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.

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Educational Christmas Ideas (that don’t feel like school supplies)

When I start thinking about gifts I want to choose things that will bless the person that I am giving them to and not just take up space. We love to include educational items in our gift giving but I don’t want them to feel disappointed or like they got stuck with schoolwork for Christmas. If you want something they can really use and learn from without feeling like they got ‘stuck’ with something educational check out these art and music resources.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Art supplies and classes are top on my list for this type of gift. It encourages creativity and most children tend to love the chance to express themselves through art. Over the course of this year I’ve had the chance to review four different types of art products that would all make great Christmas gifts.

First are You Are An Artist Chalk Pastel Lessons. These are so much fun and so easy for a beginner to get started while being varied enough to keep a more skilled child interested. They offer seasonal courses, themed courses, history related courses, and our personal favorite a Clubhouse Membership which gives you access to new projects each month. They also have recently branched out and started included acrylic lessons! My oldest enjoyed the lessons except that he really didn’t like how the chalk pastels got on his hands. We had been adapting by allowing him to use color pencils but I recently discovered these chalk pastel pencils that I’m going to get him as part of his Christmas to give him the ability to blend and shade like the pastels but still keep it off of his hands. (They are having a 25% off sale this week so its a great time to check them out.)

The second art lesson/projects that we tried and loved are the Kidzaw Master Kits. We reviewed the Starry Night kit and the children really enjoyed it. The box came with enough supplies for two completed projects (the same project done twice) and the project took less than an hour from start to finish. They recreate a famous work of art and get the opportunity to learn  a little more about the artist.  They have lots of other kits and even this fun party kit that makes up to 12 pieces of the art work. That would be a fun and inexpensive alternative to doing a birthday party at one of the art studios.

Zirrly Super Beads are another great option. These low mess beads are easy to put together with a bit of water and a lot of fun for a variety of ages. My four year old did them with a bit of help from his sister but my ten and twelve year olds still enjoyed using them and doing some of the more complicated designs.  The fourth fun art option we reviewed this year were Pencil Grip Magic Stix Markers. These were great options for older children (old enough to be careful and not write on things they are not supposed to). They do not dry out like many markers and have a dark strong color that is great for a variety of projects.

Not a specific product but another idea that my children have loved is a ‘bucket full of art’. You can gather a variety of supplies and put them together in a bucket full of art supplies that they can use to create whatever they can imagine. We always like to include the basics such as scissors, paper, crayons, and glue. Then we find some other fun items like stickers, clay, paint, beads, yarn or glitter glue. You can order these items online or check out your local craft store. They can provide hours of fun for a very reasonable price.  For older children you could include supplies specific to a hobby or supplies for making slime and goo.

Some children prefer music to the arts and there are lots of options for musically inclined children. I am not musically inclined but my children have been showing interest in various musical instruments.  My four year old really wants to learn to play the harmonica. I’m not quite ready to help him learn but I did find this great harmonica and book with video lessons for when I think he is old enough to get started. The great thing is I could get both for under $20 total.

My twelve year old has been learning to play the guitar using Guitar 360 Method and really enjoying it. These online video lessons are significantly cheaper than in person lessons and give us the flexibility of being able to complete them whenever he has a few minutes. If you have a student that is interested in learning to play the guitar, but you do not have the time or finances for in person lessons this is a great option. Since he is already taking the lessons I am purchasing this collection of guitar picks as a stocking stuffer for him this year. (Check out the blog post for a 20% off coupon.)

Elizabeth is learning the violin. In interest of full disclosure I prefer listening to guitar practice than violin but she loves it and is showing great progress. I will have a full review of that product coming in January but if you are interested in giving violin lessons as a gift check out Practice Monkeys.

Schoolhouse Teachers also has a great variety of music classes available with their family membership. In addition to all of the other core and elective classes they offer both guitar and violin courses that have video components. They also offer music theory, voice, and recorder classes. In addition to those instruments there are a variety of musical unit studies and classes. One membership covers all of the courses for an entire family so this is a very economical option. (Check below for a great sale on Schoolhouse Teachers)

I hope that you found some fun and educational gift ideas to support your budding artist or musician. Please share in the comments any additional ideas that you have for fun gifts that are also beneficial.

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!

A Christmas Carol Audio Book Only $.66 (Amazon prices subject to change)

Amazon has put Heroes Next Door: Hornet 24 on sale and there is a coupon on the page to make it even cheaper! This is a great Christmas gift.

