The Single Best Geography Resource for PreK to Early Elementary

geography-preschool

So we’ve had geography on the brain last month, thanks to the Poppins Book Nook.  I’m so loving the accountability to do fun stuff with the kiddos.  I found one of my favorite resources ever for geography for tots to early elementary thanks to Carrie @ Reading to Know.

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I happened to catch a sideways mention of a few books she found at a resale shop that she regretted not buying more of from the Disney Small World Library.  Published in 1994 (or thereabouts), the set includes 28 books, from the following countries:

  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Italy
  • United States of America
  • Kenya
  • Egypt
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Japan
  • Peru
  • Spain
  • Norway
  • Great Britain
  • China
  • Israel
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Australia
  • Scotland
  • Russia
  • Argentina
  • Scotland
  • France
  • Denmark

 

I paid an obscene amount of money for a complete set on eBay without ever having looked at one.  We’ve had great luck with the Walt Disney Fun-to-Learn Library, too.  I had a set as a kid and grabbed the first set I ever found used.  Both girls loved them! When I got the Disney Small World Library, I don’t think they had ever been read.  They were in great shape and these have been just as loved!

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Each story is about Mickey & the gang traveling around the world and experiencing the different countries. The final 4 pages tell about several  things the country is well-known for. My daughter had asked if her daddy & I made friends around the world when we traveled.  I wish I could say yes; we will work on doing better next time.  They do a great job of introducing local places, foods, customs & culture with the familiarity of Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald & Goofy.  They don’t even know they are learning and that’s my favorite way to do it!

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If you are interested in either set, check eBay.  I’ve found individual books on Amazon or Paperback Swap, but I’d rather get them all (or most) at once.  We’ve loved them both!

What books do you use to teach your little ones without them knowing it?

Jen S.

 

 

 

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No More Perfect Kids {Book Review}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from a PR company in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links; thank you for your support!

Pride goeth before a fall, right? I was reading a chapter by chapter summary of No More Perfect Kids on As We Walk Along the Road when I received an email wondering if I would be willing to review it. Well, of course! As a recovering perfectionist, I was curious to see if I had made any progress.

No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids For Who They Are was co-written by Jill Savage and Kathy Koch, PhD and follows on the heels of Jill’s other best-seller No More Perfect Moms. NMPK is one of those books I wish I had more time to read, review and DO. Because really, I think it might be one of those game-changer books, you know? The book was written to identify and remove the need for perfection from our kids. How? By KNOWING your children, knowing what’s REALISTIC, and encouraging them to be themselves.

They cover 9 specific topics in the book from what is perfection & what happens when it collides with parenting and then goes into talking about questions your kids ask without words:

  • Do you like me?
  • Am I important to you?
  • Is it okay that I’m unique?
  • Who am I?
  • Am I a failure?
  • What’s my purpose?
  • Will you help me change?

What’s funny about this, is that I realized I’m pretty cognizant of their differences & personalities as a personality-type junkie :). I know their learning styles and temperament and mine and how they work together. Or not. So when I started, I thought I was doing pretty well as I sped through the first 80 pages or so, having recently “conquered” the do you LIKE me question as a result of reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode and introducing margin into my days.

And then I slowed. And I read. And I reflected. And my husband said, “You’re STILL reading that book?” Because I had been working through it for about 4 weeks which is unheard of for me. A few things which really grabbed me were discussions of childLIKE versus childISH. Ow. And the whole failure stopped me dead for about a week. I expect better from them than I can do. Ouch.

But it wasn’t all ‘bad.’ I found some real hope for inspiring them to greatness in the chapter on purpose and tools to use in the last chapter, helping them to change. I knew that it would be a great book to have and so I bought an extra to share during the book’s launch week. I’m really looking forward to reading How Am I Smart? so I can encourage them better.

Overall, No More Perfect Kids is a great book for all parents; it was written with both in mind. If you feel a disconnect or wonder why in the world God would saddle some poor child with you for a mother, this could help. If you think you are doing pretty well, do your children know all the answers of all those questions above? I mean, really know them? If so, you need to come to my house for a weekend so I can pick your brain! But if you think you could do better, No More Perfect Kids is an awesome book to help you love AND like, the kids you have, not the ones in your head.

Jen S.

