Teaching with Vintage Books




I LOVE vintage books! There, I said it. And if you know me at all, that wasn’t really a secret.

I could talk books all day, everyday, with anyone who’ll listen. If you’re a homeschooler, you probably feel the same way. That’s part of what drew me to the Charlotte Mason method of education. Books, books, living books!


A little peek into my ever-growing collection.

While I’m not a Charlotte Mason purist just yet, I do like to incorporate many of her methodologies into our homeschool rhythm.

One of the ways I’ve found to make our learning more interesting is to use portions of vintage books for various subjects of study.

I’ve found some great little gems over the past few years at local used bookstores, library sales, Goodwill, and on Etsy or Thrift Books.


New World Speller & Animals of the Sea and Shore

Because my affinity for vintage books is quite strong, I could easily spend our entire homeschool budget on them. Since I can’t really do that, I’ve created a little mental checklist that must be met before a vintage book purchase.

  • Must be $10 or under
  • Must be something I can use for multiple subjects
  • Must be something that covers multiple grades or levels
  • Must be something I can use for several years with both kids

from Arithmetic Can Be Fun by Munro Leaf

Following this criteria allows me to practice self-control when it comes to book buying and has helped me curate a very useful and meaningful little home library of vintage books.

When buying books online, it’s often a guessing game about the condition of the book, so anytime I’ve been curious about a book on Etsy, I’ve found that sellers are very willing to send other pictures if you ask. I’ve also utilized Internet Archive any time I’ve wanted to see all the pages inside a book before I purchase.


from Simple Machines and How They Work

We all know vintage books have been loved on for many years, but I don’t let a slightly worn page or loose binding deter me from purchasing if the information and illustrations are still worth using.

If you don’t mind reading a book from a device, many vintage books are also public domain online and available through google books. I’m an actual-book-in-the-hand type gal, but I could see using vintage books on a device for oral arithmetic or reading poetry.

If you’re a vintage book lover and want to use them in your homeschool, I’d encourage you to have fun with it and always be on the hunt for books that you and your children will both love using.

Illustrations and vocabulary were so different during the early 1900’s to the 1960’s, that I’ve observed that both my children are intrigued any time I pull out a vintage book for math or read one the vintage picture books I’ve saved for them.

If you’d like to see how we use vintage books with our current subjects, take a look at the video below.

If any of you have any tips and tricks for finding rare vintage books, I’d love to hear from you. Until then, have a fantastic week and happy book hunting!


Winner of the Preschool Math at Home Giveaway

After compiling all the entries from the blog comments, Instagram, and Facebook and having my adorable helper draw a name at random, we’re pleased to announce the winner of the Preschool Math at Home Giveaway is…

@domesticintrigues from Instagram

Congratulations! And thank you to all who entered!

Bird Watching with Small Children



Bird watching can be both fun and educational. 

As I mentioned in my post on our goals for our children’s education, we are avid bird watchers at our house. Last year, I put up this simple bird feeder so we could watch birds eat while we had breakfast.


Don’t worry, I’m refilling it this afternoon. 

We all enjoyed it so much, that I put another one up in the front yard, so we could watch from the living room as well. I soon noticed Finn would say, “Oh, there’s a tufted titmouse,” or “Hey, Mama, there’s a cardinal in the front yard.”

And every time we’d see a bird that was unfamiliar, we’d either look it up in our Nature Anatomy book or look online. Soon, we’d become so familiar with the birds that visited our feeders that even Lydia (who was 2.5 at the time) could tell the difference between a male and female cardinal.


For Finn’s birthday, we requested these Sibley Backyard Birding cards which have come in handy for quick identification when we spot a new bird. 

I also bought the kids a Safari Ltd. Toob of backyard birds and a couple of nests from Michael’s.


We love birds so much, we even use fake eggs for counters for math. 

I also began buying bird seed specifically for particular types of birds so that we’d begin to see more of a variety each day.

So far we’ve spotted and can now identify:

Cardinals (Both kids can tell the difference between male and female)

Blue Jays

Tufted Titmouse (We’ve observed these are very territorial birds and will not share the feeder.)


Robins (Lydia’s favorite)



Nuthatches (my favorite)

House Finches (We’ve noticed they are quite social with their own kind and will often allow other kinds of birds to share the feeder, but female cardinals will not share the space with them.)

Carolina Wrens (We actually watched one sing it’s little heart out on the rail of our porch one day.)

Chipping Sparrows


Brown-headed Cowbirds- We’ve learned these little home wreckers lay their eggs in other birds’ nests until their babies hatch, then they take them over.

