Summer Goals

Summer Reading | Book It

  • Lots of Splash Pads
  • Lots of Swimming Pools
  • Keep some structure
  • Catch up on a few school-ish items
  • Book-it Free Pizza


The lovely thing about the summer, for public school kids, is they are home! So you can do more to incorporate the family culture you desire because you have your kids with you more.


Some recommendations: 

Pick one composer and listen to their music for a little bit every time you’re in the car, in the evenings when you’re making dinner, or when everyone is getting ready for bed. Every once in a while, mention the name of the composer and what song is playing. Don’t overdo it! Just make this composer that you like part of your culture. 

Pick three great classic movies that you want your kids to watch. Plan one movie night per month to introduce them to your favorite films.

Pick a classic book to read in the mornings or evenings. 

Let your kids pick a country on the map. Learn about what the people there eat, how they dress, what music they like – let the kids prepare a meal from that country. 

Summer Plans

We do not do official school year-round. Some families do, and that’s fine. But we need an extended break and we do that in the summer time. 

However, we need structure and a schedule or else we feel crazy. So our summer days include a “morning time” that is a bit less intense than our normal “morning time.” It’s time for Summer Homeschool Plans….

In the summer, we will:

  1. Read Proverbs
  2. Read scheduled Bible passages from Ambleside Online.
  3. Read Animal Farm and Watership Down.
  4. Finish Robin Hood.
  5. Finish Lord of the Rings.

I pick these books because they are coming up quick on my kids’ curriculum and if we read them in the summer, it frees up time during the school year.

We will also work on little skills that need work…(I’m looking at you, copywork.)

Every homeschool family I know does summer a little differently. We need lots of time for my full work schedule and the kids need a break from some things (like math and Latin). 

“You have to do what works for your family.”

Summer Reading

Book It

The links above are affiliate links from Purchases using my links earn me a commission at no additional cost to you.



speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois



This term, for Spanish, we are covering a variety of topics. For a general overview of how we use Charlotte Mason’s book, see my post here.

Last term, we got through 21 pages of our book. We spend about two weeks per page.

Next, we will be learning the Lord’s Prayer in Spanish. There are a variety of youtube videos available with the Lord’s Prayer in song. 

The next lesson covers vocabulary you may need to set the table. So we will set the table and use our words. It also covers articles – so we’ll watch a little Senor Jordan for that.

Next up, we will review verbs in the first person singular by moving furniture around. “Pongo la silla…” We will probably use this time to rearrange our furniture.

The next 2 lessons in the book introduce some reflexive verbs and a little 2nd person singular. So we will tell each other what we are doing and find a good Senor Jordan video on reflexive verbs. We seriously love Senor Jordan.

The last lesson I hope to get to this year is about writing a letter – so we will write a letter. My daughter has been working on a letter to her congressperson, so if she hasn’t sent that yet, that’s what we will do for these weeks.



Spanish Resources

Senor Jordan on Youtube

Spanish Interrogatives Video

Padre Nuestro Video


Duo Lingo is a perfectly fine way to learn Spanish for adults. It may help a parent who doesn’t have a background in Spanish. I do not 100% recommend it for children as there’s a “flirty” module that’s not totally kid-friendly.


Online resources are convenient, but there’s no substitute for a physical dictionary. Looking up a word with your eyes and hands on a page really helps cement it in your mind.


Frog and Toad

We read Sapo y Sepo! It’s a fun break from video and verb conjugations. The link above is an affiliate link for Amazon.




Here’s a link to Ambleside Online’s article about learning foreign languages.

More Info




Composer Study

Composer Study in our school is, like most things, low stress. We pick a composer, usually from the list at Ambleside Online, make a Spotify playlist, and listen to the music on our way to the park. In the evenings, we might listen to/watch a symphony on YouTube. If there is a decent biography on the composer, we will read it during morning time. We do not stress about classical music. We just enjoy it.

If for some reason we pick a composer that we don’t particularly enjoy, no big deal. We only listen for about 12 weeks.