 

 

 

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{Mostly} Dairy-Free French Toast Casserole

dairy-free-french-toast-casserole

 

Every time I have a baby, I have to go dairy-free.  Something about how I (don’t) process milk in MY digestive system, makes it so that it goes into my milk and my babies have issue with it, too.  Three babies later, I’m finally getting the hang of it.  Here is my (mostly) dairy-free french toast casserole.  The topping is contains butter.  If you are totally dairy-free, skip it.  I’ve found that butter is pretty much the only dairy I can eat while nursing, so I still include it :).

Ingredients:

For the French Toast

  • 1 loaf of bread.  Crusty, fancy bread is awesome, but even your bag of freezer crusts will work :).
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 2-1/2 c sweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, optional (it’s in the almond milk, too)

For the Topping

  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of cold butter, cut into pieces
  • pinch of nutmeg, optional

Instructions

Grease a 9×13 pan with butter.  I like to use the butter wrapper itself.   Tear or cut bread into chunks and evenly distribute in pan.

In a medium sized bowl, mix eggs, almond milk, sugar and vanilla.  Pour evenly over bread; use a piece of aluminum foil or plastic wrap to ensure that all bread is mushed into egg/milk mixture.   Cover and store in fridge for several hours or overnight.

In another bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Add butter pieces and cut them into the flour with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture looks like small pebbles.  Store in fridge.

Baking Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F.  Sprinkle flour/butter mixture over the top.  Bake for 45-75 minutes, depending on consistency desired.  For bread pudding like consistency, aim for 45 minutes.   For a more firm casserole, leave it for 60-75 minutes.

Top with butter and maple syrup.

Serves 12

Enjoy!!

Jen S.

 

 

This post will be linked to Works For Me Wednesday @ We Are THAT Family.

 

 

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6 Tips for Using Pinterest for Homeschooling Inspiration…Without Getting Overwhelmed!

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I love Pinterest and have several boards for cool homeschool ideas that I see. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged by everyone else’s “best.” Here are a few tips to get the most out of Pinterest without being overwhelmed.

Creating Boards 101

I started out lumping all my pins together under a general board and it didn’t take too long to realize that I’d never find what I was looking for that way. If you noticed this, too, schedule a day to go in and fix it. I made boards by broad subjects, but you may find it more useful to go by age, type of science, period of history, etc. Consider how you refer to subjects in your head or when planning.

Follow Bloggers

I follow bloggers based on several different criteria:

  • similar educational style (classical and Charlotte Mason)
  • children of similar ages
  • activities that support the learning styles of my kids (one is tactile/kinesthetic, one is visual)
  • specializes in the passions of each child (art for one, music for another)

I also follow bloggers that are an inspiration. Maybe they have great wisdom or humor. Some are just a year or two ahead and I learn from their experiences how mine may change. Others do something well that would like to do.

I find that by narrowing down my focus, I’m not overwhelmed with the number of awesome pins.

Follow Curriculum Providers

As a part of the review crew, I have started taking a good look at boards of my favorite vendors and/or future vendors. The ones who are on Pinterest do an awesome job at gathering the best ideas for their subjects and people who use their curriculum in real life. Both of those are worth their weight in gold!

Cull Your Feed

If you find that your feed is super overwhelming, cull your feed. Start by going through your list of boards/bloggers and unfollow ones that are no longer useful to you.   Or take a look at the ones who fill your feed up the most.   I do a massive online purge at least once or twice a year. I hit up Facebook, email newsletters, RSS feeds, stored files, ebooks and yes, even Pinterest.

Pick Your Pins

It’s sooooo easy to pin every pretty thing you are. And there are tons of them. You know how your feed gets overwhelmed? Yeah, let’s not muck up everyone else’s feed either. For you AND your followers, limit your Pins.

Consider the following:

  • How likely are you to ACTUALLY try it?
  • Would your children really like it or do you just wish you could have done it?
  • Does it fit with how your family works?

And once you’ve decided that it does need to be pinned, update the text so that others can find it too. People frequently follow you after finding a kindred spirit pinner :). I (try to) add grade levels, educational style, learning style & other text to my homeschool pins.

Refer Back

I like to refer back to my Pinboards in three circumstances. The first is when my kids are LOVING a subject and want to keep going. I will check a board (or Pinterest at large) for ideas.

