Seasonal Planning Feed

My (printable!) Summer Housekeeping Planner 💛

IMG_0668

Hello everyone, and Happy Spring-nearly-Summer!

Well, it has been almost four months since I last posted - and that just might be a record for me 😳 - but boy has it been a busy Winter & Spring! I have not found the time to write full length posts lately, but I do post pretty regularly over on Instagram (though perhaps a bit less so on Facebook). If you are on those social networks I'd love to "see" you over there!

So clearly I have a lot of catching up to do - and I hope to do just that throughout the summer - but for today I'd like share a printable, 38-page "Summer Housekeeping Planner" I made up for myself just in case it might be useful to someone else! This particular planner will include forms for the months of June, July and August. (Future seasonal housekeeping planners will be shared just as soon as I get them designed!)

Ok, here it is, my ...

Summer Housekeeping Planner

Full disclosure - as pretty as that binder shown above is, I've decided to keep my Summer Housekeeping booklet in my master Homekeeping Binder/Planner. It just seems more convenient to have the bulk of my home/family planning in one place. Once September arrives, and I am on to Autumn Housekeeping, I will store the booklet in this "summery" separate binder.

Ok, then! I'll have a follow-up post to come soon with my thoughts on how I'm using all those planning pages, but for now, I will wish you all well and hope that your spring has been lovely! Here's to a happy summer ahead ...

See you here again very soon ...💛


Welcome Spring Week!

(A peek at how I plan my seasonal homeschooling!)

IMG_7283

A few days ago I shared a picture on Instagram which shows the primary picture books I'll be using with Little Bear this week. Our seasonal homeschooling theme is "Welcome, Spring!" (in honor of the Vernal Equinox this Wednesday) and so I chose five favorite books that highlight the spirit (and science) of the new season ahead. I also promised to follow up with a breakdown of how I used these books to create an easy and enjoyable lesson plan for the week. So today I'm here to describe my proposed plans for the week, and chat a bit about our style of homeschooling in general.

Now, the heart of our seasonal homeschooling is really found in embracing annual traditions, observing subtle changes in our habitat, acquainting ourselves with local flora and fauna, and enjoying our large collection of seasonal picture books. Reading the same stories at the same time of year, year after year, reinforces family memories while connecting us with the cycle of seasons.

So the books I chose for this first week of spring are:

Monday: And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano

Tuesday: When the Earth Wakes by Ani Rucki

Wednesday: The Spring Equinox: Celebrating the Greening of the Earth by Ellen Jackson

Thursday: The Seasons: Spring by Nuria Roca

Friday: A New Beginning: Celebrating the Spring Equinox by Wendy Pfeiffer

I keep the current season's books in a special basket, but I like displaying the "books of the week" on a separate shelf ...

IMG_E7290

When I started formulating my seasonal lessons - and this all goes back MANY years seeing as how my oldest is now 23 years old! - one of the first things I did was to begin collecting high quality books that reflect the seasons and natural phenomena. I buy as many books as I can, but I also make note of titles we can reliably borrow from our local library. All these books (divided by season into bins) provide a wonderful base for our seasonal homeschooling. These days we have a rather large collection,  but I am always happy to add a new book if it has a meaningful message and lovely illustrations. For instance, I just purchased this book because we so enjoyed the winter tale by this same author!

Equally important to my planning is our established weekly rhythm and pre-selected weekly seasonal themes. With all of this in place I am able to organize my ideas more efficiently and realistically.

You can find a list of my 52 weekly seasonal themes in this post from 2016, and below is the weekly rhythm I pin our home lessons around:

  • Monday: Nature Walk
  • Tuesday: Crafting
  • Wednesday: Storytelling
  • Thursday: Cleaning
  • Friday: Tea
  • Weekend: Family Time

Once I've chosen the stories for the week's theme, I flip through each book to get ideas for follow-up activities. I write things down on sticky notes and then arrange those notes in my planner (see photos below). Here's what I jotted down for each book this week:

And Then It's Spring - observing the brown all around, planting seeds

When the Earth Wakes -  wooden bear mama & cub, drawing of four seasons

The Spring EquinoxAnglo-Saxon legend of Ostara, goddess of spring and dawn

The Seasons: Spring - making a weather chart

A New Beginning - special food celebrations including eggs

Next I expand on each day's activities, giving thought to our schedule, as well as the holidays and events that will shape our week.

🌱Take pictures of backyard; repeat each Monday throughout spring. (Mon)

🌱Bake donuts for St. Joseph's Day, an annual tradition. (Tues)

🌱Sing a sweet "Winter Goodbye" song (found in this book) on the last day of Winter. (Tues)

🌱Carefully pack away our winter books. Bring out the Spring Book Basket. (Tues)

🌱Make a pretty spring wreath for the front door. (Wed)

🌱Sweep and clean up our front entryway, in anticipation of spring visitors. (Wed)

🌱Tidy the nature table - make room for spring treasures. (Wed)

🌱Prep vegetables for Pasta Primavera (our traditional spring equinox dinner). (Wed)

🌱Use my story apron and wooden animals to retell the story of "The Rabbit and the Carrot" (as found in this book). (Wed)

🌱Create a paper chain countdown - just one month to Easter! (Note: I keep a list of daily activities in my planner for this countdown.)

🌱Paper chain day 1: Make birdseed eggs to hang in our garden (Thurs)

🌱Begin spring cleaning! Start by organizing our natural cleaning supplies. (Thurs)

🌱Paper chain day 2: Let's have an Early Spring Tea. Perhaps invite nana and papa? (Fri)

🌱Bake seed bread/cake and mix up honey butter. (Fri)

🌱Slice boiled eggs. (Fri)

🌱Brew Spring Tea with Mama. (Fri)

🌱Listen to Vivaldi's "Spring" during teatime. (Fri)

🌱Paper chain day 3: Set up greenhouses in sunroom with Daddy (Sat)

🌱Paper chain day 4: Do yard work with Daddy; rake the yard clean! (Sun)

If you notice, many of these ideas involve the whole family or parent and child working together. I feel these kinds of learning/living activities are every bit of important as more "child-centered" things they might do on their own. This instills a sense of how important the season is to the household at large and the family's sense of togetherness and well being.

Here are some pictures of my planner page showing how I organize my week:

IMG_E7406 (1)

Left side of the weekly spread shown above - where I make note of weekly events, theme, dinner menus, homekeeping, crafty/comforting ideas and to-dos.

And then on the right-hand side ...

IMG_E7406 (1)

I have the week's agenda in a vertical column and next to that, a lined note-space. I added a bit of washi tape just for fun. :-)

Now, this week I am using my homemade planner for lesson plans. Recently I've shown you how I use the Erin Condren teacher's planner as well as my bullet journal for lesson planning. The EC planner is very specific to academics while my bujo is a rather free-form kind of planner/journal. The planner shown above falls somewhere in between. It's less structured than the EC planner, but it also has more writing space than my bujo. Needless to say I'm still trying to figure out which platform works best for my planning!

Well my friends, I hope you've enjoyed a peek into our "Welcome Spring" week, as well as a breakdown of how I work out our seasonal homeschooling. Let me know if you have any questions! Drop a note here or email me at drhanigan AT gmail DOT com. And if you are interested in my homemade seasonal planner, check out this post for my 2019 printable planning sheets. 

As always I thank you all for stopping by! I hope to see you here again very soon ...

HAPPY SPRING!


Blending Curriculum + Seasonal Lesson Plans

IMG_6073

As I mentioned in my last post, I have not been using my Erin Condren teacher's planner on a regular basis this year. It is a beautiful planner to be sure, but sometimes it's just a little TOO much planning for me, if you know what I mean! Some weeks I appreciate the freedom of working off a big "brainstorm" list - no plans set in stone, just working within our own happy weekly rhythm. And honestly, some weeks I just don't have enough time to fill in yet one more planner!

All that said though, I feel like our homeschooling has been off-track since the holidays - those big lists aren't translating into productive days - so I thought perhaps I'd return to a more structured planning format and see if that gets our weeks running a little more smoothly.

So since it was a very pretty, sunny weekend, I took pictures of my lesson planner as I worked, and popped over here to share! I also am including pictures from my seasonal bullet journal where I began our weekly planning with a little seasonal brainstorming!

(Reminder - we are doing kindergarten this year with our youngest (5yo Little Bear), while our 17yo Earlybird (who has autism) joins in (with support from his ABA therapist) as he can. Big news on the EB front however, there are some very big changes for our boy coming up in a few weeks and I will share more on that very soon!)

Ok, here is my planner spread, alongside our battered and beloved Oak Meadow Kindergarten syllabus. (I think it's about 15 years old!) As you can see in the top picture, as I worked here at the kitchen table I was joined by the ever-helpful (yet, napping) Archibald Fred.😸

IMG_6073

Left-hand side of the spread ...

IMG_6073

I love how this planner shades its pages in correspondence with the month - eg., blue for January, pink for February and then green for March, etc.

Right-hand side of the spread which I "gussied up" a bit with some stickers. I don't usually do this but since I knew I was going to post my spread this week I was inspired!

IMG_6073

I do love seeing all those plans all neat and tidy. The lined boxes and smooth paper make for a very nice writing experience. As the week goes along I will check off lessons as we complete them, ✅ cross things off that we skip ❎ and put an arrow next to those items we'll push forward.➡️

Close up of how nice the blocks look all filled in!

IMG_6073

As you can see, I also like to incorporate seasonal homeschooling activities into our weekly plan. This week's theme is "winter citrus," and I hope to balance our Oak Meadow lessons with some activities that let us explore this particular theme.

Here are some pics to show you how I organized those ideas late last week ...

IMG_E6016

1. Gather resources: storybooks, recipes, verses, playthings, craft materials, snack ingredients and instructions.

IMG_E6016

2. Make and organize photocopies for activities.

IMG_E6016

3. File photocopies into weekly lesson plan folder.

IMG_E6016

4. Write out seasonal ideas in my "Deep Winter" bullet journal.

IMG_E6016

5. Request books we'll need from the library. (I did this late last week. Orange in January is "in transit" as I type!)

Once I had my seasonal homeschooling ideas in order, I checked our schedule for the coming week and any "events of note." Then I
looked through our current Oak Meadow lesson, identified individual actions and jotted them down on small sticky notes. 

(I know this seems like maybe a bit of extra work and even a waste of paper, but it really helps me fill in my planner when all I have to do is sort those sticky notes!)

Referencing both the citrus ideas and OM lessons I then filled out the EC teacher planner.

And then I took pictures, natch, and threw everything in my teacher tote. Next week I will launch into our plans and do my very best to keep up with them!

🍃🍊❄️🍊🍃🍃🍊❄️🍊🍃🍃🍊❄️🍊🍃🍃🍊❄️🍊🍃🍃🍊❄️🍊🍃🍃🍊❄️🍊🍃

Well my friends, as always I thank you for stopping by and hope you are all doing well! I have a tour of my "planning spaces" coming up ... as well as a peek at some of my plans for our early spring living and learning, so for now I will say goodbye ...

... but hope to see you here again very soon!


My Bi-Monthly Bullet Journals

DSC04445
Hello my friends, and Happy Wednesday! 
How is your winter going? How about your new year??

I'm so sorry it's been so long since I last posted! I have in fact had a draft open on my computer for the past couple of months (months?!) but free time has been thin on the ground lately. All that said, I'm sitting down today in the mid-afternoon, to do my very best to get that darn post up at the blog before nightfall! (Or bedtime - whichever comes first!)

Anyhoo - how are you all? I hope you are all well! We are doing just fine here if perhaps stretched a wee bit thin lately from busy schedules and non-sleeping children - but that's a post for a different day! Today I'd like to give you a little tour of my seasonal bullet journal system. I actually have several planning (and tea!) posts percolating, but I'm going to keep things as short and simple today as possible. (Longtime readers know I love long posts - but I also tend to overcomplicate things which keeps me from finishing!)

Ok, onto the bujos ...

So I've posted about my journaling habits here many times before, but "bullet journaling" is a happy little hobby (some might say, lifestyle) I've been exploring just recently. Do any of you keep a bullet journal? Or any kind of journal? I'd love to hear about it if you do! (I'd especially LOVE to hear about bujos you use as self-made planners!)

