Studying nature is how we implement science into our school day. Nature Volumes 1 and 2 comes from The Gentle Classical curriculum inspired by Charlotte Mason. The Charlotte Mason philosophy focuses on drawing children near to God and study His creations. We have nature studies in our front and backyard, local parks, lakes, dams, creeks, and even the ocean when we can. It is a lifestyle for us, so we don’t always journal, but we are always outside and observant as well as having the children narrate their experiences. Our children have the luxury of deciding what they want to study in nature, and that is when we do journaling, sketching and narrating. With narration, children are not simply repeating what they learn and they are not tested based on what they retain. Narration allows your child to explain what they remember in their own words. Narration is part of their engagement with the information and helps lock what they have learned into their long-term memory. Two children might give very different narrations from the same story because the ideas that stood out to them and their understanding will be unique.
Click below to download our little neighborhood nature study!
My meal planning starts with a list of possible dinners for an entire month to feed my family of six. Planning a whole month may seem overwhelming, but it is easy to come up with 30 meals my family will enjoy and if the meal just doesn't seem right for that particular night, I love the array of ideas at my fingertips. First, I start by considering the following:
My pantry and freezers stay well-stocked and translate into our favorite go-to meals. Fall crisp, and cool weather inspires me to cook hearty meals such as soups, stews, and other yummy dishes simmering in the crockpot all day. If I can grow vegetables in our garden, we can enjoy the fruits of our labor or visit a local farmers market for fresh, local produce. Dedicating one night a week to a fun family movie night with a coordinating menu is a wonderful way to get the kids involved in menu planning.
Once I have my list of meals, I have a calendar that I use and save each month as a reference for future meals. I make sure to match meals with specific dates based on what we have going on as a family. Planning a complicated dish that takes ages to cook would be best suited on a night when we have time to prepare it with family.
Menu planning may seem like a lot of work, but it saves me loads of time and money! I am not wasting time staring at the shelves in my pantry trying to decide what to eat or camping out on Pinterest trying to get inspired. I love saving money by only buying what we need and about 90% is in bulk. One of the most important reasons we meal plan is to make sure we are making healthy food choices. We may eat out once or twice a month, but typically we have a plan, and the right ingredients at home, therefore, spending money outside of our home is unnecessary, which is excellent for our tummies, thighs and wallets.
Most importantly, menu planning is about finding what works for you and your family, balancing routine and freedom, healthy and comforting, affordable, and treating yourself. Let’s feed ourselves and our loved ones delicious, healthy, homemade food. Feel free to share your favorite recipes for another monthly menu.
Happy menu planning, preparing, creating, and sharing! To download my November menu, click on the calendar shown above.
Homeschool Fall Bucket List
Autumn is just around the corner here in Northeast Georgia, and thankfully our last bit of summer finally got a break from those record-breaking June temperatures! Many things we enjoy as a family does not necessarily include the commercialized pumpkin patches or small-town fall vendor-style festivals. Our family gets excited year after year thinking of the delightful memories in store during this beautiful autumn season. Bucket lists are a great way to organize all the fun fall activities you do not want to miss on a crisp, breezy fall day!
I hope you enjoy my list, and let me know your favorite things to do during this beautiful season by commenting below.
Have you noticed how condiments can take your meal from healthy to unhealthy? Whether it's the unnecessary addition of sugar or soybean oil, many include ingredients such as added oils that are missing from the beautiful marketing on the front of the bottle or jar! Oils like soybean, canola, and other "seed" oils are highly oxidized oils with highly inflammatory effects on the entire body. The best options are organic, cold, and expeller-pressed coconut or avocado oils. Unlike seed oils, these healthy oils really do come from vegetables!
This fresh homemade mayonnaise has no sugar, artificial ingredients, or soy. It tastes so delicious you will never go back too store-bought again.
Yields about a Pint
1 Large Egg (room temperature)
1 1/2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar or White Vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Granulated garlic
Kosher salt to taste
1 cup Avocado Oil
Optional ingredients to add or omit:
Who is ready for some breakfast? My English Muffin Egg Breakfast Sandwiches are a convenient make-ahead meal for your family. Make-ahead sandwiches are always a good idea for any family that is on the go! Breakfast, in our little homeschool, is the most important part of our day. If my kids do not eat a well-balanced meal, filling their tummies full of good protein and carbs, they stay in the kitchen all day begging for food.
Making these ahead and popping them in the freezer also makes them a handy and healthy grab and go breakfast. After you have baked the sandwiches allow them to cool. Individually wrap sandwiches in aluminum foil and place them in a freezer bag. When you are ready to grab your sandwich from the freezer, remove the tin foil and wrap the sandwich in a paper towel, pop it in your microwave for 1-2 minutes, or until desired warmth.
