Open and Go Language Arts with Common Sense Press

Open and Go Language Arts with Common Sense Press

If you are looking for an open and go language arts curriculum, you HAVE to check out Common Sense Press. Common Sense Press is a Christian based curriculum that’s been providing homeschool materials since 1989. It all started with their Learning Language Arts Through Literature book, and I am SO happy to be able to share the LLATL Yellow Book with you today. The Yellow Book is designed for third grade.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

Why Common Sense Press?

First, let me tell you more about Common Sense Press. There are so many open and go language arts curriculums on the market. It can be completely overwhelming trying to decide which one to use. What makes Common Sense Press special is its focus on classic literature. The Yellow Book is full of rich stories including Alice in Wonderland, The Jungle Book, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, and more! There is such value in learning these stories that have been around for generations.

Additionally, Common Sense Press materials are:

  • Complete and require minimal planning on your part
  • Designed for students to work independently
  • Intentional and not reliant on busy work
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use, even for a first time homeschooler
  • Helpful and responsive customer service

 

The Yellow Book

Learning Literature Through Language Arts with Common Sense Press is an open and go curriculum designed for first grade through high school. Each grade is differentiated by color. The Yellow Book is meant for third grade. However, we all know sometimes a homeschool student’s age based grade and academic grade can be different. I really like how Common Sense Press uses the color method, because it takes away the pressure of “being on grade level”.

The Yellow Book includes 36 lessons divided into five days, to cover a full school year. You will cover literature, grammar, spelling, reading, critical thinking, cursive writing, and creative writing in this open and go language arts curriculum. Day one of each week introduces a literature passage, which will be the central theme. Furthermore, each week ends with a review activity. I really appreciate this, because it enables us parents to track how well our child is retaining the material. Assessments are also interwoven throughout the year. I know I always like to see the inside of curriculum books, so I’ve included pictures of a typical week below. Check out Lesson 20 from the Teacher Book!

Next, let’s look at the corresponding lesson in the Student Activity Book. Everything your student will work on for the week is in this workbook. Three cheers for less materials to keep track of!

Lesson 20

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed exploring Common Sense Press and The Yellow Book. It is a great fit for third grade because it involves enough work to be challenging without becoming overwhelming. I love the focus on classic literature throughout the year. There is something so special about uniting generations old and new with stories. Common Sense Press provided an excellent and thorough education. Check out this open and go language arts curriculum today! Also, don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY in this post! And enjoy 15% off with code SUMMER2022, valid until 8/31/22.

Christian Pre-K at Home with Sonlight

Christian Pre-K at Home with Sonlight

There are so many ways to teach pre-k at home. The preschool years are when we, as homeschool parents, are (typically) not bound by any sort of state requirements, testing, or attendance. We have complete freedom in how we approach the preschool years.

One thing we all want is to instill a love of books and a desire to learn in our preschoolers. This is when we are laying the foundation for their long term education. Sonlight’s Pre-Kindergarten Package: Exploring God’s World knocks it out of the park in creating a curriculum that is rich, thorough, fun, and engaging. I am so excited to tell you all about it! Also, you have a chance to win the ENTIRE Pre-K curriculum. Enter now!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

What’s Included in the Pre-K Curriculum Package?

Sonlight is a literature based curriculum that spans preschool through 12th grade while covering all required subjects. It has been equipping Christian homeschooling families for more than 30 years! They have updated their pre-k at home resources just in time for the 2022-23 school year.

With the Pre-Kindergarten Package: Exploring God’s World, you get the entire curriculum plus the Instructor’s Guide. That’s nearly 30 literature books and readers, as well as a Sonlight tote bag, tactile letter cards, counting beads, and MORE. These rich stories will immerse your child in history, nature, and Biblical stories, while teaching critical thinking skills and reading readiness.

As a homeschool mom who has had a few reluctant readers, there is SUCH value in exposing your child early and often to rich literature. Furthermore, don’t be overwhelmed by having so many books to get through in this package. This curriculum is supposed to take an entire school year. The daily break down, which you can see below, is very doable for a pre-kindergarten student.

Open and Go Pre-K at Home

If you are looking for a pre-k at home curriculum that is completely open and go, this is the right choice for you. Everything you need for the entire year is included. The Instructor’s Guide includes ideas for enrichments, such as field trips, and extensions, but they are not required. Additionally, very little advanced planning is needed for this curriculum. Sonlight really makes it easy to begin formal school with your pre-kindergarten child.

