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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Home School Navigator Review

Home School Navigator

Sometimes a review turns up a program that solves a problem you didn’t know you had. When I took the opportunity to review the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum by Home School Navigator and their novel studies with interactive notebooks, I was mostly interested in the interactive notebooks as a way to expand our current novel studies. However, I found that my daughter was really thriving with the program and plan to continue to use it next year.

Home School Navigator is an elementary English Language Arts program that incorporates the various components of English Language Arts including read alouds, literature, writing/grammar, word study/vocabulary, and independent reading. They also incorporate computer skills into some of the lessons. Both my 4th grade daughter and 6th grade son used this product. It is designed with the highest level at 5th grade but I felt that the interactive notebooks would be a good fit for him.

Homeschool Navigator 1

When you log-in to home school navigator you choose which level your child will complete. You have one month in which to try out the various levels before you are locked into a single level. Once you choose a level to start you go into month one, week one, day one. At that page there are introductory videos for both the parent and student explaining the program.  For my students I printed out the daily overview sheets and marked through anything that I did not require them to complete. Then gave them the five daily sheets so that they could use them to guide their work throughout the week.

homeschool navigator 3

 

I loved that Home School Navigator linked to videos of each read aloud book! This really helps limit the add on cost of ‘one more book’. It also allowed my children to complete this program much more independently. The one thing I would have changed about this part is that the videos were on YouTube. The videos were fine but we are always careful with YouTube because you never know what commercials will come up or what videos will play next.

homeschool navigator 2

 

For my son I had him do a few of the other activities each day but mostly he did the interactive notebook and independent reading of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I chose this book because it tied in well with our history program for the month and I thought it would be a great way to make those connections. The interactive notebook included bubble maps, vocabulary words, comprehension questions, and other literary components designed to be completed in a lapbook style. I thought it was very thorough without being overly repetitious.  My son enjoyed the book and did well with the questions, though he did say that he would prefer to just answer the questions and not cut out all of the pieces and make the notebook. If he were younger and going to continue with the program, I would simply have him write the answers in his notebook. My daughter however, was disappointed that she did not get to complete an interactive notebook and is excited to have them as part of her work next year.

My daughter started in the first month of the 4th grade program even though she is almost finished with 4th grade because I wanted to get a good idea of how the program worked from the beginning. She completed most of the activities for each week except that I did not always make her complete the writing and computer skills portions. I had to help her with navigation on the first day and then (aside from overriding the parental controls that we use on the computer to allow YouTube) she was able to complete the lessons independently. The days varied to some extent but most days took her about 30–45 minutes to complete the online and written work. In addition, she was assigned 30 minutes of independent reading most days.

She enjoyed the weekly vocabulary work. For her level she was working on prefixes. Her one complaint was that the books were not longer, but I think that the addition of the novel studies and interactive notebooks which come in the following month will solve that issue. There are also poetry extension activities included in some of the lessons. We did not complete those during this review but are excited to do them as a part of our continued use of the program.

I think this program does a good job of offering a comprehensive language arts program that can be tailored to the needs of your family, or individual learner. If you are just looking for a reading program you can only use the reading components or you can mix and match components to suit your needs. This can even be decided on a daily or weekly basis, for example you may decide to skip writing on a particularly busy week or a week when your child is writing for another subject. It is laid out in such a way as to make it easy for an older elementary child to complete independently. Another benefit is the ability to use the record keeping component, especially for those families in states where such records are mandatory.

If you have an elementary aged child, I encourage you to take a look at the Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum Home School Navigator. Their interactive notebooks are an included part of the comprehensive program and can also be purchased individually in their store. I am looking forward to using this program next year with my daughter as she completes the 5th grade level program.

 

Home School Navigator Reading and Language Arts Curriculum {Home School Navigator Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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.

T is for Tree Review

What is better than a beautifully illustrated alphabet book? A beautifully illustrated alphabet book that also introduces the child to scripture and Biblical concepts as this review product does. T is for Tree: A Bible ABC is a beautiful hardcover book by Reformed Free Publishing Association. My son was so excited to get it in the mail and immediately started flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures (he is four years old and not yet reading).

As I looked through the book before reading it with my son I was drawn to the beautiful illustrations. They were colorful, warm tones that were very pleasing to the eye. In addition to the beautiful primary illustrations each page included a cute border such as ants, snowflakes, or feathers.  As I read it I loved that in addition to a poem for each letter there was a scripture verse from the King James (Authorized) Version of the Bible that was chosen based on the word for that letter.