I'm really still feeling my way around with this concept, but I do LOVE the idea of a bullet journal. And the way other people's journals look on Pinterest. Oh my gosh, i could waste spend so much time on Pinterest drooling over other folks' spreads!

Journal envy aside however, the "bujo" format appeals to me personally for so many reasons - it's creative, flexible, comprehensive and unique! Plus as a life-long DIYer, I just had to give it a go!

Basically, bullet journals meet more than a few of my most pressing planner needs:

I need my planner to be portable - easy to grab and take with me.

I like my planner to be comprehensive - all aspects of my life-planning are in one place.

I enjoy being different. I like for my planner to look like MY planner.

I desire for my planner to be intensely seasonal, a tool for connecting with the rhythm of the season at hand.

I have a few other planners as you all know: a devoted daily planner, a pretty little weekly planner, a binder "household" planner, and let us not forget my own homemade seasonal planner! I have not yet let go of any of these other planners but have instead just set them aside - just for a bit. I've been feeling the need to simplify lately, and use my limited free time as wisely as possible. I bet many of my planner-junkie friends here know what I mean when I say, it's hard to find ONE system that really ticks all the boxes. But it's also hard to truly give a new planner a fighting chance when you have a few other "systems" already in the works!

So I'm on a little planner "diet" while I delve into my bullet-journaling and see if I can make it work all on its own.

(Naturally I immediately broke my "keep it simple" bujo rule, and came up with the idea of a "system" of six journals instead of one. But bear with me - there is a method to my madness!)

As you see in my top picture, there are six journals, and each one is focused on two months, or one season. I keep the current season's journal with me (or close at hand) while the others reside at my desk.

DSC04480

(They fit very nicely in this rack set inside a rolling cart. Isn't rose gold so pretty?)

DSC04480

Top shot. Love the look of fresh notebooks!

DSC04480

This handy rolling cart is situated right next to my "corner office" - a tour of which will be coming next week! (Finally getting it deep-cleaned and re-organized now that Christmas stuff is safely packed away.)

And now for a quick walk-through of my current bullet journal for "Deep Winter" (January & February).

DSC04452

Front cover. As you can see, I haven't done much with the cover(s) yet - I'm still deciding if I like them kind of plain or if I'd like to "collage" them a little. I did use a set of pastel adhesive labels to color-code each seasonal journal. I chose a soft snowy blue for Deep Winter.

That soft snowy blue is followed by a light spring green, then deep blossom pink, sunny golden yellow, warm harvest orange, and finally, a crisp frosty lavender.

IMG_5266

(Note: I found these notebooks on Amazon. They come in a pack of two for $12. I ADORE these notebooks! They are a nice size, the paper is wonderfully smooth, the dotted grid helps me keep things neat and the whole kit-and-kaboodle is spiral-bound. Spiral-binding is a must for me when it comes to journals, so this one really hits the journaling spot for me!)

DSC04452

Title page - pretty self-explanatory!

DSC04452

January and February, at a quick glance. Dated calendars above, events of note below.

DSC04452

❄️Exploring Deep Winter nature!

On the left, I listed our weekly seasonal themes and devoted a little space to seasonal brainstorming. I just jotted down any thoughts that came to mind when I pondered the season of Deep Winter ... what we do, what we notice, things we eat, etc.

On the right-hand page I have phenology wheels for the months of January and February, along with a temperature chart. I found the wheel templates on Pinterest. I shaded in the moon phases and every day I draw/write in the weather icon, high temp for the day as well as the sunset time.

DSC04452

(A note on my pens and pencils. In all my planners I use, exclusively, Frixion Erasable Fine Point Pens in black. For the temperature shading I use Raffine Colored Pencils.)

DSC04452

I find using practical tools like paper clips, binder clips and adhesive tabs and flags not only increases the efficiency of a planner but also adds some visual interest! I like using the flags and tabs in the midst of my journaling - sometimes I like to pause and create a list or plan and it's handy to have a way to find that list when I need it! The paper clip's job is described a bit further down in my post.

(Note the next spread was a bit personal, having to do with personal New Year's Goals, so I am skipping that part of the tour. What I did was to write out some personal "Year 50" goals as well as some Winter Wellness ideas and break them down into simple actions to insert into my schedule. That might be a post for another time!)

Ok, next comes the monthly calendar spreads:

DSC04457

And it's as basic as it looks! I just drew in the grids and wrote in the dates, etc. I added washi tape to the edges of this calendar section so it's easy to find it when making appointments or plans. In the leftover white space I added in seasonal quotes and information ... something I have yet to do in my February spread!

(Note: I use Frixion Erasable Highlighters to color-code activities. Green - I'm going somewhere. Blue - the boys are going somewhere. Pink - happy things/self care. Yellow - home-based entertainment/projects. I also have a lavender highlighter for feasts and faith-related activities but I've lost that darn pen!)

DSC04457

Another thing that helps me find sections quickly - paperclips!

DSC04457

I use a large metal paperclip to connect the monthly calendar wth the current weekly spread. This makes it really easy to flip back and forth between my two most used page spreads!

And directly after the monthly calendars comes the weekly planning section. I used three pages for each spread ...

DSC04464

The page on the left side is for the first half of the week. In the top corner I noted the week's dates (always a Monday start) and seasonal theme. I highlighted the month in blue highlighter, indicating it's a "wintry" month. The week-at-a-glance begins with a To-Do column - which admittedly is a little narrow - but since I'm comfortable writing tiny it's no trouble for me. 

I wrote the agenda's hours alongside the spiral binding, and left space at the bottom of each column for pertinent daily notes.

DSC04464

I like that these columns allow for timely planning - it lets me see how full a day might be, and where there is "white space" for other tasks and activities.

The very next page is used as a "middle insert." I think it's kind of like a "dutch door" concept but I don't make any cuts. Instead, I keep it folded so I can see both sides of a weekly spread. I keep it flat in off weeks so as not to add to the journal's bulk.

DSC04464
DSC04464

The folded middle page allows for four sections of notes: seasonskeeping, home lessons, homekeeping, general notes.

The right-hand side of the weekly spread is for the rest of the week, Thursday through Sunday. In the upper righthand corner I have the week's dates and month again along with the current lunar cycle. (As you know, I'm such an "Ooh, look at the moon!" kind of person.🌝)

There are nine weekly spreads in this bullet journal, the very weeks that make up the season of Deep Winter. (Next season's bullet journal, Early Spring, begins with the week of 3/4-3/10.)

At the end of the weekly planning section I have a two page spread for a reading log, then another spread for my thoughts on Winter Homekeeping and connecting with the season of Deep Winter (a time for resting, rejuvenating).

Next comes a journal index page where I will note anything pertinent at the end of the season - information I'll need again and where to find it.

And then begins the true "journal" section of my seasonal bullet journal ... :)

DSC04471

I chose a pretty image from a New Year's card I received from my cousin. (I took a photocopy and taped it onto the page.) 

And the rest of the pages are just being slowly filled up with my thoughts and any clippings I like! These are just a few examples ...

DSC04471

DSC04471

DSC04471

I'm not very strict with my journaling - I don't even do it every day, though I really wish I would. I start with the date and the weather icon/temp. and then I just ot down whatever comes to mind. Things we did, people who visited, observations of nature, ideas for seasonal meals, etc. I want my journal to be something that when looked back upon years from now, there is a sense of me, and my family and home ... and time of year! They're certainly not very exciting and perhaps not all that interesting, but I do love looking back at my journals. It's such a great way to preserve memories and inspire seasonal awareness.

I've kept journals like these since high school, but I've mostly kept them separate from my planners. In recent years however, I have tried keeping my journaling notes inside a three-ring binder, along with planning forms. While I like that idea very much, it's just not very portable ... and so I tend to work in that platform a little less than I'd like. I'm finding this small book is fun and easy to carry with me and work in whenever mood strikes.

Here is my current journaling spread:

DSC04471

I added that pretty February note page but have yet to use it! Not sure if it will be a list of goals for the month or a catch-all of monthly folklore and storytelling ideas. The blue post-it note was for monitoring yesterday's daily to-dos. (I know ... I KNOW. I used this simple little sticky note instead of using a page in my Day Designer and I felt ... well, a little guilty! But a little relieved, too.)

The right -hand page has clippings to be added and you can see the little binder clip I use to mark my spot in my journal. Another handy-dandy tool that helps me find my place fast!

DSC04471

Back cover - the end! :)

Well, I hope you enjoyed this tour of my little seasonal journals! I will revisit them in a future post and let you know how I'm doing with them. I will also post again to update you on how all my other planners are faring. But for now - as the darkness descends out my windows and the ovens come to temperature ... it is time for me to move away from the computer and get my family's supper started!

Thanks as always my friends, for stopping by ... and thanks too, for your patience, when I'm unable to blog. I will always return no matter how long my "breaks" ...

See you here again very soon!


❄️ Picture Books in Winter ❄️

Winter scene crop

Hello my friends, and Happy Wednesday-before-Christmas! It's a bright and chilly day here and I'm taking a little break from my holiday prep to think about winter homeschooling. The new season begins this Friday at 5:23 p.m., although our winter lessons begin after New Year's. 😉

Not to rush things, but after Christmas Day (which is now less than a week away - not that I'm panicking or anything) I plan to re-organize our learning room, revise our resources and basically, refresh our little homeschool for the new year. That is, in fact, my word for 2019 - REFRESH!

But more on that soon ... for today I thought I'd share some of our favorite winter resources. :)

IMG_3537 copy

Books for celebrating the season itself:

The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeiffer

Let's Look at the Seasons: Wintertime by Ann Shweninger

Winter: A Collection of Poems, Songs and Stories for Young Children by Wynstones Press

Winter by Nuria Roca

Winter by Eva-Maria Ott-Heidmann

Winter by Gerda Muller

(Not shown, but on request from the library: The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson ... and another great title we own - but can't find at the moment! - is Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak.)

IMG_3537 copy

Cozy, happy, homey tales ... and as you can see, Jan Brett is a BIG winter favorite!

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

Flannel Kisses by Linda Crotta Brennan

Annie and the Wild Animals by Jan Brett

Peek-a-Boo Bunny by Mary Melcher (a favorite greeting card illustrator!)

The Hat and The Mitten by Jan Brett

AND ... the newest from Ms. Brett: The Snowy Nap

IMG_3537 copy

I love these fairy tales with a wintry feel ...

The Snow Queen illustrated by Bernadette Watts

The Elves and the Shoemaker illustrated by Bernadette Watts

IMG_3537 copy

And this beautiful hardcover storybook is a longtime favorite - as you can see from the spine, it's been well read through the years!

The Story of the Snow Children by Sibylle von Olfers

I'll be back later this month with more about our winter homeschooling plans, and of course, I will also be back this coming Monday (Christmas eve), for our weekly tea. Until then I wish you all a nice week and thank you for stopping by!

See you here again very soon ...


Advent Countdown: Stories & Simple Activities

IMG_E2182

Hello my friends and Happy Thursday! I know we're but a few days away from the 1st of December, so you probably have your Advent plans already in place, but here I am anyways, to share what my Advent project looks like this year ... :)

In addition to a few treasured traditions, I really enjoy coming up with something new for my boys every year! (Check out my Advent Plans & Crafts archives if you'd like to see past projects.)

So this year I decided to revolve our Advent countdown around picture books - meaningful and beautiful stories we've enjoyed as a family for years. As I've blogged about before, we have an awful lot of books - longtime homeschooling family that we are! - and though they are indeed spread out all over the house, I do like to organize them by subject and season.

Case in point - here's our Christmas book bin:

IMG_2230

True confession: there are more books now than can fit in this pretty rolling bin ... and yes, those are my slippered feet in the bottom of the pic!

So, as you can see, we have many, many Christmas books  ... so what I did first was to go through the WHOLE stash and pull out the ones we (ahem, I) love best. Then I looked over our December calendar, considered our weekly seasonal themes and then organized the books into separate piles ...

1st pile: WEEK ONE "cozy nests, stars/sticks/stones" (St. Barbara, St. Nicholas)

2nd pile: WEEK TWO "seasonal spices and Christmas trees" (OL Guadalupe, St. Lucia, EB & Papa's B.day)

3rd pile: WEEK THREE "welcome winter & advent animals" (Winter Solstice, Full Yule Moon)

4th pile - WEEK FOUR (which is just 12/24) "O Holy Night" (Christmas Eve)

I realize this all sounds rather complicated, but there is a method to my madness, I promise! Here is the low-tech spreadsheet I made up for myself as I worked it all out ...