Let’s talk more about this Instructor’s Guide. I have seen several open and go curriculums, and this guide is the best I have seen. Seriously. Each week, you get an extensive overview of every thing you will be doing. Then, each day is broken down in a way that feels concise and doable. Furthermore, I REALLY like how each day is counted to to keep track of how many school days have been completed for the year. I mean, how much time is wasted counting and recounting days on a calendar to make sure we hit our requirement?!

My Overall Thoughts

Sonlight’s Pre-Kindergarten Package: Exploring God’s World is a well thought out and thorough curriculum. It is a great fit for a Christian family who is ready to start formal school at ages four and five. Not everyone is ready to do that, though. And that is ok! Sometimes kids need more years of just play, and other times they are ready to dive in to schooling. There are SO many ways to do pre-k at home and this is a great option. Check out Sonlight today, and don’t forget to enter the amazing giveaway!

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TEACH: Creating Independently Responsible Learners by Dennis Dinoia

TEACH: Creating Independently Responsible Learners by Dennis Dinoia

I am so excited to share with you Dennis Dinoia’s new book, Teach: Creating Independently Responsible Learners. This book is THE great new resource for all homeschooling parents! We live in a world where any and all information is literally at our fingertips. It can be difficult to steer our children towards valuable information and teach them critical thinking skills. The topics and strategies discussed in this new book take on these challenges in a new and refreshing way.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

Teach: Creating Independently Responsible Learners is available NOW!

The Inspiration for Teach

Teach: Creating Independently Responsible Learners begins with the author, Dennis Dinoia, sharing his background as a classroom educator. He shares the struggle he experienced getting his students to fully engage and care about their education. He often felt the information he taught went in one ear and out the other. We can definitely relate to this feeling as homeschooling parents! I know I can!!

Frustrated by this challenge, Dennis sought a solution. He realized if he had his students correct their own assignments, their grades actually improved. They retained information more effectively if they had more ownership of their work. Students also became more excited about learning. Of course, this is a goal for all parents and teachers.

When Dennis made the transition to the homeschool sector, he was able to apply the same techniques. He inspired parents to create learning environments where the child has a sense of ownership over their education. He terms this the independently responsible learner.

Practical Tips to Encourage Learning

Throughout the book, Dennis shares techniques and strategies you can apply to your homeschool to encourage independently responsible learning. One technique I really liked (and will be implementing) was in regard to vocabulary. The parent gives a list of words and has the student to discover the meanings for themselves. Then the student comes back and explains each word to the parent, essentially teaching the parent the vocabulary. What a great way to encourage independence and creativity!

Engaging and insightful, Teach is the a must read this summer!

Furthermore, Dennis provides so many real life examples and strategies. These are geared not only to the homeschooling parent but also the student. For example the chapters include:

  • Present yourself
  • Learning how to think
  • Do what you love to do
  • The parent is the coach
  • Goal setting (you know I love goal setting, mama)
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My Thoughts on Teach: Creating Independently Responsible Learners

I have to be honest. I do not read a lot of advice giving nonfiction books. To me, they are often preachy or set too high a standard. I prefer to garner advice from others who have been there and done that to whatever I am seeking to learn about. But the beauty of this book is Dennis has BTDT! He is entrenched in the homeschooling community and passionate about supporting parents. Additionally, he has over 30 years of educational experience!

I knew I would love this book because I am such a fan of Dennis’s. Those of us familiar with his online homeschool classes and podcast affectionately call him Mr. D. And I was NOT disappointed. The practical and actionable tips in this book are sure to add value to your homeschool as you encourage independent learning. Get your Kindle copy of Teach for only $0.99!

Online Homeschool Classes with Allschool

Online Homeschool Classes with Allschool

Do you use online homeschool classes? This is new territory for us, but let me tell you, I am loving it! For a long time, I thought I would only use hard copy materials in our homeschool. That was ridiculous of me! I limited my resources so much with that line of thinking. I also limited fun and engaging avenues for my children to learn. Now that I’ve seen the light, I am so excited to share Allschool with you!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

What is Allschool?

What exactly is Allschool, you ask? Allschool is a platform jammed packed with a variety of online homeschool classes for students ages 3-18. They encourage students to pursue their interests through interactive classes, teacher feedback, and parent resources. You can search for classes by age, subject matter, time of day, and even language. I signed my four year old up for a class about the great white shark. The process was so simple and easy. Additionally, I really appreciated the questionnaire you fill out when you fill out your learner’s profile. This helps Allschool to have a rough idea of where your child is academically.

