Category Archives: gentle learning

great books for us history

Planning
to study
US History this year?  


Looking for some great books to make all the people, places, and events come ALIVE ?!?
Here are some of my favorite books for early US History all in one place.    

The lists are compatible with the American Girl History Units, but there are also LOTS of other great history books NOT related to the American Girls …never fear fellows !  
Check back from time to time, I’m always adding to the lists.

As always, it would be AWESOME  if you’re going to purchase any of the books (or anything on Amazon at all) , if you could do it through these links.   T
here is NO extra charge to you whatsoever, and I get a small percentage for any items you purchase which helps me to keep posting all my units for free.  

Also, be sure to follow my American Girl Pages on Pinterest for all kinds of additional printables, recipes, activities, crafts, etc…
(There’s lots of non-AG ideas too !!) 

**I usually pin new fun finds to these boards at least several times a week!

HAPPY PLANNING !!!

civil war great books

 

 

 

* Civil War Reading List

 

 

pioneer unit reading list

 

 

 

*Pioneer America Reading List

 

 

Frontier Unit Study Book List

 

*America’s Southwest
Frontier Reading List  

colonial america unit book list

 

 

 

 *Colonial America
Reading List

 

 

native americans unit reading list

 

 

*Native America    

 

 

 

photo by: Wonderlane


summer school ideas
Can you believe it ?!?   It’s almost the end of May !!

And summer is stirring!
I’m already dreaming of grilling hamburgers and enjoying big slices of
juicy watermelon !


Summertime and the livin’ is easy !

Or at least it should be 🙂
No matter if we are year round homeschoolers or not, after several weeks of vacation from the daily routine, it’s good to have a little plan for the week.
See how little the plan is ?!

COME BACK !!   Don’t run away!  
I promise these FUN ideas won’t take much (if any) real planning, and will only add to the easy, carefree days that we all look forward to.

So here we go… 10 GREAT Ideas for
“Summer School” !

1.  Get Outside !
* Try something new like Geocahing !   You can get started HERE.
* Pick a day and hold a Family Olympics
* 32 Best Backyard Games
* Backyard Treasure Hunt:  Minecraft Style

* Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt
   If you love scavenger hunts here’s a great list of some more ideas !
*
50 Outdoor Summer Activities for Kids

(Print this list out…hang it on the fridge…never hear  “I’m Bored!”
this summer !)
* 50 Outdoor Games to DIY This Summer
(Possibly my FAVORITE ideas!  Great for kids of ALL ages !)

2.  Get Wet !  
* Water Obstacle Course  
* 17 Outrageously Fun Water Activities
* 75 Water Activities
* Fun Games to Play with Water 
* Play a game of Water Ball
* Water Gun Painting
* 25 Fun Ice Ideas for the Summer 

3.  Get Creative !
* Write a play and preform it for family & friends !
OR film your own movie
and invite the neighbors for the premier night !

* Try making a family scrapbook together or a simple family tree !
* Build a fairy garden together.
* Try Art Journals and if you need some GREAT ideas to begin, click HERE
* Get crafty with The Crafty Crow !

4. Get Giving !
* Host a Food Drive…Step by step how-to
* Make some Birthday Boxes  or some Blessing Bags
* Share some love with your Neighbors  (new twist on lemonade stand)
* Don’t forget the Elderly… 20 Ideas to Share 
* 100 Acts of Kindness for Kids  (and everyone else !!)
* 20 Unique Ideas for Summer Service Projects  

5.  Get Messy !
* Family Fun Night Messy !
* 20 Messy Outdoor Play Ideas
* Play Fun Foam Twister
* Color Spray T’s
* Get SLIMED !

6. Get Moving !
* DIY American Ninja Warrior Backyard Obstacle Course
* 12 Sports to Play with Pool Noodles  (No pool required)
* 35 Active Things to Do This Summer
* DIY Get Moving Game
* Fun YouTube Dances For Kids to Learn
* 10 Variations to the Game of Catch

7.  Get Away ! 
Whether you’re just kicking around your own town or city, taking a road trip, or jetting across the ocean to spend a week in Tahiti (I can dream!), summer is a time to EXPLORE !