Free I”m Thankful For…. Book from Amazon! (Always check prices as they are subject to change)

The 2018 Lego Advent Set is on sale right now for only $21.97. If you are looking for one grab it soon because they typically sell out!

2018-fall-harvest-special-ban-240x400-2

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Writing About Books: Book Reports And Beyond from Write Shop!
Not Consumed is having a great sale from 11/20-11/26. I have not tried all of her products but we love her hymn studies and have used and enjoyed several of her Bible studies. My children are currently working through the sibling challenge journals that are on sale.

Black Friday Deals Christmas Gifts

A Cozy, Book Filled December

We started our school year the day after Labor Day and that first week went just as planned. Half-way through week two we were hit with Hurricane Florence and nothing has really been the same since. We took several weeks off during the worst of the recovery but then we started working school in around relief efforts. For our family that meant helping prepare and serve meals to the volunteers that have been staying at our church to help the community.  We would school first thing in the morning before going to serve lunch, or bring math books  and reading with us to work on during down time. Music lessons were happening before breakfast or sometimes even using the laptop at the church.  This was what needed to happen and the children have learned a lot from the real life experience of helping to serve others. They have even made new friends from all over the eastern United States.  However, there are some things that I’d really like to do this December to help us focus and enjoy the season.

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We love books and have a collection of Christmas books that takes up several boxes. I try to add one or two books to it each year. While we will still be volunteering during the first few weeks of December, we will have several weeks off and even the days we are volunteering should be a little slower than those first couple of months. I want to fill our time with lots of Christmas focused read alouds. I purchased Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien as a new read aloud for my older children this year. If time allows I’d also like to read aloud A Christmas Carol to them.  If you do not have A Christmas Carol the audio book is currently only 66¢ on audible.

For my four year old I’m purchasing the book An Otis Christmas. We love all of the other Otis books that we have purchased so far and are looking forward to adding this one to the collection. These books are adorable books about a little tractor named Otis and the lessons he learns through his many adventures on the farm. The are sweet and lovely little books that he likes me to read over and over.

In addition to those books we will read lots of holiday themed picture books. I know one of the first ones they will ask for when they realize that the Christmas books are down from storage is Cranberry Christmas. This is a delightful sequel to Cranberry Thanksgiving that we purchased last year. They also enjoy The Very First Christmas which is a recordable book that I recorded myself reading several years ago. Other favorites include The Gift of the Christmas Cookie and The Very First Christmas. There are so many more and I truly couldn’t pick just a few favorites.

Throughout the month my goal is to read whenever we can. Sometimes that might mean just grabbing a book and reading for a few minutes in the morning. Other times, we will pour hot cocoa or eggnog and snuggle up on the couch to read. I have lots of recipes for great Christmas cookies that we hope to have time to bake and enjoy while we read. However, if life gets busy and there is no time to bake or baking feels more stressful there is no shame in having a premade snack. You can enjoy popcorn or cookies from the store. While I want to spend plenty of time with me doing the reading, we may also choose to listen to some of these stories as audio books when we need to be in the car.

I plan to have some of these books displayed as decorations, as well as several baskets with the other books placed throughout the house. I want the books to be a visual reminder to me of our commitment to make this a cozy December full of reading. Having them placed in various locations at easy reach will also make it easier to read in those little pockets of time between activities and commitments. When I look back at the end of the month, I don’t want it to be with regret for what we didn’t do but with peace about the time we spent together.

I thought I was going to leave you with a list of my top ten favorite Christmas books but I was having such a hard time deciding. So, I have several lists of great Christmas books that fit various age groups and situations. I would truly love to hear your favorite books because I’m always looking to add new books to our list. I hope you will join us in making December a month full of good memories and lots of books!

Books For Young Children

The Story of Christmas  (board book)

An Otis Christmas

Usborne Lift-the-Flap Nativity

One Baby Jesus (board book)

Christmas in the Barn

The Jolly Christmas Postman

Jan Brett’s The Night Before Christmas (the illustrations for this one are wonderful)

That’s Not My Snowman (board book)

Our Family Favorites

The Very First Christmas

Cranberry Christmas

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie

The Night of Las Posadas

A Little House Christmas

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift (Advent Devotional)

Legend of the Poinsettia

Chapter Books

The Best Chrsitmas Pagent Ever

A Christmas Carol

Letters From Father Christmas

Cole Family Christmas

Magic Tree House Christmas in Camelot

New Books We Are Adding This Year

An Otis Christmas

An Amish Christmas

Letters From Father Christmas

Cole Family Christmas

Audio Books

The Night Before Christmas

A Christmas Carol and Other Favorites

A Christmas Carol (less than $1 at the time of posting)

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Adventures in Odyssey Count Down to Christmas

 

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!

