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How We Use the Usborne Not Your Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus for Homeschool

Relevance: 41%      Posted on: August 13, 2016

How We Use the Usborne Not Your Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus for Homeschool

I'm such a sucker for books and I feel like I fall in love with most of the books we have. I knew I wanted the Usborne Not Your Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus for homeschool, but once it arrived, I realized I had bigger plans than just pulling it out occasionally. Before I tell you how we will be using it, I have to tell you about it because it is so awesome.

Best Books for Your Aspiring Writer

Relevance: 41%      Posted on: March 17, 2017

Best Books for Your Aspiring Writer

Do you have an aspiring writer or story teller? I do and I love having fun with them as I encourage it. Check out this list of the best books for your aspiring writer.

Day 16 #30things My 5 Greatest Accomplishments

Relevance: 40%      Posted on: January 17, 2013

Day 16 #30things My 5 Greatest Accomplishments

My 5 Greatest Accomplishments.  When I sit down to type this.  I can't think of a thing.  1.  My kids.  They are still works in progress and I can't wait to see who I helped to mold.2.  My college degree.  I love having them.  I worked very hard for them and spent many sleepless nights to get them.3.  The scrapbooks I have actually finished.  Someday, I will actually start both of my kids' books.4.  Selling my very first house as a real estate agent.  I worked so hard on that one and wasn't quite sure what I was doing yet.  I was so proud of it.  5.  My blog.  Did you think I would forget to add that in?  I haven't had my blog that long...not quite a year that I have actually been blogging regularly.  Those are the 5 that I can think of.  I imagine that there are bigger accomplishments, but I honestly can't think of anything else right now.  What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?  Or even one of them, come on, spill the beans. 

Books We Love: February Book List

Relevance: 40%      Posted on: March 7, 2019

Books We Love:  February Book List

*Disclosure:  Affiliate links may be included in this post.* Balto of the Blue Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Book Three: The Great Escape by M. J. Thomas Meet Addy {American Girl} by Connie Porter So Tall Within - Sojourner Truth's Long Walk Toward Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Book Four Journey to Jericho by M. J. Thomas Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser Bear Grylls Adventures The River Challenge by Bear Grylls Monkeys by Lucy Bowman How About a Kiss For Me? by Todd Tarpley The Very Stuffed Turkey by Katharine Kenah Elephants by James Maclaine Cars Thunder and Lightning by Katherine Emmons Harry the Homeless Puppy by Holly Webb The Clown of God by Tomie DePaola Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright Lizards by James McLaine   Every month when I write these, I feel like we haven't read very much except that I know we have read a lot.  Many books day after day and lots of chapter books.

Fun, educational one on one time with your kid

Relevance: 40%      Posted on: December 10, 2013

Fun, educational one on one time with your kid

While my kids have plenty of toys to play with, I mean it.  But getting Maggie to sit down and "play" something with me isn't always easy, especially if I am aiming for some one on one time while her brother is sleeping{I use the term sleeping loosely}.   I'm a huge fan of educational toys and was happy to get the chance to review a few things from Educational Insights. We were sent the Alphabet Bean Bags {review here} and Hot Dots Jr. book set with the "Ace" the talking teaching dog pen. I knew right away that she would love the set of 4 Hot Dots Jr. books and the talking dog pen.  We can read the books, and do the activities together.  Whether it's counting objects, rhyming, finding a certain color or shape, she loves using the pen to find the right {or wrong} things.  And, Ace the dogs eyes light up when he touches the page.  Green for right answers or red for wrong answers.  Not a dog lover {really?}, you can get Kat, the talking, teaching cat pen.  Plus, the volume on the pen can be adjusted up or down.  The dog makes happy dog sounds when it's a right answer, and sad dog sounds for a wrong one.  It's so much fun.  But even more fun, with the press of a button, you can change it to words.  Sorry, or Good Job!  My kids adore animals, so the animal sounds is kind of their favorite thing.   I love that the books are fun to do with your child, but can also be used independently.  The activity on each page has pictures with it that your child can identify.  For example, after the sentence explaining what to do, {find things that are green} is a green picture.  This makes it so that the books can grow with your child and help them read more independently. Sign up for Educational Insights newsletter here. What are some fun activities you and your children do together to learn letters and sounds?  What products from Education Insights would be helpful to have around your house?   Enter to win Hot Dots Jr. or Alphabet Bean Bags through December 16, 2013.

Fall Fun Giveaway Hop Grand Prize #2 Little Tikes, Project Pomona and I See Me! Personalized Books

Relevance: 40%      Posted on: September 30, 2015

Fall Fun Giveaway Hop Grand Prize #2 Little Tikes, Project Pomona and I See Me! Personalized Books

Thank you for stopping by the Fall Fun giveaway hop hosted by The Anti-June Cleaver and Our Piece of Earth. We have teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to bring you a variety of prizes to make your fall fun! After you have entered a giveaway visit the linky at the bottom of each post to visit the other blogs for more great prizes. There is also a dual grand prize for this event for the kiddos sponsored by Little Tikes. You can enter to win the first grand prize below featuring prizes from Little Tikes, Project Pomona and I See Me! Personalized Books.  Be sure to check out my review of the Little Tikes Lil' Ocean Explorers 3-in-1 Adventure Course.   So - enter to win here and then head over to The Anti-June Cleaver for a chance to win a Little Tikes Cook N Store Kitchen. Your little one will have a blast on the Lil' Ocean Explorers™ 3-in-1 Adventure Course™.  Keep it together, pull it apart, rearrange it for nonstop fun.  $25 to Project Pomona - if you haven't heard of these, you will want some.  Stretch your budget with these pants that fit longer.  Read my review.  And lastly, one of my favorite companies because we really love books.  I See Me! Personalized books is giving away My Very Own Trucks.   Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 14, 2015.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck. Entry-Form The Anti-June Cleaver, Our Piece of Earth, and the rest of the bloggers participating in the Fall Fun giveaway hop are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Usborne Complete List of Weather Books for Homeschool

Relevance: 39%      Posted on: October 6, 2016

Usborne Complete List of Weather Books for Homeschool

Disclosure:  I am a consultant for Usborne.  Our family receives a percentage from all sales without costing  you any extra.  We appreciate any purchases through our website.   We are onto our second theme unit in our kindergarten homeschool year.  The last few weeks we have been learning all about habitats and had so much fun.  Now we are onto weather and we are already having a blast. Weather is one of Charlie's favorite things to learn about, so even though he is only four, he is really taking the lead on this unit.  Since we live in Minnesota, we are constantly experiences changes in weather and extremes of all types, so a lot of this isn't new to us.  I've probably already told you a dozen times that I love Usborne because the books are so packed full of information in such a fun way that kids WANT to dig in.  The weather books are no exception so let's get to them! *Lift the Flap What Makes It Rain Ages 3+ $14.99 This book is the perfect size for smaller hands.  Each page features engaging photos with tons of questions like what's it like inside a cloud?  What makes sunsets red and orange?  and so many more questions.  With tons of flaps on every page, your little reader will love discovering the answers to some fun weather related questions.  You will see their little minds soaking up all of the information as you explore the weather together.  Aside from just flaps, your little ones can explore the feel of different cutouts in the book.  This is perfect to have for my littler ones to have fun being a part of our school day. Children's Picture Atlas Ages 3+ $12.99 While this book just touches on some weather around the world, it's a good amount of information for the 3+ crowd.  I wouldn't buy it solely for the weather info, but it's a great book that we have used often, so bringing it out to talk about the weather in it works for us. *Weather Picture Book Pack 4 book pack Ages 3+ $14.99 Explore the different types of weather in a fun story setting in these four picture books.  The Windy Day, The Rainy Day, The Sunny Day, an The Snowy Day each take you through a day in that weather.  These cute short stories are perfect for bedtime or anytime. *Weather Beginner Book Ages 6+  $4.99 This book features 2 pages about each of the different types of weather and is full of vibrant, engaging pictures that keep kids interested.  There is a glossary of weather words and a list of websites to visit at the end of the book.  This book also features internet quicklinks with a list of websites that are relevant to the topic.  Follow the instructions, click on the pages you want more info on from the drop down menu and keep the learning going.  There are also other activities related to the topics.  This is part of why we may very well ditch the curriculum next year and just use Usborne Books for school.  I'm including all of the books that we have or know contain information on weather and weather related topics.  The books with an * are very on topic books or contain a decent amount of information on the subject.  The rest also contain information, but not enough to make it worth spending money on just for this topic. *Storms and Hurricanes  Beginner Book Ages 6+ $4.99 This book is the same style as the Weather book above but covers the different types of storms and information and facts to go along with them.  There are also the website quicklinks for more information and links to videos of the different storms. Illustrated Dictionary Ages 6+ $15.99 Google is great, but having the ability to look things up the old fashioned way is still a skill I want my kids to have.  When we begin a unit, we take time to discuss some of the vocabulary words that we will be talking about, so we use our illustrated dictionary often. *Weather & Climate Change Ages 7+ $10.99 This encyclopedia style book will give your kids all of the weather info they need at the tips of their fingers.  Embark on a journey learning about the weather, climates and everything that goes along with it.  Explore the history and future of our world and the weather.  Test yourself when you get to the end with some multiple choice question.  The glossary will explain the definitions of all of the weather words.  Not only does this book have tons of internet links, but there are also tons of downloadable pictures you can print and use for hands on learning. *See Inside Weather and Climate Lift the Flaps Ages 7+ $14.99 The first time I laid eyes on this book, I knew we had to have it so this was our first Usborne weather book.  With so many flaps, your kids will be asking and answering questions all through the story.  From exploring the weather today to learning about the different types of weather, onto climates around the world and changing climates, this book provides endless learning fun.  With a list of weather words and their definitions, as well as internet links, the learning never ends.  This is  probably my favorite of all of our weather books.    This book also has internet quicklinks. *Not Your Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus Ages 8+  $12.99 or $20.99 for library binding This is a must have in our homeschool library.  We use this book every week for creative writing and expanding our vocabulary.  Not only is there an entire page of weather words and symbols, there are also sections for each of the four seasons.  Your weather vocabulary will keep expanding with this fun, must have thesaurus.  More writing tips and word games can be found in the internet quicklinks. *Children's Encyclopedia Ages 8+ $15.99 This book is a must have in any home.  The illustrations are incredible as you explore the different types of weather and absorb all of the information.  There are actually quite a few pages that cover weather in this book, but we use it for pretty much every topic we cover. First Encyclopedia of Science 8+ $9.99 or $17.99 library binding This is a great beginner science book {and definitely good for younger than 8}.  It goes beyond simply introducing topics, but also gives them ideas and activities they can do {for example, how to make your own rainbow}.  Of course it also features the beautiful illustrations that keep kids engaged, but you also get the internet links as well.  There are only a few pages on weather and the seasons, but a lot of information on those pages. Illustrated Elementary Science Dictionary Ages 8+ $12.99 or $20.99 library binding While I wouldn't buy this book JUST for the weather section because it's only a half a page long, we have this book and it's a great resource when the kids want to look at just a little bit of info on whatever page they decide to stop on.  With fun pictures that get them thinking and asking questions, we love this dictionary as a starting point.  Check out the internet links as well. Living World Encyclopedia Ages 8+ $14.99 This encyclopedia has gotten a lot of use in the few weeks we have had it.  With a few pages touching on the seasonal weather changes and how it affects living things, both plants and animals, there is still a lot of information packed into this book.  Since it covers all living things, it's a great additional to our library.  Also - internet links. My First Reference Book About Our World Ages 8+ $9.99 While this book says ages 8+, I would definitely say it's a great book for younger ages.  {Especially considering we love it and my oldest is 5}.  I love how the information is laid out in the first reference books, where there are pictures with descriptions about the different types of weather.  What makes it rain is a fun, visual explanation of what is going on.  The back of the book has simple quiz questions to see what your kids remember as you read through the book.  The glossary in the back has simple explanations to help kids better understand the words.  This book is also internet linked for more on topic learning. I *think* this is a complete list of Usborne Books on weather.  If I discover that I'm missing any, I'll come back to add them.  You can purchase any of these books through the links on the titles. Simply choose anytime orders at checkout.  As always - let me know if you would like to see additional pictures of any of the books.   If you want to get them for free - host a party with me!  It's fun, easy and you get some great books while introducing your friends and family to Usborne.  Use the contact me page to set up your party.  I'd love for you to follow my Usborne journey on Facebook.      

