101 Color & Sing Bible Stories: Review

Grace is my youngest and as the youngest she often gets hand-me-downs for just about everything, especially toys and books. She has a few things that are her own, but just by the course of life almost all her books were once her sisters. She was over-the-moon excited to have a new Bible story book all her own! Grace has grown up knowing all about God and the Bible and enjoys reading the same stories over and over.

101 Color & Sing Bible Stories by Stephen Elkins is a great addition to our library! We have well over 10 Bible story books and that doesn’t even include individual storybooks with Biblical themes. I wondered if this would capture Grace’s interest, but I should have known she would love it!This is much, much more than your average Bible for kids!


For each story there is a child-friendly reading which has the Scripture reference clearly shown, a song to help retain what they learned, and a coloring page which matches the illustration provided. This is one of the most interactive Bible books I’ve seen for kids, and I’ve seen a lot. While the content may be predictable as it is laid out in chronological order this makes it all the more loved by kids. My daughter already knew what the next story would be because she knows the basic order of creation.

Her favorite part so far has been the CDs. She loves listening to the music during her rest time and alternates between the two CDs. Some songs were new, but most were the traditional Sunday School songs my husband and I grew up with. She loved this as well because she immediately was singing along with them all!

This is a great Bible Story book for toddlers and preschoolers whether you have many on hand or this is your first one. The teaching is solidly biblical, yet not too deep for them to understand and the music and coloring pages are the icing on the cake! 

Disclaimer: I received 101 Color & Sing Bible Stories from Tyndale Publishers as part of  the Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. 

Fundanoodle: Review

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When beginning homeschooling for kindergarten one of the first things everyone looks for is a handwriting curriculum. There are so many to choose from! With so many choices it can be hard to know what is best. There are many, really good ones, but I’m really excited to share something brand new to me and what I think I’ll continue to use with Grace through Kindergarten. 
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Fundanoodle is a really neat company I was not familiar with before this review. Their learning activities are very hands-on and all about experiencing while learning. When you have time, take a minute to read about their company and philosophy. You’ll see why I’m really behind this company. We reviewed the I Can Build Upper Case Letter! activity kit ($29.99) for ages 4-5 (Pre-K-Kindergarten). What a blessing it has been for Grace!
This is such an amazing value! The kit includes a magnetic dry-erase board, a set of magnetic curves and lines for buildling letters, a dry-erase marker, activity cards for gross motor skills, and a wooden dice. There are other handwriting systems which incorporate building the letters with a set of basic curves and lines, but not for this price with everything included. The magnets are very high quality and sturdy. Directions for building the letters are also included. 
Upon opening the box I hadn’t even taken everything out before Grace was trying it out! She knew it was for making letters and without any guidance she built D and was so very proud of herself. I know it wasn’t exactly how it was intended to be built, but she was discovering on her own and loving it. I knew she was hooked and this was going to be fun!
Although many schools are doing away with recess researchers agree physical activity throughout the day is vital to stimulating the brain and provide more focus. Fundanoodle provides a very easy way to incorporate gross motor skills with this program with the gross motor cards. These were soooo fun. I honestly didn’t know how they would go over. They seemed so simple, but this was one of her favorite things! She simply rolled the dice to choose which card we would do, flip it over, then follow the directions, which was always moving the same way as a specific animal. 
Don’t these shots just say it all? Grace loved roaring like  lion and hopping like a kangaroo. Just as expected, her focus and attention was increased when we got down to the core of the program. 
First Grace built the letter we were working on. I chose to have her do the same letter every day for a week because of her age. I’ll explain why below. I would hand her the pieces needed for the letter and let her do the best she could…which was pretty good as you can see! For some letters I had to help her align them a bit, but she got the idea from the start and this was something I really liked. Having her tangibly form letters with these basic shapes seemed to cement them in her mind. 
I really like that the straight-lined letters are taught first. Some handwriting programs teach the curved letters first. Some teach them in ABC order. Others teach consonants and then vowels. To me, this makes the most sense. 
You can see there are several rows for the students to practice on. Because of her age (not quite 4) I felt it would be best for Grace to work on one line each day. The first three rows are in boxes which really helped her form her letters better. Again, I’ve seen other curriculum use this method, but not with as much clarity as is used in this book. I also like that the last two lines are traditional practice paper for her to use. This was much harder for her, but she gave it her best and really did quite well. This is the first time she’s really used handwriting paper even though she’s been writing letters for a while. 
Another really fun aspect is each letter has its own special sticker for her to place on each page when she is done. She loved these I like the reward. It was something to work towards which was very simple. 
This program is good…so, so good. I hadn’t disliked any of the other handwriting curricula I’ve used with my girls, but I hadn’t yet found one I loved. Now I have! 
Read about this and the many other wonderful products from Fundanoodle from my Crewmates!

