Principles for Peaceful Planning

 

Principles and Practices 
for Peaceful Homeschool Planning

1. Know Your Procedures
To peacefully plan, you must know exactly HOW you should plan. This is well accomplished through Procedure Lists, which give you an opportunity to put your planning and preparation on autopilot. Decision fatigue plagues homeschool moms and is so often the root of overwhelm, but it is mostly preventable. Procedure Lists reduce the fatigue associated with calling to mind each and every thing that should be done each week to plan, and prepare for, homeschooling peacefully. Procedure Lists are helpful whether you're brand new to homeschooling, or a veteran and they are useful whether you're a planning pro or you're in need of a planning recalibration. To know your planning procedures is to ease the burden on your brain to remember all that you should do to prepare for the work of homeschooling, which is carried out much more joyfully when it is carried out according to a peaceful plan. 



2. Plan Time to Plan (Make and Keep Appointment)
If you don't plan time to plan, you likely won't. To "hope" to "have time" to plan is to set yourself up for failure, and its to create chaos that is avoidable. We can sometimes trick ourselves into believing that we need to "save time" by not sitting down to plan for the week ahead, but in reality this is actually a guarantee for not only wasted time but also unnecessary stress. It was revolutionary in my homeschool to decide that, for me, planning was non-negotiable and that it simply HAD to happen every single week. I have a standing planning appointment with myself, and I keep it without fail because if I don't, I regret it every single time.
Planning to plan is to start your week in peace so that you can continue in it. 


3. No Personality Exemptions…You Need a Plan
Experience has taught me that, when it comes to homeschool, every mom needs a plan. Some personalities (including mine) lend themselves well to planning, and some tend to feel stifled by a plan. However, personality assessment is a tool, not a crutch, and to know the strengths and weaknesses of our personality does not exempt us from the requirements of the job at hand. For homeschoolers, one of these requirements is some measure and form of plan. This is true because, no matter your personality, your work is with other human beings and involves multiple variables and facets. In order to know what is best to do and when it is best to do it, you must have some measure of structure in place. Whatever your personality is bent towards, homeschooling is the great leveler of the playing field. We ALL need a plan. Some of us will plan in great detail, and some of us are better served by a basic and broad plan, but no matter matter, we each need a plan. 

4. Separate Procedures for Each Time Frame
Set up procedures for yourself for the week, the month, the term, and the year; include every single item involved in planning, preparing, and resetting for your homeschool. Give yourself a framework from which to carry out your work and provide peace to the task at hand by eliminating the chaos of indecision and overwhelm. 

5. Be Realistic, but Not Indulgent
It is good to be realistic with yourself about what you can do in a given amount of time, and in order to be realistic, you must consider the circumstances that are factors to how your time is used. These include the ages and age gaps of your children, the other responsibilities you bear in work and ministry and caring for family, your own health and physical limitations, and more. However, is it also good to not indulge your desire for homeschooling to be "easy" and for your time to be largely your own. That's simply, as Christian moms, not what we have signed up for or what we are called to. The Christian life is a sacrificial one, and for homeschooling moms, this sacrifice is largely made up of our time and our own desires. And that is a good, good thing. Hard does not equal bad, and it's okay for homeshool to challenge and stretch and grow you. It is good to be pushed beyond your own comfort and your own limits and to be forced to be fully dependent upon your Savior. Be wise, but don't indulge your own flesh. Be reasonable and realistic, but don't believe the lie that your time is yours and that if you're giving much of it to your children, and to others, that you're doing something wrong. Your children aren't an idol, and you should still have time to read and pray and enjoy creation and love and serve and explore the world around you. But, you will have to fight for this time, and that's okay. Your children aren't your god, but they ARE your heritage from the Lord. Homeschooling is your occupation, and it's right and good for you to invest wholeheartedly into that occupation, for the glory of God. 
Be realistic when you plan, but also be willing to give of yourself sacrificially for the work God has given your hands to do, knowing that by His grace, you work for His glory alone. 


