Fun Easter Activities

I can’t believe that Easter is almost here! My youngest son has a late April birthday and there has been a few years his birthday has fallen on Easter Sunday, giving us double reasons to celebrate!! Our church always has a big Easter celebration that we enjoy attending as a family. This week, the Crew is sharing Easter resources in the Crew Round up. These are some of the ones I found:

1. Teaching Ideas has a ton of links to printables like bookmarks, cards, word searches and coloring pages as well as links to resources for teaching about the Easter story.

2. Activity Village has become one of my go-to websites for learning resources. Their Easter page has links for craft ideas, coloring pages, worksheets, puzzles, and even fun videos.

3. Woodlands Junior School offers Easter lessons for math (measuring the circumference of an egg! How fun!), crafts, and other activities. Not all the links on this page work, but a lot of them do and they have some cool ideas I would not have thought of.

4. UMC.org has links to family devotionals and other resources you could use for your own personal study during the Easter season.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. If you know of any other cool resources I can check out, let me know in the comments. To see what other crew members have to say, click here: (goes live 4/2/14)

Easter Resources

Easter Resources Round-Up

Menu Plan Monday 3/31/14

It’s time for Menu Plan Monday again! This is what I have planned for our week:

Monday: Beef Burgundy

Tuesday: Spinach Artichoke Chicken

Wednesday: Tacos

Thursday: Pork Stir Fry

Friday: Burgers on the grill with Avocado Tomato Salad

What’s on your menu this week? See you next Monday!

My Favorite Pinterest Boards

Ahhh…Pinterest, a place a girl could waste hours thinking about things she hopes to do…someday. 😉 I was slow to start on Pinterest, but believe me, I have made up for it. Fortunately, Pinterest is full of great ideas for homeschoolers. There are all kinds of links to activities, freebies, giveaways, and inspiration that it has really become one of my go-to sources when I need ideas. For this week’s Blog Carnival, Homeschooling with Pinterest, I am going to share some of my favorite Homeschool boards.

1. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Just like their digital magazine, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine pinterest board brings you the best in ideas and resources for homeschool. From useful apps, to resources for individual subjects, to ideas for planning and organizing, TOS has it all. When I am stumped for ideas, I pop on over to their board and usually have no trouble finding what I want.

2. The Schoolhouse Review Crew
Of course, I am a member of the crew, but even if I wasn’t I would still follow this board. First of all, I am a curriculum junkie, and the only thing I love more than new curriculum, is researching new curriculum!! Personal reviews are very important to me because they help me determine if a product will work in my home. There is nothing worse than looking at something online, thinking it will be the BEST thing ever, and then getting it home and realizing it just isn’t going to work for you (yep, I’ve learned that lesson the hard way a few times!). So whenever I am thinking about ordering something new, I always look for reviews first!! The crew also has posts full of ideas for unit studies, field trips, great books, and freebies and giveaways!

3. Homeschool Giveaways and Freebies
As a homeschooler on a budget (and who among us isn’t?) I am always looking out for deals and freebies. This board pulls them together all in one place. With resources organized by subject and topic, it is easy to find a giveaway for whatever you are looking for.

4. Home Educating Family
The boards at Home Educating Family include homeschooling resources, giveaways, parenting resources, and encouragement for busy moms.

5. Educents
I love the Educents website and their pinterest board is full of more of the same. Fun ideas for history and science, organization plans, and tips on how to deal with homeschooling challenges are just some of the things on their boards.

I find the internet is full of so many great ideaS, but I just can’t bookmark them all! Pinterest is an excellent way to save an idea for later, without having to clutter up space on my computer. Of course, I would love to invite you to follow my own Homeschool Pinterest board here: Kingdom Academy

To see other ideas for how to use Pinterest for your homeschool, check out the Crew Carnival here: (opens 3/26/14)
Homeschooling with Pinterest

Avocado Tomato Salad

My recipe for this week is an easy side dish. I love avocados. They are so good for you and they taste delicious. I put avocado in sandwiches, on hamburgers, and in my tacos. I like to make this as a side for a light dinner or to bring to a barbecue.

