Menu Plan Monday 4/28/14

Welcome to another Menu Plan Monday post! I can’t believe that it is almost May already! This year is flying by. My son had a great birthday weekend and is already thinking about what he wants to choose as his birthday meal for next year! This is our menu for the week:

Monday: Pork Verde

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Garlic and Basil Chicken

Thursday: Taco stuffed shells

Friday: Burgers on the grill and Bean Salad

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to come back next week.


TOS Review: The Brinkman Adventures

Brinkman Adventures ReviewDo you love a good story full of adventure and excitement? We do at my house, and we also have a penchant for books on tape and old-time radio shows. Therefore, I was really excited to get the chance to review The Brinkman Adventures Season 2: Episodes 13-24 by The Brinkman Adventures. I originally thought only myself and my 7th grade son would be interested in listening to these, but as it turns out, my 10th grade son got into them too!

Brinkman Adventures Review

What it is:
We got the CD set, four discs with over five hours of stories appropriate for all ages. The Brinkman family are a large Christian family, and many of these stories take place during one of their road trips. Along the trip, the family experiences setbacks, but God’s providential hand brings them through all of them. As they meet and stay with a former missionary family, they invite them to share their stories, and these become their adventures. I don’t want to give too much away, but some of the stories that stood out the most to our kids were the stories of rescuing children from mines where they were held captive and forced to work against their will, and the mystery they encountered in a French castle. The stories of smuggling Bibles into countries where they are illegal, encountering God every step of the way are memorable and exciting.

How we used it:
We put these stories on at home when my son was working on his individual work. I usually have music playing in the background anyway, so we decided to play these instead. We would listen to the stories at home and then bring them in the car when we were driving around. At first, I did not think my oldest son was paying much attention, but as the story on the first disk ended, and my youngest and I got ready to start history together, my oldest asked me “Aren’t you going to put the next one in?” At that point I realized he was excited too. We finished this set of discs in about two weeks, and believe me, my kids were begging me to get the next ones!

What we thought:
Okay, I kind of wish we had started with the first season, because I feel like we missed out on some of the Brinkman’s story. In the very first story we listened to, it began by talking about the babies that Mrs. Brinkman had lost, and going to visit their grave. I have to say, this startled my sensitive son, who asked me “why are they talking about dead babies?”. It did open up a discussion about life, but I think knowing the background in that area would have helped.

However, from that point on, it was non-stop excitement. We have read about missionaries before, and our church actively supports many missionaries who have come to speak at our church. The thing is, so many times missionary stories seem kind of dry, or brutally violent, and I know that makes them realistic, but it has made it hard for my kids to get into hearing about them. The way the Brinkmans tell these stories absolutely draws them in! They have a gift for making you feel like you are right there with them, fleeing through the jungle and hiding from enemies.

Seriously, these stories are a perfect form of family entertainment. Try them out in the car, or after dinner. I can almost guarantee that you will be hooked. In addition to the stories, the Brinkman family has honest discussions about God and how He uses people to do his work. The kinds of discussions that can inspire your family to talk about these topics too. I would highly recommend the Brinkman adventures for some great family entertainment. The CD set costs $25.00, while the MP3 download costs $17.00. My kids are already after me to get another set!

To learn more about The Brinkmans, check out their Facebook page: The Brinkman Adventures on Facebook.

To see what other members of the crew had to say about this topic, click here:
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TOS Review: Home School Adventure Co.

Home School Adventure Co.

As my boys get older, teaching them a biblical worldview becomes more and more important to me. Especially now, with a high schooler preparing to enter dual enrollment classes, where I know his beliefs are going to be challenged. I want to prepare my son to defend his faith, but to be honest, I do not know much about Christian apologetics. So, I was very excited to get the chance to review the Mere Christianity Journal from Home School Adventure Co.

Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal

What it is:
The Mere Christianity journal is aimed at ages 12 and up and is meant to be a companion to the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Numerous copies of the book are available for download in the public domain if you do not already have it on your bookshelf. The journal is organized by chapter and contains thought-provoking questions for discussion.

