Finding Florida

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!

 

 

 

 

Homeschooling

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 thrilled when I discovered Evan-Moor’s Building Math Fluency for Grade 3. My daughter is currently in 4th grade but has been struggling with learning her multiplication facts. Building Math Fluency turned out to be the perfect tool to help give her the strategies she needed to begin mastering her multiplication facts!

WHAT IS BUILDING MATH FLUENCY ALL ABOUT?

Building Math Fluency books are designed to give students the tools to begin thinking about math in strategic ways. Learning math facts is all about looking at relationships between numbers. Once the students are able to see the relationships between certain numbers, they are then able to translate that into future math problems!

I absolutely LOVE how this book is set up! It includes Strategy Practice, Skills Testing, and Fact Flashcards.

 

A LOOK INSIDE BUILDING MATH FLUENCY GRADE 3

Building Math Fluency Grade 3 focuses on several different math concepts. It contains strategies for Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division. My main reason for wanting to give this book a try is for the multiplication and division. This is the area that my daughter is struggling with. While she doesn’t need the additional help in the areas of addition and subtraction, it will be a perfect help for my son who is in 2nd grade. He is working on addition and subtraction and I know that learning these strategies will really help solidify his understanding.

So, for the purpose of this review I am going to mainly focus on the multiplication because that is what we are currently working on..but just know that Grade 3 does also include addition, subtraction, and division!

Ok…on to the good stuff!

Each operation that is taught…adding, subtraction, multiplication, and division…begins with a section on HOW to teach the strategies. This was absolutely GOLD for me. I loved that not only were they teaching what the strategies are…but they were teaching ME how to teach them. An absolute win in my book!

HOW-TO teach strategies! Amazing!

 

Following the HOW to teach section we will come to a section on the particular strategies. I am thinking about tearing this page out and laminating it for my daughter to keep in her math folder. It is a great quick reference guide for her!

Awesome List of Strategies!

On to the lessons! At the top of each sheet is a description of the strategy…for example:

“Strategy Times 2- Times 2 is double the number. Think Doubles facts to solve Times 2”

My daughter absolutely LOVED this reminder. It helped her brain to recognize the connection between addition and multiplication. It reminded her that to do her 2 times tables all she has to do is double the number. This is a great strategy for a child who struggles with multiplication. By learning these strategies she is gaining confidence!

Sample Practice Page

Each number presented from 1-12 is shown with a strategy to help the child master that particular skill. They then are given the sheet to complete which allows them to practice the particular strategy.

To take a deeper look into the book just head on over here…the Evan-Moor website is SO detailed and allows an inside peek at the books!

WHY WE LOVED BUILDING MATH FLUENCY

  • Teaches Strategies– I was thrilled to learn that Building Math Fluency focuses on teaching strategies first. By giving kids the tools they need to complete the problems it helps build math confidence!
  • Perforated Pages– Perforated pages are amazing for a classroom teacher who wants to use the sheets with multiple children OR for a homeschool Mama like myself who has younger children. I can very easily save this book for when my son is ready to learn multiplication. Adds value to the book when you are able to use it again!
  • Practice– Learning math is all about practice! Building Math Fluency provides the student a chance to practice their new skill…and has a place to review as well!
  • Flash Cards– We LOVED the inclusion of flashcards at the back of Building Math Fluency. Flash cards are such an awesome way to practice and build memorization of these math facts.
  • Answer Key– We love having the answer key included in the back. It allows my daughter to be able to check her work. This is especially awesome when I am working with another kiddo on something!
  • Correlated to Current State Standards– I personally do not use State Standards as a guide for my homeschool but I know that many teachers are required to do so!
  • Tests– I love the inclusion of the tests. I chose to tear them out and make several copies so that we can keep practicing.

ANOTHER HOME RUN FROM EVAN-MOOR

We use A LOT of Evan-Moor books in our homeschool…a lot! The reason for this is that they are amazing resources. They are high quality, affordable, and enjoyable for my kids…what more could a homeschool Mama want? To read about some of my very favorite products from Evan-Moor click here and here!