J.S. Bach

Here’s an affiliate link for the book we read about Bach. It’s meant to come with a CD to listen to some of the music mentioned in the book. We didn’t get the CD, but most of the music is available on Spotify, so we listened along there. It was a nice overview of Bach’s life.

Radio Program about Bach here.

Frank Liszt

We haven’t read this book on Frank Liszt yet, but it’s free! I’m excited to read it with the kids in the next few weeks. Some of his music was used in cartoons, so we will also enjoy some Bugs Bunny this term to appreciate Liszt’s music.

This radio program about composers did a program about Liszt that you can find here.



This term we are reading Robert Frost for my older student and Christina Rossetti for my younger student.

We will read a new poem each day and I’ll encourage them to memorize one poem each by offering tangible incentives (I’m looking at you, FiveBelow…).

The content below contains affiliate links.

Robert Frost

We will be reading from this Robert Frost book, just as soon as I find it! In the meantime, Robert Frost poems are available for free here. Plus a quick YouTube search will show you lots and lots of people reading Frost poetry.

Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti has been a favorite here for a while. We have a physical copy of one of her books that we will be reading from daily. Like Robert Frost, you can find many YouTube videos of her poems being read aloud. 


New City Catechism

There have been multiple steps in learning our catechism.

Learn the Words-Daily

We reviewed our questions daily. We started with 1-5. When those were memorized, they moved to a weekly review pile and 6-11 took their place.

Learn the Words-Weekly

After 24 weeks of review, review, review – now we recite questions 1-10 on Mondays, 11-20 on Tuesdays and so on. If we miss a day, it’s no big deal – we’ll get it next week.

Dig Deeper

This term, our plan is to spend one week on each question – while continuing to review the rest – and really dig deep to understand what each question is asking/answering. There are multiple videos and resources online that will aid in our catechism journey.


Spring Free Reads

This posts contains affiliate links to Amazon and

The Wheel on the School

Wheel on the School is a memorable story. We are part-way through it and can’t wait to finish. Even my 12-year-old, who was skeptical, has come around to enjoy this book. For budgeting purposes, we found this classic at our library, but if you’d like to purchase, see my affiliate link above.


The Hiding Place

My Year 6 student is learning about World War II, so it seemed like a good time to read The Hiding Place. I’ve only skimmed it – I have never read the whole thing and I’m very much looking forward to it.

If you like, find it at


The Phantom Tollbooth

The kids follow an online bookcclub – Withywindle. Withywindle is reading Phantom Tollbooth this spring. We will read along so we can keep up with the podcast hijinks.

Find it at


Book of Marvels

Richard Halliburton’s

Book of Marvels

I still remember where I was when I snagged The Book of Marvels for $40 on Ebay. New moms will never know the struggle to find this book for an affordable price! It was out-of-print for ages so your best bet was to find someone on Ebay willing to make a deal.

In 2018, I remember walking into the Half-Priced Books in San Antonio, Tx and during a quick glance of the clearance section, I found Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels for $2. I’m pretty sure I screamed. I bought the book and sold it the next week for $40 and nearly started a new job peddling rare books.

Why is this book so great?

Richard Halliburton travelled and wrote about his journey back before travel easy and before the internet made “visiting” these Marvels so accessible by computer and Google Earth. He does much more than describe the locations – he always has a story to go along with his visit to make the whole book a memorable delight.

How can I use this book?

We added this book to our Morning Time Routine because my daughter was not enjoying reading it alone. We read the book as a family and usually find a You Tube Video to get a little update on the location and see how it looks in color.  Regardless, we find the location of the Marvel on the map and narrate what we’ve learned.

What other resources are available?

This website has updates to the marvels and more information about Richard Halliburton’s book. It’s now available to purchase through Living Book Press, which is much more convenient, but not nearly as much fun as stumbling on a copy in a used bookstore or garage sale. 


Free Reads

“Free Reads” in our home come from the Ambleside Online list for whatever year my kids are in.