How we used it:
I used this program with my 7th and 10th grade boys together. After downloading a copy of Mere Christianity, we spent at least three mornings a week reading through the book and discussing the questions. One thing I liked about this is the fact that Lewis’ book is organized in short chapters, making it easy to read out loud. After reading the chapter, I would read the questions and we would all talk about them. Each chapter is accompanied by a number of questions in the journal. Each question takes a point from the chapter and expands on it, or challenges you to think about how to apply it to real life. With the ages of my boys, this led to some lively discussions. I will say I was a little nervous about reading Mere Christianity at first, because I wasn’t sure how my boys would relate to a book written in the 1940s, but I have to say that Lewis’ topics are just as applicable today as they were then. Each week, we had some very pointed discussions that I think really made my boys question what it means to be a Christian and live a Christian life how they apply Christian principles to their everyday life.

What we thought:
I think the Mere Christianity journal is a great way to encourage discussion and conversation about topics that your child is going to encounter as they grow older. I appreciate how well the journal makes the questions easy to understand, and helps get kids thinking about how Lewis ideas apply to their lives today. He asks some hard questions, that really cause you to look at how you view Christianity and also about how other people view it through you. We know we are challenged to walk as light in this world, but how do you define what that means in a practical sense? This is a challenge all of us face as parents, and personally, I look for all the help I can get. With the Mere Christianity Journal and book, you have a really good place to start. Some of these questions really caused me to think about the ideas that I hold as well. I think this would work very well for Bible Study for homeschool middle schoolers and high schoolers. If you do a family Bible time, you may want to use this as a family during that time. The Mere Christianity journal costs $28.95 for a print edition and $18.95 for a digital download. They are currently offering a promotion that gives you 10 percent off until May 15. Use the code CREW-10 to get your discount! If you ask me, they are well worth it!

Home School Adventure Co.

If you want to know more about the Mere Christianity journal, check out the Home School Adventure Co. social media pages:

Home School Adventure Co. on Facebook

Home School Adventure Co. on Twitter

Home School Adventure Co. on Pinterest

Home School Adventure Co. on Instagram

Home School Adventure Co. on Google+

To find out more about the Mere Christianity Journal and the other products from Home School Adventure Co. that the Crew got to check out, click here:

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Garlic and Basil Chicken

Garlic Basil Chicken

Welcome to Try a New Recipe Tuesday. This week I am sharing a really easy chicken dish featuring some of my favorite flavors!

Tomato, basil, and garlic. Three of my favorite things!

3-4 chicken breast
Italian seasoning
2 tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch basil
1 can diced tomatoes with garlic and basil
Olive oil
4 tbsp. butter
1 cup shredded Italian cheese
Angel Hair pasta, cooked

1. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste.
2. Add enough Olive oil to cover the bottom of a skillet.
3. Place chicken breasts in skillet and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear.

4. Chop the tomatoes and garlic.
5. Cut the basil into ribbons.
5. Combine the chopped tomatoes, garlic, basil, and canned tomatoes in a small bowl.
6. Add the tomato mixture to the pan with the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes.
7. Add the butter to the pan and stir until it melts.

It smells so good!

8. Cook for a few more minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked and everything is warmed through.
9. Serve over angel hair pasta.

This is just so good! My family loved it, and it made enough leftovers to heat up the next day!

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to come back next week. Check out other recipes here:

Menu Plan Monday 4/21/14

This week is my youngest son’s 13 birthday! We have a tradition at our house where the birthday kid gets to choose his favorite meal on his special day, so our Thursday dinner is courtesy of Jakob!

Here’s our menu for the week:

Monday: Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Tuesday: Chicken Tamales

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: Empanadas (Happy Birthday!)

Friday: Pineapple Pork

Thanks for stopping by for this week’s Menu Plan Monday! I hope you have a great week. See you next Monday!

Planting, Sowing, Reaping

A baby corn stalk.

Ah…spring. The weather is the perfect temperature to draw you outside after a long cold winter. Or, in Florida, after a cool few days!! Our topic for this week’s Crew Carnival is Spring Studies. One of our major focuses this time of year is planting our spring garden. Although I grew up on a farm, I am ashamed to say I did not really get into growing things until recently. It just seemed like so much work!! But, with some encouragement from my mom, and a look at our budget, I thought that it would at least be worth a try. So two years ago we planted our first garden.