Ingredients:
2 avocados
2-3 tomatoes
1 ball mozzarella cheese
1/2 bunch cilantro
olive oil
red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

1. Peel and chop the avocado.
2. Chop the tomato into small pieces.
3. Chop the mozzarella into chunks.
4. Chop the cilantro.
5. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar, to taste.
8. Chill and serve.

I love the fact that I can whip up this simple dish in just a few minutes if we end up with last minute company!!

Thanks for stopping by this week, be sure to come back for a new recipe next Tuesday, and check out other recipes from the Try a New Recipe Tuesday link up here:

 photo 9c2d3d39-9e5d-4351-b060-d6251ee13eaa_zpseda17cd5.jpg

Menu Plan Monday 3/24/14

 

My family is enjoying spring break this week. We are welcoming a change from our normal school routine. We are also going to start working on our garden, and I am really excited! Last year we had a nice harvest of squash, green beans, broccoli, lettuce, and tomatoes. It’s a lot of work, and we learn a little bit more each year that we do it, but we love having our own fresh vegetables on the table. This is what’s on our menu for this week:

Monday: Lasagna

Tuesday: Carnie Bowls

Wednesday: Tacos

Thursday: Shrimp Scampi

Friday: Spinach Artichoke Chicken

Thanks for stopping by to check out Menu Plan Monday! Be sure to come back next week.

Booklovers Anonymous: A Wrinkle in Time

The first time I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, I was in fifth grade. This is one of the first books I can remember wanting to read over and over. I was so excited by the adventures of Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace. And the thought of traveling through time, and tesseracts, and the incredible worlds they visited….they were the stuff a dreams. The Christian themes in the book are quite obvious, and easily lend themselves to discussion. However, it is the relationships between the characters that stand out to me the most. The fact that Meg rescues her little brother because her love for him is the one thing IT can’t overcome, sends a very powerful message.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Both of my boys read this book as part of their literature class in about the sixth grade, although I also used it as a read aloud when they were younger. A Wrinkle in Time is actually the first book in a series that can set your kids off on a wonderful adventure. First written in 1962, it is still enormously popular today.

When my kids read this book, we do numerous activities, like sketching their favorite scenes, drawing or making models of each planet, creating a comic based on the book, and making their own “map” of the different universes the children visit. Glencoe also has a study guide with questions and graphic organizers available. Scholastic has put together a nice little study guide with background about the book and the author, as well as questions for each chapter. Shmoop has some general questions and quizzes. The Edsitement website has great directions for creating a board game based on the book.

A Wrinkle in Time lends itself to creativity, so with an artistic child the possibilities are endless. Of course, you can also tie some of the topics into science (just look up tesseracts to get started). There is also quite a bit of math in the story, and literature references as well. This book will work for any child in 5th grade and above who loves excitement and adventure. Check it out and enjoy!

I appreciate you stopping by to visit. Be sure to come back next Thursday! Did you ever read A Wrinkle in Time as a kid? Let me know in the comments!

Ham and Egg Cups

I’ve been getting into make-ahead breakfasts lately and this is one my friend made for her family last week. I decided to give it a try and it was a big hit with my hubby and boys.

Ingredients:
12 eggs
12 thin slices of ham
Chopped spinach
salt
pepper
garlic powder

Directions:
1. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
2. Line each tin with one piece of ham.
3. Crack each egg directly over the ham.
4. Sprinkle chopped spinach on top of the eggs.
5. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
6. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until yolks are solid.

I stored these in an air tight container and we heated them up in the microwave for about 25 seconds during the week. Easiest breakfast ever!!

Thanks for visiting. Be sure to come back next week, and check out other recipes from Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Menu Plan Monday 3/17/14

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!! Are you celebrating with anything special this week? We are having traditional corned beef and cabbage of course. It’s a new recipe, so I will let you know how it goes. This is our menu for this week

Monday: Corned Beef and Cabbage

Tuesday: Pork Casserole

Wednesday: Homemade pizza

Thursday: Chili

Friday: Caesar Pockets and chips

Thanks for joining me for Menu Plan Monday! Be sure to come back next week.

Surviving Homeschool Conventions

It’s convention season! I love a good homeschool convention. The curriculum…the classes…the people….the curriculum 🙂 As an official curriculum junkie I cannot get enough of these things. I absolutely LOVE the exhibit hall.

