COVID-19 + Homeschooling – Special Edition Part 2

Painting en plein air (aka outdoors)


P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan


Still trying to find a rhythm for your days while facing the uncertainty of how long the kiddos will be “schooling at home”?

P.L.A.Y. has a day-to-day plan that is truly flexible and can be done in place while you all stay safely at home indoors as well as right out your back door in your own yard.

Remember learning happens all the time especially when we are engaged, curious, and approach with a sense of P.L.A.Y.

*Sign up on the side bar with your email to receive these daily P.L.A.Y. posts and activities OR check back here OFTEN!


Here’s the Weekly Plan:

Monday – Nature Alliteration Adventure + Nature Journaling

Tuesday – Bird BOOK LOOK with a new story chapter and related online resources + activities/projects

Wednesday – Nature Alliteration Adventure + Nature Journaling

Thursday – Bird BOOK LOOK with a new story chapter and related online resources + activities/projects

Friday – Nature Alliteration Adventure + Nature Journaling

Saturday – Potluck P.L.A.Y. Pick (soooooo many options – you decide!)

Sunday – P.L.A.Y.  in Place with a Plan = Many topics showcased including A Family Gardening Series


Nature Journaling is for All Ages

Nature Journal – Spring Flowers


Here are some examples of flexible daily plans while staying in place:

Monday –

  • Morning- Breakfast, Chores (care for pets/make bed/brush teeth/etc.), Reading Anything! (solo, 1:1, together), Music (sing, dance, play instrument), Building Projects (legos, cardboard boxes become forts,etc)
  • Noon- Kitchen Food Prep Helpers, Eat Lunch & clean-up, Story Time (audio book, solo reading), Rest & Regroup Quiet Time, Outdoors w/ Nature Alliteration Adventures, Indoors journaling your nature adventure
  • Night- Kitchen Food Prep Helpers, Supper & clean up together, Bed Time Routines  with more short stories or make up an ongoing story to add to each night!

Tuesday – 

  • Morning- Chores, Breakfast, Workbooks or appropriate online Screen Time work, arts & crafts project
  • Noon – Kitchen Food Prep Helpers, Eat lunch & clean-up, Stroll neighborhood (if allowed) then Rest & Regroup Quiet Time, Bird BOOK LOOK next chapter and related activities and online resources
  • Night- Kitchen Food Prep Helpers, Supper & clean up together, Bed Time Routines with more short stories  or make up an ongoing story to add to each night!

Adapt this to suit your family, especially during this time of transition.

Remember, it is more important to stay connected to one another than to “get it right”.

Tomorrow’s another day with new opportunities to try-try-again! 🙂

Plenty of hugs works wonders!


Please contact Karen@passionatelearningallyear.com with your questions and for parenting support during these challenging times.

You don’t have to do this alone. ❤ ❤ ❤

Sending a smile to help light the way,

Karen 🙂


FYI – Visit the first post in this special series at COVID-19 + Homeschooling – Special Series Part 1


P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan


COVID-19 + Homeschooling – Special Edition Part 1

You Have All You Need – Families Finding Peace During Challenging Times

Wisdom from a 20+ year veteran Stay-at-home-Unschooling Mama!

Curious Capkins ready to P.L.A.Y.!

If you are like so many of us and have your entire family at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and you are wondering how in the world you are going to get through this time together know that you probably have on hand all that you need to keep everyone sane, engaged, and “homeschooled”.

Also know up front that you do not have to recreate the school environment (aka “School at Home”).

Trust me, after having taught in the elementary schools for years and then homeschooling for decades all you really need is to be present and focus on the health and well being of your family including priorities like sleep, exercise, and healthy foods. The rest will follow naturally with a few extra bonus suggestions from P.L.A.Y. below, and in future posts, to help get you started!


No Purchases Required = All Absolutely FREE!!!

The content on this website is FREE and available for ALL to use.

 You are also welcome to contact me directly HERE by email or HERE by snail mail as I love to answer questions and provide support for parents as well as receive kiddo art work+letters and will write back! FYI – Our internet is slow up in this neck-of-the-woods so my e-response may be slightly delayed.


Here’s a few suggestions to get you started for calming practices during chaotic times:

 

  • Creating a rhythm to your days is key to calm so family members of all ages have a sense of what to expect.

 

  • Simply displaying a sequence of sticky note squares on the bathroom mirror or kitchen cabinets with things like “breakfast”, “story”,”tidy-up”, “screen time”, “crafting”, “outdoor play”, “puzzles”, “care for pets”, etc. will work nicely to give a flow to your day and can be rotated throughout the week for flexibility. A specific chart with exact times isn’t required or necessary for most households – however you decide what matches for you especially if working from home is being combined with kiddo care.

 

  • Encourage ALL family members to make additional sticky note squares with activities and projects they would like to do AT HOME and weave them into the plans. They will feel more included and empowered and yes even your 2 year old can have a voice in this! Think things like building challenges – legos, cardboard boxes, etc. or 5 minute silly singing serenades to break up the day.

 

  • Communicate clearly each day that you are all in this together and in order to meet family expectations everyone has to be open and honest with what they understand will be happening in the days ahead. When things do change, as they seem to be rapidly overnight, be forthcoming with new news and course correct together.