In the Ambleside Online community, families handle the Free Read section in different ways. The way I do it is not the only way, although it does work well for us.

For the younger years, I pick a selection from “Free Reads” and add it to our morning time. We read about 15 minutes per day. I alternate from the list of each kid.

I started doing it this way because my oldest started at AO4 and missed the younger year free reads. By doing them as a family, he got to hear those stories while my daughter did. 

Sometimes we do a free read because it fits with the season or topic. For example, we visited the fair recently, and my youngest fell in love with the little piglets PLUS our nature study topic was spiders – so we had to read Charlotte’s Web. Also, every November/December, we read The Christmas Carol because it’s such a great story.

The other way we sometimes handle Free Reads is audiobooks from the library. I’ve written before about my captive car audience, and one way I take advantage of this time is audiobooks. We can’t swing a monthly audible subscription, but the occasional library fee is worth it.

Article on Free Reads from Ambleside Online



We love Shakespeare.

Shakespeare can be an intimidating addition to your homeschool journey – but it does not have to be! By biting off small chucks and going slowly, you can dig in and the Bard can enrich your home. Here are tips to get started:

The Play’s the Thing.



Pick a Play You Love


Shakespeare wrote 39ish plays and it can be hard to decide where to start. Your feelings for the work will spill over to your kids and influence their reactions, so it’s important to pick a play that you like.

Do you have fond memories of Baz Lehrman’s Romeo + Juliet? Read Romeo and Juliet! Do you have strong feeling about Brutus and Julius Caesar? Start there.

Does the thought of Shakespeare only fill you with boredom and fear? Don’t worry! You can still pick a play and have fun reading it with your children.

If you don’t love a play, it may help to pick a play that you already know a bit. If you’re worried your kids will ask you questions and you won’t be able to answer, buy yourself a copy of the “No Fear Shakespeare” version. It has a modern translation on the opposite page from the original text and can help you interpret on the fly. (Although I do not recommend No Fear versions for kids. More on that below.)

Another way to decide what play to read is to check with your local theaters to see if anyone is doing any Shakespeare in the Park. Pick a play that you can see in person as a treat.

Which Version to Purchase

Half-Priced Books is my best friend when it comes to buying Shakespeare plays. They almost always have three copies of what I’m looking for and I can touch the books in person to see what’s between the covers.

  1. Some versions have annotations on the left-hand page. These are so helpful when you come across a word that has changed meaning or a mythology reference that you just don’t remember.
  2. No Fear Shakespeare looks appealing and it may work for your family. It includes the original text plus a modern translation. The Modern version will not have the same ring as Shakespeare (Shakespeare was a great writing and chose his words for a reason.). Also, if there are any objectionable jokes (I’m looking at you, Mercutio) that would otherwise fly over your children’s heads, they may be plainly spelled out in the modern version and lead to conversations you weren’t expecting to have.
  3. Folger’s Library versions will often have notes at the beginning of the play to help with context, themes, etc. I really appreciate those for my own education although I do not burden my younger children with all these ideas. With younger kids I prefer to let the text talk for itself and save the themes/motif talk for when they are older and notice these things on their own.


Will they get it?

Not at first. The language is different and it will take time – but it’s worth stumbling through a few plays so they can reap rewards later.

As an example, the second play we did was MacBeth with my oldest in grade 5. On his own, he connected the knocking that MacBeth and his wife hear after the murder with the drumming sound in Tell-Tale Heart. ON HIS OWN. Any theme or idea I pointed out to him I’m sure he’s already forgotten, but his own brain working out that connection will be with him forever. Any child can make these connections when presented with good literature and it’s worth the hard reading work to get there.

But they do bad things…

There are people in Shakespeare’s plays that do ugly things. They sin. It’s true. They make poor choices, get angry, murder, and more. But on the whole, their poor choices have terrible consequences and the basic world-view of most of the plays is Christian. 

The good that can come from reading Shakespeare outweighs the bad and it’s worth digging in a having discussions about what the characters do and what happens to them. (not in a moralizing way…but that’s a talk for another day.)