I’ve written about previous conventions in my post Convention Time. And my official Convention debrief here.

I do have some additional tips you might be able to use:

  • If possible, print out a map of the exhibit hall ahead of time. Highlight the vendors you absolutely want to see and head there first. If you don’t, trust me, you will get distracted.
  • Bring a notepad, some sticky notes, and some pens. Use these to make notes about curriculum you like and websites you want to visit when you get home.
  • Ask questions, tons of questions. The chance to talk to the publishers is a unique opportunity to really find out about the ins and outs of the curriculum itself.
  • Keep your eyes open for things you haven’t heard of before, we have found some really cool things at conventions that we would never even had thought of.
  • Unless there is a really great deal on something, or a product that costs a lot to ship, don’t feel pressured to buy. You do not want to make an impulse purchase that you may regret later. Instead, use your notepad to remind yourself of which products you want to check out later. Often, you can still find deals on the curriculum online if you really want it.
  • Attend the lectures that you most want to see, and then see if it is possible to purchase recordings of the others. There is only so much that you can cram into one weekend. Often, MP3 or CD recordings are available. Maybe you and a friend could pick some of your favorites and split the cost.
  • Finally, have fun soaking up the atmosphere. There is just something incredible about seeing so many homeschoolers in one place. Especially if you live somewhere that there are not a lot of other homeschoolers, it helps you realize that you are truly not alone in this journey.

If you have your own convention tips or stories, feel free to share them in the comments. Check out what other TOS Crew members have to say about conventions here (goes live 3/19/14):

Homeschool Conventions

TOS Review: Mango Languages

Mango Languages

I am so excited to begin another voyage with the TOS Homeschool Crew review team! For our first product of this season, we got to review Mango Languages, an internet based foreign language program. We used the Mango Homeschool Edition of their program.

What it is:

Mango Languages homeschool curriculum offers a choice of over 50 different languages for ages 6 through adult including standard options like Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin, and some more unusual choices like Mandarin, Hawaiian, Irish, Greek, Hebrew, and Icelandic. Lessons are set up in units covering different conversational topics like greetings, getting around, shopping, food, and more. There is no written work with Mango, everything is done on the computer. During the lesson, new vocabulary is introduced by a native speaker. Students can then practice the vocabulary by recording their voice and comparing it to the native speaker. Each lesson is a slide show with a mix of vocabulary practice and some cultural information. Move through each lesson at your own pace.  You an also choose to study as many languages as you want.

The Commons

How We Used It:

First of all, setting up our accounts was really easy. Once you get set up, you can go to The Commons to select your languages. I originally wanted to study Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. My oldest son (10th grade) wanted to do Spanish since he is working on that for his high school elective, and my youngest (7th grade) was interested in Irish, Italian, German, French, and Scottish!! I told him to focus on one or two languages to start off. He originally tried Irish, but that was more difficult then he thought it would be, so he spent most of his time on Italian and French. I asked my kids to work on their language on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This was a reasonable schedule that worked out well for us.

Course Home Page

My oldest son did most of the program on his own. He would do his lessons and then let me know what he did. My youngest son also completed the lessons on his own, but with me somewhere nearby. Occasionally he would ask me a question about a pronunciation or want to share something he had learned. Neither of my kids had a hard time with working the program, and I think at this age, they could pretty much do it without their parent sitting there. I quickly discovered that it would be more beneficial for me to study the same language as my kids. Number one, it offered them an opportunity to practice the new words and phrases they learned, and it helped me understand exactly what they had been doing.

Learning Latin

We also found it helpful to take notes on the vocabulary for each lesson. The program has plenty of built-in review, but having the words written down somewhere allowed us to practice them at other times, and were good to refer to in future lessons. We each had our own Mango notebook that we used to take our notes.

My youngest at work.

What We Thought:

My boys and I really enjoyed the Mango Languages program. The lessons were fun and easy to complete, and not too long (which is important to both of my boys). I like the fact that they focus on practical language skills like phrases and words you would use in every day conversation. For someone learning a brand new language, starting off with verb conjugations and other grammatical points can be intimidating. Mango gives you words you can use right away. With me studying the same language as the boys, we had fun practicing our greetings and questions with each other throughout the day. The voice recording feature was an integral part of the program for us. Being able to record yourself practicing new words and compare it directly to the model, helped us all with pronunciation.

