Talk Like a Pirate Day 2014 – Pirate Picture Books for Preschoolers


We love International Talk Like a Pirate Day & turn it into a week long pirate extravaganza.  Being on the Great Lakes, we are blessed to have a Schooner Festival every few years that just happens to coincide with Talk Like a Pirate Day.  How smart are they!?  Anyway, we just got back from two weeks in Florida and are just celebrating pirate week before we start on the hard subjects of school next week.  Today I’m going to share 3 pirate books for littles that I hadn’t mentioned before.

  First up is Shiver Me Letters.  Shiver Me Letters is a fun little book with fun illustrations.  The captain tells his crew he can’t do much with just an “r” (arrrrh.  Get it?) and to go find him the rest of the alphabet.  The story is told in rhyme and the letters are cleverly hidden in the illustrations.  They are easy to find if you listen to the story.  Super cute & great for kids learning letters.

Twenty-Six Pirates is another alphabet book.  This one tells the story of twenty-six pirate on a ship through rhyming couplets.  It’s a favorite and gets read so much that I need to get a new one already.  There is a pirate for every letter of the alphabet.  Hubs & I love W.

Pirate Wade,
Mistakes were made.

The illustrations are funny and we laugh each time we read it.  I would recommend this one, too.

  The last one is one I bought last year, Do Pirates Take Baths?.  I got it because its illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott & we love her style.  For whatever reason, I had it in my head that I thought this book was a waste, but when I read it a few weeks ago, I thought it was really cute.  It’s filled with questions about pirates and the answers are written in a very cute rhyme.  It has answers for everything from Do Pirates Take Baths? to Do Pirates Have Birthday’s?   It’s the current favorite of my almost 4 year old daughter.  Another cute pirate book worth adding to the collection!

You can read about other fun pirate picture books in these posts:

What are your favorite Pirate books?

Jen S.



Click here to see all my Pirate Week Posts!

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My Student Logbook {Schoolhouse Review Crew}



My daughter and I butt heads about school all. the. time. I think she knows school would be way more of a time suck, but it still doesn’t help her with a seemingly never ending pile of work. When saw My Student Logbook being offered for review, I pretty much begged.


My Student Logbook

My Student Logbook is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Available as a spiral bound dated logbook planner or an undated PDF, My Student Logbook is a grid that allows students to see at a glance what needs to be done & what has been completed. There are 9 columns across the top (one for the task, time, and each day of the week) and 20 rows. The print logbook retails for $15 and runs from August to July; a calendar year edition is also available.   There are no hard and fast age guidelines, but I would say as long as they can read and make an x or a check mark, you could make use of this resource.


Likes and Dislikes

One of the reasons I wanted this for my daughter is that we are always fighting to get every. Single. Thing. Done. Chores, school, you name it. I was hoping to make a list a task master. In fact, I had just started a morning high five, which was helping a bit. Plus, I am doing some PreK with her little sister and since she is a proficient reader, I am trying to get her to work independently.

I cannot even tell you how much we have BOTH loved the My Student Logbook. We used it for about 4.5 weeks with my 6.5 y/o doing second grade work (we were on vacay for ~2 of the weeks).

I love that the list is the boss. I don’t argue or cajole. I simply tell her the chores need to be done before breakfast, the schoolwork before lunch.

She loves checking off the list and being able to see how much she has left. She literally wastes no time. She can see the end in sight and knows that when her list is complete, she is free to do whatever she wants.

I was recently reading an ebook on learning styles and it explained how this child needs to work. Turns out that this is perfect for kids who are judgers (think Meyers-Briggs for kids).

I love the flap set up and the space for notes underneath. On the busy day that we do little bookwork, I use a highlighter for things that don’t need to be completed. I like that there are several flaps in case you need to tweak your schedule. And though my daughter hasn’t used them yet, there is a section in the back where the student can list favorites and things making the whole book a great keepsake and record of the school year.