If you have a child who is struggling with multiplication or you simply want a way to reinforce their knowledge of multiplication concepts, then I highly recommend Building Math Fluency Grade 3. It has been such a valuable resource for my daughter.

Building Math Fluency is available for Grades 1, 2, 3 and 4-6. For more information or to grab your own copy, head right on over to Evan-Moor’s website.

 

 

 

 

Homeschooling

Give the Gift of Poetry Tea Time

My kids love Poetry Teatime! If you have been in the homeschooling game for more than a minute you will likely have heard about the fabulosity that is Poetry Teatime! If you haven’t heard of it, never you fear…check out this wonderful description over at the Brave Writer website! Poetry Teatime is the brainchild of the amazing Julie Bogart, creator of Brave Writer!

In an effort to be more mindful with my gift giving this holiday season, I have come up with some practical but hopefully fun gifts for our kids. Since they LOVE Poetry Teatime so much I decided I would create a box of goodies that will add some fun and excitement to our Tuesdays! Let’s start with some new books…because, well…BOOKS!

BOOKS

What would Poetry Teatime be without BOOKS?? As a book hoarder…ahem…book LOVER, I am always finding ways to gift my kids with books!

When I found the first book below I knew it had to come home with us! R is for Rhyme- A Poetry Alphabet is another gem from Sleeping Bear Press. I adore the alphabet books by Sleeping Bear Press for so many reasons…they are beautiful, educational, and SO fun! R is for Rhyme is no different. Each page begins with a different letter of the alphabet that teaches about a specific type of poetry or poetry tool. For example, L is for Limerick and M is for Metaphor. Not only does each letter contain a poem but it also teaches you about the specific poetry tool or style of poem. This is a winner. Absolutely recommend this for anyone learning about poetry!

The next book we will be adding is called Sing a Song of Seasons- A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year. This book is drool-worthy. If you have been on Instagram you may have seen this book floating around. It is every bit as gorgeous as it looks. The illustrations are lovely and so are the poems. This would be a wonderful addition to Poetry TeaTime as well as any nature studies you may be learning about. Can’t wait for my kids to open this one!

We are also huge fans of silly poetry. Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky are two of our favorites! I am looking forward to adding Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face. I know it will create tons of laughter!!

Now, this next book isn’t a poetry book at all! My kids LOVE to bake, so I thought a neat addition to our Poetry Teatime gift basket would be a baking cookbook! I know they would love to start making more of our own treats and these books look like they would be awesome additions!

HANDS ON LEARNING

My kids love working with their hands. They always have their hands busy while I am reading. I use to worry that they weren’t paying attention, but I have come to realize that they just love having busy hands! Something I want to add to our Poetry Teatimes is a way for the kids to create poetry with their hands! So this year I have decided to add some magnetic poetry to our table! I found this great little Metal Easel Board by Magnetic Poetry Educational Products…isn’t this adorable??!?

To go with the board I am going to add some fun magnetic poetry kits! Superhero Magnetic Poetry…I mean, come ON! SO cool!!! Space is also going to be a huge hit…and will go along so nicely with our Outer Space Unit!

SETTING THE MOOD

One of my kids’ favorite parts of Poetry Teatime is drinking out of fancy cups with saucers! It is such a simple thing to do, but one that can completely transform teatime! Here is a set that I have my eye on! I love how small and organized it is!! Who doesn’t love tiny spoons?

Candles! Candles are such a fun addition to Poetry Teatime! It helps set the mood and makes teatime that much more special! Something that I thought would be super fun to do would be to roll your own candles! There are some amazing do-it-yourself Beeswax candle kits out there! I am going to add one as a gift for my kids this year…I know it will be a super fun activity and they will love lighting their own hand made candles!

FINAL FUN TIDBITS

Some final fun things I plan to add to our Poetry Teatime gift basket are some flavored teas and cocoas. Only one of my kids really enjoys tea, but the other two love to try different types of cocoa! I am going to add some fun flavors like raspberry and mint cocoa into the mix.

