Exploring education through books, travel, and adventure

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Save Money and Sanity with TeacherFileBox

Save Money and Sanity with TeacherFileBox

Have you ever heard of Evan-Moor? If you have been in the homeschooling game for a bit you have likely heard the name or tried some of their amazing books! We have been using Evan-Moor products since we began our homeschooling journey 3 years ago! […]

Favorite Oceanschooling Resources!

Favorite Oceanschooling Resources!

  We have joined forces with some amazing homeschooling families on Instagram to study oceans for the month of March! This was not part of our original plan for March, as we are right in the middle of a dinosaur unit…but this opportunity was too […]

Top 4 Reasons Why Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival is the BEST!

Top 4 Reasons Why Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival is the BEST!

Epcot’s 2019 International Flower and Garden Festival is just days away! I am literally counting the minutes! Epcot is my favorite of all of the Walt Disney World Parks, but I especially love it during festival times! While I love ALL of the festivals, the International Flower and Garden Festival is hands down my very favorite of them all!! I am going to share with you all of the reasons why I adore it…and throw in some tips to make the most out of your visit!!

WHY is Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival the BEST?

We all have that one friend who knows how to throw a really great party! You know who they are…they always have great decorations, awesome food, the music is great! Epcot…is that friend. They put on a mean festival with all the bells and whistles! The festival that stands out to me as the BEST is the International Flower and Garden Festival. Why? Well, here are a few of the reasons why I love it:

  • Gorgeous Flowers
  • Amazing Food
  • Beautiful Weather
  • Fabulous Concerts

Gorgeous Flowers

When Epcot says Flower and Garden Festival…they mean Flower and Garden Festival! Epcot is gorgeous on a regular day, but when F&G festival rolls around they pull out all the stops. It.Is.Breathtaking. Everything is in bloom…the colors are so vibrant everywhere you look! We took my parents there with us last year and my mom wanted to stay forever. She was in awe of not only how many beautiful flowers there were, but how gorgeous and fresh everything looked. It is a flower lovers dream!

In addition to the beautiful flowers are all of the stunning topiaries. All throughout the park are amazing and intricate topiaries of many of your favorite Disney characters. We absolutely loved strolling through World Showcase and seeing the gorgeous designs. We can’t wait to see what they have this year!

flower pics
The Flowers are breathtaking
Butterfly garden
A visit into the Butterfly Garden is so fun
Epcot family pic
Kiddos showing their Grandparents around Flower and Garden!
Simba rafiki topiary and max
The topiaries are stunning! Max especially loved Simba, his favorite!

Amazing Food

Ok…let’s talk food. Epcot is a foodies dream. It isn’t every day that you can walk a mile and sample food from countries like Morocco, Italy, England, and China. Well, at festival time they add even more delicious booths into the mix! We are so lucky that our kids love to try new food because we go a little crazy sampling our way around world showcase! The portions are usually on the smaller sample sized side which allows for more sampling…which is always a win!

We have some absolute favorites from last year and the year before and are excited to see many of them back on the menu again this year! To see a list of the booths and menus that will be featured this year, check out WDW Info!

key lime tart
The Key Lime Tart is my FAVE!
Shrimp dish
lf you love seafood then you will LOVE Flower and Garden…so many great choices!
frushi
Frushi is a MUST in the Japan Pavillion
Burnt ends hash
Burnt Ends Hash…hellooo delicious

Beautiful Weather

Oh Florida, you are so gorgeous in the spring! So, Flower and Garden Festival runs from March 6th until June 3rd, 2019. These are some absolutely beautiful months to explore Florida. It is just before the major rainy season hits so you will likely experience LOTS of sunshine! The heat isn’t to full strength just yet…that usually kicks in around the beginning of June! There definitely may be some hot days, but there is often a light breeze. Epcot is also a great Disney park to find shade and there are lots of buildings you can go into to escape the heat! Also, nothing tastes better than a margarita from Mexico on a warm spring day!