Overall, I’ve really loved the My Student Logbook. It works great for kids who like to check off lists, but maybe aren’t good enough writers to write it all down every day or even every week. If you are trying to move children to more independent study, it works awesome for that, too. If you find yourself fighting about tasks and chores and schoolwork, this could be a tool that pulls you out of the middle. At only $15 it’s sure worth a try! I have sung this books praises to my husband almost nightly. No joke. I will probably buy these every year for this child.


To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of My Student Logbook, click here.

Jen S.


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Talk Like A Pirate Day {Week} Resources 2014 – Preschool & Second Grade



So this week I had to do my planning WAY in advance since we were on vacation for the last two weeks. Here are the resources we are using for “Pirate School” this year.

Preschool Pirate Resources

For PreK, I had a lot of leftovers printed from previous years. I gathered up the following resources:

Second Grade Pirate Resources

Because we just got back from vacation, I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on super hard core school. I bought several packets from Teachers Pay Teachers:

In addition, I found these resources from previous years:


I would also like to go to the Schooner Festival & Pirate Pancake breakfast as well as a park visit or two (weather permitting).   We shall see — hubs will be camping with the guys this weekend :).

You can go here and find the books that we’ve loved:

You can see our other Pirate activities in these posts:


Do you do Pirate Day or Pirate Week for International Talk Like a Pirate Day?


Jen S.


Click here to see all my Pirate Week Posts!

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7 Minute Life {Schoolhouse Review Crew}


I love God things, don’t you?  Recently, I had the opportunity to review The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I have to admit, I was kind of “meh” about.  I had a planner I loved.  It’s been replaced.

7 Minute Life Planner

The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner is a 90-day spiral bound planner created by Allyson Lewis of The 7 Minute Life.   Studies have shown that adults have short attention spans; maybe even as low as 7 minutes!   The idea is that in 7 minutes of planning a day, you can do the most important things and stop JUST doing the urgent.  Set up in 90-day increments because 90 days is enough to see progress and to reassess if things aren’t working.  Coming from a sales background, this planner has several features toward sales goals including contacts, thank you notes, voicemails, and 7 Minute Life Connections.  It also has a notes section, sleep, exercise & water tracker, appointment section and more.  Each 270+ page planner is $24.95.


Likes & Dislikes

So.  I am a productivity & planner junky.  I have used GTD, Franklin-Covey and dozens of others over the past 15 years. Honestly, I wasn’t even looking for a new planner because I had one I loved.  I love this one more.

Before I could use it, I had to spend a few days thinking about the big picture. Really, it was overdue for an update; I last did it a few months before my 15 month old was born.  She went about it slightly differently with values/character traits as your first step.  It was an exercise I had not done before.  After that it was mission statement time, which I also reworked a bit.  I got a little stuck on goal-setting but after thinking on it for a week or so, I realized I had more 90-day goals than I thought.

I used The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner to track all aspects of my life–home management, work, writing and the teaching portion of homeschooling.  I loved that all my hats were in one planner instead of 4.  The most life changing part was the 5 before 11.  In my case it was usually 5 before 5, but my kids are 6, 3.9 & 1.  Sometimes there are other issues, you know?  But I know the difference between lazy and otherwise occupied.  There is a “did I do what I said I would do” checkbox.  Even though everyday was a no, I’m still closer than I would have been because I did several important things.

I still haven’t FULLY adapted it to suit my needs yet, but I spent my entire 10-day vacation pondering it in the downtime.  The beginning has 12 months of smaller calendars (3 to a page) for long-term planning.  I used that to note important things like trips, classes, etc. that need to be planned around.  Then it has 12 months of larger calendars, 1 per page.  This annoyed me at first.  Who needs 2 sets of too small calendars in one book?  Then I figured it out.  The first is long-term planning.  The second set would be great for a blogging editorial calendar.


The appointments, 5 before 11, voicemail, spending record, and daily summary were no brainer and used as you would expect.  I used unfinished tasks for less important to-do’s like errands.  The other feature I adored were the two big unfinished work tasks & unfinished home tasks (4 & 2 pages, respectively).  I loved parking projects there for the 90-day period, to revisit later.  Like the goals, I didn’t fully understand the value until a week or two into use.  I had work projects, writing projects, and blogging & reviews quickly filling my work tasks and completing random things filling my home in completed tasks.