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Hello, Florida! from Applewood Books: Review

Florida feels like the girls’ second home. Rose and Beth were both born in Florida and my husband’s parents live there. We visit the state a couple of times a year and the girls have enjoyed many of the sites in South Florida, but it is such a big state and there are so many other places for them to learn about!
Hello, Florida! by Martha Day Zschock is a fun board book all three of my girls fell in love with! I’m always happy when something I have for Grace gets my other girls excited. She is in preschool so I don’t usually expect her books and activities to engage her sisters. This was one of those times and Grace’s older sisters took great pleasure in reading this story to her! 
The first time I read this to Grace her sisters were working on their lessons. I figured they wouldn’t be interested in their sister’s new board book, so I didn’t think about reading it to all of them. Imagine my surprise, when I suddenly realized they had come up behind us and were reading over my shoulder. They really enjoyed seeing what the alligator tour guides told about Florida next.
Grace asked her sister just today, “Will you read to me?” I love that the girls enjoy reading to their youngest sister and it’s a fun way for them to practice oral story telling. So many different areas of Florida are represented in this short book. Florida is a diverse state, so much more than just the beaches and amusement parts normally remembered. The diversity of the land is well represented. The beautiful illustrations capture the imagination and once again the girls asked if we could visit the areas mentioned the next time we visit. 
My favorite pages were about the Everglades, the area we lived in when Beth and Rose were born. We used to count the alligators in the canals created in the Everglades as we traveled to and from our town, but none were as cute as the two in this book! They are so sweet and made for excellent tour guides. 
Whether you are visiting Florida for the amusements, the history, the beautiful nature, or because you have family there, this will be a fun book to take along with you. Perhaps you’re studying through various states around our country. This would make a fabulous addition as would many of the other books in the series. The detailed pictures make it fun to read over and over and will give even your youngest travelers a sense of what is in store for them!
Disclaimer: I received Hello, Florida!  from Applewood Books in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. This is my own opinion. 

Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again from Greene Bark Press: Review

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My girls are always so interested in the why of everything, especially safety rules. We have been very strict to teach our girls they must obey, even if they don’t understand why at the time for their safety, but explaining why has also been a very important part of our teaching. They need to obey, sometimes blindly, but teaching safety should occur other times as well. 
 photo lookleftlookrightlookleftagain_zps08f68e39.jpgThis sweet little book by Ginger Pate is a wonderful tool for gentle instruction of safety rules and the reason why we have those rules. Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again ($8.50) from Greene Bark Press Inc. is beautifully written and engaging for my girls who are in just the right age range, 3-8. I think the format is best suited for preschoolers simply because it is a board book. Most grade-school kids will balk at board books, although my girls are an exception to this! I’m not sure if it is because they don’t experience the peer pressure to fit-in, but so far I have yet to hear one of them complain a book is too little for them.

My oldest, who is eight, grabbed it right out of the box and settled down to check it out. She is obviously past the board-book stage, but my girl will read anything she can get her hands on. I think she secretly wanted to check it out before her little sister got to it! It wasn’t long though before Grace found her new book and immediately fell in love with the little duck, Wally. What an adorable protagonist!
One of my favorite aspects is howWally is instructed by his mother about safety rules when crossing the street. In a society where a good portion of the media portrays parents as irrelevant and often idiotic I am pleasantly surprised when books or other media put parents in a positive light. Mama Waddlewater is protective and wise. She instructs her son and gives reason and makes sure he is safe. 
I also liked how Mama Waddlewater teaches Wally to practice. He insists he was going to cross the street the right way and tells her indignantly he knew better. Mama says it is still her job to make sure he is safe. What wonderful words from a storybook which have echoed my own so many times!
Beth enjoyed reading this to her little sister. It was fun to hear them discussing the pictures and enjoy the book together. They both said this book was fun and I found them reading it several times. 
This is really just such a pleasant story and so sweetly written! To see what my Crewmates had to say click below!  