* Free Fun at Local Retail Stores
(We’ve participated in the kids clubs at several of these stores and it has always been LOTS of fun!!  )
Here’s a few ideas:
Apple Kids Summer Programs
Microsoft Free Events for Kids
Lowe’s Build & Grow
Home Depot Weekly Workshops for Kids

* Going on a road trip this summer?  Maybe to one of America’s amazing National Parks ?
* National Parks Junior Ranger Programs  
* Printable Road Trip Games
* And some games for the big kids too ! 

* Funny post to keep you laughing if you’re on a road trip…and some super fun ideas for the kiddos!

* And if you’re lucky enough to be flying to Tahiti or some other wonderful place, check out this fantastic travel blog Word Traveling!  Written with homeschool families in mind, but good for anyone who loves to travel!

8. Get Reading !

* Barnes & Nobles Summer Reading Triathalon 
* Book Notes  (just because I thought this was awesome)
* Expand your reading borders and try the
 2016 Summer Reading Challenge
* Choose and read a book as a family.
Then watch the 
movie …make it a special themed night… you could cook related foods, play music as per the setting, or even dress up as some of the characters !!
* Reading Scavenger Hunt
* Start a Summer Book Club for Kids  

9. Get Cooking !
* Plan a Backyard Camping Trip….complete with COOKING !
* Try cooking a new meal together from a different country…
   HERE and HERE are some ideas to get started
* 10 Summer Snacks for Kids to Make
* Take a CHILL and make some icy snacks !
* Summer Themed Snacks 

10. Get Growing !
* 25 Things You Can Grow From Your Kitchen Scraps  
* Start small and plant an Herb Garden
* Creative Gardens For Kids !
* 10 Unique Gardening Activities for Kids
* Make your own garden markers and watch the beauty grow !

Wishing you all a summer FULL of daisy days !!
I’d love to hear your ideas too !  

Comments are always welcome !

spring chick PEEP!~Spring Science~
Friday Favorites

As much as I love the cozy days of winter, I’m kind of ready for
a new season.
Ready for all the browns to be replaced with greens,
for flowers to bloom,
and the breezes to be warm.
                          Bring on the spring! 

There’s just something about the change of seasons that always energizes me….and err….it seems to have been genetic.
My kids tend to get that same “energy”.


Yep.
                                                 Spring Fever !

So, this week’s Friday Favorites are  some fun   Spring Science Activities
to change things up a bit and get the spring fever wiggles out.    🙂

* ‘Egg’cellent  Ideas*

Bouncy Eggs from Parenting Chaos
8 Fascinating Egg Science Activities  from   iGame Mom
8 Egg Launchers  (These are SO MUCH FUN!!)  from   Little Bins for Little Hands

* Dancing with the Daffodils & Other Flower Power Ideas *

Daffodil Disection (& other lovely related ideas) from Mama Scout
*I really love this mama’s reminder that real learning is the goal!
Seed Sprouting Activity from Housing A Forest
The Magic School Bus Gets Planted!

Flower Pigment Experiment from Coffee Cups and Crayons

* Butterflies, Birds, and Bugs *

Make a Butterfly Feeder and learn all about butterflies with this Butterfly Unit from Premeditated Leftovers
Birds of a Feather from The Scientific Mom
Ants ! from Gift of Curiosity

Daffodil

“And then my heart with pleasure fills,
and dances with the daffodils. ”
– William Wordsworth

photo by:

American Girl Kirsten-
Pioneer Unit Study

Kirsten Pioneer Unit Study

Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854:
Growing up on America’s Frontier

 


* Core Reading-


*Week 1: “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854
Kristen’s Journey to America

1.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 1-3, 40-41                     (Meet Kirsten in Sweden)
2.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 4-7                                   (Journey to America )
3.   “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 8-11                               (Go West ! )
4. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 12-13                               (Home on the Prairie)
Pioneers
5.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 14-15, 24-25                (Home on the Prairie )
Native Americans

*Week 2: “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″
A Day With Kirsten

1.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 22-23, 26-27                 (Daily Life)
2.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 16-17; 32-35                (Fun & Games for Everyone! ) 3.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 18-21                              (Love & Marriage )
4.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 36-39                              (Fashion)
5. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 30-31; 49 (inset)          (Medicine )

*Week 3: “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854”
Friends and Foes on the Prairie