6. Know Your Triggers and Prevent Failure
Be a student of yourself and your children. As you study your own family, you will learn what you can prevent and what you can simply prepare for with copious amounts of prayer. One example in my own life and homeschool is starting a school day with an untidy school room. Preventing failure in this area looks like faithfulness to procedures for ensuring the cleanliness of our space each evening. Whatever triggers your own anxiety, overwhelm, or stress, know it. Once you know it, determine whether this is something you can prevent, or whether this is something intended to sanctify and grow you. If it is the former, set up systems for prevention. If it is designed for your own crucifixion of flesh and your own sanctification, then prepare for the facing of these triggers by bringing them to the Throne of Grace in prayer each day before encountering them. 

7. Plan to Adapt
Have a Plan B. And, a Plan C. Planning is a wise and prudent habit, but if you don't know how to adapt those plans, then you will inevitably blame the plans themselves for the failure to carry them out. And, sometimes, the plans ARE at fault. Sometimes they weren't reasonable to begin with, or simply weren't right for your family and your homeschool. Most often, however, I have found in my own homeschool and the homeschools of many others, that the plans themselves are good. As each day brings its own unique set of interruptions and challenges, however, plans must be pliable. If you are required to spend valuable moments after your day has been thrown off course attempting to decipher what should be of most importance and what can still be done in the time you have remaining, you will no doubt become overwhelmed. You simply can't prioritize properly under duress. Instead, it is wise to prioritize ahead of time. Have a "Plan B" schedule. Design a schedule ahead of time for days in which you simply can't do it all, in which you've chosen, in peace, the things that are most important to you. Beyond that, design a "Plan C" schedule as well, for the days in which you are only capable of very little, and you need to know precisely what that little should be. 







8. Don’t be a Slave, Don’t be a Rebel
Learn to be faithful to your plans without being a slave to them. Through practice, prayer, and intention, I have learned to recognize when I need to adapt, or pivot, and when I simply need to model perseverance and fortitude. Bad attitudes, bad moods, exhaustion, and a desire to do something else instead do not necessarily constitute a proper need for ditching what we have committed to doing for the day. Sometimes, however, they do indicate that a pivot is in order. Sometimes a beautiful day is cause for putting the plans aside and heading outdoors, and sometimes it is instead an occasion for demonstrating that we don't always get to do what is more appealing than what we've set out to do. Only wisdom, and years of practice and intention, can tell you the difference. Make a conscious effort to tune into whether you're more prone to becoming a slave to your plans, demanding that all be done according to what you've determined is best or whether you're more likely to become a rebel to your plans, ditching them upon any whim to do something else instead. Our children need to see both fortitude and flexibility within us, and each school day is an occasion for modeling these things in equal measure. Be intentional about the process of determining your own motivations, whims, desires, impulses, habits (both good and bad) and even your own idols. Don't treat your plans as if they are immovable goal posts, but also don't treat them as if they are worthless. Don't refuse to budge from them. but do refuse to cast them aside thoughtlessly. Good work is done when you declare a park day and put aside your carefully laid plans for another day, and good work is also done when you persevere despite objections and bad moods. Do both in wisdom, rejecting the low hanging fruit of either slavery or a rebellious nature. 

9. Drag and Drop OR Delete
At the end of a homeschool day, and a homeschool week, there are only two options for what remains undone. We tend to overcomplicate the process of dealing with what we simply didn't get to. No matter the reason for something remaining undone, deciding what to do with it is really very simple. You can either move it to the next day (or next week for weekly lessons), which is to "Drag" it forward. Or, you can simply forget it about it and move on to the next day's (or week's) plans, which is to "Delete" it. There is no need for anxiety, guilt, stress, or overthinking. What is at hand is simply a choice of whether the lesson is necessary for a sequence of lessons, in which case you simply need to move it forward and them move each subsequent lesson in the series forward as well, or whether the lesson can simply be released and forgotten about. When you develop a "Drag and Drop or Delete" mindset, you will save yourself time and mental energy at the end of each homeschool day and week, and you will be able to put your adjustment of plans on autopilot. Then, at the end of your designated planning window (for example, I plan for 6 weeks at a time, giving me two planning windows per term), you can think deeper and evaluate the missed material harder. You can decide then if something needs to change with this particular lesson (is it often remaining undone) or if you need to forgo some future plans to adapt to the reality of your current unfinished ones. But, in the middle of your planning window, you need to simply be able to press on and to do so in peace. Dragging, dropping, and deleting is a protection of that peace until a future time when further thought is warranted. 

