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School Year #2 In the Books… Hello, Summer!

Enjoy Robert Louis Stevenson Together
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Goodbye, school year number two.  Hello, summer!  The last two weeks of school have taken the shape of a lighter schedule, with a lot of play time interspersed between lessons.   We have made creative projects, written friendly letters to characters found in our stories, and appreciated good, living books.  We attended a graduation ceremony, and we have broken out the summer readers.  In this post, I will talk briefly about our last two weeks of school.  Next, I will look ahead to summer and our summer learning rhythm of morning time vignettes, layering, habit training, summer reading, and experiences we hope to check off our summer “bucket list”. 

Our Last Two Weeks of School

Projects and books.  Our last two weeks of school could be described as “language arts heavy”.  We still made time for math, using this time to preview the upcoming school year’s math program (Beast Academy, Level 2) and work on our Subtraction Facts That Stick  games and work pages.

Addition Facts That Stick

(We are using Subtraction Facts That Stick this summer… he finished his regular math curriculum for first grade back in March, so we are brushing up on some skills.)

Boxcar Children

After my son chose The Boxcar Children (book 1) as his favorite read aloud from the year, he made a diorama out of a cardboard shoebox and hosted his first video.  He liked explaining the ins and outs of making the swimming pool scene from scratch.  Poor kid is hard on himself, though.  The first thing he noticed while watching the video was that he needed to look at the camera more.  He is his own biggest critic.  It’s good that he notices those little things and has an eye for detail, though.

Working to complete the diorama.


We enjoyed reading our favorite fables from  Aesop’s Stories for Little Children.  The assignment I had him complete was to write a friendly letter, including at least three of his spelling words for the week, addressing the main character from one of the fables.  In the letter, he was supposed to include the moral of the fable, along with some examples of how he understood the moral in his own life.  He was to write with proper spelling and punctuation.  Then, he was to decorate the letter stationary to reflect the theme of the fable.  He chose to write to Grasshopper, from The Ant and the Grasshopper.  Sure enough, the moral, “It is best to be prepared” is one that resonated with him and is one we are all continuously working on over here. 

Emerging Readers

I was a third and fourth grade teacher in my previous life for a reason.  Now, I know that reason: teaching kids how to read is not my favorite thing in the world (albeit a good thing, of course!).  Yes, my son is an emerging reader, and is making steady progress going into the second grade.  Right now, he is reading Frog and Toad All Year to me.  I am asking the questions found at the back of Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory  the emerging readers questions.  We are taking a short break from the All About Reading Level 1 to focus on stamina and fluency. Reading for us has been an uphill climb, but I know we are not alone!  Remembering to stay positive no matter what has been a real challenge for me.  I am not going to lie, there have been times I have gotten more frustrated than he when he has been struggling to sound out a word.  Patience, people.  That’s what we all need. And when he hits a wall of frustration, it’s not a bad idea to assess whether you just need to close the book and come back to it later or give an encouraging word right then in the moment. 

Minn of the Mississippi

If you love a living book, then I can speak to Holling Clancy Holling’s illustrated stories.  They bring the science topics (animal kingdom, geography, ecosystems, earth science, etc.) to life.  The first time I heard of his Paddle to the Sea was on Audible, during a car trip we took to the mountains a few years ago.  It was captivating for both Andrew and me as well as for our 5-year-old son (not so much for the 3-year-old girl or baby).  One day, I want to Beautiful Feet Books’ Holling C. Holling collection, especially the Geography Through Literature Pack, when the kids get a little bit older. Right now, we are loving cheering on the baby turtle, Minn, as she finds her way along the Mississippi River.

Summer Learning

Morning Time

Pam Barnhill gave me permission, so I’m gonna do it.  I am going to incorporate morning time into our rhythms of summer.  BUT, we are going to do morning time VIGNETTES.  Snippets.  Brief snapshots of what’s to come next year.  SO, here goes the plan.

Morning Time: We will be layering in content each week.  So, the first week, morning time will only consist of catechism while eating breakfast.  Next, we add in a song the following week.  We continue adding in new elements until the last week before school begins.  That way, the hope is for everyone to have an idea of what to expect in the mornings when we begin our school year in August.  Plus, we need consistency in our summer days; we need some kind of structure.  This is how we will hope to achieve that.

Week 1: Introduce catechism- Book II, unless we need to review Book I (5 min.)

Week 2: Add in a song- we’ll use anything from traditional hymns I have already printed out in our family worship binder to the Hide ‘Em In Your Heart Songs (Steve Green) we’ve been singing all year long. (5 min.) We will begin Singing the Great Hymns in the fall.

Week 3: ABC Bible Verses – read a story and focus on a verse per week (10 min.)


Week 1:  Listen to Classical Conversations Timeline with hand motions (15 min.)