Allschool interactive online homeschool class logo.
Allschool is a great way to include interactive learning into your homeschool.

The Awesome Features of Allschool

Allschool has so many wonderful features that make it a clear choice when looking for interactive online homeschool classes such as:

  • Small class sizes
  • Variety of topics taught, including special interests and core subjects
  • Interactive and immersive classroom experience
  • Option of one-on-one classes for individualized learning
  • Responsive and helpful online customer service
  • Free worksheets to further learning
  • Personal feedback from teachers
  • Safety protocols to keep a positive and peaceful learning environment
  • Experienced and professional teachers

All of these features enable homeschooling parents to rest assured in their choice of Allschool. However, I have to say that my favorite aspect is the number and variety of classes. There are literally hundreds to choose from. This means that wherever your child is in their academic journey, there will be a fun and engaging class that’s right for them.

Allschool free online small classes for your child
Sign Up for Allschool Today!

How do the Classes Work?

Searching for the right class is very easy. You are able to filter the search engine. Because I wanted my four year old to enroll in a class, I searched by age. Out of all the choices, he chose a class about great white sharks. After completing the check out process, I was able to set my son’s profile up. Allschool classes are done over Zoom. You can find your Zoom link in your child’s profile, which houses your class schedules.

Preschool boy watching an online homeschool class about sharks.
I set my son up at my desk with his lunch and my laptop.

I was so impressed with Teacher Amber and this class! The maximum number of students in the class is set by each teacher, and our teacher had a max of 8 students. But there was just my son and one other child in the class. Teacher Amber was so engaging. She called each student by name, which really helps to keep their attention. Also, she didn’t mind at all that my son was wiggly and playing in my desk chair. The class lasted 30 minutes, and my ADHD preschooler was engaged the whole time. That is a BIG deal!

Preschool boy watching an online homeschool class on a laptop.
Teacher Amber was so much fun!

Overall, I was highly impressed with Allschool. I definitely plan on using this awesome resource for our homeschool in the future, especially for my preschooler. Make sure you check out Allschool and snag their offer of one free class. Have you ever tried online homeschool classes? What did you think? I would love to know in the comments below! Also, make sure to share this post with your friends.

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How To Survive Year-End Stress With Your Elementary Student

How To Survive Year-End Stress With Your Elementary Student

Woohoo! Summer break is almost here, and it is time for a busy but beautiful season of vacations, pool parties, and lemonade stands. But before you can dive in and enjoy the fun that summer vacation brings for you and your kiddos, you must partake in the end-of-school-year Olympics and figure out how to survive year-end stress.

Yes, I am talking about the weeks after spring break and before summer vacation, when school tests the fortitude and dedication of every elementary school parent and beyond. You will be stretched to the limit some days, but the end result is worth it: watching your child’s face the day they walk out of school for the last time before summer break. What an exciting, squealing, ice cream-faced reward!

Manage Year-End Field Trip Stress

Children looking at a train car on a field trip to the train station.
Field trip to the train station was so much fun!

Is it just me, or do schools cram as many field trips as they can into the last 3 weeks of school? Aquarium, pizza arcade, Zoo, nature walk, CRAM IT IN! Oh and do not forget the permission slip. Or close-toed shoes. And the money for snacks on site. Or the sunscreen! While it may seem like a ton of extra stuff to cram into your pint-size child’s backpack, it’s all worth it to see their ruddy cheeks at the end of the day. Filled with stories and excitement from the trip. Remember your why!

Do Not Stress Report Cards & Grades

While the report cards and quarterly grades may not seem like a big part of how to survive year-end stress, they certainly are for your children – elementary school and beyond. When my daughter began 3rd grade, the report cards got a bit more serious. And so did she.

Reward all grades, as long as you know your child has done their best

Remind your kiddo that there are no bad grades as long as they have done their best work. Grades do not make a kind or empathetic spirit. Kick the stress and discipline when a disappointing report card rolls in. Celebrate the small victories!

Year-End Teacher Gifts – What To Give?

I am positive your kid’s teacher has some different ideas about how to survive year-end stress, which is why I always love to gift them something special at the end of the school year. 

Here are some “how to survive year-end stress” gift ideas for teachers:

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How To Survive Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent-Teacher conferences can be intimidating and leave everyone feeling defeated if handled improperly. My daughter’s elementary school requires at least 2 conferences a year. But you can have a great conference with your child’s teacher!