The oldest watering the garden.


Now, our first attempt was a mixed success. We did well with our lettuce, green beans, and tomatoes, and not so well with broccoli, squash, and some other vegetables. Eventually we discovered that broccoli grows very well in Florida in the fall. The thing is, my mom told me that every time you plant, you learn a little more. And she was right! Each time we plant, we learn more about how to prepare the soil, how to nurture our plants, how to protect them from bugs, and how much water they need.


I find this a perfect analogy for our Christian walk in life and our relationship with the Lord. The Bible tells us that we reap what we sow. As we grow closer to God we learn about the things in our lives we need to nurture, and the things we need to weed out. We learn how to prepare our hearts to hear Him speak, how to protect our hearts from things that would lead us away from Him, and how to water, or support, those things that bring us closer to him.



Mondays are our gardening days. While my boys have the task of watering each day (in Florida, gardens require quite a bit of water, especially when its dry), on Monday afternoons we head outside to weed, feed, and check for bugs. I use these times for conversations about how what we plant and how we plant it and care for it dictates what we grow. If we just scatter seeds with no forethought, and water haphazardly, and do not keep an eye out for errant weeds and bugs, our garden will fail and our crop will be small. But if we put in the time to plan how we plant, to prepare our soil, and to weed, water, and eliminate the bugs, our garden will grow and our crop will be more substantial.

The youngest watering the garden.

My boys are now almost 13 and 16 (gulp!). I feel that now more than ever it is so important that I work to deepen their understanding of God and faith. Yes, my boys have been raised in a Christian home, and yes, their hearts are fully turned toward the Lord (a fact that I am most thankful for!), but as they grow older, I know that they are going to face challenges that I am not going to always be able to influence or control. My son wants to start dual enrollment classes at a local community college in the fall. This is a great opportunity for him, but I know that he is going to face other students, and possibly professors, who will challenge his faith. Honestly, I only have a few more years until I release him to the world. At that point, he will encounter numerous people who may cause him to question what he has always believed, and to a certain extent, I realize this is a part of growing up.

Top: Garlic Bottom: Black eyed peas

However, I want to do all that I can to make him firm in his faith before he gets there. I want him to realize that there will always be people who question and challenge his beliefs, but that when he looks at the big picture, he can see the solid foundation of God in his life. In the way that our family has overcome so many struggles in the last four years, in the way God provides for us each and every week when money is tight, in the way the clouds move and the stars shine, and in the way these tiny seeds that we plant grow into incredible plants that we can eat.


So, we use the spring to focus on these topics. And I treasure my time in the garden with my boys!!

Do you garden? Let me know in the comments, I am always looking for new ideas!

To see what other crew members are doing for spring studies, check out this link: (goes live 4/23/14)
That's Pinteresting

Booklovers Anonymous: The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit. As you can see, our copy has been very much loved.


One of the first books to ever make me cry as a child, The Velveteen Rabbit is a beautiful story of love and loyalty. Written by Margery Williams and published in 1922, the story has enthralled children for decades. The beautiful illustrations, drawn by William Nicholson, make the characters seem so real. I remember wanting to hear the story over and over again as a child. I loved listening to the rabbit as he got to know the other toys in the nursery, feeling elation when he became the boys best friend, sadness when he was cast aside, and pure joy when he became real. This is an incredible story to share with your children.

The rabbit and his boy.

Of course, you can just read this book with your children for pure pleasure, but if you would like to do more, check out these resources. has a PDF with activities that involve studying the life cycle of real animals, visiting the seaside and learning about scarlet fever, crafts like making your own bunny, and more.

Hiding under the covers.

Pearson has a guide with some printable activities for younger elementary students.

This PDF has vocabulary activities, writing activities, discussion questions and activities for older children.

He’s a real rabbit!

At EDHelper, find links to crossword puzzles, writing prompts, quizzes, and bunch of other activities for younger and older students.

Snuggle up on the couch with your kids and their favorite stuffed animals and enjoy a classic, heart-warming story!