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My favorite letter was Q is for quails. Something about the colors jus treally struck me as gorgeous and that story is always a great reminder of how God provides for us in all things at all times.  My four year old however thought that the very first one A is for Ants was the best. He really enjoys watching ants and other insects outside so I think that may be why he was partial to that page. He enjoyed the poem, ” Though weak and small in size, They gather food all summer. May God make us as wise. ” Proverbs 30:24-25 was accompanying scripture verse.

In order to make the poems rhyme there was some syntax that may be a little difficult for young children to understand. However, all in all I thought this was a beautiful book that both my son and I enjoyed reading several times. It is a nice quality hardcover with sturdy pages. The pages have held up well even under the sometimes overzealous attention of my four year old.

It would make a great gift for a young child. It is a book that can be used in multiple ways: as a picture book for children to enjoy on their own, a read aloud for small children, a teaching aid for children learning the alphabet, or as a guide for various memory verses with older children. I plan to use our copy to continue working with my son as he learns the alphabet next year. You can order your copy of T is for Tree: A Bible ABC at Reformed Free Publishing Association and check out the other books that they have available.

 

T is for Tree: A Bible ABCT is for Tree: A Bible ABC {Reformed Free Publishing Association Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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.

You Are An Artist Clubhouse

 

 

We love to use the You Are An Artist chalk pastel lessons for our homeschool art. I love that it is simple, fun, and only requires a few supplies. The children love that they can pause the videos or go back until they get it right. They also enjoy having a variety of different things to draw from history, nature, and even characters from some of their favorite books.  I’m super excited to share their brand new membership program, “You Are An Artist Clubhouse” with you today.

When you join the ‘Clubhouse‘ you get so many options for your art program and so much support. I love knowing that I’ll have new art options each month for the children to choose from. They even have some of their preschool art courses so that my four year old will have plenty of art that he can successfully complete.

Each lesson is focused and presented by a very talented artist and teacher Nana. She encourages the participants, and breaks down complicated chalk art projects in easy to follow step by step instructions. She is also very supportive and gentle in her instruction. In someways it’s like watching Bob Ross, just for kids!

Your membership grants you access to over $282 worth of instruction and courses just to start! Each month you also have new courses added to your dashboard.  There are great instructions for getting started and fun lessons like forest animals and gardens. There is even a set of lessons titled, “Chalk Pastels at the Movies” featuring some of your favorite movie and book characters.

This will give you a great wealth of opportunities for art training based on children’s interests, seasonal topics, or you can coordinate the lessons with other studies.  You even get a coupon for one extra course of your choice that isn’t included in the membership. So for example, if you are studying American History you could get the American History courses and use those to tie your art in with your history. We will be taking advantage of the Ancient History course next year! If you really want to focus on history, they will even have a special monthly membership program dedicated to history.

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There is a private Facebook group where they will answer all of your questions, you can share your art work, and twice a month Nana will be doing special live streaming art lessons just for members.

You ARE an Artist Clubhouse Membership

Life gets really busy and it can be easy to not make time for art. So many times I’ve had plans to find art lessons and gather materials only to never get around to actually doing the lesson with my children. With You Are An Artist Clubhouse Membership I don’t have to gather new supplies with each lesson as all you need are paper and chalk pastels. I do not have to prepare because Nana does the teaching for me. I simply sit down at the computer and choose a new lesson. The lessons are short and only take us about 15-20 minutes to complete. By keeping it easy, short, and simple I am able to provide my children with far more art than I ever did when I was trying to do it on my own. I highly encourage you to go check out You Are An Artist Clubhouse and see if it is the right fit for your family! Enrollment is open May 23rd through 31st so don’t delay!

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.

Deals and Freebies!!

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 Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

“Psst! Did you know that SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a sale? Not just any sale, but one that can open up a world of opportunity for your children for only $99! Plus, you get a FREE collectable tote bag and a print issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine mailed to your door when you sign up for our annual membership! That is one year of access to over 380 different courses, not to mention the resources and videos and World Book content. Hurry over and sign up at SchoolhouseTeachers.com before the sale ends on May 31! And don’t forget your coupon: YEARLYOPTION.”

 

 

Summer Break or Year Round Schooling? (BIG Giveaway!)

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There is much debate in the homeschool world about the benefits of a summer break versus the benefits of year round schooling. It is almost as contentious as the dark or milk chocolate debate. We typically fall on the long summer break side of things with no ‘book school’ from Memorial Day through Labor Day. We enjoy fun educational activities during the summer not any of our regular academics. However, this year for us is going to look a little different. We are going to have a little more structure to our summer learning while still having the break that we all crave.