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N is for Noah: Review

Have you ever considered teaching theology to your preschooler? I hadn’t. We have taught her for a long time about how Jesus died on the cross to pay for her sins and how we are all sinners, but this is about as deep as it went. I suppose I just fell into the trap of thinking there is no way a preschooler could comprehend much deeper. I’m so grateful for Master Books (A division of New Leaf Publishing Group) and how they are giving me opportunity to rethink this type of thinking. The most recent book I’ve had the privilege to review as a Mom of Master Books has challenged me to

Reviewing N is for Noah has been unbelievable fun. When I found out it was coming to review I was mildly interested as I thought it was simply going to be the story of Noah’s Ark told in the framework of an alphabet book. Cute, yes, but nothing really different. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Prior to this publication are two other books along the same idea called A is for Adam and D is for Dinosaur. I would love to have the first two in this series after having experienced this one!

Grace loves this book. We have been doing one page a day much to her dismay. The spiral bound book follows the story of Noah, but teaches so much more than this. Through a simple rhyme preschoolers learn why there is sin, why we need a Savior, who that Savior was, that we can trust the Bible to be true…the list just goes on and on!

On the reverse side of the picture and poem is a teacher page which tells you what to say. Am I the only one who loves scripted lessons? There are times when I’m at a loss as how to explain something. I typically know the answer, but translating that information into elementary-ese…let alone preschool-ese…presents quite the challenge! Ken and Mally Ham took this challenge and created a resource to empower parents and teachers with accurate, age-appropriate answers. In addition there are activity ideas, additional biblical connections, and discussion questions…so many options for you to further your study. I think this would be a great resource for anyone planning an alphabet study as well.

Are you ready for another awesome thing about this book? There are free coloring pages to use with your children! My girls adore coloring anyway and I love how many of Master Books publications have free resources offered on their website.

This is one of the most doctrinally sounds preschool resources I have ever had the opportunity to use. Click below for more reviews if this fabulous book from my fellow Moms of Masterbooks!

Disclaimer: I received N is for Noah as part of the Moms of Master Books Team. I was not required to give a positive review. I was not compensated in any other way. 

Bible Study for All Ages: Review

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Learning Together…This is something I’m learning more about and seeking to do with my girls. I still want them to have their own age-appropriate studies for history, science, math, and language arts, but in other areas I am starting to appreciate more and more the benefits of corporate learning. Corporate learning in a classroom environment is completely different than in our home environment…thank goodness! I was a full-time classroom teacher for a couple of years and there were so many things which made me dislike corporate learning. What is beautiful in our homeschool is we are already learning corporately. I now have the opportunity to do it intentionally rather than haphazardly. 
Bible is one area where corporate learning just seems natural, especially with my youngest turning four in just a couple of months. Bible Study Guide for All Ages is a wonderfully simple and easy way to start doing this if you are looking for something more in depth than just family devotions. We have been starting our homeschool day with this a few times a week. It took some time for me to adjust to using both the Beginner and Intermediate levels at the same time, but I quickly worked out the logistics of the process and found this to be a very enjoyable part of our day!
Considering the range of uses and ability to reuse of many of the products (with the exception of the student pages) the prices are very reasonable.

$5.95 per set of 26 lessons
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Studying the Bible more in depth than family devotions is something the girls have been doing individually, but not together. This was a really fun way to start doing this all together. It took about 20 minutes to complete a lesson if we did it all at once, but it could easily be broken into sections. Each of the pages is divided into smaller boxes with Scripture references and activities which are age appropriate. 

I love that the core was actually reading Scripture instead of just a Bible story. I think Bible story books are wonderful and incredibly helpful for beginning to teach children about the truth of God’s Word. However, they frequently fall short of getting into the deeper understanding and theology learned when studying God’s Word directly.