I also liked the cultural facts interspersed throughout the lesson. I felt like they gave some context to the phrases and conversations we were learning, and they also gave us a jumping off point for further study if we wished. Mango also has a social community you can access through your dashboard. Add friends to your network, send messages, and join groups. Mango administrators are available on the network and they are VERY helpful and responsive to any questions you might have, which I think was a great feature. It’s really nice to be able to communicate with the people running the program and have them respond right away. We didn’t get too involved in the groups and stuff, mainly because I limit my kids online interaction with strangers, but we did all belong to the same network, so my kids and I could message each other if we wanted.

Networking and Communicating

As far as parent/teacher options, I was able to add my students to my account, which let me log in as them so I could look at their courses and view their progress. There are quizzes at the end of units for some languages, and Mango is working on “teacher features” that will allow you to view student grades and progress. These new features should be released soon and I am looking forward to checking them out. During our review, I simply logged in as my kids to see where they were at, and they showed me their quiz scores as they completed them. I think that with the student tracking options Mango Languages will become even more homeschool friendly.

One other thing I think would be nice to have is printables to go with the lessons. It would give students a chance to have some extra practice, and make it easy to keep track of all the vocabulary. Keep in mind, Mango is not meant to be an ENTIRE language program. It is more of a supplement, a chance to learn and practice speaking the language. As it stands, I do not feel I could give my high school son a full credit for Spanish just using Mango. If you wanted to use it as a homeschool high school foreign language course you would need to add some kind of written curriculum to go along with it.

For elementary and middle school students, Mango is a great introduction to numerous languages. It’s a great way to explore languages. If you are studying geography in social studies, Mango would be a great addition to your program. As you move to each continent, explore the languages from that continent.

Final Thoughts:
Mango will offer monthly and yearly subscriptions as follows:
1 subscription: $18 per month; $125 per year total
2 subscriptions: $28 per month; $175 per year total
3 subscriptions: $38 per month; $225 per year total
4 subscriptions: $48 per month; $275 per year total
5 subscriptions: $58 per month; 325 per year total

As most homeschoolers do, I have to budget my money carefully. I think I would add Mango as an extra. If I had the money for a monthly subscription, I would get it, but I would not look at it as an essential. $125 dollars is a lot of money, and while Mango is awesome, I would probably look for a more complete program, and one that I could use again in the future.

If you are looking for a fun way to introduce your kids to foreign languages, or have a student who is really interested in language study and wants to learn some unconventional languages, then check Mango out!

To learn more about Mango, connect with them here:
Mango on Facebook

Mango on Pinterest

Mango on Twitter

To see what other members of the Crew thought of Mango Languages, click here:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Muffin Omelets

Muffin Omelets

For this week, I decided to share a breakfast recipe! These muffin omelets are so yummy. I make them on Sunday afternoons some weeks and then we eat them for breakfast the next couple of days. My kids and hubby love them!

Veggies!

Ingredients:

Toppings (whatever you want…I used bacon crumbles, mushrooms, red pepper, and spinach)
12 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
Shredded cheese
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vegetable oil

Bacon!! Yum!

Directions:
1. First, prepare your toppings. Chop vegetables into small pieces and crumble any cooked bacon or sausage.
2. Spray a muffin tin generously with cooking spray.
3. Place a little of each topping in the bottom of the muffin tin.

4. Cover the toppings with shredded cheese (as much or as little as you want).

5. Whisk together the eggs, milk, baking powder, and vegetable oil.
6. Pour egg mixture over toppings in muffin tin until they are about 2/3 full. (I used a measuring cup to scoop my egg mixture out of the bowl and add it to each tin)

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until firm all the way through.

I store these in a Tupperware and we heat them up in the microwave for about 30 seconds for breakfast in the morning (or, sometimes for snacks in the afternoon!). This definitely saves me time during the week.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to come back next week and check out other great recipes at Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Menu Plan Monday 3/10/14

 

St. Patty’s Day is on the way!! Do you have anything planned yet? I’m still deciding whether I am going to cook or if we are going out, but in the meantime, here’s our menu for this week:

Monday: Meatball Subs

Tuesday: Crock Pot Rotisserie Chicken

Wednesday: Burritos (my son is cooking 🙂 )

Thursday: Black Bean Stuffed Peppers

Friday: Beef Burgundy

Thank you for visiting today! Be sure to check out Menu Plan Monday and come back next week.

