all of this accomplished is as follows:

  • German is done 4-5 days a week, including review days
  • Real Science 4 Kids is done five days a week
  • We will loop read through our Montana History books – the spine on Thursday, and biographies and other books on Monday and Tuesday
  • Artist study done on Wednesdays
  • Composer study throughout the week
  • Nature study TBD but probably on Thursday, this worked well for my friend and I; hopefully we can get some other homeschooling families involved as well
  • Shakespeare on Friday
  • Folk songs and hymns each day
  • Read-aloud daily
  • Typing and programming at least 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday)

And there you have it! Subjects that often were neglected in years past or just wishful thinking can now be done without me having to replicate it three times.

Our 2018-2019 Homeschool Plans

We are less than three weeks away from our first day of school! I finished planning the first six weeks of the term so it’s time for me to post what books we will be using this year.

This year, I will have three kids in school: Wok in Year 1, Moose in Year 3, and Peanut in Year 5. Little Miss Sunshine and Nugget will be along for the ride.

Peanut is essentially independent as she should be able to read almost all of her schoolbooks, although I expect she will need me to read a couple like Age of Fable. Moose is getting there, but will most likely have me read his schoolbooks; and Wok will need my help 100% of the time.

I’m doing a “family subjects” time, that combine some subjects and add others that I want to do:

  • German
  • PE
  • Artist study
  • Composer study
  • Real Science 4 Kids: Geology
  • Nature Study
  • Typing and Programming
  • Shakespeare
  • Montana History
  • Folk songs
  • Hymns
  • Read-aloud

As we are studying Montana History this year, all of our artists and composers are Montanans as opposed to using Ambleside Online’s artist and composer selections. Folk songs we are going to learn some Montana themed songs such as the state song; as well as using some of AO’s folk song selections. Our hymn selections will come from the Traditional Catholic Living’s Sacred Music Study selections.

For the kids, we are following Ambleside Online’s curriculum somewhat closely. I did substitute some books and add in others. I’m linking each AO Year we’re using below so you can see the entire year that AO has designed.

AO Year 1 | AO Year 3 | AO Year 5

Here is my list of substitutions and additions. My list is based on the kids’ abilities, our family dynamics, our faith, the books I already had on hand, and if I could find the book for an appropriate price (unless they’re public domain books).

Wok – AO Year 1
Remove Trial and Triumph, replace with Saint stories
Remove Parables from Nature
Add in Catechism – Our Holy Faith Book 1: My Father and Mother on Earth and In Heaven

Moose – AO Year 3
Remove Trial and Triumph
Remove Parables from Nature
Remove Pilgrim’s Progress
Add history supports – The Old World and AmericaA History of England for Catholic ChildrenOur Lady’s DowryChrist the King Lord of HistoryLight to the Nations, Our American Catholic Heritage (note: most of these books I am simply reading sections out of in order to give a rounded view of the Protestant reformation as well as Columbus.)
Add Saint biography – St. Edmund Campion
Add additional reading – Crossbows and Crucifixes
Add Catechism – Our Holy Faith Book 3: God’s Truths Help Us Live

Peanut – AO Year 5
Remove Trial and Triumph
Remove Madam How and Lady Why
Substitute Bold Journey by Charles Bohner for Of Courage Undaunted
Substitute Blood and Guts by Linda Allison for Christian Liberty Nature Reader
Add Catechism – Our Holy Faith Book 4: The Vine and the Branches
Add Saint biographies – one about Fr. DeSmet and one about Fr. Palladino, two priests who were instrumental in both Montana and Catholic history
Add Native American biographies
Add a three-term course on health – The Care and Keeping Of YouThe Care and Keeping of Your EmotionsThe Care and Keeping of Your Mind and Spirit
Add history supports – Our American Catholic Heritage, others as needed

Finally, all three kids will be using a combination of Math Mammoth as well as Simply Charlotte Mason’s living math. Wok will use Handwriting Without Tears for her handwriting refinement (she already can write quite well). Wok and Moose will use MCP’s Plaid Phonics Program – Moose will continue with Book C and Wok will begin with Book A. Wok will be the third child to use BOB books to gain fluency and hopefully she will be into easy readers by the end of the year!

I think that covers all of what we are using! I will post what we’re using for Montana History as well as go deeper with our “family subjects” in later posts.