IMG_2230

And here's a corner of my December month-at-a-glance calendar, showing how I note our weekly themes ...

IMG_E2235

Next, once I had my 24 books all assigned to their dates, I placed them in a basket so I could get down to work ...

IMG_2229

Naturally, Archibald offered to help ...

IMG_2230

I went through each book and chose an illustration to photocopy, something that would hopefully be rather easy to identify ...

IMG_2264

Then I gathered the rest of my materials: poster board, washi tape, stickers, post-it notes, glue stick, pen. All items I already had on hand!

I figured a post-it was a good size for a small illustration, so I first made sure I could fit 24 on the board and then I started cutting out my illustrations! 

IMG_2264

(Remember - these are photocopies!)

Once I had all my picture squares, I placed them in order and then decorated the edges of the poster board.

IMG_2264

I used an Elmer's glue stick for this and it worked just fine adhering the copy paper to the poster board ...

IMG_2264

I used Christmas-y washi tape to jazz up the poster board a bit. I also used up some old stickers I had on hand as you can see below ..

Next I placed a plain white post-it note over each illustration ...

IMG_2264

And then ... I placed a log slice sticker on the bottom edge of each post-it. The post-it notes hide the illustration and the stickers keep that post-it note from flipping up and revealing any hints!

IMG_2264

Close ups of the poster/post-it/sticker situation ...

IMG_2287

IMG_2287

Festive, yes? :)

Lastly, I used a red pen to number each sticker ...

IMG_2287

And secured Archie's approval, natch ...

IMG_2287

And that's it!

Well, actually ... there is much more to it and I will now get to all that. :)

Honestly though, this was a super easy project to pull together this morning. The photocopying took the longest time I think.

Here's how (I hope) my plan will unfold ...

Each day the boys will pull the day's post-it off and, using the revealed illustration, will head to the Christmas Library to try to find the book of the day. (I may also stick a number on the day's book to make it easier for my boys who are pretty young and might need help with this. Little Bear is not yet so familiar with the Christmas book collection and Earlybird may not recognize the illustrations.)

We will then all read the book together! (Please see my book list below.)

I am taking it a little further by planning a simple activity to go along with our Advent reading each day. I am not sharing this "Advent Agenda" with the boys beforehand however, because, as I've learned in the past, it's best to determine first if an activity will work - given the time/energy/weather/mood of the boys - and their mama! I have included my ideas below, next to the book titles.

I hope you enjoy the list and maybe can use an idea or two!

The PDF: Advent Countdown: Stories & Simple Activities

❤️

December 1st

Celebrate Christmas: With Carols, Presents and Peace by Deborah Heiligman

*Set up our Advent Garden.*

❤️

December 2nd

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

*Watch The Polar Express and drink hot chocolate!*

❤️

December 3rd

The Light of Christmas by Richard Paul Evans

*Make beeswax candles for Advent Garden.*

❤️

December 4th

An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola

*Nature walk: gather twigs and other natural craft materials.*

❤️

December 5th

Angelina’s Christmas  by Katharine Holabird

*Take an evening stroll around neighborhood  - deliver holiday cards.”

❤️

December 6th

Santa’s Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki

*Saint Nicholas Teatime: mulled cider and speculaas cookies.*

❤️

December 7th

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd-Jones

*Make twig stars and other natural-material ornaments.*

❤️

December 8th

Night Tree by Eve Bunting

*Go to The Farm and get our Christmas Tree!*

❤️

December 9th

Country Angel Christmas by Tomie dePaola

*Cookie Baking Day with Nana!*

❤️

December 10th

The Animals’ Santa by Jan Brett

*Decorate a Solstice Tree for the backyard Animals.*

❤️

December 11th

The Golden Christmas Tree by Jan Wahl

*Make golden glitter tree ornaments.*

❤️

December 12th

The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola

*Visit the Nursery to see poinsettias. Make cinnamon-sugar tortilla stars with fresh pineapple-mint salsa. Tacos for supper!*

❤️

December 13th

Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett

*Bake and decorate gingerbread folk.*

❤️

December 14th

My Wonderful Christmas Tree by Dahlov Ipcar

*Write and perform  a Woodland Christmas puppet show.”

❤️

December 15th

Christmas Farm by Mary Lyn Ray

*Take a nighttime Christmas lights drive.*

❤️

December 16th

A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe

*Watch the bird garden at sunrise while sipping hot cocoa.*

❤️

December 17th

The Christmas Bird by  Bernadette Watts

*Set up our children’s creche.”

❤️

December 18th

The Christmas Cat by Efner Tudor Holmes

*Make moon ornaments for Solstice Tree; watch moonrise tonight.”

❤️

December 19th

Corgiville Christmas by Tasha Tudor

*Bonfire night! Make magic pinecones to burn in fire.*

❤️

December 20th

Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown

*Make homemade gift wrap.*

❤️

December 21st

Bear Noel by Olivier Dunrea

*Family Solstice Supper with hot wassail, cottage pie and sun cake.”

❤️

December 22nd

The Friendly Beasts: An Old English Christmas Carol by Tomie dePaola

*Go caroling!*

❤️

December 23rd

Christmas in the Stable by Astrid Lindgren

*Visit an outdoor nativity scene at night.”

❤️

December 24th

The Night Before Christmas illustrated by Douglas Gorsline

There will be new pajamas and slippers and steamed almond milk before bed!

*

I hope you enjoyed my Advent ideas! Please remember - my goal is not to do every single thing on my list, but rather, to use the "plan" to create an atmosphere ... a slower, peaceful and happy time of anticipation. The 24 days of Advent pass very quickly and I sincerely hope every one of them brings you much comfort and joy!

Well my friends, as always, I thank you for stopping by and wish you all a pleasant day ... see you here again very soon!


❤️Looking Ahead: Tea & Christmas Planning!

IMG_1666

Hello again, my friends!

Well, it's a rather dreary November afternoon here - sleety, cold, and DARK - so I'm taking a break from our Thanksgiving prep to sit down for a cup of tea and to share a couple of quick things with you all. The first thing is what you see above ... this year's Christmas Planner is ready to go!

🎄 Dawn's Christmas Planner for 2018 ðŸŽ„

Now, I'm really excited to dive into holiday planning - but I do like to live in season, and be mindful of our present blessings - so this week is all about thankfulness - and preparing turkey for 25! I also, however, like to get my ducks in a row asap, so I printed out a fresh copy - updated for the new year with a new, pretty cover (and back) page - and added it to my planning binder. There it will wait for me until Friday morning when I'll be raring to go! (Over a cup of mulled cider and leftovers!)

Okhere is a little sneak peek at the inside pages ...

IMG_1670

IMG_1666

IMG_1666

IMG_1666

IMG_1666

IMG_1666

IMG_1666

IMG_1666

IMG_1666
IMG_1666

I hope this 16-page booklet will be helpful to you as you plan out your holiday season, but more than that - I hope it helps you think about HOW you want the season to feel. Christmas is about so much more than just the nitty gritty details - not that there's not a lot of things to do and keep on top of in order to make everyone's holiday  happy - but it's really about creating an atmosphere, crafting a vision, cultivating and carrying on with traditions that make the season so special for everyone. It is also, if I may be so bold as to suggest, a time for making time for ourselves. A time to connect with the true spirit of the season - whatever that may mean for YOU - touching base with the memories and values you hold dear. These weeks go by so fast, let's give this special time some real forethought and plan a Christmastide that will bring not only happiness, but harmony - inside and out.

Well ... more on all that in posts to come, but on that note ... the other thing I wanted to tell you all today is that I've decided to bring back my WEEKLY WINTER TEAS!

IMG_E1581

And so ...

Tea at Dawn's will commence next Monday, November 26th and continue (fingers crossed) every week throughout what I like to call, "nesting" season.

I am still hammering out my thoughts on this special project, as well as my weekly Tea themes, but come next Monday we can start by sharing a little of our Thanksgivings as well as our hopes for the season ahead - not to mention, of course, a lovely cup of late autumn tea!

Guests are always welcome at Teatime - to simply read, or share thoughts, or to participate with pictures - so I hope you'll consider joining me! Grab that Teacup image above if you'd care to spread the word, and if you'd like to send me a picture, please email me:

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

Our 1st post:

November 26th: "Thanksgiving Memories and Holiday Hopes."

Well friends, I will be off now as dinnertime has approached and I am actually now typing these last words with a five year old in my arms who is complaining of a bellyache! So for now ...

Thanks so much for stopping by, have a nice evening, and I'll hope to see you here again very soon!


My 2019 Planning Sheets: Printable & Free!

IMG_1514 (1)

Hello my friends and Happy Sunday! With just a little over a month left to the year, I would like to share my 2019 planning sheets with you all!

Please find all the PDF links below and read on for more information on how to print and assemble your own planner. (With more posts to come on planner "maintenance" as well!)

I believe this is my third (or fourth?) year sharing these planning sheets here at the blog and though I am getting a little more comfortable with the tech side of things, I always seem to scramble to make the sheets "post-able" just before year's end!

This year I'm happy to say I am able to share them in a much more streamlined way - and I hope this makes them easier to use!

Please let me know if you have any trouble printing the sheets or if you come across any typos or incorrect dates. As always, these sheets are very much a homemade affair - a rather personal project I create for myself first, and then make public in hopes others might find them useful. I'm a self-confessed planner addict for sure, but I really enjoy making my own planner because it allows me to create something with my own "mother and homemaker" needs in mind. There are so many gorgeous, wonderful planners out there - and yet I have not been able to find one that not only meets my specific needs but also suits my taste for a planner that's a little old-fashioned, specifically home-centered and has true seasonal "flair."

(To that end, in addition to seasonal quotes on each weekly page, you will notice that font colors change monthly to reflect the time of the year.)

These sheets are certainly not perfect but they do come straight from my heart and it is my dearest hope that they are fun for you to use and maybe inspire you to find a little more "comfort and joy" in the year ahead. ðŸ’›

Now as I mentioned last week, as much as I'd truly love to, at this time I'm not able to offer prepared planners for sale. I'm afraid I just don't have the kind of time I'd need to take on such a project. (Folks who have "won" a giveaway copy before can attest to how long it takes me to make it for them!) I'm definitely not saying never - just not this time around!

What I can do though, is share my planning sheets in PDF form, and make them available to readers for free! I can also give you an idea how to go about printing and assembling these pages into your own personal planner, in a form that makes sense. I myself have gone back and forth between using these sheets in a three-ring binder and having them spiral-bound at the copy shop ... but I'll talk more about that in a bit!. :)

Ok, without further ado, here we go! Each link is a printable PDF file and is free for your personal use.

💛 The By Sun and Candlelight Seasonal Planner for 2019

Front Section

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Extra Blank Pages

 (Please note the November and December files are larger due to holiday planning and might take a little longer to load.)

And now for more details ...

I use HP ink and Staples brand "Premium Bright White" paper:

IMG_1493

The paper is smooth and has a nice weight to it. :)

Other materials I use when making up a planner:

IMG_1504

The planner includes title pages for each month of the year, but I find it handy to insert a thicker piece of paper to set apart the monthly sections. I like to use pretty patterned paper that has the thickness of card stock for this purpose. These papers tend to come in a larger "12x12" inch sheet so I just cut them down to size. I buy mine through Amazon or at the craft store.

As you can see, I really like "vintage" images ...

IMG_1514 (1)

(Note - if you have trouble finding paper you like, you could also use card-stock for your monthly dividers. I made up a separate PDF of my 12 monthly title pages in case you'd like to use those title pages as dividers. Just print the PDF file on white card stock so the pages have a thicker weight.)

IMG_1511 (1)

I also like to choose an especially pretty piece of paper to serve as my planner cover page:

Planner cover

I sometimes use alphabet stickers for "monogramming" the cover. I'm not a big sticker gal really, but they can be fun and add just the right touch of whimsy.

Now for a very important piece of the planner assembly, especially if you are binding your sheets at the copy shop ...

