Seasonal Homeschool Prep

One way I love to keep homeschooling magical and special is to include special learning experiences for seasons and holidays.  It’s extra work for me but to be honest I love it and the kids do too!

Each year in August I check around online for resources.  Then I print, laminate and cut anything I want to use for Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas.  This way when the busy-ness of fall is upon us I have everything organized and ready to go.

Seasonal/ Holiday Resources

I absolutely love using the monthly and seasonal guides from Meghann, creator of Rooted Childhood!

Here is a link to see her guides:

Each guide comes with poems, recipes, songs, finger plays, book lists and crafts.  Using her guides, we have created so many beautiful decorations for our home that I will always treasure.

I also love the Montessori seasonal or holiday bundles that are advertised on Instagram this time of year.  I have a few from Every Star is Different that we love!  I also love that any work that I take time to print and laminate for Ethan can be re-used for Lillian.

My kids also love the holiday printables from The Moffat Girls at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Again, I love that whatever I purchase for Ethan can be reused for Lillian.


I also always make a list of any crafty supplies that we will need and put in an order either to Oriental Trading or Michaels.

I also love Pinterest for hands-on learning activities!  We still love sensory bins and fine motor work even at 7.5 and 6 years old!

Are you a holiday homeschooler too?  Or do you stick to your regular routine?

What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Fall

Is it too soon?  Or are you one of those people who, like me, can already smell the pumpkin spice?

Here are some of our favorite books about the fall season:

The Very Busy Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri – This book is great for the younger set but, I guarantee my kids will still ask me to read it out loud 100 times next month!

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert – This is such a beautiful book.  And kids of all ages will love making a leaf man when you are outside.  Simple fun at its best.

Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington – Great book about apples for city kids! Find out how the apples get from the farm right into the city farmer’s market.

Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills – Another great book for the younger set that I know I will still be reading out loud this year. Some of these “baby books” are just too good to pack up just yet.

Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell – This is one of our top favorites!  Follow along with a boy and the life cycle of a pumpkin.

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger – Great book to inspire an outdoor fall adventure!

Apples by Gail Gibbons – I love Gail Gibbons nonfiction books!  Great illustrations and detailed information.

Apple Picking Day by Candace Ransom – A sweet simple story about a family who goes apple picking!

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber – Who doesn’t love to jump in the leaves?!

You can download the full list here:

Children’s Books about Fall

Do you have any favorites we should check out this year?  Let me know in the comments.

I’ll put up some other posts about specific Halloween and Thanksgiving books that we love soon.

What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Sharks

My son, Ethan, who is now 7, went through a serious shark-loving phase.  We have SO many books about sharks in our home!  Do you have a shark lover in your house?

Here are our favorites:

Smart Kids: Sharks: And Other Dangers of the Deep by Priddy Books

National Geographic Readers: Sharks! (Science Reader Level 2) by Anne Schreiber

Sharks (Discovery Kids) (Discovery 3D Readers) by Discovery Kids (This book comes with 3D glasses!  I had to tape ours together because they were falling apart from so much use!)

I Survived: The Shark Attacks of 1916 by Scholastic

Hammerhead vs. Bull Shark (Who Would Win?) by Scholastic (This Who Would Win? series was so appealing to Ethan as a 5 and 6 year old!  He loved these books so much.)

Amazing Sharks! (I Can Read Level 2) by Sarah L. Thompson

Fly Guy Presents: Sharks (Scholastic Reader, Level 2) by Tedd Arnold

Uncover a Shark: An Uncover It Book (Uncover Books) by David George Gordon

These are actually just a few of our favorites!  You can download my full list of recommendations here:

Children’s Books about Sharks

What We are Reading Wednesday: Early Readers


Ethan reading from one of his favorite series books, Henry and Mudge

Once I thought Ethan was ready to start reading books on his own (he had strong phonics skills and had memorized some high-frequency words) I introduced him to some “early readers.”  He had zero interest.  I just don’t think he had the stamina to read more than a list of words or a few simple sentences at a time.  I knew he had the necessary skills so I did not worry or get discourgaged.  I just waited.  And waited.  And then one day he just started to gobble them up!

What qualifies as an “early reader” or “easy reader,” you ask?  Easy readers are books with not too many words per page that are easily decoded, contain high frequency or sight words, are easy to comprehend and have illustrations that are strong clues to the text.  Easy readers are also often full of action and dialogue and do not have much descriptive language.