A Christmas Carol Audio Book Only $.66 (Amazon prices subject to change)

Amazon has put Heroes Next Door: Hornet 24 on sale and there is a coupon on the page to make it even cheaper! This is a great Christmas gift.

Free I”m Thankful For…. Book from Amazon! (Always check prices as they are subject to change)

The 2018 Lego Advent Set is on sale right now for only $21.97. If you are looking for one grab it soon because they typically sell out!

 

2018-fall-harvest-special-ban-240x400-2

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Writing About Books: Book Reports and Beyond from Write Shop!

 

 

Guitar 360 Method (Review) and DISCOUNT CODE!

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Over the past month or so my twelve year old has been learning to play the guitar using the online Semester 1 Bundle from  Guitar 360 Method.  When my son was about four he wanted to learn to play the guitar and our wonderfully talented youth and music minister agreed to teach him. He enjoyed the lessons but refused to practice and so I discontinued them and the guitar has sat mostly unused ever since. My son had recently began mentioning lessons again but I was hesitant to commit to taking him to more lessons given our busy schedules and his lack of follow we saw last time. I felt like the scheduling concerns were addressed by using this online program because we could work the lessons into our busy and changing lives as needed.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Guitar 360 Method

Music lessons are one of those subjects that I chose not to require in our home school. I know that different families have different areas of focus and for us music lessons are not a priority. We do incorporate music appreciation, hymn study, and this year a fun genre study into our everyday curriculum. Since we do not require lessons, but my son had been talking about wanting to try guitar again, I let him decide if this review was something that interested him. He was so excited to try it and I’m glad that I gave him the opportunity!

While this was not his first time in classes, it had been seven years since he took them so we started him in the Absolute Beginner Course. He worked through that at his own pace.  He enjoyed it and found that he learned new skills and brushed up on some other skills. At first we had a bit of problem with the videos not wanting to stream correctly (the sound would play but the video would freeze).  We determined that the problem was that we were using an older computer and the videos were playing at a very high resolution. I’m glad we were able to easily solve that small problem by wsing a newer computer or adjusting the resolution fixed this issue and allowed for a much smoother practice session.

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The first day that he had access to the lessons he worked through multiple lessons in the beginner course because he was so excited. Throughout the rest of the review period he practiced four or five days a week, which considering our busy schedules during this time was an excellent accomplishment. He really enjoyed the chance to practice and learn each day. He worked through all of the beginner course and began the Semester 1 course. During that time he learned basic chords, strumming patterns, and even his first song.

Each video ranged from about three to ten minutes in length making them very easy to fit into our days. However, I recommend making sure that your student also builds in some addition time to practice those skills in order to see the most progress. This program is not a subscription that you lose at the end of the thirteen week program so there is no pressure to rush through and finish ‘on-time’.

Some of the lessons he picked up on quickly the first time through and he could keep moving forward. There were a few things that he needed to go back and work on but that was very easy with this program. He could simply watch that video lesson again and even pause and practice some more before continuing. However, I think that I let him work through those lessons a little too fast in the beginning with not enough practice and he struggled to put it all together. Learning an instrument is not like binge watching your favorite streaming program, you have to develop the muscle memory. Once I made him go back and master each lesson before moving on he showed a good deal of progress.

Each week of the course includes a  goal for the week and then various teaching and practicing videos. The teaching videos show a new skill or concept that they learn along with and then the practice videos are several minutes of work on the skills that have been covered.  The course is a good mix of music practice and music theory. This helps with the goal of giving the musician freedom and confidence in playing and not just memorizing songs.

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We still have a long way to go to be finished with this course, which is a 13 week course not counting the Guitar Course for Beginners portion. However, at the end of the course my son should be able to play a variety of songs and chords and have the skills and confidence he needs to play well with a band or independently. He will understand the music theory enough to allow him to be flexible and adapt his skills to the situation and not just memorize chords. The instructor says that with mastery of the course a player would be well equipped to be a valuable player in a worship band or other similar setting. My son would really love to play well enough to be able to help out with our band at church.