You could add a fun tablecloth that only comes out for Poetry Teatime, some cute cloth napkins, and even a pretty serving tray!

Lastly, if you don’t like the idea of a fancy tea set, you could find some fun mugs that fit each of your kiddos interests! Etsy is an amazing place to shop around for personalized gifts! I know my 12-year-old daughter would LOVE a Percy Jackson mug, my 10-year-old would love one with unicorns, and my 7- year- old would love anything superhero!

 

I am so excited to put this together for my kids…and let’s be honest…this is for me too!

 

Do your kids love Poetry Teatime?

 

 

 

 

 

Homeschooling

Our Review of Evan-Moor Skill Sharpeners Science Grade 4

skill sharpener science grade 4 book

I am so excited to be reviewing Evan-Moor Skill Sharpeners Science Grade 4! As a homeschooling Mama of 3 kiddos, I am always on the lookout for lessons that I can teach as a whole group! There just aren’t enough hours in the day to create individual instruction in EVERY subject! Some subjects lend themselves much better to group instruction than others…and science just happens to be one of those!

Confession time? Science is NOT my strong suit. If I could teach History, Geography, and Reading ALL day, I would do it in a heartbeat! It’s not that I don’t love science, or find it fascinating…it just isn’t my area of expertise! SO, I am so excited to find Evan-Moor Skill Sharpeners for Science! I am a HUGE fan of the Skill Sharpener books…you can find reviews for Skill Sharpeners Geography here and Critical Thinking right here!

WHAT ARE SKILL SHARPENERS?

Skill Sharpeners are educational activity books created for children in PreK – Grade 6. There are 6 different topics covered: Critical Thinking, Math, Science, Reading, Spell & Write, and Geography. Skill Sharpeners are a perfect addition to any homeschool curriculum to provide enrichment in a specific topic area, to plan grade level appropriate lessons, or as a review. Each Skill Sharpener book is aligned to grade-appropriate standards so you can easily gauge your childs grasp in a particular learning area.

A LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK

Skill Sharpeners Science Grade 4 is broken down into the following 4 units:

  • OUR BODIES AND OUR SENSES
    • Muscles and Bones
    • Skin
    • Eyesight
    • Hearing
  • SHAPING THE EARTH
    • Weathering and Erosion
    • Glaciers
    • Earthquakes
    • Volcanoes
  • WAVES
    • What is a Wave?
    • Waves in the Water
    • Sound Waves
    • Digital Waves
  • ENERGY
    • What is Energy?
    • Heat Energy
    • Electrical Energy
    • Light Energy

A LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK

As I mentioned above, Skill Sharpeners Science is broken down into 4 main units. Each of those units is then divided into 4 sections. Within the sections, you will see things like reading passages, open-ended question and answers, crossword puzzles, labeling, hands-on activities, experiments, and so much more! I want to take you on a little tour through one of the sections! As a visual learner myself it always helps me to see what is inside!

So, we are going on a little tour of the first section of the first unit: Muscles and Bones! I am just going to share a few of the pages to give you an idea of what is included…but each unit contains much more!

The first part you will come to will be a reading passage! We LOVE that it has the definitions posted above in a box as well as in bold in the reading passage. The paragraphs are short, interesting, and include a great diagram! I also love the addition of the Concepts on the side…very helpful for my kids to understand what the focus area is!

 

I am so excited to see the inclusion of these hands-on activities! How much fun is this? These are simple activities that do not require a lot of extra supplies but really bring the concept to life for the kids! I can’t wait to do this activity with my kiddos…It is going to be a big hit!

Now, this is absolutely awesome! This is the “application” section. This allows the kids to take what they have learned about and put it into practice! I love that it includes physical activity. My 7 year old loves to be able to get up and move and this is the perfect activity!

I love that there is a chance for the kids to put the vocabulary they have learned into practice! Not only are they learning new words throughout the unit but they are having a chance to test their knowledge.