Fabulous Concerts

Epcot knows how to put on a show! During all of their festivals you can attend some pretty amazing concerts! Located over by the American Pavilion there is a covered concert venue where you can see some fabulous singers and bands! This is included in the cost of your Epcot ticket! This year there are some fantastic performers such as Rick Springfield (Jessie’s Girl ya’ll!), Richard Marx, Air Supply, Lone Star, Sister Hazel, and a ton more! This year there will be NIGHTLY performances so the chances of getting to hear some great music while you are visiting is very likely!! This is on our Disney Bucket List this year! We have never actually attended one of the concerts! We have definitely heard the awesome music while walking around World Showcase at night, but have never sat down to enjoy a full concert! SO excited! If you are a fan of the ’80s there are so many amazing bands to check out. For a full list of performers and schedules check out WDW Info!

Flower and Garden Tips!

  • BEST TIME OF DAY: If you are traveling with kiddos and want to avoid the busiest times, we highly recommend getting there early! Epcot typically opens at 9 am, with World Showcase opening at 11 am. If you can hit World Showcase right when it opens you will be golden! Hardly any lines and the crowds are minimal. Nighttime gets super busy and has a lot of uh…shall we say…drunk people! If you like the nighttime scene then, by all means, rock on up in the afternoon and stay till closing! Epcot at night is beautiful!
  • WATER: Even if it doesn’t seem super hot, stay hydrated! You can bring your own water in and refill at the water fountains or you can go to any quick serve restaurant and they will give you a cup of water for free! Plus, if you are consuming any alcohol you’ve got to throw some water in the mix! Alcohol plus heat equals yuck!
  • GO HUNGRY: If you want to sample your way around World Showcase then we recommend NOT doing a huge sit-down meal at the park. There is seriously so much deliciousness that you will want to try!
  • Get the Key Lime Tart…
  • Photo Ops: Stop and get some of the special Flower and Garden photo ops done! Pictures make a great souvenir!

 

So, if you have a chance to get down to Florida between March 6th and June 3rd 2019, I highly recommend getting yourself to Epcot’s International Festival of the Arts! We will be attending as often as we can! I will have a follow-up post with some of our favorite food and beverages this year! I promise not to eat ALL of the Key Lime Tarts!

Friday Favorites- 3 Fantastic Books You Don’t Want to Miss

Friday Favorites- 3 Fantastic Books You Don’t Want to Miss

FRIDAY FAVORITES It is Friday again and that means it is time for another installment of my Friday Favorites! This week we have read some fantastic books! Featured this week are 2 picture books and 1 middle-grade novel that I read aloud to my kids. […]

Enjoying Nature at Robinson Preserve

Enjoying Nature at Robinson Preserve

Nature Preserves are one of our very favorite places to explore with our kiddos…and Florida has a TON of them! We love spending time in nature and seeing where the different trails lead us! Last summer we found an absolute gem. Robinson Preserve in Bradenton, […]

Friday Favorites- Fabulous Picture Books

Friday Favorites- Fabulous Picture Books

 

Happy Friday! Today is the first of what I hope to be MANY “Friday Favorites”. Every Friday I am hoping to share with you some of our very favorite books from the week. I always have so many books that I want to showcase, so featuring a few at a time will be a much less daunting task!

Let’s jump right in and chat about our four favorite picture books this week. I have a slight obsession with picture books. I like to tie them in with everything I am teaching in our homeschool. They are just such relatable books…and there is just something about gorgeous illustrations that bring a story to life! We read picture books every.single.day. They don’t always tie in with our schoolwork…we often just read them because they are lovely and gorgeous and fabulous! My kiddos are on the older side…12,10, and 8…but they still sit and listen and LOVE having picture books read to them.

So, without further ado…Let’s talk picture books!

FRIDAY FAVORITES

We had such an amazing book week! We had some amazing new releases arrive from Harper Collins and some long-awaited library holds arrived! Yes my friends, these are the things that excite me! So, I am going to share with you our top 4 standouts from the week. SO hard to narrow them down, but here we go!

MARY WEARS WHAT SHE WANTS

Have you ever heard of Mary Edwards Walker? I know I hadn’t until I opened this beautiful picture book by Keith Negley! Mary Wears What She Wants is the story of young Mary Edwards Walker who is known for being one of the first women EVER to wear pants.

This is the story of young Mary, who was tired of being told she had to wear dresses. Mary gets an idea…a very daring idea. What if she didn’t wear dresses…what if she wore pants instead? Who said that boys had to wear pants and girls had to wear dresses. So Mary decided one day that she was going to wear those pants…and let’s just say it caused quite a stir! Thankfully, young Mary stood up for what she believed was right and she continued wearing those pants! The illustrations are absolutely beautiful. They are so bold and vibrant and fit the story so well.