Ambleside Online End of Year Wrap-Up

WE MADE IT!! 😀 😀 😀

We finished up school today, and everyone is excited and ready for a summer break. We met all of our required school hours, we learned a plethora of new and interesting things; and I have seen a lot of growth in Peanut and Moose over the last school year.

HITS OF THE SCHOOL YEAR:
– semi-regular blogging the school year helped me to stay focused and helped to troubleshoot areas
– staying as close as we could to the Ambleside Online curriculum, and using great blogs and sites like Celeste’s Joyous Lessons and the Mater Amabilis website to make substitutions when needed
– Moose’s narrations blossomed beautifully, and he really started making connections all over the place at the end of the school year.
– Peanut is at a point where she can transition into written narrations next year, I’m really glad I gave her the extra term to finesse her oral narrating skills before moving into written narrations
– the amazingly supportive CM community on Instagram as well as the baby CM community that’s forming locally
– planning out all 36 weeks ahead of time, even if we didn’t stick to the schedule for the last six weeks of school. Just seeing it all laid out was enough to give me the “yes, we can get everything done and not lose our minds” feeling.
Phonetic Zoo is still a wonderful tool for Peanut — we are about halfway done with Level A and her spelling is right where it should be for her age and grade. I look forward to using it with Moose. Some of the best money I’ve spent on curriculum, to be honest.
– Moose’s copywork went from three-letter words to actual phrases, so next year he’ll be moving on to sentences. Handwriting has been so hard for him and I am exceedingly proud that he has done so well with it this year.
– Dropping Latin. We’ll try it again this fall but man did we ever feel good when we both realized that this wasn’t working and just dropped it.

MISSES OF THE SCHOOL YEAR:
– I need to be more organized for things like nature study and nature walks
– Our attention was destroyed after The Longest Winter Ever and I should have taken some time to recapture that vs letting us dig deeper ruts (guess what we’ll be working on this summer?)
– My three year old and toddler definitely will need busyboxes or something this fall, when I have three kids in school. Especially since my toddler moonlights as a tornado.
– Pre-reading. I need to make a system for it and stick with it.
– Notebooking. Also need to make a system and stick with it. I have been keeping notebooks this year so I can help the kids keep theirs. Right now I have my nature notebook, a commonplace book of quotes, and my learning notebook of notes from books and other sources.


That  being said, this year was very successful and I’m so proud of how hard everyone worked, even when books were boring or hard to comprehend they stuck at it. I think everyone is getting used to the school routine, there wasn’t much drama about “but I don’t want to do schooooooooool”, and the free time after lessons were done was a great natural reward for efficient time usage.

We are expected to start up the next school year towards the end of August. During the summer I will be getting ahead on prereading, especially as Peanut will have Montana History as a subject (which coincides nicely with the period of history she’ll be studying). I’m making a page of CMish Montana history, art, and music study resources, so watch for that throughout the summer.

I’ll also be sharing pictures from my notebooks, adventures in geology, what I’ve been reading, and how I’m planning out the next school year – books we’ll use, resources, etc.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the school year or a great start to the summer vacation! 😀

AO Year 4, Term 3, Weeks 5-6 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Weeks 7-8

I decided I would switch over to an “every two weeks” update as we close in on the end of the year. Honestly, things aren’t changing that dramatically anymore and a lot of the books are coming to a good stopping point (to be resumed next year) or wrapping up in general.

I’m really quite pleased that the Burgess Animal Book is moving into some of Moose’s favorite animals – deer, elk, bison and other animals that tend to live around where we are at. I know he desperately wants to just stop for the year, but the Burgess Animal Book has provided enough hook to keep him moving towards the end without hassle or drama.

Peanut is excited for fifth grade and also has pretty much had it with fourth grade. She doesn’t find the books she’s reading overly interesting (I think she’d rather read the Burgess book above), and is just ready to move on to a new time period. That will come with the next school year, so she just needs to hang in there for the rest of this year.

It’s really wonderful seeing all the connections rapidly appearing now. We went on a nature walk to a local lake yesterday because the weather was that nice, and Moose was constantly connecting the animals we saw to the animals in the Burgess Animal Book. We talked about observing the wildlife without disturbing them, and talking with the fishermen that we saw around the lake. It’s just a great way of life, now that we’re (hopefully) done with the perpetual winter.


