Quick Links To Some of My Favorite Things I’ve Shared on IG

Once upon a time I worked retail and I loved it. Not because of commission checks (that all were reinvested into the store I worked at anyway) but because on my very first day of work my boss said to me “Go play!”. And that is what I did, I spent 90% of my shift playing dress up with new friends. I didn’t look at price tags or care if the item I was finding for them was just put on the shelf or had been on clearance so long we might as well have given it away. All I wanted to do was find the best thing for each one of them. I have never stopped doing that, you should see me “work” at stores I don’t even work at!

Well with the wonderful world of Instagram, Facebook and blogging  y’all kind of do get to see me at work. Some links I share are affiliate links (these are at no extra cost to you) and other are links that give me nothing but the pleasure of sharing. But as always, I’m only sharing things I like.

Please feel free to poke around on my minimalist blog for reviews and musings or onto my Instagram account if your more of a quick look and see kind of person.

Enjoy the growing list.






Roadschooling with The Good & The Beautiful Language Arts

So my journey with language arts and reading has been a rollercoaster with my son but his Minimalist Learning Plan we set up for this past summer and this fall has been wonderful. As has the addition of The Good & The Beautiful Level 1 Language Arts & Literature, and I’ve not even printed it out! GASP

Since this isn’t the first curriculum I’ve tried to use with him I didn’t even want to invest our own paper in ink into it when I didn’t have to.  (After all I’m trying to watch our budget.) Jenny Phillips offers FREE PDF downloads of Levels 1-5 and I am so thankful for that. I have ours on our IPad. (It’s also downloaded on a kindle and my laptop but I find the iPad is working best for us.) I’m not so technical fancy to use a PDF writer on the screen so we use a good old spiral notebook. We call it “out Good & Beautiful Notebook”.

In the spiral notebook Pumpkin writes his spelling words and does his spelling quizzes. I jot down creative writing exercises that are included in the books that he narrates to me or I have him do his own writing exercises. At the end of the notebook, I will take his creative writing work and type them into a separate notebook. Super easy and super cost effective!


Because Pumpkin is in this weird middle place I didn’t want to skip Level 1 but I didn’t think he was fully ready for Level 2, plus I didn’t want him to miss out on all the beautiful. (Shhh, I wanted to do the beautiful with him too and didn’t want to wait till it was Cupcakes turn.) This curriculum is like all curriculum in one way, it’s our tool not our master, we are making it work best for us.

Well, since he is in that weird middle place and we are already doing something else that is working for him in regard to phonics we are not doing ALL the lessons. Instead I took some time over a few days and on my own lined piece of paper wrote down the page numbers of what I wanted him to cover. Each time we complete one of MY scheduled lessons I write the date for my records. It’s not fancy and as open and go if we were using the whole book but it’s just right for us.

So how is it going and how does he like it? He is enjoying it and I’m not getting the dragging of feet that I had from other language arts programs that I used in the past. (Those were good too, but this is such a better fit.) I think starting off with a level that is sort of easy for him is helping with that. I expect him to be finished with Level 1 shortly after the first of the year (because we year round that is when we start the new school year) and plan to buy the printed version of Level 2.

This curriculum really is Good & Beautiful! The art selections are lovely, literature selections are wonderful and its open and go with still plenty of room for us to build onto the lessons if we want to. For example, we like to spend more time with the art and poetry.

This post does NOT contain any affiliate links,

but like always I only share things that we love.

It’s the open and go that I think will really appeal to a lot of parents, and easy to teach even for us parents who cannot remember half of any of this stuff we are teaching or never learned ourselves. Oh, and the price point for even the paid for printed options is super competitive.

If you are roadschooling or homeschooling in a small space like I am, here are a few pros that you will really like.

  • Open & Go, no teachers manual
  • Internet not required
  • Covers more then one subject
  • Doesn’t take a lot of room or have a lot of little parts

We also happen to have The Good & The Beautiful Booklist that is wonderful for quickly choosing books that are of quality and good moral character for my children. Right now, between 11/8/2017-11/11/2017 you can also get this list here for FREE!

Don’t forget to take a peek at the History and Handwriting while you are getting your free booklist and taking a look at the Language Arts. My husband was thrilled with what he has seen in the History and wants us to wait to do those lessons with him. What attracts me to the handwriting is the mix of right and left brain work in each of the lessons and it’s not filled with a bunch of random twaddle.

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