Embracing Winter in Our Homeschool
It’s been awhile since I wrote a “week in review post.” Our late autumns and early winters tend to necessitate a bit of a stepping-away or dialing-back. I use the time to reflect on the year past, set my focus for the year ahead, and to enjoy the holidays with my family. We took the last two weeks of December, and the first week of January, off from homeschool and the much-needed break was heavenly.
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This was our first week back. Going into the second semester, especially during the winter months, I had a bit of a mission on my mind. Winter has never been a season I loved. In fact, I’ve struggled with it year after year. This struggle was reflected in our homeschool rhythm. I could never seem to embrace winter the way I did any other season. I disliked being cold, I missed the green and the birdsong and the wildness of summer. I longed for the blooms of spring, and the crispness of fall.
My mission? Find the magic of winter. Fall in love with it. Make it a season we miss when it’s gone, as we do with every other season.
Inspiration from the Homeschool Community on Instagram
The answer came to me one day, just after the New Year, as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed. I paid special attention to any posts that made winter look beautiful, pleasurable, and fun. I made note of what made winter seem so intriguing in those pictures. Here’s what I saw:
- Families romping and playing outside, despite bad weather, thanks to their warm and cozy clothing choices
- Families snuggling in by the fire, reading together, little hands making things, bread baking, candles glowing
- Baskets and shelves filled with gorgeous and inspiring winter literature
- Winter nature tables, nature study units, and nature collections
Okay, so we needed to get outside as often as possible, just like we do the rest of the year. But we needed to bundle up in better winter gear so we stay comfortable. We needed to hygge-up this place–light candles, strew blankets, play games by the fire, make lovely things with our hands, bake goodies that make the whole house smell good. We needed to stock up our winter basket with better books. And we needed to honor the beauty of winter with plenty of nature study, and a seasonal nature table. Got it!
I committed myself fully to this mission and got to work.
Winter Nature Table
The first thing I did was to set up a nature table, inspired by one of our favorite winter reads, The Tomten and the Fox. The barn, the fox, and the gnome came from Michael’s (which I now live less than a mile from…dangerous.)
I made little frosty trees by sculpting some sparkly pipe cleaners into tree shapes, sticking them into empty wooden spools, and anchoring them with modeling beeswax to keep them from toppling over. Conifers were made by snipping branches from a mini-christmas tree and inserting them in the wooden spools. I cut a frozen lake out of a sheet of glittery foam and presented it on a blanket of “snow” made with sheets of white felt.
As a finishing touch, I modeled a tiny cardinal out of beeswax and placed it in a tree. At night, a flameless candle makes a beautiful campfire for our peg dolls.
Winter Literature for Our Morning Basket
My next order of business was to load up our morning basket with lovely winter books. We had a few beloved titles, but not enough to fill a basket. A quick trip to thriftbooks.com took care of that. (I will post later this week about our favorite winter books!)
The 52 Hikes Challenge
I had stumbled across #52hikeschallenge on Instagram and thought it would be a great motivator to get us on bigger adventures during the winter months. The basic idea is to complete 52 hikes in a year. With our summer and autumn track record, I knew this would be a no-brainer for us, but I knew if I committed to the challenge, I would want a head start in the early part of the year.
We chose Roxborough State Park for our first hike. It was a beautiful day–warm enough to take off our coats within five minutes of hitting the trail. This hike also helped to kick off our deep-dive into rocks and minerals with Blossom and Root First Grade.
The sandstone rock formations at the park are stunning! These 290 million year old beauties are part of the Fountain Formation, also responsible for Red Rocks, Garden of the Gods, and the Boulder Flatirons.
Finally–a Snowy Day!
We enjoyed our first snow day of the year this week, which gave us an opportunity to embrace lengthy outside time in cold, wet weather. The girls, decked in warm under-layers and waterproof snowsuits, played for hours in our front yard, making snowmen and snow angels, and pulling on the pine boughs to make the snow plop down on their heads. When they’d finally had enough, we warmed up inside with hot cocoa by the fireplace. Looking at their pink cheeks and sparkling faces, I felt like we might be able to do this winter thing after all.
A Little Help from Rooted Childhood
I needed a bit of help with the handicraft part of my mission. Despite a deep-felt love for Pinterest, I am not great at implementing fun things to make for each season. However, Rooted Childhood’s monthly guides have changed the game for us. We used their September guide last year and loved it so much. I knew that their January guide would get us on the right track. (I will be reviewing the entire guide at the end of the month here on the blog!)
This week, we worked on the window star project. The brightly colored kite paper, folded and displayed in our window, instantly added magic to our winter. We spent an entire morning, folding and gluing with a candle lit, and the soundtrack to the The Snowman playing. It was exactly the kind of morning I wanted for us this season–peaceful and connected.
Easing in to Homeschool Again
I never like the first week back to homeschooling to be full-on. It can be so jarring to jump in full-throttle after weeks of rest and celebration. With the exception of a light history day, we kept to the basics: math, reading, writing.
Brice made patterns with buttons strung on pipe cleaners for math, reviewed all the letters we’ve covered this year so far for reading, and we read the story of Corduroy. (Blossom and Root Early Years Vol. 2)
Blake wrapped up her current unit in Singapore Math 1A for math. In reading and writing, we explored the story of Hansel and Gretel and completed the journal, narration, and mini-poem in Blossom and Root First Grade. We also began working on her project from Brave Writer’s Jot it Down program–a book she will write this semester about horses. (I will be posting more about Jot it Down soon!)
In history, we’re starting to wrap up our unit on the first colonists. We read Tapenum’s Day and reviewed Sarah Morton’s Day and compared the two, and finished two history pockets in our Evan Moor book.
All in all, it was a successful first week back. It felt gentle and full of new excitement for our winter mission at hand.
Have you started back to homeschool yet? How is your year going so far? Please share in the comments!
Resources We Used This Week:
- Rooted Childhood
- Brave Writer
- Blossom and Root Early Years Vol. 2
- Blossom and Root First Grade
- Singapore Math
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