I first met Haley when she was a little over six years old. She was a little mite of a thing, dangling her feet from a too high chair under spotlights, sharing the stage with veteran Irish musicians. This bundle of fiddling-phenom captivated the audience’s heart at the annual Celtic Celebration. From the day she picked up the violin at age three and discovered traditional Irish music for fiddle at age five, her young musician’s life trajectory was set. 

haley onstage

She’s shared the stage in the U.S. and Ireland with some of the biggest names in Irish music, has over six All Ireland Fiddle Champion trophies, and is the current Fiddler of Dooney titleholder. Her first CD, recorded with her equally gifted brother Dylan, was released last year, and she’s working on a second one that may be out in the fall–just in time for Christmas gift giving. 


At a mere 13 years of age, she is quite accomplished–and has been homeschooled from day one.

For a few years now, every Tuesday morning of the school year, she arrives on my doorstep to share a cuppa tea with me as her literature and blogging mentor–with a bit of history studies tossed in for fun. We’ve crafted many adventures in teaching and learning . . .

homeschool with haley

Just check out some of her written works with a link to her in concert on YouTube and her CD on the Tuneful Journeys: Travels as a Young Musician blog she keeps up:


As part of our working together, we’ve collaborated on the audio book dramatization for the Fable Springs Parables books, Mother Chicken’s Eggs: Choosing to Grow into Greater Things, and Bugaboo-Bee’s Bop: Patience for the Prize. Haley interprets the stories musically using traditional Irish tune selections and even a few bits she’s composed herself. We have a great time at local gigs presenting the stories in a teaching/performance format–interacting with family audiences.


But this year, her mom and I are customizing a four year literature and composition study plan for her high school credits. I’m thrilled to be on this ride–I LOVE teaching literature! And, because Haley and I share a love for all things crafty, creative, and thrift store DIY genius, our literature studies will be totally outside-the-box arts centered, writing skills connected, and delight directed!

We're taking the artsy route to academic literary studies and creating a record of our learning! Click To Tweet

Literature Studies with Miss Kathy

I knew The Invention of Hugo Cabret would be the perfect book to introduce Haley to some of the study techniques we’d be using. It was the 2007 Caldecott winner for best children’s book illustrations. Brian Selznick’s storytelling technique of using fine art “story-boarding” images to tell portions of the story step-by-step, alongside pages of literary text moving the plot forward, is genius. Here’s an historical fiction book to enthrall all ages with:

  • Unit study potential
  • Geography study
  • Study of France
  • The science and art of “horology”
  • Victorian automatons
  • The life of a famous early film-maker and artist
  • The social and cultural effects of World War I in Europe
  • Trains
  • Clocks
  • High concept themes of living with purpose and honoring the legacy of pioneers. 

Oh! And did I mention the excellent character studies that invite in-depth word studies using Noah Websters 1828 Dictionary connected to biblical principles that we’re drawing out of this work?

The First Week I read the book aloud as Haley followed along with her copy.

Read novels aloud to model expressive delivery and word pronunciation when teaching literature. Click To Tweet

The Second Week we watched the stunning movie version, Hugo, directed by Martin Scorsese. We took notes on the parts of the movie that were most captivating and distinguished the few additions to the film that were not in the book, but properly expanded elements in the book.

The Third Week we created our Literary Journal to keep all the treasures we planned to mine from the book! 









We work to the Celtic Radio station on Pandora playing in the background–Haley knows a lot of the musicians featured there. And, we are sure to keep the tea mugs full.

Haley does the assigned work for the study each week as we delve into Setting, History, Characters, Plot, Theme and more. We discuss her work as we cut and paste the completed assignments in our books. I question her about specific topics, encouraging the Charlotte Mason technique of Narration. As we work, we develop creative ways to further study our topics and  future projects. 

Do you love to read? Have you ever thought to keep a Literary Journal with memorable elements of your literature study saved artistically between the pages? If you homeschool, this is an enriching method for collecting work completed. The finished scrapbook is a KEEPSAKE. A work of art recording your experience studying a work of art.

Using creative and crafty techniques to record your literature study exercises more than literary academics. Incorporating the fine arts and creative crafting into your studies develops critical thinking and reasoning skills, stretches the imagination, and makes a greater impact on memory retention. 

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Sharing Literature Study Scrapbooks this week with:

Pink Saturday

Literacy Musing Monday

Sitting Among Friends

Wholehearted Wednesday

A Little R & R Wednesday

Katherine’s Corner

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