Week 2:  Bedtime Math– listen to the story and solve a word problem (5 to 10 min.)

Week 3: Picture Study – study a photo from The Stuff They Left Behind .  The hope is to help with the habit of attention, as well as broaden horizons and give children a feast of ideas.  (5 min.)


Week 1: Joke book – who doesn’t love a good joke?  (5 min.)

Week 2:  Ancient Times Study – The Story of the World, Vol. 1 – We will rotate through map work, hearing the story, responding to the questions, and narration.  I am thinking we will start doing this ancient history study in loop format, but I might combine elements as the year progresses.  (15 min.)

Summer Reading, An Enchanted Journey

I have decided to plan out how I am going to layer the morning time elements.  We even have a summer learning planning page you can use, if that would help you plan your summer rhythm.  Will you incorporate the core subjects in small, quick doses over the summer?  Will summer reading be an adventure?  Pam Barnhill provides a free resource for this: Traveling Through the Pages, An Enchanted Journey will be our go-to “gameboard” for encouraging a wide variety of pleasure reading over our summer. Why, I might even print one out for myself to use!  That Ariel Lawhon book is just sitting by my bedside table.  Collecting dust.  Now, that is a travesty.   

Oh, and be sure to check out the video below (Your Morning Basket: Help! My Kids Wake Up When I Do). Because you know it will happen. And we need to reframe the issue, perhaps. Thoughts?


To keep my 6-year-old’s skills sharp, I want to stick with Subtraction Facts That Stick the entire first six weeks of summer (except when we go on vacation).  Each week introduces a new strategy (i.e., subtracting 1 and 2), then teaches a game to play – just one per week – to be played daily. The next four days, after my son plays the game with me, he  completes a practice worksheet, and that’s week one.  It continues as such with new strategies for the next five weeks.


My son will be reading from the emergent readers list in the back of the Heart of Dakota, Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory.  The titles include reading comprehension questions for each day.  We will aim for no more than 15 minutes of reading per day. Obviously, he is a six-year-old boy, and we will not be reading every single title.  He will just work through these titles this summer and into next year. 

The emergent readers are:

The Early Reader’s Bible   4 to 8 years

Frog and Toad All Year Lexile 480L

Frog and Toad Are Friends Lexile 470L

Wagon Wheels Lexile 500L

Amelia Bedelia 4 to 8 years

Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express  4 to 8 years

Prairie School Lexile 540L

First Flight Lexile 580L

Enjoy Robert Louis Stevenson Together
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Christian Liberty Nature Reader: Book One 6 to 8 years

The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad Lexile 560L

Tornado Lexile 610L

Animal Adventures Lexile 660L

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain Lexile 590L

The Courage of Sarah Noble Lexile 610L

Heart of Dakota (Beyond Little Hearts) has a suggested booklist of about 20 additional titles to read beyond the emerging readers, entitled “beginning chapter books”.  It can be found in the back of the guide, right after “Scheduled Books for Emerging Readers”.  These books should keep us plenty busy for at least a year!

Pathways were such sweet readers this first grade year.


We will not be doing any writing for the sake of composition this summer, as he is only six (almost seven).  We will, however, be writing for the sake of practicing fluency/speed/letter formation in the context of a friendly letter, which is composition after all. 😊 Composition is just not our main focus.

Ideas for writing friendly letters:

-local business (i.e., favorite restaurant)

-elected official/representative



-fire dept.

-police dept.

-our church

-if we are desperate, we will write Disney characters, but I do not see that as a must (apparently, they do write back!)

Habit Training

For each summer month, my plan is to help my kids ease into a housekeeping routine.  I know it will take an enormous amount of dedication. 
How do you train the kids in a habit?  Simply Charlotte Mason has some helpful how-to blogs and podcast episodes about this here.  By “habit”, I am referring to a consistent, almost clockwork action that does not require constant nagging/reminding.

JUNE Habit: make the bed

JULY Habit: fold the laundry (washcloths, shirts, socks, shorts)

AUGUST Habit: Bless the Mess (cleaning up the house to help our home feel inviting for whoever should stop by for dinner… usually just Daddy)

Before we talk about ACTIONS, let’s remember the CHARACTER behind the habits.  What VIRTUES do you want to cultivate or teach this summer?  The two main focal points for our family are:

  1. The habit of attention
  2. The habit of self-starting

Experiences we hope to share this summer

REGULAR family game nights (like 2x per week)

Hosting friends in the heat of the day at our “waterpark” [picture/video of waterpark]


Vacationing at the beach

Vacationing at the river

Celebrating our 10th anniversary of marriage on the Maine coast! WOOHOO!

Charlotte Mason Together Retreat

What’s your bucket list for the summer with your family?

What habits do you want to begin or to nurture?


What BOOKS do you plan to read this summer?

Bye, for now!

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