As most of you know if you are following the blog, I'm using Ambleside Online as my guide through my first year of 'officially' homeschooling my youngest.  He's 5.  We have homeschooled my two oldest children as well but I was not wise to the Charlotte Mason methods at the time of starting and that is unfortunate.  I LOVE this method!

But Ambleside is not necessarily an Orthodox 'curriculum'.  However, there's really not much modification to do.

2015-11-11 12.47.44Ambleside Online suggests a particular bible reading schedule.  As Charlotte Mason believes in using Living Books and not twaddle, they highly recommend using an actual bible for bible reading.  I have elected not to do that at this point.  I find the Children's Bible Reader to be a Living Book and I truly feel that reading it cover to cover a few times before moving on to the Orthodox Study Bible is a better fit for my son.  I want to read through this enough times that he is familiar with most of the key stories that Christians think of when they think of bible stories.  And I want to practice narration with stories that I feel he can fully comprehend. So rather than following Ambleside's suggested reading schedule, each school day we read from the Children's Bible Reader, in order, one to three stories - depending on length and his interest.  And we practice narration.  One thing I have discovered is he actually does a better job of narration later when telling his older brother or father the story than he does with me.  So if you are struggling with narration, this may be something to try!

We started reading from the reader many years ago- and have read through it several times.  I'm guessing we will read through it at least 2 or more times before I start using the actual Orthodox Study Bible consistently, however I have occasionally read the Sunday reading and gospel reading ahead of time to help prepare him for listening to the reading during church the next day.  That, in my opinion, is a fair introduction to the actual bible for a 5 year old.

So what else do I do?  Well, I don't use Trial and Triumph as recommended by Ambleside.  Instead, I use various Orthodox Sources.

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As you can see in the photo above, I use a variety of sources, some of which aren't pictured and I'm constantly adding to the collection.  I keep everything in an antique wooden box that we just refer to as our 'faith basket'.

So what does our 'faith time' look like?

After Morning Prayers and our Bible Stories, we go over a list of habits we are working on which contains a list of  quotes from the bible at the end which correspond to the three main habits we are continuously teaching:  Obedience, Attention, and Truthfulness

Next,  we work on memory work.  At this point in time we are still working on The Creed.  We started working on the Creed back in September.  He was already familiar with it of course, but then I printed it out.  I quickly decided that having it all on one page was too overwhelming for him.  So I divided it into 7 pages and also included visual images to help him associate the images with particular words.  He loved it and was instantly motivated!  He can now recite the whole thing with only one or two word discrepancies. For now, I'm going to just keep practicing it for another week or so - while I determine what our next item for memory will be.

Then we read a 'faith' story.  That's just what I call the books we have in that antique
wooden bucket by the couch.  It's basically a collection of Orthodox Picture books that he gets to choose from.  The short ones we read in one sitting (The Littlest Altar boy gets read once a week- I won't let him pick it more than that! LOL) while longer ones such as Christina Learns The Sacraments   may be divided among 2-3 readings.  He usually gets to pick them at this point.  I want to be sure that I focus on his interests.  Occasionally, I will make a suggestion or give a reason to read a particular selection (we read Sweet Song on October 1st because of the feast day for St. Romonos).

After the faith story, we listen to the song of the day.  I purchased the curriculum titled Garden of the Theotokos over the summer.  I'm not super impressed by it but I have decided to use a few things here and there from the curriculum, one of which is the CD that comes with it. I do like the songs that are sung and each day of the week has a particular song.  My son loves the songs and has even figured out how to play the basic tunes of a few on the piano! (Have I mentioned I think he's a genius?  😉   )

2015-11-12 12.44.39Another source I really like that we use when applicable, is Papa's Clock.  It follows a story of a brother and sister who go camping with their grandfather and end up learning about the 12 feast days.  So about a week before a feast day, I get the book out to read the lesson on the upcoming feast.  This is written at exactly the right level for my son.   The Garden of the Theotokos actually does not contain material for all 12 feast days- which is one reason I don't like it- but may use it in addition to Papa's clock for some of them.


Right now, these are the activities that take up our faith portion of our mornings.  There are other things we do, here and there, and I plan to write about those things another time. But  if I get nothing else done in our homeschool day with my youngest son, this is what we do.  Our faith is the most important aspect of education.  Without it, nothing else really matters.

