M. has decided that she would like to begin to learn French this year (which is fortunate for me, since I know at least a little of the language!). After some research, I settled on Galore Park's So You Really Want To Learn French as her primary text for the subject.  However, I knew that I'd also want to supplement with some French texts intended for French children learning to read the language. Additional research led me to two different sets of books: Méthode Boscher and Daniel et Valérie, both of which are time-proven and use the syllabic method of reading (a very brief discussion of syllabic phonics vs. the "global method" can be found on TWTM here.). While both texts are a touch old-fashioned, in my opinion the charm of the illustrations more than compensates.

Here are the resources available for Méthode Boscher:

Méthode Boscher ou La Journée des Tout Petits is the primary text for the illustrated syllabic method of reading and writing first developed by Mathurin Boscher in 1906. The two books shown above have both been reprinted by Belin and are identical, with the exception of the illustrations. The "green version" was illustrated by Jacqueline Duché in 1915 (more about her work here) and the "red version" was illustrated by François Garnier in 1945. Preview and/or download the entire "red version" book here at Scrib'd. The "red version" is available for purchase from Amazon.fr, while the "green version" is available from Amazon.ca.

Méthode Boscher mon abécédaire is an alphabet book which also contains simple vocabulary. Preview and/or download the entire book at Scrib'd. Ages 4+.

Méthode Boscher Cahier des sons is the pre-reading workbook of syllabic sounds. Preview and/or download the entire book at Scrib'd. Ages 4+.

Méthode Boscher Cahier de graphisme is the pre-writing workbook which contains exercises that allows the child to master the movement of the letters before moving on to the copybook below. This is especially helpful if you'll be using a fountain pen for cursive. Preview and/or download the entire book at Scrib'd. Ages 4+.

Méthode Boscher Cahier de lecture is the primary workbook for the main text Méthod Boscher ou La Journée des Tout Petits. Preview and/or download the entire book at Scrib'd. Ages 5+.

Méthode Boscher Cahier d'écriture is a cursive copybook which contains both uppercase and lowercase letters. Each page has a corresponding page in the primary text, Méthod Boscher ou La Journée des Tout Petits. Preview and/or download the entire book at Scrib'd. Ages 5+.

Méthode Boscher Cahier de calcul is a math workbook which contains numbers from 0 to 100, plus simple addition and subtraction. Preview and/or download the entire book at Scrib'd. Ages 5+.

Leveled Méthode Boscher readers online:

1. Lewis and Clark: Blazing a Trail West by John Burrows (nonfiction)

2. Diary of an Early American Boy: Noah Blake, 1805 by Eric Sloane 

3. Hello, the Boat! by Phyllis Crawford (1939 Newberry Honor book)

"This is the story of an everyday family who fled the depression of 1817 by moving westward. Rafts and flatboats and Conestoga wagons moved slowly into the new territory beyond the Alleghenies, but the Doak family made the journey down the Ohio river from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati on a boat fitted out as a store, peddling pots and pans, hardware, bonnets, dry goods and Yankee notions. Responding to the call of "Hello, the boat!" from settlers along the banks, Mother, Father, the children, Old Pappy and his fiddle all helped to make the trip as profitable as it was adventurous.

Combining accurate information about those days of tall tales and tall language with a truly spontaneous story, "Hello, the Boat!" recreates the life of young people of another day in a humorously realistic fashion. Remote from great national events, the narrative is extremely simple yet vivid, absorbing because of its truth." (via GoodReads)

We'll be supplementing Hello, the Boat with the excellent nonfiction Flatboat Days on Frontier Rivers by James McCague (part of the Garrard History Series). Two additional options I considered were By Wagon and Flatboat by Enid La Monte Meadowcroft (also very good, according to TruthQuest) and Flatboats and Wagon Wheels by Mildred Comfort.

4. Boy with a Pack by Stephen Meader (1940 Newberry Honor book)

"Seventeen-year-old Bill Crawford refused to be licked by the "hard times" of 1837. Putting every cent he owned into a tin trunk full of "Yankee notions," he set out afoot from New Hampshire for the Ohio country. His adventures on the road, as he crossed Vermont, York State, and Pennsylvania and moved southward through Ohio, furnished abundant tests of his courage and character. A crooked Vermont horse dealer who nearly murdered Bill for his trade-goods; a bullying Erie canal boat captain who hired him as a driver; and a hard-riding Virginia slave-catcher shadowing the Underground Railroad are vivid personalities in the story. Like other popular books by this author, Boy With A Pack is a horsy story. It is flavored with the racy pungency of stagecoaches and tavern stables, the brawl and bustle of the old Erie Canal, the excitement of backwoods trotting tracks, and the dusty plodding of westward migration in full tide a hundred years ago."