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One fun aspect with the Beginner Student Pages is the inclusion of the age-appropriate Beginner Timeline. This timeline starts with a picture of the Bible and explanation of the two parts of Scripture. Foundational teachings such as these are often neglected at the youngest ages, but why? Children at a very young age can understand and comprehend things on a much higher level than we often give them credit for. 
Grace really liked learning what her sisters did and having her own page to work on rather than just looking at her sisters’ papers. I loved the inclusion of other skills such as color recognition and counting. These pages are very well-written in way even the youngest children can understand, but also challenges them to think critically. She also was very good about waiting patiently while her sisters finished their more challenging pages.

 photo bible-book-summary-cards_zps28dfa8ff.jpgInstead of a timeline the older children have Bible Book Summary Cards. Wow! I can’t say enough about how much I love these. Each card summarizes a book of the Bible so fully, do in depth, even adults will find themselves learning from them. I feel like the word summary really doesn’t do them justice. Something more along the lines of In Depth Understanding of Theological Highlights and Biblical Truths would be more accurate…but I suppose it would be a bit much!

I chose to go up a grade for the Student pages for my older girls even though Beth is technically only in 1st grade. Her reading level is well beyond her grade-level as is her biblical knowledge and understanding. The latter is because we have been teaching the about the Bible from the time they were just infants. Some would say it is because my husband is a pastor, but no matter what his vocation we would still have trained our children in God’s Word from an early age. Beth was saved a year ago and has continued to grow in her faith. I love how these pages disciple and train more than most material for this age.

Rose is the one of my girls who shows a great love for the Word of God. She would do Bible studies all day long if I would let her! She has such a sweet spirit and sensitivity to Scripture. She is always up for trying new things. She is right in the target grade range of 3rd-4th grade as she has just entered her 3rd grade year. She said her favorite part was, “Everything!” You can’t beat that endorsement!

 photo childrens-songs-cd_zps6d5f5503.jpgThe last item we reviewed was the Children’s Song CD Set which is intended for use with all of the levels. I am a huge advocate for teaching through song as much of my knowledge, biblical and otherwise, comes from tunes I learned as a child. These are simply written songs, some familiar and some new, which will aid with memory of many biblical lists such as Jacob’s sons and the apostles. Also included are some of the classic Sunday school songs I grew up with like Climb Up Sunshine Mountain. These are songs I have taught my girls, but it is getting harder and harder to find them recorded.
For the future I plan to do one page a week and just do one-two boxes on that page a day. Our days are already full and I don’t want to rush through this great teaching tool. Going at a slower pace will allow for more discussion and for the truth of God’s Word to penetrate more deeply into their hearts.
Click below to see reviews of these and other levels from my Crewmates!


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Week in Review: April 29 – May 3

School is starting to wind down and everyone is getting a bit anxious for a break. I remember coming back from spring break when I was teaching full-time was always difficult and the same seems to be true for homeschool! The excessive pollen which is still floating around isn’t helping either! Still, we are making it through our curriculum and finding fun things to do along the way. Check out our break-from-the-ordinary field trip by clicking on the picture.

We have been reviewing a lot of really great things from several companies! In case you’ve missed some here is a list of our most recent reviews:

Advice for Seekers by Charles Spurgeon
Composers Activity Pak
Dr. Craft’s Active Playbook
Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of our Ancestors

Look for many more to come in the coming weeks!

Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 18
Grace is so incredibly impatient with me if we don’t do lots of school! I’m trying to teach her that sometimes she has to wait and sometimes we won’t do everything. She doesn’t like either of those truths, but I do try to make it up to her another day and do more!

Our letter of the week was O. All of our magnet letters are stored in this large tin. We play a search for the letter game sometimes on the lid. I didn’t realize until after I took this picture that I had put the O’s all together! But Grace didn’t mind, and didn’t even notice to be honest.

She has moved on to the C book of her About 3 series from Rod and Staff Publishing. These books have progressed her thinking skills and handwriting to a really good place as we finish up her K-3 year. She is one of those kids who would either start Kindergarten as a 4 year-old or wait and start just before she turns 6. While I completely hated the idea of her older sister starting Kindergarten just as she turned 5, I knew academically it was the best thing for her. Now I don’t have to worry about those problems! I can challenge her academically without the added stresses of needing to mature somewhat.

I did a fun new activity I found on Pinterest. I actually combined a couple of activities. I put a dice into an empty baby-food jar. She shook the dice, then she put that many noodles in one of the cubes in the ice cube tray. This occupied her for a full 30 minutes. Win!