 

  •  Be a super strength spotter by being open to new possibilities and opportunities to connect and truly see what makes your family members tick. If one family member has a keen ability to bring humor and levity to situations ask them to put their super powers to use and generate creative ideas to keep the household morale going (ex. a joke served up at every meal time). If another family member has great empathy and compassion skills perhaps they could be creating cards to mail loved ones or posting notes within the house that let everyone know they are loved and thought of too.

❤ ❤ ❤

Special Edition Part 2 of COVID-19 + “Schooling at Home”

or as I like to call it

P.L.A.Y. in Place with a Plan!

Tried and true golden nuggets and silver lining sparkles arriving by blog post HERE with more practical pointers for how to fill your days at HOME and outdoors (with required physical distancing included).

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Stay tuned, stay home, and stay safe everyone.

Know that how you act and respond today will have a positive ripple effect in your home, in your community, and make all the difference in the outcome of this current worldwide challenge.

❤ ❤ ❤

And if you have found this helpful please pass P.L.A.Y. forward.

We are ALL in this together.

Sending much love, e-hugs, and even smiles to help light the way,

Karen 🙂 ❤ ❤ ❤

BOOK LOOK – Review Summary – Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything by Laura Grace Weldon

Although we’ve never met I’d like to send big hugs, smiles, and so many, many thanks to Laura Grace Weldon for writing her book FREE RANGE LEARNING: How Homeschooling Changes Everything and for being a wonderful guide and mentor to folks on this P.L.A.Y.-filled journey.

And now that this Bonus BOOK LOOK review series is through I hope you and your family will keep coming back for many more daily P.L.A.Y. moments with me! Here’s how:

  1. P.L.A.Y. daily by making sure you’ve signed in your email address on the Home Page (HERE) to receive all of the P.L.A.Y.-filled posts.
  2. Please pass P.L.A.Y. forward to family, friends, neighbors, community members, quite simply anyone connected to kiddos that you think might benefit from this work and you’d love to see joining this journey.
  3. $upport the P.L.A.Y. vision by purchasing P.L.A.Y. nature activity guides and story books HERE.
  4. As always $upporting the P.L.A.Y. vision in any way is much appreciated including making a contribution on the Home Page HERE.

Bonus!!! 

Homeschool Visionista at your service! 

If you live in Western Massachusetts and you’d like to consider being a part of a small gathering of women for a Mom’s Visioning Retreat that will dive deeper into the concepts presented in this series and for the opportunity to be mentored by Karen in this group please send your name and email to: Karen@passionatelearningallyear.com . I will contact you to discuss the program details -place, time, level of commitment, etc. And in the spirit of volunteering  please know that it will be a pay-what-you-can program as my way of giving back to the homeschool community and making sure everyone has equal access to this support.


Summary of Chapter Reviews & Reflections

To revisit the topics covered in the Free Range Learning review series by P.L.A.Y.  or to continue exploring the ideas further please see corresponding books and P.L.A.Y. reviews by clicking on the chapter links below.

Chapter 1 – Natural Learning Happens Everywhere

Chapter 2 – Nurturing the Learner

Chapter 3 – Work, Play, and Other Essentials

Chapter 4 – Connecting with Others

Chapter 5 – Collaborating Benefits Everyone

Chapter 6 – Homeschooling Changes Everything

Chapter 7 – Adventure Homeschooling

Chapter 8 – Field Tripping

Chapter 9 – Full Spectrum Learning

Chapter 10 – Science & Nature

Chapter 11 – Math

Chapter 12 – Physical Education/Health

Chapter 13 – The Arts

Chapter 14 – Language Arts/Foreign Language

Chapter 15 – History

Chapter 16 – Volunteerism, Ethics, Spirituality

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 16 Volunteerism, Ethics, Spirituality


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 16 – Volunteerism, Ethics & Spirituality Laura highlights these areas showing that homeschoolers have many opportunities to engage and explore individually, and with their families & friends, in a variety of community settings to round out their life learning journey.

Be sure to check out the activities and resources Laura offers and see my reflections below on our own families lived experiences and the resources we used on this journey.


~Reflections~


 Voice and a Choice + Time to Listen + Time to Volunteer

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, express ourselves creatively and authentically, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures. I have found Laura’s book to be a wonderful guide through the life learning experience and hopefully, although this review series has come to an end with this final chapter, the practice of P.L.A.Y. and the many positive takeaways from this volume continue on for you and your family.

These past twenty plus years as a homeschooling and unschooling mom have provided me with an endless supply of lessons learned on my parenting journey. It has been the greatest gift to have the time to simply listen to my kiddos struggles and triumphs over the years. Providing a safe space while they questioned all that was before them and truly listening as they also reflected back on what they had learned as they moved along on their journey.

Throughout this parenting season in my life I’ve been given the opportunity to honor “a voice and a choice” again and again as we each participated on equal footing in our household discussions. Everyone truly mattered and had something valuable to contribute if they wished to bring it forward.

There have been many lessons learned and so often the teaching was done by the kiddos shining a light on what was really most important for the parents to understand. We are all the better for it and now have trusting adult relationships with each other because we’ve done this work, the hard homework, together.