Saying goodbye.

Thanks for joining me for Booklovers Anonymous this week. If you have your own special memories of this story, please let me know in the comments. See you next Thursday!

Crock Pot Pineapple Pork

Pineapple Pork Barbecue


This is a yummy Hawaiian themed pork that makes for some great barbecue!


3-4 lb. boneless pork butt

4 red bell peppers

1 bottle sweet and tangy barbecue sauce

8 oz. crushed pineapple

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

The pineapple sauce

1. Season the pork butt with salt and pepper and place it in the crock pot.
2. Slice the peppers into strips and place them on top of the pork.
3. Combine the barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, and pineapples in a bowl and pour the sauce over the pork.
4. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Serve on buns or Hawaiian rolls with some baked beans! I served this for a dinner party we had with friends and everyone loved it. Thanks for stopping by! I will be back next week with another recipe. For now, check out the other great recipe ideas from Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Menu Plan Monday 4/14/14

Welcome back to Menu Plan Monday! I threw my menu for this week together at the last minute and had to run out to the store yesterday. This is what we are having for dinner this week:

Monday: Pork Verde (Crock Pot recipe)

Tuesday: Garlic Chicken with Lemon Garlic Broccoli

Wednesday: Chili Soup and salad

Thursday: Burgers (grilled by my son)

Friday: Pork Casserole

As you might be able to guess, I found pork on sale at the store!! Sales and BOGOs are the best! Hope you guys have great week! Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to come back next Monday.

Pinterest at its Best


The topic of this week’s Crew Round Up is “that’s Pinteresting”. Ha ha! Is Pinteresting even a real world? If it’s not, it definitely should be!! I love Pinterest. Seriously, most of my best ideas come from there. I have boards for homeschool, recipes, gardening, fashion, DIY projects, organization…and more!! I love the fact that I can browse slowly, just looking at the hodgepodge of ideas on my screen, or I can quickly look up specific things when I need to. Before Pinterest my house was full of stacks of magazines with pages folded down, and sticky notes, now I can keep all of my ideas organized without the clutter!

So, I thought I would share where I get ideas for which boards to follow. Let’s face it, the choices are endless, and a little overwhelming. I like to make it a point to follow boards that line up with specific areas of my life. I recently wrote a post about my favorite boards for homeschooling.  Here are some other places to check out ideas for education-related Pinterest boards:

Education Pinteresting

TeachThought has a list of 25 top Pinterest boards related to educational technology. On the list are boards that have pins about the best free educational apps, tips and tricks for using technology in school, and websites that provide free resources. As a homeschooler on a budget, I appreciate anything that hooks me up with free resources and activities!!

On Babble, you will find a teacher-compiled list of 25 of the best Pinterest boards for teachers. These boards are full of ideas on a wide variety of educational topics including pre-school and early elementary ideas, boards devoted to fine motor skills, reading, art, math, and more.

Food Pinteresting

I think the biggest draw on Pinterest for me is the endless amount of recipes. At least once a week I try a new dish that I found on Pinterest. Here are some ideas for where to find the best food-related boards on Pinterest:

The Kitchn has created a list of 13 Pinterest boards you should follow, including vegetarian boards, savory boards, dessert boards, and boards full of cooking tips!! I added all of these to my list!

At Bon Appetit, check out their list of the top 8 boards for food lovers.

Sweet Jack has a list of 10 foodies to follow on Pinterest, including Whole Foods board, Mommy’s Kitchen, full of recipes for family favorites, and Skinnytaste which offers flavorful, healthy recipes.

Finally, check out this list from Babble that has the top 50 boards listed for categories like Home and Garden, Holidays, DIY, and other categories.

Of course, I always love new followers, so please check out my boards too, Everyday Homeschooling Mom.

I hope you find some new boards to follow! I know I did. 🙂 For me, Pinterest is one of the most useful social media sites I have found in terms of giving me practical ideas and things I can actually use. How do you use Pinterest in your house? Let me know in the comments. Check out what other crew members had to say about all things Pinterest in the round up here: (goes live 4/16/14) Happy Pinteresting!