I was not sure that our family had the time or resources to give to music lessons during this time in our lives, but this program proved me wrong. The flexibility of the online prerecorded format and the short easy to follow lessons allowed my son to fit his lessons in around our other obligations. The program was fun, easy to follow, and allowed him to move at his own pace. This has been a very positive experience for us and we are excited to see how well he is playing when he finished the Semester 1 Bundle. If you have a son/daughter who wants to learn the guitar, or even if you as an adult want to learn I highly recommend this program. I would recommend it for ages 10 and above. Check out all of the other Crew Reviews below to see how people used it in a variety of situations with a variety of ages. I can also offer you a 20% discount on this course using the code HOMESCHOOL20. The course was already significantly less expensive than paying for most private instructors and the 20% discount makes it an even more amazing value. This would be a great addition to your curriculum or a gift for that music lover in your life.

Guitar Lessons with Krisz Simonfalvi {Guitar 360 Method Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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.

Jelly Fish, Jello, and Jesus : Letter J Preschool Activities and Printable!

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*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

You might think ice cream is a summer time treat, but we sure enjoyed ours in November too. Benjamin loved making and eating his own little baggie of ice cream to finish up our study of the letter I. He spent quite a bit of time practicing tracing and writing his letters in his dry erase book this week. He enjoys sitting and working on that while I work with the ‘big kids’ on their school work.

 

I am excited to include some extra Bible time this week with our letter studies. The letter J lends itself well to a focus on Jonah and more importantly Jesus. We have several children’s Bibles (including this interactive one Planet 316 Story Bible ) that we often read from and I will just include a bit more of that and some conversations focusing on Jesus as well as Jonah. We have the DVD for Sight and Sound Theater’s Jonah production that we have waited to watch so I’m hoping to fit that in as a family movie night in conjunction with our letter J studies.

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Jets and airplanes are fascinating to many children and are a fun topic of study. There are tons of great books and movies on jets, including several free ones on Amazon Prime. We also have a one that we should be able to stop by and see one day this week that is on display at a local park.

For nature study this week we are going to talk about jelly fish. My son loves the water and has seen many jelly fish, so they should be a fun topic for him even though we will not be able to actually see any live ones this week. We can use this live cam of jelly fish and try this fun jelly fish craft. We can also read Jenny Jellyfish by Suzanne Tate. If you are not familiar with her books, I highly recommend them. They are lots of fun.

In addition to the fun activities focused around letter J we will of course work directly with the letter. This letter J craft ties into our jelly fish study. We will also work on making the letter J both with fun materials (like Play Doh or shaving cream) and writing them in his dry erase book. Unless I have found a unique activity that I think he will really enjoy I normally find it works best to give him a variety of choices and let him pick which one interests him that day. This keeps him engaged throughout the week.

I hope this post gives you some ideas to get started with the letter J. Please share your ideas for letter J in the comments below!

Snack Ideas:

Jelly Beans

Jelly

Jello

Jerky

Jumbo Shrimp

 

Extra Resources:

Letter J Upper Case Craft Freebie

Letter j Lower Case Craft Freebie

Optional Activities:

Nature Study: Jelly Fish, Jungles

Jesus (of course we regularly study and read the Bible but this will be a great week to give it a little extra focus)

Jonah (We have a copy of this production by Sight and Sound that I’m hoping to make time to watch this weekend.)

Jars (We keep lots of jars for canning and storing and I think he would enjoy having some creative play using the jars to maybe fill and pour or even decorate.)

Jets (most children find jets to be quite interesting and there are many neat videos and books on them.)

 

Don’t forget to download your free letter J sensory bin 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!

2018-fall-harvest-special-ban-240x400-2

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

Wind in the Willows on Audio for only $2.95

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Fantasy and Fairytales StoryBuilders from Write Shop!

Field Trip Friday: It’s A Zoo Life

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*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

It has been awhile since I have done a field trip Friday post, but I’m very excited to share our latest field trip with you! I had wanted to take my four year old back to our state zoo since his birthday in April but the timing and weather have just not worked out. However, we found this smaller zoo that is closer to home and a great day trip for us. I’m so glad we took the time to check out and plan to go back and visit again.

This is no ordinary zoo; this facility is the large backyard of a family home and includes over 85 animals. Unlike many zoos where you just walk through and read signs while looking for the animals, each person who visits It’s A Zoo Life takes a guided tour including a variety of animal encounters.

With-in seconds of our group walking through the gate with our tour guide the children were in an enclosure and petting kangaroos. As an adult that was an amazing experience and the children were even more thrilled than I was.  They were soft and gentle animals and you could tell that they were very comfortable in their environment and with their caretakers.  Then the camel in the next enclosure came walking over and the children were able to pet him through the fence. As a Campbell University graduate, I’m a big fan of camels!