As an introvert, I love the 7 Minute Life Connections because I truly need to be that intentional about adult interaction.  I’m one of those people who has no “best friend(s).”  I’m still trying to determine what I should do with the Contacts section since I don’t sell.  I honestly can’t wait to stalk everyone else’s reviews to see how they have tweaked theirs :)!


Overall, I thought the principles and habits in The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner were excellent ones and I’m really glad that I was picked for this review.  I like that the pages are undated and so I don’t feel like I’ve wasted 1/3 of a book while on vacation.  I love the short term (90-day) goals.  I like that it really focuses on people and the really important things and not just tasks.  I love the task pages and the whole idea.  I end the day feeling like I’ve done some really important things, even if I only get 2 or 3 of the 5 accomplished.  It’s a great way to focus with my very limited time.

I’m looking forward to tweaking it a bit more and want to look into their big fancy package with the books, binder, cd’s, more planners, etc.   I have a few other learning things I’m finishing up right now and I’m trying to divert funds to feed the travel bug.   But it’s on the short list!

Overall, if you are doing any sort of work at home, The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner is fabulous.  If you “only” manage a home and/or homeschool it might be a bit overkill unless you are a type-A planner addict like me :).  But if you run a business too, whether that’s freelance work, etsy or blogging, the 7 Minute Life Daily Planner can help keep you balanced & focused.

Hubby read through the beginning planning pages and thought it was all good stuff but he needed an app; he will never use a paper planner.   Hint hint :).  You can check out sample pages here and videos about how to use each section of The 7 Minute Daily Life Planner here.


Click here to read what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of The 7 Minute Life(TM) Daily Planner!

Jen S.


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5 Ways to Fit in Exercise with Littles


Before I had kids, I was a duel-certified personal trainer, black belt workout junkie. Then I had kids. I’m up to 3 now, from ages 6 to 1. Over the years, I’ve had to find several creative strategies for fitting in exercise with multiple little ones.

Some of those years are leaner than others, in both friendship & money, so I’ve tried things on various budgets & with various amounts of help. Hopefully you will find an idea that might work for you.

First thing

Once the babies settle into a routine (around 6 months or so), you may find that they are up for the day & are content for about 20 minutes. I used to put Itty Bitty in her play gym and use a 20 minute DVD. She ALMOST lasted through the stretching :).

Quiet time

Is there a time when all the kids are all quiet? Nap time? Just after lunch? Is there a natural lull in your day?  A few months ago, mine happened to be at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, right after the baby woke up from his nap. I put him in his jumpy thing and the girls each get a corner of the living room to watch me do an exercise DVD and join in, too!


A good stroller is worth its weight in gold. A 2-kid jogger, if you can swing it, is soooo nice. If not, the oldest can walk, the middle can go in a stroller & the youngest can be in a sling. I walked a mile every day like this with #1 & #2.  There are also classes using a stroller as well as stroller exercise routines from FitDeck.

The Playground

take your kids to a playground. And then play, too! You can either simply play with them, or do an exercise routine using the playground equipment. I love the FitDeck Playground Expansion Pack for this.


I have a small library of exercise DVD’s from my exercise junkie days and love to use those. There are also online classes, YouTube videos, the library or even friends.


With all the other responsibilities moms (and especially homeschool moms) have, exercise can seem like luxury.  Exercise is good for your physical AND mental health, as well as your marriage.  Plus, it sets a good example for your kids–they do what you DO, not what you preach.

Remember to start small and slow and build up. If you are too whipped to even start, get a physical–many moms are low on iron & other nutrients and aren’t even aware of it.  Find something you love to do & be creative about making it happen!

How do you make time for exercise with your littles?

Jen S.

Need more ideas?  Stay tuned for 6 MORE ways to fit in exercise with little kids!

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