Wednesday, September 30, 2015


People still ask me why we decided to live on the road.  Here's my attempt at an answer:

We chose this lifestyle because we wanted to have fun together and wished to spend as much time as possible enjoying nature. Our backyard constantly changes and only a small amount of time is necessary to keep our little place clean and tidy, so we have more time to play together!

I remember sitting with JF one night in front of the woodstove at our farm house and asking him what his best childhood memories were. As he turned the question to me, I realized that we both had very vibrant memories of the time we spent traveling and/or camping with our families. We simply decided to create a life that would provide us with tons and tons more memories of connecting together in the wild.

:: Morning lesson. David reading outside with his mom. I wish I had taken a picture of Ellie reading in a kayak on the lake. ::
:: Feeding their soul and their body: Okanagan blue grapes, almonds, organic dried apricots and figs dipped in tahini. :: 
:: Going rock climbing in the afternoon. Much more fun than a phys ed. class in my opinion. ::
:: Botany lesson ::
:: Our friend Marty gave the girls a great lesson on the blood moon eclipse on top of a cliff we had climbed to watch it. Learning from other interesting adults is so important. ::

We want to give our girls the gift of time. The time to live, to listen to themselves, to find out who they truly are and what makes them feel alive and happy and connected to their essence far from the colossal influence of the majority, of mainstream society. We want to offer them a childhood away from the stress, from the life that goes too fast. We want to offer them parents who are truly present, relax and available, but above all, we want to learn and discover the world with them, because this is what makes us the happiest.

What our girls learn in books is important, but what they experience living from the Yukon to the dry desert of Arizona and everywhere in between is priceless.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Grade 6 - Roman history - Week 1 (The Founding of Rome)

All the ressources I am using for this block are listed here, under Roman History. It will be a five week block lesson.

Day 1 - I retold the story of the Trojan war to the girls (since last year history study finished with the Trojan war and Alexander the Great) and then told them a brief version of the Aeneid. You could use the book In Search of a Homeland or like me, create a resume from The Aeneid for Boys and Girls that you can access for free here.

I then read Chapter 3 from Charles Kovacs' Ancient Rome book and the girls wrote about it in their Main Lesson Book (MLB):

Day 2 - I told the girls the Story of Remus and Romulus (Kovacs, Chap. 4) and they wrote and draw this in their MLB:

Day 3 - I read Chap. 5 in Kovacs book and the girls draw the Seven hills of Rome in their MLB and wrote a resume about it:

Day 4 - I recitated the poem O Roma (in lating) to the girls, translated it for them so they could understand it (I'm sure glad I did 4 latin classes in College! Reading this poem reminded me so much of going to mass when I lived in Italy...). Then, they copied it on their MLB and we practice memorizing it together (we will work on this for the next week until they can recitate it easily).

Day 5 - The girls did a beautiful cover page for their MLB

Math : We continued the Key to Decimals Workbook 2.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

On skills, time and quiet

In a world of busy and fast-pace everything, most of us relish quiet and time. If there is only one thing that I wish my girls will feel grateful for when they grow up, it's the time we tried to give them to be who they are. Even as homeschoolers, it's easy to overschedule our kids (but they love it! *It* being, the dance classes, the soccer team meets, the guitar lessons...). And we become the family taxi driver, believing firmly that this is in the best interest of our children...

We want to give them the best chances. I get it. But what if giving them the best chances in life was not as much about how many instruments they can play or about enrolling them in as many activities as possible...What if by giving them some time and space to simply be, we were giving them even more important skills. The skill to dig inside them, to not rely only on outside entertainment, on adults' guidance to create something beautiful. To be happy on their own.

I also hope that by seeing us choosing to be present with them and to enjoy life, they will want that for themselves too. By enjoying nature, its quiet, its beauty and its centering effect on all of us, I hope they will want to protect it and come back to it to find their own center, their own peace.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Grade 6 - Physics - Week one (sound)

Since this week was only a 4 day week, I had planned accordingly (Monday was Labor Day).