1.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 44-45                                     (Around Town)
2. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 42-43; 46-47                        (Kirsten’s Neighbors)
3.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 48-55                                    (The Dakota Conflict)
4.  “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 48-55                                    (Conflicts Continue)
5. “Welcome to Kirsten’s World 1854″- p. 56-58                                     (The Great Land Rush)

Continue reading American Girl Kirsten- Pioneer America Unit Study

~ A Christmas Carol~
(Mini Unit Study)
God Bless Us Everyone

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
If you’ve never tried a unit study before,
this busy time of year might be a good time to give it a try !
Simple learning ideas for stress free
and FUN holiday homeschooling !
So that there’s lots of time for baking cookies, going to plays, homemade presents, and hopefully,
even a bit of quiet time to soak in the awe of the advent !

 

  A Christmas Carol

*Reading Suggestions-

*Week 1:  ‘A Christmas Carol’

A Christmas Carol”  (Gutenburg Version)
“A Christmas Carol”  (Easy to Read Version…Larger Print)
This piece is divided into 5 staves, perfect for one week’s daily reading.

OR
Listen to one of these audio versions
 iTunes Version
  YouTube Version  (Audio with Text)

AND/OR
Watch the 1971 animated version  Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
George C. Scott full version  A Christmas Carol
(There are many good animated and full versions to be found)

*Vocabulary & Other Activities
* A Christmas Carol Lesson
( Lots of printables…worksheets, fact sheets, recipes, and other activities)
* A Christmas Carol Vocabulary
* A Christmas Carol  Script–   Try gathering some friends and acting out this play version !
* Discussion Questions, Fun Activities, and more
* A Christmas Carol Crossword Puzzle
Reading Comprehension Questions from Easy Fun School

*Week 2:  Charles Dickens

* Biography of Charles Dickens  OR  Everything Dickens  (interactive)
OR
Watch the brief BBC Biography, The Life of Charles Dickens on YouTube
or the full length A&E Biography  (very interesting, but probably best for older students)

* ” Christmas With Charles Dickens“, a short memoir by Dickens’ daughter, Mamie Dickens

* “A Christmas Tree” , a short story by Dickens
(Also, you can listen to a well done  audio version on the same page!
This might be helpful, as some of the victorian language is likely
unfamiliar and a bit difficult. )

* Collection of Short Stories by Dickens to enjoy reading online

* ‘The Ivy Green‘ a poem by Dickens

*  Samantha:  An American Girl Holiday
(Just for fun-  though this movie is not set in England, the time period and the themes
of the industrial revolution and child labor are the same)
Continue reading ‘A Christmas Carol’ Mini Unit

~Keeping a Quiet Heart~

Hearts


Why is it so hard to keep a quiet heart?
Or is that just something I struggle with?

I watch my youngest pull out of the driveway every single morning.
I pray and fight the swelling urge to worry.
I deny my mind the right to consider the rush of fearful thoughts
that want to come bursting in.
It’s been a year since her accident.


I will keep a quiet heart.

That’s hard work!
Yet harder still is the labor of worry.
Believe me, I know !
I don’t recommend that occupation at all.  🙂

Do any of you worry?
My friend wakes up in the middle of the night filled with incredible anxiety over her ability to successfully homeschool her children.  Another friend is nearly overcome with thoughts of failures in her finances.  Whether it’s fretting over health, or wayward children, or an uncertain future,  or even over all the holiday plans, it’s  exhausting !  Phew!

How do we keep a quiet heart ?
I can’t tell you what will work for you, but this has been my journey in a nutshell.

Worry is just another word for FEAR.
Fear is an ugly thing.
It will destroy anything it can get ahold of…  relationships, health, happiness,
peace, LIFE !
We tend to feel most fearful when we cannot control,
or have lost control, of our circumstances.

Prayer works.
Take a deep breath (or 5).  Sometimes, I think I have held my breath all day.
Recognize when fear is creeping in.
You aren’t in control, but that’s OK.
God is good.  He is in control.  Nothing surprises Him.
Choose faith over fear.
Stop.  Pray.
There isn’t a right way to do it.  Just DO it !
And then do it again.
And breathe.

