Review Thinking Tree Spelling Time C Journal

So the kids are playing freely with their dramatic imaginations when all of a sudden Pumpkin is pretending one of there characters is from Belgium. To which we all have a fun fact sharing time and it ends with him pretending to be the little boy peeing fountain that Belgium’s like to dress up in costume. Oh, if only I had gotten that photo!

And then because we had recently just enjoyed learning as a family about the Netherlands with Stories From Around The World, we were able to talk about the Netherlands being north of Belgium and that one of the languages they speak is the same. “They don’t speak Belgium, they speak German and French and Dutch just like Jasper!”

The study of Belgium wasn’t a country I wrote up in our lesson plan, but it is a place included in the Spelling Time C Journal Pumpkin is working on. And if I had any thought that maybe we should be doing something else, the last few minutes of their play confirmed that this journal is the perfect choice for us right now.

I shared more here about how Pumpkin is using this journal as part of his Minimalist Learning Plan for this year. But because we are so loving the journal I thought it deserved it’s own post.

This post does contain affiliate links, but as always, only to things we love.

From A-Z there are 26 animals for nature study, hello science! There are 26 musical instruments, music history and appreciation right there…perhaps some play if I’m feeling brave. And 26 places! Countries, cities or states in such variety with only your child’s interest to limit what you are learning about them. And then there is advanced spelling words, vocabulary, creative writing, coloring and drawing too. This Journal is a gold mind!

This journal really is the perfect addition for us to our family symposium and math fun-schooling and language arts. It provides just the right amount of research of a variety of subjects to provide a feast of knowledge. The lessons are as short or as long as you and your child wish to make them. And if you have younger siblings there are corresponding journals A & B that go along well with it if you wan to include them. Personally, we are enjoying working this journal into our one on one time each week.

Now, you may note that this journal that we are using is for ages 10 and up. Well, Pumpkin is not 10 yet but I’m not asking him to do this journal all on his own. We do work on it together, sometimes he writes his facts other times I write them for him while he dictates to me. He watches videos, reads books or uses read to me books from Epic for his research. If we are unable to find anything from those sources we have, mama will take to google and read content to him.  We are both enjoying this timing together and it’s been a great way to gently teach him how to research on his own.

I had originally thought we would do one letter a week, but because we Slow Loop and Roadschool it’s taking longer then that. But since we are not really using it for spelling that works well for us. If you are also looking for something simply to expand your child’s interest base and the core journals feel a bit overwhelming to you and them I suggest giving this one a try. It might be just what your child needs to inspire their own delight directed learning and prepare them for a core journal like this Minecraft one on our shelf.



Symposium: Hands On

If all we ever did was just read books for symposium, I would be perfectly content. Well, Cupcake would be perfectly content more days just to suck her thumb, snuggle and listen. But generally my sweet Pastries need something to do with their hands, so I thought I’d share what we do.

Mama has a few rules for listing during symposium.

  1. No talking.
  2. No playing.

Here is the catch, I actually do let them play, I simply keep their play limited and not with each other or then they are breaking rule # 1. They can build with Lego, as long as they keep the digging for pieces quietly, or with our little wooden blocks. They can color or draw. The can work on small puzzles or maze books. If we happen to be reading at the table they can work with molding clay or play dough. (I like to keep messy stuff off the carpet.)

As much as I would like to set up a basket of figurines that go along with our story, I know better. My kids would be lost in their own story telling instead of listing to the one being read. It’s much better to save figurines and puppets for after symposium during inspired free play.

I also like to work on a weekly drawing or coloring page that goes along with the reading we are doing as well. For example, while reading Bear Brownie I gave them to task to each draw a picture of a bear and provided books with bear images to inspire them.

This is also a great time to work on some handicrafts that they have already received instruction in or single player logic games. These are great for Listing Time too and during that time give mama a chance to work on them too.

Handicraft Ideas

Logic Games Ideas



Morning Musings Bondage of Fear part 3

Part 1

The Fear of men brings a share but whoever truest in the Lord shall he save.

Proverbs 29:25

Fear is nothing but consistent in it’s attempts to reach the heart and my story isn’t one I’m sharing to say “I’m over fear.” Fear still attempts to knock me over almost daily, looking for kinks that it can slip through, however after living with it’s bondage for years I’ve learned how to best combat it. But as I reflect back on the years after my dad died…oh it was horrible!

My dad was dead and my mother was in the hospital, I slept there that night next to her bedside and every night until she was released. I didn’t know at that time that this hospital and it’s 8th floor would quickly become like a 2nd home to me.

Between the ages of thirteen and twenty-six the doctors told me at least once a year “we don’t think she is going to make it”. Can you imagine what its like for a young teenager, whose other parent just died to hear that? I’m not even sure who really took care of me in those years, we had roommates to help with bills…I guess they counted as guardians. I’m sure no one in my family knew how alone I was, assuming that someone else in the family was caring for me. And don’t get me wrong, family did step in from time to time with love and care…but this in and out of the hospital life was ALL THE TIME, and even family has their own family and issues of life to care for. Besides, I think my Mum and I did a pretty good job of acting like everything was okay.