I am looking forward to summer break, and have been working on the next school year’s schedule and plans.

I’ll be making some tweaks:

  • all three kids will start at the same time as opposed to the staggering approach I did this year. While it was really good for me at the beginning of the year; now that we’re at the end I’d rather everyone finish together. I suppose it’s easier in the long run to front-load the amount of chaos vs dragging something out (for me it feels like we’ve been doing this school year for yearrrrrrrrrs now).
  • adding and dropping some things to and from AmblesideOnline. I want to focus more on science this next year, as well as typing classes for Peanut and coding for all three kids.  Peanut also needs to do our state’s history, so I’m working on finding books, artists, and music for that.
  • habit training or bust during the summer vacation
  • working more with each kids’ strengths and weaknesses and making sure we aren’t neglecting anything in terms of character and development

And there are some things that will stay the same:

  • the six-weeks on/one-week off model works really well for us; it provides enough regular breaks that there isn’t too much burnout, and it’s a good to know that the next break is just around the bend. I’ve sat down with a calendar and massaged the schedule enough so that we have breaks when we need them (like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, New Year’s etc). This means we aren’t exactly following 6 on/1 off but close enough.
  • sticking with AmblesideOnline whenever possible. I don’t know how much modifying I’ll be doing but the brunt of what we’ll be doing will definitely be AO.
  • continuing documenting what we’re doing and general life here and over on Instagram.

AO Year 4, Term 3, Week 3-4 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 6

Holy Week really threw me off on recording how our weeks have progressed. We are nearing the end of our school year, which is exciting for everyone. Moose has six weeks left and Peanut eight; so we’re beginning to do the final push for Moose and start thinking towards his last batch of exams. Peanut still has a break week left and then her final six, so I don’t have to think of her exams quite yet.

Right now we are on schedule to finish all thirty-six weeks of each kid’s Ambleside years and satisfy the state’s hours requirements. It’s a nice feeling to be able to start wrapping things up, soon books will be finished and our workload will gradually lighten up.

Hopefully the snow will leave and we can go outside way more than we have been lately. Everything is either snow-covered or muddy; and so while we take any and all opportunities to go outside and play; they’re hard to come by.

Some things I want to focus on for the kids as we end the year are more of the keeping aspect of things. Nature notebooks, commonplaces, timelines, and ensuring mapwork gets done. Those haven’t happened as much as I would have liked, and I’ll have to figure out how to make sure they get more emphasized in the next year.


This week I will be putting Moose into the Scrum-esque style of homeschooling. I am not quite sure if he’ll enjoy it as much as Peanut, or if he’ll see it as “another boring thing to do”. The goal of making things Scrum-esque is to help everyone get on the same page, see what they have left to do for the week, and make sure that I am receiving all narrations that need to be done (mainly from Peanut, who likes to just move on to the next subject without stopping to give me a narration).

So, we’ll see what the week brings and maybe we can get outside more – or even get a nature walk in!

AO Year 4, Term 3, Week 2 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 5

This past week was a rough week, in that we had a lot of people around here getting sick (including myself). I think we made it to Tuesday on the “regular” schedule and then switched to the “for emergency use only” schedule.

The Emergency Use Only schedule reflects what the emergency is. Since I was sick some of the time, the schedule was focused on 1) things the kids could independently do and 2) taking advantage of pockets of time. We grab readings as the time becomes available, we work through the entire week’s schedule, we stop abruptly, and we just keep chugging.

Some things are left undone and that’s just how life works sometimes. I’m not too concerned by that, as we’ve been progressing very well all year and I’m not going to lose sleep over something that in the long run is rather inconsequential.

This coming week should also be an interesting week. I have a doctor appointment (time to check on how my iron is doing – I have been tapering off thanks to appropriate levels; so maybe at this appointment I’ll be cleared to stop taking the iron supplements), we have a therapy appointment for my autistic kid, a playdate, choir rehearsal, the local Charlotte Mason group meets, and Greg’s parents come home after their time in a warmer climate. Plus it’s the Triduum, and Easter is right around the corner (thank God, because this Lent has been rough). We won’t need to break out the Emergency schedule but we’ll definitely need to make sure we are all staying focused. 🙂

AO Year 4, Term 3, Week 1 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 4

Peanut was back to school this week, after a very good break and exams week. One thing I learned that I needed to focus more on with Peanut was ensuring that she is filling out her timeline and plotting things out on maps. I made sure to print off plenty of blank maps for the geographic areas we’re reading about and constantly remind her to use them.