Practicing this way of learning and being for multiple decades now means it runs deep in my veins and is connected to the very core of who I am. This year I launched P.L.A.Y.Passionate Learning All Year to share my experiences of this practice with you, pass forward what I have learned, and encourage as many folks and families as possible to engage daily with nature and P.L.A.Y. so that you too may experience the joy and connection it can create for you and your loved ones.

This practice of P.L.A.Y is meant to be shared and it is providing me with the opportunity to “volunteer”, show up and be seen, engage my mind + body + spirit, and give back to the future generations of young folks and families just beginning their life learning adventures.

And so you can see this journey, with much gratitude, continues for me even though the label of homeschool mom is beginning to fade and instead now when I am asked “What do you do?” I reply “My work is P.L.A.Y“!


❤ ❤ ❤


Sending many thanks to Laura Grace Weldon, to whom I’ve never met, for writing her book and being a wonderful guide all along the way.

Now that this series is through I hope you and your family will keep coming back and join me for many more daily P.L.A.Y. moments!

Here’s how:

  1. P.L.A.Y. daily by making sure you’ve signed up your email address to receive my posts (see home page).
  2. Bonus – Homeschool Visionista at your service! If you live in Western Massachusetts and you’d like to consider being a part of a small gathering of women for a Mom’s Visioning Retreat that will dive deeper into the concepts presented in this series and for the opportunity to be mentored by Karen in this group please send your name and email to: Karen@passionatelearningallyear.com . I will contact you to discuss the program details -place/time/level of commitment/etc. with the intention to begin in early 2020. And in the spirit of volunteering  please know that it will be a pay-what-you-can program as my way of giving back to the homeschool community and making sure everyone has equal access to this support.
  3. Go back through all of the original posts in this Free Range Learning series and begin reading the suggested books listed as resources and the corresponding reviews I’ve made on separate posts.

Compliment your reading of Free Range Learning with the authors and resources listed below that our family have used on our life learning and parenting journey.


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Dale McGowan –

Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion


Ryan Niemiec –

Mindfulness & Character Strengths: A Practical Guide to Flourishing

The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality


Marshall Rosenberg –

NonViolent Communication: A Language of Life


Raising Children Compassionately: Parenting the Nonviolent Communication Way


Myra & Jon Kabat-Zinn

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting


Purchase Here –  P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!


 

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 15 History


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 15 – History & Current Events Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “academic subjects” of homeschooling. She is quick to point out how history is linked to you and your family in so many different ways including through beliefs, attitudes, ideas, and interests and that exploring history is relevant and essential.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience engaging with the study of history and the resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


History – Making Connections Through

Curiosity & P.L.A.Y.

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures.

Connecting to history by reading stories of what has come before us can be fascinating, insightful, and provide context for how we live our lives.

The focus being on reading history about the lives of real people in real situations sharing the truth of their experiences throughout time including current events (history in the making).

Our family has spent countless hours listening to audio books, in the car and at home, to cover both fictional entertainment (hello Harry Potter – we love Jim Dale! ) and to cover the centuries of historical stories that have taken place before our existence.

We listened to Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World series volume by volume as was age appropriate for our two kiddos. And when I say we listened I am including anyone who was in the vicinity, parents or grandparents. This provided the opportunity for multi-generational conversations and plenty of questions to bubble up. And it is worth noting often times we learned more from asking questions of ourselves and each other then always seeking the answers. Over time we made connections and as we re-listened to each volume at new ages + stages our understanding grew and so did our list of more meaningful questions.

And, as is often the case, both Susan Wise Bauer’s World History and Joy Hakim’s US History series were not necessarily covered 100% as both of my kiddos found the sections on war to be fatiguing. We made use of what had meaning for us and moved on when it no longer suited us. For example, KIDS Discover Magazine with their brief, engaging, and concise articles on so many topics helped cover the areas on war (and many other topics) more succinctly.

This was all coupled with a long list of non-fiction picture books, non-fiction and historical fiction chapter books (love Laura Ingalls Wilder!), plenty of documentaries viewed, museums visited, games played, and news watched which provided a nice broad base of context to build on (even to this day!)

Now that my kiddos officially have both feet planted in the “adult world”and continue to live at home we also continue to learn from each other with curiosity and P.L.A.Y. especially in the “history in the making realm” while we listen to the news on the car radio or watch clips of monologues online together. And often I will find that they have broadened their understanding of Planet Earth and the inhabitants on it and are well equipped to share their valued opinions backing them up with context they have picked up along the way and engaging me with new information to make connections on my own P.L.A.Y. journey.

Many wonderful full circle connection moments, history related and more, really do occur with time and patience. And as I can now attest to parents this is a P.L.A.Y.-filled gift worth waiting for! En-JOY-able!

As this series wraps up you can find Chapter 16  HERE.

Compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Susan Wise Bauer –

The Story of the World – a 4 volume set of World History in story format for kiddos+families  (audio/book/workbook options)


Joy Hakim – 

The History of US – an 11 volume set of USA History in story format for kiddos + families (paperback books)


DK Eyewitness – Resource Books – variety of topics


 

KIDS Discover Magazine – History/Biographies/Science (print titles & online)


Who was? a biography series published by Penguin Book Group


Travel back in time with historical fiction series like these:

Mary Pope Osborne – The Magic Tree House (ABOVE)

Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little House on the Prairie (BELOW)


Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework


There are *OODLES* of awesome, engaging, inspiring picture and chapter books both in fiction & non-fiction formats.