Focus on the positive.

Do not hone in on your child’s worst but choose to focus on their best.

Ask questions.

Do not begin the conference without a list of questions to ask your child’s teacher.

Request positive feedback to give your child.

Your child’s teacher wants them to succeed. They watch them learn and grow every day, so grab some of those compliments to share with your child.

Make Year-End Class Parties Fun

You might not be an over-achiever. You know what I’m talking about – a Pinterest-Perfect mom. One of those moms who set the table for every holiday and take the Christmas tree down by New Year’s. If you are, elementary class parties might not be your forte. That is okay momma! Take a chill pill and bring in the store-bough cupcakes. You do not have to cut the carrots into star shapes. 

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More than perfection, your child will remember your presence.

This is a hugely important part of how to survive year-end stress and school madness. Your child will not likely remember your perfectly styled hair or the cupcakes you stayed up until 2am baking. No, they will remember your smile as you laughed on the bus headed to the Zoo. They will remember your compassion when they got a 75% on their math test.

Choose to focus on the reason why you are running around like a chicken on mountain dew. Your children and the memories you are making amidst the madness. Do you have any tips for surviving the year-end stress of elementary school? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

Howdy, Miranda here from planitmiranda.com 

I am a full-time working mom and small business owner. I work for a local law firm while trying my best to juggle mom-sponsibilities, 40 hours of work for “the man”, and entrepreneurship. My days are spent meticulously planning what is to come so nothing falls through the cracks. My daughter Dorothy is 9 years old and my joy.  We make a great planning team.

Exciting On-Demand Dance Classes in Your Home

Exciting On-Demand Dance Classes in Your Home

I searched for on-demand dance classes to add to our homeschool routine for quite some time. I wanted something that offered various styles of dance for my children to try, but also I also wanted quality instruction. You cannot imagine how thrilled I was when I found YouDance.com! The Subscription to YouDance.com checks all of my boxes for what I was looking for. And, it’s your lucky day! Keep reading to enter a special giveaway just for you. Lifetime Access to YouDance.com valued at $180!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

Learn to Dance Online

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I want my kids to have the opportunity to explore new interests without having to drive them all over the place for in person classes. So, when I found this program, I was hooked. YouDance.com was started by a homeschooling mom. It is a safe place for kids to learn all types of dance, including ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, and even clogging. Furthermore, there are no ads or any way to click into something we don’t want our kids having access to (unlike YouTube). My children are beginners, but there are multiple skill levels to choose from.

Get your FREE trial to YouDance.com today!

How Does it Work?

My first grader chose ballet, and my third grader chose jazz. I really appreciate how just one subscription to YouDance.com gives you full access to every type of dance on the platform. Each lesson includes short instructional videos on various aspects of that style of dance. The videos are shot from behind the instructor, who is looking in the mirror. This mimics in person classes, as well as makes it easier for my kids to follow the foot work. Additionally, each lesson includes a short quiz. The quiz covers the information taught in the lesson. I appreciate this, because it helps me to gauge how much my child is paying attention.

This online dance class mimics the perspective of being in a dance studio by watching the instructor from behind while facing a mirror.
All of the novice ballet lessons take place at the barre. Kids can use any sturdy surface in your home for balance.

However, I want to give a slight heads up if you have young children. You might need to do the quiz with your child. A couple of questions were a little mature. For example, when asking about the ballet barre, one of the answer choices mentioned a bar you would go to get drinks. Additionally, the history of jazz video spoke about how jazz originated with enslaved people in America. I love that the lesson taught this full and true history, but I was also glad I was there because my child had additional questions. All in all, I think these things are minor, and they don’t hinder how comfortable I feel using the program.

YouDance.com instructional jazz video is being viewed on a laptop.
My children like to watch the videos first before practicing.

The Benefits of On-Demand Dance Classes for Homeschoolers

The benefits to on-demand dance classes speak for themselves.

  • Explore new interests
  • Gross motor activities all year around, regardless of weather
  • Meet P.E. requirements for homeschooling
  • Ability to set your own pace and schedule
  • No need to be a chauffeur to weekly classes across town
  • Exposure to various types of music
  • Build confidence and self esteem

The YouDance.com Subscription hits all the marks, and I really love that we all have the opportunity to explore so many styles of dance under the umbrella of one product. And I have to say, it has been really nice being able to work on one-on-one teaching with one child, while another child learns a new dance completely independently.