That's Pinteresting

Bookovers Anonymous: Jumanji

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

I’ve mentioned before that Chris Van Allsburg is one of my favorite children’s authors of all time. Today I am sharing another one of his fabulous books, Jumanji. First written in 1981, it went on to become a movie starring Robin Williams in 1995. The Jumanji movie is a great resource to use with the book, possibly as a culminating activity to a unit study.

The book tells the story of Judy and Peter, a brother and sister looking to have some fun when their parents leave them alone for the day. When playing outside, they find a mysterious box containing the Jumanji Jungle Adventure Game. What follows is an exciting adventure where each role of the dice brings them face to face with lions, monkeys, monsoons, and bumbling guides. By the end of their day, an exhausted Judy and Peter bury the game in the park, which sets up another Van Allsburg book, Zathura.

Look out! Rhinoceros!

Jumanji is loaded with things to study and talk about. First, if you have a child that loves animals, you could certainly spend time researching each animal in the book as a unit study. I’ve read this with my kids and had them create their own version of the game, which they really enjoyed. In addition, there are a lot of resources and lesson plans available online.

First, the Chris Van Allsburg website gives you information about the author, as well as links to other resources. Houghton Mifflin has put together a teachers guide with writing and reading lessons for the primary grades. At Carol, read a review of the book and view some questions for discussion as well as suggested activities.

Teaching Books provides links to interviews with the author as well as other resources. At Better Lesson, find a lesson plan focused on using the book to teach figurative language.

Jumanji is so much fun to read! I love how it encourages a kids imagination.

Thanks for joining me for Booklovers Anonymous this week! Be sure to come back next Thursday!

TOS Review: Victus Study Skills System

Victus Study Skills Review


As a homeschool mom with a 10th grade boy who wants to enroll in dual enrollment courses next year, study skills are a major concern in my house. My son is very smart…I mean very very smart, but time management, organization, and studying….well, lets just say he could use some work in this area, and that concerns me because I know that when starts dual enrollment, he is going to have to be on top of things. That is one reason I jumped at the chance to review the Student Workbook and Teacher Edition from Victus Study Skills System.

Victus Study Skills Review


What it is:
The Victus Study Skills System is a systematic approach to teaching good study habits. Specifically, it focuses on three “foundational cornerstones” that have kids focus on where they are, where they want to be, and what they need to do to reach their goals. While the program is intended for all ages, younger children would certainly need more support when using it. Personally, I would use it with middle school and higher. The student workbook contains the lessons and workbook pages. I thought the lessons were broken down very well, with none of the sessions being too long.

The teacher edition features copies of the student pages, answer keys, background information on the program, a suggested method for teaching, and lesson plans with teacher instructions. The suggested course plan has you finishing the book in five days, but I tweaked it and we spread these lessons over two to three weeks. The program is very easy to adapt to your own schedule.

Victus Study Skills System–My son’s skills assessment.

Each lesson has some reading and discussion as well as some written activities for the students. The first few lessons focus on students doing a personal assessment of their learning strengths, with the following lessons in that section discussing how to design their study plans to utilize those strengths. From there, lessons move into goal setting, and finally, the nitty gritty of study skills, planning, using a calendar, and learning strategies.

How We Used Victus:
Like I said, our schedule did not allow us to do several lessons per day, so we took this one lesson at a time, and finished in about 2 1/2 weeks. Each day, I would introduce the lesson and my son and I would discuss the topic. Then he would complete the assigned activity. Some lessons had activities he did on his own, like the skills assessment and goal setting, while other activities were fill in the blank and we did those together. I would say that each lesson took us about 20 minutes.

Victus Study Skills System–My son’s goal setting page.

What We Thought
I have to say, my first impressions of Victus were very good, and I found that the program more than met my expectations. First, I think this is just so appropriate for where my son is at right now. He knows he needs to do a better job of staying on top of things for school, he just doesn’t know how, and for some reason, when I try to explain it to him, it doesn’t get through. But with the way Victus is organized and presented, it just seemed like it made something click in his head!!