Simply make it a  practice to visit your local library OFTEN(!) to take you worlds away to P.L.A.Y.!


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!


 

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 14 Language Arts/Foreign Language


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 14 – Language Arts & Foreign Language Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “core required academic subjects” of homeschooling. She also expands on the idea of language arts focusing on listening and speaking, story telling as a means of expression and communication, and explaining how in our interconnected world reading, writing, and speaking truly affect our daily lives. She also addresses the typical concerns of “when will they learn to read and write?” and encourages the parents to create a word rich environment and model an enjoyment of reading.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources for language arts and foreign language focus and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and the resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


 Read Aloud or Read Alone

Just Joy-fully + P.L.A.Y.-fully READ All the Time!

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, express ourselves creatively, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures.

And a key tool in making these connections is reading.

And what is one of the number one questions as folks begin homeschooling?

“How do I teach my children to read?”

My answer is quite simple “We read. Period.”

Putting this into practice however requires a DAILY commitment from every member of the household and extended family.

After nearly a decade working in classrooms and two decades as a homeschool mom here is what I know to be true:

  • We need to model that reading is valued by being readers ourselves in our homes.
  • We need to be patient when a young reader says “let me try” and sit with them as they slowly, methodically sound out words to read text on a page.
  • We need to support readers of every age+stage when they ask “What is this word?” and tell them so that they may continue on with continuity vs. being told to go look it up and losing sense of the story line along the way.
  • We need to read and re-read the favorite picture story book over and over as this builds muscle memory and connections.
  • We need to visit the library often AND bring home oodles of books EACH week! Let the kiddos pick out books, you pick out books, and bring home bags (plural) so there is always a wide selection of interesting and engaging stories (fiction and non-fiction). *As homeschoolers we would have 30-40 books or more loaned from the library at any given time!
  • We need to listen to audio books together and make connections with the corresponding text. Ask questions, get curious, get silly, get involved in the story and be eager to read and find out more.
  • We need to go to story time at the local library and see others enjoying reading too.
  • We need to read recipes, comic books, labels on foods, music to sing, letters from Grandma, directions on how to play a game or putting a new toy together, maps and road signs, billboards, postcards, quite simply read all the time and everywhere!
  • We need . . . well there are many needs when it comes to reading and they all can be woven in to our daily practices together as a family.

Putting together some of the practicalities:

Phonics and other programs are okay IF a child would LIKE to explore them, however they are not required.

In actuality a simple early learner rhyming dictionary quite nicely shows all of the common word families (and spellings) and provides fun and P.L.A.Y.-filled practice while getting silly with building sentences.

And as readers become more confident they also, over time, take in the structure and framework of how the English language is pieced together. Simply by having access to all books all the time AND making the space for reading throughout their day they will naturally find their way as a reader. This also means yet again the idea of “in their own time and in their own way” applies. There is no set time table for when each individual can read on their own. Consistently engage as readers in your household and everyone will eventually read what they need when they need it. There is only a small percentage of the population that truly require extra assistance, above and beyond consistent exposure to reading, and there are a host of tools and resources at your fingertips to serve their needs and support all of you on this journey.

Reading is a cornerstone of the life learning lifestyle and it will happen naturally over time. Trust that nature knows the pace that each individual needs for this adventure we call “life”.

And one final word to really bring home the point of how important it is to fill your home with living books that really allow you and your family to come alive and joyfully learn together.

This exchange took place between my 8 and 10 year old kiddos when sorting through a stack of books:

” When I read boring books my mouth gets dry.” – age 8

“Reading it is like chewing sand because the writing is so dry.” – age 10

This sums up why it is so important to guide and support young readers, let them select books and also be willing to invest the time to preview books for them, to encourage them on their P.L.A.Y.  journey.

Be present and support the readers in your family by taking the time to preview books whenever possible. There are so many amazing and wonderfully written books in the children’s section of the library that there is no reason to waste your precious time on “dry literature”.

There are so many reliable sites that now provide great book reviews for your previewing including here on the P.L.A.Y. blog. And purchasing a few special books for your shelves at home whether it is at the library book sale, tag sale, or your favorite local book store, reminds your family how much you value reading and the priority you place on spending your time this way.

Whenever I get the chance, even though my kiddos are grown, I still spend hours joyfully in the children’s section of the library simply sorting through the stacks of books (both picture + chapter) to bring home bags of these goodies to read at night and then share the best with you. A simple and sweet gift that keeps on giving!

Time to wrap up this thread of reading ideas with two action items:

  1. Be sure to check back throughout the week for updates in the  BOOK LOOK + Story Nook P.L.A.Y.-ful reviews section of my blog for all your life learning adventures (found HERE).
  2. A Request –please support your local libraries and keep them in the business of books by volunteering and providing monetary and used book donations! My family and I have spent countless hours over the years volunteering at our local library shelving books, creating bulletin boards, running children’s programs for free, and delivering numerous bags of books we no longer needed in order to give back to a community resource we value greatly. Ask your librarians or make suggestions on how you can best be of service. Truly, it is family time P.L.A.Y.-fully and joyfully well spent!