There are even videos meant for exercise available, which is my favorite way to workout (anyone else remember the Zumba craze from ten years ago?) It’s not often you find a homeschool product that also has something for mom, but YouDance.com once again comes through. It warms my heart to think how Courtney, the founder and creator, thought of us when making this program. Check out YouDance.com today, and I can’t wait to hear what you think. Make sure to like and share this post with your friends!

Are you ready for the AWESOME giveaway? Enter below!

 

Self Paced ASL Classes for Your Homeschool

Self Paced ASL Classes for Your Homeschool

Discovering Mr. D Math’s ASL: Elementary 1 was like finding a treasure chest for our homeschool. Mr. D Math offers a variety of classes, and we enrolled in the self paced ASL (American Sign Language) option. We decided this year that ASL would be our long term foreign language study for our homeschool. I learned a few basic signs as a child, and I knew some baby signs as well. However, my children came into our study knowing nothing.

Because I came into our ASL study with such limited knowledge, I had no idea where to begin. We tried to find YouTube videos. But there are so many that I didn’t know where to begin, much less make an impactful linear study of the language. When I was introduced to Mr. D Math and the self paced ASL class, I knew I found what we needed to ensure a proper, respectful, and comprehensive study of American Sign Language.

Bring world class teacher into your home!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

The High Quality of Mr. D Math’s ASL Elementary

Mr. D Math is an online platform offering a variety of live and self paced classes for every age. We chose Mr. D Math Elementary ASL 1, which is a self paced ASL class. To be completely transparent, I have been hesitant to use any online classes in our homeschool. I felt like if we were going to do home education, then I needed to be teaching only out of hard copy books at all times. Friend, don’t box yourself in like that. As soon as we started learning ASL, I knew I needed a curriculum with actual teachers who were more knowledgeable than me. I needed someone to come along side me to teach my children, and Mr. D Math does just that.

This image shows two children engaged in an online ASL lesson. One child is shoeing the sign for letter P.
Each lesson is straight forward and highly engaging for my children. They love ASL days!

Mr. D Math Elementary ASL 1 includes 32 lessons, which is a great amount for a full school year. Our teacher, Thia S., graduated from Gallaudet University, which is the only Deaf college in the world. It is so important to have qualified instructors when learning ASL. The deaf and hard of hearing community feels very strongly about this, and I am so glad Mr. D Math respects and supports that. I also really appreciate how I have the option to message our teacher if needed.

The Ease of Self Paced ASL Classes

One of my most favorite things about homeschooling is the individuality you can infuse into every part of education. Like I mentioned before, I had been hesitant to add an online curriculum to our schooling. Part of that hesitation was rooted in the fact that I didn’t want the pressure of being on someone else’s schedule. Let me tell you, the self paced ASL class has eased all of my fears.

Each lesson includes a video where our teacher introduces new signs. She is so fun and engaging. Furthermore, she encourages children to turn off their voices and practice their signs in daily life. My seven year old especially loves doing this! There are review worksheets and coloring pages, as well as a short review quiz for all 32 lessons. The course is well tracked through the online portal as well. It keeps track of our progress (I am learning too!) and quiz grades automatically. We usually do two to three lessons per week, but you can go as fast or as slow as your children need to.

This image shows two elementary aged children coloring their review worksheet from their ASL lesson.
Birthday sign review coloring pages were definitely a hit!

Is Mr. D Math Elementary ASL 1 Class Worth It?

I absolutely believe this self paced ASL class is worth it. If you are looking for a quality curriculum to fill any possible gaps in your homeschool, Mr. D Math is a great place to start your search. You can really tell this company wants to empower home educators. There is even a podcast by founder Dennis DiNoia. Additionally, for the price of $197 per self paced course, you get so much. Before I was introduced to Dr. D Math, I was scrounging YouTube for our ASL lessons. I didn’t always know the credentials of the person making the video, and there was no route to achieve our long term goals of becoming proficient in ASL. I fully intend to stay with Mr. D Math ASL classes until we progress beyond them. Check out Mr. D Math today and let me know what you think!

Social Emotional Learning with HeyKiddo

Social Emotional Learning with HeyKiddo

Social emotional learning is a framework that helps students to better understand their emotions, to experience those emotions fully, and extend empathy for others. Learning about feelings and how they effect relationships is vital for children to develop into well rounded healthy teenagers and adults.

