Saturday, April 20, 2024

I'm Writing More Than Ever! [Links to Find Me]

Hello to the world!

It's been two and a half years since I posted on here, and so much has happened since then. 

First, I wanted to direct you over to my new website:

I very occasionally write a newsletter, and you can sign up for that from my website.

This new website was created last year when I got both remarried and decided I was ready to really build my writing career.

Since then, some exciting thing have happened--I've had a baby (my 5th daughter!) and I signed a contract with Revell for a book deal.

I also write frequently on Substack now. You can follow my writing there at Modern Little Women.

Thank you to all who have followed along over the years. I'm so grateful for each of you!

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Homeschool Term 1 2021-2022 (Grades 5, 3, 1)

It gets harder to know how to blog our homeschool days as I add in more students. Our days were tidier and more straightforward to share when I just had one student... now I have three children officially school age! We try to combine as much as possible, but there are some subjects where we cannot.

I'd like to still share, but because our homeschool days look different now, how I share here will need to change a bit too.

[Sophie, 5th grade, Term 1]

[Sophie's books, 5th grade, Term 1]

I mostly follow the Charlotte Mason method, but as we get more comfortable with homeschooling (we're on our 7th year!), I take the liberty to change things as they best fit our family. We cover quite a few subjects in a term. Some subjects we do together, and others I only do with certain girls. Some subjects we do every day, and some we just do once a week for 10 minutes. Here are the subjects we covered this term:

·      Bible

·      Poetry

·      Recitation

·      Current Events

·      Math

·      Writing

·      American History

·      British History (just 5th grade)

·      Ancient History (just 5th grade)

·      Singing

·      Spanish

·      Geography

·      Literature

·      Grammar (just 5th grade)

·      Reading

·      Dictation (just 5th grade)

·      Science

·      Artist Study

·      Composer Study

·      Drawing

·      Handcrafts

·      Plutarch (just 5th grade)

[Brielle, 3rd grade, Term 1]

[Brielle, 3rd grade, Term 1 books]

Bible: This term we read from Exodus 1-12, covering the 10 plagues sent to Egypt.

Poetry: We focused on Maya Angelou this term, but we read poetry every day, and so we pulled from a lot of different poets and poetry books.

Recitation: For recitation, I chose verses, a poem, and a creed for us to recite this term. In recitation, we read the piece clearly and beautifully- it is a mixture of public speaking and memory work. It is not a requirement for my girls to memorize the pieces by the end of the term, but after 12 weeks, they sometimes do and are very familiar with the piece at the very least!
Verses- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Matthew 5:14-16, Psalm 143:8-10
Poem- Maya Angelou- "Life Doesn't Frighten Me"
Creed- Nicene Creed

Current Events: We listen to Kid Nuz every morning.

Math: We continue to use Richele Baburina's Elementary Arithmetic books from Simply Charlotte Mason. We've used these books from the start and love them. They are more labor intensive for the parent than a workbook, but I am so impressed with how well all of my daughters do with math, and they have been complimented by others no this as well. Their mental math, especially, is great! My 1st grader is in book 1, my 3rd grader finished book 2 and began book 3, and my oldest is a beta tester for book 4 which is not out yet but is excellent, and I'm excited for it to be available for everyone!

Writing: Occasionally the girls do free-writes, but often we use Handwriting Without Tears books to practice our writing during this time. My oldest learned cursive from this book! All three are finishing up their books right now: 1st grader-Printing Power, 3rd grader- Cursive Kickoff, 5th grader- Cursive Handwriting.

American History: This year we are studying the 1900s-present. I am comfortable enough with history now, that I look at the events that happened during these years and find books and videos to cover the ones I want us to learn about. This term we learned about the invention of the car, women's rights, child labor laws, the Titanic, World War 1, Amelia Earhart, Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller, and Eleanor Roosevelt. 

British History: We cover the same time period in British history, so the 1900s.

Ancient History: This is our first year studying ancient history, and we are using The Silk Roads.