5. Apple Tree Cottage by Virginia Frances Voight

"Susan and Candace Warren with horse, Bucephalus, roam the countryside during the summers in their van so their artist father can paint. This summer, their father is too sick to continue to travel and they end up in Apple Tree Cottage, vacant home of Peter Birch, a teen on the run from his evil master, Mr. Snipper. The Warren girls have always wanted to live in a real home and this one comes with neighbors about Susan's age, Janet and Phil Grant. The kids discover Peter's hiding place and they all become friends over the summer while keeping Peter's secret. Candy, a spunky child, who goes "cheerfully about the adventure of living, blissfully untroubled by the state of her clothes," takes food and messages to Peter, and soon the motherless Warrens and orphan Peter grow as fond of each other as if they were true siblings.

They also become involved in the burglary case of Mr. Bramble, a rich patron of the Warren's father. Susan witnesses the robbers escaping the night before the Warrens settle at Apple Tree Cottage. Candy spots a silver William Penn porringer in the road, part of the robbers' loot, which she uses to feed her new kitten Winkie. There are descriptions of pastoral life in the mid-1800's, the countryside, chores, cooking, and picnics and an account of the railway and city when Susan travels with Phil on the quest to earn money for rent ($2 a month) and necessities. Being the talented daughter of an artist, she is looking for work with the famous Godey's Lady Book to paint fashion plates in watercolor. A simple but delightful read." (Source)

6. The Story of Davy Crockett by Enid LaMonte Meadowcroft. We be supplementing this with  chapters from Hunters Blaze the Trails by Edith McCall (Frontiers of America Series, reprinted by Royal Fireworks Press), and When Mountain Men Trapped Beaver by Richard Glendinning (Garrard History Series; non-fiction). I will also be reading aloud excerpts from Journal of a Trapper : or, Nine years in the Rocky Mountains, 1834-1843 by Osborne Russell (online here) for a true, first-person account of life as a "mountain man."

7. Lyddie by Katherine Patterson - My plans for this book are posted here.

8. The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum by Candace Fleming (nonfiction; corresponding film: P.T. Barnum)

9. Toby Tyler, or, Ten Weeks with a Circus by James Otis (Free for Kindle)

"Toby Tyler tells the story of a ten year-old orphan who runs away from a foster home to join the traveling circus only to discover his new employer is a cruel taskmaster. The difference between the romance of the circus from the outside and the reality as seen from the inside is graphically depicted. Toby's friend, Mr. Stubbs the chimpanzee, reinforces the consequences of what happens when one follows one's natural instincts rather than one's intellect and conscience, a central theme of the novel." (Source)

We'll be supplementing Toby Tyler with excerpts from Sawdust and Spangles: Stories and Secrets of the Circus, a 1901 memoir by W.C. Coup. (There is also a picture book version of Sawdust and Spangles by Ralph Covert; Coup was a contemporary of P.T. Barnum.) Additionally, we may read Circus Days Under the Big Top by Richard Glendinning (Garrard History Series) and select articles from Bandwagon (The Journal of the Circus Historical Society). We'll wrap up our unit by watching the Disney film "Toby Tyler".

10. On to Oregon by Honore Morrow (Film: "Seven Alone") and Tree Wagon by Evelyn Sibley Lampman OR The Pioneers Go West (Landmark Series) by George R. Stewart. I'll be reading aloud excerpts from Prairie Traveler: A Handbook for Overland Expeditions, with Maps, Illustrations, and Itineraries of the Principal Routes between the Mississippi and the Pacific by Randolph B. Marcy (1859). Marcy’s Prairie Traveler was an indispensable guide to thousands of American overlanders in their arduous treks to California, Oregon, Utah, and other western destinations, it's also very interesting reading!

1st Semester: Sentence Writing, 2nd Semester: Paragraphs

Six Traits of Writing Posters - Modify these to make my own *Move this to writing program page
1. Review the Parts of a Sentence (Parts of Speech).