Day 1 - We talked about what Physics is and we wrote a short description (Physics is the study of nature, in order to understand how the universe behaves. The word physics comes from the Greek word, physis, which means nature.) and created a cover page just like the one from Homeschooling Waldorf (most of this week drawings are copied from that site).

Day 2 - We talked about Acoustics and practiced different pitches with our musical instrument

Day 3 - We talked about Frequency. I told the girls the story of Pied Piper and we wrote down that verse in our MLB:

As they reached the mountain-side, 
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain-side shut fast.

Robert Browning, The Pied Piper of Hamelin: A Child’s Story

Day 4 - We talked about how sound travels differently through air, water and matter. We made a few experiments (namely, the string-and-cup telephone, and tried how different it was with shorter and longer strings). We talked about thunder and lightning (the closer together the sound and light, the closer the storm).

We almost finished our Key to Decimals Workbook 1 (that we hadn't finished from last year).

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How do I know I have what it takes to teach my children?

Honestly, there are days where I feel I don’t. Especially now that we are in the older grades. It’s not the material per se (not that I know everything by heart, but I try to study it in advance), but all that surrounds it…

When one of the girl can’t remember what 12 minus 8 is, I feel like a failure… and I don’t have it in me to summon the patience and tolerance needed to calmly go through explaining that when subtracting decimals, YOU HAVE TO LINE UP THE FREAKING POINTS!!!

So, sometimes, I feel like I bring them down instead of building them up…
The tough part is this: it is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.

And this, my friend, is a big burden to bear. And some days, it feels too heavy to be carried by one persone only. I completely understand why a lot of parents *put their children back in school* at this point. It’s challenging. I feel raw, vulnerable, naked in front of them. You know that mirror that young children put in your face when they start pushing your buttons at 2? When they get to the pre-teen years, they start looking into it with you and pointing at all the ugly stuff they see… and you can’t ignore it.

If there is one thing that this journey is teaching me is that there is no immunity against our struggles, that growing up is hard and lonely… There are days when I mourn the girl that thought that finding her place in the world would keep her from the suffering, from the hardships, from the doubts… But growing up is realizing that there is no such thing as finding your place in the world. You have to find that place inside you. And to keep coming back to it. Over. And over. And over.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

So how many hours a day?

The great thing about homeschooling is that you can pack all the learning goodness in 3-4 hours a day! And you don't have to learn anything else for the rest of the day! Of course, I am kidding! You know we don't believe in separating learning from living and even if we now have more formal sit down periods of school-like learning, we are still life learners. The girls love our mornings of learning together. We are usually done by lunch time and we have our afternoons to do lots of fun stuff, usually outdoors when the weather allows it. Have a look!

The other day, we found some fish heads, guts and tails left behind in the shallow water by the dock and jumped on this opportunity to do some dissection to learn fish anatomy. It was super interesting!

 The kids love to create very elaborate plays with their friends. They write a script (they have a narrator), design their costumes and practice sometimes for days before showing it to us.

On cold or rainy days, the girls write, draw, craft, play board games, sew or knit in the comfort of the bus.

 We go mushroom hunting or berry picking when in season.
  We bike, we hike, we rock climb.
And we even teach them some Volkswagen mechanics!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Weekly planning for 6th Grade

In the Year Planning post, I shared which main lesson (ML) will be covered for each week. However, everyday, after the ML, we do some maths and French/English practice. Since I like to keep things fun and varied, everyday is something different. Here's how our days look like during the week.

Everyday, after breakfast, the girls take care of their personal hygiene (wash face, teeth, check nails, take supplements) and they take care of one of the following things (rotating each day):

-Walk the dog
-Make beds and clean bedside tables
-Put dirty clothes in the hamper and sweep the bus

Then, it looks like this:


Main Lesson
Key to math books
Mathilde reads to me in French while M+A each make a Perplexors
They each do 2 pages in their Futés book
Reflex (math program) on the computer, as soon as we will get unlimited data (in the States)


Main Lesson
Key to math books
Mathilde writes a recipe in English while M+A journal
They each do 2 pages in the Grammaire book


Main Lesson
Key to math books
Mathilde works in her Zapp book while M+A do a dictation with me
Mathilde does a dictation with me while M+A work in their Zapp book


Main Lesson
Key to math books
Mathilde reads to me in English while M+A do a Math Mystery together
They each do 2 pages in Toute ma 6e Année


Main Lesson
Key to math books
They write a letter to the person of their choice
They each do 2 pages in Express

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Week by week plan for 6th Grade Waldorf homeschooling

Well, hello, hello! Bonjour!

