Composer Study

Composer Study in our school is, like most things, low stress. We pick a composer, usually from the list at Ambleside Online, make a Spotify playlist, and listen to the music on our way to the park. In the evenings, we might listen to/watch a symphony on YouTube. If there is a decent biography on the composer, we will read it during morning time. We do not stress about classical music. We just enjoy it.

If for some reason we pick a composer that we don’t particularly enjoy, no big deal. We only listen for about 12 weeks.

J.S. Bach

Here’s an affiliate link for the book we read about Bach. It’s meant to come with a CD to listen to some of the music mentioned in the book. We didn’t get the CD, but most of the music is available on Spotify, so we listened along there. It was a nice overview of Bach’s life.

Radio Program about Bach here.

Frank Liszt

We haven’t read this book on Frank Liszt yet, but it’s free! I’m excited to read it with the kids in the next few weeks. Some of his music was used in cartoons, so we will also enjoy some Bugs Bunny this term to appreciate Liszt’s music.

This radio program about composers did a program about Liszt that you can find here.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

Read the Play

This term, we are reading Romeo and Juliet. It’s a re-read for us – but that’s good. We love re-reading Shakespeare plays. Every time we notice new themes and have more to talk about – new ways to dig in.

Folger Shakespeare Library Mass Market editions are quickly becoming my favorite editions. They have lots of notes and always start with insightful commentary.

Don’t get a kindle version. You need a print copy. In fact, each student needs a print copy.

Bookshop.org

Watch a Movie

Romeo and Juliet is the best for movie watching. There are so many great options. The Baz Luhrmann version is our favorite, but if you want something not so loud, try this version. But pre-screen if you have young children.

It’s also easy to find colleges who recorded their Shakespeare plays and put them online. Those are free and easy to find.

Build Community

Romeo and Juliet is a popular play and it’s likely that other people in your homeschool community may be reading it, or willing to read it, and then come over for some Shakespeare fun. 

We once hosted a Romeo and Juliet fun day. We read portions of the play, had a soccer game (Capulets vs. Montagues), and ate Italian food. Everything is better with food. 

So reach out to your homeschool friends and see how you can interact with this play together.

 

Another great resource for parents teaching Romeo and Juliet is The Play’s the Thing. In 2021, they read the play act by act and discussed it. We read it that semester and listened along. My high school student, in particular, got into the discussions about Romeo and Juliet’s love – is it transcendent? Or just immature teenagers choosing desire over duty? Listen along and discuss with your students.

Poetry

This term we are reading Robert Frost for my older student and Christina Rossetti for my younger student.

We will read a new poem each day and I’ll encourage them to memorize one poem each by offering tangible incentives (I’m looking at you, FiveBelow…).

The content below contains affiliate links.

Robert Frost

We will be reading from this Robert Frost book, just as soon as I find it! In the meantime, Robert Frost poems are available for free here. Plus a quick YouTube search will show you lots and lots of people reading Frost poetry.

Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti has been a favorite here for a while. We have a physical copy of one of her books that we will be reading from daily. Like Robert Frost, you can find many YouTube videos of her poems being read aloud. 

 

New City Catechism

There have been multiple steps in learning our catechism.

Learn the Words-Daily

We reviewed our questions daily. We started with 1-5. When those were memorized, they moved to a weekly review pile and 6-11 took their place.

Learn the Words-Weekly

After 24 weeks of review, review, review – now we recite questions 1-10 on Mondays, 11-20 on Tuesdays and so on. If we miss a day, it’s no big deal – we’ll get it next week.

Dig Deeper

This term, our plan is to spend one week on each question – while continuing to review the rest – and really dig deep to understand what each question is asking/answering. There are multiple videos and resources online that will aid in our catechism journey.

Family Tree Celtic Knot

Family Tree Celtic Knot – Mother’s Day Gift

I am happy to announce, I am offering custom Celtic knots to celebrate your family tree! You’ll have a completely unique work of art that you can frame and display in your home.  This makes a fantastic Mother’s Day gift – but space is limited, so contact me today!

Watercolor

Family Tree Celtic Knot

 

Here’s an example of the Hart Family Tree Celtic Knot. Each of my children is represented, including a child we lost (see the tiny gem in the tree?). I would be happy to work with you to make sure your family is accurately portrayed. Each woman’s skirt is the color of her birthstone and, if you want, I can give each man a cap with his birthstone color. 