As I’ve shared before, I have two children with ADHD. Did you know emotional regulation is an extra challenge for neurodivergent children? Because of this, we spend a LOT of time discussing feelings in our family. Additionally, I really believe spending concentrated time learning these skills when children are young results in positive outcomes as they grow. It only made sense to incorporate social emotional learning into our homeschool. This is why I was so excited to discover HeyKiddo Huddle by HeyKiddo.

Built for busy homeschooling parents (you, mama) by expert psychologists and educators, this digital curriculum fits seamlessly into your existing homeschool rhythm and routine, all the while helping to build skills like self-awareness, mindfulness, positive mindset, empathy, critical thinking, resilience and so much more. Read on to the end for a chance to win a one year subscription!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

Social Emotional Learning Starts with Family

We take family and sibling relationships very seriously in our home. Because I am an only child, I know how precious it is to have siblings by your side. We tell our kids that their siblings are their forever best friends. Deep relational bonds only occur if a person has had appropriate social emotional education.

Desiring our children to mature in their social emotional skills is one thing, yet knowing how best to teach these skills can be another. This is where HeyKiddo Huddle steps in. HeyKiddo, with the backing of the National Science Foundation, comes along side you with a weekly curriculum to teach important skills such as self awareness, relationship skills, responsible decision making, and SO MUCH MORE. They say it takes a village. Why not take the opportunity to fill ours with expert psychologists and educators?

Sign Up Today!!

How Does HeyKiddo Huddle Work?

HeyKiddo Huddle is comprehensive social-emotional curriculum for homeschooling parents that spans 36 weeks. Everything you need to teach each lesson is located in your online portal. Additionally, you receive weekly emails with that link to all the materials you need. Your portal also houses a progress tracker for each child, as well as additional resources. The portal is incredibly simple and easy to navigate.

Your portal houses everything you need for each lesson.

Lessons, or huddles, take about 15 minutes each day, or you can dedicate one hour once a week. I really appreciate when curriculums are not extremely time intensive. For each lesson, you come together for a huddle (how cute is this concept?!) and discuss one question per day. The discussion questions are designed to integrate critical thinking skills into daily learning. One of my favorites is, “If you were a color, which would you be and why?”. Furthermore, an activity or craft is associated with each week’s focus. Parents are responsible for gathering the materials for these activities, but they are simple things like colored paper, scissors, etc..

I really appreciate the Educator Responses section of each discussion question.

Here is Your Chance to Win!

Enter to Win!

I have thoroughly enjoyed digging into this curriculum with my children. In the beginning, it felt a little awkward having these conversations, but we quickly found our groove. Better yet, the kids have so much fun during our huddles. I think it does a wonderful job filling in the gaps we, as parents, sometimes have when teaching our children about emotions and introspection.

Huddles are simple, but they are so impactful!

The only thing I would adjust in this program is allowing total access to all the lessons up front. You have the full 36 week curriculum outline in your portal, but it only gives you the topics. My type A planner self would have liked to be able to view all the lessons I wanted, so I could customize our journey through the program more. However, that is such a minor thing (can you tell I sometimes live in the details, ha!), and I really do love HeyKiddo Huddle for social emotional learning. I can already tell a difference in my children’s emotional awareness with using this curriculum. Check them out today! As always, I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

Is Homeschool Science Lab Even Possible? Yes!

Is Homeschool Science Lab Even Possible? Yes!

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my time for this post. My opinions are honest and true to my personal experience with this product.

Science lab might be one of the most intimidating subjects to teach for a homeschool mom. Unless you were homeschooled yourself, your experience with science labs is the classroom model. How are you supposed to replicate that at home? The thought of all the equipment alone is enough to make you throw up your hands in defeat. And oh, the mess! I am not the “let’s get messy all over the kitchen” type of mom (and that is okay!).

Have no fear, friend. I am thrilled to introduce you to College Prep Science by Greg Landry. Greg is a former college professor and homeschool dad who has a deep love for science. He created College Prep Science to meet homeschool learners where they’re at and instill a love for science. A key feature of this platform is its virtual homeschool science lab. Also, stay tuned because I have a list full of freebies for you to take advantage of.

Middle and High School Science Labs

Even though my kids are still in elementary school, I get asked quite often how will I teach the upper grades. Some times I wonder myself! However, I am so glad that I now have this resource in my back pocket. College Prep Science offers a virtual homeschool science lab for biology/anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and physics. I really like how all of your middle and high schooler’s science labs can be done on one platform. Once your student learns how the virtual lab operates, they can then concentrate on the material at hand. Greg Landry also teaches note taking skills, which is very important if your student has higher education goals.