HOW I PLAN TO USE THE BOOK IN OUR HOMESCHOOL

The thing I love the most about Skill Sharpeners books is how easily I can adapt them for use with all 3 of my kids. I have a second grader, a fourth grader, and a sixth grader. I plan to use the fourth-grade book with all 3 kiddos. For my second grader, I will work with him to complete the work…I know some of it will be over his head but I also know that he will absolutely be able to grasp a lot of the information because it is presented in such a kid-friendly manner. He will also adore the crossword puzzles, experiments, and hands-on activities. For my sixth grader, I will add in some additional vocabulary words and perhaps an extra writing assignment…I honestly think that she will greatly benefit from the information presented in the book even though it is geared for fourth grade. This is what I love about the books!

FOR MORE INFORMATION

I highly recommend Skill Sharpeners Science for any homeschooling family looking to add some science to their lives! I can’t say enough wonderful things about all of the Skill Sharpener books that I have had a chance to use. They are such beautiful and interesting books that are presented in such a great way for kids of all ages.

For a sneak peek inside, here is a wonderful video from Evan-Moor!

These books are an amazing value at only, $9.99! To grab your own, just click the image below!! 
"Skill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books!, Homeschooling

A DINO-RIFIC Experience Box for your Little Paleontologists!

Do you have a dinosaur obsessed kiddo? You know the one I mean…the kid who can pronounce Piatnitzkysaurus without missing a beat (totally a real dinosaur…just ask google). Well then, stay put, because this is the post for you. I have created an awesome collection of gifts that would make fabulous additions to a dinosaur experience box! Not sure what an experience box is? Check out this post that I wrote that explains what they are!

So, this year for Christmas, I am planning a few experience boxes for my kids. These will be joint gifts for all 3 kiddos! What I have done is created experience boxes based around themes that we will be covering in our homeschool. Yes, I am totally gifting my kids with school supplies and homeschool curriculum! It feels a little sneaky…but also kind of awesome…a little bit evil genius like 🙂

So the first box is DINOSAURS! My son, Max, has been begging to have a unit on dinosaurs. We already have a few books on our shelves but I have done some research and found some really awesome items that I can’t wait to share with you!

As I mentioned in my previous post, an Experience Box will look different to everyone. It can be anything you want it to be. It can be as simple as a book and tickets to a museum…truly, it can look however you would like. This is just my take on it and I hope that it will be helpful to you when you create yours!!

DINOSAUR BOOKS FROM USBORNE BOOKS & MORE

We are a book obsessed family. There are some absolutely AMAZING books available on dinosaurs. I will have books listed from two sources…Amazon and Usborne Books & More! First up are some of my very favorite books from Usborne Books & More! Usborne is the master of non-fiction books. They make learning about a topic so fun and engaging…and many of the books are internet linked!

This is a gorgeous book with big beautiful fold-out pages. Full of awesome information and excellent illustrations!
This awesome book is part of our Shine-A-Light series…shine a flashlight behind the page to reveal a hidden image. Full of non-fiction facts, this is a kid favorite.
Build Your Own Dinosaur sticker book…TONS of fun! My kids are going to love this one!
Jigsaw Puzzle and Book! I am so excited to add these to our Experience Box!

 

This awesome hardcover book is only $4.99! Full of facts and completely internet linked. The Beginner’s Non-Fiction books are one of our faves. Can’t wait to add Dinosaurs to our collection!

 

BOOKS FROM AMAZON

Below I am going to share some awesome books that will be under OUR Christmas tree this year!! I love engaging books that get kids excited about learning…and I think these ALL fit the bill! Here are just a few of the ones that I have chosen!! I am SO excited to add D is for Dinosaur to our collection of Sleeping Bear Press books…they are one of our favorite book publishers.

 

GAMES, TOYS, and FLASH CARDS OH MY!

Something that I am trying to get better at is gameschooling. My kids LOVE playing games…so do my husband and I! I am loving the idea of linking up games to our curriculum. What an awesome way for kids to learn! We are also huge flash card lovers…I think the majority of us in my family are visual learners…so flash cards are such a great tool to have on hand!

