Bella Learning For Me

There as some things that I’ve wanted to learn how to do or about for almost 20 years now. Things that since my hands are full with teaching my own children I thought I wouldn’t have time to study till they were at least teenagers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve woven some of what I want to learn into our daily lessons, nature study and most things history are favorites of mine along with social studies and geography. But there is more that I’ve wanted to learn and especially in the early years and sleepless nights of babies I all but gave up. But since we have discovered fun-schooling I’ve been taking a little more time for my own lessons.

It’s amazing how much more my own children want to sit and work on learning when they see mama doing it. When they hear me passionate about a new subject and narrating to them or drawing doodles about the subject. All those things they are getting to do in their journals.

This post does contain affiliate links at no extra cost to you and only to things I enjoy.

I’d like to say we have been doing this for a while, but really I didn’t get somewhat serious about my mom-school time until I sat down to do Dyslexia Games with them. And then today, yes just today a lazy Saturday morning with no place to go and nothing to do and no fun fiction to read I dug into one of the other books on my shelf.

This is a book that begs for me to take notes, to do copy work, to look up how to say phrases and study history and cook food. This book asks for its very own “unit study” of delight directed learning… for ME. What is the name of this magical book that is inspiring me to put together a basket just for me? La Bella Lingua and while I would love to give you a full review, I’m only a few pages into the second chapter so I cannot yet.

So now I am looking at what I can put in my Bella Basket, besides the book and google. Today I asked google “how do you say ‘fart’ in Italian” because I have a 10 year old boy and he wanted in on my searching for Italian words.

  • This isn’t a mom journal so if your teenager is all things Italian like I am, this could be a good one for them too. I really like the Steampunk cover because it reminds me of Leonardo De Vinci. High School Journal with Steampunk cover. PDF or this one would be nice too, I really like how the spelling pages are set up. I can imagine writing the Italian word on one side and the translation on the other.
  • Under the Tuscan Sun. Do not be fooled by the movie, the book is wonderful and just wonderful! But don’t blame me if you want to eat all the Pine Nuts after reading it too.
  • The about book has plenty of recipes to keep me busy in the kitchen but I wouldn’t mind adding a book by Giada to my collection. (My daughter loves watcher her food network show as much as I do.)
  • The Poetry of Michelangelo an Annotated Translation. I bought this book in my early 20’s, it’s still a favorite of mine!
  • Renaissance Coloring Book. Generally I’m all about the impressionists but as I delve into more things Italian I cannot help but be drawn to the artists of the Renaissance
  • Kids Animated History with Pipo. My husband and I actually have been watching this via Amazon Prime.
  • YouTube Learn Italian. This gal is really fast, but so far I enjoy her the most.
  • I’m always on the hunt for more games to play, and card games happen to be a favorite. I’m excited to try this one.
  • And of course, movies like this one to inspire you to keep you wanting to study till you can buy the tickets to travel. This one with English subtitles is a favorite as well, when the main actor received his Oscar I cried for joy with him. To this day its the only Oscars I’ve enjoyed and I’m so happy its one that I watched.

Why I Pre-Read

I’m a lover of books and I remember that summer that found that love. I was 12 years old and my grandmother introduced me to historical fiction. I was hooked! I read every single book I could get my hand on in that genre.

Fast forward to the spring just before my 14th birthday, and no Christian bookstore in the town I was vacationing to help me with the fact that I read my entire vacation book on the place! I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I popped into a local bookstore and spent my vacation money on a book that didn’t have a smutty cover but looked like the genre I read.

This post does contain affiliate links, but only to things I enjoy and at no extra cost to you.

I received quite an education from that book, part of which has stayed with me to this day. Pre-read my kids books! Fortunately my kids are not as avid readers as I am, yet. So I have some time to review a wide variety now.

Most recent pre-read was Graceling.  My local library has this listed as a Young Adult book along with an advanced 5th level. Young adult YES, 5th level. Nope! I would rate this book as PG13 for sexual content, and I’m not exactly thrilled with the premarital sex or the anti marriage agenda. The book also alluded to sexual abuse as well. But beyond that, the story was a fun engaging story, well written and delightful. I’m more likely to suggest to my child that they read it in there early adult years or beyond. And yes, I am going to read the rest in the series because I’m not a 5th grade level and I want to know what happens next.

In the mean time Jenny Phillips has a very conservative reading list that will assist me while I work through other books that have been suggested, and I continue my own search for what is expectable for my family.