Chapter 15 in this series can be found HERE.

Compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Sue Young –

Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary (or any age appropriate rhyming dictionary)

REMINDER: Phonics and other programs are okay IF a child would LIKE to explore them, however they are not required.

In actuality a simple early learner rhyming dictionary quite nicely shows all of the common word families (and spellings) and provides fun and P.L.A.Y.-filled practice while creating sentences, poetry, songs, stories, greeting cards, etc. And yes – silliness is a bonus!

❤ ❤ ❤


Emily K. Neuburger –

Show Me A Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling (my future review here)

Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking (my future review here)

BONUS: If you live here in Western Mass then you also have the opportunity to visit the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art where Emily has held workshops with these books.

❤ ❤ ❤


 

Karen Benke –

Rip the Page!: Adventures in Creative Writing (my future review here)

Leap Write In!: Adventures in Creative Writing to Stretch and Surprise Your One-of-a-Kind Mind (my future review here)

❤ ❤ ❤


 

Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About ENGLISH Homework

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National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry

❤ ❤ ❤


Tina Packer –

Tales From Shakespeare

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Ian Doescher – (awesome way to excite folks about Shakespeare – with character parts to P.L.A.Y. and speak theater style!)

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

William Shakespeare’s the Empire Striketh Back

William Shakespeare’s the Jedi Doth Return

William Shakespeare’s the Phantom of Menace

William Shakespeare’s the Clone Army Attacketh

William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge

❤ ❤ ❤


Purchase Here- P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!


 

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 13 The Arts


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 13 – The Arts Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “core subjects” of homeschooling. From learning to play an instrument, finger painting to clay pot making, acting in a local theater performance or singing in a church choir, the opportunities for artistic expression are endless, available, and they are necessary for healthy growth, learning, and as a means to express yourself.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and the resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


 P.L.A.Y. and the ARTS

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, express ourselves creatively, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures. And although creativity is evident in every facet of our lives, never more so then when exploring the realm of the arts.

Connecting to the arts and your creativity begins as early as dipping your finger in your dinner plate and doodling in your mashed potatoes or applesauce. Expressing through that first rhythmic banging and clanging of a pot with a spoon. The endless circles danced again and again to music in the living room. Dressing up in costumes pieced together from various odds and ends: old scarves, strings of beads from an auntie, ties no longer used by dad, skirts that twirl found at a second hand store from recitals gone by, and endless hats to top it all off. Making marching music from a collection of hand-held instruments and parading around the house, costumed (or not).

These are the first of what could be many naturally creative P.L.A.Y. moments as long as we as parents take a step back, let the kiddos express themselves, and provide a safe place for them to explore their likes and dislikes without any judgment or “shoulding”. If your family of origin always insisted that drawings of roses be red with green stems, or you had teachers that expected the same, then it will take a bit of courage to step back and let your child simply BE. It is worth it though as they will flourish and truly thrive under these nurturing conditions.

To help remind me to give space while supporting each of my kiddos to be their authentic selves I created the phrase: U-be-U (read more here). And there is no more important place than in the arts arena to simply let each person, kiddos and adults alike, to create, imagine, inspire, and immerse in their own moments without judgment. That is a simple gift that keeps on giving with a beautiful ripple effect out into our communities and then circling back again.

From practicing recorders, to singing in a chorus up on a symphony stage, visiting numerous concerts at the local university, to crafting jewelry and immersing in the fine art of photography, and sketching while visiting local greenhouses, our kiddos and family have always made creative expression a priority in our P.L.A.Y..

I hope you will be encouraged to keep the arts and creative expression as a priority throughout your learning adventures as it is a fabulously fun way to engage with P.L.A.Y. daily.

Mom Note: One of my favorite photos of my kiddos when they were young was of them painting watercolors out on the picnic table trying to capture how they saw the old 80 year oak tree in our backyard. The look on their faces was of pure joy and contentment as it didn’t matter what the paintings looked like (or what subject they actually painted), it was the process that lit them up knowing it was all truly good enough (especially for mom’s prized refrigerator art!)

Time to P.L.A.Y.!

Chapter 14 in this series can be found HERE.

Visit your local library to compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Julia Cameron –

The Artist’s Way for Parents: Raising Creative Children

❤ ❤ ❤


Betty Edwards  –

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

❤ ❤ ❤


Andy Goldsworthy – [Landscape Artist]

A Collaboration With Nature

❤ ❤ ❤


Abigail Wheatley –

The Story of Painting

❤ ❤ ❤


Margaret Peot –

Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity

❤ ❤ ❤


Note: See Chapter 14 – Language Arts for more of the arts like Poetry/Shakespeare Theater/etc.


Purchase Here- P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and encourage the arts today!


 

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 12 Physical Educ/Health


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 12 – Physical Education & Health Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “core required subjects” of homeschooling. She emphasizes how building daily healthy habits for our mind and body will have benefits for a lifetime. Both movement and play as well as what we eat and how we rest all lead to how we experience our lives.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


Move More, P.L.A.Y. More, Get Outdoors, and Oh So Much More!