There were some animals like a Watusi Bull and several emus that we viewed from behind the enclosure while the guide told us more about the various species and the stories of the individual animals. There were other animals such as a variety of turtles and tortoises that they children could pet and even some goats. The goats and a bird which we saw later were the only two that my four year old was brave enough to pet but my older two children were much more interactive with the animals.

I think my twelve year old son’s favorite animal was the wolf! The wolf was 90% wolf and 10% Malamute and we were able to be in the enclosure with the wolf and get quite close to it though we did not touch it. I was very impressed with their policy of only allowing you to touch animals that were comfortable with it and allowing them to go back into their homes at any point. There were also a variety of barnyard type animals including chickens, sheep, ducks, and goats.

The last two animals that we had the chance to see were a talking bird which would sit on your arm or shoulder and a sloth. I had seen a sloth at another local science museum but it is far away and rather hard to see. This one we were able to see up close and watch it hang from a tree and then later walk itself back into the house.

Our tour guide was very personable and knowledgeable and did a great job teaching the children about the various animals. They had a chance to ask any questions they had about the animals as we went through the tour. When the tour was over we were able to utilize their picnic area which includes some nice tables and chairs underneath a large tent for shade. There was also a bouncy house and some playground equipment for the children to enjoy when they were finished with their lunches.

Unlike many zoos you did need reservations to get into Its a Zoo Life since all admissions include a guided tour. They offer tours Tuesday through Saturday at 10 am and 1pm. You can make individual or group reservations. I highly recommend group reservations if it is an option both because it is a significant savings and because it was a lot of fun for the children to do together.

In addition to running the tours, the zoo has recently begun a television show on TLC, Our Wild Life. We had not seen it prior to our visit but the children were so excited that we watched the first episode that night when we got home. It is very much like many reality shows, a bit corny and staged, but the children loved it and are still talking about it a week later.

Overall, this was a great field trip for a family or group. While you may not see as many animals as you would at a typical zoo, you certainly get a more up close and personal experience with the animals. Many of these animals are rescues that needed a safe home.  All of my children enjoyed the trip and would like to go back again soon.  Do you have a zoo near you that you enjoy visiting?

 

Where: 4313 NC Hwy 42, Macclesfield, North Carolina

Hours of Operation:

Tuesday through Saturday (10 am and 1 pm tours)

Costs: $20 ages 6 and up $10 ages 2-5

Homeschool Discount: Homeschool Groups get a rate of $10 per person 2 and up (under 2 free)

Website: https://www.itsazoolife.com/

Food: You can pre-order meals if you desire or bring a picnic lunch and enjoy at their picnic area.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Deals and Freebies

Amazon has put Heroes Next Door: Hornet 24 on sale and there is a coupon on the page to make it even cheaper! This is a great Christmas gift.

Free I”m Thankful For…. Book from Amazon! (Always check prices as they are subject to change)

The 2018 Lego Advent Set is on sale right now for only $21.97. If you are looking for one grab it soon because they typically sell out!

2018-fall-harvest-special-ban-240x400-2

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

Wind in the Willows on Audio for only $2.95

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Fantasy and Fairytales StoryBuilders from Write Shop!

 

 

Resource Library

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.

Kidzaw.com Master Kitz: The Starry Night (Review)

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*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

I am the first to admit that art was never my gifting. I enjoy looking at art and doing crafts but I was never what you would call an artist. This can sometimes make teaching art to my children difficult, so I am always on the lookout for programs that will help my children with art and not require me to have a strong background in art.  I was excited to have the chance to review Master Kitz The Starry Night by Kidzaw.com with my two older children.

When we first received the kit I was very concerned that I had ‘bitten off more than I could chew’. I looked at the picture that was expected at the end and thought that this project was going to take hours and probably more help and support than I was prepared to give them. I could not have been more mistaken. The project was surprisingly easy and took us less than an hour from start to finish. While I supervised and helped get things set up they were able to complete the project very independently.

Once I had the kit opened and was getting everything set up the first thing that stood out to me were the instructions. There were easy to understand and included step by step pictures that made them very easy to follow. The only difficulty we noticed was that we while there are enough materials for two projects it was a little difficult to do both at the same time because of sharing the reusable products. We were able to make it work by having my daughter wait and get several steps behind my son. Otherwise, it was a very smooth process.