Chipboard

This is sturdy 50-point chipboard which will give your planner a very firm back cover. I got a package of 20 for $17 at Amazon. (In case you are wondering, a three hole punch does go through this material!)

Speaking of which ...

Three hole punch

If I'm going to keep my planning sheets in a binder, then I use a three-hole punch! The one I have is quite old, but I'm linking one that seems similar: Swingline Three-Hole Punch.

And as for a binder ...

IMG_1514 (1)

My favorite binder is a Martha Stewart 1-inch, 3-ring binder. It holds 275 sheets and is wonderfully sturdy and the rings work so smoothly. I honestly have not found another binder that works as well! They are all too stiff and the rings can be lethal! You can find this binder at Amazon but I buy mine at Staples for a much better price!

Last but certainly not least (because they give me such joy!) ...

IMG_1495

I use adhesive tabs for the monthly divider pages. I love these pretty pastel tabs made by Erin Condren. I buy them at Staples but they are also available Amazon and through www.erincondren.com.

Basically I just print out all the sheets and paper clip each section to keep all those pages in order. 

IMG_E1531 (2)

I add the cover, monthly dividers (with tabs attached) and chipboard backing ... then I either bring the whole thing to the copy shop and ask for it to be "spiral bound" or I hole punch the sheets and file them into a binder. 

A note on spiral binding ... I take my planners to Staples for binding. They offer this service for about $5.00 and depending on how busy the store is, it's a pretty quick job! The spiral binding is made from plastic but recently I was told that they can send out the planners to be bound with a metal coil instead. I have yet to try that but I think metal coils would add a nice sturdiness and a touch of "elegance" to the planner!

Here are a few glimpses of planner construction, but as I mentioned at the start of this post, I will be back with a follow up post to talk more about using the planner once it's all put together!

IMG_1494

planner assembly ...

IMG_1541

ready for the copy shop ...

IMG_1514 (1)

the first month of the new year ...

IMG_1514 (1)

menu planning and overview ...

IMG_1520

extra planning pages ...

IMG_1520

monthly review and holiday planning ...

IMG_1520

the weekly spread ...

IMG_1520

January shades of brown, blue and rose ...

IMG_1523

the month-at-a-glance ...

IMG_1523

color-coded events ...

Well my friends, that is all I have for today! I would love to hear your thoughts and any questions about my planner and/or planner-making process. As I said, I will be back with a follow-up post to talk more about how I use this planner - my "system" if you will - and I will be happy to address any questions in that next post.

In the meantime, thanks so much, as always, for stopping by - I wish you all well and will hope to see you here again very soon!


Seasonal Homeschooling: Using a Lesson Planner

IMG_6720

Hello my friends, and Happy Wednesday! 

Today I'd like to talk a little more about my seasonal homeschooling routine, specifically - how I plan out an individual week. addressed this issue to a degree during last Friday's Inspire webinar (the replay of which you can watch here), and the short answer is: there are lots of layers to seasonal planning! But since I'm not known for my short answers, here is the long answer ... :)

I start with the big picture, dividing a year into thoughtful segments. And by thoughtful I mean ... well, they make sense to me! So for this New England girl there are not four, but six seasons in a year, and two months per season. (September and October are "early autumn," for example.)

Next I brainstorm ideas to capture all the nuances and blessings that return to us again and again. This takes some thinking and imagining and reviewing of nature notes, retired calendars and favorite seasonal resources. (I made up printables for doing this, and they can be found here.)

Finally, I assign the most interesting ideas, or themes, to the weeks themselves and then I work said themes into the individual days of the week! All according to our weekly homeschooling rhythm ...

Phew, right? Lol. Well, it sounds more complicated than it really is and I will talk more about it in future posts, but for today I'm showing you how today I planned ONE week of seasonal activities, revolving around an assigned theme, and using a (really cool) lesson planner to do it!

Best of all - and the point of this post! - I found this particular planner spread allowed me to easily merge our Oak Meadow Kindergarten curriculum with my own seasonal homeschooling plans! So without further ado, here's a look at week one:

IMG_E6711

This was the first time I put paper to pen! It's such a big lovely planner, I was a little intimidated to start writing in it to be perfectly honest. I am using my preferred Frixion Erasable Pen here in bright blue ink. Plus some Frixion pastel highlighters (also erasable!).

I sat down with my OM Kindergarten syllabus, open to Lesson One, and my seasonal planner (the one I'm GIVING AWAY tomorrow, as you might remember!) open to my "corn and crows" notes.

Then I set about filling this baby in!

IMG_E6711

True confession: I wrote all of this information out on sticky notes first - moved those around where they belonged - and then wrote on the paper itself. I don't think I'll do that each week - ðŸ˜œ - but it gave me a little flexibility while I figured out where I wanted certain information to "live."

First thing I did was write our weekly homeschooling rhythm along the left hand side of the planner:

  • Monday: Nature Walk
  • Tuesday: Crafting
  • Wednesday: Storytelling
  • Thursday: Out & About
  • Friday: Home & Garden

Then I wrote in our activities for each day in the first column:
IMG_E6711

I used a highlighter to designate the type of activity, something I do in all my planners. So here, yellow means a special activity at home, blue is for EB's therapy, and green means we are going somewhere. 

The planner spread features six columns for planning subjects. Our homeschool subjects this year are as follows:

  • Language Arts
  • Math
  • Social Studies
  • Nature/Science
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Other

IMG_E6711

These pertain to our OM curriculum as well as our seasonal living/learning, and I utilized the far right column for specifically seasonal notes!

IMG_E6711

I listed notes here for ...

  • Circle Time
  • Book Basket
  • Home & Family

Circle Time will be done each morning and this is influenced by our Oak Meadow curriculum, with a little music and movement, a fingerplay to learn and some calendar and weather discussion. We will also begin our day with a short blessing, not listed here.

Reading from our seasonal Book Basket can happen anytime, but I like to have a designated reading time in the afternoon, after lunch. It tends to happen when Mama gets her first cup of tea made! The titles listed here are ones we own (√), ones we can get at the library (L) and ones I plan to purchase (+).

A lot of people ask me how to involve older students in seasonal learning/living and one way to do this is to plan activities that the whole family can do together. (That's not to say seasonally-inspired academics can't be done at a higher level, but obviously there is just so much more that can be done with younger children in the family!) Celebrating the seasons as a family can be such a meaningful and rewarding lifestyle - making memories and encouraging our kids to slow down and savor the simple things in life. To look for the little gifts that return to us every year, while keeping our eyes open for new discoveries! These kinds of activities bring a family together, and fill a home with a touch of comfort and joy ...

So under Home & Family I included things like - foods we can enjoy, places we can go, seasonal decorations to put up, fun activities we can all do together:

fresh corn from the farm stand • popcorn balls  • corn muffins at Sunday breakfast • the cornfield or corn maze • tying up cornstalks at the front door • how about a taste test! which tastes better: boiled or grilled? • watching a favorite movie with a batch of freshly popped popcorn

Honestly, I think too many families stop doing things together as the kids get older and busy with their friends. But to my mind, our older kids should always feel welcome to join in - but not pressured. It might not be easy to get an older kid to come along on an outing, but they will probably enjoy sharing a special meal or snack, or seeing favorite decorations go up around the house. It's important to keep these kids in the loop in even the smallest ways. 
IMG_E6711

Shown beneath the planner here is a folder for my weekly seasonal materials, mostly things I've printed out: directions for making a corn husk doll, a corn maze printable, library request sheets, etc.
IMG_E6711

Here's a close up of one square (Language arts on Wednesday, our storytelling day):
IMG_E6711

Our morning circle time will include oral exercises and a little nature writing (on the chalkboard). I then chose one suggested OM language arts activity as well as a seasonal/rhythm activity of my own.

OM offers several language-related activities to spread throughout the week and many are wonderful examples of creative, active, outdoor learning. I figure the boys can work on their stick/yarn letter As while a crow finger puppet shares some news from our woods. This story will be part of an ongoing nature tale, taking cues from our backyard critters and the current weather. I enjoy using my storytelling apron for this activity as well as the lovely nature mailbox my mother painted for our learning room.

I added afternoon and bedtime reading selections to my language box - some are filled in, for example, we'll be reading The Popcorn Book on this particular afternoon because on this day we are also doing "popcorn math" and making popcorn balls for a family snack. :)

By the way, if you are not familiar with the Oak Meadow School (located in Vermont), it is a wonderful, Waldorf-inspired curriculum - one we've used for many years, at all grade levels, and this is my fourth time cracking open this Kindergarten syllabus! OM really works well with the addition of my seasonal homeschooling plans - the trick will be trying to have realistic expectations!

This spread here is for one week - and as most of us know, five days fly by very quickly! During this first week of September, if all (or most) goes to plan, we will be reading the Tale of Peter Rabbit and learning to recognize and write the letter A. We'll be remembering Summer and setting up a Nature Corner with which we can welcome upcoming seasons. We'll learn a body-parts song and a sweet finger play and set up a Science Scrapbook. As a family we'll discuss chore division and allowance, an annual Labor Day tradition! We'll learn the difference between crows and ravens, and listen to Native American lullabies. We'll brave a corn maze and soak in the particular allure of a whispering cornfield in late summer. There will be reading and playing and baking and plenty of time spent in nature ... 

All in all, a great start to a brand new homeschooling year!

(And it might sound/look like a lot, but when you view my lesson planner spread, you can see that most days have a pretty good balance of activities. This is not to say that each and every day will go smoothly or to plan! But this is what I have prepared, and will have ready for my Earlybird and Little Bear, and hopefully we will not only learn a lot of interesting things together - but also have LOTS of fun!)

Now, don't forget! This Friday I'll be announcing the winner of my Seasonal Planner! I will be posting sometime later in the day - roundabouts teatime - so there's still plenty of time to leave me a comment and throw your hat in the ring. (Please see this post for all the details!)

Enjoy the rest of your evening, my friends - and as always, thanks so much for stopping by! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I will see you here again very soon!


My Homemade Seasonal Planner: Time for another GIVEAWAY!

IMG_6539

Hello once again my friends, and Happy Thursday! ðŸ˜Š

As you might guess from my post title, I have some exciting news to share today! In celebration of the new school year upon us, and in honor of my "INSPIRE" talk tomorrow with Mary Ellen Barrett and Homeschool Connections (@ 2:45 p.m. EST - sign up here!), I am ... drumroll please ... ðŸ˜‰

GIVING AWAY ANOTHER HOMEMADE SEASONAL PLANNER!

IMG_6557 (1)

Now, I've done this before so many of you already know the drill ...

Please leave your name and a comment below if you are interested in winning a copy of my (homemade) 2018-2019 academic "seasonal planner." (And to learn more about the planner interior, please check out "My Homemade Planner" archive.)

On FRIDAY, AUGUST 24th I will randomly choose a name and announce a winner!

While I have you though, here's a peek at a weekly spread in my planner. (The weekly spreads are really the heart of this planner!) I'd like to give you all a better idea how I use these pages to plan out our seasonal homeschooling ...

Planner spread

⭐️ 1.  OF NOTE: Here is where I list any events or activities "of note" for the week. For example, this might include birthdays, holidays, feast days, important appointments and social obligations.

⭐️ 2. THEME: I list our "seasonal homeschooling theme" in this space. (A list of all 52 can be found here.) This particular week shown here will be, "crows and corn."

⭐️ 3. MEAL PLANNING: That's pretty self-explanatory, I think! I use the bottom "notes" section for foods that tie in with the theme and season. (Example, fresh corn on the cob, corn bread, etc.)

⭐️ 4. HOME & GARDEN: Here is where I write down any extra housekeeping tasks and/or any home/garden projects we have going on. (Not our normal weekly housekeeping routine, but other things I'm/we're working on.) Currently we are tending and preserving our garden, organizing our son's supplies for college and cleaning the learning room, top to bottom!

⭐️ 5. QUOTE: Each weekly spread features a poem or quote that connects us with the season and in some cases, our weekly theme.