We had a busy year and I feel like we need to continue to work on a few skills over the summer to finish up some areas that we didn’t complete. We’ll also focus on a few ‘extras’ that got pushed to the side in the busyness of life with a new baby. We will still probably take the month of August off to give us time to reset mentally and give me plenty of time to plan for next year but over the summer we’re going to keep working on several subjects.

Writing as it was an area that we feel needs a little more focus. My children have great ideas but need to work on mechanics and structure. While we will use a formal writing program during the year, I really like these fun beach themed and camping themed writing activities by WriteShop to help give it a more fun feel over the summer. If you are looking for a more complete program don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for your choice of one of their complete programs!

This year we started typing lessons with Bytes of Learning UltraKey Online and I want the kids to continue using that to keep improving their typing skills. Luckily they enjoy doing it so it doesn’t really feel like school. Plus the benefits of increased speed and accuracy while typing really become apparent when doing writing assignments. The kids are able to focus on their grammar and communication, not multitask and think about how to key the words also

We enjoy our Chalk Art Pastel Lessons and are looking forward to the ‘summer camp’ activities with our  You Are An Artist Club Membership. The lessons are short and easy to complete and will make a great activity during the heat of the day when they come in to cool off from playing outside.

We will also continue doing some of our Drive Thru History which the children really enjoy. Those videos will be great to watch on the days where it is too hot to spend the day outside. They provide entertainment and education for us, helping to eliminate mindless screen time.

I’ve also chosen one activity to do with each of my older children one on one through the summer. My daughter started the Fit2B Girls E-course this spring but due to time constraints we didn’t get very far with it. I want to spend some time and focus on going through that with her while our regular schooling is on summer break. She enjoys it and is looking forward to it. I am excited about encouraging a pattern of lifelong healthy behavior.

I am going to do a book study with my son using the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. I am hoping that this will be a motivational experience for him and a good time for us to bond.  We will of course still be reading plenty but other than the book study I won’t be assigning reading over the summer. My children naturally read on their own so it is not something I feel I have to worry about over the summer months.

So basically we are trying to strike a comfortable balance between a complete break and school as normal.  We can focus on a few subjects that might have been neglected but leave plenty of time for 4-H camp, Vacation Bible School, lazy days at the beach, and hanging out at home. I’d love to hear about your summer plans!

If like us you need to keep going with some writing over the summer (or you are getting ready for next year), check out all of the awesome options that Write Shop has available. You can choose from any of the sets here if you are in the US and if you are international you are still eligible to win and get a digital version of any of the sets (except Write Shop I and II which do not have digital versions available). They even have video courses! Which set would you like to win??

WriteShop: Teaching writing has never been easier!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Read Aloud Family Chapter 2

 

 Whether we are visiting Podo’s Garden in Aerwair,  a snowy hovel in Narnia or Ramona Quimby’s Cellar on Klickitat Street, a little spark is lit. We all know it only takes a spark to start a wildfire.

What do a walrus and an ant have to do with reading aloud? I won’t spoil the story in case you haven’t read this chapter in Read Aloud Family but it was a great reminder that we need to be able to notice the little things. We don’t need to miss those small important moments waiting for something big.  To often I’m missing the ants waiting for the walrus. I don’t take the chance to look at the flowers with my son, to watch bubbles blowing through the air, or to take that five minutes to read a chapter in our book together.

In the interest of transparency, sibling relationships is something that we’ve been really trying to work on in our house. I love the part about how those stories we read become something that they shared and help to create deep friendship between siblings. I can already see how some of the books we have read have given my children a common language and inside jokes that bring them closer together. For example, my husband likes to joke around and use his Aslan voice to get their attention, calling out ” Oh Children’.” Every time we go to hotel that has a wardrobe in the room it is the first place they run to, climbing in for an adventure to Narnia. We are still working on those relationships, but I love the idea that my time reading aloud can benefit those relationships and help to draw them closer.

Stories are comfort food. Stories are inside jokes. Stories are ant moments. They bond us together even when life is hard. When we pull a child on our lap and break open the pages of a book, we’re taking them by the hand and walking them into a quiet garden in the center of a noisy polluted city.