Aside from something to put under the painting to keep the table clean and a little tape to keep the art from sliding, everything was included in the kit. This makes a busy mama very happy. If I have to gather too many supplies, the project tends to get put off and sometimes not done at all. Having everything in the kit meant that with-in just a few minutes of opening the kit we were able to get started on the project.

The children were able to use the instructions and templates to create a very cool piece of art that strongly resembles the original painting by Vincent van Gogh.  I do think it is important to note that it uses templates and textured rollers and that you do not need to have a lot of natural artistic inclination to make this a successful project. This is not a step by step tutorial on how to paint this project free hand but a carefully designed kit that allows them to use the templates to recreate a master piece.

Also included in the kit was information on the life and works of Vincent van Gogh to facilitate a study of the artist in addition to the art project.  We chose to complete the art project first and then use the information to facilitate a dinner time conversation about van Gogh which led to a bit more internet research as the children asked questions about his life. I felt like this was a very fun way to add a bit of art and artist study to our home school.

If you are looking to add a bit of art or artist study to your curriculum and want something that will be easy to implement, fun, and education this may be a great product for you. In addition to this kit they offer several other kits featuring other artists. Check out Master Kitz The Starry Night and their other great kits.

Master Kitz The Starry Night {Kidzaw.com Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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.

 

Igloos, Ice Cream, and Insects: Letter I Preschool Activities and Printable!

I

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

My favorite part of the letter H study were the fun hand print turkey papers that we made. He loves finger painting and I thought they turned out so cute. We made several so that we could send them to a few relatives for Thanksgiving. We didn’t get a chance to make the Hot Cross Buns but we did enjoy a hike, a letter H scavenger hunt, and hand print crafts. He also had the opportunity to visit a great little backyard zoo for a field trip this week.  We also spent some time talking to and about our heroes.

 

Like H, I is made up of straight lines that generally make it easier for a young child to write or trace than curved letters. We will practice I as well as the letters he has learned so far in his dry erase letter book. He also really enjoyed the glue and glitter letter activity that we did with G so we may try that again with the letter I or we may use his PlayDoh .

He loves collecting ‘bugs’ so our study of insects should be a lot of fun. We have the book, Pets in a Jar, which is a super helpful resource if you want to collect insects to study for awhile. While it is not just insects, it covers the care of many different insects and has given us many hours of fun and learning.  There are also premade kits that can help give your new insects a place to live while you study it if you prefer.  If you do not want to catch your own insects to view, you could always purchase a butterfly garden kit.  I think we will find a few insects around our home to study and then try the butterfly garden this spring. If you didn’t want to do it this week, it could make a great Christmas or birthday gift since you can get the kit and redeem the certificate for the caterpillars at a later date.

I think we will enjoy an ice cream treat this week in celebration of the letter I.  We could always purchase ice cream but I think he will enjoy making his own. There are several very simple ‘ice cream in a bag‘ recipes that can be used to make a small amount of ice cream without any fancy ingredients or an ice cream maker.

Finally, I think we will have some fun with ice. There are some great sensory activities or these fun science experiments. You can get as complicated as you want or as simple as getting a few ice cubes out of the freezer and letting them explore with them.

There are many books that you could use to accompany an I theme but my son is particularly fond of Curious George so we will probably use Curious George and the Ice Cream Surprise.  If you are looking for a video to watch, Sid the Science Kid has an episode on ice that is included with an Amazon Prime membership. There is also a Popular Mechanics for Kids episode on Igloos that would work well with this week’s theme.

I hope this post gives you some ideas to get started with the letter I. Please share your ideas for letter I in the comments below!

Snack Ideas:

Ice Cream

Icing (If you want to limit sugar you can use mostly cream cheese with a bit of honey or powdered sugar)

Iceberg Lettuce

Italian Ice

 

Extra Resources:

Letter I Upper Case Craft Freebie

Letter i Lower Case Craft Freebie

Optional Activities:

Nature Study: Insects or Icicles

Igloos

Iguanas

Ice (melting experiments)

Iowa or Illinois

 

 

 

Don’t forget to download your free letter I sensory Bin 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!

2018-fall-harvest-special-ban-240x400-2

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

Wind in the Willows on Audio for only $2.95

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Fantasy and Fairytales StoryBuilders from Write Shop!

A Month of Thanksgiving and Praise!