10. Front Load and Book End
Invest on the front-end in your homeschool. This means planning ahead, preparing ahead, organizing, having a specific system and procedure for everything, and not waiting to feel "motivated" in order to complete the tasks associated with your work of home education. Then, put a book-end on each week and each term by evaluating and recalibrating. Front-end investment ensures that you don't have to constantly evaluate on the spot, but rather can move forward on the tracks you've laid. Book Ends ensure that you won't remain forever on tracks that need to be realigned. Both together ensure that you're moving forward in wisdom and in peace, on autopilot in the midst of your days, but not mindlessly moving through weeks without recalibration and adjustments. 

11. Use a Timer (No Matter What)
Every homeschool mom that I have ever met both personally and professionally (myself included!) underestimates how much time is needed and overestimates how much she can accomplish in any given amount of time. You are not immune to the pitfalls of this, despite your experience, and it is a simple, yet profoundly beneficial exercise to utilize timers in your homeschool day. If you are to spread a wide feast, and to not over-indulge on any one course in the feast at the expense of all others, then you will need to time your lessons, and move on when the timer indicates that you should. This enables and informs your planning as well, as you are given a tangible reminder of just what can fit into the 20 minutes that you have available for a given lesson, as opposed to what you WISH could fit into the time allotted. Experience will enable your instincts to be honed here, but all of us, in my opinion, benefit from occasional reminders of what can fit into a given amount of time. Particularly, these reminders are helpful at the beginning of each year and term, and when changes are made to your schedule. 

12. Margin Isn’t Optional
You will, without a doubt, need margin in your homeschool day and in your homeschool week. Interruptions, even intentionally protected against, will occur, and you will need the space for life to happen right in the midst of your work of home education. Don't delude yourself into thinking that you can accomplish 4 hours of learning within 4 hours of time, and plan for margin. Not planning for margin that will inevitably be needed is a thief of peace. 

13. Grace and Growth 
Apply grace to your homeschool schedule, and to your planning and adapting of plans. But, also require yourself to grow. As you learn, and change, over your years of homeschooling, planning should be something that you get more proficient in, because planning is a necessary skill for the job that God has given you. You needn't measure yourself against others, condemn yourself, or beat yourself up about your weaknesses, your failings, and your setbacks. However, you can continually invest in this skillset without doing any of those things; and you should. Keep moving forward. Keep reading about planning, learning from others, and requiring growth from yourself. Grace is not the same thing as excuses, conceding to your present reality, or defeat. Grace propels you towards growth, free of condemnation. Apply the sufficient grace of Christ towards your homeschool, and continue to grow in your ability to peacefully plan, intentionally prepare, and faithfully carry out this work. 



For Peaceful Planning, check out the Delightfully Feasting Planning Binder and Calendar Printables. 

Have Faith, and Be Faithful




If you're anything like me, Sunday afternoon can bring an onslaught of anxiety and realization of all that remains undone. As I look forward at each week, I am always still carrying much from the week that is coming to a close; much undone, much unresolved, much unknown.

 Homeschooling provides very little opportunity for the satisfaction of checking tasks off of a list, without others immediately filling their place. The work is never done, and nothing is, by definition, "accomplished".  Particularly with a living education, so much is immeasurable and not tangible. Homeschooling is a long game, and it is an act of faith. Education, like faith, is evidence of things not seen.

As we set out on another week of seeking to train our children in the admonition of the Lord, and invite them to a feast of the true, good and beautiful, we must do so while clinging to the goodness of God. Might I encourage you, sweet mommas, by reminding you that your children's education is not dependent upon your abilities and your knowledge and your energy. You children's education is dependent upon the Creator that knitted them together, and that loves them infinitely more than you do.

The most important thing that you can do this week for your homeschool is to be faithful with what God has provided while trusting Him to make good of your imperfection. Your children don't need your carefully curated and accomplished lists nearly as much as they need you to show up to the table ready to feast with them upon the goodness spread before you. When I feel myself on the verge of spinning out of control each Sunday, I return directly to two things that I have invested the time to tether myself off to.