I’ve also been working on honing my discussion questions for after narrations. These questions aren’t the standard ones you’d get in a brick and mortar school (no questions like “when was Paul Revere’s ride?”) but more open-ended, thinking questions. Some questions I asked Peanut was about why women being educated was considered “unladylike” during Abigail Adams’ time and how did Abigail become so passionate about women’s education? What was John Adams’ reaction to his wife’s concerns? Anything to draw her into a conversation that involves her thinking – really thinking – about what she’s reading and not just dumping information.

In the biography of Albert Einstein that I’m reading, I came across a quote that I want to put on my wall. It sums up practically every reason why I’m homeschooling in the first place. The context is that the news media was trying to give Einstein “the Edison questionnaire” and one reporter asked him what the speed of sound was. He reported that he didn’t keep information like that in his head. He then criticized Edison’s educational views with this quote:

“The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.”

I don’t think that training a mind to think is reserved solely for the college years. In this day and age where we have a plethora of information available to us in our phones and other devices, training minds to think is of a much higher importance than memorizing facts and events. One needs some level of familiarity, of course; but the standard view of “drill and kill” just doesn’t work.


For Moose, I decided to remove the biography of St. Ignatius and move it into the free reads pile. Having the biography of St. Joan of Arc and Robin Hood going – both books are very much “stretching” books for Moose – I felt that having the St. Ignatius biography was just overloading us all. I think this coming week will be much less intense for Moose and will be at a pace that he can handle without feeling like nothing is making sense to him.

We continued to make good progress in math this week, which is wonderful. I’m noticing less of a need for IXL supplementation, so we’ll probably drop that entirely in the next few weeks. It was great that it gave him a much needed confidence boost.

Both kids also were assessed for reading, both kids are comprehending well beyond their grades. Moose is reading at a 4th grade level, Peanut a 6th grade level.


This term seems to be flying by; with a couple weeks before Moose goes on break week again. Hopefully it’ll stop snowing at some point and they can have a proper vacation before we move on to the next school year!

AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 3

This week was quite a fun week! The weather is finally taking a turn towards SPRING and therefore everyone is getting excited.

Peanut was on break/exams week, of which she did quite well. I made some notes on my exam questions list of what to focus on for term 3, so when we get going on Monday I will be well-prepared to make some adjustments.

Moose had a hard week, which was probably due to Peanut being on break week. We ended up scrapping Wednesday and will finish up everything that we missed tomorrow. Sometimes it’s better to take a break and regroup ourselves than force getting something done so we can stay “on schedule”.

We tried an audiobook of Robin Hood but Moose didn’t like it, and wanted me to read it. So we’re just going reallllly slow and taking as much time as we need.

His narrations for other books are on the upswing, especially the books I mentioned last week. He is getting quite good at discussing the virtues and vices of the people we read about. I’m quite happy with that, although he still tries to have me do a Q&A session (as in “what year did the Battle of Agincourt take place?”). When that happens I’ll give him a narration, or try and give him some prompts so he feels less overwhelmed (“Did we read about King Tut? Moses? Henry V?”). He’s the kind of kid where too much open-endedness can really disorient him, so I try to give him some extra scaffolding.

He is coming along really well in copywork, and in math. Science is a favorite, and he especially likes hearing all the calls and screams on Youtube of the Big Cats that we are reading about. I think we’re getting into a new Term 3 rhythm, which means we should do pretty well for the remainder of the term (and the school year!).

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 12 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 2

We reached the end of Peanut’s term 2 last week! Hooray! This week means BREAK WEEK and exams for Peanut.

We fell behind in reading Kidnapped, which means it’s been moved to audiobook status. I think I may need to just put all the literature selections on audiobook status, as I remember having the same thing happen to us when we were reading Robinson Crusoe.  Or I may reduce how many chapters we read each week and carry it on into the summer.

Peanut is definitely getting more and more independent, and while I still read a couple of her books for her; the rest she reads on her own. She also holds her narrations if I’m working with Moose (or kid-wrangling) and gives them to me when I’m actually ready to hear them. I am very much impressed with her and she should have an easy transition to reading all of her books at some point in the future.