I would like, at some point in time, to add a page to this blog on Orthodox Homeschool Sources and Activities.  I'll post reviews there and ideas for including Orthodoxy into the homeschool days. I'd love to hear how any of my other Orthodox Readers include Orthodoxy into their homeschool days. Please feel free to drop your comments and suggestions here or email me sometime.  Your ideas are very welcome!


It's PiBoIdMo 2015-  have you signed up??

Well, the week was NOT productive in my writing....but pay a babysitter for an hour and a half today and ....  WOW!

I got to read the whole week of posts and this week they were AMAZING!  I have several pages of notes, a list of activities to work on (buy a notebook for my purse, purchase some index cards and index card boxes, rethink my daily goals, etc.), and added some actual picture book ideas to my incredibly short list (no, I do not even have a list of 14, but I have quite a few more than I did when I woke up this morning).

So I've decided the babysitter thing just may need to be a habit.  My son had a blast.  My only restriction to them was no TV.  I can plug him in front of that brain killing machine myself if I need to.  But a mere $8 got him total undivided attention.  While a little distracting since I placed myself in the dining room (in the middle of the rooms where they were) I also got to listen to him be creative and laugh- a LOT - which is music to a mother's ears and pretty inspirational for a writer to boot!

I can't decide on my  favorite post for this week like I did last week.  But I would say that the words of Janna Matthies, Denise Fleming and Julie Gribble were the most helpful to me at this point in my writing.  All for various reasons, though perhaps it's the insight of Denise Fleming that might keep me going for the long haul....  she reminds us that not only for every good idea are there probably about 50 'stinkers', but that we really should keep EVERY IDEA-- even the ones we think are bad or totally ridiculous.... because you never know where even years from now, that ridiculous, bad idea may lead to the inspiration of your best idea ever. So hold onto them- and keep going back to them to revisit and you may just be surprised one day.

I've been thinking more about the whole twaddle vs. living books as I discussed again in last week's post.  I spend much too much time on Facebook, and have been gradually cutting back (I do not want the most vivid memory of me by my children to include me holding my phone to check Facebook, Words With Friends, or even PiBoIdMo) on using my phone-  but if I do find myself on Facebook, it's usually to check out what's going on at the Ambleside page.  So many really good discussions. One constant discussion topic is the whole twaddle vs. living books debate.  Obviously this is tied into my writing life.  As I discussed last week- I worry about the children's market being so much more geared to twaddle and 'entertaining' kids rather than truly filling their minds with living books - quality books that feed the mind and ignite their passions.

Always on the Ambleside Online page there are questions posted stating , "Is this book twaddle?  What should I do if my child loves to read twaddle?  Should I let my beginning reader read these books she loves if it's twaddle?"  I am always a little shocked at the tone of those telling these mothers to take all the twaddle away.  These kids, they say, will not develop good taste for real literature or a sound vocabulary if they fill their minds with twaddle.  But personally, I'm thinking, why would you take away a book that makes a child WANT to read???  Why would you risk killing that desire to read a book by FORCING them to only read the books that YOU consider LIVING?  Isn't one of the concepts of a living book is that it entices the mind of the child?  If a book is enticing your child to read....makes them hunger for more words on the page....why would you ban it?  If it's not filling up the mind with something immoral, why would you take it away?  Wouldn't it be better to make sure you are reading them living books and giving them choices that include living books rather than insisting they never read something that YOU consider twaddle?

I will not read Scooby Doo to my son.  But I will allow him to bring one home from the library for him to look at himself (or allow someone else in the family to read it to him once in awhile).  Nor will I  buy a book that I consider to be totally twaddle...well- there might be an exception here and there. But if there's a book that makes my child WANT to read on his own (and it's not immoral in any way) then I WILL allow him to read it.  It does not mean that's all he's ever going to read.  I'm not going to go through my bookshelves and immediately throw out all that might be considered twaddle by the ladies on Ambleside.  I think they mean well....but I also think they are missing the point.