⭐️ 6. CRAFTS & COMFORTS: Here is where I list the ideas that support our weekly seasonal theme. For this particular week (September 3rd-9th) our theme will be "crows and corn." I will be listing things like "visit a cornfield," "corn from the farm stand," "listen for and observe local crows," "read "Raccoons and Ripe Corn." As it is also Labor Day on the 3rd, as well as our back-to-school week, I will list other "niceties" here like "make picalilli with Mum," "serve alphabet soup and gingerbread letter cookies," "make back to school gifts for the boys." (Important note: I do not ever fit all these things into one week! It's just fun to brainstorm possibilities, include what we can and save some things for next year!)

⭐️ 7. TO DO THIS WEEK: It is what it says it is! A place to list things I need to get done that are timely to this particular week.

⭐️ 8. WEEKLY RHYTHM: I use this space as an agenda - a place to write down our schedule (activities, appointments, etc.) - as well as for writing out "rhythm" activities. (For example, Monday is nature study day, Tuesday is for crafting, Wednesday for storytelling, etc.)

⭐️ 9. NOTES: I've been using this space for "free-form" lesson planning and record keeping - BUT - I just purchased an Erin Condren Teacher's Planner (!!!) because I think I might need something a little more detail-oriented for this coming year. I am not entirely sure yet how I will revamp this part of my planning page - I might use it for journaling and memory-keeping - but more to come on all of that!

Also, if you also notice, the colors I chose for the design of this spread are unique to September. Each month in my planner has its own color scheme and to my best ability is done with shades that reflect that particular time of the natural year. September's color scheme seen here, to my mind, evokes the changing landscape of late summer: the golden fields, the ripening rose hips and apples, the crisp blue skies and fading green leaves. â¤

(Now see, this is why I was so compelled to make my own planner! I have very specific needs when it comes to "seasonal planning!")

So there's a fairly thorough tour of a weekly spread in my homemade seasonal planner. I will be sharing more posts about my planner - the set up, the system, and how I will be sharing my 2019 planning pages with you all sometime later this fall. 

Next month (after we've settled into the new school year) I will also share a "how to" video, walking you all through the steps for assembling your own planner (it's honestly not as hard as it looks!), should you want to make one for yourself.

(All my planner pages are available in my "Printables" archive. Dividers, covers, backing and binding is done separately and I will talk about all of that, too!)

Well my friends, I thank you for stopping by and I hope to hear from you if you have an interest in my homemade planner! I wish you luck if you enter the contest and I hope to hear from some of you tomorrow at the INSPIRE webinar! Mary Ellen will be taking questions as we chat so let me know what's on your mind!

Have a wonderful evening and see you here again very soon ... â¤


Seasonal Homeschooling: Favorite Resources

Hello again my friends! Why yes ... this would indeed be the 2nd post from me to you in one day! Crazy, I know - but I have lots of things I want to share in regards to my talk for the Inspire Virtual Conference this Friday - sign up is FREE and open to all! So I'm trying to get as many posts up before my afternoon chat, "Seasonal Homeschooling: Cultivating a Gentle, Grateful Year." :)

(Oh, and for those who asked, I will be able to share a link post-webinar for those who can't join us on Friday ... so, yay!)

For this evening's post though, I'd like to share some of my favorite "go-to" resources when it comes to our seasonal homeschooling. I've had most of these books for many years - many are nature-based, some are Waldorf-inspired and several are geared toward Catholic tradition. ALL have been wonderful as I brainstorm ideas for exploring our themes for the year!

IMG_6509 (1)

All Year Round • Festivals, Family and Food • Making the Children's Year • Naturally Fun Parties for Kids • Findus, Food & Fun: Seasonal Crafts and Nature Activities • A Child's Seasonal Treasury • Usborne Book of the Seasons • Mrs. Sharp's Traditions • When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year • Be Blest • Festivals with Children • Storytelling with Children 
IMG_6509 (1)

The Butt'ry Shelf Almanac • China Bayle's Book of Days • Mary's Flowers: Gardens, Legends & Meditations • Catholic Traditions in the Garden • Holidays & Holy Nights • A Book of Feasts and Seasons • A Continual Feast • Catholic Traditions in the Home and Classroom • Earth Psalms: Reflections on How God Speaks through Nature • All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings • Earthways: Simple Environmental Activities for Young Children • The Catholic Parent Book of Feasts • The Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions

I have lots of other resources for seasonal planning, but these are the ones I tend to reach for most often. I'd love to hear about yours, too!

(Note - in full disclosure, as explained on my right-hand sidebar - I am a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you click though to Amazon from a link on this blog and make a purchase, I will receive a commission from Amazon. Thanks in advance if you click through my links!)
 
❤
 
Have a wonderful Thursday, my friends! More "seasonal planning" posts to come in the next day or so! And please let me know if you have any specific questions you'd like me to address in my talk!

Seasonal Homeschooling: A Few Printable PDFs!

IMG_6426
Hello my friends and Happy Wednesday!

I'm popping in again, just two days before the FREE "Inspire" Virtual Homeschooling Conference (mentioned in Monday's post), to share a few PDF's with you all that will assist with my talk on Seasonal Homeschooling: Cultivating a Gentle, Grateful Year. :)

First, here is a simple SEASONSKEEPING WORKBOOK (click on the link - it's a printable PDF!). In this packet you could brainstorm ideas for embracing the seasons of the year:

IMG_6431

There are two pages devoted to each season - one for listing monthly events and one for brainstorming ideas. (In my view, every two months make up a season - so I see the year as divided into six seasons rather than four.)

On the Events page you could list holidays, feast days, full moons, birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events (like the Superbowl or World Series), natural phenomena (such as meteor showers or lunar eclipses) ... really, anything goes! As for the Brainstorming page - well, it could look like a narrative ("Dear Deep Winter, here is what I love about you ...") or it could be filled with words that pop into your mind when you imagine that time of year. For example in the case of Deep Winter, those might be:

snow days • warm mittens • hot cocoa • handmade valentines • birds at the feeders • ETC.

You could ask your family to participate in this activity! The seasons are meaningful to each of us in individual ways. If you're stumped for ideas and looking for inspiration, you might consult your own nature journal or personal diary if you have a habit of jotting down lots of seasonal details (as I do!) or you could thumb through favorite resources or you could even google it! (Pinterest is full of inspiration for the seasons of the year!)

Next, here is the SEASONAL THEMES planning outline I use in my homemade planner:

IMG_6428

You're welcome to use my outline for guidance, but I also have a BLANK version for you to use since you'll probably want to come up with your own themes and ideas. Seasonal themes really resonate when inspired by one's local habitat as well as fond family traditions.example, in a deep and snowy New England winter, exploring themes like "hearthside delights," "glass gardens" and stormy weather all make sense and bring joy - but February might look and feel very different where you live! And of course, each family enjoys its own seasonal pastimes. Maybe you all like to ski in the winter? Well, "hearthside delights" would work great! But what if you'd prefer to escape to the tropics? Well, how about a week devoted to exploring "winter citrus?"

Now, I personally like to break down the year into 52 weekly themes because this just works well with my kids and our homeschooling style. But that might seem like a bit much for some folks, so instead you could simplify things and choose 12 monthly themes for the year. Say, "the autumn orchard" in September," "planting time" in May, or "hibernation" in November.

Also on my outline you can see that I list pertinent monthly events below the themes (in green text) and I use little keys to signify in which week the full moon falls as well as when liturgical events tie into our seasonal theme. For example -

✝️ I connect St. Martin's Day (aka Martinmas) with the darkening days of late fall, and the need to light our own inner lights. (This also ties in with Daylight Savings Time ending on 11/4.)

✝️ I tie in the "sticks and stones" of the early December garden with St. Barbara's Day (and the traditional gathering of branches for Christmas bloom).

✝️ The week of the Annunciation is devoted to "sleepy seeds," and we not only plant our own spring hopes in a potting tray, but we make a sweet seed cake to serve on that feast day.

✝️ For St. George's Day we learn about "dragons of the wood" - aka spring salamanders! (Which were once thought to actually BE tiny dragons!)

The liturgical year has such a beautiful rhythm - a time for all things and a reassuring repetition - and I am often overjoyed to find how neatly it dovetails with the familiar framework of the natural year! Both calendars bring me much peace and by following them with my family, we are continually reminding ourselves of the many blessings to behold in any given year. The very gift of another 365 days on this earth is perhaps the best blessing of all - something to remember as the year turns and we take delight in another first snowfall, first crocus, first branch of fiery foliage, or first bat fluttering across a summer night sky ... :)

Ok, moving on now - here is a SEASONAL PLANNING SPREADSHEET, a new form I made up for myself this year:

IMG_6424

I'm sharing this two-page planning spread even though I realize it's quite personalized, re homeschooling subjects and all. For each theme I have a box in which to plan:

  • Events of Note
  • Nature Study
  • Outings/Field Trips
  • Creative Play
  • Reading ...
  • Verse to learn
  • Language Arts
  • Science/Math
  • Social Studies
  • Crafting
  • Home/Family (bringing everyone into it!)
  • Art/Music
  • Notes

This list represents the elements of our weekly rhythm - one day is for nature study, one day is for crafting, etc. This is the framework of our kindergarten at home - but at present we are still working out a few scheduling details for our new homeschooling year. I may be adjusting our weekly rhythm as September rolls around ...

Well my friends, I am running out of time, so in tomorrow's post I will share a few more things in preparation for Friday's talk. Please let me know if there are any points you'd like me to clarify or expand upon! I'm off for now, but as always, I thank you for joining me and will look forward to seeing you here again very soon ...

Blessings


Printable Planning Sheets! Plus, WEBINAR news!

Blueberry week

Hello my friends and Happy Monday! I am so excited to share a couple of super fun things with you all today!

First of all, I have some more seasonal planning sheets for you! These are for the remaining months of 2018, and I do hope you enjoy them! (Please let me know if you have any problems opening these PDFs, or if - heaven forbid - there are mistakes!)

September 2018 Planning Sheets

October 2018 Planning Sheets

November 2018 Planning Sheets

December 2018 Planning Sheets

(Please stay tuned for info on 2019 Planners this fall.)

Vintage label - text

And now for more details on the webinar I mentioned earlier this month, and that exciting event is coming up THIS FRIDAY, AUGUST 17th!

Here's a link with all the info and a sign-up form:

Homeschool Connections: Inspire Virtual Conference 

Inspire-logo

"This FREE online conference will provide you focus to ramp up your planning efforts while invigorating your outlook for the upcoming school year."

(Did I mention this webinar is FREE?!?)

My dear friend Mary Ellen Barrett will be interviewing five different folks on various homeschooling topics, and honestly I am more than a little overwhelmed by the amazing company I am in: Jennifer Mackintosh, Dave Palmer, Tony Agnesi, and Bonnie Landry! I feel truly honored and humbled to have been asked to join this panel of gifted and accomplished speakers!

Now, when you sign up for INSPIRE, you can choose which talks you wish to "attend" - they begin with Jennifer's at 10 a.m. and end with mine at 2:45 p.m. (eastern time). My talk is titled, "Seasonal Homeschooling: Cultivating a Gentle, Grateful Year," and not surprisingly, I'm still working out my notes! I do hope to have some helpful thoughts to share, a few favorite resources to show you ... and well, you just KNOW I will have a big cup of tea in my hand! :-)

Ok, so that's all for today, but I will have another post (maybe two!) to share this week as we get closer to Friday. I have some PDFs in mind to create and there MAY be a GIVEAWAY in the works!! So please stay tuned, and I will see you here again very soon!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

p.s. Top photo: Sunday office hours - it was a "big mug" kind of day!


August Plans & News!

August vintage 1

Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! I hope all is well with you all!:)

I'm popping in today to share my August 2018 planning sheets ... and to say I'm very sorry it's taken me so long to post them! The good news is - it's not QUITE August yet, lol! The better news is - I'll have September through December sheets to share with you within a week or so. :)

But more on my planner situation a little further below, first I thought I'd share a little about our seasonal themes for next month ...

Our August Seasonal Themes

7/30-8/5: bats at dusk

8/6-8/12: shooting stars

8/13-8/19: blueberries

8/20-8/26: seashells by the seashore

8/27-9/2: sunflowers

Here is a look at the "spreadsheet" I designed for planning out our weeks:

IMG_5604
IMG_5605

It probably seems like a lot of information overload, but I find it very helpful to see all these variables in one place - though I feel compelled to add, we won't get ALL these ideas done! These are all possibilities ... :)

I get asked about my seasonal homeschooling quite often, and so here's a peek at my list of weekly themes:

IMG_5584

I'm also frequently asked about the themes themselves - do I repeat them from year to year?