Your student will learn note taking along with other key skills.

How the Homeschool Science Lab Works

There are two ways to participate in this homeschool science lab. The first option is to enroll in a one week intensive taught by Greg Landry. This is a live 20-30 minute class where your student will complete a total of ten experiments. I love that the courses include so many experiments! Some state have requirements on what counts as a science lab class, and this intensive exceeds the typical requirement of six experiments. There are no prerequisites either, so you have flexibility as to when you want to complete the course based on your own homeschool calendar.

This is the virtual lab.
Everything you need for you lab is just a click away.

If the live intensive isn’t for you, your student has the option to enroll in a self-paced nine month family subscription. As a parent of two neurodivergent children, I love this option. If you know, you know. Our neurodivergent kids work at their own pace. So, it is a huge plus for me that there is this type of variability.

You, of course, have access to all the same subjects as if you were in the live intensive. However, instead of live classes, students will watch a video by Greg Landry, then head to the homeschool science lab and complete each experiment. Parents do not need to purchase any equipment. None, as in no mess! Just print the provided notes and you’re all set to begin the course. Furthermore, both of these options include information for transcripts.

My Final Thoughts

I think one of the hardest things about being a new(ish) homeschooling family is the overwhelm of all the resources available. It is maddening to sort through. Using tools created by people who are passionate about their products is really important to me. I think College Prep Science is a great option if you are looking for a no mess, user friendly, and highly educational homeschool science lab. And, Greg Landry is so passionate about equipping homeschooling families with great science education, that he has provided these freebies for you to take advantage of. I hope you enjoy them!

Guest Post: Raising a Toddler by Chrissy Lyons

Guest Post: Raising a Toddler by Chrissy Lyons

Hi there. I’m Chrissy from www.lyonessandcub.com. Today, I’ll tell you about how I am raising a toddler. My Lyons Cub. He’ll be four in two months, so toddlerdom lies behind us now, and I congratulate myself on my preschooler.

All of you who have toddlers will know them—the terrible 2’s and even 3’s. I once had the faintest hope it would get better at the age of three, but no such luck… I had the chillest baby you could possibly imagine: Leander was so laid back; he hardly ever cried (maybe he didn’t have the strength, because he was born a preemie with IUGR, weighing only 3 lbs and spending the first three weeks of his life in the NICU). He didn’t suffer from colic or reflux, slept through the night most of the time, was friendly towards strangers, and smiled and giggled a lot. My friends told me back then that the sweetest babies make the wildest toddlers. They would be right…

Picky Eaters: Baking with Your Toddler to Stimulate Their Appetite

My son needed fortified breast milk to gain extra calories. So, I became an exclusive pumper, feeding him every three hours, including at night, for the first year of his life. This was tough, but we made it (and I rewarded myself with beautiful breast milk jewelry). I even used a pumping app to keep track of my daily output and his daily input. When my son turned five months old, we started with baby food. From the mom forums and blogs I was on, I heard about baby-led weaning and wanted to try it. However, my son mostly just smashed his food and played with it on his high chair. He seemed to enjoy the sensory play, but he also gagged and spat out a lot. So, I often wondered how much really went into his tummy. He gained a little weight, though, and reached the normal growth when he was nine months old.

Eventually, he developed into a picky eater, still loving his milk (we used Holle goat milk after he was one year of age). He preferred fruit and rice puffs to meat and veggies. I soon noticed when he was allowed to help prepare the food, he seemed hungrier and more eager to eat. Specifically, he liked to bake brownies, cookies, and cake. Although it was quite messy, I baked with my toddler whenever I got a chance. We used the floor to have a large space where he couldn’t fall or drop anything (no worries, I cleaned thoroughly before and after!). I remember the fun he had when he baked a Very Hungry Caterpillar cake with a mold I had found at ALDI’s. For Christmas, we build a gingerbread house every year, which is my German family’s tradition. He can hardly wait to pluck the candy off it!

Montessori Education: Child-Centered with Freedom of Choice

Although it was quite expensive, I chose Montessori education for my son. When he was 18 months old, he joined Amare Montessori. The children had “directresses” (you don’t call them “teachers” in Montessori language) who helped him help himself. That means he dressed himself proudly (and sometimes came home wearing his pants back to the front and his shoes on the wrong feet), harvested his own tomatoes, and prepared his own salad. The children flourish in a prepared environment with child-sized shelves full of beautiful Montessori materials they could choose from freely to satisfy their inner teacher. They also had a big garden to grow flowers and vegetables, with outdoor musical instruments hanging on a wooden fence, sticks for building tents, and mud kitchens.