6 Non-Toy Gifts for 2 Year Olds

Relevance: 39%      Posted on: September 12, 2014

6 Non-Toy Gifts for 2 Year Olds

Let's face it, our children don't need every single toy out there, but people love to give fun gifts to kids.

$25 Usborne Books Giveaway

Relevance: 39%      Posted on: December 5, 2016

$25 Usborne Books Giveaway

Thank you for stopping by the Home for the Holidays giveaway hop hosted by The Anti-June Cleaver and Our Piece of Earth. We have teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to bring you a lot of fantastic of prizes to kick off the holiday season. After you have entered my giveaway, be sure to visit the linky below for more great prizes.   MY GIVEAWAY One reader will win $25 Usborne Books & More gift code.  Current consultants not eligible.  Giveaway open to US residents only.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on December 19, 2016.  Good luck! Entry-Form DISCLOSURE: The Anti-June Cleaver, Our Piece of Earth, and the rest of the bloggers participating in the Home for the Holidays giveaway hop are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

The Best Green Living Books for Young Kids

Relevance: 39%      Posted on: July 9, 2016

The Best Green Living Books for Young Kids

We read A LOT in our house, and I love sharing books we love each week.  I'm not even joking when I say we read close to twenty books a day.  I'm so glad the kids share my love for reading.  We read, read, read a lot and I love that I can steer what we read about.  One topic that I think is so important for the kids to learn about is green living.  Today I am excited to share some great books about green living with you.  Affiliate links are included in this post.  Our family gets a small portion of all sales through these links and we really appreciate it when you shop through them. Just a Gum Wrapper by Mercer Mayer It’s Earth Day – Hooray!  by Stuart J. Murphy It's Earth Day! (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer Earth Day Every Day by Lisa Bullard Don't Throw That Away!: A Lift-the-Flap Book about Recycling and Reusing (Little Green Books) by Lara Bergen Compost Stew:  An A to Z Recipe for the Earth by Mary McKenna Siddals What Does It Mean to Be Green  by Rana DiOri What Does It Mean to Be Green by Artie Knapp All The Way to The Ocean by Joel Harper This is Our World by Emily Sollinger Easy to be Green by Ellie O'Ryan Why Should I Recycle by Jen Green What's It Like Living Green? by Jill Ammon Vanderwood The Earth Book by Todd Parr One Well by Rochelle Strauss 10 Things I Can Do to Help My World by Melanie Walsh Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser The Curious Garden by Peter Brown Big Bear Hug by Nicholas Oldland Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins The Green Mother Goose by David Davis I Can Save the Earth by Alison Inches The Three R's by Nuria Roca Where Does the Garbage Go? by Paul Showers Green Thumbs by Laurie Carlson The Little Composter by Jan Girardi Recycling Day by Edward Miller The Little Recycler by Jan Gerardi 365 Ways to Live Green by Sheri Amsel   Which books will you check out first to get your kids excited about the easy ways to live green?   This post is part of a weekly series on green living that I co-host.  Check out these other green bloggers for more ways to live a greener life. An InLinkz Link-up If you would like to share the linky, get the code here: get the InLinkz code

When toddlers meet technology {Tuesday’s Toddler Tales linkup}

Relevance: 38%      Posted on: May 28, 2013

When toddlers meet technology {Tuesday's Toddler Tales linkup}

It seems that technology is everywhere, even in places you may not think of it.  We go to a baby class once a week.  Mostly, we do it just to change things up, and so I can hang out with some other wonderful mommies who have become good friends of mine.  A few weeks ago, our topic was technology.  I think it's no secret that TV isn't recommended, especially in large amounts, but it doesn't stop there.  We do not have our TV on during the day, except at nap time.  We ended up with another TV which is now in our bedroom and almost never turned on.  Once in awhile, Maggie wakes up and will turn it on and watch Curious George, but she doesn't really watch it.  She will for a minute or two, and then forgets about it. But what about the computer, or smartphone?  How much is too much for a toddler?  It's not like she can really operate the computer, but she knows how to use YouTube, on both the computer and the phone.  Do you know how easy it is for them to click onto something else that they should not be watching and listening to?  Way to easy!!! Maggie loves the computer so much.  It's nice that I have a few things that she is allowed to do on here, like watch CopyKids DVD which only encourages her to choose healthy snacks instead of junk.  She doesn't get to watch it all the time, but when she thinks about it, I usually let her.  The other thing we do a lot of together on the computer is read her BookLingual books.  They are written in Spanish and English and are fun for us to read together. We also YouTube books on CD sometimes.  Mostly we do that because one of my favorite children's books is not available for purchase for less than somewhere around $50 and we are not paying that!   It's Fire Truck and it's very catchy and really super awesome!  I try really hard to not be playing around on my phone when the kids are awake, but I am guilty.  When Maggie pipes up and says, are you on Facebook mommy - I feel very guilty and know that I am not focusing on what I should be.  Thanks baby girl for making me remember. A statement I heard in our class that really puts things in perspective for me is - turning on the TV or computer, whatever it may be - is allowing the media into your house.  Whatever is on the TV is now invited into your home.  Does that show have the values you want to teach in your house? Each week we are linking up for Tuesday's Toddler Tales. This weeks topic is Toddlers and Technology. Next week is Favorite Sassy Moments. How is technology viewed in your house?  

Nature Scavenger Hunt + More Nature Activities

Relevance: 37%      Posted on: May 3, 2017

Nature Scavenger Hunt + More Nature Activities

It's spring you guys!!!!  That means we get to spend all day outside without the bugs, it's wonderful.  In all seriousness, we've had so much fun because the weather has been {mostly} pretty nice.  The kids have learned to ride their bikes on two wheels and spent many days riding from the second they got up until they went to bed.  The newness of it is wearing off though and they are ready for more fun.  That's where the nature scavenger hunt comes into play.  My favorite part of where we live is that we are practically on a wildlife refuge, how awesome is that?!  There are so many experiences almost in our backyard {plus tons of things they love to do that are actually in our backyard}. There are so many more things I could add to the nature scavenger hunt but I don't want to be walking forever.  The things I did include give them room to explore and decide for themselves what works for each item on the list.  My favorite thing we've found on our walks through the wildlife refuge has been a badger skull.     We love to take our learning time outdoors.  With three young creative minds to help shape, we make the most of our time outside with some nature art ideas.  We love making homemade bird feeders to invite the birds into our space.   Click the links below to be taken to the pins for these activities. Make paintbrushes from nature finds   Make Mud Paint   Pound out the color   Leaf Rubbings   Paint shadows and watch them change   Find shades of green   Make names or pictures out of things you find in nature   Make a nature inspired sensory bin I'll also add in that creating a nature journal is so much fun and a great way for the KIDS to record what they are learning about.   Nature and plants books   *Affiliate links may be included.* I confess, one of my favorite things to do outside is read.  Turns out that I'm raising a little lady who feels the same way.  While she will ride her bike, climb a tree, build a fort and do just about anything else outside, she also loves to read.  Almost every day she'll ask to take some books outside with her to read.  {I'm working on building a comfortable reading area for her outside}.  What better to read outside when you are playing in nature than books about nature and plants.  While I'd love to link to each individual book, it would end up being very lengthy.  These two graphics cover most of them.     Nature is one of our favorite ways to learn and we are having so much fun while it happens.  What are your favorite nature activities?    

Happy 4th Birthday to my Favorite Princess

Relevance: 37%      Posted on: October 15, 2014

Happy 4th Birthday to my Favorite Princess

My gorgeous, sweet, smart, sassy and very talkative little girl just turned 4 last week.  I cannot believe she is 4!  She had a fun birthday, and was making me laugh all day.  She kept wondering why her friends were not at her house for the party.  The fact that we already had her party wasn't clicking for her.  We stopped at a friends house to play and she had lots of fun there.  We also went to Dairy Queen and she got to pick out her favorite cake.  We probably would have made one, but since they had spent a lot of time sick lately, we figured that wasn't the best idea already. Happy birthday my sweet princess Maggie.  I love you so much!  From your world of make believe to your unending need to learn something new, you amaze me every single day!  I get so excited at your love for books and learning.  It reminds me so much of myself and I love to see that part of me in you.  You have such a kind, generous heart and really think about other people a lot.  You will be the first person to call me out when I am saying the wrong thing to you or Charlie and, while it may make me crazy, I am so proud that you know when I need help to do the right thing.  It means you know what the right thing is too. You have the sweetest heart and I am so excited for this next year of adventures with you.   I love you.

Homeschool Complete : A Unit Study Curriculum Review

Relevance: 37%      Posted on: March 8, 2019

Homeschool Complete :  A Unit Study Curriculum Review

I remember when I first decided to homeschool. It occurred to me that I was already doing unit studies with them as toddlers and preschoolers because it was fun. It seemed to really bring it all together as we learned about a certain topic. Now, if we start learning about something, I always add in a few things that go along with it to make it really sink in that the topic is about more than just a book - it's relevant to our world. With Homeschool Complete, you will get a curriculum that covers Language Arts Mathematics Social Studies Science Fine Arts Physical Development and Fitness Character Development and Bible all while encompassing a topic or unit. Units take one to three weeks to complete. Each unit is laid out with easy to follow instructions for each lesson including materials, literature, and any included worksheets. There is also a daily calendar routine with different skills to work on as well as time to say the Pledge of Allegiance, the Pledge to the Christian Flag and the Pledge to the Bible. A daily journal prompt is also included in each lesson. The lesson plan is laid out in the beginning with a list of materials needed for every lesson in the unit, literature included and extra reading materials you can add in. At the beginning of the unit, there is a sheet with the unit literature that includes all of the books for this unit. It is further broken down into individual lessons. Each lesson is clearly laid out with a section for skills, materials, calendar, language arts / social studies, math, art, etc.. If you follow this step by step, you will cover the entire day's lesson with no hassle. While there is not much prep work for this, I do suggest taking a little time to print and cut out the letter sounds, etc. that are included with that unit prior to beginning the unit. I want to share with you how I lay out the entire unit plan to make it really simple for me to pick up and get started each day. Prior to starting the unit, after printing and cutting everything and picking up our books from the library, I went through the unit lesson by lesson. I put all the materials for each lesson under that lesson page and then the books for that day's lesson at the back of each lesson. When it was time to get started, I simply grabbed from the top down to the book{s} and sat down for some fun learning time with the kids. We have been working on the Northeast States unit for 2-3 grade but we also received the digital copies of Johnny Appleseed and Colonies. The lessons we received all include a paragraph or two about that day's lesson that your child can read aloud. After reading, there are some reading comprehension questions. I love that it encourages {and is written in each lesson to do so} your child to answer the question in a full sentence instead of a one or two-word answer. Use the code CREW2019 and can get 10% off their orders until 3/31/2019. Now - if you read my site, you know how much I love books and how we are a very book happy family, so I love that there are plenty of quality stories to go along with the unit. The one thing I did run into was that I was not able to get about five of the eighteen books on the list. I did substitute for some books we had around the house or could get from the library. Can we talk about the books a little more though - I absolutely love the books included on the list. There are some that immediately went into my Amazon cart for purchase because I know we will read them again and again. The printables for each unit has directions for the game or activity clearly labeled on the page. When it comes to language arts - I seldom find something that we enjoy. Something that is simple enough yet continuously introduces new concepts. I really like that about the language arts in the Homeschool Complete unit studies. One day we are introducing pronouns, the next lesson may be about root words, etc.. Another thing I really want to mention about the Northeast States unit study is that as you learn about each state, you also learn things like the capital, the state bird or flower, abbreviation, etc.. As it tells you the capital, it gives kids a visual on how to remember the capital for that state and paints a picture for your children that they can then draw to help them remember it. They are funny, silly visuals that are sure to make you giggle together as you work on it. If you are a homeschool mom who likes to keep things digital - at the end of every unit you will see a page that says student workbook pages. Instead of printing all of the pages, you can print those for your student or just print them that way to keep them all together in a binder for your child. Overall, we are enjoying the unit studies that we received. While my darling daughter may grumble when it's time to do her work, as soon as I pull out the stories for the day, she is all smiles. The books really encourage you to think about the time in which they were written and what life must be like in that state. You can read about some more of the unit studies and what different families think of them by clicking the image below.