Those two things are: 
1. Investment- 
This involves sitting down to make a plan for the week ahead, letting go of my death grip on perfectionism, but still choosing to invest in my children, my home, and my homeschool with a plan. This requires both the humility to acknowledge my own finite limits AND the choice to be a good steward of the work God has given me to do. As I trust His infinite and sovereign control over what is to come, I also obey His call upon my life by organizing and stewarding my hours and my energy to the best of my ability. 

2. Schole- 
I know, without one doubt, that I can't show up to brand new week depleted and malnourished. I refuse to show up empty. So, on Sundays, no matter how much there is that needs to be done, I read and I keep and I restfully learn. A few years ago, the reality that I have absolutely no right to show up to facilitate my children's education devoid of any ideas hit me square in the face, and drove me to my knees. Since then, I have (imperfectly) made it a non negotiable habit to fill my own soul and mind on Sundays so that I show up to the week with an overflow. 

Faithfulness AND faith, my friends, is what I have come to understand that homeschooling requires. I must be faithful, and I must trust the Lord to make something far greater than the sum of my fragmented parts. We look through a glass dimly, but God is working together all of our homeschool efforts for the good of our children and for His glory displayed beautifully in the hearts and lives of our children.

Monday threatens to steal the peace of each and every Sunday, but we don't have to let it. We can't control the future, not of our week and not of our children's lives.
But, we CAN be faithful to the work God has given our hands to do. 


Right here, in the trenches of homeschooling, when it seems that days both drag on and fly by simultaneously, God is at work.
In the midst of our imperfect faithfulness to His calling,
God is always perfectly, and beautifully, faithful.

Your children don't need your perfection, but God will make use of your faithfulness.

You love your children, mommas, but God loves them more,
and He has proven Himself worthy of our trust. 

As you stand at the end of one week and the beginning of another,
whatever lingers from the past days and threatens in the coming ones,
be faithful and have faith, friends. 

Invest in the week to come, and rest in God's sovereignty over all that you plan and hope for. 
This is a long game, but His grace is sufficient for all of it.

There is no instant gratification, but there are mercies ever new.

You can't follow the right formula and guarantee the ideal results, but you can believe that God has loved both you and your children with an everlasting love. 

You can't be everything, but you can be faithful. 

You can't know what's coming, but you know the God of the cosmos. 

Have faith....and be found being faithful.

May All Your Days Be Spent....Delightfully Feasting
Love, Crystin


 

Work FOR Your Neighbor, WITH Your Neighbor


The Gifts of Homeschooling: 
Love for Neighbor 


A gift afforded to me by homeschooling that I am profoundly grateful for today is the gift of the ability to work both FOR and WITH my children, serving them as my closest neighbor and also spurring them on in the good work of serving their neighbors in love and with joy. Home education affords me this gift in that it provides me with time and flexibility for the worlds of mothering and learning to authentically and intermittently collide. Monday is cleaning day, and on this day I give my children real, valuable work to do. I too, on this day, do all of the least glamorous of my tasks. As we labor together, my children see in me a desire to serve them and to love them tangibly. To be honest they also see in me the tendency of my flesh to grumble and complain, and they often are also witness to my repentance of my battle with impatience and my tendency to make productivity an idol. Because they witness this tangible service week after week, they are painted a picture of what it looks like to be made more and more into the image of Christ, as I grumble less year after year and joy grows in me as I glorify God in the most mundane of ways. In tandem to this profoundly imperfect, but nonetheless valuable, picture of service that I paint for them, they are also given the opportunity to learn to serve themselves. Our work is done for each other, and also WITH each other. 

As I scrubbed my shower, from the extremely humble position of my hands and knees, and one son entered the room to empty the trash can, he brought up something he had been pondering from our Yuleschool lessons. As he left my presence, I sat back on my heels and praised God. I praised Him for this work, in which I image His ability to create clean things where once everything was dirty. I praised Him for my home and my neighbors that reside here with me. I praised Him for the ways in which He does His work through community and through the very people whom dirty up the spaces I am now making clean yet again. I praised Him for my limitations, which press me into full dependency upon Him. And, I praised Him for the intersection between our home education and the rest of our lives together. 