Next, I check pinterest if the kids are getting board and we need to mix it up a bit. Then I will search for activities that will help them acquire the same skills but with a new material.

The third is during my regular planning time to look for things for upcoming holidays or unit studies.

 homeschool-pinterest-boards-happylhomemaker

If you are in need of some homeschool Pinterest inspiration, check out my Homeschool Pinterest Boards ;).

 

 

Do you use Pinterest for your homeschool?

Jen S.

 

 

This post is linked to:

thats-pinteresting

 

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Grow as a Blogger with My Blog Plan {Review}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this planner from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links; thanks for your support!

my-blog-plan-review

I always have more to share than I have time to write. When the HEDUA was offering their pre-sale planner discount, I was having a really hard time waiting. REALLY hard time. I’m a planner junkie.

Well, an ex-planner junkie now, because I’ve been using the HEUDA planners, consistently, for going on 3 years now. That’s unheard of! Hubby has been impressed :). And I’m really glad I waited because they gave me a copy of the newest addition to their line of planners–My Blog Plan.

I’ve been using a blog planner that a fellow blogger made. I printed it & even got it spiral bound at a copy shop. But it only sort of works. My Blog Plan is truly a way to plan your blogging. Set up in a very similar way to their other line of planners, it is extremely functional AND beautiful. And spiral bound. A very important feature!

blog-plan-month

If you have never used a planner from HEDUA, they each have a beautiful swirly, flowery and/or geometric background or border. Each month has the same prints and pages but has a different primary color scheme, which is kind of nice because if its a color you aren’t fond of, you aren’t stuck with it forever. Oranges are in that category for me. My Blog Plan also has several inspirational and actionable articles on blogging, both in the beginning and each month.

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If you have been blogging for a while or are serious about it, My Blog Plan will help you WORK your blog. There are forms for helping you plan the how and why of your blog, set goals and track progress, income, stats, parties, contacts, ads, colleagues, assistants, and contributors in the beginning. Then each month has a monthly view with major holidays that allows you to track whether each day’s post is to be promoted, is a giveaway, review or by a guest writer.

Each month includes pages to jot down ideas for social media or blog ideas and an article that you can use to help improve your blogging. Even blogging for 5 years, some things end up on my back burner and there are great articles of everything from SEO to social media and from giveaways to blog conferences. There are forms to track reviews & giveaways. There is only space for 6 of each, which I kind of like because I feel like I do a ton and would like a tool to make me really consider what I do. This would work well for me.

blog-plan-weekly-view

My Blog Plan also has week at a glance pages where you can plan your posts each day from the title, tags, social sharing, whether its scheduled, in draft, etc and even how many views it got! You also have room for reminders & to-do’s. I would use it to track posts that I need to write for other sites and clean-up tasks.

 

At the end of the month, you evaluate your work, by viewing the 5 most popular posts that month, checking your stats, tracking your income and even plan any strategies for next month. If you are looking for a way to take your blog to the next level without a massive time increase, this will help by keeping your focus in one spot. And there is also a place to plan for the upcoming year as well as evaluate how you did versus that plan.

blog-plan-year

There’s only one con. It’s a biggie. The thumb tabs between months are not cut out. Sigh. I know! Okay, so it’s only a very minor drawback but I do use them in my other two planners and I will miss them.

Okay, there are two cons. The other is that it doesn’t start until JULY. Oh the humanity! I’ve contemplated scavenging Oct-Dec so I could start using it now, but I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot later. Too bad they don’t have a printable PDF available for April-June. Hint hint! :).  I did email my contact at HEDUA and this first planner is a extra-long for the first year only.  The next planner will be released for  January-December.

So, if you are in need of a blog planner or are thinking of trying to get more serious about your blogging, I would really recommend My Blog Plan. Yes, you can get a ton of pretty, free ones but this one is $20 for 18 months of use. It runs from July 2014 through December 2015. That’s just a little more than $1 a month! I’m sure I would use more than that in toner & spiral binding for a weekly blog planner with all the extra tracking pages for 18 months. Plus the articles are like a free once-a-month blogging class! I am SO in love with the details and monthly & annual evaluation and planning that went into this. I can’t wait to see how much my blog grows over the next 18 months!

Jen S.

 

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