I ADORE the Fandex Field guides. They are such an amazing resource. We have Birds and Native Americans already and can’t wait to add dinosaurs to our list! We are also HUGE fans of Safari Toob products…I try to add those into every unit I create. The dinosaurs look awesome! Professor Noggin Card Games are also another family favorite that you can find to link to almost ALL units you may be teaching…from dinosaurs to space to Native Americans to explorers…they have you covered! All of these also make AMAZING stocking stuffers!!!!!

 

I am so excited to be gifting my kids with these experience boxes this year for Christmas…and I think they are really going to love it too. My plan is to purchase a storage box or basket for all of the items…and I am going to individually wrap everything and just let kids take turns opening things. I love to draw out Christmas morning as long as I can! I am going to be using this basket from OrganizerLogic! They have THE best storage baskets…I already have two huge ones for toy storage! They are sturdy and so cute!! Click the link below to check them out! LOVE the chalkboard sign on the front!!!

HAVE FUN WITH IT!

There is no one right or wrong way to create an experience box! You can make them as simple or as complex as you would like. These are just some suggestions of things that I will be adding to ours! Here are a few more fun ideas that I will be adding:

  • Stickers
  • Bath Bombs
  • Dinosaur shaped crayons
  • Tickets to visit Dinosaur World
  • Jurassic Park Movie

For a complete list of books, games, toys, and other educational materials that I have put together, head on over to my Amazon storefront here!

Thank you so much for stopping by! I would love to hear any other ideas you might have!!!


Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Give the Gift of Experience Boxes this Holiday Season

experience box title photo

 

Do you hear what I hear? Yes, those are indeed jingle bells. It’s too late now…there is nothing we can do to stop it…the peppermint train has arrived and whisked away all traces of pumpkin spice. Now, if you are anything like my husband and feel the need to wait until after Thanksgiving to think about sugar plums, Christmas trees, and candy canes…you should look away now. It’s about to get very festive up in here for the next several weeks. I have a *slight* obsession with all things Christmas…so I am planning all kinds of fun and festive blog posts in the coming weeks!

I LOVE giving gifts…love, love, love it! What I don’t love is giving mindless junk that my kids are just going to lose, break, or never play with! This year I have made a goal to create mindful gifts that will fit in with our homeschool lessons for the spring and summer! To do this, I am going to be creating Experience Boxes!

WHAT IS AN EXPERIENCE BOX?

Last year I remember seeing several people in Instagram-Land talk about giving their kids experience boxes for Christmas gifts. I had never heard of this before! It seems as though everyone creates them differently…so this is just my plan!

An experience box, to me, is a well thought out box of goodies and supplies based around a common theme. These are wonderful if you have a child who has an obsession with a specific topic…it really allows you to focus in on their area of interest and find gifts that are perfect for them. It is also such an awesome gift for a homeschooling family…if you are planning a unit based around a specific theme this is a great way to collect all kinds of awesome learning tools! My plan for our Experience Boxes will probably center around a couple of books…being the book-obsessed Mama that I am it seems fitting! I am planning to add games, art supplies, toys, movies…anything that I can find that I think the kids will love!

SOME EXPERIENCE BOX IDEAS

So, over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to be sharing some ideas with you! I have been brainstorming all kinds of topics that would make awesome experience baskets…so stay tuned for that! Like I mentioned above, the sky is the limit when it comes to these baskets…anything goes! Here are some topics:

  • Outer Space (We have an astronomy unit planned for the spring so this is one I am working on for our family!)
  • Dinosaurs (This blog post will be released in a couple of days!!)
  • Poetry Tea Time (I already have a gorgeous book picked out…and some fun mugs…eeeeek!)
  • Greek Mythology
  • Geography
  • Gardening
  • Sports
  • Art
  • Cooking
  • Ancient Egypt
  • Bugs
  • Science
  • Horses
  • Harry Potter
  • Book Lover (ahem…if ya’ll are looking for any last minute gift ideas for me…)

The list is endless!

WHAT DO I PUT IN AN EXPERIENCE BOX?