It wasn’t. I wasn’t.

I spent those years, imagining what I would do to care for myself once my mom died. I have a great imagination and fear fed it. I continued to isolate myself from true relationships with others…because others would always leave me. I made horrible choices, I was selfish (why wouldn’t I be, I didn’t expect anyone else to be around to really care for me.) I loved God, I trusted Him but I didn’t know how to love and trust others. I really wanted to. But I was just so afraid.

As I grew, I matured in mind, in body and in Spirit. I got to know God better and while fear and I still hung out daily, I was able to become more of who God made me to be. I also finally met my future husband and entered a new season of life. One that had someone who I knew loved me and had no plans of leaving me. Entertaining fear took a back seat in that season, so filled with love and preparing for our wedding and being a new bride.

We were married in October, I was twenty-six years old. My mom was checked into the hospital again that following February, this was nothing new to me, this was my normal for the past fourteen years, but this time she did not check out. My husband was a pretty amazing new groom dealing with a very sad, very depressed, very fear filled wife.

Fear told me “now what are you going to do when your husband dies and you have no one”. And once again we began to hang out, daily.




Math Fun-Schooling Easy Hands On

I’m not a fan of flash cards for learning math facts, most likely because I had NO success with them as a child my self. I am however a fan of hands on work to memorize those facts. Fun repetition for me had always been key. That being said it’s nice to have options for that repetition so things don’t become stale and the spark of learning doesn’t go out and put up walls instead. My easy go to is apps, but like I said, it’s nice to have options.

I also like to choose activities that all the kids can do or if its something just for the oldest the youngers will grow into. If it’s a game or activity that is geared to my younger two Pastries, Pumpkin is really good about playing with them or even teaching them while playing. This is especially great because it frees my hands to work on mama projects and builds his confidence at the same time.

As always, affiliate links are only to things we enjoy.

Besides what we are using for our core mathematics curriculum. (It’s amazing and you can check that out here in Math Fun-Schooling part 1 & part 2.) I like to take advantage of other tools to mix up the repetition with with kids. Plus most of the time they don’t even realize that they are learning and I just get “fun mommy” hugs. Lets be clear, that is an awesome bonus.


  • Mobi
  • Dominos The only thing I remember doing with these when I was little was setting them up to knock them down, but when I was older my Grandma taught me to play Mexican Train. Now my kids play the same way I did AND they are learning real domino games too.
  • Uno Its nice to play classics.
  • Smart Cookies Counting Game
  • Math Magic Puzzles and Games
  • Dino Math Tracks Macaroon is all about Dinosaurs right now and his big sister and brother are quick to support that love. This game meets each of them right where they are in playing.

Living Books

  • Sir Cumference Books All these books are on Epic for books for kids but are worth owning or checking out from the library and making a fun week long lesson out of.
  • 10 Seeds The illustrations in this book are so lovely that it often ends up in our nature study basket too.
  • 10 Hungry Monsters I have owned this book since before I had my own Pastries. All of mine enjoy it as much as the other children I’ve read it too. A classic for every shelf.
  • Life of Fred Okay, so this one is a curriculum but my Pumpkin loves the story so much that it’s a just for pleasure and as fun math here too.
  • Bedtime Math Or just read what is the math of the day on the website.


Hands On




School on Travel Days

We travel…a lot! And if we skipped school every travel day we wouldn’t be able to take off other days. That just doesn’t work for us. Therefore, we have “lessons” for travel days. (By the way, these lessons work great for when mama needs to call in sick too.)

For the most part my instructions are, “Play a number game and a letter/reading game.” And, “listen to such and such audio book”. (Check out our collection for Listing Time.) Golly, too easy right? But these apps are amazing and since it’s not our full curriculum, it’s just the right balance of review and sometimes even new.

For the most part I don’t need to tell the kids to play any of these games, they choose them all on their own. Or they are asking me if they can play.

As always, all affiliate links are to the things we enjoy.

We have one iPad, it’s mama’s but loaded with apps for the kids and in a nifty kid friendly case. Each Pasterie also has their own kindle fire that they revived for Christmas right before we hit the road safe in there Otter Box.

Kindle Apps

Apps on Ipad (I have no clue how to add links to these most apps, sorry.)

  • Zcooly Time Ranch
  • Zcooly Store
  • Hooked on Phonics Big Read Show
  • Hooked on Phonics K
  • Hooked on Phonics 1st
  • Hooked on Phonics pro
  • Epic! books for kids  I cannot say all the good things about this app! It has a selection of books that rivals our old home library but also includes read to me books, audio books and kid safe videos. I also have this app on my phone and being able to pull up a book to go along with what we happen to be seeing while we are out and about it amazing and much more child friendly then google.
  • Leaning With Homer (also for computer) Not just an app but also includes free pintables. This is a must have for my kids and includes so much fun learning! And I have to admit to love the Folk Song section just as much as the kids.


Again, we don’t do all these apps every day or every week. Most days are our normal Slow Loop days full of Symposium and Fun-Schooling and other Hands on Learning, but on days that we are “long in the saddle” or “I just can’t” these make sure we get our hours in.




