Handwriting with Heidi (and other things)

We started the week with snow followed by warm temperatures.  Only one day of fun playing in what quickly melted.  I am grateful for warmth and am really eager for spring.  We are resuming our goat walks, especially now that Robin is alone.  We don’t have plans for him to join our girls, but are working to find him a companion.  In the meantime, he is getting lots of attention and seems to be doing well.

We are definitely not moving to the farm.  We learned over the weekend that it is under contract now.  I am very much okay with that.  I had been praying for either a closed or a very obvious open door.  I am excited for all we have going on here on our six (soon to be 12, but more about that later) acres.  As temperatures warm up and we can pack away all the winter coats and clothing, maybe the laundry in our little house will stop erupting from the downstairs bath.  I will resume my ongoing efforts to make living in a small house with a large family a happy thing, not just a tolerable situation.  It’s not always ideal, but we can do it for a while longer if that is what is meant to be.

Keats turned thirteen last week, and Beatrix lost a top tooth.  These people are growing up.  Keats won’t tolerate photographs, but those are his hands holding the little bird (that hit the window, but recovered), and I got a blurry shot of him through the window.

I’ve had some emails lately about homeschooling and how we do it.  I’ve written a good bit about that over the years, and you can find a list of homeschooling posts here.  I think that most questions are directed towards the early years, and I have definitely written about that.  And then more on just how do we do it in the midst of all that comprises busy family life.  I’m not a big schedule person, and I am not highly organized, so I am afraid I don’t have any great advice.  I provide my children with a learning environment, we don’t have electronics such as video games, and we limit watching videos on the computer (though I resort to that more than I’d like in the winter months when little boys are going wild!) My older children (Seth, Gabe, and Keats) are pretty independent outside of math for a couple of them, and with my younger ones (Larkspur and Beatrix) I do my best to get through math and reading four days/week.  I am not a big fan of pushing academics before age 7 or 8, so don’t stress too much over kids who are resistant before that time.

I did decide that I wanted to focus more on handwriting with Larkspur and Beatrix this year, and wasn’t too happy with how that was going until we started a new bedtime routine.  Now they happily work on their handwriting while I read aloud.  We’re currently reading Heidi, so in the evening I call out, “Time for handwriting and Heidi!” They are pretty happy to settle down with their pencils and paper to work and listen.  Sometimes being flexible on timing and being a little creative is what is necessary to make a homeschooling chore something that is actually looked forward to!

I’ve been feeling motivated to improve my own handwriting (it’s pretty terrible.)  Each night after the girls are tucked in, I spend about ten minutes on my own cursive.

Here’s a list of our current handwriting materials (and a few other materials pictured in this post):  Larkspur is working on her cursive using Pictures in Cursive.  I recommend it.  We print extra pages and include some lined paper for extra practice.  Beatrix is using Memoria Press’s second copybook.  We use triangular pencils and grips for those struggling to hold the pencil correctly. I am studying Spencerian Penmanship, currently working through book one.  It feels kind of fancy.  Here’s a movable alphabet similar to the one we have (currently using it with Beatrix because it helps her with her All About Reading lessons) and the little blocks with pictures on them are called Varialand. We’ve had them for years, and I love them.

p.s.  Gabe built that little house.  He’s our engineer, always building something from motorized paper airplanes to houses.

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  1. I love the Handwriting and Heidi idea!

  2. I loved your blog on writing. My writing is awful. Marilyn my twin sister’s handwriting is very nice. She had a teacher in 6th grade that made the class practice their handwriting every day. If your writing was not up to her standards she would let you know it. If you didn’t have the letters just so she failed you.

  3. I am learning Spencerian handwriting too!! I love that exercise book. Are you practicing with dip pens too?

  4. You know, when I haven’t peeked at your blog in a while, I go back and read EVERY SINGLE POST that I missed. Not in a creepy way! In a totally uplifted, heartened, you-love-life-even-when-it’s-crazy-difficult way…. and your big heart and artist’s eye comes through it all—the chaos, the home school, the occasional indoor goat, it all makes a picture of a life very worth living! Courage my dear!

  5. sometimes my handwriting is sloppy and sometimes it’s nice. I guess it depends on my mood? love the snowy photos and I’m glad your at peace with the farm.

  6. Looks like you found a version of Heidi that you like better. The cover looks familiar on that one, it must have been on my bookshelf as a child. My grandmother worked at the book press in town and she used to bring us home rejects. I think being that she lived during the depression she couldn’t stand to see anything thrown away, even if it meant sneaking books home to spare them from the shredder. Gee, where did that story come from? :o) Anyway, your girls are so blessed, I don’t remember my mother ever reading to me. I would have loved it, and thankfully my children will have memories of me reading to them.

  7. I’ve been teaching my 6 yo hand writing and thinking about how mine is horrible. You’ve inspired me. I think he just might like school better if he knows mommy is practicing, too. Do you like the digital copy of Pictures in Cursive? Can you then print out as many practice sheets for multiple children?