7 Awesome Ideas for Baby's First Easter Basket

Relevance: 34%      Posted on: March 21, 2015

A Sneak Peek at Henry's Easter Basket + Fun and Easy Ideas for Baby's First Easter

Babies don't eat candy, so what do you put in their Easter basket? Check out these fun ideas to make baby's first Easter even more exciting.

Passport to China + Review

Relevance: 34%      Posted on: July 26, 2017

Passport to China + Review

While I'm not able to travel the world with the kids right now, we can travel the world in other ways. Join us as we explore China in new and exciting ways.

Hooray, Hooray, Today is Pi Day

Relevance: 34%      Posted on: March 13, 2016

Hooray, Hooray, Today is Pi Day

  Are you celebrating Pi Day?  Get your kids on board with this fun activity book from Usborne Books.   How are you celebrating Pi Day?

I’m teaching my 2 year old to read

Relevance: 34%      Posted on: July 25, 2013

I'm teaching my 2 year old to read

Since having kids, John and I have had many discussions about education.  He has always struggled with reading and it made school very difficult for him.  I've always loved to read and do it every chance I get.  As a new mom, finding time to read wasn't easy, but Maggie still saw me many times reading my book.  That love for reading has grown in her and she will ask me to play books with her many times throughout the day.  She is 2 1/2 and now "reads" her books to me as she either remembers or imagines them.  I find such great joy in her stories, and know that I will get years of listening to her read. When I had a chance to review Children Learning Reading, I knew I had to check it out. Children Learning reading is a simple, effective program based on synthetic phonics and phonemic awareness that teaches children to read in a logical and sequential order.  Rather than teaching children words by sight, they are actually learning what the letter sounds are and how to form words with them.  This program isn't just designed for children, but can be used by adults as well.  Even children as young as 2 years old can learn to read using Children Learning Reading.   I started off by reading through {most} of the information.  I will admit, I did skim some of it, but actually read most of it.  Then, during nap one day, I made up some flash cards for the first few letters and the words to go along with it.   Finding the right time{s} of day to work on our reading lessons is important.  We have found that right after she wakes up from nap works best for us.    We have tried working on it during other parts of the day, but it seems the time that is most effective for us is right after nap.  She still wants to snuggle, so she focuses on whatever we are doing.   10-15 minutes a day isn't much at all.  Especially broken down into smaller blocks a few times a day.  We work at each lesson for as long as she wants, and some days, that is well over the 15 minutes a day.  Since we read about a gazillion books a day, I have been working on drawing out words with the sounds that we are working on.  Sometimes she will copy me, and other times, she tells me to just read the words already.  Ha.  Funny girl. Children Learning Reading was started by Jim and Elena, parents to 3 good readers.  They had originally started teaching their oldest with another reading program, but quickly discovered that it was not teaching their kids to read, and so began looking for a better solution.  They valued education and having quality reading skills was very important to them.  Through extensive research, testing, and trial and error using their own children, they were able to develop a reading program that showed clear results.  Now, they want to share that program with you!   I love that not only is Maggie learning the letter sound, but she is also learning letter recognition.  She is starting to look at words written here or there around the house or in books, on signs, anywhere, and every now and then, she can recognize A or B.  It has allowed us to get some extra one on one time and it generally involves a lot of snuggles.  I love being able to encourage her when she recognizes a letter and makes the right sound. I think I get as excited when she succeeds as she does sometimes. Making learning fun is important to us.  Maggie likes to carry her flash cards around and practice on her own, or climb up on daddy's lap to practice some more.  Thanks to Children Learning Reading, I get to see my daughter already succeed at something I really enjoy - reading!  I can't wait to get to the section of this system where we get to read nursery rhymes or other books that go along with it.  Maggie and I are both enjoying our time spent together as she, being the little peanut that she is, learns to read all by herself!  In no time at all, Charlie and I will be working on it as well.   Children Learning Reading is going to give one of you lucky readers a chance to win this material to help your child learn to read too. I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Let’s Go Geography Review

Relevance: 34%      Posted on: February 26, 2020

Let's Go Geography Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.   This year, we have been adding in more intentional subjects. One of those subjects we have started to focus some more on is a homeschool geography curriculum so the chance to review Let's Go Geography came at the perfect time for us. Let's Go Geography, Year 2 is a fun way to get kids engaged. Each lesson covers a country or part of the United States and gives you a week to complete. The lesson contains videos, pictures, text information, a craft, map activity, questions and so much more.  Each week is broken down into five sections - Mapping, Flag, Music, Let's Explore and Create.  At the end of the weekly lesson, you will find printable pages that go along with that week. I love that each lesson contains a variety of activities. I want to share with you how we use this throughout the week. We work through the beginning part together - reading about the place and she does the mapping activity. {She is nine and could absolutely work through this part on her own, but I don't want to print out every page and my computer is riding the struggle bus, so the less the kids use it, the happier I am}. She can choose to color the flag, do the coloring page, the craft or the writing at any point in the week.  I also add in any books about that place or anything about that place that we have.  We have a few atlas books that also have some information about wherever we are learning about.  If it's some place where I have been, we look through my photo album and money or anything else I have related to the area.  We have a fun cooking around the world book so we cook some of the traditional foods for that country. Designed to be used by a variety of ages - K-5th grade, this allows you to do all or some of the activities in each lesson based on your child's skill level.  As we read through the first few pages of the lesson, we like to compare the size and population of different countries to the United States. I absolutely love that everything is clearly laid out.  You can even find the call number to look up books related to that country at the library.  Day one of the program guides you in setting up a travel journal - a three-ring binder.  As we go, we use a three-hole punch and add all of the pages in the binder.  These are separated by continent and are a great way to keep track of what you have done and the countries you have learned about. Since Maggie is nine-years-old and is doing the work - I tend to ask her opinion on things.  Since I have been giving thought to what we will be using next year, I wanted to know what she thought about Let's Go Geography.  Her opinion - "I love it!"  She is very much a project / activity-based person so this is a great geography curriculum for her, so her response was no surprise.  This has been a fantastic jump into geography for us and I love that she has the freedom to choose what activities she does when during the week.  Working on Honduras, she is already asking where we are learning about next week. If you would like to hear what some others have to say about Let's Go Geography - click the image below.  

Fin-tastic Book Giveaway

Relevance: 34%      Posted on: August 11, 2020

Fin-tastic Book Giveaway

Calling all shark lovers - this Fin-tastic giveaway is for you! I can't choose a favorite and they are all big hits at our house!

Books on the Solar System

Relevance: 33%      Posted on: January 8, 2017

Books on the Solar System

When my four year old decided he wanted to learn about the planets, I couldn't wait!  I put in my order for some more Usborne Books that I knew I wanted and started planning.  *I am an Usborne Books & More consultant because I love the books and use them often for homeschool.  I do receive a commission if you purchase through the links, and I thank you for using them.*   Sun, Moon and Stars I'll start with this one because I based our entire solar system and planets unit on this book.  Find the full homeschool solar system unit here.  I love the Usborne beginners books because they are an awesome price.  At $4.99, they are a fantastic price.  This book features bright, vivid pictures.  Broken up by topic, from the sun, to the planets, the moon and more, it's easy to follow.  Visit the quicklinks page for more learning fun with short videos on the topic.   Solar System I'm pretty sure I was losing my mind because somehow I deleted this from my cart so I don't have it and I planned to build my unit around this book.  Sad face for me, but you can bet it's going on my next order.  This is another Usborne beginners reader.  $4.99 and also has quicklinks in the back. Living in Space This isn't necessarily about the solar system, but I think astronauts become a natural conversation when learning about the solar system.  This is also another Usborne beginners book with quicklinks.  Available for $4.99. My Very First Space Book This is the perfect space book for young readers.  Made with very sturdy board book pages while looking like a big kid book, your little ones will love it.  Each page features fun pictures that kids can enjoy while being packed full of information on space.  Visit the quicklinks here too for more learning fun.  This book is available for $11.99. Big Book of Stars and Planets This is a crowd favorite.  With 4 fold out pages that really bring the story to life.  With tons of pictures packed into this book, your children will soak up so much information about every one of them and you can have fun learning together.  Quicklinks are also available for this book.  This book can be yours for $14.99. Big Book of Rockets and Spacecraft While not entirely on topic, a great book to go along with your solar system studies.  The 4 fold out pages will have your kids learning while sitting on your lap.  Check out the quicklinks for this one too.  $14.99   Shine a Light Space Station If you haven't seen the Shine a Light books before, they are so much fun!  Packed full of information in such a fun way.  Each page gives you some information, then you shine a flashlight behind the page and it reveals a hidden image.  Turn the page to learn more about it.  One in a series of 13 books, this one is sure to be a favorite.  These also make great gifts.  $12.99 Astronomy This book is part of the Usborne Discovery series.  We are just beginning to dig into this one and we love it.  This is a great book for kids looking for more in depth information on a certain space topic or for a little bit older kids.  This book is recommended for ages 7-10.  With great pictures to make learning fun, kids and adults will all love this one.  This is internet linked for tons more learning time.  $8.99 The Usborne Science Encyclopedia I love love love the Usborne encyclopedias.  My four year old is crazy about them as well.  He is that child that remembers everything and loves facts.  He soaks up so much information.  His favorite thing about them {and my six year old favorite as well} is the QR links.  Each two page layout has a QR code.  Scan that code with your phone or tablet using a QR reader and it brings you to more videos, pictures and more on the topic covered on that page.  This encyclopedia has over 180 QR codes and over 1,000 internet links.  The back of the book has tons more information on scientist and inventions and so much more.  Once we ordered this book, I knew we wanted all of the encyclopedias. You could use this book as your main science curriculum for years!   $19.99 The Usborne Children's Encyclopedia Did I mention that I LOVE the Usborne Encyclopedias?  This one is SO amazing.  With fun, vivid pictures that keep the learning fun, even for the younger crows, this book is amazing.  There is an entire section on space in the children's encyclopedia.  There are also over 150 QR links and over 650 internet links.  Not only do I think every home should have this book, I think you could teach for years using this encyclopedia as a guide.  $15.99 100 Things to Spot in the Night Sky I love these wipe clean cards.  They are perfect for independent study and quiet time.  This deck of 52 cards teaches about the constellations and things in the night sky.  Each card is packed full of information like how to find that constellation, where it's located in the sky, how it got it's name and so much more.  $9.99 100 Things to Know About Space Space is a huge topic, but this friendly book breaks it down into bite-sized chunks, making it an accessible introduction for anyone who wants to find out about this fascinating subject. Highly illustrated, in a pictorial, 'infographics' style, with snippets of information about all aspects of space. $12.99 Astronomy and Space Reference Book This book is an exciting introduction to the wonders of space. Find out how stars are born, what it's like to live in space, and lots more. $9.99  {This can also be purchased as a sticker book.} The Usborne Book of Astronomy and Space This updated edition shows you the universe, using the latest amazing information from astronomers around the world, and space probes around the galaxy. This book includes practical information on home astronomy and buying and using equipment.  It is also packed full of internet links.  $14.99 Lift the Flap Questions and Answers About Space Many children are fascinated by space and the universe, and this engaging flap book will answer lots of their questions. With entertaining and informative illustrations and over 50 flaps to lift and look beneath. A brilliant introduction to non-fiction for very young children. With over 60 flaps to lift this book is sure to satisfy even the most inquisitive children! $14.99 Look Inside Space Blast off into space with this fascinating flap book with over 60 flaps. Find out how the moon was made, why stars shine and how we know so much about planets that are far, far away. $14.99   On the Moon Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to the Moon? This beautifully illustrated picture book will take you on a journey to find out. You can fly into outer space, walk on the Moon and take a look at our world from a very, very long way away.  This is a great book for really young learners to be involved in your learning fun.  $9.99   Peek Inside Space This simple non-fiction book for very young children is filled with facts about space and the universe. Young children can lift the flaps and peek through the holes in the pages to find out lots about space; this interactive introduction to the subject is accurate, playful, and approachable. Space is a "hot" topic at the moment and is a fascinating subject that can lead little minds to be more interested about science as a whole. $11.99 The Story of Astronomy and Space A narrative introduction to the mysteries of space and the secrets of astronomy, packed with scientific facts about the solar system, comets, the Big Bang theory, telescopes, space exploration, and lots more. Diagrams and amusing illustrations help make complex ideas easy and fun. Also includes star charts, a glossary, and an astronomy timeline.  $12.99 Astronomy How do astronomers study planets, stars and galaxies? What are rovers and where have they landed? How do different telescopes work? In this book, you'lll find out the answers and lots more fascinating facts about astronomy.  $4.99   That's the current list of Usborne Space books. There are also a ton of activity books on space which I did not include in this list.   Which book are you most excited about?  