Downy Woodpeckers

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers

Finally, we just added Gold Finches to our list.

And all of these were spotted right outside our window!


Found this great book at a thrift store last year. Nice large pictures of all kinds of birds. 

I downloaded the free Merlin ID bird identification app as well because Lydia always asks to hear the bird that we’re watching.


This app allows you to look up birds by name, hear their calls, or even enter a description and help you identify unfamiliar birds you spot. 


You may be thinking, what can we really learn from birds?

I have a few reasons why I believe it’s especially beneficial to observe and study birds:

  • builds a love of nature
  • hones the skill of observation
  • it’s screen-free entertainment
  • thinking of sweet little animals seems to have a calming effect on children
  • helps children learn to spot differences and similarities between similar breeds of various animals
  • piques an early interest in the natural world and how things work
  • allows children to observe social behavior that is quite similar to that of human beings (sociology with feathers, if you will)
  • Plus, it’s just so fun!


If you’d like to take up this simple, yet impactful hobby with your children but aren’t sure where to start, below are a few tips:

  1. Start young. Even a child of 2 or 3 can enjoy watching birds as they eat or interact together.
  2. Hang up a simple feeder in your yard within good view from a common area window.
  3. Buy seed for the specific bird you’d like to see. There are so many varieties of bird seed and most tell you which birds they’re most appealing to.
  4. Make it fun. Remark aloud to yourself every time you notice a bird at the feeder. (“Oh, look, it’s a nuthatch.” “What a pretty cardinal! Look how bright orange his beak is!”)
  5. Optional, but fun: If you find an old bird’s nest, let your children look over it in depth and make observations about how it was built. Just a tip, you may want to freeze the nest first to rid it of any bird mites that may have housed themselves there.
  6. Fight the urge to turn the act of observing birds for fun into an identification quiz or to go over the top by trying to make your kids like birds or bird watching. If they aren’t interested at first, just enjoy the birds aloud and eventually the draw of an endlessly fascinating creature will get them.


I hope this has been helpful to you if you’re just starting to bird watch with your children or has at least encouraged you to try it with your kids. For our family, it’s become a favorite pastime and brings joy throughout our day.


A little birdy told me that…

I will announce the winner of the Preschool Math at Home giveaway tomorrow afternoon, so check back here or on Instagram or Facebook. There’s still time to enter if you haven’t done so already. Details HERE.

Best of luck and Happy Birding!


Bird Watching with Small Children first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

The Goal of Our Instruction


“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5

I’m a worrier by nature and a recovering Type A personality, so oftentimes the thought that I’m responsible for my children’s education can overwhelm or paralyze me. I also suffer from shiny curriculum syndrome, i.e. if we just used this program or that method, they’ll be ahead of their peers or they’ll learn faster or they’ll cure cancer or *insert something amazing here*.

I’m also a very practical person, so spending loads of money on multiple programs or switching methods every few weeks isn’t really going to work for us. I had to find a way to set intentions for our homeschooling early on to help guide the educational decisions I’d be making along the way.

I’ve found the best way to do this is to write down goals for each subject area and revisit those goals before the purchase of any curriculum or before switching the method of teaching for the subjects. I also try not to plan too far in advance because I know how quickly children develop new skills so I don’t want a ton of redundant programs or books.

I’m sharing these goals with you today in hopes that it will inspire you to create your own set of goals for your homeschool and that it encourages you not to stress or worry about how to educate your children.

I’ve broken it down by main subjects and included both the goal and the plan of execution for each goal at this point in time. Obviously, some of these goals will have things added to the action steps each year, but the primary goals (which are actually quite simple) will remain the same.

Goals by Subject:

Bible Goals: That they will crave God’s Word and look to it for comfort, wisdom, and instruction as they grow up. 


As I’ve shared before, there is nothing more important to us than our children’s salvation. Therefore, daily Bible reading is a non-negotiable. We read the Bible every night with the kids. Right now, we’re reading through The One Year Bible Storybook by Virginia Muir, but we also love the The Jesus Storybook Bible and the My Favorite Bible by Rondi DeBoer.

Because we don’t want them to become apathetic to the Bible, we don’t shove it down their throats or read too much of it. We don’t even have it as part of our homeschool day, except for a little Scripture memorization. The main goal here is to get the stories from the Bible in their heads and then eventually we will move towards using the Bible as instruction for our daily decisions by reading through the Psalms, Proverbs, and Paul’s letters to the churches.

Reading & Writing Goals: That they them become fluent readers who can comprehend what they read and to teach them how to communicate articulately and effectively via the written word. 