Well- enough of my ramblings on twaddle today.  I need to throw out my cold coffee and get some things done (including revisiting my PiBoIdMo notes and my idea page) now before my Movie Night with my youngest son today.  It will be the first time he'll get to watch The Wizard of Oz - my desire to offer him classic movies rather than the twaddle of today and reinforce his infatuation with tornadoes!  Pray with me that the green faced witch and flying monkeys are seen as funny and not scary!

Wrapping It Up:  September

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I've been able to get a few extra  stolen moments downstairs in my "office" to try to get out a few posts this month.  I  would love to say this is my new habit but I have no idea what each day or week to come will hold for me so I'm just taking it one day at a time....and hoping for the best- whatever that may be.

My Writing World

It's been sparse but it has occurred, at least in my blogging world.  I haven't touched a manuscript, though they still linger in the back of my mind.  I haven't conversed with any of my writing critique friends either and that does weigh heavily on my mind.  But I'm ...continue reading "September Wrap Up"

While you are waiting for me to post more on homeschooling, I thought I'd give you an overview of what the little guy is doing.....

So I took a picture of my planning area today where I spent time writing in plans for next week (using plans from the Ambleside Week 8 to guide me)

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and  my lesson plan book.

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Here are the materials we will be using next week if all goes well!

Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training
Bible, Religious Studies and Habit Training
Nature Study
Nature Study
Language: Reading and Writing
Language: Reading and Writing
Artist/Picture Study
Artist/Picture Study


There it is! Most of the materials we will be using during week 8 of Year One using Ambleside as a guide.  If you have any questions from the photos as you wait for more homeschooling posts to come, drop by and let me know in the comment section!  Have a great week!


I wear a lot of hats with homeschool these days as the homeschool mom of a college student (she still asks my opinion on some things), a high school student and a kindergartener! And there's so much going on in our homeschool year now.  Being that I haven't really posted much about homeschooling (or anything else for that matter) for so long that I don't really know where to begin!

Hmmmm.... so let's start with the oldest child- she's not even home any more so that will be short! LOL.  Our daughter just started her junior year at our Alma Mater!

Picture by wikimedia.org

...continue reading "The Many Hats of an Orthodox Homeschool 2015"

Wrapping It Up:  July & August 

So I've stolen a few minutes away downstairs in my "office" to try to get out a post.  I know I won't finish it on this pretty Saturday afternoon but I also know if I get this started now, I'm more likely to finish it and at least get it out sometime in the week to follow (fingers crossed).    It's been two months since I've written ANYTHING and the last post was another wrap up for two months time - sigh-  so here it is :  the second post in 4 months and my July & August wrap up.

My Writing World

Again, it's been vacant.  It hasn't happened.  Sure I've written a few bible verses and put up a few links on the Facebook page but that is NOT WRITING.

But I have done a lot of thinking.  I do have some ideas brewing both for my manuscript writing  and for the blog (s).  Did you read that right?  Yes, I'm actually thinking about branching into several blogs....hmmmmm......  I've actually considered this for a while.  There are 5 main categories I blog about here:  Writing, Books, ...continue reading "July & August Wrap Up"


Wrapping It Up: May and June

So it’s been quite a while since I have posted anything here. I am missing the blogging and writing but am also feeling a bit more balanced in other aspects of life- actually a lot more balanced. I just need to figure out if I can ever really add writing back in….and if I can, how and when! But here’s a bit of a catch up for those of you left wondering…..

My Writing World

Well- It’s been vacant. I haven’t written a blog post since the end of April. I haven’t worked on a manuscript since maybe the beginning of April- might have been March. I haven’t even corresponded with my critique groups which appear to be disappearing from the radar. It seems I’m not the only one lagging. I never did complete the course work for the class I paid for. All in all, the writing world is off the map right now. So on to other things….

My Book World

Well my reading has certainly picked up. I became determined at the end of May that I was going to enjoy my summer- and while I have LOTS of work to do over the summer- I ...continue reading "May & June Wrap-Up"


I always start surfing the web and old catalogs in January or February to start getting a feel for what curriculum I may want to use the following school year.  This is the first year I've ever had to look at preschool curriculums.  We didn't start homeschooling our oldest until they were in 5th and 2nd grades, respectively.  My youngest is almost 4 now and is already ahead by leaps and bounds.

I am learning about Charlotte Mason so while I'm still reading books and watching videos about the Charlotte Mason approach, I'm also perusing websites that I have seen other parents mention or seen mentioned  on the Charlotte Mason blogs and websites.