An early reader is a good fit for your child if he/she is able to read it independently or with minimal help.  This is something NYC public school teachers call a “just-right” book.  If the level of text is too high, it will only frustrate your child.  Ethan loves to read his easy readers snuggled up with me, out loud to his sister or alone in his bed before bedtime.

It can be hard to find early readers that are actually easy enough for a new reader!  We started with these…

The above books were so great because they are books that a new reader can actually read independently and it will really help to build their confidence!  Some books that you find in the bookstore labeled Level 1 are really much too difficult for a new reader.  Ethan loved the above titles for when he was just getting started!

From there Ethan moved on to some really fun easy reader series books.  First, The Fly Guy series really helped him take off with his reading!  He found them so funny!  Each book in the series follows the same format, which really helped build his confidence and in turn his stamina.

He also loved…

The Narwhal and Jelly series is definitely the supreme favorite in our house!

For those of you in NYC, public school first graders are considered to be meeting the 1st grade reading expectations if they can read books like these by the end of the school year…

Do you have any favorite books for kids on this reading level?  Please share in the comments!

What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Summer


Here is a list of books we have been reading to get ready for summer!

*all links are Amazon affiliate links*

Fourth of July Books

Red White and BOOM! by Lee Wardlaw

Independence Day by Trudi Strain Trueit

F is for Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison

The 4th of July Story by Alice Dagliesh

Summer Books

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews

Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse



Sorry for the hiatus

A Brooklyn homeschool is back!  I realized that when my kid’s forest school program ended for the year, I no longer had time to write on the blog.  I learned I cannot write on the computer at night after my kids are asleep or I have a very hard time falling asleep.  Nighttime screen time definitely does not work for me!  But, their forest school camp started, so I found my writing time.  Happy to be back and I hope you’ll enjoy the posts that go up this week.

I hope you are having a great summer!

Poetry Tea Time

I first learned of the idea of Poetry Tea Time from Instagram.  It looked lovely and I knew I wanted to learn more about the idea!  Julie Bogart creator of Brave Writer, the online writing and language arts program, first created Poetry Tea Time when she was homeschooling her own children.  She loved poetry from an early age but knew there was a “culture of anxiety around poetry.”  She wanted to introduce her children to poetry and thought about doing that over tea, a time when “there’s a universal urge to pause, to rest, to draw in to self and community around a soothing beverage.”

Doesn’t that just sound so lovely?

You can check the #poetryteatime on Instagram and see that thousands of families, all over the world, are now enjoying Poetry Tea Time, just like Julie and her family.  We tried it and it’s as delightful as it sounds!  We now have Poetry Tea Time once a week.  We will usually bake a small treat to enjoy with our tea and then gather at the table to read some poems!

I purchased Julie’s book, The Poetry Tea Time Companion, from Amazon (affiliate link).  It’s a great book with wonderful poems arranged by season.  But although I am happy to own it, I don’t feel you need it to make Poetry Tea Time work for your family.  You can check out her website – or look at Instagram for inspiration.  It’s so much fun to set a pretty table and sit down together.  I’ve picked up a few seasonal mugs at Christmas Tree Shops and my kids love this added flair of a pumpkin mug or a shark mug, depending on the season!

Shark Week Poetry Tea Time

I definitely agree with Julie that poems and tea go well together!  I’m glad to have another time of our day when we include poetry.  It feels natural and special at the same time.

Do you have Poetry Tea Time in your house?  If you need any inspiration of good poetry books for children – check out this post or you can find a .pdf list in the Booklist section of the blog that you can download with poetry books we enjoy.

What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Classical Music

In our family we listen to a lot of classical music.  I’ve compiled a list of books about classical music that we enjoy reading and included some CDs that the kids enjoy listening to too. 

(these are affiliate links)

Leonard Bernstein’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

We first started listening to this CD when my son was about 2 years old.  It is a great introduction to instruments, the orchestra and classical music for kids.  It’s still something that we all love listening to.  I’m sure you can stream this now or download it.  

Peter and the Wolf translated by Maria Carlson

This has been a favorite for a few years now.

Peter and the Wolf

The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers

This book, coupled with the music was a HUGE hit in our house.  I pretty much listened to nothing else from Thanksgiving to about March.  

The Story Orchestra:  Four Seasons in One Day by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

Both kids love this one.  It’s a lovely story that matches the music from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  On each page there is a button to push with a piece of music.

Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine

Ethan loves this one.  I caught him conducting one of the songs in his room the other day using one of his arrows from his bow and arrow set :).

I have my eye on these:

Maestro Classics 12 CD Collection

Each CD comes with an activity book.  I think my kids would love it!  

Do your kids like classical music?  Do you have any book recommendations?  Let me know in the comments!

Morning Basket

In a previous post, I discussed how we have incorporated the Charlotte Mason concept of a “morning basket” into our homeschool.  In this post, I thought I would explain how we use our morning basket.  

My kids really love to eat breakfast!  This meal can go on for a really long time in our house.  Before reading about Charlotte Mason, I began reading to my kids at the breakfast table simply because we were sitting there for so long each day!  We came to love this time spent together, when everyone was well rested and well fed.  We now have a structure to our morning time and we keep all of the components we need in a basket right next to our table.  Hence the name, Morning Basket. 

Morning Basket Schedule

Here are the components to our Morning Basket, in the order we work through them:

Calendar – Oh, calendar work.  This work has taken so many forms over the last few years because I have changed it up so many times.  We started with a traditional “school” calendar with velcro numbers. But honestly, it was too big for our apartment and a pain to keep up with.  Why?  Because, for my daughters first two years of life, it was her personal mission to rip off every number as many times as she could get at it.  She loved to hear that very satisfying velcro sound .

 Currently, it’s quite simple:  a printed out calendar for each child where they write in the date (handwriting practice, counting practice) and mark off the days as we go.  We also use our Montessori bead bars to “make” the date which again affords counting practice as well as number sense work.  These bead bar cards are from the blog Every Star is Different.

Books – I keep some high quality, timeless picture books in the basket that we enjoy reading over and over.  We usually read 2 – 3 books each morning.  The kids choose from the basket or can choose a book from the bookshelf in our playroom where we keep a seasonally rotated selection of books.  

Morning Basket Books.png

Poem – We have a few poetry books for children.  I’ve included a list of the books we use in the Booklist section of the blog.  The kids often request to hear a certain poem or I will read one that is seasonally appropriate or pertinent to something we are learning about.  

Here is a list of poetry books we own and love:  (Amazon affiliate links)

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (My grandmother read this book to my mom, she read it to me and now I am reading it to my kids.  It is so special to us.)

A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa.

A Stick is an Excellent Thing:  Poems about Outdoor Play by Marilyn Singer

Honey I Love and Other Poems by Eloise Greenfield

Slickety Quick:  Poems about Sharks by Skila Brown

Hailstones and Halibut Bones:  Adventures in Poetry and Color by Mary O’Neill

Insectlopedia by Douglas Florian

Over the River and Through the Wood:  A Thanksgiving Poem by Lydia Marie Child

Thanksgiving Day at Our House by Nancy White Carlstrom

Reading Practice – My daughter is currently learning her letter sounds, so I keep a few letters in the basket for her to identify, trace or try writing.  Sometimes I will keep a few miniature “language objects” for her to identify the first sound or try to spell phonetically.  We do only one of these things each day and it is a super quick activity, taking 1-2 minutes.  I will also introduce new phonograms at this time or introduce my son to a new high frequency word.  Sometimes he will read a list of words from the same word family, or read out a sentence strip.  Sometimes I bring over a few letters from the moveable alphabet and they will spell one word each.  This is always very quick and I just plan something to compliment what they are working on at the moment.  Again, very simple.

Math Practice – This, like reading, can take many forms.  Sometimes we use a random number generator on my phone and will count to the number it suggests for us.  Other times we will practice counting backwards from 20 or make a pattern with loose parts.  I might give my son a simple addition problem to solve or the kids might play one of their favorite games, Roll and Record.  I follow the kids and their interests and always keep it very simple.  

Song – We always end with a song.  I keep a seasonal playlist on my phone using Spotify and we enjoy learning new songs and singing together.  

For where we are in our homeschooling journey and the ages of my kids, this is how Morning Basket works for us.  We all look forward to this time of day and really enjoy spending this time together.  

If you’d like to hear how another family practices this morning time, take a listen to Wild + Free podcast Episode 33 to hear Elsie Ludicello describe her morning time.  It starts around the 8 minute mark.  I might have cried listening to how beautiful it is.  🙂

Do you have a Morning Basket or do Morning Time?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!