The mind and the heart are connected.
If your heart is beating wildly with worry, chances are
your mind is full of loud clutter too!
I chose a short Scripture to pray when my mind wouldn’t allow me to focus.
Almost like a type of fasting, I would pray this verse every single time
I began to feel overwhelmed.
Words to focus my heart & mind on truth.
These were not some “magic words”  that obligated God to answer me.
Simply truth.
I wrote these words & placed them all over until I could pray each part
from memory…slowly with contemplation.
“The Lord is near.
         Do not be anxious about anything,
         but in every situation,
         by prayer and petition,
         with thanksgiving,
         present your requests to God.
        And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
        will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Choose peace.
 
While you can’t control other people, or circumstances,  you can control yourself.
Choose peace over fear.
It IS a choice.
Sometimes worry becomes a habit.  It takes discipline to break a bad habit.
I know when you’re tired and stressed out, this will take all the energy you’ve got.
It will be worth it though.

When life is REALLY throwing all it’s hard balls at once;
And it’s so very hard to concentrate on anything else… the rest of that verse.
“Finally, brothers and sisters,
          whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,
          whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
          —if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
          think about such things. “

God really does love us.
God really is GOOD.
You really can trust Him.

May the perfect love of Christ cast out all the fear in your hearts today.
May He watch over your comings and goings (and those of your families).
May He keep you in perfect peace.

photos by: &

~Thankfulness:  The Real Things Haven’t Changed~
   Words For Wednesdays

Little House on the Prairie

“The real things haven’t changed.
It is still best to be honest and truthful;
to make the most of what we have;
to be happy with simple pleasures;
and have courage when things go wrong.”

~Laura Ingalls Wilder

I have been working on a unit study about life in Frontier America.
I am amazed by the pioneer’s courage and their simple faith.
Thankfulness…the real things haven’t changed.
Their gratitude for the smallest graces
is something we can all reflect on

and aspire to.
What simple pleasures are you thankful for today?
My quick list:
~Laughter
~Hot Coffee
~The smell of baking bread
~Salty, roasted pumpkin seeds
~Music
~The change in seasons today

Gratitude

~Gratitude Builders ~
 (For Kids of All Ages)

Is today Monday again?!?
Are you SURE it isn’t Monday ?
Gratitude builders (for kids of all ages)… it’s what I’m thinking about these days.  Yep.  And it’s what I’m reminding myself of at the moment as I grump at my lack of computer skills.  Onward…

‘Tis the season to reflect on all we have to be thankful for in these wonderful lives of ours !
‘Tis the season for gathering together with friends and family.
And…
‘Tis the season to cram as much wonderful life as possible
into every corner of every day .
I’m not sure about you,  but these very lovely feelings of gratitude and family warmth
can quickly turn into a jumble of endless evenings of events, crying kiddos,
serious shopping stress,  kid meltdowns, and then one major mommy meltdown !

What helps our family?
I’m a planner.
I make plans to make plans.
I’m not even joking.  Ask my poor family.
And because,  I’m prone to mommy meltdowns (and yelling at dogs!),
I know we ALL can benefit from taking some quiet time as a family to appreciate these special days.

Just taking a moment to breathe, to be thoughtful, and to be thankful.

So, I’m making a plan.    🙂
I’ve googled, and Pinterested, and pulled out old books.
I’m making a list of a few things to do, nothing strenuous or time intensive,
just a couple quick ideas to make some quiet family time actually happen.

*Gratitude Builders For Kids of All Ages ~

* Quiet Times:
– “Praying Scriptures of Thanksgiving” from His Mercy Is New
   (Try reading & praying these simple verses together in the morning, or before bedtime)

–  Printable Family Gratitude Devotions from Frugal Fun For Boys
–  
Simple Weekly Thanksgiving  Family Devotions from Ligonier Camp
The Attitude of Gratitude (Lapbook) from Homeschool Helper Online 

*Stories of Thanksgiving for Families:
–  Thank You, God, for the Fleas!” adaptation from Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place

–  “The Children’s Book of Thanksgiving Stories”  from Project Gutenberg
( I love this resource !  Lots of short stories. Great for bed time, car time, anytime !)