[Lyla, 1st grade, Term 1]

[Lyla, 1st grade, Term 1 books]

Singing: I chose two songs for us to learn this term-- "Stand By Me" and "They Will Know We are Christians by our Love."

Spanish: Spanish is a subject that I always struggle with consistency in as I am not fluent, but I continue to push myself to get in what we can. This term we mostly used Cherrydale Press's Speaking Spanish book to act out different scenes while learning.

Geography: For geography, the older two girls are creating 50 state books where they draw the flag and learn a few details about each of the 50 states. Lyla, my 1st grader, is learning some basic geography information, such as about how the earth rotates and spins, how we have day and night and seasons, and about shadows and directions. We also read Paddle to the Sea and learned about the 5 Great Lakes. One of the best parts is that this book discusses Lake Michigan, which we were able to visit in August, and Niagara Falls, which we visited in October!

Literature: With my 3rd and 5th graders, I read Island of the Blue Dolphins. With my 1st grader, we went The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh. Altogether, we read fairy tales, fables, and tall tales.

Grammar: For grammar with my 5th grader, I use First Grammar Lessons from Charlotte Mason poetry (free printouts).

Reading: My 3rd and 5th graders do independent reading. With my 1st grader, she is still doing reading lessons and learning how to read. We used Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Free and Treadwell's The Primer.

Dictation: My 5th grader does dictation. This is where she studies a written passage, and then when ready, I take it and read it to her and she writes down the passage. Essentially, it gives her familiarity with spelling and grammar and reinforces it as she writes the passage out.

Science: For science, the girls are watching Our Planet on Netflix. We also studied magnets this past term using the guide from Sabbath Mood Homeschool. We read a book about and studied daddy longleggers. We also read a few chapters from African Critters.

[Violet, preschool]

Artist Study: We studied Jacob Lawrence to go along with learning about Harlem. We used the wonderful guide and prints that Amber provides on Heritage Mom.

Composer Study: We studied John Williams, and he was a fun one for us to learn about. He composer so many of the songs from movies that the girls know! Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Star Wars-- and also, E.T., Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, Superman, Home Alone, The Patriot, etc.!

Drawing: We drew the 10 plagues as we read about them, drew in our nature notebooks, and also did a few free drawings this term.

Handcrafts: We didn't focus on a handcraft this term, but did do a few that we already learned (latch hook, finger knitting, hand sewing, origami, baking) as the interest was sparked.

Plutarch: The purpose of studying Plutarch is to learn about humankind and for character development. It is like a citizenship class. We started reading Plutarch's Lives this year. We are using Anne White's guides to study this, and for this term we studied Publicly in The Plutarch Primer.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

American Indian Picture Study: Mary Sully

My friend Amber at Heritage Mom has been such a wonderful resource for me as I seek to create a more inclusive and diverse curriculum for my children. One thing that I love and have used are her African American picture studies. She gathers information and pictures and puts it into one spot, and wow am I thankful! 

This year, one of the artists we are studying is Mary Sully. She is an Indigenous female artist from the 20th century. Her artwork is incredible, and I was inspired by Amber to put the information and pictures I have gathered into a blog post so others can study her as well!


Short Bio on Mary Sully

Mary Sully (1896-1963) was born on the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota. She was given the name Susan Mabel Deloria and later chose to take her mother’s name, Mary, in the 1920s. Mary was from a prominent family. She was the great-granddaughter of Thomas Sully, whose painting is the source of Andrew Jackson’s image on the $20 bill.She was a shy and reclusive girl. She received a good education from St. Elizabeth’s Mission School but didn’t flourish there.

Mary’s work was largely unknown until the 21st century, after her passing. She is best known today for colored-pencil triptychs and “personality portraits” which often depicted celebrities or high profile figures. She used abstract forms and and symbols coupled with rich and mesmerizing colors and symmetry. Her designs draw from and incorporate classic Native American designs.