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The American holiday of Thanksgiving may only be a day but we love to spend the whole month focused on giving thanks and praising God for all he has done for us. We started last week writing down something we are thankful for each night and placing it in our scarecrow container on the kitchen table. On Thanksgiving morning we will gather round the table for brunch and read them aloud. We hope this will encourage a mind set of thankfulness all month long.

We have switched out our fall book display for one that focuses on Thanksgiving books. Some of theses books focus on the historical significance of the holiday while others focus in general on giving thanks.  We will read many of them together over the course of the month, but the very first one will be Cranberry Thanksgiving. It has become a favorite and a family tradition to read the book and bake cranberry bread from the recipe included at the end of the book. While it is a picture book, even my older children enjoy gathering around with a warm cup of apple cider to listen to me read it.  I’ve shared a list of our Thanksgiving books at the end of this post and I would love to hear your favorites.

We love to make sure that people know how thankful we are for them, especially this time of year. We send cards to friends and family members that we think might could use a bit of encouragement. While the holidays are my favorite time of year, it can be a lonely time for widows or shut-ins and a fun card from the children can brighten their day. We also like to put together goody bags for people that serve us, such as the men that pick up our recycling or the people at the grocery store.

 

 

Thanksgiving day is a day full of fun and tradition for our family. On Thanksgiving evening we always go ‘home’ and have a big Thanksgiving dinner with my family. The cousins all sit around and talk and look through the sales papers while the little ones play.My daughter loves to make Thanksgiving themed appetizers for that event, such as a turkey shaped cheese ball or tray.  My son bakes either candy roaster or sweet potato pies to bring. I just added that recipe to the Free Resource Library!

Since we do that in the evening and did not want two big turkey meals in the same day, we created a different holiday tradition for our immediate family. Each Thanksgiving I make a big brunch and we watch the Macy’s Christmas Parade.  Sometimes it is just my immediate family and sometimes we have friends or family that join us. We keep it simple and tasty with cranberry stuffed french toast, sausage or bacon, and egg casserole.  We finish that off with some hot apple cider, cocoa, or eggnog to make for a simple but memorable Thanksgiving brunch. You can download my cranberry french toast recipe free on our homeschool in the kitchen page.

Our hymn study this month is also related to Thanksgiving. We are focusing on the hymn ‘Count Your Blessings’ through listening, study, and copywork. I encourage you to check out that post for a couple of free downloads to assist your study and a list of other songs that can encourage you as your give thanks this month and every month.

Thanksgiving Book List:

Cranberry Thanksgiving

The Very First Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks

Arthur’s Thanksgiving

The Squirrels’ Thanksgiving

Oh, What a Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving on Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving, Curious George

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!

Free I”m Thankful For…. Book from Amazon! (Always check prices as they are subject to change)

2018-fall-harvest-special-ban-240x400-2

Kiwi Crate Deal:

 Get 50% Off your First Month with code: SPOOKY

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

Wind in the Willows on Audio for only $2.95

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Fantasy and Fairytales StoryBuilders from Write Shop!

 

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines (Review)

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines

Some days my life feels like a whirlwind of diapers and deadlines: from my wonderful eight month old baby to a four year old preschooler who is so very sweet and super inquisitive, a ten and twelve year old to homeschool, hurricane relief volunteer work, and this blog which I love but that takes up many hours each week. When I was offered the chance to review the Balancing Diapers and Deadlines course I debated on whether or not I even had time to do the course, but I knew the content sounded like it would be very beneficial in this current life stage.

diapers and deadlines picture

The course was created by Lisa Tanner Writing and is done in a self- paced online format. The course consists of six regular units, plus an introduction and conclusion.  Each unit has four to eight lessons, each set up as a post that you read followed by an action step. Some of the action steps can be done immediately and some require a bit more time. One of the action steps included e-mailing the author to check in with your progress. She was very helpful and responsive to my e-mail when I completed that step.

As I mentioned before, I was very concerned about time when I started this course. I was hoping the material would help me save or better use some of my time, but I also was not sure when I was going to even find the time to complete the course. Thankfully, the course was set up in small easy to complete steps that made it simple to fit around other obligations. Reading the lessons generally took less than ten minutes of my time. The action steps varied between just a few minutes and projects that took longer and needed to be completed over several days. The self-paced feature of this program was a huge plus because when I reached lessons that were not areas that I struggled with or maybe did not apply to me I could skip over them or move quickly through them. When I reached areas that I need to focus on, I could take my time and complete the action step before moving on to the next lesson.