A Penny Saved

The topic for our Crew Carnival this week is frugality. Now that is a subject I have become more and more well versed in these last several years. Before we started homeschooling, my husband and I both worked. But then, things happened and we decided to make some major changes in how we lived our lives. Now that I stay home with my kids and we are living off of one income we have had to find ways to save money wherever we can. I will be honest, there are times when being frugal is a real challenge for me. I look at the budget and wonder where on earth we can squeeze out a few more dollars. Sometimes I just want to scream and say “I give up” and wonder how those coupon queens on TV do it. For me, making changes on a smaller scale works better, and the savings still add up. These are some ways we practice frugality in our lives.

Homeschool

Homeschooling is one thing that can be done on almost any budget. This past year I spent very little on curriculum and supplies. One thing I love to utilize is my library. We have a great ILL program that lets you request books from all over the county, giving me access to tons of resources. If you have a certain literature based program in mind, instead of spending hundreds on  a full program, consider just purchasing the guide and then getting books from the library. Even if you can’t get every single book, you can probably find a substitute, or buy the book used on Amazon.

Next, buy used whenever you can. Search websites like Homeschool Classifieds and the for sale boards on forums like The Well Trained Mind and Homeschool Reviews. Another option I didn’t consider until this year is eBay. I actually found my oldest son’s high school program (MFW) on there for much less! All of the second hand books I have purchased have been in good condition. Gently used, but well taken care of.

Finally, network with homeschoolers in your area to find out if they have any used curriculum you can borrow. One of the ladies in my homeschool group has a son who has graduated and gone to college, and two younger daughters in middle school and 9th grade. She generously lent me math and science books for my 10th grade son this year. Of course, we do all of the work on paper, but that’s not a big deal. I get to use some great curriculum I would not be able to afford for free, and when the school year is over I simply return it!

The porch swing someone in our neighborhood put out on the side of the road. Just needs paint!

Home

Frugality in your home really depends on your lifestyle. First you have to decide what is most important for you, and then go from there. For us, we decided that having cable TV was not a priority so we got rid of it several years ago. However, for homeschooling and work purposes, internet access is important. So we pay for high-speed internet (less than $50) each month, and we have a Netflix subscription. Last year my husband bought a HD antenna at Home Depot, so we now also have access to local programming, but that was only a one time cost, so to us, it was worth it.

We do not have a house phone but each of us has  a cell phone. With my kids getting older and having more activities (work, church, extracurriculars) its important for me to be able to keep in touch with everyone. My oldest starts driving in a few months, so I also want him to have the phone in case of emergencies. We looked around for the best provider at the best cost, and for us, that was Metro PCS. They offer excellent local service with low cost monthly plans that do not require contracts. So, if one month we are a little short, we shut off the boys phones until we can pay the bill. Then, they just turn them back on.

Buying used at home is another great way to save money if you can do it. I am fortunate to have a husband who is very handy. Seriously, in the 17 years we have been married we have never once paid for a home or car repair. So, we buy used cars, televisions, furniture etc. and he repairs whatever he needs to in order to make it work for us. We shop at thrift stores and garage sales, and keep an eye out for whatever our neighbors might be getting rid of too. You would be amazed at what a coat of paint can do for an older table!!

My oldest son’s jeep that we got for $500. It needed paint and a new transmission, but my hubby found what we needed at a salvage yard and they fixed it up together!

For clothes, I rely a lot on hand me downs from friends, and for birthdays and holidays I always tell the grandparents that my boys need clothes and shoes. One of my friends organizes a clothing swap twice a year. Basically a bunch of us clean out our closets, then get together at her house. We set up all of our clothes, and everybody goes through and takes what they need or want. Its like a garage sale, but it doesn’t cost any money. This is a great way to add some new looks to your wardrobe and also keep your closets clean!