M is for Me in this #Free4Fall #Giveaway

Relevance: 33%      Posted on: September 23, 2014

M is for Me in this #Free4Fall #Giveaway

Welcome to the It's a Free for Fall Giveaway Hop, hosted by the Blogging Mamas Network. The days are getting a bit cooler and Fall is just around the corner! We're celebrating the upcoming season with a fun giveaway hop. Each blogger in the hop has a prize for you worth at least $25, so don't forget to hop around to them all in the linky at the bottom of this post. I See Me!  Personalized Books happens to be one of my favorite companies and I am so excited to bring you another chance to win!  This time, one lucky Our Piece of Earth reader will win the M is for Me personalized book.  I don't have this book yet, but know that, like our other I See Me!  books, we would love it!  You can check out my latest review of Charlie's 2nd Birthday Book here. Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on October 8, 2014.  Open to US only.  Good luck!   Entry-Form So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, the Blogging Mamas Network, and the Free for Fall participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Brothers, Books and Bonding Time

Relevance: 33%      Posted on: August 16, 2016

Brothers, Books and Bonding Time

There is absolutely nothing I enjoy more than watching my kids bond with each other.  It gets even better when I get the chance to capture those moments on camera.  When we received the 1-2-3 Blast Off With Me gift set to review, Charlie was so excited to see his new book, but I had no clue just how much I would end up loving this book. The 1-2-3 Blast Off With Me gift set comes with a completely personalized story book, a coloring and activity book and a sheet of stickers. When I say this book is completely personalized, I mean it.  The inside cover contains a personalized dedication page from you to your child.  Every page spread will have your child's face in action, from fire fighter to astronaut to diver and so much more, your child will go on a new adventure with every turn of the page.  The fun doesn't stop with their beautiful face though, 1-2-3 Blast Off With Me has so much more to offer.  Your child will find their name hidden on a train, or dig up numbers on a construction site, and practice counting backwards from 10.  Every page features a fun skill for you and your child to engage in together.  This has been such a great book for Charlie and he loves to show off his face and tell you about what he is doing.  What I love the post is the small details.  Like the fire truck has Charlie's birthday for a license plate number.  How fun is that? The other night I was lucky enough to catch some brotherly bonding in action as Charlie was reading his book to Henry.  Cutest. Picture. Ever.  EVER!!!  I love this moment so much and I know that I See Me! Personalized Books will give us many more of these moments in the future.  While I love sitting down and reading through this book with Charlie, I love that he enjoys it so much that he wants to show it off to his brother.   Our boys have been on many adventures with 1-2-3 Blast Off With Me.  Which personalized book will your child choose for his next adventure?

Truth Becomes Her – The Adventures of Rooney Cruz Ringleaders Review

Relevance: 33%      Posted on: November 12, 2020

Truth Becomes Her - The Adventures of Rooney Cruz Ringleaders Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. It's no secret I am a book addict - I mean, I write a weekly Books We Love feature to share our favorites each week. I don't just want any books in our house though, I want good ones - you know, the ones with a message that counts! The Adventures of Rooney Cruz RINGLEADERS from Truth Becomes Her is a big hit for me! Geared towards girls ages 4-10, this book is gorgeous! I'm talking, from the hardcover binding and the illustrations on the front page all the way through to the bible verses and illustrations at the end of the book! RINGLEADERS is a nine chapter book that is more like two stories in one. Join Rooney as she auditions for a play that she is excited about and her journey through this experience. But - go beyond that as her angel Mari pops up to take Rooney on adventures through the Bible. Adventures with women of the Bible whose story relates to Rooney and a situation she is facing. You will see Rooney peer through windows into the past, windows that help her to "meet" women from the Bible and learn about their journey and struggles.  You can almost feel Rooney's emotions as you "hear" their story told by Mari.  Then, you can read on as Rooney recognizes how even if her situation feels difficult, that if Elizabeth, or Mary or any of the other women from the Bible could face these situations and be okay, that she would also be okay.  She will fold her hands and pray throughout the chapters.  There are colorful pages with bible verses that are perfect for your young girls to memorize.   I love how Rooney takes these situations and applies them to her life and her situation.  It helps my daughter to recognize how facing a difficult situation isn't impossible but takes faith and trust in God.  The absolute ONLY downside to these books is that my daughter is getting too old for them!  Not for the message necessarily, but for the length of the stories.  She is a great reader and whipped through the stories quickly.  Having said that - I will be ordering some more of the other Bible Belles stories for her to read.   I really love that as part of the review for this book, we also received the Ringleaders Coloring Book, Ringleaders: A Devotional for Girls and the Ringleaders Journal for Mothers and Daughters.  We haven't used the coloring book much yet, but as it turns out, last night, my cousin was here with her 1 1/2 year old and Maggie read her part of the story and turned to a matching page in the coloring book and let her color it.   The Devotional is amazing {and the timing was perfect - we just finished up her last devotional}.  Each lesson has a few paragraphs to read, some Bible verses to read and questions or activities to answer or do and prayers.  The devotional is broken down into chapters to go along with the RINGLEADERS book. The RINGLEADERS Journal for Mothers and Daughters is also awesome and something I have looked for for awhile.  Since this journal goes along with the story, it is broken down by the women from the Bible that Rooney learns about in the story.  You will read and study about Elizabeth, Mary, The Samaritan Woman, Mary and Martha and Mary Magdalene.  The pages alternate with space for mom to answer and space for the daughter to answer.  They are clearly marked mother and daughter.  They ask questions like what I love most about the story, favorite part of her story, draw a scene you liked from the story.  Talk about why that person's story is important and a time when it applies to your life.  Space to write about how God works in your life, free space and pages to answer together - these are my favorite!   Okay, I had a lot to say!  You guys, I highly recommend these books for your young girls.  Amazing stories about good choices and ways to follow and live a life God wants for you.  You can read more reviews about the RINGLEADERS books.  

What the Homeschool Review Crew Means to Us

Relevance: 33%      Posted on: October 26, 2019

What the Homeschool Review Crew Means to Us

I was BEYOND excited last year to join the Homeschool Review Crew. I research a ton on any curriculum I purchase because I have an extremely small budget so when I spend the money - it has to be the right product. If you are wondering what the Homeschool Review Crew is - it's a {large} group of homeschool moms reviewing curriculum. Carving out the time to not only try the product but also gather pictures or screenshots and take the time to create a thoughtful review of how the product worked for us can be difficult sometimes. Being able to use it enough to form an opinion and share a quality review is important to me. Here are some of the products we have reviewed over this past year. Smartick Online Math Program Creating a Masterpiece The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Books 5 and 6 Memoria Press Literature Guide Home School In The Woods Crafty Classroom USA Activity Bundle Pack Matific Galaxy Chronicles of Minnesota State Notebook Hey, Mama Homeschool Planner Supercharged Science Big Bible Science Nothing - Book Review Pathway to Liberty CrossWired Science Heroes of History Year-Long STEM Challenge ARTistic Pursuits, Inc Homeschool Complete Singapore Dimensions Math The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Books 3 and 4 IXL Learning For the Temple SchoolhouseTeachers.com Then there were some video reviews. I'm loving doing these - and still tweaking what I want them to look like since I haven't done a lot of these in the past. HIGASFY Art History Learning Dynamics Reading Program The Kingdom Code Simply Classical Spelling Supercharged Science Typing Tournament Techie Homeschool Mom Rhythm & Writing Many of these we still use very regularly - either because the kids love them or I love them. Most of them I still wouldn't know about without the Homeschool Review Crew. If you are a homeschool blogger - you can apply to be a crew member right now. Find out what being part of the Homeschool Review Crew means.   If you have read this far - I'd love to hear what you are really looking for when researching curriculum for your family so leave a comment below! Have a great day!

Making college a little less expensive

Relevance: 33%      Posted on: May 30, 2013

Making college a little less expensive

*This post was written by me on behalf of CampusBookRentals.com but all opinions are 100% my own.*I miss college!  I really enjoyed my time in school, but I sure to remember how expensive it is.  At least you can take out student loans for your education, but what about your books?  I felt like I needed to get a second job just to pay for them.  I just recently put some of my old college textbooks in the garage sale because I really have no use for them anymore.  As it turns out, neither did anybody else. If you have found yourself in the same boat, you will be happy to know there is help.  Campus Book Rentals is a great alternative to spending tons of money on your textbooks.  You can save between 40-90% off of what it would cost to purchase.  Renting your textbooks is easy to do.  They will mail you the same book you could buy for much more money at your campus bookstore.  You are free to use them in the same manner you would use one you purchased {highlighting}.  If you end up dropping the class, you aren't just out your money - simply return it for a refund.  When the class is over, if you decide you just have to have that book forever, simply pay CampusBookRentals the difference.  I know the cost of shipping has to be on your mind, right?  You can relax, FREE shipping both ways! Besides saving money, with every textbook purchased, CampusBookRentals donates to Operation Smile, performing life changing surgeries on young children and enabling them to live a little bit easier life.If you want to know more about how it works, check out this quick video. Not sold on the idea of renting textbooks?  Well, how about the RentBack program?  If you own the textbooks already, why not rent them out and let somebody else do the work for you?  You will make 2-4 times more money on your books than if you just sold them back.  It's your money, make it work for you!  Genius, right? You have to check out this video to see how it works. Do you know a college student who could benefit from learning about CampusBookRentals? What did you think was the toughest part of college?

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!!!

Relevance: 32%      Posted on: October 6, 2012

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!!!

Here's your chance to WIN one of the NEW Kindle Fire HD Tablets!This awesome giveaway event is sponsored by BookSnagr, a website for book lovers that connects you with free, discounted and recommended eBooks! Check out their Top Free Kindle Books page for a whole list of freebies you can find at Amazon! Follow their blog, Facebook and Twitter pages for deal alerts, updates and giveaways, and be sure to subscribe to their newsletter for exclusive info on newly released free, discounted and recommended eBooks! One winner will receive a Kindle Fire HD 16 GB Tablet "The world's most advanced 7" tablet!" (Prize will be delivered via an Amazon.com gift card valued at $199.00)Giveaway ends October 13, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST.This giveaway is open to USA only.Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.Complete the first easy entry to unlock the rest.Remember, the more entries you submit, the better odds you have of winning!  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!!!

Relevance: 32%      Posted on: October 6, 2012

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway!!!

