Two years ago, when we were reading King Lear with another family, I searched high and low for some paper dolls or paper puppets we could use to keep our characters straight as we read the play aloud. I never found quite what I was looking for.
My daughter has always loved drawing and painting. She started working on a set of people. She came to me one morning to announce that she had created a Shakespeare resource for families who might like to “act out” their Shakespeare as they read it. That gave her the idea to rework Shakespeare’s original play to include only the parts that were in the Lamb’s retellings we’d previously read and have puppets for each of those parts. Her adapted play is not to replace reading the actual Shakespeare play, but to allow co-ops or families to put on a shortened version that keeps the main story intact.
Hence Act It Out Shakespeare came to be. My 12 year old’s entrepreneurial idea. Currently, The Tempest is available for purchase. Complete with 11 puppets to cut out and glue to popsicle sticks (if desired), a play, and a lit of characters per scene so you can easily assign roles without going through the entire play.
Next, she is working on A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Much Ado About Nothing. Leave her comment to let her know which plays you will be doing this school year and she will add them to her running list.
Nature Study – Bluebirds
A year ago, a great flock of a dozen bluebirds flew into our yard for the day, the Sunday just before the cold spell returned. We delighted in their flitting from tree to grass and back to tree, blueness flashing by.
I got out the Handbook of Nature Study and started reading a bit about the bluebirds to the kids. Then I read to them from chapter 5 of The Burgess Bird Book.
The next day, instead of starting with math as we usually do, I had the nature journals ready. After Morning Time, I announced boldly, “I am going to paint a bluebird so I can always remember yesterday.” I plunked myself down at the dining room table where we do school and proceeded to sketch my bluebird. I had taken the color image and the coloring image from this page, and had arranged them to make a single coloring page in a Word document. I used one of the bluebirds from there as my guide.
The kids sat with me and started coloring their coloring pages. The criteria was to color them identically to the model. It was interesting how Bear (7) took this to heart and tried out a bunch of coloring pencils to get the hues to match exactly. I showed her how you can layer colors as you color. She liked that.
Then J-jo (5) declared he was done and I asked him if he wanted to draw and paint a bird in his sketchbook. Of course he did not. So we compromised and he cut out the birds from the coloring page and glued them into the sketchbook. I cringed a bit at wasting a perfectly great page of watercolor paper! (We use these beautiful, sturdy books.) Bear meanwhile did decide to paint a bird and wrote quite a long entry about the bluebird. It helped that she saw me write more than usual.
We started our journals exactly two years ago and they are barely filled. My goal is to make sure we do some sort of keeping in them weekly, even if the weather does not cooperate. I have been inspired by these daily nature study plans and am trying to bring nature inside more often as a compromise. It’s not my ideal, but it is better than not doing nature study.
What’s in Our Morning Basket
Morning Time is a time in which we gather together to focus on Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. We’ve been doing a “together time” since before I even knew it had a name. However, reading Your Morning Basket this year and listening to the Your Morning Basket Podcast has helped me be especially purposeful in what I put in our morning basket.
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Our Morning Basket Contents
We have daily items and weekly items. We often do not get to everything. When I was in teacher college, we learned to always prepare more than was needed and I got into that habit and seem to still do this in home educating. This list is my ideal – the “if-all-goes-perfectly-and-the-baby-sleeps -and-the-others-don’t-argue” list. Before the baby came along ten months ago, it was much easier to get through all the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in this list in one morning, fitting in all the weekly things too. Now, everything gets rearranged and sometimes (many times) we can’t get to it all. It’s okay with me. I basically put a timer for one hour and see how far we get. Next day, after prayer and religion, I will pick up where we left off on the list and cycle through.
- Prayer and Bible
- Religion Loop: we cycle through these, choosing one each day.
- Saint story
- Life of Our Lord for Children
- First Communion by Mother Loyola (she wrote our all-time favorite too) Even if you aren’t preparing for First Communion, I highly recommend First Communion. Every time I read a portion of it to the kids, I am inspired to be a better follower of Christ and to renew my effort in looking toward eternity. Mother Loyola just has a gift for being able to write for children without dumbing anything down, so her writing actually really speaks to adults’ hearts, too.
- Poetry Loop: we read one poem (or one page) per day rotating through the following and strive to memorize the ones from resource #3 and #4.
- Ambleside Online Year 3 poems
- Ambleside Online Year 1 poems
- The Harp and Laurel Wreath
- Poetry Memorization from IEW
- Habit Training: Laying Down the Rails
- Scripture Memory: psalms from the Prayer resource we use
- Hymn and Folk Song: I have kind of dropped hymns (gasp) because the kids get to sing hymns in our church choir. We were using this hymn book in last year’s morning time. And for folk songs, we LOVE the Little House Folk Song book, but this American Song Treasury was our favorite before. We also sometimes dip into From Sea to Shining Sea, but I like the song treasury better.
- French and/or Spanish read-aloud– we have a lot of books in these languages but I sometimes also find some at the library. Our favorite French books are the Emilie books. I also use Cherrydale Press French and Spanish books in this slot, but not both on the same day!
- Literature – this one is always changing and is usually from the Year 1 or 3 Ambleside Free Read list. However, currently we are reading Canadian Summer. If you haven’t read the three books about the Mitchells, you really should. They are humorous and lovely; my kids love them.
- Music Appreciation: now that we’ve done almost all the SQUILT volumes, we are just following the Ambleside Online Composer study once a week.
- Picture Study: I print off the Ambleside Online suggestions and laminate them and we narrate one print per week.
- Math: I recently added a fun math book to our mornings a couple of times per week to try to spark some more “wonder.” I’ve also added Mathematicians Are People Too.
- Geography and Art History – I realize that is a lot of geography titles, but they are all different and we enjoy all of them. It might just take us longer to get through them. The following are on a loop:
- Hillyer’s Geography
- Charlotte Mason’s Geography
- Long’s Geography
- Hillyer’s Art History (I have a super old edition that includes Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture).
So there you have it. It seems like a lot, but it is all things we love and look forward to, and we aim for one hour and then move on and if there’s some extra time later in the day, we might continue some more readings, or, more likely, we will just go outside and enjoy being in nature instead.
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