Shopping

Okay, I do coupon, but I am not an extreme couponer by any means. I admire what those ladies do, but I do not have the time, energy, or storage for that kind of system. However, I have used some tips from Christi the Coupon Coach to organize my coupons more efficiently. I shop at several different stores to get the best deals too. It takes a little more time, but is worth it.

For our main shopping we go to Publix. If you live in the south the I Heart Publix website is a great resource. The website lists unadvertised deals and links online coupons to their BOGO’s so you can save even more! I find the best way for me to avoid spending too much on impulse buys when I shop is to plan my menu for the week and shop with a list in hand. If I know exactly what I am going to cook, I don’t wander and run the risk of putting random items in my cart! However, I always keep an eye out for staples that might be BOGO like spaghetti sauce, pasta, cereal etc.

I get most of my cleaning supplies and bathroom stuff (shampoo, body wash, toothpaste) at the Dollar Store. They have a ton of cleaning products, even laundry soap, that only cost one dollar! I also buy paper towels and stuff like that there too. For other products like medicine (motrin, tylenol, band-aids) I shop at Dollar General. Their prices are more than a dollar, but still significantly less than other places.

I use a local produce market for my vegetables, and a local butcher for my meat. I feel like I get better quality food, and it costs me a lot less.

Family

Finally, when it comes to family entertainment, we look for cheap or free ways to have fun. We spend a lot of time at the beach and we like to hit the big flea market on the weekends just to look around. We have a lot of family game nights, and when we want to go to the movies, we hit them on a Tuesday morning, because our theater offers $4.00 tickets.

For vacations, I would suggest you look into condo or townhome rentals during the off season wherever you want to go. You would be surprised how many of them are pretty cheap. Google “condo rentals” in the area you want to go, or even look on eBay. We head to North Carolina each summer and stay in a timeshare. The cost for the week is a few hundred dollars, but its well worth it for us. Because we have a full kitchen in our condo, I can cook dinner and we can make sandwiches for lunch and eat cereal for breakfast. This saves us a ton of money, because eating out is really expensive. So, I pack my crock pot and spices and we hit the grocery store when we get up there. Yes, it would be nice to have a week off from cooking, but if it means being able to go on a family trip, I will gladly do it.

Once we are up there, we spend a lot of time hanging out by the pool and the lake. The area we go to is also surrounded by some great National Parks with tons of hiking trails that are all free. My family loves the outdoors, so that kind of stuff is fun for us. We also have family up there that we visit, and we usually pick one activity that we splurge on (like going to Grandfather Mountain or the Linville Caverns). Again, this may not be something you can do, or something that you want to do, but for us, this little trip every year is really special.

This year we may also head to Washington D.C. My cousin is currently stationed there and has a small apartment in Maryland. He said we can stay with him, and again, I can cook, so our main cost will be the gas it takes to get up there. We have been wanting to do this for years, so its very exciting.

Indulge

I do believe that every now and then it is good to indulge when you can. We have a “change jar” in our house that we all throw change in, and when it gets to a certain amount we do something fun, like go out to dinner or go to the fair when it is in town. Life was meant to be lived, and if you budget a certain amount as “fun money” even if its only $5.00, it adds up. Choose a goal that would be special for you and your family, and get everyone to commit to working for it. This year my boys decided they wanted to go white water rafting when we go on vacation. So everyone in the family has contributed spare change or dollars to the fund all year, and we are all looking forward to going.

Like I said, being frugal is really kind of personal, because all of us are going to have different things we feel are most important. The best thing to do is decide what your family needs most, and trim what you see as unnecessary.

Living Frugally

Thanks for stopping by. If you have any great ideas or websites I can check out for more ideas, let me know in the comments. Find out more about frugal living here: (goes live 3/12/14)

Toys and Games for Homeschool

Booklovers Anonymous: Where the Sidewalk Ends

“If you are a dreamer, come in,

If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…

If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

Come in!

Come in!

Where the Sidewalk Ends

So begins Invitation, one of my favorite poems by one of my all-time favorite poets, Shel Silverstein. Where the Sidewalk Ends is one of his collections of poetry that I have been reading out loud, in my home and in my classroom, for years. My kids and I love the silly rhymes “Fred?” and “The Yipiyuk” and the more serious tones of “Invitation” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends”.