Can we do the same play twice?

Yes! We’ve read Much Ado About Nothing, like, three times over the years and every time we see something new. When you are already familiar with the plot, you can catch more jokes and tropes.

Some families start by reading a summary, like Lamb’s Shakespeare, before they read the real play for that very reason – so they don’t have to focus on plot and can just have fun reading. That’s a fine idea. Our family has always had at least one kid old enough to read the real play, so we just read the play and follow up with a film or live version if we can find a good one.

Go Slow – just reading a scene a day, you can read at least three Shakespeare Plays easily. Let everyone pick a character or two and act it out in your own living room. Not enough family members? Make simple peg dolls to be your actors.

Film Adaptations

It can be fun to have a movie night and watch a good Kenneth Branagh version of a play. A subscription to your local PBS station can be a cost effective way to find some Shakespeare on TV.

After you have a few plays under your belt, check out Shakespeare Live! from the RSC. It was a celebration at the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and features lots of actors you family may appreciate.




Another great resource I have found is The Play’s the Thing  – a podcast by Circe Institute. They pick a play and talk about it one act at a time. Very helpful for parents and older students to find another level of understanding Shakespeare and his work.

Pilgrim’s Progress

This post contains affiliate links.

UPDATE: The retold “Dangerous Journey” was transformative for my youngest. We switched to only reading that version for now. He loves the pictures and flips through the book sometimes when we aren’t even doing “school.” Anyway, read on, but I highly recommend the Dangerous Journey version if your child is not ready for the original.


The John Bunyan book, Pilgrim’s Progress is not always a part of our morning time, but it is for the moment. Whenever a book appears in one of my children’s reading lists that is 1. a little bit difficult and 2. would benefit the whole family, I add it to the morning time list. Pilgrim’s Progress is on the list for Ambleside Year 2, so my youngest should be reading it, but it’s good for everyone – so it’s perfect for morning time.

We aim for 10 pages per week, but no stress if we don’t make it. It’s a heavy book and it’s okay to go slow.

Pilgrim’s Progress Options

Over the years, we have found three different methods to cover the ideas in Pilgrim’s Progress.

Some of these links are affiliate links.

The original text by John Bunyan is a fine option. We found our copy on Thrift Books, but the text is old enough, it is available for free in the public domain.

There is an adaptation of Pilgrim’s Progress that is illustrated and highly recommended called Dangerous Journey. We will start this version soon for my youngest because he’s not quite ready for 1600’s English.

We also purchased an audio drama several years ago. Many in the homeschool community told me it was great and helped their children understand Pilgrim’s Progress. I had a plan to play the audio in the car while we drive around because that’s prime “captive audience” time. We did, in fact, listen to one or two segments and my kids thought they were interesting. Unfortunately, I’m not tech savvy enough to play MP3s in my vehicle effectively- but I’m sure it’s a great tool for someone who knows how to use those MP3s.

Pilgrim's Progress and Dangerous Journey

Original Text by John Bunyan

Pilgrim's Progress and Dangerous Journey

Dangerous Journey

Pilgrim's Progress Audio Drama

Audio Drama

John Bunyan

John Bunyan was a writer and preacher in the 1600’s. He was a travelling tinker with a filthy mouth for some time and the story goes that a woman berated him for his sin. Convicted, he vowed to become a new man. Read more of his story in the book Trial and Triumph.

Buy Trial and Triumph


John Bunyan’s new faith grew and he became a minister. Eventually he was jailed because his beliefs did not line up with King Charles II. He was in jail for twelve years and taught from jail when he could.

Hymn by Bunyan


Laws changed, and Bunyan was released. But a few months later, when authorities told him again to stop preaching, he refused and was jailed again for 6 months. During this time, he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress.

Wiki Article

At age 59, he was caught in a storm and caught an illness with fever. He died shortly thereafter.

Pilgrim’s Progress is his best known work and in England, you can visit a museum dedicated to his life and work.


John Bunyan
by Thomas Sadler, oil on canvas, 1684