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures and this includes being active and healthy.

A Healthy Outdoor “Fall Leaf Pile Fly + Flop” Family Moment 11/2009

Healthy Activities –Here is a sample of healthy activities that our kiddos participated in over the years:

  • archery
  • biking
  • dancing
  • gardening
  • hiking
  • hip hop
  • horseback
  • ice skating
  • jogging
  • outdoor games at local park (w/shout out to our favorite Trevor the Games Man!)
  • raising goats
  • roller blading
  • running 3K races
  • soccer
  • skiing
  • sledding
  • singing
  • swim & gym
  • weight lifting

These activities were done in a mix of solo moments or in multi-age homeschool group gatherings or with the public at large.

Costs were kept down by borrowing or purchasing used equipment, approaching businesses to host homeschool sessions during slow daytime (school) hours at a lower price, and simply being selective with our activities so that many of them were cost free = just your time!

And the bonus benefit was so many of these involved time spent in nature – walking, photographing, sketching, playing, wandering, hiking, gardening, painting, sledding, laughing, engaging, listening, etc. = P.L.A.Y.-ing

Healthy Eating – Eating 3 or more times a day makes this an important relationship and connection for each person to figure out. How your body feels, fueled vs. fatigued, is directly related to physical activity and eating habits. As a homeschool family we had the opportunity to model what nourishes our bodies and learn together over time how to improve what we consumed to fuel and fulfill us daily. Over the years we have had many discussions on what we want to eat and why. The kiddos have been actively involved in the grocery trips and weekly CSA farm trips to pick our foods for over nearly 20 years – a skill for a lifetime of choices ahead. And with medical situations as a prompt we shifted together to a plant based diet, attended a conference as a family to learn more about this lifestyle, and over time we have stayed mostly plant based reaping the benefits and still having the flexibility for individuals to make adjustments to meet their own health needs.

And although both of my grown kiddos would say that our hours spent picking blueberries, strawberries, apples, and veggies at our local CSAs to fill our pantry and freezer were not always their favorite outdoor moments they do both value fresh local foods and love to consume them.

Healthy Body Awareness –  When it comes time for the conversations about the “birds & bees” I have three things to say:

  1. Look no further – go directly to the library, book store, or the link below and get the series by Robie H. Harris as the perfect story time and conversation launching point for all your healthy body awareness conversations at all ages and stages. We used these books together, one-on-one, and solo and have recommended them to families with kiddos ever since. She begins at age 4 with It’s Not the Stork! so it is never too early to get a copy and take a look to familiarize yourself with what is ahead!
  2. Be honest, be brave, have the courage to say I need to get back to you on that so you have time to think through your answers, and ALWAYS take your kiddos cues for how much information they are ready for by the questions they are asking. Too much information overloads the circuits and can get lost or misunderstood. Too little information may lead them to asking questions from other sources that provide myths or misinformation. Be present and be willing to revisit these topics again and again as your kiddos are trusting you to help guide their understanding of healthy body awareness. FYI -shaming is never welcome, especially to these talks as there is no such thing as a bad question and your kiddos curiosity is what will fuel healthy conversations and keep them coming back to learn more if they feel it is a safe space.
  3. We had the good fortune of also having some brave and compassionate parents in our homeschool co-op that were willing to take on the role of having challenging conversations with open and honest answers while teens explored these topics even further in safe and informed spaces.

Healthy Sense of Self & Relationships- Anxiety, stress, depression, have all become common everyday occurrences, especially for this technology driven generation. It is up to us as parents to model and help our kiddos have an awareness of coping strategies and building resilience. Three sources have helped inform how we have “raised” ourselves and our kiddos:

  1. Becoming familiar with the 24 Character Strengths & Values created by Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson who are pioneers in the field of Positive Psychology. Visit the Values in Action website so you and your family can take a survey and see which are your strengths and how you lead with them everyday. This is a game changer for making long lasting connected relationships.
  2. Wholehearted Living – The work of Brene Brown on shame and vulnerability and her sharing of it in her multiple books has made all the difference in how I am as a parent, partner, daughter, friend, and in all of my relationships and has rippled out to my family, community, and beyond. If you only have the chance to read one of her books I’d say her latest, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts has all the basics for how to create trusting and vulnerable relationships while holding healthy boundaries = wholehearted living. I will be doing a separate BOOK LOOK series in the future to cover her amazing and necessary work.
  3. Conflict Resolution, Sociocracy, Compassionate Communication are all models that we have had experience with together as a family in our various homeschool co-ops and in our intentional community. What we have found over the years is that there are many great strategies and guide posts that are woven throughout these models and it takes time, trial and error, to figure out what works best for you, your family, and the communities you engage with over time. They all require effort and doing the hard homework and plenty of practice AND are all worth looking into and discovering what is a good fit for your healthy lifestyle.

Chapter 13 in this series can be found HERE.

As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.

Visit and support your local library and request these books!