Finn is currently using C & D of these workbooks from the Rod and Staff ABC series.

Both kids love to be read to, but Finn in particular has always enjoyed sitting in my lap and hearing a story. And I mean, like, throws toys out of his hands and runs over to the couch to read if I get out a book. That being said, he’s not showing a ton of interest in reading himself (and who can blame him). Early reading is a lot of work for little people, so until he is 6, we are just focusing on letter/letter sound recognition and some early decoding. I read aloud to them from both storybooks and chapter books and fun is had by all.

We also use the Rod and Staff ABC series for a solid foundation in letter sounds, recognition, and writing the letters. All three of us love these simple, but effective workbooks and they can be adapted very easily into a “living books” style of teaching.


Examining the opossum from Nature Anatomy by Julia Roth.

Math Goals: That they both have a strong number sense and a very firm foundation in all the math procedures required to maintain daily life activities.


Right now, we’re using Counting with Numbers from Rod and Staff, Preschool Math at Home (for conceptual math) and just the first couple pages New Elementary Arithmetic by Wentworth.

You’ll notice we have more resources for math than any other subject, but it’s only because I don’t feel I have a strong foundation in math either as I mentioned here.

We do a page or two in the Counting with Numbers workbook every day and then mix in hands-on math from both Preschool Math at Home by Kate Snow (enter here to win your own copy of this book) and oral math problems from a copy of New Elementary Arithmetic (1907) as our day allows. Math instruction is primarily for Finn, but Lydia always participates as much as she is able.

Science Goals: That they will have a firm understanding and appreciation of how things work and find pleasure and excitement in observing everything in nature.


Rainbow water beads from The Homegrown Preschooler.


No mess salt tray play in the bathtub.


Lots and lots


And lots of building!

We also greatly enjoy bird watching and identification at the moment, so much of the day’s pauses are to observe birds at the feeder and talk about what they’re doing. We also get outside for long periods of time when the weather and seasonal pollen allow.


We’ll call this tree climbing 101.

History & Geography Goals: That they have a broad understanding of the history of the world, even the not-so-pleasant parts and that they can see and understand multiple perspectives of events that have taken place in the past.


Old Salem

At the moment, we read lots of living picture books about things that have taken place in the past. We’ve listened to the entirety of Little House in the Big Woods on audiobook and talked a lot about how things used to be back then. Next, year we’ll start American History because it makes sense to me to start in your country of origin and move outward. A little bit of geography will come into play next year as well.

Ryan and I both love history so the kids are already used to visiting local historical sites and learning more about how things were done in the past. I don’t foresee that changing any time soon.

Art & Music Goals: That they gain an appreciation for and take pleasure in the created beauty of art and music and in creating their own. 


An original from Mama entitled “Grocery List” ha ha

We listen to all types of music around the house, including classical and instrumental, but Lydia can also belt out a pretty good rendition of Tell Me You Love Me by Demi Lovato, so you can see that we have a wide variety of musical tastes in the house.

Finn is constantly humming or singing around the house and Lydia makes up little songs and performs them on occasion. Both have their own ukelele, but we haven’t started taking lessons just yet. There’s plenty of time for that in the future.

We don’t do anything for art officially, but both kids love Do A Dot Markers, watercolors, colored pencils, and Play Doh to create with and explore. Next year, we’ll add Picture Study to our weekly schedule, but right now I just keep them stocked in picture books with beautiful illustrations and we talk about what we enjoy about the illustrations as the mood strikes.

And there you have it…These are the simple, straightforward goals that I use to assess any changes we make to our daily homeschool rhythm and/or course of study.

I would love to hear from you if you have a list of goals for your children as they grow and learn at home. It’s always interesting to see what other people are using with their families so share in the comments below.

Don’t forget to enter the Preschool Math at Home Giveaway, it ends March 14th. I’ll announce the winner here on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook on March 15th. 


“The Goal of Our Instruction” originally appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog. 

Giveaway: Preschool Math at Home


Our favorite math curriculum

Math has never been my strong suit. I could usually get to the right answer when I was working through a math problem in school, but I was never quite sure how I got there.

And that’s exactly what drew me to Kate Snow’s Preschool Math at Home. I stumbled upon this book while searching for math for preschoolers on youtube. After watching Kate perform several of the lessons with a 5 year old, I decided to purchase the book and give it a try. You can read my review here or watch a sample lesson here.