Grace enjoys these types of activities and she’s still at an age that she thinks it’s a new activity if I change from noodles to dry beans or beads! It’s also really nice to be able to give her these small things and know she’s not going to try and eat them and choke. She really likes to use Cheerios  but ends up eating more than she counts.

Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 27

Beth is working hard and getting close to finishing up! Since our allergy attack last week knocked us off from finishing up Unit 27 we just picked up where we stopped last week. We finished up the history readings which she enjoyed as usual.

Since finishing up her handwriting book we’ve moved on to a phonics practice book which also incorporates handwriting. She really likes these activities and it has not only helped improve her handwriting, but it also incorporates critical thinking, spelling, rhyming, and reading. Yay for Grandma fining this for her!

Beth also completed her first math speed drill! Rod and Staff is a very traditional mathematics curriculum without any frills. It’s no-nonsense approach has been a good fit for my girls and they do quite well with it. I’m not actually doing the speed drills exactly as they are intended yet because she has moved on to 1st grade level math very quickly. I told her to do them as quickly as she could and I just kept track of the time. I was very pleased that she finished all 18 problems in only 65 seconds. She knows the answers quickly, but is sometimes slow about writing the numbers because she wants them to look neat.

She also finished up her reading curriculum this week. Now that she has completed through 1st grade Abeka phonics we’ll move on to the emerging readers set used in Heart of Dakota. I’m not sure if we’ll start them next week though. For now I think I will just have Beth do some reading and narration each day.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 30

Rose started off the week with an art show at Deerstream Learning Center. She created her own national park complete with unique land forms. She was so proud of her project and her grandparents were able to come and see it. Homeschool classes have been a great addition for Rose. Beth gets to start taking classes next year and she is looking forward to joining her big sister.

Rose has adjusted well to completing all three of the vocabulary words which encourages me that she is completely ready for the next guide from Heart of Dakota, Preparing Hearts for His Glory. She does tend to get a little sloppy with her handwriting at times. Her original sentences were excellently written with good context, but were not nearly as neat as I knew she could write. I decided to have her rewrite them. She wasn’t thrilled at first, but when I asked her if she thought she had used her best handwriting, she gave me a guilty smile and didn’t say anything more!

We have added an official typing program which Rose begs to use frequently! I’ll have a review of this program coming up soon. It’s one of the most fun I’ve used and is quite affordable. She has completed 2 lessons and is working on her write hand letters. I honestly wasn’t certain how well she would do but I have been pleased with her progress!

Another great week and looking forward to just a few more in our guides!

Week in Review: April 22-26

Our week coming off of Spring Break was nice and easy. The girls were up late every night the week before…2 hours after bedtime late! Their Grammy and Grampy were visiting from FL and we also spent some time with their cousins. No wonder they were up late! Then the allergies hit. I really struggle with allergies here in the south every spring and have lost my voice for 2 weeks for the last 5 years and this was the week it started! So we had a couple of sick days when my voice was at its worst. I also pondered all the advice I was given when we first started homeschooling and wrote a fun post incorporating it all! Click the graphic and you can read the only complete list of homeschooling advice you’ll find!

Little Hands to Heaven: Off Week
I’ve been thinking about what to do next year with Grace next year since she’ll still be preschool. I plan to start teaching her to read because she is ready although I’m flexible depending on how she responds. I have decided to do Little Hands to Heaven through once more with a different Bible option and more letter and number practice in addition to the Rod and Staff ABC series. I think she’s really going to like it!

This week she just explored, colored, played games, built puzzles, and worked in preschool workbooks. My favorite part of the week was when she took her magnifying glass and examined a but outside on the back porch. She loves bugs as long as she is assured it won’t sting or bite. She looked at this little guy and said, “He looks sad Mommy!” I’m not sure what kind it was, but she had a good time inspecting it!

Moments like these make me so grateful she’s spending her preschool years with me and not in a classroom with a different teacher. I love seeing her explore, teaching her the basics, and encouraging her to try new things. She has friends her own age she plays with each week and she gets along with kids of all ages because of church. I know universal preschool is probably inevitably going to happen and almost many of my mommy friends send their youngers to preschool, but I feel blessed to have had all three of my girls for this age!

Little Hearts to Heaven: Part of Unit 27
Poor sweet Beth has inherited my allergies. She’s had a tough time getting a full night’s sleep and spends her days blowing her nose and coughing with me. So we started off with Unit 27, but then I just let her read and color for most of the rest of the week. This is not a big deal at all since she is almost finished with her first grade reading, half-way through 1st grade math, and half-way through All About Spelling level 1. Taking a few days off certainly won’t get us behind!