I absolutely love how Keith Negley included a note at the end of the book all about the real Mary Edwards Walker. I am fascinated by her and can’t believe I have never heard of her before! Mary not only wore those pants…but she got arrested for it! Can you imagine? Being the first woman to wear pants isn’t the only thing Mary is known for. Mary attended medical school at a time when women just didn’t do that, she served as a surgeon in the Civil War often behind enemy lines, and she was instrumental in fighting for women’s right to vote!

This is an amazing book for teaching kids that it is ok to stand up for what they believe is right. Mary showed us that sometimes all it takes is one very brave person to spark a huge change. What an awesome message for our kiddos.

PLANTING STORIES- THE LIFE OF LIBRARIAN AND STORYTELLER PURA BELPRE

This book needs to be in every library and every home. It is just the most beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated book. I have read it countless times over the last week and just continue to love it more and more. Much like Mary Wears What She Wants, Planting Stories is based on a real-life person. I think I have a new obsession with biographical picture books!

Planting Stories- The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre is about the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. Pura arrived in New York in 1921 and began her life at the library. When she noticed that the library was lacking in the beautiful folktales from her youth, Pura began to tell the stories herself. She began to make puppets and people from all over began to come and hear her folktales in English and Spanish. But what about the library shelves that are missing stories from her homeland…well, Pura puts pen to paper and writes the tales. She is soon a published author. Though life takes Pura away from the library for a time, her heart and stories live on because of the seeds that she planted!

I can’t say enough wonderful things about this book. It was so lovingly and beautifully written by Anika Denise. The gorgeous illustrations were created by Paola Escobar. This is a story about dreams, traditions, love, and legacy. This is one that you are going to want in your home library or classroom library…truly a gem!

JULIAN IS A  MERMAID

Julian is a Mermaid is the sweetest book with a very big message. This is the story of a little boy named Julian…and more than anything, he loves mermaids. He wants to be just like the mermaids. Julian wants to be a mermaid SO badly that he uses items around the house to dress up like one. What will his abuela think? The facial expressions tug at your heartstrings as you can see Julian wondering how his abuela will react to his mermaid costume. Without giving away all of the details of the end of the book, let me just say that I wish all children could have someone like abuela in their lives!

Author/Illustrator Jessica Love has created the most gorgeous book in both artwork and words. Each page is so beautifully illustrated…with some pages having no words and only full-page illustrations. This book has a very important message as well. A message of acceptance. To accept yourself for who you are and to not be afraid to be that person. It is a celebration of individuality and of unconditional love. Just a wonderful book!

HAROLD SNIPPERPOT’S BEST DISASTER EVER

Harold Phillip Snipperpot is about to turn 7 years old…and he has never had a birthday party. He has never had a birthday party because he has a pair of very grumpy parents. This year he hopes that things will be different. Sensing that their son is feeling down, Mr. and Mrs. Snipperpot call in the help of the fabulous Mr. Ponzio to make sure Harold has a special party. Well, Mr.Ponzio has something up his sleeve that no one expected! Mr.Ponzio arrives at the party with a menagerie of animals. That is when all sorts of mayhem ensues! The house gets trashed, there is animal poo everywhere, and his parents end up locked in a trunk. What mayhem, what chaos, what a disaster…or is it? Maybe it is kind of…funny? I will let you read the ending to see how Harold Snipperpot turns a complete disaster into the best day ever!

This book is beautifully written and illustrated by Beatrice Alemagna. The pages of the book are complete magic. So much detail and so beautiful. We adored this book…it was full of laughs but also full of heart. Highly recommend adding this one to your shelves as well.

Thank you so much for stopping by and chatting books with me! I have some exciting books to read to the kiddos next week, so stay tuned for next weeks “Friday Favorites”! For more favorites click here.

 

Add Adventure to Learning with Literary Adventures for Kids

Add Adventure to Learning with Literary Adventures for Kids

  Have you seen the movie The House With a Clock in Its Walls? I was so intrigued by this movie from the very first preview! Imagine my book nerd excitement when I found out that it was a book long before it was a […]

Learning All About Non-Fiction with Evan-Moor’s Literature Pockets!