Well the answer to that question is yes - mostly. Because for one thing, we almost never explore a theme to the depth it might be explored (and some particularly busy weeks we miss out entirely) but also, the point of this rhythm is to nurture a fond familiarity with the nuances of each season, as well as a sense of happy anticipation throughout the year.

I do change things up sometimes though - for instance, this week we are doing "bats at dusk" but it could have been "first grains" to go along with Lammas Day. Though they won't be our focus, we will be exploring grains a bit - reading The Little Red Hen, baking corn muffins and observing this lovely poster, a gift from a friend:

Grains 1

Meanwhile, just across the learning room, on display are the books we're using this week:

IMG_5809

Now, why bats you might ask? Well, at this time of year we spend most evenings watching tiny bats swoop over our yard! (And I know that because of the nature notes I keep from year to year, reminding me what to look for when.) Bat-watching has become something of a sweet, simple ritual - sitting on the front steps after supper, watching those tiny dark forms flit about the lavender sky, noticing the warm air and the lingering light ...

It's a fun and interesting activity to be certain, but more than that, this happy pastime reminds the whole family to slow down, pay attention, share in the blessings of each season, and TAKE JOY in the time we've been granted!

✨✨✨

OK, at long last, here in the nick of time are my:

August 2018 Planner Pages !!!

Yep, that's just ONE PDF for the whole month! I finally figured out how to create multi-page PDFs and that makes it so much easier to print out the planning sheets! Please let me know if you have any trouble opening this file - and I hope you enjoy! (I've changed this just a bit ...)

As I said above, I will have the rest of my 2018 planning sheets available to print with the next week. As for my 2019 planner ...

Well, I am trying my best to get that organized, too - and to figure out if this is something I might sell (!) or continue to share here as I've done the past couple of years. The good news is, I have about half the year done already ... so it shouldn't be too long before I have something to share with you.

Ok, and finally - here's some really fun news! On August 17th I will be taking part in a "Homeschool Connections" webinar hosted by Mary Ellen Barrett! I'll share more details in the next couple of weeks, but wanted to let you all know that I'll be talking about my homemade planner, my seasonal themes and kindergarten plans for the year ahead ... plus a few other things, depending upon what questions are asked!

So please stay tuned and thanks so much for your patience ... and as always, for stopping by! I hope you all enjoy these last few days of July ... :)

I will see you here again very soon!


My Primary Planners & (March) Planning

IMG_E7366

Hello and Happy Weekend, my friends! I hope your week's been a good one! 

Well as hard as it is to believe, March is arriving at the end of next week, so I thought I'd share a peek into my planners as I start looking ahead to "what's what" next month. I try to do this around the third weekend of each month - in hopes I'll have enough time to gather my thoughts and any materials we'll need for the coming weeks. These items would include library requests, craft supplies, educational resources, ingredients for special recipes, holiday/birthday cards, and any special books we have set aside in our seasonal bins ...

IMG_7339

(Our seasonal theme next week is "thaw/sap" and our March world culture is Germany.)

Now, note I said planners (not planner) and that's because (as I described in this post from January), I find it a challenge to limit myself to just one! Most of the time I'm just fine with that - because I really do enjoy all my planners and each one of them really does meet a particular need. That said, I also feel like I spend a lot of time juggling all these planners - time I don't really have to spend - and often find myself yearning for a much simpler system. In my heart I'd like to be a one-planner gal but I'm not sure if I'll ever get there ...

So if you use just ONE planner, and it works well for you - well, I am in awe of you! (And perhaps even, a wee bit jealous!)

Anyway, all this planner soul-baring will have to wait for a future post - for today let me get on with the ones I'm using at the moment. And first up is a planner I'm not sure I've shown you before!

IMG_E7340

This is my sweet and special 2017-2018 Katie Daisy planner! (It can also be found - for a little less money- at Amber Lotus Publishing here.)

Now, very often one of my planners takes the lead in the ongoing race to be "lead planner," and currently this is the one - because I am just SO in love with this lovely little book! It is, without a doubt, the prettiest planner I have EVER seen. It's the one I reach for most often, and the one I prefer to take with me when I'm running out somewhere. It fits perfectly in my purse ...

IMG_7468

(This is actually a rather roomy tote, but as you can see I can easily fit both my KD planner and a slightly larger notebook in this bag.)

Now admittedly, when I first bought this petite planner last summer, it was one of those purchases I absolutely recognized as extraneous but I simply could not help myself. It's just that pretty. The size of it intrigued me, too - but more than anything, I was completely enchanted by the gorgeous seasonally inspired pages!

So I used it on and off beginning last August, but when I added a set of pastel monthly tabs to the edges I found it even more useful!

(And PRETTY!)

(Note: I paid far less for these tabs at Staples, but I can't seem to find them elsewhere online.)

I also added, along the top, more adhesive flags and tabs marking spots for seasonal planning. Honest-to-goodness, I find myself a little obsessed with these tabs, those flags, and this planner ...

IMG_E7340

Happily, Katie Daisy - a brilliant watercolor artist whom I follow on Facebook and Instagram - is publishing a 2018-2019 version of this planner! I was able to pre-order mine here ... and I am positively swooning over that new black floral cover!)

To make this planner work even more efficiently, I use a coordinating binder clip to connect the front cover to the current monthly spread. Then I use a simple gold paper clip to do the same between the month-at-a-glance and the current week's spread. This makes it very easy to quickly get to the place in my planner I need to be! 

Here's a closer look at those clips in action ...

IMG_E7340

Now, I'm going to "flip" through the pages of my planner, starting with this week (shown above) and moving forward through March - just to give you a sense for how I'm using it and just how LOVELY it is ...

IMG_7449

The last February weekly spread is split because March begins on a Thursday ... above is an example of one of the many inspiration pages found throughout the planner.

And next comes another pretty pair of pages, with one side for notes. I decided to make this my spot for Spring Cleaning notes, and as you can see I have only just begun to plan it out - beginning with a post-it note outline ...

IMG_E7340

(I begin so many things with post-it notes ... what would I ever do without them?)

And now here is the March calendar spread:

IMG_E7358

The blocks are a bit small, but I found it comfortable to write all the things I need to write here. (It helps of course that I have tiny handwriting.)

And now here's the first weekly spread in March:

IMG_E7340

On the left there is a soft green note page which I'm using for "Vernal Equinox" planning, and on the right, the second half of the first week of March. (Also, note - at the very top of each right-hand weekly page I'm writing out our weekly seasonal theme. This way I'm able to find a week I'm looking for in a jiffy!)

Isn't the green and cream palette just perfect for March?

IMG_E7340

Each month is similar, in that, the colors and illustrations match the feel of the season perfectly.

IMG_E7340

(You can see more page examples at the publisher's site here.)

IMG_E7340

And though you can hardly see it in my pictures, the planner paper (which is very smooth and lovely to write on) has a very faint quad-grid - which is SUPER helpful for those of us who appreciate a little help with keeping our handwriting straight!

IMG_E7350

Ok, the very last week in March features a small note space where Sunday would be (because that Sunday is APRIL 1st!) and then the next turn of the page leads to another one of those wonderful inspiration spreads  ...

IMG_7351

And then we are in April!

IMG_7352

(This note page is where I'll be writing out Easter Sunday plans.)

So as you can most likely tell I am very much head-over-heels in love with this Katie Daisy planner! I would really like to use it exclusively because it feels so simply sufficient - and E-fficient - but most of all, it's so very ME. I've toyed around a little with trying to make it meet ALL my planning needs - but alas, I have an awful lot of those and it would be a rare planner indeed that would be able to accomplish that!

So with that pronouncement, I turn to my next planner - my Day Designer!

IMG_7362

So this is my 2017-2018 midyear flagship Day Designer - a daily planner (with monthly calendars included) that runs from June 2017 through May 2018. I now only have a few months left to use in this planner and I can honestly say I've used just about every (daily) page!

The monthly spreads however, I don't really use ...

IMG_E7364

... though they're great! And since I hate to waste planner space, I've been trying to come up with other uses for this spread. I think I might keep a reading log here! :)

Here though is the meat of this planner ...

IMG_E7365

The daily planning pages! There is one for each day of the year (although weekends share a page) and the layout it absolutely perfect for my daily planning needs. Here's today's page for example:

IMG_7462

I took this picture quite early in the day so I hadn't earned too many checks! As you can see I use this page for essential information pertaining to just that one day. Things I need to remember, and do, and places I need to go. If I was paring down to only one planner, this would be a hard one to do without. It's not as portable or endearing as my Katie Daisy planner, but it is a real workhorse when it comes to the nitty-gritty details of managing my family and home every day!

For more about this particular planner, please see my Day Designer archive here, but now let's take a look at my homemade seasonal planner ...

IMG_7451

This too is a planner I've shown you many times before, but here are the March pages:

IMG_E7368

The very first pic at the top of this post shows you the charming divider paper I use for each month in this planner (part of this collection), and above is the back side of that sheet (left) and the March title page I created using some vintage clipart I found on Pinterest (right).

And now here is my homemade March calendar spread ...

IMG_E7374

When I made up this planner, I made sure to give myself PLENTY of room for monthly planning! I wanted to be able to add stickers and quotes and all kinds of information (days of note, full moons, weekly themes and ideas). And lined calendar blocks were an absolute necessity!

This month I went with a Beatrix Potter theme, and used colored pencils to softy shade in the quotes. So it's different from my Katie Daisy monthly calendar in that I'm able to include much more information - and yet they both appeal to me visually. And they both make me happy!

Now moving on to my next spread you'll see I have YET ANOTHER monthly calendar here! But this one I use specifically for menu planning. Or nature notes, depending on my mood. (It will be the latter this month so I haven't yet written anything down. I've found I can't really plan out a whole month's menus at a time - too impractical. It's a week-to-week thing for us these days.)

And on the right hand side of this spread I have a monthly overview page for to-dos, home and garden notes, seasonal ideas and goals ...

IMG_E7374

I had hoped to have this spread filled out to show you but alas - I have not had the time! (Probably spent it all working on those monthly calendars, right?!)

And here is the weekly overview and agenda for next week, the first week in March (2/26-3/4):

IMG_E7465

This is also still a work in progress - I just filled in things that quickly came to mind yesterday and will work on it more over the weekend. The post-it note is our weekend to-do list which I will use when I fill out the next week to-dos. (Whatever doesn't get done over the weekend + whatever needs doing next week!)

I like to start my "next week planning" on Thursdays, though I very often end up scrambling to pull it together over the weekend. Ideally if I begin my forward planning at the end of a week, that gives me the weekend to gather resources and prep materials and devote a little more attention to writing out actual lesson plans. The page on the right-hand side of this spread is for these details.

(Note: I plan "lessons" - or better to say, "learning activities" - for my younger two boys. Four year old Little Bear is doing pre-k and 16 year old Earlybird, who has autism, is working at various grade levels. We are blessed to have two wonderful ABA therapists, who come for two hours each (four hours a day, Monday through Friday) to work with Earlybird on all kinds of things. It's up to me to plan and organize most of these activities - which target all kinds of learning and growing experiences: life skills, behavioral management, sensory challenges, community outings, etc. It's a lot of work for sure, but extremely rewarding and it has been a super fit for our son!)

Happily I'm able to coordinate many activities that will appeal to, and include, both of my younger boys - and to an extent, the whole family. My ongoing goal is to weave our seasonal homeschooling themes into as many aspects of learning and living as I can!

So for example, next week, the first week in March, we will be exploring the theme of "thaw/melt/sap," and here are a few of my thoughts ...

Late February and early March is maple sugaring season in New England! A time when the daily temperatures might reach 50° while the nights still dip below freezing. When this happens the earth begins to thaw and the sap begins to run - and local sugarhouses open up to visitors! To my mind, this is a wonderful, and most welcome, first sign of spring! And according to my Weather Channel app, next week looks to fit the bill rather nicely, temperature-wise ... so we'll observe the concept of "melt" and "thaw" here at home and of course, try out some "maple" recipes. In addition, our homeschool group has an annual maple sugaring activity and whether or not that falls in our "sap" week, we'll definitely be participating (as we try to every year)! We'll also observe the Full Sap Moon on Thursday night - just after we enjoy a special St. David's supper (potato-leek soup, Welsh Rabbit and daffodil cake). These are all things we've seen/done/eaten before, but happily embrace their familiar and instinctual joy every year. :)

After all the March weekly spreads, I have a page for a month's end review as well as planning pages for special events such as the Vernal Equinox shown here ...