6 English muffins
9 eggs, scrambled
6 slices of ham
1-2 cups of shredded SHARP cheddar
4 tablespoons cooked bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons melted butter
Freshly cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Separate English muffins and place the bottom half in a 9 X 13 casserole dish.
3. Spread scrambled eggs over muffin bottoms, followed by the ham, cheese and bacon.
4. Place the remaining English muffins on top.
5. Brush muffins with melted butter.
6. Top with freshly cracked pepper.
6. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. Serve and enjoy!
We are so excited about our new year of learning. I have joyfully anticipated days like these and can not believe I am now experiencing a slow-living life with my family. Some days aren’t easy, but are worth it when you have so many precious moments. Our family use various curriculums to help round out their learning. For Reading, Writing and Math, we are using Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool Kinder Writing, Kinder Math, McGuffey Primer-Sight Reading, McGuffey Primer-Eclectic Reading, and McGuffey Primer and Phonics). For Language Arts, Art, Music, Bible, and Science/Nature Study we use a rich Charlotte Mason-inspired curriculum by The Gentle + Classical called Gentle + Classical Primer and Gentle + Classical Nature Study Volume 1.
Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool
EP is a complete, free online Christian homeschool curriculum. It covers reading, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, math, history/social studies/geography, science, Spanish, Bible, computer, music, art, PE/health, and logic. We like Easy Peasy for many reasons:
It aligns with our philosophy of what learning should look like, which is that we believe kids need hours of unstructured play each day to develop creativity and pursue their passions/interests, with Easy Peasy, we are finished before lunchtime each day.
It provides a Christian-based worldview, and it focuses on reading.
If a child can read well with comprehension, all learning will be more accessible! Easy Peasy helps us cover the required content and allows time for us to dig deeper into what our kids find interesting.
The Gentle + Classical Prime and Nature Study Volume I
The Gentle + Classical Primer provides a heavy Charlotte Mason influence combined with a classical education structured around units, which I love! The author, Erin Cox, also has the teacher guide, free to download, allowing you to view before purchasing.
This year we added an Easter Unit from the Gentle Classical Press, and we have thoroughly enjoyed spending some extra time digging into the Easter Story—spoiler: He did not stay in the tomb!
We made our Resurrection garden, and the kids enjoyed the learning experience! The unit was a gentle way of teaching our children about the events leading to Christ’s death, His resurrection and our gift of salvation. Inside our garden is the empty tomb with the rolled away stone and flower seeds. Our tomb may be empty, but it will soon come to life! The kids continue to learn from the garden when they observe changes happening around the tomb, which allows our family to stay committed to focus on growing our faith.
The teacher in me could not resist using my childhood chalkboard. One of my fondest childhood memories was awakening to this amazing gift on Christmas morning in 1984. Pretending I was a school teacher, I would play for hours, and low and behold, nineteen years later, I became a high school teacher.
The chalkboard and all the fun I spent as a kid playing school have come full circle now as we use it to homeschool our children. We updated the chalkboard using chalkboard paint and are very happy with the result.
Felt Boards and Imaginative Play
We made a felt board a couple of weeks ago, and my kids are loving all the imaginative play! Felt boards are great for teaching math concepts, shapes, color sorting, and just all-around fun imaginative play. We recently added a few fun finds from Amazon focusing on community helpers and modes of transportation. It took me around 30 minutes to create the board, and another 30 minutes to cut out all the weather shapes (which is still a work in progress) and has now turned into hours of fun, especially this morning when it rained until noon.
Family Favorite Salisbury Steak
Nothing says comfort food like Salisbury steaks! This is my family favorite version of the ever-popular TV Dinner classic from the Hungry Man, and putting my homemade twist on a bland and boring dish. My recipe leaves out store bought soup mixes but includes a yummy gravy that is delicious served over mashed potatoes or cauliflower mash. This is the perfect easy winter meal that is inexpensive, tasty, family and kid-approved.
1 lb Lean Grass-Fed Ground Beef
1/3 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
2 tsp Ketchup
1 tsp Mustard (I use yellow mustard)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Granulated Garlic
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Dried Minced Onion
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or avocado oil
2 tbsp of Brown Gravy Mix
2 cups hot Water
1 tsp Ketchup
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Optional: I also recommend sautéing onions in butter before cooking the patties for a nice addition to this meal.
I'm a former high school teacher now homemaker and Principal of Soaring Pine Private Academy. I am so very thankful for each day that God blesses me with my sweet family. I hope you enjoy my blog where I'm happy to share our homeschool journey from our home nestled in the woods, recipes and more!