Review: Kathleen The Celtic Knot

It wasn’t till I finished the last page that I noticed that Kathleen The Celtic Knot was an American Girl book. It also happens to be the first American Girl book I have ever read and I am looking forward to reading more of this Girls of Many Lands Series.

I picked this little book up pre St Patrick’s day as part of my goal to pre-read more books for my kids. This is just the sort of book I would have loved as a 12 year old and while the library has it listed as a 5th Level Advanced Reader, because of maturity of some content I will wait until my little ones are 12+.

Reading this book, I felt transported to 1937 Ireland and could easily imagine my like was Kathleen’s. I learned much about the culture, history and even Gaelic. The book includes a glossary that I reference often after I discovered it and clarified some unknown words or terms; and it includes a brief history of “current” Ireland with some color photos.

I’m expecting that some Step Dancing and having embroidery kits on hand for Celtic Knots will take the simple pleasure of this book to the next level. Oh, and maybe a loaf of Irish Soda bread too.

A Living Geography That Takes Your Family Around The World

Seriously I have nothing but the best things to say about Around The World Stories. Yesterday (St Patrick’s Day) we listed to 3 stories from Ireland. Then today at lunch (left over baked potatoes) we listed to the last story, The Potato Fairy. You should have seen the extra happy faces when I pulled out the coloring pages that the folk at Around The World Stories included with the story.

Since we first started listing they have upped their game with their Make It Interactive section that is included with each story. It has everything I would want to take the story to the next level with the ease of clicking on a link. No Pinterest searching needed…but if I did want to take it further, well they have Pinterest Boards too.

These stories not only teach us about other countries and cultures, but they are full of moral choices and inspiring characters. Characters and stories my children ask to hear again and again.

Well, the one story was not going to cut it today and while they requested to listen to the Ireland stories all over again. We had nothing on the agenda so I suggested one of the new Asian Stories from China instead. China was met with more giggles, and requests for another. Since we were not focusing on “lessons” today I let them listen to a Denmark story as well that included a trip to Lego land. Not to shabby for a Sunday afternoon.

Review: Unhurried Grace for a Moms Heart

Right away I knew that I was going to be blessed by this devotional. After all, it is written by one of my favorite authors who’s homeschooling book is on my MUST READ list. I’ve not been disappointed!

Unhurried Grace for a Mom’s Heart: 31 Days in God’s Word is the first devotional that I’ve read that I can honestly see the fruit of reading it over and over again, many times in a year or over the course of my motherhood journey. Durenda has a natural way of mentoring via the written word (or even via her podcast at that is brilliant. Combining this gifting with the Word of God, allows the Holy Spirit to speak new and fresh and to YOUR heart with each chapter.

Each chapter includes a section for you to write out your thoughts to God and a place to jot down what you hear Him saying back to you. I personally am using a blank journal for this part because I have a digital copy. Even if I didn’t using the journal allows me the room to write out the section of scripture that speaks to me, and write what I’m hearing that day. This will allow me to also come back to this devotional more than once and read it “new”. This journal is alive with the Word who is always speaking to us, it is a devotional that clearly can and should be revisited lots on this mom journey.

Also included at the end of each chapter are a few questions you can ask yourself, just ONE of the special ways God used Unhurried Grace for a Mom’s Heart: 31 Days in God’s Word to speak to me was in the chapter titled “God’s Wisdom or Mans?” and the question at the end. It was along the lines of “what does God want my day to look like”.

When reflecting on the question, it had me thinking about an issue that had been bothering me. We do not have a set schedule (road schooling family here) but I know what our days should include. I’ve studied and wrote on this before but that morning it was crystal clear what He was saying to me about my days.

  1. Study Gods Word & build a strong relationship with Him
  2. Independent work & helping hands (to cultivate work ethic)
  3. Family Learning with beautiful stories, exploration & games
  4. Independent exploration of gifting’s, talents & interests.
  5. One on one time & meaningful conversations

Too often I still get bogged down about all there is to do and keeping up with everyone else. But God created us each unique and that unigueness needs to transfer into our homeschool life as well. How we do school is not often going to look like anyone else that doesn’t make us better or worse, it simply means we are walking in OUR calling.

I’m not going to share with you all that God has been speaking to me as I’ve unhurried my way through this devotional but I will tell you that there has been growth. He had been comforting and ministering to me right were I am at in each page of this book.



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!

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.