She covered a variety of topics that would help you use your time more productively without shortchanging your children. This included meal planning, sleep, using small chunks of time, chores, productivity boosters, and including your family in your business. While a few of her ideas were more specifically related to writing or blogging from home, most of the course would be beneficial for any work at home job. She titled the course Balancing Diapers and Deadlines but she included tips for all ages of children and even some specific ideas for children with special needs.

diapers and deadlines photo

I think my favorite section was the last unit when she shares ideas on boosting productivity. The lessons on using ‘think time’ and ‘making spare minutes count’ were really beneficial to me. I’m still working on implementing some of those ideas but I can see how they will help me be more efficient and cut down on wasted time. She had some great downloads in this section as well as a couple of the other sections that you can use to help you as your work through the course and moving forward. In addition to the course and downloads, she often linked to other blog posts and resources that could help you with each step.

While there were some units, like meal planning, that I did not need because I was already doing those things there were others that were very beneficial. If you feel like you need to do better about maximizing time and balancing the diapers and deadlines, I recommend checking out this course. Investing a few hours into this course may save you many more hours down the road. To see what my other Review Crew members thought about the course check out the link below.

 

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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.

Heroes, Horses, and a Hippopotamus: Letter H Preschool Activities and Printable!

H

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Last week we covered the letter G and I almost forgot one of my favorite G snacks, guacamole. We love guacamole with chips, tacos, or even on salads. My son even calls avocados ‘baby guacamoles’ because we generally turn them into guacamole.  The glue and glitter letters turned out really well and were a great quick and easy craft. My daughter even found the green glitter so that it was a green, glue and glitter G.

guac

 

H is a fun letter and typically fairly easy for a child to draw because of the straight lines.  I think that for our main ‘H’ snack instead of doing snack we will make Hot Cross Buns for breakfast with hot cider. My son loves to help in the kitchen and will enjoy making them with me.  I also found this recipe for hoe cakes that looks tasty. I may try to make some of those to go along with some chili this week as the weather is supposed to be cool.

We started our study of H on Sunday by taking a hike. We had the opportunity to take about a half mile hike down to a small stream and through some beautiful forest. We searched for things that started with the letter H while we were hiking and we found hickory nuts, hanging branches, hickory trees, habitats, and a hiking stick.  You could go hiking on a local trail or even in your own back yard or you could go looking for H somewhere else like the grocery store.

In addition to our snacks we may have our sensory activity be food related. My older children are going to do a history project where they draw in cookie dough and I could easily let him practice his letters on a few of the cookies.

H is for hand print in this weeks art work. There are so many fun hand print art projects but since we are getting into November I think we will do a turkey. He can trace his hand print and then color the fingers as feathers and the thumb as the head. We may also do some finger paint hand prints for fun.

Last but not least, we are going to talk about heroes! We believe that providing positive heroes is an important part of providing our children with the guidance they need to grow into Godly adults. My husband believes so strongly in the importance of this that he wrote and published Heroes Next Door which is aimed toward the teens and tweens age group but can be used as a read loud for younger children.  For our study of heroes we are going to talk about people we know or have read about that have done heroic deeds. With young children I think using people they actually know makes it easier to conceptualize, so we will talk about our veteran friends as well as our friends and family in law enforcement and emergency services.

I hope this post gives you some ideas to get started with the letter H. Please share your ideas for letter H in the comments below!

Snack Ideas:

Hot Cross Buns

Honey

Hoe Cakes

Hersheys

Hot Dogs

Huckleberries

Halibut

Extra Resources:

Letter H Upper Case Craft Freebie

Letter h Lower Case Craft Freebie

Optional Activities:

Nature Study: Hurricanes, Horses, Hickory Trees and Nuts, Hills, and Hiking.

Hippospotamus (Free video)

Heroes

Horses (Free Amazon Prime video about farms including horses)

Hungry Hungry Hippos Game

Harmonicas

Hygiene

Handprints

 

Don’t forget to download your free letter H sensory bin

 

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!

2018-fall-harvest-special-ban-240x400-2

Kiwi Crate Deal:

 Get 50% Off your First Month with code: SPOOKY

FREE Fall in Love with Science e-book from Apologia

The World of Peter Rabbit and His Friends Only .99 on Kindle! We love Beatrix Potter’s stories and this one includes her original illustrations.

Sunny Under the Sea  Free (always double check because Amazon changes prices regularly!)

Wind in the Willows on Audio for only $2.95

Alice in Wonderland on Audible for less than $1!!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

FREE Fantasy and Fairytales StoryBuilders from Write Shop!