I’ve decided not to do written narrations with her until next school year, just because we have a good rhythm going on right now and I’d hate to upset the apple cart. I’ve told her they’re coming down the pipes, so it won’t be a massive shock when it shows up on her schedule.


We’re having some adjustments with Moose and his Term 3 books. Robin Hood, which he so desperately wanted to start has been the hardest book for both him and I to read of the whole school year. He was up to the point of being able to listen to an entire page of reading before narrating; but with Robin Hood we’re stopping at almost every paragraph. I’ve noticed a slight drop in his quality and length of his narrations in other books, which I think is due to some level of nervousness about “getting it right”. He really wants me to just ask him questions, which misses the point of narration. We’ve done things like use dinosaurs to act out the easier books, and sometimes we read Robin Hood and I give a narration to him. He does follow the story and enjoys it but it’s quite a ride.

Two books I’m subbing in are also proving to be challenging – the Vision books of St. Joan of Arc and St. Ignatius of Loyola. The book about St. Ignatius mentioned the Saint breaking his leg and that really upset Moose, as it reminded him of when he broke his leg. LOTS of treading lightly in that chapter and extra time to decompress. He’s capable of narrating quite well on them, but the “Robin Hood effect” as mentioned above is impacting him in these books as well.


I need to focus this term on making sure that we really hit “the riches” on a regular basis. The artist is Michelangelo and the composer is Beethoven; I have prints of the artwork and Spotify playlist of Beethoven; so there’s no reason for missing it (except that I forget to put it in the schedules). The kids are feeling rather blah thanks to the endless snow we’ve had (and of course, it’s snowing right now as I type this), and I’m sure that putting in more of the riches would help their spirits.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 11 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 1

What a wild week! Nugget, my 19 month old; has been transitioning out of the coveted double nap times into seemingly no nap times and has decided to become a force to be reckoned with. Climbing up chairs into cabinets, going up and down the stairs, climbing on the table – things have been very hectic around here lately. We’ve learned to take whatever time we can get – so some days he takes one nap – lots of school happens in that one nap time! When he simply has decided that napping is not happening; we do our best to keep him contained in the room we’re in so that we can keep an eye on his shenanigans.

We also purchased a new oven so there was some Serious Excitement when it was put in. Okay, the Serious Excitement was from me – the oven we replaced we had for almost a decade and just couldn’t keep on going. Good job, oven!


Peanut is coasting into the end of Term 2 and has been highly motivated towards finishing up strong. Dropping out the high frequency words for spelling practice was a great idea, as was giving her control of the Latin schedule. We have been more diligent about keeping timelines, which is helping to cement in some knowledge.

Some highlights from Peanut’s week:

  • Multi-part multiplication is not nearly as intimidating as Peanut thought it was going to be.
  • Olympic bobsledding is her favorite sport.
  • She took part in the live Mary Pope Osborne event that Read-Aloud Revival held (and was completely spellbound)
  • Age of Fable is still really not impressive to her

I’ve tried to scaffold the lessons better also, which has helped her in terms of being interested. It’s very easy to slip into a checklist mentality, especially with a mostly independent kid like Peanut.  As Charlotte Mason writes, the goal isn’t JUST to produce educated people. If that’s the answer to the question, we’re asking the wrong question:

“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?” (Vol. 3, pp. 170-171).


Moose has been waiting for this term since the beginning of the school year, when he saw Robin Hood in his bookstack. We finally broke into it, and Moose has spent the whole week pretending to be Robin Hood. I’ve split up Robin Hood into a five-day reading – we need to stop a lot for narrations and the like. But that’s okay. I found this great map of the locations of Robin Hood that we reference as we come to places in the book. And all the other times we look at maps of Europe, Robin Hood is used as the reference point!

Moose had another big leap up, in that he can now be content with sitting down and working on Math Mammoth without major drama. Using IXL to supplement really helped boost his confidence (although he seems to be over IXL now, haha). We use Simply Charlotte Mason’s math for explaining concepts, Math Mammoth to drill them, and IXL to supplement. It’s working out well until the next big thing happens that would make us change things up.


I’m hoping that my little toddler tornado will give me some time to write up my “what I’m reading” post – it’s been far too long since I’ve been able to do one of those! Thankfully I’ve been able to post bits and pieces of that on Instagram – you can find me here if you’re so inclined!