I usually start our day with reading a random poem just for fun. In the past, my kids have drawn illustrations to go with Shel Silverstein’s poems and his work has inspired them to write their own. What I think I love most about his work is how clearly he illustrates pictures in your head. Since I was a little girl, when my Nana read me The Giving Tree, his work has just rolled off the page and into my head. A great intro to poetry for big and little children, Where the Sidewalk Ends has examples of many poetry forms.

In addition to reading, my kids have also used poems from this book for memory work and copy work. For more fun lessons and activities, check out the Shel Silverstein website. Here you will find animations to go with his poems, lessons and activities with printables, and drawing pages. Readworks has a lesson plan for Where the Sidewalk Ends that teaches about author’s voice. At Fun with Poetry, find multiple teacher resources and an audio recording of The Unicorn Song (one of the first poems my kids ever memorized).

Shel Silverstein books are readily available in the library, but I would recommend purchasing them because they are a treasure to have on your bookshelf. I believe Where the Sidewalk Ends will end up on my grandchild’s shelf one day, because this is just the type of book you pass down for generations.  Take your kids to the magical place where the sidewalk ends:

“Yes, we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow.

And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,

For the children, they mark, and the children, they know,

The place where the sidewalk ends.”

If you have a favorite Shel Silverstein poem, let me know in the comments. Thanks for stopping by this week, be sure to come back next Thursday for more books!

TOS Review: Motivated Moms

Do you feel overwhelmed when you think of the long list of things you have to do? From homeschool, to errands, to chores, it seems like we moms are constantly on the go! For me, day to day chores are not a big deal, but the other stuff, like cleaning and organizing closets, dusting, cleaning out the fridge, etc. often fall to the wayside. That’s why I was really excited to review the organizational planner from Motivated Moms.

I got to check out the printable Motivated Moms eBooks that include a weekly schedule that breaks big tasks into small, doable chunks. I printed the schedule for each week and placed them in my binder where I keep my Bible memory work for each week. The planner I chose has one column for daily chores like making beds and feeding pets, and then another column where tasks are listed by day.

Now, I want to say right off the bat, I did not follow the schedule for every day exactly. I wanted to, but really, I’m just not good at this stuff. When I first looked at the eBook I was so excited, but by week two, I was already off schedule and feeling bad about myself. So, I decided to focus on those tasks that I tend to ignore the most. I have a pretty good system for laundry, towels, cooking, and weekly cleaning, so I skipped things like “change towels in guest bathroom” on Tuesday, because I already do towels every Friday. Instead I focused on chores like “de-clutter/organize desk” and “clean out purse/wallet”, which are chores I know need to be done but I rarely get to. One task I completed that made my husband really happy was to organize and dust our bedroom dresser.

My clean bedroom dresser!

I’m ashamed to admit it, but the dressers and drawers in my bedroom frequently get ignored. I figure that since it’s a space that other people rarely see, it’s not as important as the living room and bathrooms. Since I spend much of my energy concentrating on the highly traveled areas of my home, I have little left over for my bedroom, even though when I walk in I look at the dresser and my heart sinks. The good thing about this is that it only took me about 20 minutes to do one dresser, and then I was done for the day. By doing one dresser at a time, I was less overwhelmed and I felt each day like I had accomplished something. By the end of the week, my bedroom looked great, and I felt so good!!

I took that spirit to my kitchen and used the list in the chart to clean one shelf in the refrigerator each day. Look, I hate cleaning out the fridge. And because I don’t like it, it’s one of those things I ignore (and believe me, if you looked in my fridge you would be able to tell). Again, by taking it one shelf at a time, I was able to get my fridge clean and shiny in one week, and I didn’t have to force myself to do it.

Motivated moms also lists other chores like ordering a free credit report, time for crafting, cleaning ovens, and menu planning. If you want a print-free version, check out the Motivated moms app that you can download on your smartphone.

Motivated moms chore planners come in multiple styles including half and full page planners that come in color and black and white. You can choose a weekly or daily planner and even get a planner with Bible memory verses. The planner eBooks cost $8.00 and I think they are well worth it!

Get to know more about Motivated Moms on their Facebook and Twitter pages. To see what other members of the Crew had to say about Motivated Moms, click here:

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