Life can get so busy and our days so full of the urgent things in life: dishes, laundry, bills, cleaning, work, school, etc. We can get disconnected from the ones we love and care about most. Reading aloud is an easy way to bring us all together, to leave the business behind and enjoy some moments together. It doesn’t take a lot of preparation or money, just a few moments and a good book.

When my head hits the pillow each night I want to know that I have done the one most important thing: I have fostered warm, happy memories and created lifelong bonds with my kids– even when the rest of life feels hard.

This chapter hit home and stepped on my toes a little bit. Too often I get busy and I’m rushing around and I miss the little things the important things. I’m going forward with a renewed determination to enjoy the everyday moments and be focused on the here and now. I want to know that I spent each day doing what was most important even if what is most important are the little things.  I leave you with this quote from chapter 2, “success in parenting my kids means showing up and giving my best to what matters most right now. Which means, of course, that I have to know what matters most right now.”

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.

Deals and Freebies!!

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 Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

“Psst! Did you know that SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a sale? Not just any sale, but one that can open up a world of opportunity for your children for only $99! Plus, you get a FREE collectable tote bag and a print issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine mailed to your door when you sign up for our annual membership! That is one year of access to over 380 different courses, not to mention the resources and videos and World Book content. Hurry over and sign up at SchoolhouseTeachers.com before the sale ends on May 31! And don’t forget your coupon: YEARLYOPTION.”

 

 

 

Field Trip Friday: Wallops Flight Facility

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3,2,1, Blast Off!! To some extent our field trip here was a lucky accident. We were heading home from a trip to Pennsylvania (look for several field trip posts from there coming soon) and stopped near the Virginia border to spend the night and break up the trip back home. Just before arriving at our hotel we passed the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitors Center. We did a little checking (cell phones and Google do make life easier) and realized that the visitors center was free and would fit in really well with our history this month as we are discussing the space race.  So the next morning we stopped in for about an hour to check it out.

The Visitors Center is fairly small but has lots of great information and exhibits as well as an observation deck. On the day we were visiting there was a school group there launching air powered bottle rockets. We were able to get a great view of the bottle rocket launching from the observation deck.

There was a nice area for small children with a short video and some hands on rocket building activities as well as posters and models about various space equipment and missions. There was even a giant globe which played a movie about ecology.

Outside of the visitor’s center were several real rockets and other equipment on display. This was my oldest son’s favorite part because it really gave you a better understanding of the scope and size of the equipment. It’s not nearly as impressive as Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it can take days to tour and visit the facility-at significant cost, but if you’re on the DelMarVa peninsula it’s a cool stop. Check out their launch schedule if you have some flexibility in travel and maybe you can see a launch!

If you are just touring the center with your family I would suggest planning to spend one to two hours. However, they also offer some great free educational opportunities for schools and homeschool groups. I would love to go back and participate in some one of the great hands on field trip opportunities and possibly even a behind the scenes tour of the Flight Facility.

All in all this was a fun field trip that tied in well to our studies and you can’t beat the price. I suggest checking it out if you are in the area.

Where: NASA Wallops Visitor Center Building J-20 Wallops Island, VA 23337

Hours of Operation:

July 1 – August 31 Daily 10-4 PM

September – June Tuesday-Saturday 10-4 PM

Costs:   FREE

Homeschool Discount: N/A

Website: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/wallops/visitorcenter

Food: There were spots available to picnic on the grounds but very little food available on site other than astronaut ice cream in the gift shop.

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Deals and Freebies!!

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 Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

“Psst! Did you know that SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a sale? Not just any sale, but one that can open up a world of opportunity for your children for only $99! Plus, you get a FREE collectable tote bag and a print issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine mailed to your door when you sign up for our annual membership! That is one year of access to over 380 different courses, not to mention the resources and videos and World Book content. Hurry over and sign up at SchoolhouseTeachers.com before the sale ends on May 31! And don’t forget your coupon: YEARLYOPTION.”

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.

Panda Parents Review

 

Over the last month or so I’ve had the opportunity to review a digital version of MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS by
PandaParents with my four year old.  He recently turned four so he is on the young end of the target spectrum and still has another year before he would start Kindergarten. He sees his older brother and sister doing their school work and wants to ‘do school’. I mainly use hands on play based activities with him but he loves to have worksheets and workbooks because it feels more like the school his brother and sister are doing.

