Pezze e Piselli

Pezze e Piselli, by Briana Elizabeth

I am big on plans. I’m not big on following them to the letter of the law, but I do think they help us aim well, and that’s the most important thing. If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you know I love a good Bullet Journal. Why? It’s inexpensive, it doesn’t need battery backup, you can’t lose it in a crash (my iMac recently crashed, and we had to wipe it. I did not have an external hard drive for backup, alas). You can set it on fire, but that’s another post. (I do have friends who set theirs aflame after the year is done as a marker of a new year to come and a goodbye to the last. An interesting way to mark time, no?)

Anyway, that time is upon us. If you’ve put off planning, don’t worry, you can still write a few things down to order your mind and days.

Here are some links I collected for you.

Why Bullet Journaling works.  How a Bullet Journal might work for you.  An interesting way of prioritizing our work.  How the Ivy Lee method is working for Jen of Viking Academy.  Jen from Wildflowers and Marbles has free printables to help you organize. She also has a page specifically for planning, with printables, helps, and ideas to help your year go  more smoothly.


If you’re setting up a seasonal table for your littles and picking books for a Morning Basket, here are a few wonderful titles with lovely illustrations. The Year at Maple Hill Farm  and Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm both by Alice and Martin Provensen.
I loved this beeswax snail tutorial from Frontier Dreams and this felted pumpkin from Hinterland Mama. For olders, one of my favorites is always A View from the Oak. And you really must follow Lynn on Exploring Nature with Children because her watercolor journaling videos are so encouraging and beautiful.


For older kids, this time of year is harder – at least at my house. Marching band camp is over, practices have started, football is all over my schedule, and choir is starting back up, which leads me back up to the bullet journaling in the beginning of the post. It keeps my head on straight and my people fed. The days of morning baskets and nature tables are long over at my house, and I miss them, but these older student days are so filled with new and beautiful things. I am trying to hold onto afternoon reading this year, but this may be the year we bid a fond farewell to that also. Older children…they have to be given their own leisure time. Time to build, discover, learn in very different ways than the younger children. It’s also a quieter time because they need their privacy about studies and accomplishments. Finding the balance is tricky and a daily tension, but growing like this is a part of being a homeschool parent.


Happy Schooling, all.

Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.


Pezze e Piselli

July Pezze e Piselli, by Tammy

Today marks the celebration of the United States of America’s 240th birthday. 2016 is also a presidential election year here. Teaching our children about government processes is important no matter where we live, so I’ve compiled a list of resources to help with that endeavor. If you can recommend a resource, especially for countries other than the US, please link it in the comments or post it in our Facebook group. (Some of these are affiliate links that benefit Sandbox to Socrates if you purchase.)

Grammar Stage:

The U.S. Constitution and You

How the U.S. Government Works

Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts

The Land of Fair Play: American Civics from a Christian Perspective (uses a baseball game analogy)

iCivics (free games)

Logic Stage:

America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty (free)

One homeschool mom’s schedule for America’s Heritage

Crash Course Videos

Written resources to use with Crash Course Videos ($$)

Rhetoric Stage:

The Federalist Papers – Federalist Paper #10 speaks to factions and much of the logic applies to the advantages and disadvantages of parties; Federalist Paper #68 speaks to the electoral college. A Kindle version is free. THIS Kindle version has a free bonus audiobook (99cents at time of posting).

The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate. ~Thomas Jefferson



Tammy lives in the desert southwest where antelope play in her front yard, grazing among the rattlers and scorpions. She enjoys reading, scrapbooking, and crochet. She currently  homeschools one son.

News and Notes, Newsletters, Pezze e Piselli

Pezze e Piselli by Tammy


A hodge podge of things I’ve been reading. I hope you find something of interest.

From MIT: What Kids Should Do in High School

Setting Goals for Your Dyslexic Homeschooler

Briana shared this recently on Facebook, but in case anyone missed it: Bullet Journal for Homeschool Planning

My son is a rising high school freshman. He turns fifteen in August and is chomping at the bit to get his driver’s permit. I’m having to move over as he takes more control of his education AND his driving. Moving to the Passenger Seat


The more relaxed days of summer are a perfect time:

How to Teach Your Kids to Cook

Summer Ideas for a Better Homeschool Year

Charlotte Mason on Helping Children Form Good Habits

Join Jen and some of us in a Middle Earth Summer


An Audio Lecture Series From The Great Courses Plus: An Introduction to Formal Logic

I’m just discovering Professor Carol. Boy, have I been missing out!

Art is Empowering (podcast)

Finding Amber

Knowledge lightens our hearts and our souls. It eases and inspires our minds. It fuels the great God-given capacity we have to learn in the abstract and to apply our learning to the concrete.
So, stop the bus from time to time. Pull off your shoes, especially as the summer has come and more structured learning can take a back seat to spontaneous discovery. Run on the beach and let the sunlight guide your eye to those chips of learning that are the unexpected jewels. Gaze in delight at them, and put them in a secure pocket. Their light will warm our souls and light they way through the dark days of winter.


My husband and son both enjoy these during the warm months (but we use plain graham crackers instead of cinnamon): Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

Enjoy the long weekend. Fire up the grill. Spend time with friends and family. But also teach your children what Memorial Day is truly about; bear witness to the sacrifices that have built our country. To quote General Patton: We should be thankful that such men (and women) lived.