Her triptychs included three stacked panels of different dimensions. While these panels contained one idea or theme, the sizes of the panels and the artwork itself differed from the top panel to the bottom. The top panel was most parsable, the middle expands metaphor into patterned geometry, and the bottom panel distills image and theme into an abstract that carries the influences of Plains Indian women’s art, especially quill and beadwork.

By the time we get to the bottom panel, something dramatic has happened. Philip Deloria, Mary’s great-nephew, puts it this way: “The triptychs begin in the contemporary moment, Mary Sully’s now, and look forward, beyond modern abstraction to something else, something new that emerges from the Indigenous cosmopolitanism of the bottom panels.” Another way of expressing this might be to consider how the personality prints reverse the flow of the reclusive artist’s estrangement, pulling her into the other America and then liberating her to take this America into an indigenous future. 

PDF for Picture Study:

To download a collection of Mary Sully's artwork to do your own study, click here.

Biography Resources

Becoming Mary Sully: Toward an American Indian Abstract by Philip J. Deloria

The Gifts of Fringe Lecture Series: Philip Deloria | Becoming Mary Sully (Vimeo)

Homeschool: Grade 4, Terms 2 & 3

While I never got around to blogging in detail about Terms 2 and 3 of Grade 4 (for those who follow me on IG, you know it was a busy and exhausting year for me with a lot of changes!), I did want to put these pictures here so that some documentation can be shared.

Term 2, Grade 4:

And Term 2, Grade 2:

Term 3, Grade 4:

Term 3, Grade 2:

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Exams: A Celebration of Studies


We split our year into 3 terms, each being 12 weeks in length. We have 11 weeks of regular studied in those weeks, with the final being our exam week. We love exam week! It is a celebration of all that we have learned and studied in our term, and our school days are shorter than typical. 

I'd like to share how we do exams, but before doing so, I wanted to share the purpose of exams. Exams for us are not for the purpose of giving grades. I don't assign grades to these exams. Rather, the purpose is to give me, their educator and teacher, an idea of how they are doing. I get an idea of where we may need to spend more time or where I may need to consider teaching in a different way or with a different book.

I largely follow the Charlotte Mason method, and I mostly follow her guidelines for exams as well. I will share links for resources at the bottom of this post, but before that, I will give a rough guide on how I write our own exams.

Instructions for Writing your own Exams:

1. I begin by looking at each subject we covered in the term, whether extensively or briefly. I make a list of each of these subjects.

2. If it's a subject we cover every day, we have a question on two different days, so I add that subject in twice. If it's a subject we cover several different aspects (such as in natural history, we have two different books- one more animal based and one more biome based... and in literature, we have two different books we go through at once), then I also add that subject twice to have two different subjects. And recitation, we sometimes have listed 3 times so that my kids can recite all of the works they've practiced every week.

3. We typically do exams in 4 days, though we can even do them in 3 days if needed. I split the different subjects between the 4 days, making sure that we never cover the same subject twice in one day.

4. Those are the basics! But to be more detailed, you can type your exams up in a packet, with lines ready for writing, maps needed included, etc. You can save your recitation and singing work for when Dad or Grandma or friends are around, and your kids can recite and sing for them. Or you can video record them, so they can watch it later or send it to someone! 

5. With multiple kids that I'm homeschooling, I try to keep many of their exam questions the same, if they are studying the same thing. Some subjects obviously call for different questions, though, and my older daughter has subjects that my younger daughter doesn't. I have a kindergartner who does some school work, but we do not start exams until first grade. When my kids are younger, their exams are primarily done orally (they answer the questions aloud). As they get older, they will have more and more exam questions that they write out.

For Examples and more Information:

* You can look at actual PNEU Programme exams, like Programme 95 here. The PNEU (Parent's National Educational Union)  was Charlotte Mason's parent organization, and she would send out programmes (curriculum) along with exams to all of them. You can go to and type "Charlotte Mason exams" or "cmdc exams" into their search database and find more examples if you're extra nerdy like me.