Beth loves coloring more than any other child I’ve seen! She begs to color and loves it when someone colors with her. Grace happily colored along with her all during the week! She did some math and spelling early in the week before she started feeling really crummy and has enjoyed learning about how to tell Time!

She spent lots of time reading and is in the middle of reading a chapter book her older sister picked out for her at a local thrift store for $0.10. I love it when the girls encourage one another’s love for reading like this! I also love that when she can’t think of anything else to do, she picks up her book to read.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 29

I was neglectful of pictures this week! I think all the allergy medicines I’m using is messing with my thinking skills. We continued reading through The Wright Brothers and Their Sister. I have to keep Rose from reading ahead in this one! She has loved this part of our history this year. Rose loves history of any kind in reality. This week she asked permission to get some extra books off the shelf to read about George Washington. Um…yes! I also told her there was no need to ask permission to read anything we weren’t going to use in school. She told me she liked being able to learn even more about history than what our curriculum tells us. When your regular curriculum inspires more curiosity and learning you know you have an excellent curriculum!

She also spent time completing up a lapbook on composers we’ve been reviewing for the TOS Review Crew. I’ll be posting about this on Monday so stay tuned! Her favorite part has been reading about all the different composers. This is my first try at lapbooking and although it has been a good experience I have to say that I prefer our HOD curriculum. It has been a good addition to our regular studies though.

In addition to the regular schooling we did the girls enjoyed watching The Magic
School Bus. Grandpa and Grandma gave them this for Valentines Day this year. It has inspired lots of scientific conversations! This series does talk about millions of years, but that is the only reference to evolution I have found. Our family believes the Bible refers to a literal 6 days of creation and do not teach our children that the earth is millions of years old. However, this does not keep me from allowing them to watch mainstream science videos. When these references started popping up a few years ago in shows like Dinosaur Train I simply told Rose that the people who made the show didn’t believe God created the world. I also explained that the other information was good, but we just needed to remember that when they say millions of years that means they don’t believe God created in the way the Bible says He did. This has been a fine explanation and my girls are not confused or conflicted by it. 

I hope your week was lovely and you can enjoy the spring weather more than I can!

Dr. Craft’s Active Play Book: Review

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Spring is in the air and along with it the cure for cabin fever! My girls were so anxious to get out in the yard and play once the warm air finally decided to visit the South. I’m happy to let my kids go out and play in the backyard and I join them most of the time, but I typically let them play while I relax and watch on the porch. I’m not very good at structured play to encourage specific skills. 
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Dr. Craft’s Active Play Books equip adults caring for young children with 52 different active play activities. For $39.00 you receive Active Play! Fun Physical Activities for Young Childrena spiral bound book and DVD with incredibly clear instructions. There are pictures of children playing the activities throughout the book and video of real kids (not little paid actors) participating in all the fun. I do think it would have been nice for the pictures in the book to be in color. Sometimes it was difficult to clearly see what was going on in the black and white pictures. 

We used several of these activities for outdoor fun with my girls. While the intended target age is toddlers and preschoolers, my 5-year-old kindergartner and 7-year-old 2nd grader genuinely enjoyed participating with their little 3-year-old sister. I wasn’t sure how much they would want to participate, but they surprised me by wholeheartedly getting on board! Some of our favorites were Egg Farmer, Sock Tails, Outdoor Obstacle Course, and Sock the Cans. 

Egg farmer was a lot of fun because we had so many eggs left over from our neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt! The girls rolled eggs down our backyard slide into a white tub. Because the list of items are basically everyday household things they are easily substituted if you don’t have something. It took some time to find just the right egg catcher for the bottom. Another fun variation was to have one of the other girls be the egg catcher. They had fun trying to catch the eggs as they slid down!