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Robie H. Harris –

It’s Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends (age 4 and up)

It’s So Amazing!: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families (age 7 and up)

Brene Brown –

 

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.Ryan Niemiec & Robert McGrath –

 

The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality

Marshall Rosenberg –

Nonviolent Communication: A Language for Life

Online – How to videos – Dance, Yoga, Tai Chi, Archery, Aerobics, Weight Lifting, etc.


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the P.L.A.Y.-filled journey today!


 

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 11 Math


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 11 – Math, Business & Critical Thinking Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “academic subjects” of homeschooling. She clearly states “Math is Everywhere” and so are the opportunities for engaging with it. Pretty much all that you do can be easily connected to mathematical concepts in some way and she therefore encourages you to simply engage in a wide variety of every day moments with critical thinking, logic, and other concepts applied naturally.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


 Focusing on the “Math”of Play, Curiosity, and Our Very Nature

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures. Connecting to math and using our critical thinking muscle takes on a variety of looks as we each come to it from quite a variety of angles.

Giving family members the space to explore mathematical concepts in their own way has made all the difference in our relationships and their relationship to math.

Up until the age of 7 the kiddos simply encountered math naturally in their daily lives. Working in the kitchen with mom, telling time to know when we leave for a friends house or how much more time they had in a favorite activity, counting coins they received from the grandparents, figuring out what a half of a half was so that a family of four could split dessert evenly, and so many other routine moments where math arrived naturally.

Then as they got a bit older we introduced a few things to provide further exposure to the basic concepts of + – x / and eventually fractions and decimals <see resources listed below>. From the ages of 7-12 they had the opportunity to sit with one of their parents, grandparents, their sibling, or work solo to noodle through various problem/solution exercises progressing at their own pace. There were never tests, they always had the answer keys available to use as a reference, and they each made choices in how to go about this work.

Pressure and rushing were never a part of the equation for math or any other topic for that did not match our family’s vision for learning or our lifestyle. I had already learned long ago in my teaching career that everyone learns in their own time and way even in a system that says you must know something by a certain age.

So you might ask, “were your kids ever frustrated or upset with learning math? how did you handle it? or was it simple and smooth?” Well as parents we probably already know the answer to this. The odds of this process being smooth and simple are not likely, although possible for some. I have always said my kiddos are like night and day in so many ways and it was no different in this arena. Math came easily to one kiddo and yet they often challenged the way in which it was presented. My other kiddo very early on said simply ” I don’t do math”.

We had our moments in which I had to practice patience while explaining again “why” we needed to have some basic math skills and it was necessary, in time, to learn the basics to apply to future endeavors in life. There were tears at times, both theirs and mine, as we did the dance of connection and disconnection provided by math moments. However, some of the greatest gifts on this P.L.A.Y. journey were how we handled ourselves which more often built trust vs. breaking it down. Respecting each individuals learning path and the methods that worked best for them provided daily opportunities to lean into trust and having faith that each kiddo knew their true needs and I was simply there as a guide. Communication and listening were key. They taught me more than I ever taught them. A true gift.

Navigating “MATH” with your child may feel like a challenging labyrinth over the years however follow their lead and trust it will eventually unfold naturally.

And so what is their relationship to math today as they have both feet planted in the adult world? Well the artistic kiddo never felt comfortable with math as it is customarily taught and presented in a linear fashion. And yet they have found their way navigating through “math moments” because they are motivated by their passion pursuits. Does it come easily to them? They don’t seem to think so. Do they manage well enough and know when to ask for assistance? Absolutely, just as I ask for techie help with my computer or someone might ask a neighbor for handyman help. And for the kiddo that the mathematical answers came easy, well we often encounter routine household moments in which a question comes up, they generate an answer, and I will be amazed at how they arrived at it. The way in which they see and process the equation is vastly different from what I know and yet they arrive at the same place or more often are arriving at the answer that escapes me. We are all wonderfully different learners and we all make our way, independently and interdependently.

And what is their relationship to me after traveling this “math path” together? With compassion, communication, and our relationship always foremost on my mind throughout the two decades of homeschooling/unschooling I have gratitude that the homework has payed off and our adult parent/kiddo relationships are still filled with trust and continue to build and be maintained every day.

THE Best Math Equation I Know to Be True:

Compassion + Communication = Building Connection + Trust

Be kind to yourself, be kind to your kiddos. The answers will come, in their own time and own way, both math kind and so much more.

Chapter 12 in this series can be found HERE.

As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.

Be sure to support your local library and request these books!


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


Math-U-See is an online and product based program originally designed with homeschoolers in mind by Steve Demme & Family that we used at times with the kiddos when they were ages 7-12. [Note: We used the book series over 10+years ago and can not speak for the online version.

Steve SlavinAll the Math You’ll Ever Need: A Self-Teaching Guide

 

DK Math Workbooks – optional inexpensive consumable offering for the early years

 

Cindy Neuschwander -Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure (engaging picture book series)

 

Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About MATH Homework

Khan Academy free online classes for all levels of mathematics, business, and critical thinking (for the whole family) especially as you get into the higher level math courses. [Note: We only dipped a toe into these however, we have heard of many other homeschoolers who enjoyed access to these online classes.]


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!