IMG_E7374

My entire planner can be found in my printables archive, but I am working just as hard as I can - which means in fits and starts when I find time! - to make this into something I could publish and sell to interested parties. I thank you all for your patience, and will hopefully have something to share with you before too long (or at least, before the academic year begins!). In the meantime, feel free to help yourself to those free printables and let me know if you have any questions!

Well, now - I'd say it's about time for me to wrap up! But I thank you, as always, for stopping by and I wish you all a very nice weekend. Thanks so much for reading and please leave me a comment if you have a moment! I can be terribly slow at responding, but please know I read (and appreciate) each and every comment!

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


Advent Arrives in the Learning Room! ❤

Advent tags

Hello my friends, and Happy Monday! And Happy first week of Advent, as well. I'm feeling a little better this week and I thank you all for your kind words and prayers. I will be slowly catching up with things around here and hope to be back on track soon. I hope you are all doing well, too!

Today I'd like to share some of the ways we're bringing Advent to our learning room this year. I am especially excited about the beautiful wooden tree Bill made for us - modeled after one I spied at HomeGoods recently. When I first saw that tree at HGs I thought two things ... ONE, that it would be perfect for the learning room, and TWO, that Bill could easily make it! (Which he did, God bless him.)

At the time I wasn't sure what exactly I'd do with it, but then things started clicking into place and I came up with a plan ...

And not surprisingly it involves nature!

IMG_0905

I think you all know how much we love nature in my family and that we love infusing our faith traditions with simple nature-connections. This Advent season I decided to work with a theme of "All Creation Waits" and since we have many lovely wooden animals in the learning room I thought I might start there ...

But as with any plan, I had to flesh it all out on paper - and post-its!

IMG_E0888

I decided to tell short simple stories using these toys, reflecting the traditional weekly Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love ... with the overarching theme of seeking or waiting for something (someone). I sorted through all our wooden animals and decided how each one would fit into the story schedule, and then I made up a sort-of storyboard, shown above.

I placed little stickers on the figures and then put them all in a basket ...

IMG_1052

... covered them up with a pretty starry-night playsilk and set that basket aside.

IMG_0960

Each day Little Bear looks in his basket to find the day's creature(s) and sets them on the Advent Tree. And as he places them on that little ledge, I tell a very brief, simple story. I have these stories mostly written out, and they meander from farmyard to woodland to wider global habitats. I even splurged a little and bought a few new figures that will show up throughout the season - I think Little Bear will be very pleased!

(By the way, we bought most of our wooden toys at Nova Natural many years ago, and last week I ordered new figures from Bella Luna Toys. Both New England-based companies are wonderful.)

IMG_1036

I'm happy to report that four days in - it's been well received! I love how these figures look on the natural wood of the tree, with that cute colorful rug just beneath!

Now, because Earlybird cannot handle storytelling for sensory reasons, I decided to come up with a different Advent plan for him, and the family as a whole. I brainstormed 24 very simple activities (again reflecting nature and faith themes) and then set up a daily "reveal" system I thought EB would enjoy.

IMG_1299

I used the learning line for these small cards and some very cute snowflake clothespins I found at Target ($5 for a package of 12).

(If you are interested, here is a PDF I made up with my notes for our Advent activities: All Creation Waits❤)

Here is the results of today's Advent tag - gathered branches for St. Barbara's Day!

IMG_1120

(Come Christmas, these branches *should* be blooming. It's worked every year!)

Here's a better look at our Advent Tree ...

IMG_E1348

I will rotate the Christmas books displayed here each week ...

IMG_1331

I have a cheery red rolling-bin for the bulk of our books!

IMG_1282

Here's a sweet little board book called, The Animals' Advent ...

IMG_E1256

We're using this countdown, too! 

IMG_E1330

My sidebars are woefully out of date, but I'll try to share our Advent & Christmas book collection with you all soon!

IMG_1268

I just love this tree, and can see that there would be many different ways to use it. (Bill made the ledges easily moveable.)

Here is Little Bear holding up today's Advent animal .. the goat!

IMG_1156

Goat and his "kid" had a nice little story to tell ... new at the farm, Kid was hoping for a special friend to play with (as was Calf in the previous story). He was also hoping for a chance to run about and jump ... and so didn't my boys find some branches and stumps set up in the backyard for doing just that? (Our neighbors have the loveliest trio of goats and we're quite fond of them. I based this story on some of their clever antics!)

IMG_1362

Here's how the first figures are lining up on the bottom shelf of the Advent Tree ...

IMG_1363

The lights are so pretty, aren't they? Another Target find - $9.99 a box for a 9-foot line of lights. I used two to outline the tree.

IMG_1377

December days are surely dark, but oh - those lights! They lend an air of magic and joy to each and every day of Advent. â¤

More Advent lights and sights around our home to come soon. And fingers-crossed, I'll be hosting our first Advent Tea this Sunday! For now though, I wish you all well - and a very Happy Advent! - and will hope to see you all here again soon. :)


November: A Month in My Homemade Planner!

IMG_8290

Hello, my friends and Happy Wednesday! It seems I'm on a bit of a blogging roll lately ... thanks for joining me here again today!

In this post I'd like to show you the November section of my homemade planner. I feel I'm really hitting my groove now with this planner and using the pages a bit more thoroughly than before. Plus, November is one of my favorite months for seasonal planning - because not only does it feature my favorite holiday, but one of my favorite feast days as well ... AND my dear mother's birthday to boot! Also, while there is an air of Advent anticipation building, we still have some time to think, plot and plan. November is a quiet pause in the year when we can just take a breath and be thankful ... there's no need to panic just yet!

The other reason I'm so happy to turn to the November section of my planner is because finally I'm past all those darn water-damaged pages! YES! I made it through to the other side! :)

Ok, so here we go ...

IMG_8271

We begin with November's divider page, made from that pretty vintage paper I love so much. I have a monthly tab on this thicker page and I use a small paper clip to attach this page to the monthly calendar (bypassing the title page seen below). This just makes it easier for me to quickly get to the current month's calendar - so if an event or appointment comes up, I reach for this planner first.

IMG_8286 (1)

And here's November's title page, made with some vintage clipart found on Pinterest. (In case you can't tell, I love a "vintage" look!) And isn't the back of the divider page pretty? Love that soft brown floral ...

IMG_8291

Next comes my two-page monthly spread (left, right) ... and yes, that's a whole lot of stickers! Which is not really the norm for me, but I found a very old pack of Hallmark Thanksgiving stickers (seriously, I may have had these as a teen) and knew I just had to use them here. They were so old the adhesive had mostly worn off, so I used a little glue stick to help keep them in place.

I also added some floral washi to the left edge and alphabet stickers spelling out "November" on the right edge. Finally, I filled in any open spaces with handwritten quotes, and a little soft shading with seasonal colors.

IMG_8274

Aren't those stickers the cutest? â¤

IMG_8275

After the monthly spread I have, on the left side, a page for menu planning - and as you can see, I have not yet filled out all of November's dinner plans! (Working on it!) I use the sticky notes to brainstorm seasonal foods and side dish possibilities. On the right side I have a general monthly overview: this includes to-dos, house & garden notes, seasonal activity ideas, and a place for noting upcoming books/movies as well as our monthly home schooling goals (on yellow post-it note).

IMG_8276 (1)

Now come the weekly spreads, and here is the first for November (overview, agenda). This is the section I keep open on my command center throughout the day. Our theme this week is "our own cozy dens - aka hibernation." The small yellow sticky notes are for planning each day's "rhythm" activities. (For example, since Monday is our "Nature" day, we took a walk looking for nests, drays and dens. We also explored an oak tree that came down in last week's storm.) I find having a weekly rhythm really helps me smoothly fit seasonal ideas into our week. I use that vertical sticky note on the far right for explaining the week's theme - why I picked it and what it means to me/us. I can't find a link but that is an Erin Condren product I picked up at Staples. :)

IMG_8280

After the November weekly spreads, I have a monthly review page, (hidden beneath the book list), and then come the special event planning pages. For November this includes a page for planning out "Our Gratitude Project" (explained in more detail in my last post.) ...

IMG_8281

... and a notepage for "Martinmas Day" ... which I filled with plans AND memories, plus a passage on Martinmas from a favorite parenting book. And then on the right side of this spread you see the first page of my Thanksgiving planner ... and clearly I'm still in the early stages of holiday planning!

IMG_8282

IMG_8283

IMG_8284

IMG_8285

And finally we arrive at the December divider page!

🍂  🦃  ❄️ 🌟 🎄

So there you have it, my friends! A page-by-page tour of my November planning pages ... I hope you enjoyed it! I tried to link the PDFs for each page as we went along - but please tell me if I missed something or if you have any questions. I am really enjoying this planner, I must say ... now that I'm in my fourth month it's filling out nicely (with memories as well as plans) and it seems to be fitting my planning needs really well. It's FAR from perfect, to be sure, but I'm finding it quite useful!

(Remember: My planning pages are currently available FREE for your personal use - please check out my Printables archive for these pages and more!)

Well, thanks again for stopping by, everyone! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll see you here again very soon!


Planning for Seasonal Joy!

Planning for seasonal joy 2
 
Hello my friends, and Happy Friday! Our weekly Tea, as I mentioned yesterday, will be a day (or so) late, but I just shared this rather lengthy post on Facebook and thought - why not share it here, too?!
 
Anyhoo, I wanted to show you all a corner of my Day Designer page today, because I think it's a good example of how I work "seasonal planning" into our everyday life. (And how my daily planner helps me out with that!)
 
So, up here in the "Top Three" section of my daily page I list any holidays or events of note (such as a full moon or birthday) and then I write where we are in our weekly rhythm:
 
---> rhythm: hearth & home: "fading light"
 
In our weekly homeschooling rhythm, today (Friday) is for focusing on "hearth and home," and this week's seasonal theme is "fading light." (I tied that in with pushing the clocks back on Sunday, and the dwindling afternoon light.)
 
On the last line I wrote down a household activity that will help us embrace our seasonal theme in a simple, but meaningful, way:
 
---> organize string lights, candles and lanterns 🌟
 
Because my thinking at this time of year is this - why be sad about November's dark days when we might feel uplifted by a warmly lit home?
 
And don't those soft lights placed around the home make things oh-so-cozy? Perhaps a string of fairy lights twirled in a garland along the mantlepiece? Maybe a special candle to dress up the family table? And how about a homemade lantern placed in a window, a beacon of welcome on a dark afternoon?
 
Sure, we'd probably be bringing these lights out at some point this fall, maybe in bits and pieces - but I think it's nice to have a little ceremony to it, make it something to plan and look forward to:
 
Turn back the clocks ---> turn on the lights! 💡
 
(Have a nice weekend, my friends - don't forget to turn back your clocks!)

November brings: books, branches & blessings!

November books

Hello my friends, and Happy November! I'm popping in very quickly today to A. wish you all a happy new month! And, B. share a bit about our 2017 gratitude project. It was a bit last minute, but in the spirit of my Mitten Strings re-read - in particular, the current chapter - I'm trying to keep things as simple as possible! (And speaking of MSfG, our weekly tea and conversation will be delayed just a day ... maybe two ... because I'm having a week that's anything but simple!!)

Now, I usually try to share my ideas and book lists before a holiday or season begins, but sometimes (ahem, a lot of times) I just can't pull it all together in time! Such is the case with November, I'm afraid, but above you see the books in our blessed basket ...

IMG_7562

(Basket from Michaels - an absolute steal on sale week/coupon day!)

I chose 22 books, one for each day of the month leading up to Thanksgiving Day. I have a very simple activity planned for each day - I'm talking super simple here - like, on the 1st we gathered branches for our project, and the next day (today) we set up our remembrance altar.

So once we had those branches, I set them in a "vase" (aka an old Martinmas lantern, née Ball jar) and placed that vase on our learning room work table. (Little Bear had the idea to surround it with pumpkins - and I like it!) 