* Ambleside Online has exam questions for all of their years and terms here. These are geared toward their curriculum, but you can use the questions as a guide for you own homeschool.

*A Delectable Education has a podcast on exams that is informative that you can listen to here.

* A Delectable Education has an exam planner that you can buy for $20 here.

* Ambleside Online has a page that discusses exams here.

Notes and Disclaimers: I live in a state that doesn't require state testing or for grades to be turned in. It is one of the easiest states to homeschool in. If you live in a state that does require these things, you could still do exams like this for your own homeschool adventure enjoyment, or you could tweak these to make them fit your state's requirements. 

Of course, this is what works for our family. If you prefer not to do exams or if you have a way that works better for your family, then by all means, do what works for you and yours!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

How I've Widened my Circle and Challenged my Stereotypes

One of the quotes that struck me most as a child was, "You can't understand someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes." I have specific memories of sitting in my fourth grade classroom thinking on it.

Then recently I read this quote from Justin McRoberts:

I think it's crucial to move past "us vs. them" thinking and to find the humanity in all people.

I've spent a lot of time this past year listening. I've had some of my core worldview, my deeply held beliefs, challenged as I learned to really listen... and believe what others told me. My worldview didn't change overnight, but in time it has as I continue to challenge myself to widen my circle. I haven't arrived, but I continue on this journey of finding and listening to voices different from my own.

Fighting the "us vs. them" mentality and prioritizing knowing people and viewpoints different from our own not only gives us a greater understanding of humanity, but it also gives us more compassion and distills fears. I can't emphasize enough how important I think it is that we invest in this endeavor.

This journey of understanding and widening my circle has included numerous avenues. 

I think the easiest and least intimidating avenue is to learn through books. While books are my favorite way to learn, this can include other resources such as documentaries, YouTube videos, and articles. Choose thorough resources, and when something feels foreign or especially challenging, keep pushing yourself to lean in.

For books, I think we can have our worldview challenged through both nonfiction and fiction books. Three of the main topics I have challenged myself in this year are racism, American history from the Indigenous perspective, and immigration. That means I have leaned into reading books by Black people, Indigenous Peoples, and immigrants. 

I learned a lot by reading two non-fiction books by Black writers: Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram Kendi and I'm Still Here by Austin Channing Brown.
I also loved learning about immigration through After the Last Border by Jessica Goudeau.

While I have read great non-fiction regarding Indigenous People's history in America, my favorite books that have been most impactful have been fiction: The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich.
There's a level of emotional connection that I think especially comes through fiction books, and I will always believe in the power of story.

Biographies are also so important! Two I love this year are I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass.

Beyond books, I was especially challenged this year by watching the movie "Just Mercy" (on the true story of a Black man put on death row for a crime he didn't commit), the documentary "13th" (on mass incarceration), "When Will They See Us" (on the true story of 5 boys wrongfully accused of gang-raping a woman), and “The Two Popes” (I’m ashamed how little I still know of Catholicism!)

What an age we live in with the Internet! The world is at our fingertips. One thing I realized a year ago is that everyone I followed on social media was basically just like me. Primarily white, middle class, American, and Christian. A lot of homeschoolers and farmhouse dwellers. 

On instagram, I started following Black and Indigenous men and women, and one of the homeschooling mamas that I cherish most is a Black mama who I've learned so much from. I began following a homeschool mom who is a Muslim, and also a fashion designer and activist Muslim woman. I followed accounts on IG and Facebook that share multi-cultural books. 

On Facebook, I began following a local Black Lives Matter group as well as several people involved in the protests. Nobody in my circles were at or involved in the protests, so I really could only know and understand one side. Following these people (and meeting a few) helped give me an honest inside view of what was going on from their angle, as well as what their interests and passions are beyond being a protestor, and I was able to see them as a fellow human and not just a statistic or a stereotype.

I also follow blogs and articles that push me to consider viewpoints different from my own. 