Minutes later, my other son requested my help sweeping the porch, and I was given the opportunity to feel the tension between the people in my home and the work that I do for those people, and to choose to prefer my littlest, closest neighbor in honor as I spoke with grace and put aside my own tasks to help him with his. As he returned to his list to carry on with his work, I found myself again praising God. I praised Him for the ways in which motherhood and home education are intertwined. I praised Him for the great gift it is to be the one to guide human souls and hands in things as large as their theology, things as practical as their knowledge of mathematical processes, and things as small as their ability to efficiently use a broom. I praised Him for work that isn't forever, but that matters for eternity. I praised Him for his graceful glimpses of what is really happening between loads of laundry in both the temporary dwelling of this home and also the eternally permanent hearts of humans who are, indeed, my neighbors and my siblings in Christ. 

My work matters, and so does yours, Momma. It doesn't matter because it is your identity, your value, or your god. It doesn't matter because it gives you a sense of accomplishment or the ability to shine on the stage of social media. 

It matters because you are loving your neighbor. You are loving your neighbor when you explain the difference between an adjective and an adverb, and you are loving your neighbor when you fold what seems like the 37th load of laundry today. You are loving your neighbor when you patiently listen to the painstaking process of phonetically processing every word on a page, and you are loving your neighbor when you dust and sweep and mop and scrub and freshen and tidy. 

By loving your neighbor both through your science lessons and also your lessons in what laundry can be washed safely together, you are loving God. By serving your children, and also teaching them to serve, you are serving God. This, more than anything else, ensures that your work matters. 

This mattering, is a gift. This love and the ability to show it, is a gift. This work, and its array of manifestations and challenges and joys and sanctification and trials and triumphs, is a gift. 

These neighbors of yours eat the meals that you prepare, wear the clothes that you launder, do projects on surfaces and in spaces that you tidy, use dishes that you wash, and walk on floors that you scrub clean, and this is a gift to both them and to you. The neighbors you serve, and the ways in which you serve alongside them, are God's good and perfect gift to you. 

Praise Him, and serve Him today by serving these neighbors with a heart of gratitude for the gift of home education and its ability to sometimes look like an art tutorial and to other times look like a bucket of cleaning supplies.

What You Do Most Matters Most



What You Do Most, Matters Most 


After a bad day, make a good evening. 

After the harsh words, apologize. 

After the tears, make things right. 

After a missed lesson, do the next one.

After you get off track, get back on it. 

Don’t let your inability to be perfect keep you from faithfulness. 

Don’t let a less than ideal moment keep you from doing the next right thing. 

Faithfulness, in motherhood and in homeschooling, isn’t made up of perfectly checked boxes and Pinterest wins. 

Faithfulness is not made up of grand gestures and rare moments of glory. 

Faithfulness isn’t what you do *some*times, what you used to do, what you did “that one time” or what you have pictures of you pulling off for an epic moment in the past.

Faithfulness is more gritty, and far less glamorous than all of that. 

Faithfulness is what you do *most* of the time. 

Faithfulness is what remains largely unseen and what you’re seldom lauded for. 

Faithfulness is quiet, steady, and intentional. 

Faithfulness isn’t perfection, and it isn’t lived in the past of your most epic mothering moments or in the future of your soon to be made resolutions or “when things are calmer” or when you reach the next milestone. 

Faithfulness changes with the seasons, but it is for every season. 

Faithfulness is today. 

Faithfulness is made of many moments over many years in which you do what is best and what is right and in which you keep pressing on even when you fall short of your ideal. 

What you do most will matter the most in the sum of it all. You won’t always “get it right”, but every moment that you’re faithful is a moment that matters. 

Don’t grow weary in well doing, Mommas. 

Your imperfect faithfulness truly does matter. 



2020 Favorites

 

Terms 1 and 2 Favorites

  January-August 2020

As we near the end of Term 2, we have chosen our favorite books, curriculum, supplies and games. Some are their favorites, some are mine, but we all loved each of them. Some are serious, some are silly. Some are new, some are re-reads. Some we will use time and time again. Some we have been using for what seems like a lifetime. From poetry to picture books, and everything in between, these are the books that we have loved the most for this school year thus far, and all of the games and supplies that we are SO glad that we purchased. Every subject and lesson isn't represented here, but the wide feast of our days certainly is. These are the books that come to mind immediately when we are asked the question "What have you LOVED this school year?"