Bunny Math

We’ve been using this curriculum for the past year and have really been loving it. If you follow a Charlotte Mason or living ideas method for homeschooling, this book definitely fits into the category of living math. Each of the lessons are very practical, yet fun and uses items you most likely already have around the house. This is by no means a workbook, but a guide for you the parent as you build up your child’s counting skills and sense of numbers and quantities.


Double checking…

We have loved learning math this way so much, that I’ve decided to share the love and give away an extra copy of Preschool Math at Home to one of you lovely readers. I feel certain any teacher of 4-5 year olds will find this curriculum the most fun, joy-filled way to build a strong foundation in number sense and counting for their children.

Entering is super simple. Just comment below, comment on this post on Instagram or Facebook, or share on social media and you’re entered. Enter as many times as you like. Each comment, share, or tag counts as one separate entry.

Best of luck! Winner announced on March 14th.


This giveaway is NOT sponsored in any way by Kate Snow or any social media platform.  All the opinions offered on this blog are my own and I was not compensated in any way for my honest review.

Valentine’s Day Freebie


Happy Valentine’s Day! 

As I mentioned in my February goals post, I love Valentine’s Day. In fact, I’ll be dangerous and say it’s my favorite holiday.

So, I was pretty excited when education.com contacted me and asked if I wanted to share a Valentine’s themed freebie on my blog.

For years, when I was teaching public school, education.com was my go-to for themed activities when I just needed a little opening activity or something to enrich our current unit of study.

Today, I’m sharing with you lovely readers this adorable Valentine’s Day maze. Finn loves mazes and I can see using this with him to not only trace the maze with his finger or crayon, but I could see using candy hearts to trace the path. For older children, you could turn this into an estimating activity as well. As in, “How many candy hearts will it take to reach the end of the maze?”. Just a couple of ideas there for you.

I also wanted to mention that today they are having a Valentine’s Sale on their Premium Membership, so check that out as well.

Snuggle up to your little ones with this sweet Valentine’s Day maze worksheet. For more learning fun, go to Education.com!


Happy Valentine’s Day!


This post was sponsored by education.com. However, all statements are my own thoughts and opinions. For all sponsorship inquiries, please email me at littlepapercrown@gmail.com.




#goals vol. 1


Since tomorrow is the beginning of a new month, I decided I’d start a monthly series called “#goals”. I thought it may help to keep me motivated to work toward the goals I set for myself each month (and how they tie into my Word for the Year) as well as offer a little bit of accountability.

You can see my January goals in more detail HERE, but the basic list was as follows:

  • Participate in the Rest Retreat on Homesong blog. done. 
  • Read the January chapter of The Life-giving Home by Sally Clarkson. done.
  • Finish Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors. done.
  • Roll beeswax candles with the kids. done.
  • Finish For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaffer Macauley. two chapters left.
  • Make Waldorf window stars with the kids. got distracted by pretty Valentine’s decorations and did those instead. #sorrynotsorry
  • Spin wool on a spindle to make yarn. moving to February’s goals.

We had a lot more sickness in January than I expected and I run a small, local coffee roasting business out of my home, so I think I overscheduled myself just a smidge. However, I’m not dismayed that I didn’t check off every goal this month, because the whole point was to set goals that provided nourishment for my soul. I got to the ones that mattered most to me.


I decorated for Valentine’s a bit early.  

February Goals:

Decorate for Valentine’s Day. 

Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, hands down. It always has been, even when I was single. I think there’s something about looking at all those pretty pink and red hearts and sentiments of love during a still dreary part of winter that just invigorates my spirit. (Plus, let’s not forget that it’s the official time of year for Little Debbie Fancy Cakes! Been there, ate those already.)

This is the first year that I’ve actually made a point to decorate for Valentine’s and I have a bit of a head start as you can see above, but I have more to come!


A book of Vintage Valentines. 

Make Valentines with the Kids. 

I found this booklet of vintage punch-out Valentines on Amazon. I want to sit down with the kids and think of all our loved ones, near and far and send special Valentines to them…in the actual mail. Some of the Valentines in this pack are so stinkin’ cute, I may just use them for extra decoration.


reading list & handicraft

Read the remainder of For the Children’s Sake & the February chapter of Life-giving Home.

I’m keeping the reading light this month because I want to focus a lot of my energy on doing fun Valentine’s things with my kiddos. They are two of my most favorite people in all the world and I want have the brain space to be really present with them this month as we create and celebrate L-O-V-E!

Spin at least half of my pile of wool into yarn. (It’s more than what’s pictured.)

And that’s it for February goals!

So, what would you like to accomplish this coming month? What books are you reading, what podcasts are you enjoying, and what activities are on your to do list this February?


The “#goals” series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.