Just like the list of topics you could cover, the list of items you could include in your experience box is endless! Like I mentioned above, I am going to center our boxes around books…but that is just me…I am a book nut! Some other items you could include are:

  • Movies
  • Games
  • Toys
  • Flashcards
  • Manipulatives
  • Stickers
  • Coloring Books
  • Gift Cards to visit a place that correlates with your topic
  • Craft supplies
  • Art supplies
  • Plush toys
  • More books (seriously, I can’t stop)
  • Magazine Subscription
  • Food
  • Clothes
  • Museum tickets or membership

My plan is to get a really nice storage box or basket to put everything in. I will individually wrap the items so that the kids aren’t done in 30 seconds…I love to make Christmas morning last as long as humanly possible!

Do you have any specific topics you would like to see me cover? Have you ever created an Experience Box for your kids? I am so excited to get started and would love to hear your thoughts!!

 

Homeschooling

A Review of Evan-Moor Skill Sharpeners Critical Thinking- Grade 2

evan-moor critical thinking book review

I was recently given the opportunity to review Evan-Moor’s Skill Sharpeners Critical Thinking for second grade! I was given the book in exchange for my honest review!

Evan-Moor is my go-to for quality books to enrich our homeschool. I was so excited to have the chance to review Skill Sharpeners Critical Thinking because we have absolutely LOVED all of the Skill Sharpener books we have used in the past. To check out my review on Skill Sharpeners Geography click here.

WHAT EXACTLY ARE SKILL SHARPENER BOOKS?

Evan-Moor’s Skill Sharpeners are one of my favorite series they make. They are colorful, engaging, and well-organized books that my kids absolutely love! Skill Sharpeners are designed to help children master and retain skills. They are for grades Pre-K through Grade 6! Skill Sharpeners are available in the following subjects:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Geography
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Spell & Write

A PEEK INSIDE SKILL SHARPENERS CRITICAL THINKING

The first thing I noticed when I opened this book is a letter to the child. It explains to them why thinking is important, what thinking skills are, and how a thinker behaves. I love this because it gives the child a basis for using the book. It lets them know that throughout the following pages they are going to be practicing their skills to become a better thinker!

As I mentioned early, Skill Sharpener books are extremely well organized. Below is a photo of the table of contents. The book is divided into 4 main sections:

  1. Animals
  2. My Body
  3. Things
  4. Places

Table of contents

Each section begins with a reading passage. We have so enjoyed these. My son is 7.5 and is just beginning to gain confidence with his reading…and these passages have been PERFECT for him. They are interesting, short, and informative…a winning combo in my book!

Critical Thinking Reading Passage

Following the reading passage, you will find all different types of activities. Things you can look forward to seeing are:

  • Word Searches
  • Word Problems
  • Games
  • Coloring
  • Mazes
  • Graphing
  • Puzzles
  • Craft Projects
  • So much more!

sample pages

sample pages

WHY WE LOVE SKILL SHARPENERS CRITICAL THINKING

  1. FUN Topics– Max has absolutely LOVED the topics included in Skill Sharpeners Critical Thinking…topics such as Alligators, Bugs, and Oceans are right up his alley!
  2. FUN Activities– Did I mention that this book is fun? The activities included aren’t dull or boring…they get him thinking but they do it in a way he enjoys which is such a huge plus!
  3. Hands-on Learning– yes, this is a workbook…but each section includes a hands-on activity that allows them to cut and craft something. This was Max’s favorite part!
  4. Grade level appropriate– Max and I both loved that this was something that was created just for him. Both of his older sisters have their own Skill Sharpener Books and he was overjoyed to have one created just for him! The reading passages were perfect for his age as well!
  5. Answer Key– We loved the inclusion of an answer key at the back of the book. It was a great resource to teach Max how to check his own work!

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION!

As I mentioned above, Skill Sharpener books are available in a variety of subjects as well as a variety of age groups! They are also an amazing value at only $9.99! I highly recommend these to anyone looking to enrich a specific subject in their homeschool! They have been such a valuable resource for us! Stay tuned for a new post soon on Evan-Moor Skill Sharpeners Science Grade 4! I am SO excited to share that one with you!!!