    • I have purchased both digital and print. The print books are much prettier (I don’t have a color printer), but it is definitely more economical to buy the digital and print for multiple kids!

  8. anniekitching says:

    I have always loved penmanship and have that very Spencerian handwriting book that you photographed. As a little girl I practiced a Victorian era form of cursive and it was the only time – ever – that I can remember being defiant in school. I refused to use the Palmer Method because it was ugly. I was all ready to be sent to the principal’s office when I made my stand. As an adult I can certainly see why the teacher didn’t make a “thing” of it.

    I avoided reading Heidi for years, but it was one of my favorite read-aloud books since I’d never read it as a little girl.

    As a teacher I combined handwriting practice with reading aloud and the kids said it was their favorite part of their day.

  9. Ahhh, penmanship! I also love working on my own penmanship, inspired by my dear Granny who had remarkable skills with pen and paper. I appreciate your links as it an underrated skill that I encourage with my oldest. We also love Varialand and have used it so much over the years. And that Heidi edition is the same as mine from my childhood ~ a favourite! I even named my Nubian doeling after her…she will become our nanny goat this spring when she has kids. Just last night we found an animated series of Heidi on Netflix (we also watch a little during the long winter months)…beautiful animation and the content is okay…a little bullying here and there, but all in all, a good show. I hope you find a buddy for your little buck…they sure do like company!
    xo Jules

  10. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KEATS! Too bad he is camera-shy. Once again, your photos are just superb. Sorry to hear that the farm deal fell apart. Guess it wasn’t to be. My generation has a saying: “Bloom where you are planted” so, guess that will work out for you for now with the acquisition of another six acres. So glad to see the information on Penmanship. I think our schools have stopped teaching Cursive writing in favor of teaching typing skills for all of the digital equipment that is in use today. I think that is a big mistake. Let Gabe know that he did a wonderful job on the little house. Once again, thanks for being here and letting us in on slice of your family and life.

    Richard in Charlotte, NC

  11. Guess who I was named after!? Excited to hear about your new acreage and all your plans! Good job on the shed!

  12. What’s the name of the blue Latin book on the table with the young ones immersed in a reading/spelling lesson?
    Your blog is so beautiful along with you and your family! Thanks for sharing glimpses of your life!

  13. We just finished Heidi and it totally made me want goats! Also inspired my 5yo to draw lots of pictures of children in wheel chairs 😉

    Thank you for the handwriting recommendation! My oldest girl has been BEGGING to learn cursive but… She’s 5. She mostly tags along with all of the 6yo’s school (which is really just reading lots of books with the occasional workbook because he’s obsessed with math), but now she really wants to do EVERYTHING he’s been doing!

  14. Sorry about the farm, but that’s great that you are getting more land! Looks like Gabe might be the next builder of beautiful goat barns and chicken coops! BTW, loved the pictures in a previous post of the coop under construction on the old hay wagon, wish I could get my husband to build one.

  15. It’s a joy to read a post about ‘regular life’ after your sorrow with Little John. The chaotic, peaceful, regular life. You might try Bird Tape (abcbirdtape.org, though they have it at Amazon too) for the windows to help prevent the crashes. So nice that the white throat survived. Hand writing and Heidi sounds lovely, and I am using those same Spencerian books myself! Isn’t it fun and strange and wonderful? I’ve been playing around with dip pens too, and my son hopes to start making them on his new lathe. You might enjoy the video interview with Michael Sull on the IAMPETH.com website, among others. He talks about Spencer and other great penmen. I find it so fascinating to learn about the history of handwriting in this country and the everyday beauty that was penmanship in years gone by.

  16. That picture of the white throated sparrow is gorgeous. Glad to hear it survived the window strike.

  17. I think Heidi would approve 🙂 If you ever need a good audio version, try the one by Blackstone Audio; we check it out online from our library all the time–it’s great!

  18. I Love your Blog and all your pictures!
    I send you many lovely greetings from Heidis Country!
    Yvonne from Switzerland

  19. Wait a second – is that Job in the pictures with Silas? If so, how did he suddenly get so big and toddler-like? I feel like jus two posts ago he was still a baby! If that is a different child entirely, just disregard my comment ;).

    I love that little bird, and I love the house Gabe built. It looks like it was fun to make, and will probably a great place to play in/around once spring really arrives.

    I’m sorry about the farm, but you sound like you’re handling it well. I read a post on Instagram today that said something along the lines of: “You may not always get what you want, but just remember some people will never get what you have now.” 🙂

    Have a good weekend!

  20. love your posts. that bird and hands picture is lovely. how neat about Heidi and handwriting, what a perfect solution! I totally get the closure of knowing that a particular place is not your next one. Exciting about more land and will light a candle for you in your busy days.

I love to hear from you!