Learning All About Non-Fiction with Evan-Moor’s Literature Pockets!

  As a long time user of Evan-Moor’s History Pockets, I was so excited to have the chance to review their Literature Pockets! Let me tell you…they did not disappoint! The book that I have chosen to review is Literature Pockets: Non-Fiction for grades 4-6. […]

EXPLORE- Our 2019 Family Goal

EXPLORE- Our 2019 Family Goal

 

I am not exactly sure how it happened, but it is officially 2019!! Where did 2018 go? Did it go by in a flash for anyone else?? Anyway, despite my disbelief, 2019 is here and along with it are so many goals and plans for the coming year! Are you a resolution maker? A goal setter? Someone who just takes the year as it comes?

This year we have decided to change things up a bit and set a goal for our family. I LOVE the idea of choosing a word to focus on in the coming year. So we decided to choose a word to focus on as a family. Our 2019 word is: EXPLORE!

WHY EXPLORE?

We chose the word “explore” out of a huge desire to spend more time traveling and seeing new sights! We are a family that absolutely loves to pack up and go on adventures. We love to see new things, visit new places, and discover things we have never seen before. We are a very curious crew…and we love to learn new things. While the main focus of our word “explore” will be travel oriented…I also realized there are so many other things we want to explore. We want to explore new foods, a new language, and new books…so stay tuned for more on those avenues as well. But, for now, the focus will be on our plan to travel as much as possible!

EXPLORE THE WORLD…OR MAYBE JUST FLORIDA

Oh, how I would love to be a world traveler! Sadly, that is just not in the cards for 2019! Work schedules and finances just won’t allow for that right now, but that is OK because our Florida Bucket List is LONG…like CVS receipt long!

When we first packed up and moved to Florida 2 years ago, one of our major goals was to see as much of our new home state as possible. We have definitely seen a bit, but somewhere along the way, we stopped making it a priority. Life got in the way…as it tends to do…and we never got back on track with our explorations! That is all going to change this year, because like I mentioned, our list is LONG!

The 5 of us got together and came up with our top 20 things we want to see and do in Florida this year! I also turned to Instagram and asked for some top places to visit…and boy did ya’ll deliver!

 

FLORIDA BUCKET LIST

Florida is ginormous…like, really, really, really BIG…with a TON to see and do. There are so many beaches, museums, state parks, nature preserves..ahh…just so much! So, I want to share with you some of our family travel goals that we came up with for 2019! In no particular order, here they are:

  1. Spend the weekend at Sanibel Island
  2. Spend the weekend in St.Augustine
  3. Legoland!
  4. Take a citrus tour
  5. Spend a week driving through the Florida Keys
  6. Visit Bok Tower Gardens
  7. Visit Dinosaur World
  8. Ringling Museum
  9. Visit the Emerald Coast
  10. Rent a pontoon boat for the day
  11. Visit the Kennedy Space Center
  12. Visit Anna Maria Island
  13. Kayak Weeki Wachi
  14. Dali Museum
  15. Visit Lion Country Safari
  16. Kayak to Caladesi Island
  17. Visit Gainesville and go to Florida Museum of Natural History
  18. Tampa Riverwalk
  19. Rent a camper and stay by the ocean
  20. Visit Butterfly World

There are SO many more that could easily be added to this list…and I totally know this list will change as different opportunities arise this year…so stay tuned!

MAKE IT HAPPEN CAP’N

So, now comes the hard part…making this all happen! The plan is to sit down with a calendar and just block out time. If we don’t schedule things and make exploring a priority, it will get pushed to the back burner again! So, we are going to dedicate a couple weekends every month to seeing something new. Some of the items on our list are just small day trips, like visiting Bok Tower or going to the Tampa Riverwalk. Other items we are going to have to dedicate full weekends to, so that will require a little more in-depth planning!

So now to decide on where our first adventure should be…Any suggestions????

To read about some of our favorite explorations from last year you can check out my posts on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, Sweetwater Wetlands Park, or the Naples Botanical Gardens!

 

 

 

 

A Review of Building Math Fluency from Evan-Moor

A Review of Building Math Fluency from Evan-Moor

  Math is one of those areas where sometimes things just “click” and you get it right away…and sometimes you need a little help along the way! It can be a real struggle to find the right tools to help things “click”! I was so […]