The skills assessment was his first eye opener. After seeing where his strengths were (kinesthetic and auditory) he was like “wow, that really makes I know why I couldn’t sit still in my class at school and always got in trouble”. I liked the fact that the program offers specific suggestions for how to use your strengths when studying that students can apply right away. Ideas like pacing when you memorize notes written on an index card, studying in different positions, etc. were things my son try immediately.

Victus Study Skills–The calendar my son made for himself.

The second part of the study system I was really impressed with was the goal setting section. I have never seen the goal setting process explained so simply. After taking you through the lesson and showing you a page of sample goals, the student gets to make their own. Goal setting is broken down into three parts, the goal, the objective, and the action plan. This is so important for kids to learn!! Here’s the thing: we hear about goal setting all the time. The topic is on talk shows, and in magazines, but what good is setting goals if you don’t have a practical plan to reach them? With Victus, my son set real achievable goals for subjects he wanted to work on, as well as physical fitness and his music. He then went on to create a specific objective for each month, and determined what he was going to do each day to achieve his goal! And I am happy to say, he has stuck to the plan.

Victus Study Skills System–workbook page

My Recommendation:
I would highly recommend Victus Study Skills System to any parent seeking to build good study habits in their child. The student workbook costs $20.00 and the Teacher Edition costs $40.00. You could try and use the workbook without the teacher edition but I would not recommend that because you will need the teacher book for the answers and some of the activities. I think the price is very fair. In fact, I had my 7th grade son sit and lesson while we worked on this and I want to get another workbook so I can go through the program with him too.

To find out more about Victus, check out their Facebook page and their Twitter feed.

To see what other members of the Crew thought of this program, click here:
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Pork Verde (Crock Pot Recipe)

Yes, I have another crock pot recipe to share this week. I can’t help it, my crock pot is probably my most used kitchen tool. It’s just easy and great for busy days (which for me, seems like every day!!). My family loves spicy food, so I’m going to warn you that this recipe has some kick. You can certainly reduce this by eliminating the green chiles and the cumin.


Pork Verde tacos with toppings

3-4 lb. boneless pork butt
1 jar salsa verde
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. green chiles
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion

Verde Sauce

1. Chop the garlic and the onion.
2. Place the pork butt in the crock pot and season with salt and pepper to taste (you can see I like to use crock pot bags. They make clean up so much easier.)
3. Place the chopped garlic and onion on top of the pork.

Pork Verde in the Crock Pot

4. In a bowl, mix together the salsa verde, chili powder, cumin, and green chiles.
5. Pour the verde sauce over the pork and vegetables.
6. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
7. Shred the pork and serve.

Pork Verde Tacos

You can certainly serve the pork with rice and beans as a side dish, but my family likes to eat them taco style. We top them with shredded pepperjack cheese, chopped scallions, and cilantro. Serve them any way you want, they are delicious!

Thanks for stopping by, be sure to come back next week. Check out more recipes from Try a New Recipe Tuesday here:

Booklovers Anonymous: Diary of a Worm

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin

Welcome back to Booklovers Anonymous! This week I am sharing a really fun story by author Doreen Cronin, Diary of a Worm. This little gem of a book covers a few months in a young worms life, told from his perspective. It is part diary, part scrapbook, with pasted “pictures” of images like a “family vacation” at Compost Island, a Superworm comic, and the worm’s favorite pile of dirt.

In the story, the worm shares important details of his life, like how his mother told him that the earth gives him everything he needs, how he learned not to bother his father when he is eating the newspaper, how fruitless it is to try to teach his friend spider to dig, and the dangers of hopscotch. My kids loved to listen to how worm tried to annoy his big sister and how he made spider laugh so hard that he fell out of a tree. Aside from the fun, there are a lot of resources available for using this book for lessons.

PB works has a lesson plan for teaching about worms. At Writing Fix, students can practice using voice in their own writing. Teachers Net has a fun lesson for tying the story into creating a worm’s habitat, and Scholastic has ideas for using the book as a springboard for having students research an animal and create their own diary based on that animal’s life.  Check out this Pinterest board for Diary of a Worm unit study ideas on composting, recipes, crafts, and other activities.

Diary of a Worm is just so much fun, and could easily be used for a science unit study! Thanks for stopping by this week, be sure to come back next Thursday!