The woman in your life is special. Show her you’ve noticed how the whole family comes together in this work of art.

A Celtic knot design circles the whole page, and is actually the roots and branches of a tree. Under the tree, you’ll find a simple depiction of your family – mom, dad, kids – and, if you want, your family name and a date that is special to you.

Many parts of the painting are customizable. When you reach out about your purchase, I’ll send a list of questions to communicate how you want your family represented.

I love working with my clients! If you have lost a child or have a blended family, I would be glad to work with you on how you want to portray your unique family members.

Great Gift for Mom

This custom work of art is 9×12 inches and available for $125. It takes about 3 weeks to complete and will be sent to you on archival watercolor paper and in a high resolution jpg.

If you are on a budget and want to print your Celtic knot yourself, I can send a “digital only” knot. I’ll use a knot I already painting and digitally alter it to include your family. This method can still be customized, but does take quite a bit of my time. The price for a digital-only work is $50 with one revision included.

Spots are extremely limited! So contact me today to start the conversation about this gift that will be a family heirloom for generations. 

 

 

Spring Free Reads

This posts contains affiliate links to Amazon and Bookshop.org.

The Wheel on the School

Wheel on the School is a memorable story. We are part-way through it and can’t wait to finish. Even my 12-year-old, who was skeptical, has come around to enjoy this book. For budgeting purposes, we found this classic at our library, but if you’d like to purchase, see my affiliate link above.

 

The Hiding Place

My Year 6 student is learning about World War II, so it seemed like a good time to read The Hiding Place. I’ve only skimmed it – I have never read the whole thing and I’m very much looking forward to it.

If you like, find it at bookshop.org.

 

The Phantom Tollbooth

The kids follow an online bookcclub – Withywindle. Withywindle is reading Phantom Tollbooth this spring. We will read along so we can keep up with the podcast hijinks.

Find it at bookshop.org.

 

Top Ten Family Read-Alouds

These books have been a blessing to our homeschool. Enjoy one today!

This post include links to my storefront at Bookshop.org and Amazon, where I am an affiliate.

small kids reshape a small town in a big way

The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong

I have great memories of reading this book as a kid, so it was natural to pick it up for my kids this year. It starts a little slow – but seeing the pieces come together is a delight. The children in this sleepy seaside town wake it up and it all starts with a simple idea and a great teacher.

I couldn’t find a kindle copy, but this print copy is lovely.

Recommended Ages: 8-12

 

an adventure with Mr Toad

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

My 8-year-old boy adored this book. These four animal friends go on little adventures. For older kids, there are plenty of conversations to have about addiction and how to be a good friend. 

Fun Story: At church, we had a short lesson on St. Patrick. We talked about his early life, when he wanted revenge on his captors. My son piped up, “He wanted revenge? Just like Mr. Toad.” Luckily, I was his Sunday school teacher that day!

Available on Kindle

Better in Print

Recommended Ages: 6-10 (but older kids will like to listen along, too.)

 

Classic Orphan Story

 

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Hear me out. This book is old and long and it may take time for your kids to get used to the language. But as a read-aloud, it’s worth the work. We spent a whole school year slowly reading this book and, in the end, my oldest was able to tell back the whole thing – almost scene for scene. The story sticks with you and is a beautiful tale of beauty from ashes, grace, and forgiveness.

Available on Kindle

Better in Print

Recommended Ages: 8-18

Make Geography/History Fun

 

The Tree in the Trail

Simple concept: Follow the life of tree along the Santa Fe trail. Watch native Americans come and go, the wagon trains travel, and the American frontier change.

We read this slowly over 12 weeks, checking the map as we read, to learn about the American southwest.

You need the print copy of this book.

Recommended Ages: 7-10

Peril on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

My daughter absolutely loved the Little House books. Following Laura and her family was a joy. Start with the Little House in the Big Woods, then read the Prairie. If you read them slow enough, your children will enjoy the later books when they are older – which is good – because the later books explore more difficult themes.

Buy the hardcopy because you’ll want to pass them onto your grandkids.

Recommended Ages: 6-12

 

World War II Classic

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Here’s another book that I read as a kid – and it found a place in the bookshelf of my mind. Little images and sentences stuck with me. I didn’t even remember where some of these thoughts came from until I re-read this book with my kids. 