I never thought I would get back here to talk to you about homeschooling... but life is full of surprises! After working pretty hard to put together a solid Waldorf 6th grade curriculum for my girls, I felt like if it could help some families (and save some parents some time!), it was worth sharing!

First, let me say that this very blog was started in 2008 to help families who wanted to homeschool following Steiner's philosophy (Waldorf). It took many tangents throughout the years and I decided to close it completely last year, when we moved into our bus and hit the road (I moved to a Squarespace platform). I didn't really want to talk about educational choices since they were constantly changing with our children's needs. Mostly, the girls have asked to "do school" since we came back from our first year-long trip in 2012-2013, so we loosely followed Donna Simmons's 4th and 5th grade curriculums (and supplemented with this great blog, my friend Stephanie's Main Lesson Books and blog and Pinterest boards).

We have decided to keep going with grade 6 this year since the girls love doing school (yes, truly!) and because, for personal reasons, we want them to be able to reintegrate the school system at any point from now on if need be. Since a good plan is key to successful (and fun!) homeschooling (and since I am good at planning and like it!), I wanted to share the work I did with you.

I did 4th and 5th grade mostly in French (that meant finding close to equivalent books in French, which is hard and time consuming since you have to adjust the curriculum accordingly and end up losing the flow...). It's impossible to find something that comes even close to D'Aulaires' Norse Myths or Greek Myths books in French unfortunately...). So this year,  6th grade will be bilingual. I will write the posts in English, but feel free to ask questions in French in the comments.

Maybe one day I will create posts on my detailed plan for 4th and 5th grades (all our Main Lesson Books are in Quebec and the Yukon now, not in the bus with us).

Of course, I will continue to write about our (non-school related) adventures on our main blog Road it up.

Here are the resources I worked with for this year's plan :
Donna Simmons 6th grade Rough Guide
Melissa Nielsen's 6th Grade Curriculum (that I do not recommend... I barely used it, did not like it)
Homeschooling Waldorf Website (I got A LOT from this wonderful site)
Pinterest (all of my 6th Grade Boards)

So here's the yearly plan for Grade 6:

1 week of Physics (sound)
5 weeks of Roman History (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 and 5)
1 week of Physics (light)
4 weeks of Geometry (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4)
1 week of Physics (heat)
3 weeks of Europe Geography (Week 1, Week 2, Week 3)
2 weeks of Business Maths
2 weeks of French Literature/Poetry
2 weeks of Geology (Week 1, Week 2)
2 weeks of Maths (Percents)
2 weeks of Astronomy (Week 1, Week 2)

And here's a list of all the books I needed for Grade 6 (by subject):

Roman History:
Donna Simmons Roman History Bundle (that includes Charles' Kovacs Ancient Rome book)
In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid
Augustus Caesar's World
City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction

Making Math Meaningful: A Middle School Math Curriculum for Teachers and Parents
String, Straight-edge and Shadow
Compass Drawing
Key to Geometry Workbook 1 and 2
Key to Fractions Workbook 3 and 4
Key to Decimals Workbook 2 and 3
Key to Percents Workbook 1 to 3
Math Mysteries
Perplexors (I get each girl one of those, Level A, B and C)

Geology and Astronomy
Sky Phenomena
The Constellations: Stars and Stories

Please keep in mind that we live in a bus and space really is a concern, so I went for the bare essentials. If you have access to a library, you can supplement with many more books.

And don't hesitate to share your favorite resources with me!

I have lots of ressources posted for Waldorf Grade 1 and 2 on this blog, starting here (in French).