Pezze e Piselli

Pezze e Piselli, by Briana Elizabeth

Did everyone make it through? Christmas is over with Easter on its tail, and poof, now that’s gone too. Suddenly it’s May!

I can’t think of anything more wonderful this time of year than to be outside. Whether you’re in fall or in spring, the changing of the seasons is perfect to be mucking about, and if you’ve not picked it up already, I encourage you to buy Exploring Nature with Children, and perhaps trying your own Book of Firsts.

Where I live the salamanders and peepers are making their trips to the vernal ponds, and at night, on a rainy evening, the roads are covered with them which is why the Forestry Service blocks off roads. However, getting out your slickers and flashlights is encouraged! Watching the wee monsters make the trek is a memory children will cherish forever. Plus, they get to stay up past their bedtime, which is always a bit of excitement.

It’s also a month for wonderful poetry. Bring a blanket and some snacks outside for a poetry reading, host a poetry tea where the kids can recite all of those memorized poems, and have some watercolors and paper for painting en plein-air. Break out the nature notebooks, and if you can get them, The Country Diary of an Edwardian LadyThe Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady , The Country Flowers of a Victorian Lady, and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life  are wonderful books to browse through and be inspired by, for both young and old. In my row of arborvitae, there is a community of finches and we’ve spent countless hours looking out windows as we watch them gather grasses and tufts of hair (that we put out) for nests. The chattering and goings-on are delightful, and really, is there anything better than watching twitterpated birds?

Spring is also the time that in my house we reread The Wind in the Willows. If you haven’t yet read it aloud, I encourage you to do so. Even better if you do so on a blanket by a stream.

Happy Homeschooling!

Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.

Pezze e Piselli

November Pezze e Piselli, by Briana Elizabeth

Hopefully by this time of the year, everyone has settled into a routine, and schooling is just chugging along with some beautiful moments of grace tucked into every day. I’ve challenged myself to actively look for the beauty and grace in our every day, instead of having to have it smack me over the head, and I have to say, it’s working. Flannery O’Conner wrote about those every day graces that we pass over, completely blinded to their brilliance because our glass is so dark, but if we look, if we seek it out, we can find it, and I can say it softens my day when I dwell upon it.

Following those small graces, I’ve also tried to actively slow down enough to enter into them. It’s so much easier than I’ve made it out to be in my head. On Facebook, there’s been talk of Hygge as we settle into winter, and my feed this week has been filled with Hygge’s cousin, the Norwegian Koselig. (And for some fun, a video. We’re now calling Headbandz “Card Head” at my house. You’ll understand when you watch the video.) One thing that really struck me in this article on The Norwegian Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter ,  was the idea of creating a habit of getting outside every day, no matter the weather. It’s a long-standing European habit that you can hear echoed in Charlotte Mason’s writings, and in other writings of Europeans (Mansfield Park comes to mind). After a tough day of homeschooling (Middleschoolers. Following directions. ‘Nuff said.), I took the article’s advice, leashed my dog and went on a long walk in the cold November drizzle. It was an instant mood change. I arrived back at house with a cleared head and a happy heart. Apparently I needed to just kick myself outside. I have to warn you though, getting out the door is the hardest part of this new routine? Have you made getting outside into a daily habit? What works for you?

One thing that is pushing up like a wall against my every day grace hunt is the avalanche of holiday preparations. But I’ve made some purposeful changes to battle that, which is crafts and Advent. I realized that sometimes I need to make room for the grace. I can say “HERE, and no more.” With Thanksgiving coming, and the holidays after that, we’ve been collecting pinecones and crafting supplies. My kids make place cards for every holiday, and even when it’s just us, it seems to elevate the day into something special. Make some place cards, set the table, light a candle–instant wonder. You can make them as simple as gluing on some leaves or letting the kids draw pumpkins on them. We’ve used watercolors, crayons, and acorns to decorate them.

In following that idea of making these hectic upcoming months easier (and all of homeschooling easier), Vera shared her family’s menu-making plan. We use this system in our house, and it really reduces dinnertime stress. Another rule that I adopted from a friend was to make sure I had dinner going by 10am. Staring into the fridge at 5pm with starving kids behind you is anxiety-inducing. And always have a back up in the freezer. Not a frozen chicken backup, but, say a bag of frozen sauce with meatballs. Something that you can defrost in a half hour while the water for the macaroni boils. Do you have any tips for feeding your people that make your life easier? Vera will be following this article up with another, so keep a watch for it!

Also on the Sandbox Facebook page this article titled “This 1897 Text Gives 3 Clues Why Today’s Students Can’t Write” really gained traction, and it reminded me of the saying, “Garbage In; Garbage Out.” I’m so happy for having read my children all of those bedtime stories, with long, winding clauses and beautiful language. If you haven’t read to your children–including your older children–I encourage you to break out the tea pot, the coffee pot, and a book. As my children got older, we moved our Morning Basket reading time to an afternoon Tea Time, and it’s my teenagers who make sure it happens every day. They love it as much as I do. If you read aloud to your children, how do you deal with wiggling toddlers or scoffing teenagers?

Speaking of books – we just have to know, what have you been reading together? Or for your own enrichment? I’m going to be writing a book report on The Awakening of Miss Prim to share in the upcoming weeks.

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