IMG_7943

Next I cut myself some slack and instead of cutting out 23 paper leaves, I ordered some pre-cut party favors from Amazon ...

IMG_7947

These leaves are actually made from seed paper - which goes SO very nicely with our nature-based learning! Every day we'll write a blessing on a leaf and then attach it to the branches - I used a hot glue gun for this, fyi - and in the springtime we'll plant all our blessings! â¤

(I so love this idea, I'm going to order another batch as favors for our Thanksgiving guests!)

Ok, in the spirit of (over)sharing, here's the notebook in which I've been brainstorming Thanksgiving and Advent plans ... as you can see I still have some work to do!

IMG_7690 (1)

But speaking of the late autumn holidays, here are links to my PDF planners:

Thanksgiving Planner

Advent & Christmas Planner

(These can take some time to upload, fyi! I have them in my spiral-bound homemade planner, but I've also used them on clipboards and in binders before.)

If there is interest (and/or if I have time) I would love to share a list of our November books and activities. I hope to do that for you in an upcoming post - but next time I'm here I'll be handing you a cup of hot autumn tea and sharing my thoughts on Simplicity (Mitten Strings, chapter 5)! I'm earnestly shooting for Saturday but Sunday could very well be a possibility!

And as always, I'd love to hear from YOU about your thoughts on our Mitten Strings re-read. You can email me your links/notes/photos at -->

drhanigan AT gmail DOT com

I'd love to share your input in a post, but you are also always welcome to leave comments here at the blog. :)

Now, one more thing, while I have you!

As I mentioned in my last post and over on FB and IG, I was supposed to do a Facebook Live Chat with Pam at Homeschool Solutions today in which I would be talking about Mitten Strings for God and how it's shaped my homeschooling journey. Well unfortunately we couldn't get the feed to work so we're going to reschedule in the near future! I will of course, keep you all posted. :)

Hope you all had a wonderful All Hallow's Eve ... and thanks so much for stopping by! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, my friends ...

See you here again very soon!


Seasonal Homeschooling: Pumpkin Week Recap!

IMG_6144

Hello my friends, and Happy Tuesday! 

I'm back again because I have SO many pictures of our pumpkin week, and I just have to share! If you're new to my blog you might be wondering what in the heck a "pumpkin week" is, so - just to explain briefly - every week of the year we explore an assigned seasonal theme as part of our homeschooling. These themes are a big influence on our younger boys' learning experience, but they also infuse our family's home life as well.

I won't go into the whole "why and how" of our seasonal homeschooling, but the important thing to remember about it is - it's more a guideline than a rule! :)

Sure, some weeks we do it up big (case in point, pumpkins!), but other weeks just fly by and we only casually observe our theme. We may be very busy that week, or it might be the theme is not quite as appealing as another might be. Well, pumpkins in October (as you can imagine) are a big hit with most children! And pumpkins lend themselves to all kinds of great learning experiences - whether they be in the disciplines of science, social studies, language arts, cooking, storytelling, etc.! It's very easy to plan for pumpkins - just type "pumpkin activities" into the Pinterest search bar and you'll hardly know where to start!

Well, personally, I start with our own book baskets and family calendar - then start plugging things into our weekly rhythm! Here's a glimpse at last week's planner page as I was just getting started ...

IMG_6351 (1)

It's important to my planning "psyche" that I incorporate seasonal awareness wherever I can! So divider pages are vintage reflections of seasons and holidays past, ribbons and washi (when I use them) are also seasonally inspired ... as are the font colors I use in each monthly section. I just loved how the light hit this bit of planning paraphernalia on my kitchen table ... :)

Books are pretty much the backbone of our homeschool, so one of the first things I did, as I planned out our week, was to comb through our autumn book bins and pull out any that had to do with pumpkins ...

DSC01052 (1)

Not surprisingly there were a lot!

Then I got busy planning out activities that would potentially A. appeal to my kids and, B. fit well into our week. Post-it notes are helpful for me here - because due to the special nature of our very hands-on homeschooling (one preschooler and a special needs teen) - I need things to be, above all, flexible. It's impractical for me to plan out each day's to-dos a week in advance, though I do set a rhythm to our week. (Mondays are nature days, Tuesdays are crafting, Wednesdays are for storytelling ... etc.)

So on a drizzly Monday we kicked things off with a little pumpkin investigation!

DSC00773 (1)

I had a sugar pumpkin "specimen" all ready and I found a neat worksheet for them to use (on Pinterest). I don't use worksheets with my preschooler very often but Little Bear does get a kick out of them! First thing he said when he saw this one was, "Mama, I need TWO crayons! Orange and green, please!" Then he got right down to coloring those pumpkins!

Once the REAL pumpkin was open though, he was all about the seed scooping ...

DSC00793

My mum had come over that morning and with her help, and Earlybird's therapist's support, this science activity was a real hit with both my younger boys!

DSC00794 (1)

Soon the sugar pumpkin was all scooped out and carved to the boys' specifications!

DSC00821 (1)

While Little Bear scooped and colored, Earlybird answered the worksheet's questions:

Was the pumpkin big, small or medium?

Was it orange, yellow or white?

Was the outside smooth or rough?

How many lines were around it?

How many seeds did he think would be inside?

How many seeds WERE inside?

Did he think the pumpkin would sink of float in water?

(Spoiler alert: It floated!)

The next day was better for outside investigating so we headed into the backyard with magnifying glasses in hand. Recently - and curiously - we have one tiny pumpkin plant growing alongside the back of the house - and we didn't put it there! So I wanted the boys to look it all over and think a little - theorize - about how it might have sprouted up here if we didn't actually plant it.

DSC00869

What was SUPER cool about this observation though, was nestled in the center of the plant itself, alongside the one tiny yellow pumpkin bump we found forming, was a milkweed seed! Just one fluffy little seed, and there it was all snuggled up next that budding pumpkin! We do have milkweed growing across the street, but we mused it would take quite an adventure for a seed so small and delicate to find its way all the way here to our tiny plant. (And we were just discovering milkweed last week!)

This "mystery" seemed to me the beginnings of a really neat nature story ... the tale of two wayward seeds. (More on that in a moment.)

IMG_6244

For a craft I had in mind for later, I set the boys to gathering the driest, crispiest, most colorful leaves they could find ...

DSC00884

Well, you can imagine how Little Bear took this assignment to heart!

The next day we were back on the deck with a little "leaf glitter" craft in the works ...

DSC01210

Here's Earlybird with his therapist, working on those fine motor skills ... and sensory issues ... and patience!

DSC01212

I just drew simple pumpkin outlines on orange paper and then the boys traced those lines with glue. Final step - crumbling all those dried leaves to make "glitter" and sprinkling it all over their gluey pumpkins!

DSC01217

(A craft for the outdoors, for sure!)

Back inside the learning room, here are the boys' pumpkins on display! :)

IMG_6457 (1)

Another neat pumpkin activity this week ...

IMG_6380

Pumpkin tic-tac-toe! I saw this idea on Pinterest and knew it would be a lot of fun - especially for our Halloween party coming up this weekend. Fingers crossed the day will be a nice one and I think folks will have fun trying their hand at this tabletop game! 

Back inside, at my kitchen table later in the day: a fortifying cup of tea and a little read-aloud ...

IMG_6416

How I love Tasha Tudor books, and this one especially. I decided to "splurge" and buy a new board book version for Little Bear. He 

And speaking of my LB, I just had to include this pic of him hugging our giant blow up jack-o-lanterns on the front lawn. Pretty much every day this fall, on our way in or out of the house, he just needs to hug his pumpkin friends!

IMG_6357

Now, as I've mentioned before, our weekly rhythm includes a day for storytelling. These little stories are usually simple tales I make up myself, using our own yard, critters, weather, the season itself, etc. as a prompt. I like to place items in the learning room mailbox that will introduce the story theme and offer a few items Little Bear can use to play with as I narrate the plot. Well, here's what he found in the mailbox last week!

TKOO0971

This is a soft pumpkin doll rattle - something we've had for nearly 20 years! It's kind of amazing it's stayed in relatively good condition. The boys used this when they were babies and then it joined our finger puppet stash. (We also have a carrot!) So today this sweet little fella was an adventurous pumpkin seed fairy and as you can see he was surrounded by airborne milkweed seeds! (Remember, my story was reflecting our recent backyard garden adventures!)

I also created a watercolor verse card for us to read aloud. I used a pretty poem I found online ...

IMG_6311

I'm creating a collection of these seasonal cards for our homeschool!

IMG_6343

Now, when I plan out our seasonal themes, I'm mostly following the natural cycle of the year, though I often tap into the liturgical or secular calendar as well. I assigned this week in mid-October as "pumpkin week" for obvious reasons - they're everywhere and on everyone's minds right now! - but it also tied in nicely with the annual showing of this family favorite ...

IMG_6458

Last Thursday night all my boys, save Earlybird who does not like Charlie Brown specials, gathered on our couch to watch that timeless classic, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Yes, we could watch it on DVD (or streaming?) anytime we'd like, but there's something really fun and special about watching "specials" when they're actually being shown!

(The boys were kind of blown away by the fact that *ahem* ... back in our day ... if you missed a special on the night it was shown, well you were just plum out of luck until next year! And there was no pausing or rewinding, either!)

Friday morning - quite serendipitously and generously - my brother stopped by the house with a WHOLE BUNCH of pumpkin goodness for the boys!

Pumpkin goodies

My favorite item so far? The Apple Cider Jam! It's like Thanksgiving in a jar ... 

Now, we didn't get to all the activities I'd planned for the week, but that's perfectly ok. We did what worked and clicked this year - there's always next year for other experiences! On our "marketing" day we tried to find as many pumpkin products as possible at the grocer's and on "hearth and home" day we baked pumpkin donuts for tea. Over the weekend we were going to visit a local pumpkin patch - but unfortunately it was just WAY too busy for my younger guys. (Like, crawling with customers crazy!) I had in mind a far calmer, less commercial experience - so I'm hoping to arrange a quieter visit for my fellas sometime next week. Next year we hope to have a little patch of our own so this past weekend we decided where we'd like to plant it and got the soil prepared. There was also pumpkin French toast for breakfast Sunday morning!

So there's a little glimpse of our pumpkin week and all we got up to! Here's a peek at our learning line and seasonal bookshelves as I tidied them Sunday afternoon ...

Learning room

And here's a peek at THIS week's seasonal planner spread ...

IMG_6868

One thing I like to do - because it is of course what happens in nature - is have certain themes trickle into other weeks. So for instance, we did "autumn seeds" weeks ago, but as the fall unfolds there are plenty of opportunities to learn about and live out this theme more. Case in point - those milkweed (and pumpkin) seeds last week! 

This current week's theme is "goodnight, garden" and I like to tie that in with Halloween. To our ancestors, Halloween literally meant the very end of summer - the time to secure the harvest final crops and prepare the land for the cold, hard winter ahead. We clearly don't live quite that close to the land anymore, but I think activities that echo those ancient seasonal traditions often resonate with us instinctually. So this week we are (as you can see from my planner above!) walking the bounds of our property, harvesting the last of our herbs, clearing our garden beds, raking up leaves, tucking spring bulbs in the ground, gathering natural materials for a bonfire, and seeking God's blessings for our "little farm" as winter approaches ...

Come All Hallow's Eve next week we'll be a little more prepared for a season of deep cold and darkness - both practically and spiritually speaking!

✨ ❄️ 🍂 🎃 🍃 🔥 ✨

Well my friends, I guess I'd better wrap up now because once again I fear I've kept you here too long! But I hope you enjoyed this little peek at our pumpkin week. Remember this was an exceptional week - I had lots of plans, and happily the weather, our time, my energy and their interest levels all cooperated! Not every week is quite so "seasonal" but pumpkins were especially motivating - for my homeschooling kids AND their mama!

I will be back later this week with my weekly Autumn Tea - and as I announced here and on social media, we will be continuing on with our Mitten Strings for God book study at a slower pace than originally announced. This Friday we will be talking about chapter four, "Quiet," and I'll be serving up a spot of Halloween Tea ... AND I have a fun little announcement to make in regards to our MSfG re-read, so stay tuned - and please take care!

I'll see you here again very soon ...