Grace in particular really liked this activity. She became quite good at this activity. It was a great team-building time for my girls. They would cheer one another on, encourage one another if they missed, and took turns collecting the eggs and toting them back up to the top of the slide. I know thy all liked it because after we  were “done” with our official playtime the girls kept on playing this one.
Sock Tails turned into Towel Tails because I found this first. We actually named this game Catch the Bunny Tail for our spring-theme. The girls have been searching for bunnies under our shed because they know they lived there last spring. The only uh-oh portion of the activity was when Grace (3-year-old preschooler) dropped her pants right in the middle of the yard because she couldn’t find the tail! Oops! You can tell our neighbors are close so I’m glad no one was outside. (At least not that I know of!) They had a great time with this one though and it was a fun variation on tag, which I’ve never really enjoyed that much. I joined in the fun too and Grace really liked catching the tail when I was wearing it.
Soon after this the pollen hit full-force, so I asked my husband to take over the Active Play portion of our days. I love spring, but boy does the pollen get to me. The neat part about this was I got to let another adult try out the book and sure enough he enjoyed it as well. (Thanks to my mother-in-law who was in town to take some shots of the fun too!)
My husband first set up Sock the Cans. I didn’t want to use the girls’ new socks outside and we didn’t have cans…so once again we got creative! He pulled out some containers from the recycling bin and Grace used a softer bouncy ball. She loved this! I think it may have felt like a carnival game to her. 
My husband had a good time setting up the obstacle course using what we had just laying around the yard and in the shed.
 Here is the layout…
Down the slide…
Under the lattice…     
Around the table…
Over the bridge…
And onto the swing! (All my pics of the swings turned out blurry!)
One of the things I really liked about the book was the list of materials presented before the activity explanation was given. This made it easy to make sure I had everything I needed before beginning. I also liked that the goals for the activity were listed at the top of each activity. This way if I wanted to focus on a particular skill, like galloping or jumping, I could quickly scan through the games to find what I was looking for. The demo DVD was fun because of the real kids doing the activities. Although I felt like the instructions were very clear, having the DVD in case something wasn’t clear to me was helpful. Seeing real kids having fun was great!
Don’t forget to read other reviews from my Crewmates!

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Week in Review: April 1-5

Rose and I had a week off from our homeschool classes for spring break. I teach junior high literature and writing and Rose takes a science/humanities class. We both enjoy them, but also thoroughly enjoyed the week off! We had a more relaxed schedule even though we kept on with our regular at-home school schedule. Don’t worry, I’m not refusing my girls a break! My in-laws are coming up for a visit in another week and we chose to take our at-home break then. Many of my piano students are also out of town this week so it sill feels like break!
Thankfully the south decided to finally thaw a bit from the cold and dry out from the rain! The girls have enjoyed a lot of time outside. Unfortunately a fever/cold also made it’s round and we haven’t enjoyed as much time with our neighborhood friends as we would have liked! Now that they’re all better, it’s sleeting outside. What a crazy spring!
Grace-Filled Homeschooling is also now on Twitter and Tumbler! I was so intimidated by these two, but now enjoying the benefits of both! I don’t have many followers yet, so look forward to these new options for giveaway entries. 

Before I got on with our week-in-review…
There is still a chance to enter two giveaways from two fabulous companies! 
Click the images above to see my reviews and enter the giveaway!
Little Hands to Heaven: Unit 17
Grace was very insistent this Monday that she do her lessons first. After her week off I can understand! She loves lessons. Her sisters do as well, but Grace nearly cries when they are over each day! Our letter for the week was N and her finger-play rhyme for this was N-N-Naughty. She thought this was incredibly funny. We also studied about the kings of Israel who were often n-n-naughty! 
One of her favorite things to do now is handwriting. I have used the pages from The Learning Page with all three of my girls and I adore them. They have sets of traditional handwriting pages with just a few examples, but they also have full sheets of dotted letters for tracing for both print and cursive. It is free to sign up and there are lots of other freebies as well.  Although they do link to sites where you have to pay for resources, all of the handwriting sheets can be downloaded free.
Our printer decided to be finicky right when I was ready to print Grace’s N to glue on, so we went old-school with a sharpie and piece of blank paper! I could have just used the glue, but her favorite color is blue, so I thought this would be more fun. My girl could do this for hours. I’m not sure what it is she loves about it, but gluing things onto paper makes her day! 
We’re just about finished with the B Book in the About Three series by Rod and Staff. She has progressed so much as a result of these simple black-line workbooks. She loves coloring the pages after she is finished so I’m glad they are black and white! I highly recommend this series and you can read my full review of them by clicking on the picture. 