 

BOOKS

First Up, Books! 
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes
We read Tiny Creatures as part of our Special Studies. For each Habitat, we talk about the microscopic creatures that live in that particular Habitat, and I wanted to find a book that explained what Microbes are. Tiny Creatures was a fun and thorough explanation with illustrations that both kept my children's attention and also aided the explanation of what microbes are. 

Cool Tessellations
Cool Tessellations contains short explanations about tessellations along with simple activities that can be done to practice what is learned. I am always searching for creative Math resources that promote mathematical reasoning, and this book was perfect for that! I used it for several math lessons for my 5th grader, reading one short explanation and assigning the corresponding activity. 

Heroes, Horses, and Harvest Moons
This is a repeat favorite. We read this poetry collection each autumn, and we never tire of it. It contains a wide variety of nursery rhymes and poetry that are perfect for fall, but not necessarily specific to solely fall. There are short bits of information about various poets and some of the poems. 

DragonologyKnightologyOceanology
We LOVE the Ology books, and this year we are using Dragonology and Knightology in our lessons. Our Myth lessons this year are all about Dragons, and we have several books that we have enjoyed, but Dragonology is our favorite. One of our Biography lessons each week for the entire year is about Knights (we are in the Middle Ages for history) and again, Knightology is the favorite of the books we've read. We just read one two-page spread at a time. The boys picked up Oceanology at the library, so we are reading that in our Evening Basket. These books are all worth every penny!!

What in the Wild
What in the Wild is a book of Nature Riddles. Each two-page spread contains a close up photograph of something in nature, a riddle in the form of a poem, and a fold-out page revealing the answer for the riddle and giving a detailed explanation of that element of nature. It is fun, informative, and has a good variety of nature information that we haven't encountered in many other nature reads. 

50 Wacky Things Animals Do
We always have an animal book with short entries in our Evening Basket. Our current book is 50 Wacky Things Animals Do, and we LOVE it. It's so much fun, and contains unique animal information, which my children can't get enough of. 

All Aboard the Voyage of Discovery
This is also in our Evening Basket, so we also read one spread at a time, and my boys BEG me to read it more often. The book takes a journey through time chronologically looking at different elements of history in each time period, particularly through the lens of inventions and various tools. It's a lovely read, and we all enjoy it immensely. 



 

CURRICULUM
Next up, a few curriculum favorites! 

This is what we use for my 5th grader's weekly Coding lessons, and he absolutely loves it. I am making him go slowly, but he would do it for hours if I would allow him to. It is fun and witty, but is also easy to use and he's learning from it. He is able to progress without getting frustrated because there are tests, troubleshooting, prompts to save your work, and room for failure. The book and an internet connection is all that is needed, and it gives detailed instructions for everything. 

Draw Write Now  and Draw and Write Through History
Both of these series have worked perfectly for Drawing Lessons. Each boy works on his own with help from me as needed, so they can work on their lessons simultaneously. The books in both series contain Copywork along with the drawing lessons, but we mostly just use the drawing lessons. Both have thorough, easy to follow explanations and both allow the natural acquisition of actual useful drawing skills, rather than just being a prompt that takes up momentary space in our day. My 1st Grader is using the Farm book from the Draw Write Now series this year, and will be using the USA book from the series in 2nd grade. My 5th Grader is is using the Vikings and Middle Ages book from the Draw and Write Through History series this year, and will be using the Pilgrims, Pirates, and Patriots book from the series next year. 

Gentle Grammar
I use a variety of gentle grammar resources for my 5th grader, taking a slow and thorough approach to understanding the parts of speech and how they function together, as CM prescribed. Gentle Grammar is a free program from Mom Delights that is an updated version of C.C. Long's grammar books. I love several grammar resources, and I am still using grammar resources that I have shown and featured before. But, I have really loved adding in weekly lessons from Gentle Grammar. 

Draw the USA
Last year, we used Draw Asia, and this year we are using Draw the USA, and next year we will be using Draw Africa. I LOVE this series of mapping books. We are taking all year to draw the US, step-by-step, and these books make drawing maps accessible for all ages and all abilities. We use this book weekly for our Mapping lesson, and I enjoy pulling it out every single week. 

