Review of the Playful Pioneers homeschool curriculum

This year I used The Playful Pioneers curriculum from Peaceful Press for my 5 and 7 year old girls. Here’s what I thought:

  1. I loved the week at a glance and daily schedules–it was open and go, easy to use
  2. The curriculum was absolutely set for the right ages (K-2nd is the range recommended on the website)–both of my daughters enjoyed it.
  3. It is inexpensive– $49 but often you can get a discount (I think I caught it on sale for around $30?)
  4. It is a Charlotte Mason based approach, which includes much of which we were doing when we did Ambleside Online (Year 1)–poetry, nature study, living books, bible study, hymn singing. What I liked about it MORE than I liked about AO Y1 was that it was so gentle–the readings were age appropriate, the activities were fun, and it made education enjoyable for my young girls.

The few thing I did not like:

  1. Many of the activities were not seasonally appropriate for our middle american town–I know the writer lives in California, so they can go look for ladybugs in February, but we still had snow on the ground
  2. Some of the recipes called for unnecessarily complicated / expensive ingredients–I’d rather keep it simple!


All in all, I would absolutely recommend this curriculum for any child ages 5 – 8. We added our own Math (Math U See) and Reading (All About Reading) and did supplement with a Spanish curriculum and of course I had to add my own poetry selections too, but everything else you need is there. At the end of the year, my girls particularly loved looking at the Historical Timeline they made and we plan to finish up the rest of the Little House books over the summer.

They have another curriculum for older kids but we don’t plan on going with it next year–we are taking the plunge with Sonlight!


7 weeks out

Somehow it has been 12 weeks since we received Kit’s diagnosis. No one can prepare you for the emotions you’ll experience with a diagnosis like that–so unexpected, a random chance defect. The first few months I was convinced that she is going to die, but I’ve slowly moved to a position of hope, because I think I need to be hopeful to be able to be there for her like I will need to be when she’s born.

Planning for Kit to live has meant nesting like I nest for all my babies–long to-do lists, organizing, spring cleaning. Except the to-do lists include things like “contact the California surgeons” and “get anesthesiology your records!”.

Finally the weather has become a little warmer and we are spending more time outside, slowly finishing up our last month of homeschool. I find myself savoring these moments with the children more than ever–Kit safe inside my womb, comfortable and growing, the kids happy and playing in the yard. I’m uncomfortable and larger than I would be due to polyhydramnios, but I don’t feel impatient for these 7 weeks to fly by–I wish I could see ahead to what lies after them, but I’m happy to have these days of “normal”.

I feel less frantic now though, more peace about the situation. I know she could die, either immediately or with one of her many necessary interventions, but I’ve settled in my heart that even though this horrible defect does not seem like the best plan for Kit or for us as her family, it IS God’s plan for us, and I need to be submissive to it. Maybe that’s part of what that verse means when it says God has planned out your good works ahead of time–that we just need to keep having faith, even now.

If you pray for us, please pray that she doesn’t come until she’s due, for a safe labor and delivery, and for her to be strong when she is born.

a gift

“The appropriate response to a gift is gratitude”
-Nancy Guthrie

After my third baby, I stopped writing out a “birth plan.” I had a few things I instructed Bryan to push for–let’s keep the baby alive and healthy, try  not to c-section me, and I’d like to hold her ASAP. Oh yeah, and get me out of this hospital as soon as I can walk!

Yesterday, at my 28 week appointments for Kit, I was told the birth plan–there’s going to be more than a dozen people in there when she’s born–pediatricians, cardiologists, obs, half the hospital–we’ll hook her up to an IV of medicine right away, and I might just get to squeeze her hand before they run away with her to the CICU for tests and medicine. Then we will be there one week, maybe two, maybe a month…

I knew from the moment she was diagnosed that I wouldn’t get to hold her right after she was born, but that was still hard to hear. The way things are planned to go–this is best case scenario planned!–will be so wildly different from my other girls. No quiet cuddling in our room after delivery, no nursing right away, no hoards of family and friends coming by to visit. She’ll be born straight into emergency. Then hopefully we will find out if they think she’s got a chance to live.

Some days I feel so deeply sad about Kit, and sad that I have to carry her an entire pregnancy not knowing if she’ll live very long afterward. It can feel meaningless, even cruel.

I know though that God is not cruel. And Kit is alive right now–completely alive!–listening to her sisters giggles and shrieks, to her daddy play guitar, to my stories read aloud every night.  Her life is a gift, even if it is mostly spent hidden away in my life, and instead of despair, I need to respond in gratitude.