Review Alphabet Fun-Schooling Journal

So, let get down to the nitty gritty. We all know we can buy Alphabet books galore from the Dollar Tree and we have them! But this Alphabet Fun-Schooling Journal is so much more lovely and my Cupcake picks it 9 times out of 10.

Not only does Journal have lovely illustrations, but it also has prewriting practice before each letter and arrow instruction for each letter as well. And since I didn’t focus on correct penmanship of writing the letters with Pumpkin (most Dollar Tree books don’t include this) this is a feature very important to me.

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

Cupcake is 6 and since we are not starting “formal” schooling with her till next year, I shared more about that here, I let her pick and choose what pages she wants to do in the journal. This relaxed approach is working quite well, especially since she wants to learn. I simply say “Its Alphabet journal time, what letter are you going to do?” and more often then not she will invite mama or little brother to color with her when she is done.

At the end of the journal are comic book style drawing and then writing pages. Cupcake loves drawing stories and then narrating them for me to jot them down. We are unintentionally very much a Brave Writer Family…I think story telling might be in their blood.

I’ve also decided to use this same Journal as a “Brother Book”! Like I mentioned above, Pumpkin didn’t learn all the proper formation of his letters. Don’t get me wrong, he draws them correctly but writing them correctly has been a struggle. And it’s “little kid work” to work on it again. So, the smart mama I am…

I picked up another one of these Alphabet Fun-Schooling Journals and since Macaroon isn’t ready to write yet he gets to do the coloring page and the pre-writing part of each “lesson” while Pumpkin teaches him the letter name, sound and how to write the letter they are working on, with those arrow instructions. When he is done with that part, Macaroon lets him help color too. (This is a great time for ME to get some one-on-one time in with Cupcake or work on my own Mom-School.)

Not so secret hope…I hope the folks at Thinking Tree make a variation of this same book with cursive as well!


Nature Study in a Basket

Our Travel the World in a Basket has been so amazing that I’ve decided that it’s about time to share our Nature Study Basket. It’s pretty well loved in our home as well.

Since I’ve grown from a happy bird nerd (yes, that is what I fondly call my love for bird watching) to a full on nature enthusiast, I’ve discovered that I do love reading and studying all things nature. Even textbooks!

Yes, this mama enjoys those text books when she is reading about something she had been inspired to study. Thankfully I’ve stumbled across some living text books but no surprise my oldest doesn’t even mind some of the traditional ones I’ve thrifted and have inspired him to search out things he never thought of before. ( FYI, that “inspiration” is a fun-schooling key that I’ve read about in my own lessons here.)

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

Our Symposium Nature Study time is splendid and I’m delighted that my children are enjoying the stories as much as I am and are learning so much as well. It’s been a truly lovely time and creating a peaceful rhythm to our weeks that I’ve not been able to find while traveling! But I want them to have more then just my reading with them and our out in the world explorations. So like with our need to have something handy for deeper geography studies, providing one for nature is only logical. (Yes, I am a fan of Spock.)

Currently in our Nature Study Basket …or on our shelf to rotate in

  • Apologia Flying Creatures. The whole collection of these is on my list as resource.
  • Rod & Staff 1 & 2 God’s Marvelous Works from 1974. These were thrifted, but the new ones from Rod & Staff are lovely too.
  • National Geographic for Kids Magazine and a handful of early readers
  • Note cards & colored pencils
  • Bird Field Journal This was a birthday gift I was able to choose for me a few years ago.
  • Found Nature Treasures
  • Magnifying Glass
  • Pocket Microscope
  • Lyrical Science
  • Wildlife Watcher
  • and well just a hodge-podge of what we have on hand. Check out my IG for a visual peak.

On our list for new inspiration and deeper study

Review Bible Games Math, Spelling & Creativity

My goodness, it’s hard to have a favorite Thinking Tree Journal but this mama loves this Bible Games Math, Spelling & Creativity so very much! Okay, it might be because the scriptures minister so to my heart and hearing my son read them, explain them and the later chat about them with his siblings is so encouraging. But I think it’s also this blend of math, spelling and creativity. Just reading the journal and working it out in my head I can almost feel all the different parts of my of my brain working. I imagine it’s running all cylinders of my sons.

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

This journal has Bible verses to read, fill in the blank and copy work pages. For mathematics the focus is multiplication and skip counting. There is some drawing and almost every page has some logic puzzles.

The instructions for this Journal says to use 3 pages per day, we don’t. Sometimes Pumpkin will do two pages a day but most of the time he does just one. I’m totally okay with that because it lets him spend more time with each verse and it’s like a good stew that has been simmering. Taking it slow is a really good fit for him and our Minimalist Lesson Plan for him this summer/fall. I’m even tempted to pick up another one of these for my mom-schooling and it will be one my younger Pastries get to do as well when they are of age.


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