Here's your chance to WIN one of the NEW Kindle Fire HD Tablets!This awesome giveaway event is sponsored by BookSnagr, a website for book lovers that connects you with free, discounted and recommended eBooks! Check out their Top Free Kindle Books page for a whole list of freebies you can find at Amazon! Follow their blog, Facebook and Twitter pages for deal alerts, updates and giveaways, and be sure to subscribe to their newsletter for exclusive info on newly released free, discounted and recommended eBooks! One winner will receive a Kindle Fire HD 16 GB Tablet "The world's most advanced 7" tablet!" (Prize will be delivered via an Amazon.com gift card valued at $199.00)Giveaway ends October 13, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST.This giveaway is open to USA only.Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.Complete the first easy entry to unlock the rest.Remember, the more entries you submit, the better odds you have of winning!  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Story Time with Daddy + {Giveaway}

Relevance: 32%      Posted on: February 8, 2013

Story Time with Daddy + {Giveaway}

When we were pregnant with our first baby, we had 3 baby showers and it was so much fun.  One of them was even a co-ed party so that daddy could be involved too.  I realized that baby got lots of gifts, and I even got some gifts (thanks for the chocolate Amanda).  It seems however, that the daddy to be gets left out.  Daddy Scrubs has thought of that with their "What Daddy Duck Loves" gift pack.  New dad gifts are a must!  The gift pack includes the book, What Daddy Duck Loves, a rubber duckie with blue scrubs that say DADDY, and a sticker that says I'm The Dad.  I am the biggest book lover, and so are my kids, so I LOVE to give books as gifts.  This gift pack has made my list of must haves for daddy to be gifts.  I know, for us at least, John always struggles a little with what to do with the newborn baby because they want to nurse all the time.  This gift pack gives dads that something to do with their newborn.  Snuggle, read, and enjoy!  What Daddy Duck Loves is such a fun book to read.  Plus, it's a board book, so mister grabby hands, AKA Charlie, can get away with eating it.  He loves to be read to, but prefers to eat the books.  Maggie refuses to allow me to take her picture reading this book, but she loves it!  She enjoys talking about the pictures or counting the ducks.  Each page of this book shows daddy duck and baby ducks doing some fun activity.  Surfing, searching for seashells, and so much more.  They make great ideas that somehow get brought to life with the use of a fort or something that can be found in our kitchen.  As you can see, Charlie even loves to eat the ducky while we read the story.  My favorite page is the last one...but you will have to get your own copy to find out what it is!  If you are looking for a great idea for expectant father gifts , be sure to check out Daddy Scrubs.  If books aren't your thing, they offer many more gift ideas, all for the daddy!  Be sure to visit Daddy Scrubs on their social media, and check out this video.Facebook - Twitter -  Pinterest  I bet you want to win one, am I right?  Your in luck!  The fabulous folks at Daddy Scrubs are offering one Mommy of One and Counting reader a gift set of their very own!  Giveaway ends 11:59 pm EST on February 23, 2013Open to USGood luck! a Rafflecopter giveaway I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Dear Maggie, 2 years old

Relevance: 32%      Posted on: November 1, 2012

Dear Maggie, 2 years old

I have decided I can't put this one off any longer.  I have been waiting to write this post, and am so busy getting caught up with other posts that I keep postponing this, but no more!  My beautiful baby girl is 2 years old now!  Wow!  I knew those last few months would really fly by after Charlie was born, and they sure did.  2.  Can you believe it!  I still remember the day you were born.  Every detail, every emotion.  You have grown and changed so very much.  I am so proud and amazed every day by the things you can do and the things you have learned.  In the last year, you have been talking up a storm.  Now you speak in full sentences and even string some of them together.  I love listening to you talk!  Although, if you could lay off of the "I wanna snack cup" bit, I wouldn't mind.  You aren't going to starve, I promise!  I know, it's one of your comfort things, especially when we are in the car.  Some of the phrases you say - Where'd he / she go?  Where's Charlie?  I wanna ride in daddy's truck.  Mama - get in the shower (followed by you opening the shower door for me).  And you order the dog around all the time!  Lady Jane, get it, lay down, go away, move (you hate when she lays on your toys).  You call just about everybody besides me, dad and Charlie auntie.  Even Grandma.  You won't call her grandma, just auntie.  It makes me giggle.  What do you like to do?  You love books - you are so much like me!  You read and read and read and read.....as soon as you wake up, you are searching for your books.  Just the other day, I went in to kiss you goodnight when I went to bed, and you stirred a little, felt around for your book, then sighed and went back to sleep.  It was so adorable!  You love to play with blocks and are really good at building tall towers with them.  You love to draw.  Especially with pens, but crayons or markers will do too.  If I leave a scrap of paper around, you look for something to write with.  You play with your baby dolls a lot too.  You take care of them just like I do with Charlie.  You read to them, put them in the toy highchair to feed them.  Put them in Charlie's swing, wear them in your ring sling.  You bounce a bit with them to calm them down if they are crabby, you pay the babies little butt just like I do to Charlie.  You especially love your Elmo that Sam got you.  It stands up unlike your baby dolls, so you make it go every where with you.  You even hold it's hand as you go up the stairs so he can walk with you.  You haven't even tried coloring on Elmo yet

Dear Maggie, 2 years old

Relevance: 32%      Posted on: November 1, 2012

Dear Maggie, 2 years old

I have decided I can't put this one off any longer.  I have been waiting to write this post, and am so busy getting caught up with other posts that I keep postponing this, but no more!  My beautiful baby girl is 2 years old now!  Wow!  I knew those last few months would really fly by after Charlie was born, and they sure did.  2.  Can you believe it!  I still remember the day you were born.  Every detail, every emotion.  You have grown and changed so very much.  I am so proud and amazed every day by the things you can do and the things you have learned.  In the last year, you have been talking up a storm.  Now you speak in full sentences and even string some of them together.  I love listening to you talk!  Although, if you could lay off of the "I wanna snack cup" bit, I wouldn't mind.  You aren't going to starve, I promise!  I know, it's one of your comfort things, especially when we are in the car.  Some of the phrases you say - Where'd he / she go?  Where's Charlie?  I wanna ride in daddy's truck.  Mama - get in the shower (followed by you opening the shower door for me).  And you order the dog around all the time!  Lady Jane, get it, lay down, go away, move (you hate when she lays on your toys).  You call just about everybody besides me, dad and Charlie auntie.  Even Grandma.  You won't call her grandma, just auntie.  It makes me giggle.  What do you like to do?  You love books - you are so much like me!  You read and read and read and read.....as soon as you wake up, you are searching for your books.  Just the other day, I went in to kiss you goodnight when I went to bed, and you stirred a little, felt around for your book, then sighed and went back to sleep.  It was so adorable!  You love to play with blocks and are really good at building tall towers with them.  You love to draw.  Especially with pens, but crayons or markers will do too.  If I leave a scrap of paper around, you look for something to write with.  You play with your baby dolls a lot too.  You take care of them just like I do with Charlie.  You read to them, put them in the toy highchair to feed them.  Put them in Charlie's swing, wear them in your ring sling.  You bounce a bit with them to calm them down if they are crabby, you pay the babies little butt just like I do to Charlie.  You especially love your Elmo that Sam got you.  It stands up unlike your baby dolls, so you make it go every where with you.  You even hold it's hand as you go up the stairs so he can walk with you.  You haven't even tried coloring on Elmo yet

One Giveaway - 3 Great Prizes

Relevance: 31%      Posted on: November 8, 2015

Enter the Gobbling Up The Giveaways Grand Prize

Thank you for stopping by the Gobbling Up the Giveaways giveaway hop hosted by The Anti-June Cleaver and Our Piece of Earth. We have teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to bring you a lot of fantastic of prizes to kick of the holiday season. After you have entered my giveaway, be sure to visit the linky below for more great prizes.   Grand Prize The grand prize is packed full of fun with Unit Bricks, I See Me! Personalized Book and Liquid Chalk Markers and Reusable Labels from Crafty Croc.  We love I See Me! Personalized Books and have had the opportunity to review them for all three of the kids.  Find out 6 ways we make reading fun with these books.  I'm really excited to share my review of the Crafty Croc Markers and Labels with you but you have to see the review to discover our favorite way to use these markers. Giveaway open to US.  Ends at 11:59 pm EST on November 23rd, 2015.  Good luck and Gobble Gobble. Entry-Form Disclosure: The Anti-June Cleaver, Our Piece of Earth, and the rest of the bloggers participating in the Fall Fun giveaway hop are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum Revisited

Relevance: 31%      Posted on: April 11, 2017

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum Revisited

Awhile ago, I shared what we are using for kindergarten homeschool curriculum.   If we say we started in September, that puts us 7 months into our first year of homeschool.  There are so many days I feel like I'm not doing very much actual teaching, but the reality is, the kids are learning so much!  It just looks different than what I envisioned.  You see, I use very little of what I actually purchased for kindergarten curriculum. For the most part, I still like what we decided on and it worked fine for us, but we just changed.  The one thing we purchased that just wasn't working out for us was All About Reading.  Maggie hated it.  Pure hate and a fight if I even suggested we work on it.  Since I became an Usborne Books & More consultant last February, I eventually ordered the Usborne Very First Reading Set {which I later replaced with the Usborne Very First Reading Library}.  I figured it couldn't hurt.  We got down to it after taking some time off because she seriously got upset just talking about her learning to read.  Then I busted out Pirate Pat.  We spent the first day just looking at it and talking about the letter sounds and how we would read them together.  It took us 3 or 4 days to get through the first book but she was SO excited because she just finished reading a book.  This was such a great decision for our family.  She is up to book 11 or 12 but we don't use this as our reading time as often.  You see, she realized about a month ago that she could read anything.  I mean that.  She can read any word now.  She isn't fluid, but she's able to read anything so that's just what she does.  She picks up a book, magazine, cereal box, etc. and reads it.  The library takes us up into second grade, so we will keep reading it but the reality is that now she just needs to keep practicing and she LOVES to read.   We stopped using Moving Beyond the Page.  I loved it, I still think it's great.  We did do some of the units and had fun with them.   But then the kids got really interested in something so we ran with it and left our curriculum behind.  Now, I use books to design our curriculum based on what we feel like learning about.   We do still follow Singapore Math pretty consistently.  She's now onto the second half of first grade math.  When we finished the first half of first grade math, we took some time off to really keep reinforcing what she had learned.  She could do it all but it took quite a bit of time and I wanted it to be more automatic for her.  She liked not having to do her workbook again and I was planning to wait at least a few more weeks and just keep playing math games like Math Room with her but she wanted to start working on her book again so we are about six lessons in right now.   I did order Mystery of History to kind of sort of use for history.  I say that because I love how it weaves the bible into history instead of always seeming like they are two separate things.  We read the 1-2 pages once a week but really love the timelines as a fun, visual way to learn about history.  Most of our history comes from books at bedtime.   I also added in Devotions Off the Map.  I love the quick story as they go on a journey and then we discuss the bible verses and the open ended questions that we can discuss together as a family.   In all honesty though, a very large part of our school day takes place in the car or at bedtime.  We read a story at bedtime and there are a million questions to go along with it.  It really leads into discussion the next day as well and we pull out some more books to go along with whatever "it" happens to be.  Lately, we've been reading  Who was Rosa Parks? and other titles as well as the If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon series. <--- These might be my favorite.  I love asking them what they think because each section is titled with a question.  I ask their thoughts, we read the section and talk about it.   They are really bringing history to life in such a fun, exciting story.  Maybe I've read them myself when the kids were playing, that's not weird, is it?!  I hated history growing up so I want it to be fun for these guys.   Our school day lacks structure and it's absolutely wonderful.  We do our math when we finish breakfast.  We do our reading practice during nap time since it's also quiet time.  Geography, history, science, art, music, etc., they take place randomly throughout the day. Often times, our art lessons take place when our friends are here.  Art Treasury and Art Ideas give the kids a great place to start learning about a different art technique while talking about famous artists.  We pull out 365 Science Activities and have some fun.  Density was our favorite, it was so much fun!   We have a geography book we do once in a while, but mostly, we love to look through Atlases or talk about where my sister is in the Navy or learn all about the rainforests which leads to talking about where the rainforests are.  Sometimes, we just pull out my old scrapbooks and talk about places I have traveled to.  We visit the science museum, history museums and there are always places to go exploring.  We learned about badgers after our nature hike one day.  When it's something they love, I put my planning cap on and put together a theme unit like this one on space or weather.  We change up what we do for writing all the time.  The Very First Story Writing book is a lot of fun and one of our favorites.  She is also getting this Fun Schooling Horse Journal for Easter.   How has your year of homeschool changed from when you started?    

Halloween Themed Story and Snack Idea

Relevance: 31%      Posted on: October 22, 2015

5 Little Pumpkins Book Snack Idea

The kids love it when our snack goes right along with a story or activity we have done. This one was a big hit that we will be doing every year for Halloween.

Smithsonian Readers Pack Giveaway

Relevance: 30%      Posted on: January 31, 2016

Smithsonian Readers Pack Giveaway

Thank you for stopping by the We Love Giveaways giveaway hop hosted by The Anti-June Cleaver and Our Piece of Earth. It's almost Valentine's Day so what better way to spread the love then a fun giveaway hop? We have teamed up with an amazing group of bloggers to bring you a bunch of great prizes that are sure to appeal to everyone. As always, after you have entered a giveaway visit the linky at the bottom of each post to visit the other blogs for more great prizes.   Grand Prize I love reading.  We spend tons of time every day with our heads in books around here.  I could read all day and love building up our homeschool library.  That is why I am so excited to share this giveaway with all of you.  Smithsonian Readers is partnering with Our Piece of Earth to give you a chance to win a four book prize pack. Smithsonian Readers: Early Adventures Level 1 (ages 4 and up) lays the groundwork with simple sentence structure and familiar content, divided into six 32-page topics: Vehicles, Reptiles, Outer Space, Animal Habitats, Insects, and Safari Animals. Full-color photographs highlight concepts in the text, while multiple-choice quizzes emphasize comprehension. A glossary of terms and 36 illustrated fact cards inspire further exploration of young readers’ favorite subjects. Smithsonian Readers: Seriously Amazing Level 2 (ages 5 and up) builds on the skills developed by the Level 1 reader by introducing varied sentence patterns and more advanced vocabulary, such as contractions, possessives, compound sentences, and three-syllable words. Children can also explore new areas of interest with sections on Nighttime Animals, Sea Life, Dinosaurs, the Solar System, Baby Animals, and the Human Body. Smithsonian Readers: World of Wonder Level 3 (ages 5 and up) engages burgeoning readers with more detailed content about the world around them: Ancient Egypt, Wild Weather, Rain Forest Animals, the United States, the Planet, and Sharks. The Level 3 reader features additional resources to underline concepts and teach new skills, such as maps, diagrams, and illustrations, as well as more complex spelling patterns and longer sentences. Smithsonian Readers: Endless Explorations Level 4 (ages 6 and up) combines the knowledge of the first three levels, urging children to apply their newfound skills with subjects designed to challenge them: Predators, Space Exploration, Natural Disasters, World Wonders, Ocean Habitats, and Flight. Fewer photographs encourage readers to focus on the text for information, while pronunciation guides familiarize them with the more complex vocabulary. I can't wait to receive your set of books for review, the kids get as excited as I do when we get new books in the mail.   Giveaway open to US only.  Ends at 11:59 PM EST on February 15, 2016.  Good luck! Entry-Form The Anti-June Cleaver, Our Piece of Earth, and the rest of the bloggers participating in the Natural New Year giveaway hop are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Valentine’s Day Creative Play Areas

Relevance: 30%      Posted on: February 10, 2020

Valentine's Day Creative Play Areas

*Disclosure:  Affiliate links may be included in this post.*   I have no clue what to actually call this desk area that I set up for the kids. I just knew I needed an art area of some sort for the kids. I said to a friend of mine one afternoon, "I really want to find a free or cheap desk that I could use for an art area for the kids." Literally about three hours later - I saw a free one on the Facebook Marketplace and picked it up the next day. I've been swapping out the stuff in my veggie tray container to go along with a theme or season because my youngest does art for hours a day. I went through my Valentine's Day bin a few weeks ago and everything you see here was in that bin - it worked out so perfect! I imagine most of these things were picked up from the dollar store last year so it wasn't very expensive to set up even if I had picked it up this year. Here's what we have. On the right side of the desk is the writing area. I have some wooden hearts, different ribbons, glue, play dough, glue and the pink, purple and red pens that came in this gel pen set I got for a great price last month. The cute wooden tray was in the bin as well and I imagine I bought it for a reason whenever I picked it up. The paper is in the top drawer of the desk so they can pull it out and it doesn't take up the desk space. On the left side is the art stuff. There are various heart shaped cookie cutters and a lips one. A bunch of different size foam stickers with XO and lips and tons of different colored foam heart stickers. Pink, white and red pom pom balls, some heart shaped gems from years ago and some cardboard hearts. In the center is some large cardboard heart cutouts. I am excited to see what they make with them. The wood hearts are from years ago - I made texture hearts when the kids were younger and every heart had a different type of fabric on it. I honestly had plans to pick up a bunch of different art stuff for it but when I pulled out the bin and saw what I had - I figured it was enough for now. The play dough gets brough out almost daily. In a drawer thing next to the desk is a huge drawer of play dough tools - scissors, rolling pin, shape cutters, stampers, etc.. Because my Henry is a huge fan of sensory bins - I change out our sensory bins every few weeks or monthly.  This month, we have a mix of different dry pastas dyed in red, pink and purple in one tray.  We have a mix of different colored buttons in red and white in another.  We still have our Floof out as well as a dyed salt tray from January because he was having so much fun with it.  I usually have between two and four sensory bins out at a time with a variety of different tools to use with them.   I can't leave a blog post without adding in some fun themed books so here are a few of the Valentine's Day books we enjoy reading. The Biggest Valentine Ever by Steven Kroll {we absolutely love this series of books} Pinkalicious Pink of Hearts by Victoria Kann If You'll Be My Valentine by Cynthia Rylant Thanks for reading - I'd love to know what you are doing for Valentine's Day so leave a comment and let me know!

Our Adventures in EC Part 4 {elimination communication}

Relevance: 30%      Posted on: September 4, 2013

Our Adventures in EC Part 4 {elimination communication}

I kind of fell off the map on writing about this and I'm sorry about that. Charlie kind of fell off the map for awhile with going on the potty too.  He would kick and scream if we went near the potty, so we kind of took a little break with it.  I have tried to let him lead things since that is the point of Elimination Communication - to learn to read your child's signals on when they have to go to the bathroom.  Part of this was my fault - I got a bit lazy about it sometimes. That's the beauty of elimination communication though, it doesn't have to be an all or nothing kind of thing.  We are back to using the potty, not as often as I would like, but it has been a crazy summer.  In the morning and at night, he is doing really well.  We have put the potty chair back into the living room and that seems to be helping.  Plus, we dug out the potty books again, and he seems to really like holding them and "flushing" the potty. During the day, he will stop what he is doing and sit on the potty, so if he isn't wearing a diaper, this works great!  However, I'm not real good at knowing when he has to poop yet, so he has to wear a diaper sometimes when I think there is a chance he has to go and I am doing something where I can't keep an eye on him.  I hate cleaning up poop!  He will still fight me once in awhile on going during the day, but mostly, he will sit on the potty and is quite proud of himself.  He will actually run into the bathroom and lift the toilet lid sometimes when he has to go.  I think the part that caused us troubles for awhile was that he doesn't go right away when I set him on anymore, it takes him more than a few seconds to go, and he hates to sit still.  That's where the books have helped a lot.  He will sit still just a bit longer and gives himself the opportunity to go instead of sit on the potty because he knows he has to, get bored, and go pee on the carpet somewhere, or my personal favorite…..right next to the toilet after he wanted to get off of it. I am hoping to get back into posting more about our adventures in EC, so hopefully you will see a more informative post in the near future. Want more info on EC?  Check out my previous posts. What questions about elimination communication would you like to see addressed?

CrossWired Science Review

Relevance: 30%      Posted on: April 18, 2019

CrossWired Science Review

{Disclosure:  Affiliate links may be included in this post.  All thoughts and opinions are mine.} Science has always been one of my favorite areas to teach my kids because they are already learning and exploring it on their own most of the time. I mean, I basically feel like my job in life is to clean up one science experiment after another all in the name of education. Today we are talking about a new science curriculum from CrossWired Science.  {Save $5 by using code earth28 at checkout} This isn't your average science program. There are currently two global topics as part of the program - Sound, and Fluid Dynamics. The first question to address is the ages the program is designed for. The great part is that it's for just about anyone with an interest in science. Each global topic contains 29 different lessons on the subject. It is designed to be used over and over as you learn and dig deeper. Once you sign up, you will see a first-timers and second-timers option. The questions for the material is on two different levels to challenge your kids when they go through the topics a second time. Each global topic has many different science areas covered. Fluid Dynamics will cover aerodynamics, Fin Types and Swim Patters, Shark Denticles and SO SO SO many more. Within each global topic, your child can explore core videos, fill in the blank worksheets, field trips, experiments, research, devotions, books and a ton more. If you look on the parent section of the website - you can download and print a calendar to give you more input on what you do when - however - CrossWired Science is made to be customized to meet the needs of your family. Now - here is a bit about how we are using the CrossWired Science. We log in 3-5 times a week. By we - I mean my daughter mainly. She is actively working through the Fluid Dynamics topic but when we watch the core videos, we all gather round. We often watch through it twice in a row and then do the quiz. I listen and help if they ask, but they discuss what they think the answer is and then choose their answer. Then at the end, they can see their quiz results. Now - the one thing my kids really wish they could do is to retake the quiz. My daughter is a perfectionist when it comes to her school work, so anything less than a perfect score and she wants to redo it. After watching the videos - your child can complete some printable worksheets. We tend to just discuss them together and so far haven't actually filled out the worksheets. I love how CrossWired Science encompasses all ways of learning. Many of the topics are about animals in some way which always leads to a discussion on whether there is a Wild Kratts episode we need to watch about that animals - ha! We have a ton of fun discovering new books about the topics and reading them together to learn more and dig deeper on each topic. We are currently in the middle of a fun research project. Maggie is working on a display board about Fins and Swim Patterns. One of the ideas in the experiments was to make a flat model 3D display so that is what she has been working on for the last day. I recently discovered that she doesn't view this type of thing as learning/schoolwork so I'm going to roll with that idea. She has the freedom to do this however she would like. She is drawing pictures of information she discovers in some of the books we are reading. Then she writes a few sentences about it or definitions. I'm super excited to see how the final product looks. I love how under the research sections, they explain the goal of the research. I can't wait until she finishes it - I'll add the picture in when she gets it completed. On the sidebar, you can see the progress your child is making in the course and what they still have left to do. This way you and your child can see what they have left to complete. As you go through the lessons - your child can make notes by clicking on the note button on the bottom of the screen. My daughter - and the boys - seem to really enjoy CrossWired Science. My daughter likes the freedom to dig deeper into whatever she learns that is exciting or interesting to her. I love that the kids can do the same work, yet answer questions or do research related to the different levels that they are on. I know Charlie will love it when he starts using his own account instead of trying to answer Maggie's questions for her. The different activities - the videos, research, worksheets, books, field trips, etc. all reinforce what we are learning about. Because we aren't just focusing on a workbook, the kids stay interested and want to keep learning. While I know this is kind of a beta test right now and they are continuously working on the website to get it perfect - I think this will really take off as a fun way to learn science. Find out what others have to say by clicking the image below.

Summer #BlogChallenge August What I love about them….

Relevance: 30%      Posted on: August 18, 2012

Summer #BlogChallenge August What I love about them....

My kids are my whole world!  Here are just a few reasons why.1.  I love to laugh!  Maggie is so funny.  Even when I feel like I'm ready to ship her off, she manages to make me laugh somehow.2.  They teach me so much!  I am learning to re evaluate how I look at the world.3.  I love that John and I have to be better people than we were before because we are teaching our kids how to be.4.  Because of my kids, I eat better!  5.  That feeling I get when only I can make them feel better.  Breastfeeding my kids has been one of the greatest joys in my life - twice :)6.  That we have taught her love.  She hugs and kisses everybody...especially the dogs and her little brother.7.  All of the snuggles and love at naptime.  This is one of the best (and sometimes most stressful) times of my day.  Most days, they both fall asleep on my lap nursing.  Some days, I can't even sleep I'm so busy staring at them.8.  We get to take time to play....every single day.9.  The smiles and giggles I get from these two little ones.10.   Watching them grow and learn all the time.  I get told "mama sit" a million times a day so she can read books with me or play with toys.  She's pretending so much and I love watching as she figures something out for the first time.This is only a short list of reasons why I love them so much. Charlie and Maggie are the best little people I could imagine!  They are so amazing and fun and absolutely the most important people in my life.

Summer #BlogChallenge August What I love about them….

Relevance: 30%      Posted on: August 18, 2012

Summer #BlogChallenge August What I love about them....

My kids are my whole world!  Here are just a few reasons why.1.  I love to laugh!  Maggie is so funny.  Even when I feel like I'm ready to ship her off, she manages to make me laugh somehow.2.  They teach me so much!  I am learning to re evaluate how I look at the world.3.  I love that John and I have to be better people than we were before because we are teaching our kids how to be.4.  Because of my kids, I eat better!  5.  That feeling I get when only I can make them feel better.  Breastfeeding my kids has been one of the greatest joys in my life - twice :)6.  That we have taught her love.  She hugs and kisses everybody...especially the dogs and her little brother.7.  All of the snuggles and love at naptime.  This is one of the best (and sometimes most stressful) times of my day.  Most days, they both fall asleep on my lap nursing.  Some days, I can't even sleep I'm so busy staring at them.8.  We get to take time to play....every single day.9.  The smiles and giggles I get from these two little ones.10.   Watching them grow and learn all the time.  I get told "mama sit" a million times a day so she can read books with me or play with toys.  She's pretending so much and I love watching as she figures something out for the first time.This is only a short list of reasons why I love them so much. Charlie and Maggie are the best little people I could imagine!  They are so amazing and fun and absolutely the most important people in my life.

Excited about summertime learning

Relevance: 29%      Posted on: June 1, 2014

Excited about summertime learning

 *Disclosure:  I received complimentary products for the purpose of this review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.*     I really love that Maggie gets as excited about learning as I always have.  Charlie is always right there trying to jump in and learn too.  We always seem to have a lot of fun when we sit down to do Maggie's workbooks.  I have been talking about wanting to homeschool for a few years now, but it is a huge battle with their dad who is completely against it because he knows absolutely nothing about it and is worried people {his friends and family} will think he is weird, or that we are a weird family because of it.  I had been sitting around talking with one of my friends about homeschooling one morning.  A few hours later when I checked my email, it was from Summer Bridge Activities about reviewing some of their workbooks.  It seemed like perfect timing and yet another way to get Maggie excited about summertime learning.   I had just redone our front dining room and took out the table and turned it into a learning area for the kids.  I figure if we are already doing homeschooling things, maybe I will get him to come around.  I took a look at the website and asked a bunch of questions because I wasn't sure if the PreK-K book would work for Maggie or if it would be too far ahead of what she is able to do.  Because her birthday is in October, she isn't even at preschool age yet, but when I was able to check out some samples of the books, I knew she would be challenged on some of the pages while still be able to do many of them.     Maggie was so excited when her workbook arrived.  She gets so excited to do all of the activities.  She doesn't want to do her school work every day, but on most of the days, she wants to sit down and work on 4 or 5 of them at a time.  I keep finding her with the book trying to do it all by herself, which is why I love that the pages can all be torn out along the perforated lines.  I can pull out the pages we are going to work on, and put the rest of the book away.   The Summer Bridge Activities workbook for PreK-K has been great for Maggie.  She can already write all of the letters, so the beginning pages of practice lines are pretty easy for her.  I like how at the top of those pages though, there is a picture that corresponds to the line they are drawing, like the slanted line is a broom stick, etc..  The way the workbook is set up is that there is a front and a back side for each day.  After completing that days activities, they can take a colorful star sticker from the back of the book and place it in the sticker box on the page.  The math pages reinforce the concept 3 times on one page to really bring it all together for them.   The book is broken up into 3 sections, the same way that there are 3 months of summer vacation.  The activities progressively get more difficult and tie the concepts and ideas together.  I like how the beginning pages go through learning to identify shapes {which Charlie loves to do too}, and then after a few days of that, you get a fun robot picture that is a color by shape.  We went through the key at the top and colored each shape the color it says, and then Maggie was able to color the picture using the key without much help at all.  She was very proud of this page and couldn't wait to show daddy what she did.   At the end of each section, you will find a hands on science activity, fitness activities, character development activities, and outdoor activities.  The beginning of each section allows for you and your child to write down 3 monthly goals, and they can place a sticker next to them as they complete them.  There is also a word list to talk about with your child and they can circle the words as they see them throughout the following pages.   The end of the book contains some fun bonuses including flashcards with numbers, letters, colors and shapes, and more.  These have been great because while Maggie and I are working on something, Charlie always wants to be involved so we have been working on colors and shapes with him too.   To finish off the book, there is a congratulations certificate to fill out for your child.  Maggie has had a lot of fun working on her Summer Bridge Activities book over the last month or so.  It encompasses all of the different concepts you want your children learning.  Summer Bridge Activities books are designed to refresh and challenge your child as they make that summer bridge from one grade to the next.  For even more learning, you can visit their website and register your child{ren} for even more activities as well as an informal assessment to see where they stand.  Check out the info graphic below for some ideas on keeping learning fun throughout the summer.  SBA_infographic2013   Summer Bridge Activities will help to not only prevent learning loss throughout the summer, but also help to better prepare your child for the upcoming school year. Buy it:  Summer Bridge Activities books are available for ages PreK-8th grade and a wide variety of books to choose from.  Get yours today and help keep your child from forgetting all of those things they have learned throughout the school year.  Right now, you can get a free sample of the books for the age that you need. ***Giveaway Closed*** Congratulations to Misha E

BJU Press Focus on Fives Review

Relevance: 29%      Posted on: April 23, 2020

BJU Press Focus on Fives Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.   Are you starting to look for kindergarten curriculum from a biblical perspective? Then you are going to want to keep reading to find out more about BJU Press Homeschool and the BJU Press Focus on Fives curriculum. So what is Focus on Fives? Let's check out the kit! This will come with six complete teacher's editions that lay out everything you need step-by-step.  There is a lot of information in the early pages of this book just for you to read through before beginning this.  There is some prep work like hanging up the alphabet chart, getting the puppet characters ready, etc. that you will want to look through before beginning. We have altered some activities that are designed for groups or classrooms to better fit teaching one student.  Each of the teacher's guides covers 5-6 weeks of lessons in a five-week format. You will also get the visuals homeschool flip chart which contains a ton of visuals that go along with the lessons. The phonics charts homeschool packet contains alphabet song charts, high-frequency word cards, phonics characters, mascots, word family cards, phonics song charts, handwriting wall charts, spelling cards and phonics charts. Write Now!  Book which has a variety of tracing and writing activities as well as correct spacing of letters, words and phrases.   Phonics practice book contains a ton of different phonics practice activities and review activities throughout the book.  There are also  a bunch of phonics stories in the back of the book for activities the kids do.   The Worktext is packed with activities and worksheets for your child to go along with that days lesson.  Different activities include writing, circling, cutting and gluing, matching, putting things in order.  Everything you need for these worksheets and activities is included in the book. The sections are separated by color and tie you an overview of new sounds your child will be working on, tips and other books to read.  The back of the book is different checkup station worksheets to ensure your child is retaining what they have learned.   Phonics Review Cards which contain the alphabet, sound combinations and words.  They are clearly marked for the lesson they go with {except the beginning ones which are used multiple times}. Over thirty books for your child and you to read together.  The beginning books are picture books for discussion and they progress to reading.  You and your child read together by reading the kid words and the parent words.  In the back of the book, you will find phonics review words. Okay - so that's what you are getting.  Now - how are we using it!  Let's check it out.  Henry is my checker outer - he is 5 1/2 but hasn't started any actual schooling that he isn't interested in yet {October birthday so I give him the lead right now}.  Okay, so for one lesson, it will give you: a learning center activity that you can find in the instruction aids in the book.  Some of these require some prep work like extra copies.   There is a show and tell activity that we sometimes do.  Some days, all three kids want to do this activity, some times none of them do.   Snack of the week is Henry's current favorite {especially the cupcake activity where they are decorated with the first initial of each kids' name}.   Songs {they are listed in the book} {In the first lesson, we introduce the puppets but ours have disappeared and we are super bummed because Henry loves the puppets bouncing over the words and letters as we say them} edit already - we found them!  Yay! Set up the visuals of the lessons.  These may introduce a biblical theme, characters in the story, healthy habits and tons of other things.   Listening story and comprehension.   Worktext pages which are clearly labeled in the teacher's edition for you to find.  I tear the pages out that we will work on each day.   Alphabet recognition.  This uses the alphabet charts and the alphabet song and chart {we use a different version than the song on here because I've been teaching it to my kids since birth but this one is super cute too}.   Handwriting and I love that it keeps referring back to the correct pencil hold so they get a solid understanding of this from the start.  Extended activities.  I have to be totally honest - these tend to be our favorite things!  There will be different story suggestions, the write now activity pages {we also tear these out to work on}, the language arts activity in lesson one is a favorite - the letters on the dog bones and he has to find them around the house and match them to the wall chart.  Motor skills, learning center activities and more.  The extended activities cover a ton of different subjects, language arts, motor skills, arts and crafts, science and my favorite - the bible connection.  I love taking what the kids are learning that day and using it to relate to the bible in an understandable way for young kids.   The beginning books in the reading books have no words.  They are picture reading books designed to engage the child in the story by asking questions about the pictures.  The story is then followed up with comprehension questions.   We are loving the variety of activities each week offers.  Arts and crafts is one of his favorite things so incorporating that into the school work is super fun for him.  And the success he finds when he correctly names and matches a letter to the alphabet chart is so fun for him.  When I first received these packages in the mail, I felt both excited and overwhelmed.  There is a lot of material.  When I first started going through it, I felt like it was difficult to find some of the pages but mainly because I was skimming - not reading and would miss where to find that page.  After the first lesson or so - I figured it out and it wasn't a struggle anymore.  I get stuff ready daily for each lesson but I think you could also spend a few hours and separate it all by lesson so it's all set for you each day.  This curriculum allows Henry to exercise his mind and move his body while learning and having fun.  As you progress through the different lessons and teacher's editions - you move from just letter recognition onto being able to read.  The natural flow of it all seems like it will work great for us.   Henry and I both like Focus on Fives and while we will take a break from it for now, we will start up again in the fall or on the days he wants to work on it.  Now - wish me luck to find our puppets, I have no clue where they could be! Want to hear what others have to say?  Check out some more Focus on Fives reviews.  

Christmas Traditions to Start With Your Family { #MPMHGG }

Relevance: 29%      Posted on: November 5, 2014

Christmas Traditions to Start With Your Family { #MPMHGG }

*Disclosure:  I received complimentary product for the purpose of this post.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.  Affiliate links may be included.*   I love Christmas.  I suppose, in all honesty, that I love every holiday, but the Christmas spirit is always so exciting.  The music, the lights, picking out just the perfect gift.  There are so many great memories I have of Christmas.  When I had my first baby, I couldn't stop thinking about Christmas and how I wanted to create so many amazing memories and traditions for our family.  Now, we just added our third baby and I'm again so excited to share our family traditions with 3 little ones and create our own perfect moments.  Here are some ideas of Christmas traditions to start with your family.   Christmas Eve Pajamas.  Everybody gets new pajamas to open on Christmas Eve.  Wear them to bed and you get to wake up and open gifts in spiffy new pj's.  That way you don't have to wait for everybody to get up and ready before you dig into the gifts because it is so hard to wait!!!  Plus, this way you can pick out jammies that match the things they love that year.  We just received these adorable Show Horses "Pasture Bedtime" Applique PJ's from Hatley for Maggie.  Living out in the country, we see a lot of horses whenever we go somewhere.  I'm never sure what she loves more, the dog or the horses.   These Hatley pajamas fit Maggie so well.  If I had to pick just one thing that I love the most about these pj's, it would be that the shirt is longer than you find in many pajamas, so their belly stays covered all night.  No more belly peeking out and getting cold.  Have I mentioned how ADORABLE these jammies are?  From the horse appliqué design to "Pasture Bedtime", I smile every time she picks these out to wear to bed.  The contrasting colors look great together and the horses are such a hit that the kids just sit and talk about them all before bed.  Because Maggie is petite, the elastic waist on the bottoms is great.  Hatley pajamas are available in original prints so you know your family won't be waking up Christmas morning in the same pajamas as all of their friends. If you want to see more great products {including these PJ's}, be sure to follow Hatley's Pinterest boards or on Facebook.   Choose and cut down your own Christmas tree.  This is one of my very favorite things to do each year.  Here is is, barely November, and I am already eyeing up the room and smiling thinking back to last years tree and how much fun we had picking it out and cutting it down, then decorating with the Christmas music in the background.   New ornaments for the entire family.  This is one of my favorite traditions.  I love picking out ornaments for each of the kids and for John.  John even gets excited to pick out an ornament for each of the kids and for me.  The kids' Grandma gets all of the grandkids on my side of the family an ornament too.  I love looking back through the years at pictures of everybody sitting together with their new ornament.  Yet another way to give little gifts that go along with what they love and are really into at the time.  We also get a family ornament each year which is so much fun!   String popcorn.     Go caroling.     Baking cookies.  We go to an annual cookie exchange, but we use to all get together and bake the cookies together as a family back when the cousin's were all little.  Last year, we invited some friends over for cookie baking fun and cannot wait to do it again!   12 Days of Christmas Books.  We are such book lovers here, so I really love this idea.  12 days, 12 books.  For ideas on how to make this very affordable, you can read this post on how to build an almost free book library.   What Christmas traditions have you started with your family?   Three winners will receive Hatley's Kids Pajamas.   Giveaway ends November 17th at 11:59pm, open to US residents, ages 18+. Only one entrant per household, per address. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Enter using the giveaway form below. Good luck! *winners may select 1 pair of their choice design and size, must be in stock* ***Giveaway Closed*** Congratulations to: Shayna B. Courtney H Andrea H

Crafty Classroom: USA Activity Bundle Pack Review

Relevance: 28%      Posted on: July 19, 2019

Crafty Classroom:  USA Activity Bundle Pack Review

Have  I mentioned that my very favorite thing about homeschool is that when the kids want to learn about something - we can just run with it.  When I saw this USA Activity Bundle Pack from Crafty Classroom, I knew that Maggie would love it.  This is absolutely the kind of activity that she loves and I'm excited to tell you about what we do that makes it even more fun and personal for us. This activity pack has three different activity packs included: U.S.A. State by State Activity Notebook U.S.A. State Bird Art Cards U.S.A. 50 State Mazes Maggie is absolutely loving the activity pack - especially working through the different states.  We printed them out and 3-hole punched them to put them all into a binder.  We did the same with the bird cards and mazes.  I give her a set amount of pages to complete a week.  For now, she has been doing it about three days a week, but summer is getting busier and now she is going to complete a minimum of one state set a week. Each state consists of one page where they locate that state on the map, color the flag, draw different things in the state like lakes, river, etc..  They also add in the abbreviation, state #, nickname, state bird and state flower as well as a spot for facts and notes.  We have a lot of state books for her to dig into to find the information but I really loved that the recommended book to go along with this activity pack was one we already owned.  But here is where we get to my very favorite part of it all. First off - she picks the state she works on and fills it all out in any order she chooses.  She picks states where we know somebody because that makes it even more fun for her.  When it comes to the facts and notes part - she calls or FaceTime's whoever lives there and asks them what they think are some interesting facts about the state.  She loves this part so much!!!  The facts she is learning are things that she doesn't find in the books and it leads to fun conversations with whoever it is she is talking to about it.  We love playing state bingo and the roll around the states games.  It is great practice at naming states and capitals and we love playing games. Did you know that every state bird isn't different?  Some states have the same bird.  She is having fun finding out which states share the same bird and learning a few facts about the bird.  She also loves the mazes for each state. She is choosing on her own to do these activities and learning about the different states and asks to do this for her school work. It's such a simple print and use pack that makes learning easy and fun for Maggie and for me.  To hear what others think about this - click the link below.

Books We Love: Nothing

Relevance: 28%      Posted on: May 15, 2019

Books We Love:  Nothing

We all know I'm a sucker for a good kids book but seldom do I open one up and fall in love immediately. We can just call this what it is - a glowing review - because I absolutely love the book Nothing by Natalee Creech a WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group book.  I want my kids to feel God's love within them every day so any book we can read that reinforces that point is a must have in my kids' library. From the minute I opened the mail I was impressed. With the gorgeous cover that invites you to open it and read immediately - I was hooked already and couldn't wait to read it to the kids. It got even better from there once I started turning pages in the book. We began reading as we answered the question - Can anything separate me from God's love? Page after page is filled with the most beautiful illustrations as your child will see one adventure after another and read about how God's love is so powerful and so strong that you can't escape it. This message is repeated throughout this adorable story in a beautiful rhyming message. My kids all love when I read this story and it's the perfect bedtime message. Come - read along as we dig into Romans 8:38-39 and see where your child's imagination can take them as they learn all about God's unending love. You can view other blogger opinions about this incredible story by clicking the image below.

Happy 2nd Birthday Charlie Bear

Relevance: 28%      Posted on: September 10, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday Charlie Bear

You are the most affectionate, sweet little boy I have ever known. My heart just melts every single time you say, "I love you". I'm not sure what makes me smile more, when you reply to my whispered I love you with "I love you" or when you keep going back and forth saying "I love you" with special emphasis on the YOU because you know it makes me giggle.

Dear Charlie, 4 months old

Relevance: 27%      Posted on: November 9, 2012

Dear Charlie, 4 months old

Oh my handsome prince.  You are so awesome!  In some ways, you haven't changed much over the last month, yet you have changed so much!  Your weight gain slowed down over the last month - I'm not complaining, you are a hefty little guy weighing 16 pounds 9 ounces. I keep waiting for you to roll over from your back to your tummy but you just don't want to.  You don't like to be on your tummy much though, so that makes sense.  You get almost all the way over, then just stop and laugh.  Speaking of laughing, you laugh all the time!  Mister happy - that's who you are.  You watch Maggie play and just laugh at her or smile.  It's adorable. The instant somebody makes eye contact with you, you smile away.  You just love to interact. You are also a drool face.  You chew nonstop - although you have done this pretty much since day 1.  I never remember to put a bib on you, so we have to change your shirt a few times a day to keep you dry.  Plus, you are a ralpher.  You spit up kind of often - usually all over mommy.  You can stop doing that if you want.You sort of sit up.  You have sat in the exersaucer a few times.  You sat in a friends jumperoo one day and LOVED it!  Mommy is trying to get you one.   You love to sit up and look around though.  The vacuum is your favorite sound besides mommys voice. You chew on everything and recently discovered those fantastic chubby little legs of yours.  Just the other day, you managed to get those little toes into your mouth.  You sure thought that was cool! You are a big fan of me singing to you and you love reading books together.  When we sit and play the piano, you get the sweetest look on your face and the sound calms you down right away.  When you push the keys down you get so excited! I love you little dude.  You are the coolest little guy I know and I am having so much fun watching you grow and learn.  

Dear Charlie, 4 months old

Relevance: 27%      Posted on: November 9, 2012

Dear Charlie, 4 months old

Oh my handsome prince.  You are so awesome!  In some ways, you haven't changed much over the last month, yet you have changed so much!  Your weight gain slowed down over the last month - I'm not complaining, you are a hefty little guy weighing 16 pounds 9 ounces. I keep waiting for you to roll over from your back to your tummy but you just don't want to.  You don't like to be on your tummy much though, so that makes sense.  You get almost all the way over, then just stop and laugh.  Speaking of laughing, you laugh all the time!  Mister happy - that's who you are.  You watch Maggie play and just laugh at her or smile.  It's adorable. The instant somebody makes eye contact with you, you smile away.  You just love to interact. You are also a drool face.  You chew nonstop - although you have done this pretty much since day 1.  I never remember to put a bib on you, so we have to change your shirt a few times a day to keep you dry.  Plus, you are a ralpher.  You spit up kind of often - usually all over mommy.  You can stop doing that if you want.You sort of sit up.  You have sat in the exersaucer a few times.  You sat in a friends jumperoo one day and LOVED it!  Mommy is trying to get you one.   You love to sit up and look around though.  The vacuum is your favorite sound besides mommys voice. You chew on everything and recently discovered those fantastic chubby little legs of yours.  Just the other day, you managed to get those little toes into your mouth.  You sure thought that was cool! You are a big fan of me singing to you and you love reading books together.  When we sit and play the piano, you get the sweetest look on your face and the sound calms you down right away.  When you push the keys down you get so excited! I love you little dude.  You are the coolest little guy I know and I am having so much fun watching you grow and learn.  

Not Your Average Homeschool Planner

Relevance: 27%      Posted on: June 6, 2019

Not Your Average Homeschool Planner

I am one of those people who gets great joy out of sitting down and filling in the planner. Last year I spent hours scouring the internet for the planner that actually had everything that I needed and wanted. When I was sent a copy of the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year from The Old Schoolhouse®  for review.  I was excited to check it out! When you open the first page, you can quickly see that this is more than just your average planner. The table of contents shows you the amazing information included in here. You can keep your child's high school transcript in the planner but also find a page with information on creating an academic transcript. Some more of the extra pages in here are to keep track of skills learned, courses taken, and a calendar for the next few years to look ahead. Before each month is a devotional written by Gena Suarez, author of the planner. These devotionals are meant to inspire and motivate you through the word of God as you plan your days out. Next you will come to the monthly planner pages. I love how large the pages are with plenty of space to write our life into.  Each monthly space also has a full page for notes for the month. I use this to write in games I want to play with the kids, books I want to read this month or field trips we plan to take this month. There is also a space on the side for notes for the month right on the calendar page. There are also weekly planning pages that are laid out to plan for five children. There are seven rows for planning by subject and plenty of space to write in each of them. I love being able to lay it out by exactly what it is that they will be working on that week with all three of my kids on one page. There are also devotionals throughout this section as well as a few blank notes pages. The back of the planner has a section laid out by child for up to five children. Each child's section contains a page for notes. The next is curriculum planning where you can write the subject, curriculum, vendor, grade level, price and contact for each subject. There is also an attendance section - we don't use this because we don't have to track it and we just do a few days a week year round, but I know this would be really helpful in states that require it. There is also a page to track books that the child has read that year. Now - onto my favorite part - the next few pages are goals for each child. The goals are broken down into yearly goals, then into first and second semester goals. My kids are young but even from the start, we discussed together the types of things they wanted to learn about, skills they wanted to learn and all sorts of other things. This came at a great time because over the next month or two, I will sit down with each of the kids to discuss their goals for the next year. They also love what comes next - we talk about rewards for reaching our goals. Some are ice cream or an extra date with me, sometimes it's a trip to a park or a rock store or whatever else they love. They get to help choose the goals and the rewards and they love that part of it. Plus, I get a peek into what they really want to learn about. There is also another blank page for notes or extra information. I'm excited to finish filling in this planner once we have the activities for the next year all planned out. Don't just take my word for it though - go check out what some of the other homeschool moms are saying about this planner by clicking the image below.  Don't wait long though - over 98% of the planners printed have sold out and they don't plan to print more for this year.