 

BOOK LOOK – Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon – Chapter 10 Science & Nature


~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~

Review & Reflections


Free Range Learning:

How Homeschooling Changes Everything

by Laura Grace Weldon


~Review~


If you were to only have one homeschooling, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth owning this volume to revisit again and again for both support and inspiration.

This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.

Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Categories- Book Look/Resource Book Reviews search tab on the right side of this page.

In Chapter 10 – Science and Nature Laura begins to cover what some folks would view as the “academic subjects” of homeschooling. However, in true unschooling style she asks you to broaden your vision of learning about Science & Nature as so much is understood, by both kiddos and adults, through hands-on-in-the-moment experiences vs. the systematic text and teaching model.

Real science is about asking questions, reflecting, trying something again and again, reading, investigating, collaborating, and asking more questions. Homeschoolers have the opportunity to get curious and truly engage with the sciences and take the time to connect with nature and learn both broad and in-depth knowledge of the world around them.

A phrase very much suited to this method is “in their own time and in their own way”. It works on so many levels.

Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and resources we used on our journey.


~Reflections~


 Focusing on the “Science” of Play, Curiosity, and Nature

Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures. Connecting to the sciences and nature are all apart of a “natural” process when we provide routine access to meaningful spaces. Nature does it best.

Exposing my kiddos to the great outdoors early on and continuing to put into practice our family value of appreciation of nature has evolved and changed over the years. No matter how it looks connecting to nature has always been a priority and very much present in our lives and very often has presented itself in the form of P.L.A.Y. as seen by these examples:

  • Taking trips to our local Audubon center to walk the trails with family and friends, making watercolor paintings of what we see, learning about local flora & fauna, sketching in our journals, etc.
  • Walking in the woods and having story time moments with our weekly Roots & Shoots group.
  • Field trips with the statewide butterfly association connecting to both veteran and newbie lepidopterists. Designing and exploring the new “butterfly garden” in our own yard created due to the enthusiasm generated from being a part of this community.
  • Weekly Wednesday Walks in the Winter to the local golf course down the street for sledding, snow & ice exploration, beaver dam observing, bird watching, “golf ball scavenger hunts” that had us looking closer and deeper into nature nooks, etc.
  • Using the nearly 80 year old tried and true Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock, former Professor of Nature Study at Cornell, as a springboard for getting curious and creating our own citizen scientist moments. <see book below>
  • Becoming members of, and making weekly trips to, our two local farm CSAs and picking foods in season: berries, tomatoes, beans, apples, pears, squash, pumpkins, etc. and helping out with work parties: ex. creating Universal Access paths in gardens closest to the farm parking lot.

Cricket – Bottle fed baby #2!

  • Learning how to raise Nigerian Dwarf Goats as pets, throughout the four seasons here in New England, has been an amazing adventure that my daughter initiated by taking on two bottle fed babies and over time increasing her herd to four. She has shared this experience with the entire family and our community providing a wonderful learning curve for all and even more reasons to get outdoors daily built right in. <And a bonus barn cat to greet us!>

Goaties enjoying the meadow in the summer sunshine.

Bonus Barn Cat!

  • And in the past 8 years making the big leap and leaning into our values of spending time in nature by building a home in an intentional farming community on 80+ shared acres of fields & forest, meadow & mountain, river & ridge, and gardens galore. We have the good fortune to experience the great outdoors daily and connect with nature in so many beautiful ways, goats and all, and learn from our fellow community members who embody this value too. The longer we live here the more nature opportunities seem to present themselves: ridge hiking, river walking, gardening with flowers and foods, cider making, berry picking, tadpole watching, bonfires under the moonlight, nature photography, and the list joyfully grows.

Nature nurtures our curiosity and sense of P.L.A.Y. and allows our understanding of science to grow organically.

Chapter 11 in this series can be found HERE.

As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.

Be sure to visit and support your local library by requesting these books!


~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~


 

Clare Walker Leslie –

The Curious Nature Guide: Explore the Natural Wonders All Around You (my future review here)

The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families, and Classrooms (my future review here)

Keeping a Nature Journal: Discover a Whole New Way of Seeing the World Around You (my future review here)

Richard Louv –

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (my future review here)

The Nature Principle: Reconnecting With Life in a Virtual Age (my future review here)

Vitamin N: The Essential Guide to a Nature-Rich Life (my future review here)

 

Mary Holland –

Naturally Curious: A Month-by-Month Photographic Field Guide of New England (my future review here)

Naturally Curious: A Day-by-Day Photographic Field Guide of New England (my future review here)

 

Anna Botsford Comstock – *public domain = available online free OR purchase the paperback to write in

The Handbook of Nature Study (my future review here)

 

Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About SCIENCE Homework (my future review here)

 

Joy Hakim – Overview of all 3 science books in this series – (my future review here)

The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way

The Story of Science: Newton at the Center

The Story of Science – Einstein Adds a New Dimension

 

Janice VanCleave – numerous hands-on science books – from physics to chemistry +more

 

Theodore Gray – 

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe (my future review here)

Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything

Reactions: An Illustrated Exploration of Elements, Molecules, and Change in the Universe

 

Michael Driscoll –

A Child’s Introduction to The Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations and How You Can Find Them in the Sky (my future review here)

 

DK – SPACE Encyclopedia (my future review here)


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

and join the play-filled journey today!