A Castle With Many Rooms
A Castle With Many Rooms is the most engaging and living history spine for the Middle Ages that I have ever read. We use it for my 5th Grader's history lesson, but I wish that I would have chosen it for our Family History Spine for our study of the Middle Ages this year. It is SUCH a lovely book, and I am learning so much as I read it aloud. The chapters are short enough to leave room for narration, discussion, and pondering but they are also packed full of ideas and descriptions that allow me to understand the Middle Ages in a way that I never have before. 

I have featured Cheryl Harness' books before, and I can never get enough of them. This one is no exception. Her use of language and understanding of the heart of people draw us into the story, and ALL of us can't take our ears or our eyes off of these readings. I have adored every book I have read of hers, and we really enjoyed her portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt. 

Delighting in Habitats: Desert and Delighting in Scouting Volume 2
I am not sure if it's "proper" to put your own curriculum in a Favorites post, but I am doing it anyway. ;) I am doing it because both I and my boys absolutely LOVE these units. I am also doing it because I can say without hesitation that I would purchase these materials from someone else. Both Special Studies and Scouting have become the absolute HIGHLIGHTS of our homeschool week. We have had both Special Studies and Scouting in our homeschool schedule for years, and we have enjoyed many resources and books...but these units are our favorite resource for both of these subjects that we have ever used. Both boys love every single element of the curriculum, are diligently and thoroughly filling our their Student Journals, are engaged in every word of every reading, are making what they have learned a part of their play and their every day conversations, and can't wait for the next lesson every time we finish one. I can't possibly NOT feature these units as favorites, because they truly are. 



GAMES and HOBBIES

Games are important to our homeschool. We play a Logic Game and a Math Game weekly as an official part of our lessons, but we also enjoy science games and language games regularly. These are our favorites for this year so far! 

Mental Blox
This is the most requested Logic Game when I ask the boys for input while planning our week. It contains two sets of shape blocks and a large amount of 3-D Puzzle challenge cards. There are a few ways to play, and the game is versatile and gives you mileage for your money! 

Logic Links
Logic Links is another simple, effective logic game that we love. It can be used by all ages, with varying degrees of difficulty included on the challenge cards. This game is perfect choice during busy weeks, because it doesn't take long, but packs a punch in effectiveness. 

National Parks Opoly Jr.
We LOVE this game. I purchased it for our next round of studying the National Parks next year, but of course, we couldn't wait until next year to play it. I bought the Jr. Version because while my 6 year old can (and does) play monopoly, I wanted the play of this game to be focused on the Parks themselves and on the natural history element of gameplay, rather than on building his math skills. I am so glad that I did. This version enables games to go much faster, for everyone of all ages to enjoy the game equally, and for us to have time to read about the parks as we collect them. This will be played for years to come, even as my children get older. 

Chickapig
Chickapig is our most recent Logic Games purchase, and since we played it during lessons, the boys have ceased to put it away. They always have a game going between them, and they have even figured out how to enjoy it alone, strategizing and planning moves with the pieces. 
*Note, part of gameplay is to avoid the cow poop while moving your chickapig toward your gate. If that bothers you, don't purchase the game. ;) 

Circuit Cubes
Both boys have gravitated back to their Circuit Cubes this year, and have spent hours experimenting with them, both together and independently. They have engaged with these so often that I have added more sets to my list for Christmas this year. 





USBORNE 

Next...several Usborne favorites! 