Being outside in nature is emphasized strongly in Montessori education. Some kindergartens even have animals, so the children learn to care for them and cherish them (my son got to experience and to feed his aunt’s chickens). His little tasks were called “work.: Every day I received a short, written report with successes like, “he did the banana cutting work today,” or “he did the orange peeling work.” One day, I read, chuckling, “Leander painted a lot today, including himself.” That was true! I had a “Blue Boy” like the one from Picasso when I went to pick him up. He became very self-efficient as a consequence of this educational philosophy. However, the downside turned out to be that he doesn’t like my explaining and showing things to him; he wants to explore them by himself and doesn’t listen. We are still working on “following directions.”  

Since I had become widowed unexpectedly during the year I was pregnant after our IVF journey, I needed a nanny to have support with my baby while I was working full time. Luckily, I found a great nanny through care.com, who was on board with me to raise Leander the Montessori Way. Her husband helped me build a Montessori house bed for my son, and I got a Pikler triangle, arch, and ramp from Etsy. Initially behind with gross and fine motor skills and needing Early Intervention, my son developed into a fast, sportive, strong boy who loves hiking through the forest and going swimming.

Outdoor Activities for Extremely Active Toddlers

This leads me to the next point—what to do with overactive, never tired toddlers, who seem to have everlasting energy? This is one tired mommy!! (Well, I have as excuse that I am “AMA,” or “advanced maternal age” or a “geriatric mom,” meaning a mommy over 35.) My son is now high maintenance, as he needs constant entertainment. When we are inside, we often play the piano, as I educate my son with classical music (his late daddy was a professional pianist and composer). He also loves to build with LEGOs and Duplos and to create elaborate race tracks for his battery-powered cars.

As nice as it is to play indoors with playdough, clay, marble runs, etc., he cannot stay cooped up for long. He gets cabin fever. I am a little hyperactive myself. The best thing for us is to get out of our four walls, breathe fresh air, run around on a green meadow, and play in the park. We are lucky to have great parks in our neighborhood. One has awesome climbing animals to explore with children, as well as a training parcours (developed for seniors, but enjoyed by the kids of the area) with lots of exercisers like a huge outdoor gym. We spent many summer afternoons there with grandma.  

One of the highlights for my son is the animal park, where he gets to pet and feed alpacas, deer, goats, sheep, and watch otters, porcupines, seagulls, owls, and plenty of other animals. There are vending machines for pelleted animal food, because the visitors are not allowed to bring their own food. My son has lots of fun letting the goats and sheep eat the pellets of his hand. There are educational boards everywhere that talk about the animals, what they eat, how they live, what sounds they make, and other curiosities. When it gets too much for my son, he enjoys the big playground with the tire swings and the climbing tower.  

We also have a zoo close by, where Leander got to admire pelicans, deer pigs, elephants, a brown bear, macaws, penguins, seals, etc. At home, we read up on those animals and answer his questions. We also watch them on YouTube, so he can learn more about them.

Bilingual Education

My son was born in Clarksville, TN. We moved to Germany in 2020 due to the pandemic, to be close to my relatives. If you are a mixed family like ours, use this wonderful opportunity to raise your child bilingually. It will be beneficial to him/her in school and later in the job market. My son speaks German and English, and for an almost four-year-old, he has a great vocabulary and sentence structure. I spoke German to him from the beginning, and his nanny and the directresses and kids in kindergarten spoke English, of course.

Additionally, we read a lot of books together. Reading to your child is so important! Every evening, he goes to bed with one German and one English book. His favorite books at the moment are those that deal with hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, or the solar system, and he also likes The Pout-Pout Fish series, Der Grüffelo (The Gruffalo), Wo die wilden Kerle wohnen (Where the Wild Things Are), Der Tag, an dem Louis gefressen wurde (The Day Louis Got Eaten), and Peter und der Wolf (Peter and the Wolf). Grandma speaks only German. We Skyped with her almost daily, so he got used to talking to her in German even before he met her in person. He grows up with songs and games in both languages. If you feel inclined to learn German from a toddler, check Leander out saying, “Stoffel stolpert über einen Stein.” That’s a tongue twister. Good luck!!!