I think the ultimate challenge to our worldview comes when we befriend people who are different from us. Not just an acquaintance. True friendships. In most ways, I think I'm still in the beginning stages of forming true friendships with people who are different from me. I think this is easier for some people than others. For instance, I live in rural Indiana, so I have to drive to the city to really interact with people different from me. 

This summer, I found a local organization called FIRM (Fighting Inequality and Racial Matters), and I was able to join this group for a bike ride and walk that allowed me to meet and hear from people different from myself. This certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone. I joined the group on my own, so I didn't know anyone the first time I went. Getting to know people different from ourselves won't be comfortable. It will challenge us to our core. 

Some of the local protestors, in a desire to share with the community that they are much more than just protestors, held a 4th of July fun event for kids at a park, and I was able to take my kids and meet them. I found out the main host of the event was just 18, and she had put in a lot of time to host such a thoughtful event for kids when she wasn't even a parent herself. 

More recently, I have begun volunteering with Food Not Bombs and, through this, have not only been able to spend more time with people who live in the city but also with homeless people and other people who are in a different class than myself. 

Dear friends, challenge yourselves. Challenge your stereotypes. Challenge your worldview. Widen your circle.

I know most who follow my blog are like me, so let me challenge you:
- If you are white, and most of your friends are white, ask yourself why and consider how you can change that.
-If you are middle class, and most of your friends are middle class, ask yourself why and consider ways you can know the lower class (nearly 1/3 of Americans are in the lower class).
-If you are Christian, and most of your friends are Christian, ask yourself why and consider ways you can get to know people of other religions.
-If you live in rural or suburban areas, and most of your friends also do, ask yourself why and consider ways you can come to know people who live in the city.

I have been changed as I ask myself these questions and pursue knowing people different from myself. A couple of years ago, I had no framework to understand some of the things that people said, did, and believed... just a lot of opinions of why they said, did, and believed those things. From personal experience, I will adamantly state that if you only know people like yourself, then your opinions of those different from you are inadequate and not fully informed. I can't say that I have arrived in understanding people, and I know with certainty that I never will, but it is a path that I will continue to pursue.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Homeschool: Grade 4, Term 1 (2020-2021)

 It's hard to believe I have a 4th grader, but I also LOVE having a 4th grader! We have so many great conversations, and I love seeing her become such a deep and individual thinker.

This year, Sophie began Form 2, which basically just means we lengthened time in some subjects, she has become a bit more independent in some subjects, and we've added a few new subjects. Here are the subjects we cover in a term:

American History
British History
Natural History
Physical Education
Music Appreciation
Art Appreciation

We use the scheduling cards from A Delectable Education to schedule each of these subjects into our week, some being just once a week, and some being every day, some being 10 minutes, and some being 30.

Here is what we feasted on in Term 3:

Bible: We read from the actual Bible text, and we are read through Genesis and Acts this term. We read Genesis 1-13 and Acts 1-4. We read roughly 10-20 verses a day, seeking to cover one whole "episode" but not (typically) an entire chapter in a day. 

Poetry: We choose one poet to focus on each term, and for term one, we focused on Effie Lee Newsome. We used the book Wonders which is a compilation of her poetry for children. We read poetry every day, so we also read from A Child’s Book of Poems and Mother Goose by Gyo Fujikawa. 

MathWe love Charlotte Mason Elementary Arithmetic. Book 3 is finally out, and it does not disappoint! Because we beta tested it, we already had a good head start on it before it was published, and we were able to finish it this term.We covered measurement of length, liquid measurement, and ended with multiplication and division review. I'm really impressed how much her knowledge of factors has grown, and she has committed multiplication facts to memory without it ever being forced!

ReadingWe no longer have a specific time for this in our school day. She reads on her own time, though. 

CopyworkFor copywork, Sophie typically copies two lines of poetry or from a book. The goal is to visualize each word before writing it so that she can write the whole word from memory. This helps her learn to not only be a good writer but also a good speller!