2. Learn Sentence Patterns.
  • The Art of Styling Sentences by Ann Longknife, Ph.D. and K.D. Sullivan
    • Chapter 2: The Twenty Patterns (20 Patterns from the Art of Styling Sentences)
      • Pattern 1A, 1B, 1C (Exercises 1-3)
      • Pattern 2 (Exercises 1-4)
      • Pattern 3 (Exercises 1-5)
      • Pattern 4 (Sentences for Analysis 1-3, Exercises 1-5)
      • Pattern 4A (Sentences for Analysis 1-3, Exercises 1-5, 1-3)
      • Pattern 5 (Exercises 1-4, 1-3)
      • Pattern 6 (Exercises 1-3, 1-2)
      • Pattern 7 (Exercises 1-3, 1-4)
      • Pattern 7A (Exercises 1-5, 1-3)
      • Pattern 8 (Exercises 1-5)
      • Pattern 9 (Exercises 1-3, 1-2)
      • Pattern 9A (Exercieses 1-3)
      • Pattern 10 (Sentence for analysis, Exercises -5)
      • Pattern 10A (Exercises 1-2, 1-2)
  • Writers Inc. by Patrick Sebranek, Dave Kemper, and Verne Meyer
    • Writing Clear Sentences, p. 89-90
    • Writing Natural Sentences, p. 91-92
    • Writing Acceptable Sentences, p. 93-94
    • Combining Sentences, p. 95
    • Modeling Sentences, p. 96
    • Expanding Sentences, p. 97
    • Sentence-Writing Tips, p. 98
3. Figurative Language in Sentences
4. Sentence Combining, Sentence Expansion

* For sentence composing practice, "You've Been Sentenced" board game (expansion decks also available).


    1. Lyddie by Katherine Patterson (historical fiction based on factual accounts of Lowell's mill girls)
    2. The Lowell Mill Girls by Alice K. Flanagan
    3. Kids on Strike! by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Chapter 1 (J331.892 BAR)
    4. Mill by David Macaulay
    5. [Primary Source] Loom and Spindle, or, Life Among the Early Mill Girls by Harriet Hanson Robinson (excellent!)
    6. [Primary Source] A New England Girlhood by Lucy Larcom
    Primary Source Documents:

    I thought I'd post a few pictures of our "school room" (also known as our family room),  even though it's still very much a work in progress! The room contains a couch, a coffee table, our flat screen TV, two recliners, a rocker, a small bookshelf, our geography cabinet and two sets of Ikea Trofast workboxes. What it does not include is a work table, which was initially part of the room, but later removed.

    Last year the kids did at least half of their work at the couch, so I figured we really didn't need to have a big table in the room. The school room is connected to the dining room, so there's always the option of using the dining room table when needed.

    People's History Posters from JustSeeds.org (I laminated these at Lakeshore Learning)

    Global Peace Flags from Montessori Services

    Every year, there seems to be one subject that I lose my head over. This year it was geography and I spent a good portion of the summer collecting vintage geography games and resources (some of these can also be found on my Pinterest geography board). Ironically, geography was the one subject that I didn't need to plan this year since we'll be using the Geography and Culture Task Cards from Creek Edge Press.

    A few of our geography books (with more on the way!)

    Geography cabinet with a few of my vintage geography games;
    stickers and other task card supplies are in the upper drawers of the cabinet.

    Vintage Nystrom pull down U.S./World maps from CathodeBlue (this doesn't stay down all the time, but it does work well as a partial window shade!)

    Vintage globe and metal file cart (contains my weekly files)

    This is probably the ugliest couch ever, but the kids are rather hard on furniture, so I wanted something super inexpensive and durable. It was only $24.99 and looks brand new, though obviously vintage, so it seemed the perfect solution for now.

    Behind the couch, to the right of the workboxes, is a huge closet with shelves to the ceiling (there is a staircase on the other side of the wall, so this is the under stair storage area). It looks a mess in the photo below, but is actually fairly well-organized - the left side is mostly games (new and vintage) and the right side contains shelves full of my favorite clear plastic shoeboxes from The Container Store. All of our arts and crafts supplies are stored in these boxes. I have two additional cabinets in the garage which contain extra school supplies, science items, and general overflow.

    We two have boring blue recliners, flanking either side of a little table and small bookshelf (see below). The line in the paneling, toward the top of the first picture, is actually a ledge that runs halfway around the room - quite useful for displaying things!

    One of the nicest parts of the room is that nearly an entire wall is a sliding glass door. Since wood paneling tends to be dark, I appreciate having such a wonderful source of light in the room! Below is the view onto our patio - and a table so that we can do lessons outdoors when the weather is nice.

    Picnic bench for school outdoors (also, the view out of our sliding glass door)

    As I'm deep in planning for the upcoming school year, I thought I'd go ahead and share the literature list I've put together for my daughter, though it's not quite complete. She'll be working through much of this list over the next two years.

