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Have you ever found an amazing shirt and you love it SO much that you have to buy it in every single color? You know that it is the perfect shirt for you and you must have all of them? Well, I am about to share a series of books that I feel the very same way about. What started as one book has spiraled into a complete obsession. Not just a little obsession…a full-on-book-hoarding-till-you-need-another-bookcase-obsession!
I was first introduced to Sleeping Bear Press Alphabet Books when I was planning our homeschool unit on Florida. While researching books to buy I stumbled across a book called S is for Sunshine. It looked beautiful and the price was right…so I ordered it! Not to be dramatic…but I may have heard an angel or two singing when I opened the pages! I was completely blown away! The book was better than I had hoped for AND was the perfect addition to our unit.
WHY Alphabet Books Rock
We are extremely eclectic homeschoolers. I pick and choose and create all different types of curriculum. One thing I do a lot of is Unit Studies. I love unit studies because it gives us a chance to really dig into a topic that the kids are interested in.
One of the first things I do when creating a unit study is to select books. This is always my first step because frankly I have a book addiction and can’t help but fill our shelves with awesome books. Without fail,I will always look to see if there is an Alphabet Book available to go with the topic we are studying. Sleeping Bear Press has an amazing website with a ginormous booklist. The vast array of topics is impressive. I originally thought that the Alphabet Books were only related to U.S. States…but I quickly learned that they have books covering a multitude of subject areas. Whether you are planning a unit on Dinosaurs, Poetry, or the Ocean…they have you covered!
So, why do I love them so much! Well, here are just a few reasons! I will go into greater detail on each one later in the post!
- Amazing for unit planning
- Great for readers of all ages
- Gorgeous illustrations
- FREE Teacher Guides/Activities
Amazing for Unit Planning
Sleeping Bear Press Alphabet Books walk you through the alphabet from A to Z. Each letter represents an area related to the topic of the book. This is such an amazing resource for planning a unit. Planning a homeschool unit can be so overwhelming…there are so many ideas to cover that it is hard to narrow your focus. I take each letter of the alphabet almost like a bullet point. It helps me to visually see the areas that I want to cover! For example, when we were learning about our home state of Florida I selected S is for Sunshine as one of our main “spines” for the unit. I planned nearly everything from this one book. Throughout the book, you will find pages such as A is for Alligator…we learned that our state reptile is an alligator and learned some neat facts about alligators. E is for Everglades, we learned about the Florida Everglades and some of the inhabitants including our state animal the panther. J is for Juan Ponce de Leon…we learned all about him and how he discovered Florida for Spain.
Perfect for Numerous Age Groups
Second, they are wonderful for readers of all ages. The Alphabet books are a combination of verse/poetry and also non-fiction factual information. If you have a younger child who is just learning to read or doesn’t have a long attention span to be read to you can stick to just the smaller verses. The often rhyming text is appealing to even the youngest of kiddos…and their book-loving Mama! If you have an older child you can also have them read the information included on each side-bar. Each page is PACKED with tons of interesting and educational material!
Third, the illustrations are stunning. Each and every book I have read is so beautifully illustrated. The pictures are such a wonderful complement to the stories. I am a sucker for a beautifully illustrated picture book and these definitely deliver! My kiddos love to include art projects with each of our units and they love to use our Alphabet books as inspiration!
FREE Teacher Guides/Activities
Lastly, and you might want to brace yourself for this, Sleeping Bear Press’s website has an entire section of Teacher Guides/Activities. You simply click on the book you are using, say, for example, B is for Battle Cry: A Civil War Alphabet, and you are taken to an amazing guide! I have used these guides on more than one occasion and they are such a time saver for a busy Mama! They would be fantastic for a school teacher as well! You will find recipes, fill in the blanks, crossword puzzles, letter writing, and so much more included in the guides. Such an amazing resource…I wish I had discovered them sooner!
To take a peek at some of the Teacher Guides click here.
For a catalog of books available from Sleeping Bear Press head on over to their online catalog here.
This is not a sponsored post at all…just a mama sharing some of her favorite books! They have been such an amazing addition to our homeschool and I think you will love them too!
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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 great to pass up! One of the many benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to change plans and go with the flow…and we do it quite frequently!!
So, what exactly IS Oceanschooling? Well, it can be anything at all to do with studying the ocean. You could learn about anything relating to ocean science, marine biology, ocean animals…anything! We have already done a unit on oceans before, but since it is one of our favorite topics we are always interested in learning more! So, I decided to let the kiddos decide what area of ocean science they wanted to learn. They unanimously chose Ocean Animals! So I set out to do what every other book hoarder would do…I amassed books…lots of books! So, I want to share with you some of our very favorite resources!!