Here's a few I have taken a look at recently:

Simply Charlotte Mason  offers a preschool guide.  While they are not suggesting anything formal, they do offer some very good tips here. They also have a section on planning schedules.

Heart of Dakota  I've seen various years of this curriculum and I have liked what I've seen, especially the flexibility offered within the choices.  Each day is laid out and very easy to follow.  The preschool program - Little Hands To Heaven- offers educational skills such as letter recognition and formation, sounds, art projects, early math skills and more.  HD also offers daily bible stories and activities. HD has curriculum through high school.

My Father's World I always find myself lingering around their booths set up at the Christian Homeschool Convention of Pennsylvania held each year in Harrisburg.  MFW has a toddler program and preschool program(as well as additional years). The preschool program offers alphabet skills and numbers 1-10, shapes, sequencing, visual discrimination, etc.  The package comes with a CD of bible verses for the child to listen to throughout the day.

Five In a Row  is literature based and seems to be a very relaxed style of learning.  There are 4 volumes for ages 4-8, volume 1 -3 being written at about the same level while volume 4 contains more difficult literature.  The 4 volumes contain 70 different unit studies covering various academic areas (math, geography, social studies, etc.)

Ambleside - While not really a curriculum, this site offers book lists that are of a Charlotte Mason approach for each year level.  Level year is geared for 5-6 but there is a list there for toddlers as well and can certainly be started early!

Math U See  In Primer, the child is introduced to writing numerals and basic counting, skip counting, adding and subtracting and is considered by the company a gentle approach to introducing math.  Math U See is a common curriculum used by homeschoolers.  It's one of those programs people seem to either love or greatly dislike all depending on their perspective of how math should be covered.  A lot of parents enjoy the video presentations and how Math U See is known to completely cover and reach mastery of a skill before moving on.

Explode the Code This series offers Get Ready For the Code - a series of 3 workbooks introducing the letters of the alphabet with various activities including tracing, writing and riddles.  Most places indicate this to be used for preschool.  Sonlight (see below) offers it in kindergarten - I'm not sure what their rational is for this.

Sonlight offers a preschool and a pre-kindergarten program.  I have often lingered near the sonlight tables at the CHAP convention as well.  I actually started out using Sonlight (back when I first pulled my daughter and son out of public school) but part ways from it because I found it overwhelming at the time.  We had many issues going on at the time but I always wondered if I should have stuck it out or gone back to it once those issues resolved themselves.  It was really laid out very well for the parent to follow.  It was a wonderful literature based program.  I just found it to be too intensive for our personal factors at that time.  I'm sure I will strongly consider it this time around.

Modern Curriculum Press Phonics - Who doesn't remember the plaid colored phonics books from elementary school?  I loved them in school and I loved them teaching... just as a supplement to practice skills being taught.

So this is what I've covered thus far.  I've only glanced at these websites.  I haven't even lingered very long but they are the top sites I'll probably keep revisiting.  I doubt that I'll make a choice before long. I usually make a list of the ones I've narrowed it down to and look at them extensively at the homeschool convention when I can hold the products in hand and really look through the manuals and get a better feel for the program. This makes it easier to compare.  I'll also talk to as many fellow homeschoolers as I can and see what programs they are or have used and why they have or have not liked particular programs.

One thing I've learned already is that maybe preschool is NOT the way to go....  looking over these I see skills that my little man has already mastered without my having to present anything in a school like fashion.  I am now considering looking at kindergarten options as well...but with the idea of only doing about half a year.  He will only be 4 and while his academic skills are advanced his attention span at this point is not.  But these are all things to consider in the months ahead and not make a sudden decision without thought.

Of course, before I do any in-depth research into any of the 'curriculum packages' above, as I stated earlier, I'll be finishing up my Charlotte Mason reading/viewing materials that I have.  I may find that I won't be using a formal curriculum at all or just use a few materials from one or two of them.

In the meantime, I hope you'll find the above links helpful if you are planning preschool in the year ahead as well.  If you have already covered preschool and/or kindergarten and have any advice to offer on the curriculums above or other curriculums you have used, by all means share it with me!  🙂  Others , including myself, may benefit from what you have experienced!