    Books followed by an asterisk (*) indicate that they are the first in an extended series (more than three books), titles in italics denote authors from the UK, and highlighted titles are for my own reference.

    Short Stories

    Benchmark: The student writes narrative text using the writing process.
    1. The student understands and develops a focused written piece that includes plot elements (e.g. initiating event, rising and falling action, climax, conflict, setting, character development resolution).
    2. Uses (1) personal experience (2) observations (3) prior knowledge in written text.
    3. Clarifies the main ideas by selecting relevant details that enrich the central theme or storyline.
    4. Analyzes and understands implications of plagiarism (e.g. ethical, legal).
    5. Understands and independently uses appropriate strategies to generate narrative text (e.g. brainstorming, listing, webbing, identifying information from print sources).
    6. Writes a piece with an inviting introduction, appropriate body, and satisfying conclusion that leaves the reader with a sense of resolution.
    7. Selects transitions to connect ideas within and between paragraphs in the writing piece.
    8. Selects original and compelling vocabulary and/or figurative language appropriate for the purpose and audience.
    9. Selects words that are suitable and precise, which create appropriate imagery (e.g. explicit nouns, vivid verbs, natural modifiers).
    10. Includes vocabulary particular to the topic and provides ease of understanding.
    11. Varies sentence structures and lengths (e.g. simple, compound, complex).
    12. Develops a variety of sentence beginnings that build upon previous sentence to guide the reader from one sentence to another.
    13. Identifies and avoids writing sentence fragments.
    14. Writes using effective dialogue that sounds conversational and natural.
    15. Demonstrates correct use of mechanics and punctuation (e.g. semi-colons, colons, underlining, italics, and centered titles).
    16. Uses correct grammar and usage for clarity.
    17. Spells familiar and most unfamiliar words correctly and uses available resources (e.g. dictionary, spell check).
    18. Uses correct paragraph divisions to reinforce the organizational structure of the text.
    General Writing Helps:

    It's been a crazy summer with our BIG move from Kansas to Oregon, but now we are (finally!) settled in and starting to think about the upcoming school year. First, a little about our new (old) house.

    I knew from the start that I wanted house from the 1950s, with as many original features as possible (tricky, since we're renting now). Since I'm obsessed with all things vintage, my goal was to find a house where my various collections would fit in nicely.

    Prior to our move, I spent months studying every single post at Retro Renovation, pouring over images on Flickr (and yes, even Ugly House Photos), and collecting decorating books from the 1950s and 60s. I also sold or gave away nearly every piece of furniture that we had so that we could make a fresh start.

    Lake Oswego (© catfuzz)

    And then finally, we found our house - a charming, spacious 5-bedroom 1958 [semi] ranch-style home in gorgeous Lake Oswego, Oregon. The number one selling point? The original pink American Standard bathroom (see: Save the Pink Bathrooms). I also adored its massive kitchen, numerous large windows (including two with tiled window seats, perfect for reading!), the woodsy backyard, and yes, even the original wood paneling in the family room. After jumping through numerous hoops, the house was ours and we commenced our move.

    The Backyard

    Now, as I've said, we're mostly settled in and loving our new home. There are a few "issues" here - the internet doesn't work well in the downstairs bedrooms, no matter what we do (and we've tried everything!), our lovely pink bathroom isn't exactly pink after all, but more of a peach-pink (very hard to color match, though Land's End does make towels in a very similar shade!)...also, the toilet is missing its matching pink seat, but just today I found a replacement solution here. Oh, and our yard is so shaded that I'm afraid I'll have little luck with roses here (I'm dearly missing the 50+ rose bushes I left behind in Kansas!).

    Part of the kitchen (just prior to moving in)

    One corner of the living room (just prior to moving in)

    View from the living room into the kitchen (please excuse the boxes in the corner!)

    Another corner of the living room: our wall of Ikea Billy bookcases

    Pink Bathroom!

    Nevertheless, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. It blows my mind just how beautiful it is here! We're still working on new (old) furniture, but the kids' bedrooms are done, thanks to Ikea, and the family room/school room is mostly finished as well. We found a great Danish modern dining table that will seat up to twelve people (!) - and are now waiting on a set of chairs to materialize. Sadly it does not match my very traditional-looking china hutch, but Danish modern is the look I was orginally after, so that's what we got. I've been scouring thrift stores and vintage stores almost daily to find the perfect furnishings, plus all of the little extras (like pinch pleat drapes for all our windows) and that has been both thrilling and frustrating. Fortunately, the house has tons of storage space (closets everywhere!) and for the first time ever, we all "fit" without being crowded for space.

    A corner of the dining room