Favorite Ocean Books
Our home library is ginormous! I adore books. So, whenever we find a topic that I know the kids will be interested in for a long time we invest in books! Thankfully since we have studied the ocean before we had quite a few of these books on hand. I did purchase a couple extra to add to our collection and then we grabbed a few from our library!
As an Usborne Books & More consultant, we have TONS of non-fiction from Usborne! They are absolutely amazing books! A few of our favorites are:
In addition to our collection of Usborne Books, I have purchased some amazing books from Amazon! Here are some of our favorites! I am including just our general ocean study books, but we have several more on dolphins, sea turtles, coral reefs, and manatees! You can never have too many books 😉
I could go on and on with book recommendations but I want to share some games and resources we are using as well!
Favorite Ocean Resources
Organizing a Unit
For this particular unit, I let the kids decide what we were going to learn about and when. I chose to plan things out without a curriculum, which I tend to do a lot! We use a combination of books (lots of books), Youtube or Amazon videos, art projects, and lap books! This works well for us because the kids love to do hands-on projects. If your kiddos aren’t crazy about art projects you could easily create worksheets or presentations or any other way for them to show their knowledge!
Here is a link to some of our favorite videos for oceanschooling! We also did a search on Amazon and found tons of additional videos…we even watched a dolphin being born! So amazing!
We are also very fortunate to live SUPER close to the ocean! This allows for a lot of field trips and hands-on learning…aka…beach trips! We try to visit the beach at different times of the day to see what kinds of creatures we can find! We have found coral, sea sponges, a sea cucumber, shells, crabs, horseshoe crabs, sea horses, and many other interesting creatures. If you don’t live near the coast, a trip to your local aquarium would be a fabulous way to add some fun to your unit!
Stay tuned for a follow-up post with some of our finished projects!
For more book and activity ideas head over to my Amazon storefront!!
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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, Florida is an absolutely gorgeous nature preserve that is the perfect place to take a family hike, bike ride, or launch your kayak! We spent a couple of hours exploring and hiking last summer and we can’t wait to go back for another hike and to launch our new kayaks!
What is Robinson Preserve?
Robinson Preserve is a salt marsh in Bradenton, Florida that is full of amazing wildlife. The preserve offers something for those looking for aquatic adventures and also the land lovers looking for a place to take a walk or bike ride. Robinson Preserve offers 600+ acres of nature. We parked at the main entrance which gives access to all of the hiking trails. There is also a second entrance that you would use for aquatic activities.
Since we haven’t yet tried kayaking at Robinson Preserve, I am only going to talk about the hiking and biking trails. I will follow up soon with info about the kayak launch as we are planning to take another trip down.
When we arrived at Robinson Preserve we had only intended to do a very small hike out to the 53-foot tall observation tower. However, once we started walking we didn’t want to stop exploring! There was so much beauty and wildlife to see that we kept wanting to see what was around the next corner.
Our first stop was out to the observation tower. We couldn’t get over all of the fish jumping in the marsh…they were nuts! The kids thought it was hysterical! The view from the top of the tower was beautiful. You can see a lovely view of Tampa Bay…so definitely make the short climb to the top!
The pathways and wooden bridges and walkways were all really well maintained. We were also so thankful for the picnic areas and covered benches along the way as it was SO HOT and sunny out. We took advantage of every single covered bench along the route to get a quick break from the sun. As I mentioned in the beginning, we had only intended to take a short walk, so we were so unprepared…we didn’t pack a single bottle of water! Not a great plan on a 95-degree day. Anyway, the covered areas were fantastic. We also noticed several work-out stations along the trail offering activities such as pull-ups and push-ups!
In addition to the view from the top of the observation tower, there were so many beautiful spots along the nature trail. We stopped several times in secluded spots right on the water. We were able to cool down with the slight ocean breeze and the cover of trees. The kids also loved walking through the “tunnels” that the trees made! Such a beautiful and scenic spot.
Location and Helpful Info
Robinson Nature Preserve is easily accessible from the Tampa and St.Pete area. There are several entrances to the preserve:
Main Entrance: 1704 99th st, Bradenton Fl 34209
Aquatic Entrance: 9800 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton Fl 34209 at the surferbus
For more information head to the Robinson Preserve Website!
There are bathrooms and water facilities at the main entrance. We also loved the large map laying out the area of the preserve. They also have paper maps for you to take with you on your hike.
Robinson Preserve is an awesome place to spend a few hours. We saw a TON of people walking, running, biking, and kayaking. There are picnic tables along the trails so you could easily pack a lunch and have a picnic along the water.
Don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, possibly bug spray in the buggier months, and definitely WATER! Once out on the trail there are no water stations…and it gets HOT quickly in the summer 🙂
We plan to head back again very soon. We have set a goal for 2019 to do as much exploring around our home state as we can! To read more about our family goal click here.