Grace enjoyed playing a new game this week. Back when Rose was about two, I made a bunch of file-folder type games for her for matching colors, shapes, etc. I didn’t know of all the resources to be found online at the time and I had several made and laminated. I also made a few games like this which I never ended up printing. I came across them a few weeks ago and I printed and laminated them. The point is to match the numbers on the fish with the correct number of bubbles in the fish bowl. It isn’t fancy, but she had a lot of fun with it!
Little Hearts for His Glory: Unit 25
Our cat can’t get enough of sitting with Beth during lessons. You’ll often see her little ears peaking out of Beth’s lap in our pictures! One reason is because she loves the girls, but it also helps that our schoolroom is the warmest spot in the house on cold mornings! This is partly because of the large window facing west, but in no small part due to the space-heater I keep at my cold-natured feet!

Beth’s word-wall letter was P. Her words included panda (her favorite animal), pig, pogo-stick, pumpkin, pen, pin, and Penny (the name). She has fun coming up with words and it has been a great starter for journal writing now. I really like the e-book journal I purchased at the dollar days sale for her which lets her draw pictures and fill in just a small portion of the entries. It has been an excellent tool for her and we’ll continue this on into 1st grade.

I’m hoping to do a write-up of our reading/language arts program soon because I’ve been asked a lot about it. I will go into more detail at a later date, but for now here is what we do in the order they are added:

Heart of Dakota’s Dictation

I start teaching my girls to read when they ask which has been 4 and 3 and a half so far! This is also the route Rose took via private school (k) and homeschool (1st). It left her with a very solid reading foundation which we’re building on continually with All About Spelling. It seems a bit eclectic for my style, but our choices came from what we owned and what I saw working. I plan to stick to this path with Grace.

Our study of George Washington was a lot of fun this week! We learned about the cherry tree story including that it may or may not be true as well as another story of his disobedience to his mother concerning a colt! I had never heard this one before and Beth really enjoyed it. One of the activities was pretending to be a colt and George Washington riding it. Grace filled in for GW since the purpose was to follow directions (right, left, etc.) Beth did a fabulous job and I even through in some north, south, east, west directions. The only trouble she had was being able to follow the directions through the giggling!

We are almost through with the the Inside Outside book from the ABC Rod and Staff series. We’ll be starting this series again with Grace next year and I will be a little sad to see them pass. My girls have all loved them and they have taught so very much. This last book focuses on wildlife in North America.

Bigger Hearts for His Glory: Unit 27
I have been informed this is my portrait! I’m glad she drew me happy and waving. She also asked me to take her picture with it, so I suppose she is very proud of how nice it looks. Nothing like a portrait of you to make the say just a little sweeter!

Arithmetic has become just a little sweeter for both girls thanks to this wonderful program we are reviewing for the TOS Review Crew! I’ll be posting on this in another couple of weeks, but I an tell you now that we use it daily and the girls beg to practice math facts now! Rose particularly likes that she is beginning to learn multiplication now. Her regular math curriculum starts that in 3rd grade and she’s been regularly asking to go ahead and learn multiplication. Now she can!

We’re on unit 8 of All About Spelling book 3. This is one of the best phonics follow-ups I’ve ever heard of or seen. Rose continues to easily recall all the spelling and phonics rules she has learned with ease. This rule we focused on this week was doubling letters to protect the short vowel and using y as a vowel at the end of words. Oh yeah…and my portrait is now saying, “I am a robot!” Hmmm….

For history we studied about the naturalist, John Muir, and touched lightly on the Spanish-American War. I appreciate that Rose is being introduced to the wars now lightly. She is young, but hears about them all the time. She also learned about some of the animals in North America that have gone extinct just in the last century. She drew a Florida Black Wolf as part of her notebooking page.

For literature Rose is reading a biography about Sacajawea from Knowledge Quest. It’s also a review we’re doing from the TOS Review Crew. I like that it is written from her perspective and Rose is thoroughly enjoying it. Since my background is teaching literature I make up my own literature units using a variety of pages and ideas. She just finished up her mystery unit and after the biography we’ll move on to historical fiction.

I’m excited to announce I’ll be hosting a giveaway from Safari, Ltd! If you’ve never seen their amazing animal and historical figures you’ll really need to check them out. It starts Monday, so don’t forget to stop by next week to enter!