Dictation: Sophie also has started dictation- where she looks at a short passage for a few minutes, to make sure she knows all of the words, and then I read it and she writes it out, ensuring to have correct spelling and punctuation. 

Grammar: We started formal grammar this year! We are using First Grammar Lessons by Charlotte Mason which are free through Charlotte Mason Poetry.

American History: This year, we are covering American history from 1800-1900. I am using A Young People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn as our spine for the term. We are using Heart and Soul alongside it. For biography and fiction supplements, we used the following books:
Sisters Against Slavery by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson
My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth by Ann Turner
- Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac
- Soft Rain by Cornelia Cornellisen
Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost 

British History: We started British History this year and are really enjoying it! We are using The Story of Britain as our spine, and we also read The Story of Napoleon for a biography.

Citizenship: We will mostly use Stories from the History of Rome as our spine this year for this subject, but with the presidential election, I also wanted to spend time on it, so we read Electing our Presidents.

GeographyWe are studying South America this year. We used In the Land of the Jaguar: South America and its People by Gena Gorrell, and I really like this book. We learned about (and identified on a map) Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, as well as the Panama Canal. Along with this, we read The Great Snake by Sean Taylor and Fernando Vilela, which is a story of fun folk stories from the Amazon River.

Natural History: 
Book 1: We now have one day where we use Sabbath Mood Homeschool's science curriculum. This term, we used her Astonomy guide. This curriculum is excellent and really got us interested in the night sky! It was a bonus that Mars was so close to earth.
Book 2: We read about marshes and valleys in Madam How and Lady Why. My girls didn't love this book.
Special Studies Books: 
Our special study was tiny creatures, and we did something different and used technology. They watched Netflix's Tiny Creatures series, virtually visiting a different animal each week.
We also read Buster Bear for fun.

Literature: This term we read In The Days of Giants (Norse mythology). We also read fairy tales, which we always love to revisit. And we always have nightly read alouds. 

Physical Education (Drill/Dance/Play): We didn't do anything formal this term- just outside stuff like riding bikes, running around, and trail walks. 

Music AppreciationWe switched it up this term and studied The Beatles. We read a fun book about them called Fab Four Friends. We listened to "I Want to Hold your Hand," "The Yellow Submarine," "Great Balls of Fire," "Here Comes the Sun," and "Twist and Shout."

Art AppreciationWe studied Pablita Velarde. We printed the paintings off on a friend's industrial printer so that my kids each have their own set. We studied "The Adoration," "Winter Hunt," "First Twins," "Old Father Storyteller," "Deer Dancer," "The Turtle Dance," and an untitled piece.

Spanish: We did not excel in Spanish this term, but we did get a little in. We worked on introductions and greetings (as we've added in some younger kiddos), we watched a few Spanish videos, and we read Mis Cinco Sentidos and Abuela.If I've failed my kids in every other way with teaching them Spanish, they can at least say Hola Abuela, as they do often while playing.

SingingWe learned and sang the following songs over the term:
- "Get on Board: The Gospel Train"
- "Polly Wolly Doodle"

RecitationWe do recitation three times a week. The purpose of recitation is not memorization (though, that often happens over the term!); the purpose is to be able to read something beautifully. Sometimes we each read a line and share the recitation, and sometimes Sophie does it all on her own. This term, we did the following: 
- Benediction: May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you...
- Verses: Luke 1:47-55; Psalm 145:8-9; Isaiah 61:1-3
- Poems: Effie Lee Newsome's "The Golden Garden Spider" and "Young Birds' Mouths" (Brielle, grade 2, learned "Strange," and "Flakes and Drops.")

Drawing: We didn't do a lot of drawing this term, but when we did, we didn't follow a particular curriculum.

Handicrafts/WorkWe didn't learn any new handcrafts but did visit a few old handcrafts.

Brielle is in 2nd grade, and pictured below are the books we used with her. If you want more details of what we did in 2nd grade (with Sophie), you can go to my Homeschooling tab.