The first thing I think I should clarify for those parents that might be wondering about the ‘messy’ part, in this case MESSY is actually an acronym for the system of learning that they use to create these projects (as shown in the picture below). While there are some hands on crafts like creating a sailboat on a paper plate or a cute paper panda, it is not full of messy crafts and activities.

messy

I started by watching the video for the first unit ‘Mommy’s Baby’ with him and reading the included book to him.The book is simple and uses a mostly repetitive style that should be comfortable for that age group. For example, in this particular book it has a series of different animals and objects  and each one would ask ” Are you mommy’s little…..?” Followed by a response from the ‘baby’. This was used to reinforce several concepts including big/little.

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Then we chose a couple of the workbook pages to print off and work through together. He enjoys coloring, matching and tracing so there were some great activities for him. However, some of the other activities were developmentally above where he is right now. They would have been great for my older son when he was four and may even work well for my four year old later in the year. This particular unit covered a variety of topics from living/nonliving objects, tails, colors, big/little, several letters, and more featuring the animals that had been included in the book.

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As we went through the month I printed off various pages of the workbook for us to work on together or him to complete on his own. His sister even worked with him one day on learning the letter P. He was so proud when he completed those worksheets and knew the letter P.

There were some pages that were more challenging because of printing them out in black and white or not having the stickers to use, but most were fairly easily adapted. He enjoyed the program and liked that to him it looked like ‘school’ but was easy enough for him to complete. I appreciated that there were a variety of activities that could be used for various developmental levels since at that age there is so much variation from child to child. I appreciated that it made learning fun. It jumps around and goes from one thing to another very quickly, integrating a wide variety of subjects. For some children this is a benefit and helps keep their attention and make connections, but for some this could be a little over stimulating.

We also had the chance to review two other units, Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound and A Jolly Jingling Journey. They are set up in the same way that Mommy Baby is set up and go through different letters and skills. While we did not complete all of them due to time constraints I chose bits and pieces from these two lessons and will be continuing to use them over the next month or so.

 

Panda Parents Kindy Curriculum

This program is designed as a monthly ‘kit’ to be done with preschool/kindergarten aged children (ages 3-6). Each month you would receive a kit including a book, a full color workbook, and a video to go with the unit. While we enjoyed the digital program, I think that the physical program (coming in December) would have been a better fit for our family. My son loves mail so getting something in the mail each month would have been exciting for him. We also do not have a color printer, and while many of the worksheets could be done in black and white the color workbook and stickers would have added to the fun. All in all, if you have a child ages 3-6 I recommend you go over to PandaParents and check out this program to see if it is a good fit for your family.

 Messylearning For Preschoolers and Kindergartners {PandaParents Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

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.

How I Was Able To Say Yes To Crafts and My Sanity

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Do your children love crafts and activities? Do you secretly (or not so secretly) dread doing them because of preparation or clean up? That was the situation in my house but I want to share a few tricks that I’ve been using to make it easier to say yes to their desire to craft without losing my sanity.  With summer almost here I know they will want to spend a lot of time doing crafts.

First, I keep supplies on hand and easily accessible so that I do not have to worry about needing a trip to the store to get materials for basic crafts. We have a closed cabinet in our dining room that houses the children’s craft supplies. It is low enough for the children to get to the supplies on their own, has shelves and drawers to help with organization, and closes up so that no one can see when that organization falls apart (just keepin’ it real). This has made a big difference for me because now when the kids ask to paint I can say yes even if I’m not able to stop what I am doing to get out everything they need.  For younger children, you may simply want a small box of craft supplies that are safe for their use and easily accessible. For example, you might put paper, children’s scissors, crayons, beads (assuming they are old enough not to put them in their mouth), pipe cleaners, and stickers.

One of my biggest hurdles to saying yes to crafts was always the mess. I loved to watch them have fun and be creative but I dreaded the clean up that followed. I started doing a few things that made a big difference in clean up. First, you probably know that the disposable Dollar Tree tablecloths work great for protecting tables but have you thought of putting them on the floor. They catch the drips of paint, the run away glitter, scraps of paper, etc and can simply be shaken out in the trash can or thrown away depending on the level of mess. Even easier than dollar tree table cloths, is crafting outside. This only works in good weather but my children love to take paints and such outside and work. I love it because not only does it keep them from creating a huge mess in my kitchen but they get fresh air and being outside often sparks some additional creativity.

The other big obstacle that I faced was over complicating things. I would often feel like I needed to find a big project and sit down and show them each step. Don’t get me wrong, we still do art projects together like Zirrly Super Beads or chalk art pastel lessons. However, in their free time they enjoy just taking their supplies and using their creativity. When I took the pressure of having to plan something off and just started letting them use their imaginations it was much easier to say yes to craft time and not feel like it was driving me crazy.