A family risks their lives to hide their Jewish neighbors during the early days of World War II. The main character, a young girl, has to grow up quickly to save her friend. Highly Recommend and you may cry. 

Read on the Kindle

Better in Print

Recommended Ages: 8-12

 

Cry with me about a spider

 

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

If this list were in any sort of order, this book would be number 1. We have used it as a read-aloud at home at least three times. I’ve read it aloud to my weekday class at church. It’s about true friendship and good writing and you can’t miss it.

Do not buy the kindle version. Get a good print copy and pass it on.

Recommended Ages: 5-12

Girl grows up Quick with Putney Cousins

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

After being treated with kid gloves in her Mid-west home, Betsy has to move in with the dreaded Putney Cousins. Will she recover from culture shock and learn the strange Putney ways?

My kids really loved this book. You will, too.

Read it on Kindle.

Better in Print.

Recommended Ages: 7-10

There and Back Again…

The Hobbit

I did not grow up reading the Tolkien books so reading them for the first time with my kids has been great. Follow Bilbo on his journey with the dwarves. The book is better than the movies! But it can be fun to watch the movie afterwards as a treat.

Buy it in print.

Recommended Ages: 7-18

 

Sweet Country Vet

 

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

This book is a memoir-type book about a vet in the English countryside. It captured the imagination of my own children and the children at our weekday church program. The stories are short and the illustrations are beautiful.

Buy it in print.

Recommended Ages: 5-10

 

Reading Round Up – Here are short recommendations for books I’ve recently enjoyed. Some I read with the kids – some were just for me – and some were for a reading group.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases through these links, but I really did enjoy the books and I hope you will, too.

Comedy

in America by Maeve Higgins

Maeve Higgins is completely hysterical. Her delightful memoir made me laugh out loud in multiple doctor’s waiting rooms. Tune into the NPR show “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” to hear her voice and then, if you need something light and fun, pick up her book today. Thanks to my sister for a great gift.

 

 

Book of Marvels

Richard Halliburton’s

Book of Marvels


I still remember where I was when I snagged The Book of Marvels for $40 on Ebay. New moms will never know the struggle to find this book for an affordable price! It was out-of-print for ages so your best bet was to find someone on Ebay willing to make a deal.

In 2018, I remember walking into the Half-Priced Books in San Antonio, Tx and during a quick glance of the clearance section, I found Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels for $2. I’m pretty sure I screamed. I bought the book and sold it the next week for $40 and nearly started a new job peddling rare books.

Why is this book so great?

Richard Halliburton travelled and wrote about his journey back before travel easy and before the internet made “visiting” these Marvels so accessible by computer and Google Earth. He does much more than describe the locations – he always has a story to go along with his visit to make the whole book a memorable delight.

How can I use this book?

We added this book to our Morning Time Routine because my daughter was not enjoying reading it alone. We read the book as a family and usually find a You Tube Video to get a little update on the location and see how it looks in color.  Regardless, we find the location of the Marvel on the map and narrate what we’ve learned.

What other resources are available?

This website has updates to the marvels and more information about Richard Halliburton’s book. It’s now available to purchase through Living Book Press, which is much more convenient, but not nearly as much fun as stumbling on a copy in a used bookstore or garage sale. 

 

Free Reads

“Free Reads” in our home come from the Ambleside Online list for whatever year my kids are in.

In the Ambleside Online community, families handle the Free Read section in different ways. The way I do it is not the only way, although it does work well for us.

For the younger years, I pick a selection from “Free Reads” and add it to our morning time. We read about 15 minutes per day. I alternate from the list of each kid.

I started doing it this way because my oldest started at AO4 and missed the younger year free reads. By doing them as a family, he got to hear those stories while my daughter did. 

Sometimes we do a free read because it fits with the season or topic. For example, we visited the fair recently, and my youngest fell in love with the little piglets PLUS our nature study topic was spiders – so we had to read Charlotte’s Web. Also, every November/December, we read The Christmas Carol because it’s such a great story.

The other way we sometimes handle Free Reads is audiobooks from the library. I’ve written before about my captive car audience, and one way I take advantage of this time is audiobooks. We can’t swing a monthly audible subscription, but the occasional library fee is worth it.

Article on Free Reads from Ambleside Online