For a long time, I avoided Usborne. I knew that they publish a lot of twaddle, and while I enjoyed their Reference books, I always purchased them used at a lower price. I have recently discovered several items that we LOVE and that have been a huge benefit to our homeschool. I purchased a few things to support a friend, and was pleasantly shocked at how very useful several items have been for us...and enjoyable! I won't link each item individually, but here is a list of a few of the items that we have absolutely loved: 
1. Architect Academy 
I bought this for my 5th Grader, and in doing so I discovered a treasure! We love this book so much that I have already purchased 3 more books from the series (Vet Academy, Engineer Academy, and Chef Academy) for next year. We are utilizing these in my 5th grader's Career Craft lessons, and the books are thoroughly engaging while also being practical. The activities are not "busy work", but have actually benefited him with understanding and practical skill. 
2. Architecture Scribble Book 
My 5th Grader has this in his Independent Morning Basket and he chooses it every single day. It supplements his lessons in Architecture Academy, but it is thorough and useful enough that it could be used for lessons as well. 
3. Number Puzzles and Games and Logic Puzzles 
Both of these are in my 5th Grader's Independent Morning Basket as well, and they both contain puzzles that are both fun and also promote reasoning. Neither contain mindless busy work, and both have challenged him in a fun way! 
4. Pencil and Paper Games 
We use this sometimes for our weekly Logic Game, and we have enjoyed every game we have played so far. Each game contains several sheets so that you can play many times. Each game is for 2 players, and only requires a pencil to play. All of the games that we have played so far have been accessible and enjoyable for both boys. 
5. Bear Grylls Animal Activity Books 
These are in both boys' Independent Morning Baskets and they both adore them. They work for both ages, because although some of the actual activities/puzzles are a bit challenging for my 6 year old and a bit too easy for my 10 year old, the variety provides plenty for them to enjoy, and the information contained (especially in the "Bear's Tips" notes) are what both boys really enjoy. At such an affordable price, I have purchased every book in the series, and both boys say they want to complete the books that the other has, so I will be purchasing second copies of every book. 
6. Young Puzzle Series 
The price of these Puzzle Books is unbeatable, and they are perfect for my 6 year old. They are challenging, but accessible, and they are lovely while also being FUN!. 

If you'd like to purchase any of these resources, here is the shopping link for my personal Usborne representative (and my dear friend). 






SUPPLIES AND OTHER

Lastly, a few supplies and assorted items. 

I needed a few storage carts for different areas in our homeschool spaces, and the two pictured above were my favorite purchases, and have proved useful in exactly the ways I intended and hoped for. 

3-Tier Rolling Cart  
I purchased this cart for Math Manipulatives and other various items that didn't really have a proper storage space, and it is functioning perfectly for that. I chose it because the top tier is deep enough to store items but not so deep that it couldn't also function as a shelf for a bit of decor/ letter board. It stores a supply caddy, a seasonal decor piece, and my letter board perfectly. The quality is sufficient for the price, and the peg board/hooks/baskets on the side is an extremely useful feature! 

15- Drawer Cart
I purchased this cart for all of our Treasure Time books and resources. It is serving its purpose perfectly. The quality is about the same as every other rolling cart of similar design, and it won't last forever, but I will certainly get my money's worth of use. I chose it because of the two sizes of drawers, and because the shelf on top would hold my binders. This holds everything used for Treasure Time as I intended for it to, and it has plenty of space, with a couple of drawers to spare. 

Paper Mate Comfortmate Ultra Pencils
My 5th grader has recently invested in more quality mechanical pencils than the basic ones that I provided. He has considered all options carefully, and even researched so that he could invest the money required and get a quality pencil in return. He is loving these Comfortmate pencils so far, and says that he thinks it was money well spent. I used it briefly and I have to agree. I am including it because it is a favorite of his, and also because I am planning to invest in some for myself! 

Bic Intensity Dry Erase Markers
My personal favorite supply item this year has been the Bic Intensity dry erase markers. I am constantly trying and buying different dry erase markers, and I am not attached to any of them. I like some, love some, hate some, but always rotate through many kinds. But, I will be keeping the Bic Intensity markers in stock constantly. They are perfect for writing on my dry erase calendar, and for writing the date and week number in the corner of my board. They are also great for drawn narrations, because they are finer than a regular marker, but not as fine as a wet erase or a fine-point marker. I plan to purchase each boy a pack on my next trip to the store to keep for doing narrations. 



There you have it....our favorite books and resources of this year so far. Spreading a wide feast is such a joy, and hearing what everyone loves the most reminds me that children TRULY are born persons, that ideas TRULY are living sustenance, and that the feast TRULY is worth my effort to spread before them. 

I would love to hear what you are loving most right now, or what you have loved most in your most recent term. What are you favorites, and why?

May all your days be spent....Delightfully Feasting 

Crystin <3

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