Family Thanksgiving Book

My Family’s Thanksgiving Story
Perhaps you might like to make your own family’s special story of Thanksgiving.
I started the Thanksgiving notebook when my children were very small.   Every year there are various questions written at the top of it’s pages…every person (including guests) on Thanksgiving Day (or sometime during that week) signs in beside a number on the first page and answers the questions throughout the book.  We have several books now that are filled with the sweetest thoughts, memories, and words of love & friendship.   There are some years of little kid scribbles, of some umm… ‘creative’ things the kids were thankful for, some touching memories of happy times, and even several years that the pages are mostly in Spanish as we celebrated with our beautiful Peruvian friends.
Every year I bring the old notebooks out to read and remember.  There are some lovely treasures in those books-  thoughts from my Grandma, who passed away at 95 last year, and other people we have been blessed to know and love along the way.
These books are a very precious part of our family’s story.

IMG_4742 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*”Watch” a short book, or a movie curled up together:
– “The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings”  book on YouTube
– “The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks”  book on YouTube
– “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”    (full episode)

* Family Activities:
– Create a Simple Gratitude Garland from Life Lesson Plans
– Write a “We are Thankful for You” letter to someone as a family

– Try printing out these family talk Gratitude Table Topics from Growing Book by Book
Family Games… Ideas for Building Attitudes of Gratitude

“An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving” Unit Study from Fields of Daisies (that’s me  🙂 )
– Some lovely Thanksgiving Coloring Pages from Karla Dornacher
  (Because they’re my favorite everyday  🙂 )

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful;  it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” 
― David Steindl-Rast

 

 Teaching Kids
~ Thankfulness ~

confused maggie

 

Have YOU yelled at your dog lately ?!?

So lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude.
(Keep reading…it really does have something to do with yelling at your dog.)  🙂

Gratitude…
But not in the

it’s-almost-Thanksgiving-and-I-need-to-hurry-up-and-be-thankful
kind of way,
  more in the
stop-and-open-my-eyes-and-actually-SEE-life-all-around-me-and-be-thankful” kind of way.

Gratitude takes a special kind of seeing some days.
Sight, past the obvious.

My recent obvious…
I wake up. I make coffee. I Iet the dog outside.
I see the obvious.
I see my grass needs to be mowed.  I see the weeds overtaking my garden.
I see my fence needs repair.  It’s raining.
I quickly close the door.
The dog brings half the back yard in on his feet;  I see mopping all the floors in my future.

I try again.

I curl up in my favorite chair.  I start to read.
I’m distracted.  The house is too quiet.
I see the obvious everywhere.
I see a dog hair dust bunny the size of Texas floating across the floor.
I see the dirty dishes that need to be done.
I see that by next year this time, my house will be quiet like this all the time… empty of kids and all the noise and motion that comes along with them.  The dog wants to go out again…and brings back the other half of the backyard inside on his feet.
Now my cup of coffee is cold.

And I lose it.
I yell at the dog.
I  mean I YELL AT THE DOG !
I blame the whole list of what’s not going right in my selfish world squarely on him.
He looks really confused and kind of scared.
Poor pooch.


Ummm  yeah.  And then I get it.
I know my attitude needs a major overhaul.
What’s the fun in that ?!?  

Yelling at the dog is a sure sign of an ungrateful heart !!
Have you ever had a day (or a sting of days) like this ?!?

Some days  Every day, I need to just stop for a moment,
take a deep breath, open my eyes, open my heart,
and really SEE life…

There is beauty everywhere to be thankful for.
There is good even in the worst situations.
There is laughter even at the saddest moments.
It’s all about seeing past the obvious.

I’m practicing.
And my dog is grateful.

Years ago, I read a story to my children, taken from Corrie Ten Boom’s book ‘The Hiding Place’.    It is called “Thank You, God, for the Fleas!“.
I don’t know if they remember it or not, but I have never forgotten it.

I know today’s post is supposed to be Friday Favorites-  links to family freebies online.
I’ll post that tomorrow.  🙂
You can read Thoughtful Gratitude Builders now.


Can we truly teach our children to grow a thankful heart if we aren’t tending our own hearts and training them toward gratefulness ?  I hope we can somehow all be encouragers of thanksgiving along the way, as fully as Betsie was for Corrie.

I am giving thanks today for all of you mamas out there who are giving your all to raise your sons and daughters to change the world by their love and light!!

Teaching kids ourselves thankfulness takes a whole lot of effort some days.
But it is all well worth the return!
For which your dog is abundantly grateful.    🙂

 

photo by: