A New Direction

I’m so excited to be taking over the reins of this blog. My name is Dawn Peluso and I was one of the folks that helped Diane with the Schoolin’ Swag Facebook page.  I’m a homeschooling mom of 3.  Our children are 11, 9, and 3.  We live in Eastern, NC and enjoy hiking, the beach, and spending time with family. We are active in our church and strive be a family that follows Jesus.

We use a variety of materials and methods in our home school and like to say our style is “Charlotte Mason Eclectic”.  In particular, we enjoy using lots of good books, nature study, hands-on history, cooking, and traveling to create a family culture of learning and growing.

Look for more posts over the next couple weeks with information about book reviews, fun home school ideas, and more.

My plan for the blog beginning in September is to have a weekly post about the history that we are studying that week (my husband and I are creating a hands on American history program for our kids and I will share that plan and the resources that we are using,  in case anyone else wants to join us on that journey), Product reviews, a monthly book review of a book for Moms, lots of guest posts from other homeschooling moms about what they are doing in their home schools and a variety of other content.  I’m very open to hearing from our readers about what you would like to see and making sure we are meeting those needs.

Savoring Summer

Since many of our group-style activities were canceled last summer, my first instinct was to say yes to ‘all the things’ this summer. Camp, 4-H activities, American Heritage Girls and Trail Life, Violin camp, church activities, and on and on. I could easily have my children enrolled in something different all summer.


These activities are fun and wonderful in their own right. Many of them are educational or encourage spiritual growth. There is nothing wrong with participating in any of them and honestly, we are doing several over the course of the summer.


However, I realized pretty quickly that if I filled up our calendar with all of those structured activities I would be missing out on some of the best parts of summer.


When I started thinking about the memories that I wanted us to share this summer, my mind didn’t go to classes and structured activities.

Summer Memories


I thought about hours spent playing in the pool and splashing in the sprinkler.


I thought about picnics on the front porch complete with plenty of juicy watermelon.


Friends coming over to play and fellowship together.


Lazy days at the river with sand in my toes.


Time spent together working in the garden and enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of our labor.


Evenings spent relaxing on the front porch while the children entertain us with their instruments.


Curling up on the couch (or outside in the hammock) and reading good books together.


Concluding Thoughts


There is nothing wrong with having some structured activities in the summer. I am grateful that we can offer so many opportunities to our children. We just need to be careful to leave time for summer fun, creative exploring, and relaxing family times.


I want my children to look back and remember the fun times we had together. To learn to enjoy just being with friends and family without the pressure to always be doing something specific.


I am grateful that the country is opening back up and opportunities are available, I just don’t want to forget the positive lessons learned during our time at home last year.


There is much to be gained from quiet days at home and busy is not always better.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this busy bee sale! A great price for summer enrichment or for next year!

Starting SOON! Check out these wonderful FREE summer courses from one of our favorites: Journey Homeschool Academy! We loved their biology course this year and are excited about the free summer courses. Summer Stargazing and Backyard Bugs

FREE Writing Conference, June 26th from IEW! They are a great writing program and have a lot to offer. This conference is completely free and all online!

Toddler/Preschool Summer Day Camp Ideas

A few weeks ago my oldest two children (15 and 13) went off for their first week of overnight camp. My 7year-old was also blessed with the opportunity to go to day camp that week and spend the nights with my parents (who live in the same town as the camp).

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

It was a wonderful experience for all three of them, but that left the three-year-old as the only child left at home. He was not used to being without his siblings and missed them fiercely.

In an effort to have a fun week with him and distract him from missing his siblings, I planned a week full of fun for the two of us. Most of these ideas were simple and free or very inexpensive. I included a variety of activities both at home and around town.

Having a good plan also helped me to limit his screen time, though we did plan about an hour of downtime each afternoon where he could watch Boz or Paw Patrol and I could get a little bit of work done.

Some Ideas For ‘Day Camp’ or Summer Fun with Toddlers

  • Library: The library is great because it is free and not weather-dependent. We went for story-time and many libraries have lots of fun summer activities for young children. Even if your library is not doing special activities, it can be fun to go in and read books together.
  • Strawberry Picking: We went strawberry picking (with me doing most of the picking and him doing most of the eating) but depending on where you live and what is in season you could pick other fruits. It is a fun way to spend the time and the only cost was the fruit that we picked.

  • Doughnut Shop: A doughnut shop, bakery, or even ice cream store can be a great way to enjoy a fun treat together. I spent less than $3 but we had a lot of fun.

  • Swimming Lessons: This is the most expensive item on my list but also possibly the most useful. We love spending time on and around the water and find it very important to teach our children how to swim and be safe. My three-year-old loves his swim lessons. Many places offer individual or group lessons.

  • Playground: Another great free experience. We went one evening when my husband could join us and enjoyed a picnic dinner and then let my son play on the slides, swings, etc. In our town, there are multiple different playgrounds and it could be fun to try a different one each day or week.  This is also a fun and easy way to meet up with friends and let the children play and the moms get a chance for a few minutes of adult conversation.
  • Splash pad: Going into this time I knew I was going to want some fun and easy ways to keep my son occupied. I got this fun splash pad for less than $13 and it will give him hours and hours of fun this summer. He played with it during the week the older children were gone but has also been using it with his seven-year-old brother since they got home. I love that it only takes seconds to set up and take back down.

  • Art Kit: We have a subscription to Toucan Box that I love to use when I want to spend some time doing a one-on-one activity with my younger children. They can come once a month, but I tend to pause them during months when we are busy and just get them during summer months or other times when I want an easy project to do with the children. They are less than $15 shipped and contain two big projects as well as some other fun ideas. During our summer camp time, we used our box to make a crocodile puppet!

  • Reading: Reading time is always beneficial and fun. You can read books that you already have at home, check some out when you go to the library, or even download some picture books to read together using Kindle Unlimited. We generally prefer real books for younger children, but I like to use Kindle Unlimited if I want to read a specific title that we do not have at home. Time spent reading has so many benefits.

Set-Up Ideas

Those are just a few fun activities that I used to keep us busy during our week of one-on-one time. You could use these for a week of fun, or spread them out throughout the summer for some fun and focused time.

I would love to know what you enjoy doing with your toddler/preschool-aged children. Share your ideas or questions in the comments.

More Summer Fun Ideas:

Our Summer Bucket

Summer Plans: Rhythms and Routines

Lazy Days of Summer?

Summer Bucket List! (Free Printable)

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this busy bee sale!

Starting SOON! Check out these wonderful FREE summer courses from one of our favorites: Journey Homeschool Academy! We loved their biology course this year and are excited about the free summer courses. Summer Stargazing and Backyard Bugs

FREE Writing Conference, June 26th from IEW! They are a great writing program and have a lot to offer. This conference is completely free and all online!

Bees, Bees, Bees Unit Study

*Some links are affiliate links, see disclosure below for more information*

What do you think of when you hear the word, “bees”? Does it make you scared? Do you think of honey? Do you think of cute little animals or scary stings?

Bees tend to get mixed reactions from folks, but around our house we really like bees. While we do not currently have any beehives, we did keep beehives for several years. During that time I learned a lot about bees and came to appreciate them even more.

Did You Know…?

  • An average hive can hold around 50,000 bees
  • Almost 90% of wild plants and 75% of leading (non-grain) global crops depend on animal pollination.
  • Foragers must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.
  • Honey Bees do a dance to tell other bees how to find food.

There is so much more to learn about bees. Even though we don’t always see them or think about them, they are so important in our daily lives. Today I wanted to share some resources that would make for a great family unit study on bees.

There are resources for young children all the way up through teens and adults. This could be a short summer study or even the basis for a full course. It could even be the beginnings a new hobby.

Research and Information

To get started I would suggest spending some time researching bees through some great websites or books. If you are working with younger children you could do this together or pick out the information you want to share with them. For older students, consider giving them the resources and allowing them to do their own research. They could write a paper, design a presentation, or learn the information and teach it to your younger children.  There are many great resources but a few that we like are NC Beekeepers, The American Beekeeping Federation, and Planet Bee.

Courses

If you are looking for even more laid out lessons about bees, there are some great ones included in the SchoolhouseTeachers.com subscription. They have a great section on bees in the All About Animals Lessons.

Another course on SchoolhouseTeachers.com that is great for bees is the God’s Beautiful Creatures course.

If you have teens that want to actually learn to be beekeepers, these online courses offered through North Carolina State University are a great resource. You may also be able to find in-person courses through your local cooperative extension office.

Hands-On Activities

Once you have some basic information it is time for some hands-on learning. There are so many different options with bees. If you have younger children, it could be as simple as making a bee craft. There are some great DIY craft options or you could buy a kit such as these fun Bee Sticker Crafts.

If you have older students that enjoy crafting, they might like this fun bee themed diamond painting kit.

In addition to crafts, we love to include art in our other studies. Nana over at You Are an Artist has an adorable lesson that includes honeybees on sunflowers. It would be a perfect tie-in to this study on bees.

Another great option for hands-on learning is building a bee habitat. You could do one of these wild bee houses of check out this book that turns into a beehive: Turn This Book Into a Beehive and Other Activities.

If you have older children that are very interested in bees they could visit with a beekeeper and possibly get a chance to help out with the hives.

You could also get hands-on by planting flowers and bushes that are good for bees in your yard. This is a great way to support the bees and hopefully get a chance to see them more frequently as they come to feed on the nectar from the flowers.

Food

Honey can be a fun and tasty way to incorporate food into your study of bees! I highly recommend trying to find some fresh local honey, but even a bottle of store bought honey will work. You can eat some plain or find lots of recipes at this honey site.

Older children could even learn about the health benefits of raw honey.

Books/Media

There are so many books about bees! You can find fun fictional books, beautiful picture books, informational books, and even detailed beekeeping books. You could even start with Winnie the Pooh and talk about his honey jar!

I have shared a few good ones to get you started and I am sure your local library would be happy to help you find a great selection for whatever age group you are teaching.

Bees are so much fun to learn about, so important to our food supply, and great for all ages. I hope you enjoy these resources. I would love to have you share your favorite bee books and resources in the comments!

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this Bumble Bee sale! It is a great way to try out some of the fun courses about Bees or find some great summer electives. You can even get started on your planning for next year!

Pursued to Eternity by John Riley (Book Review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

I recently had the opportunity to review the book Pursued to Eternity by John Riley. This book was written as a fictional story that also included real life evidence for the Biblical creation account.

I received the paperback version of this chapter book. It is fairly short with only about 150 pages. That included the introduction and a list of references. The cover is in color but the small illustrations throughout the book are in black and white and typically found at the beginning of each chapter.

Book Summary

The introductory chapter begins the context of the book and then goes into a list of fictional characters in the book, references, and other background information. It also lets the reader know that all scripture references are from the ESV. It is a little confusing at first because the beginning of the introduction is done from the point of view of one of the fictional characters explained in the list of fictional characters later in the introduction. 

Chapter one goes into an explanation of time, pursuit, eternity, and history. It also goes through a historical timeline that will later help the reader put the story in historical context.

Chapter two begins the story and takes the reader back to 2000 BC. The next five chapters move the reader forward to around 1700 to 1400 BC. This section of the book tells the story of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. This is done in part through non-fictional information, part through scripture, and also through a fictional story of two Egyptian families.

Chapter eight brings us to modern times and begins the story of two brothers, one a Christian and the other an atheist. These last ten chapters take us through their story and how they find archeological evidence for creation. This evidence eventually leads the atheist to believe and accept Jesus shortly before he dies.

What I Loved

I loved that the author gave some much information on creation and gave readers the resources they could use to find out more. I appreciated that he included scripture with-in the book. I also really enjoyed the story of the Egyptian families and their perspective on the events leading up to the Exodus.

What Was Challenging

The book switched from fiction to non-fiction several times throughout the book and at times that made it a little difficult to follow. I understood why the author chose to do this,  but it did not always flow smoothly in the context of a storytelling.

Our Recommendations

While some students might enjoy just reading Pursued to Eternity, I think it would be best used in the context of a course or discussion about creation and apologetics. There is so much non-fiction information for students to work through and understand. I think the story makes those in-depth topics bit more entertaining and adds a different perspective. This could be done independently by the family or using his Creation vs. Evolution course at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

 A student might be disappointed if they went into reading it thinking of it as a novel, but when viewing it as a textbook or informational text; I think they would be pleasantly surprised by the addition of the story line.

Be sure to click on the graphic below to see how other Review Crew members used this book.

Pursued to Eternity by John Riley

One More Story Review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

Reading aloud is an important part of our family culture and homeschool philosophy. I have been reading aloud to my children since they were infants. I love the feeling of cuddling up with them and a good book and the connections that encourage. However, they would have me read aloud all day and sometimes I need to be focused on other tasks.

That is why I was super excited to try out the one-year subscription to One More Story. I loved the idea of the computer reading aloud to my children when I could not. We already did audio books, but this was so much more. For young children, the pictures in a book can really help them gain understanding and begin to use their imaginations.

Part of the Book Selection!

Overview

One More Story is an online program that allows children to select from a wide variety of digital books. Once the child has chosen the book, the computer can read it aloud to them as they turn the digital pages. They can see all of the illustrations and the words on the page.

For really young children you can click on a button to have the pages turn by themselves so they do not even have to click the arrows. This is the setting I used if my three-year-old was using One More Story by himself.

Vocabulary Support

Features

If you have a beginning reader, they can even have a try at reading it for themselves and get help when needed. They simply choose the “I Can Read” button at the beginning of the book. Then it allows them to flip the pages without the book being read aloud. If they come to a word they do not know, they can simply click on the word and it will be read aloud.

There is also a button at the beginning of each book for vocabulary. When you click on the vocabulary button, it takes you to a page with a list of words from the book that students might have difficulty understanding. Then they can click on any of those words to hear a definition and hear the word used in a sentence.

One More Story is available on a desktop or also an iOS app. We used it on our laptops and as a website on my son’s kindle. I found it to be great on the laptop but a little glitchy on the kindle. He still really enjoyed it, but would sometimes have to close out and reload the website to get it to work on the kindle.

A sample book page

Our Thoughts

When we first logged into the program, one of the first things that caught my eye was how big the selection of books is. There are almost 90 books to choose from. I found this to be a great variety, especially considering that young children often like to listen to the same story multiple times. It gives them plenty of different options.

Some of the books were ones that I had never seen before, however, there were also a lot of familiar favorites. The selection even included Stellaluna by Janell Cannon and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats which I love.

Conclusions

Overall, we really enjoyed One More Story. I do not think that it replaces the closeness and connection of cuddling up and reading a good book together with your children. However, I think it is a great program to get in a little more reading or help out a new reader. I loved being able to sit my younger boys (ages 3 and 7) down with One More Story instead of television time while I fixed dinner or finished up a project.

One More Story

If you have children ages toddler through elementary school this could be a great program. It is an easy way to include more read aloud time, work on vocabulary, and learn some important pre-reading skills. It is also lots of fun. Both of my boys enjoyed it and asked to do One More Story on a regular basis.

Don’t forget to click on the graphic below to find out what the other Review Crew members thought about One More Story.

One More Story Online Library Reviews

Keeping Camping Simple for Mom

*Some links in this post are affiliate links, see disclosure below*

Years ago, when my husband first suggested that we go on a family camping trip, I was not really sure what to expect. I had never camped, other than a couple of nights in the back yard. I was overwhelmed at the thought of packing everything, a little scared about the bathroom situation, and nervous about sleeping on the ground.

I was also excited. It was a new adventure and a chance to make memories with my children. Plus it was, a  great opportunity for one of my favorite outdoor activities: hiking.  

We had a lot of fun that first trip and have continued to camp over the years. We have had some mishaps (like the night our tent leaked in a big thunderstorm and we ended up crammed into our van for the night.)

However, we have made some wonderful memories and while the hard ground is not my favorite, I will always be grateful for our camping trips.

Along the way, I learned a few tricks that can really make camping a lot easier and reduce the stress of it all!

Meal Plan

First, make sure to have a meal plan. When you make your plan you need to consider a few factors. Will you have electricity (some sites have a power source)? Will you have a grill or fire ring? How much time do you want to devote to meals (cooking over a fire can be a lengthy process)? Will you be spending your time at the campsite or out doing other activities?

Your meals can be as simple as packing a cooler with sandwich supplies, milk, and cereal. If there is power, you can bring ingredients and put a meal in your Instant pot. You can get a camp stove and cook dinner that way or cook over the fire.

When we have the time, my favorite camping meal is chicken fajitas cooked over the fire. We put chicken breasts on a grate on the fire, onions and peppers in foil on the fire, and bring along all of our favorite toppings.

Whatever you choose, just make sure you are prepared. You don’t want to be worried about leaving the site every time you want a meal.

Supplies Ready

When we first started camping it was a lot of work to get ready to go. Not only did I need to pack clothes for myself and the children, but we had to remember everything we needed for meal, bathroom emergencies, bedding, etc.

It did not take too long before we figured out that camping would be a lot less stressful if we had a way to keep some of those supplies together. My husband purchased a large plastic footlocker which we call the cook box.

While we do not store actual food in the box, we keep our camping dishes, utensils, a small cook stove, travel sized spice boxes, lighters, hot cocoa (priorities), foil, napkins, and other essentials in the box. This way I have a lot less to remember when we are packing.

A quick note on camping dishes. We like our enamelware dishes that are similar to the ones linked above, but you really do not have to have special dishes. I find it so much easier to have an extra set so you don’t have to pack them every time, but you could find a cheap set at a yard sale.

We also took the time to put our tents, sleeping bags, iso mats, and other supplies together on a shelf in our garage. Right beside the shelf are our camping chairs. By having everything together, it takes a lot less time to pack and we are less likely to forget something important.

Don’t Over Plan Activities

We camp for a variety of purposes. Sometimes we are camping as a cheap way to travel. For example, we might be going on a field trip in the area. We can often get a campsite for about $20 compared to closer to $100 for a hotel room.

In those instances, I keep food super simple and our activities are dictated by the reason for the trip.

However, sometimes we are camping just to camp and spend time with family away from the hustle and bustle of life.  If you are camping just to enjoy the experience make sure you do not over plan your activities.

It is fine to plan a hike or a few activities that you want to enjoy. However, I learned that if I planned too much it was stressful and we ended up finding ourselves in a different hustle and bustle.

State and National Parks

The last trick that I want to share with you today is to look for state and national parks. We have found that some of the easiest (and cheapest) places to camp are state and national parks. They tend to have good restroom facilities, available water, security, and great access to hiking trails and other natural amenities.

Each park varies in what it offers, so make sure to check ahead to see what they have. Making reservations upfront can help you get a site that will work for your family. We always try to get one relatively close to the bathhouse and with as much privacy as possible.

Do you enjoy camping? If you have questions about camping, leave them in the comments? If you enjoy camping, tell us your favorite tips and tricks! Also be sure to check out what other Review Crew Members had to say about camping!

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

If you have not tried SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you don’t want to miss this sale!

Cross Seven Ventures: Homeschool Musical Memory Tool (Review)

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew

*This post contains affiliate links, see disclosure below for more information*

Cross Seven

Sometime when I choose to review a product I have a pretty good idea what to expect and how we are going to like it, but Cross Seven Ventures – Homeschool Musical Memory Tool from Cross Seven was a bit different.

When looking over the program, I was unsure if my children were going to really love it or hate it. I decided to give it a try to see if it would help us to be more diligent in our scripture memory work.

Cross Seven Ventures – Homeschool Musical Memory Tool is a huge collection of memory work that covers nine different content areas and is broken up into four cycles. They include scripture, hymns, mathematics, science, history, grammar, Latin, geography, and a timeline. There are four cycles of work for each of those categories.

Different Subject Areas for Memory Work

Getting Started

When we first received access to this content, I had the whole family join me in the living room one evening to check it out. Even my husband decided to listen and see what he thought.

We started with the hymns section because we love hymns and I knew that we would probably enjoy using that section. The voices were lovely and I was well pleased with the selection of hymns. My husband was impressed with the quality of the singing.

Next, we listened to some of the scripture memory work. This was an area that I knew I needed to spend more time on and I loved how easy it made it. The cycle 1 (which we chose because of our history studies) section had three scriptures to choose from. We picked Philippians 2: 1-11 as the scripture that we wanted to memorize together.

After scripture we decided to try the history since it would go along with our regular history curriculum. I started in the middle of cycle 1 with the history lesson that we had completed that week.

 The history videos were a bit different from the scripture and hymns and had more of rap or chant style compared to the flowing scripture and hymns. My oldest son really disliked it but my seven year old loved it. He thought it was great and wanted me to add it to his morning work.

We listened to a few selections from the math and grammar sections as well, but decided that starting with the three areas of hymns, scripture, and history would be the best fit for us right now.

Hymns

We started with the Doxology and then added in Great is Thy Faithfulness a few weeks later. The Doxology was a perfect way to start because it is shorter and easy to memorize. I already knew the song because we sang it every week at the church where I grew up.

Great is They Faithfulness is a longer song and broken up into weeks. We have been working our way through that song and enjoy the time spent together singing each morning.

Cycle 1 Scripture Memory Options

Scripture

I loved that they were done in bigger passages and not just random verses. I feel like you get so much more context.

I appreciated that the words were displayed on the screen to help as we worked on memorization. I also liked that we could listen to the whole passage, but they had it broken down into weekly sections to make it more manageable. 

History

I only used the history with my thirteen and seven year-olds because they are covering the same history material. I was not sure how it would go, but they really enjoyed it. They would walk around singing the weeks memory work, especially the seven-year-old. I even found my three year old singing parts of it. 

I really appreciated that it tied in so well with our history curriculum and felt like it was a great way to help the information from the curriculum ‘stick’ a little better in their minds.

Sample Scripture Quiz

Other Resources

In addition to the videos, the program contained extra videos with hand motions to help with the memorization. There were also quizzes that you could use to see how well students were memorizing their work. Since we had decided to use this program together as a family a few minutes each morning we did not use the quizzes. However, I think they would have been very beneficial if I was having them work independently.

There were also some fun history videos for kids that were included about some of the different topics. The website said that they were still making new videos and adding to the list.

Conclusions and Opinions

Overall, I was well pleased with Cross Seven Ventures – Homeschool Musical Memory Tool. I loved how easy it made it for me as the parent. I simply logged in each morning and clicked on the right videos. I was so much more consistent with our morning time because it was simple (and the seven year old would not let me forget about it).

If you are wanting an easy way to add in memory work or keep morning time simple, this is a great product. I love that I can pick and choose which subject we will use and that we can do it all at our own pace.

You can see how other Review Crew families used this program by clicking on the graphic below.

Cross Seven Musical Memory Reviews

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Thomas Nelson, Everybody Always for Kids (Review)

Thomas Nelson Publishing

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

If you have been reading this blog for very long, it is no secret that we love books and reading. My personal motto is “never too many books, only too few bookshelves.” So, when the opportunity came to review Everybody, Always for Kids by Bob Goff and Lindsey Goff Viducich I was happy to accept.

I was not familiar with the author but I was familiar with other books from Tommy Nelson Publishing and was excited to give this one a try. The book was recommended for ages 6-10 and I planned to use it with my seven year old son.

A New Book!

When the book arrived in the mail, I let my son open the package. He was immediately drawn to the bright colors of the cover art.  The book has a very cheerful cover that entices the reader.

While he was most drawn to the cover, I could not help but notice the sturdiness of the hard cover book. It seemed well made, with thick glossy pages and even a ribbon attached as a bookmark.

Rather than being one long story, the book is a collection of forty different stories. The goal of the book is to help children understand that they should love “everybody, always”.

Each story is an example of how the author was able to show love to someone through his actions.

How We Used the Book

While, I planned to use this primarily with my seven year old, my three year old would most often come join us while I read. He loves to curl up in the recliner with me reading.

I did not really think that he would understand most of it, but welcomed him joining us for reading. However, he quite surprised me when he started talking about the stories.

 In one of the earlier stories the author jokingly talks about swimming with sharks. After we finished that story, my three year old looked at me and said, “Mommy, we not swim with the sharks, they might eat us.”

I am quite sure that was not the point the author was trying to get across, it certainly proved to me that he was paying attention.

My seven year old loved the book and would ask me to read each night and try to get me to read two or three stories at a time, instead of the one that I promised.

 I appreciated the opportunity to talk with him about showing love and kindness to others in a variety of ways.

Bonus!

In addition to the book, we were given a five day lesson plan set with questions and hands-on ideas to go along with five of the stories from the book. These lesson plans included fun hands-on activities as well as discussion questions. They are available as a free bonus download on the website.

Thoughts and Conclusions

Overall, we really enjoyed Everybody, Always for Kids and felt like it was a great way to start conversations about different ways that we can show love to those around us. While I think the target age of 6-10 is probably the ideal age for this book, I do think that younger children can get something from the book and that it could still be a great jumping off point for conversations with older children.

Be sure to click on the graphic below and see what the other Review Crew families thought and how they used this book in their homes!

Everybody Always for Kids Reviews

A Few Thoughts on Standardized Testing

I know testing can be a hot button topic and everyone has a different opinion and situation. In our state, home school students must take a standardized test every year beginning at age seven.

I have experience with standardized testing as a student, teacher, administrator, and now as a home school mom.

Some folks love them and other people despise them. I happen to fall somewhere in the middle. I believe that there are pros and cons to standardized testing and that a huge part of their usefulness is determined by how the results are used.

Concerns

In a public school setting, the tests are what they call ‘high stakes’. The results can determine if  a student passes or fails, if a teacher keeps her job, funding, and so much more. Everyone involves feels the pressure and stress.  

I have watched gifted students cry because they couldn’t figure out an answer and other students feel like failures because they did not pass that one test. Sometimes those students had made huge gains and other times they just did not perform well under pressure.

In our own home, the tests are not high stakes. My children know that I expect them to do their best but the results are designed to show me what we need to focus on in the year ahead. One of my sons turned seven in April and this was his first year testing. He struggled on several parts because it was above his reading abilities and the testing situation was new.

Limitations

It would have been really easy for him to give up and cry or for me to get upset because he was struggling. I could have waited until his results came back and been upset with him or myself if they were not on ‘grade-level’.

However, I reminded him that I just wanted him to do his best and that we would celebrate completion with ice cream!

Then I took the time to remember that while those test scores can help us to see certain areas of strength and weakness, they don’t tell the whole story.

That test will not tell me that my son loves doing art lessons and is getting better every day. It did not measure the fact that he knows more about raising chickens and pigs than most adults I know. It will not tell you how much he knows about NASA and the space program.

Benefits

Standardized tests can be helpful for giving you an overview of certain skills. One year, it helped me realize that while my older children were several years ahead in reading, I needed to spend more time on punctuation and capitalization.

However, we cannot make them more important than they are. They do not measure everything and should only be one tool that we use to help us guide our instruction and understanding.

If you choose to test or live in a state where testing is required, use the test to help you but make sure that your students know that it does not measure their success or failure. They are so much more than a standardized test.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

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FREE Month of Kindle Unlimited: I have been using this for my own pleasure reading as well as books for my son and daughter and really enjoying it.

Up to 75% off Science and STEM from Evan Moor!

Feeding the Hobbits or Homeschool Snacks

The Review Crew is talking about homeschool snacks this week and I wanted to share a few of our favorite healthy snack ideas. I don’t know if we read too much Tolkien or if it is just being at home all day, but my children eat like hobbits.

They want three meals and lots of snacks. So it is important to me to have easy, healthy, and inexpensive options available.

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I have learned that if I keep the healthy snacks easily available and the treats not as easily accessible it is easier to make sure that we are eating a healthy diet. We all enjoy the occasional cookie or brownie but I try to mostly make those homemade so that they aren’t always around.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and Vegetables tend to make great healthy snacks but can sometimes be expensive. I have found that I can keep it inexpensive by choosing fruit that is currently in season, growing some of our own, or using vegetables like carrot sticks that are almost always inexpensive at our local grocery store.

Right now we are enjoying all of the fresh strawberries! Our local u-pick has them for only $1.35 a pound. They are so sweet and tasty, but also full of vitamins.

If you want to make vegetables more exciting you can add a dip or make them into shapes. We sometimes give them a variety and they can make their own creations before eating them.

Protein

When children are growing, they can often need extra protein and it is a great way to keep them full a little longer. My children love beef jerky and it is great for being easy and nutritious but it can get expensive.

For cheaper high protein options, we like boiled eggs, peanut butter balls, cheese sticks, or mixed nuts. I have also found that by using Ibotta, I can often get really good deals on protein bars.

For those days when they are extra hungry between meals, these tuna kits are a great snack. They are more that what we would often eat for a snack, but packed with protein.

Salty Snacks

Buying chips and snacks in bulk packaging is often the cheapest way to go. We especially love buying big bags of popcorn kernels that the children can pop in the air popper.

 However, I have found that if I buy the individual serving sizes it makes portion control a lot easier. It also makes it easier to bring snacks on the go. To get a better deal on snacks like Veggie Chips, Apple Straws, and popcorn bags, I like to use Amazon Subscribe and Save.

The newest favorite in our house are these Simply Cheetos! We love that they don’t have dyes and are healthier than the regular version but very tasty!

Tell Us More!

Do your children seem to always want a snack? What are your favorite snacks?

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Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies

Fit2B is having a great Mother’s Day sale! I highly recommend them as an excellent fitness program and they are tummy safe!

WriteShop

Up to 75% off Science and STEM from Evan Moor!

FREE Month of Kindle Unlimited: I have been using this for my own pleasure reading as well as books for my son and daughter and really enjoying it.