What tips and tricks do you have for saying yes to craft time without losing your sanity? I’d love to have you share your favorite ideas in the comments!

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.

Deals and Freebies!!

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!

ENDS TODAY!!! Fit2B is offering a 25% discount for Mother’s Day!! I love both the exercise program and the course for girls. Use Code mothersday25off It is tummy safe and great for moms.

FREE Poetry Pack from Write Shop! 20 Printable Activities and Worksheets, including: Practice exercises, brainstorming worksheets, poem planning worksheets, word banks, and colorful lined writing pages

“Psst! Did you know that SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a sale? Not just any sale, but one that can open up a world of opportunity for your children for only $99! Plus, you get a FREE collectable tote bag and a print issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine mailed to your door when you sign up for our annual membership! That is one year of access to over 380 different courses, not to mention the resources and videos and World Book content. Hurry over and sign up at SchoolhouseTeachers.com before the sale ends on May 31! And don’t forget your coupon: YEARLYOPTION.”

 

 

Kids Email Review

Kids EmailIn the interest of honesty, I did not jump on the opportunity to review Kids Email Safe Email for Kids by Kids Email. We had an e-mail program that we had been using without a lot of problems and I was not sure that we needed something new. However, I knew that it might be beneficial to some of my readers, so we ‘took one for the team’. My original plan was for us to use it just with-in our home to test out the features and be able to share our experiences with everyone. After testing it out and trying some of the features we are in the process of switching the children over to using it full time.

There are many great features included with this email program. There is mail monitoring, time restrictions, a mail queue, several content and language filters, activity log, and attachment controls just to name a few. While we have not yet tried out all of the features, there are several that we tried and really liked.

The mail monitoring and mail queue were features that I knew were requirements in our family for a kids email program. Both my 10 and 11 year olds were using the program and I wanted to make sure I had a good handle on any emails that were coming in. Using this program, I was able to see any email that was sent or received. Those emails were limited to contacts that I had approved. Any emails that did not fit those parameters would be sent to the mail queue. This would allow me to approve it or deny it and see what someone was trying to send to my children.

kidsemailpicture

Time restrictions would have allowed us to restrict the times and days that the children had access or even ground them from their email for a certain amount of time. We did not take advantage of this feature because we already use a timer on their devices but I could see how it would be very helpful if you only wanted them to use email after school was finished or before a certain time at night.

Another feature that I appreciated was the activity log. I could go in and see when they children had been logged in and what e-mails they had sent each day. This was a great way to keep track of their usage in an easy to use format.  As you can see in the picture below it let me know that date and time for each activity.

kidsemail4

As we used the program we did run into one small problem which ended up being operator error. There is a feature that allows or disables attachments. I had allowed attachments but when I sent an e-mail with a word document the attachment was not going through. When I looked into it a little further I realized that the feature had controls that allowed you to choose certain types of attachments to allow and it had defaulted to not allowing word documents. It was a quick fix, but I mention it here so that if you try out this email you know to go into all of the features and set them to allow you to use it as you feel best.

One other feature that we have not used yet, but that I think will be beneficial over the next few years as the children get older is the option to change the email from kidsemail.org to ‘kmail’ and use an interface designed for older children/teens. This is a way to start that transition with older children but still monitor and guide their usage as needed without making them feel like they are using a ‘childish’ program.

We started by simply using this email as a way for me to communicate my children’s daily tasks to them. I would send them an email at night with a list of assignments, chores, and activities for the next day. Since they enjoyed it and the features were so beneficial we are switching it to their primary email. This way they can use it to keep in contact with various family members. If you are looking for a way for your children to be able to use e-mail but still keep them safe and not have to worry about spam or ads, I encourage you to check out Kids Email Safe Email for Kids .

Safe Email for Kids {Kids Email Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

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.

 

Free Choice Lego Projects

I’m so excited to be able to share with you all of these wonderful Lego projects submitted by readers. These children have done an outstanding job with their building and creativity. I believe that building and creating allows them to not only build fine motor skills but engage their minds in creative and critical thinking that is every bit as beneficial to their brains as ‘book work’.

This month’s theme was ‘free choice’ and you can see we had a variety of ideas related to that theme. (If you forgot to send in your pictures I will take submissions through the weekend.) The theme for May is ‘summer fun’.

Please feel free to share this post to show your friends and family your hard work and invite your friends to join in next month’s Lego Challenge.

When you sign up for our 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.