Traveling the World One Story at a Time

Her eyes are wide with excitement and her giggle fills the home. “I was right” My 6 year old Cupcake exclaims and so was mama.

We have spent this last month exploring the Netherlands with Around The World Stories and it has been such a delight for the whole family. I cannot imagine a better way, short of spending a month there in person, to get such a feel for the culture. With Around The World Stories we have discovered the history, food, landscape and more. It’s been a virtual immersion program that even my 4 year old has embraced.

With Around The World Stories you get to visit 13 different countries with stories told thu the eyes of 13 different families, that is 4 stories per country. It’s like a foreign exchange program without actually moving in with the family. And the stories are so well done! My 9 year old has asked to listen to them again and I have to admit I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about them too.

Along with the stories you get a Parents Guide and suggestions for hands on activities to bring the country further into your home. My Pastries were so excited to get the recipe from The Secret Ingredient! And I enjoyed getting to sound like a bit of an expert on the country.

Spending time with Jasper’s family this month was more then just a trip to the Netherlands, it was like getting to spend time with the Ingalls. You know what I mean about the Ingalls right; how they are all heartwarming and inspire moral character. It is so delightful and the narrator of the story has such a great story telling voice!

Because I’m watching my budget I had to break down the math myself to make sure the cost was worth the investment and frankly I think they are undercharging for the quality of what we receive. And my husband fully agrees!

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. First, I am not getting paid for this review but I will receive a small commission if you desire to purchase. Second, here is my breakdown of the plans.

  • For the $99 plan you get immediate access to all of the 52 the stories. That works out to about $1.90 per story or $7.63 per country. That is amazing prize for 2 hours worth of quality story telling that you can download and KEEP and parent guides. This is the plan our family has picked not only because of value but also so we can pick and choose what countries we want to “visit” first.
  • For $9.99 per month and you get access to four new story each month, this works out to about $120 for the year or $2.50 per story . This is a great option if you just want to “try it out for a month” and see how your family likes it.

As y’all know I don’t suggest things that we don’t love and I’m always on the hunt for things that will add value to our days. These Around The World Stories do that! And they have some new artist stories they just released too if that is more your thing. I know we are looking forward to checking the out soon as well.

Minimalist Learning Plan for my 9 year old: Summer/Fall 2017

In the quest of finding more peace in days (thank you Slow Loop, you have been a sanity saver) I have discovered I need to cut back more with Pumpkins individual work. I had him doing too much and while we were still Looping it was getting a bit too jumbled and drawn out. Plus he is still transitioning into more independent work, so that means daily I still have a good chunk of one on one instruction time with him. Plus I have one on one time with the other two Pastries, housekeeping, time with my husband, Family Learning time, Mother Culture Time and good old free time. Even if I wasn’t an introvert, I just didn’t have time to get it all done with peace and joy. And we were running out of time for Hands On Learning.

This post does contain affiliate links, but like always I only share things we love.

So this is Pumpkin’s lesson “plan” for Summer/Fall of 2017 and the transition to it has been the right move for us.

Fun-Schooling “Core” Journal

Normally the Spelling Time C Journal would not be considered a “core” journal, but it includes so many elements of the core journals (like his Minecraft Journal that he will get back to this Winter) that it’s just the right fit for our Summer/Fall schedule. This journal includes not only spelling and vocabulary but it also covers 26 animals, instruments and locations. It includes places to document research and for creative writing. He is using this journal 4 days a week and we are enjoying the time together.

For his research we use a combination of Epic, YouTube and books we happen to have on hand. When none of those places work, and a library isn’t handy then we check with Google. I have to admit I’m learning as much as he is while he works in this journal.


Every day I am more and more and more happy that we decided to give Math Lessons for a Living Education another go. It’s such a complete and engaging curriculum and since it’s daily lessons are so short it allows more time for my math loving Pumpkin to play more games, spend time with his favorite Thinking Tree Math Journals and engage in more S.T.E.M. activities during the week.

Language Arts

We plan on digging into The Good and The Beautiful language arts later this year. It is a beautiful language arts curriculum that holds all of my favorite elements of a variety of other curriculum I’ve looked at for a fraction of the price and packaged in such a way that it is enchanting.

However, he is right on the cusp of being too advanced for one level but not ready for the next. So instead of printing out both levels we are simply going to use what we have on hand to “catch him up” to the next level over the next couple of months. If I still think we need to review any of the previous lesson from The Good and The Beautiful, I will get a PDF writing app and do a quick review on the iPad with him.

He is also free reading to himself, to Peanut (his most loved stuffie) and his siblings, enjoying loads of audio books and Buddy Reading with me. And he is always writing poetry, stories and songs on random pieces of paper or in his Hobby Time Journal.

Bible, History, Science, Social Studies, Literature and Fine Arts

All these (above) other subject get worked in during our Slow Loop family learning time, but he still covers a lot of them on his own during his reading. However, instead of having him document what he is learning about them on paper I am letting him narrate to me instead. (Very Charlotte Mason.)

When he is done with the Spelling Time Journal, he will move on to one of his Minecraft Journals and then will do most of his independent work of these subjects there.