To shop for Evan-More Skill Sharpener books just click here!

 

Here is a great video from Evan-Moor featuring the Skill Sharpeners Critical Thinking books!

 

To check out my post on Skill Sharpeners Geography Grade 4 head on over to…

http://homeschoolbythebeach.com/2018/09/21/a-review-of-evan-moors-skill-sharpeners-geography-for-4th-grade/

Max with book
My Happy Second Grader!

 

Books!

Raising Readers – One Books at a Time!

Bookshelf pic

I have loved books for as long as I can remember! My Mom actually used books as bribery to potty train me when I was 2 (OK, that is moderately embarrassing!) We would walk to the store together and I would get to pick out a brand new Golden Book! Even today I can be easily bribed with books…just sayin’!

Though I love all books, Children’s Books have my heart. There is something magical about Children’s Literature. I started my own library of kids books well before I had my own kids. It wasn’t even that I was putting books away for when I one day had kids of my own…I was buying them for myself because I love them so much!

I always knew that it would be a goal of mine to raise children who loved books and reading as much as I do. I am happy to report that we are well on our way to having 3 little bookworms! They may not have reached full book hoarder status yet like their mother…but they are young yet 😉

SO…How DO you raise a reader???

 Be a Reader Yourself

Let your kids see  you reading! Let them see the joy you get from getting lost in a book!! I know we are all so busy and it is so hard to carve out time to sit and read, but even if it is just for 15 minutes it is so great for you and it sends such an awesome message to your kids! When your kids see you pick up a book and read for pleasure it is sending a message to them that reading is something fun and enjoyable.

Read Aloud

This may be my very favorite tip. Read aloud to your kids. Not just your young children. All of your children. So many parents stop reading aloud to their children when their kids learn to read on their own. Don’t do it! Keep on reading aloud to them. Even if it is just for a little bit before bed, reading aloud is such a wonderful experience for both parent and kiddo. We start every single day with a read aloud. My kids and I agree…it is our favorite part of the day. They absolutely LOVE having me read to them and I LOVE getting to experience so many amazing books with my kids. My oldest is almost 12 and she still absolutely loves getting to sit with her brother and sister and hear Mama read books. We have experienced so many awesome stories!

Talk about Books

My almost 12 year old could talk your ear off about Percy Jackson…or any Rick Riordan book for that matter. She gets so excited to tell us about the characters in her books and what is happening and what she THINKS will happen next. She loves to compare the books to the movies…and tell you exactly why the makers of the movie got it totally wrong at certain parts. I LOVE it! I love seeing that excitement. It tells me she is not only loving what she is reading…but she is absorbing and comprehending what she is reading.

Ask them questions about what they are reading…not just as a test to see that they are retaining information…but show them that you are genuinely interested in what they are interested in. Let them ask YOU questions about what you are reading…you don’t have to give a play by play of the steamy scenes in your romance novel or the gory details of your murder mystery…but letting them know what your book is about and why you like it is a great way to connect with them over reading. My kids are constantly asking me about my books. They are so curious about the types of books I read and why I like them!

Have Easy Access to Books

In the words of the great Dr. Seuss…”Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” If books are easily accessibly then they will be picked up and read. Our home is full of books. They are everywhere. We have shelves, baskets, bins, cubbies…you name it…we’ve stuffed it with books!! Now this isn’t to say that you have to spend a gazillion dollars on books and shelves…you can have easy access to books without spending a cent! Take advantage of your local library!! We are so lucky to have access to not only one library, but several libraries within our county. If I have a book I am looking for chances are one of the libraries has it! Its such an amazing resource. There are sites online as well where you can get access to free books to read. Amazon often has free or very inexpensive books to download for your Kindle as well!

Another tip that I have learned that has helped immensely in my house is to display your books with the covers facing out. We have recently purchased some picture ledges to display our books on…without fail the kids gravitate toward the books that they see on that shelf. It can be a book that we have had in our bookshelf for years…but once they see its cover they are drawn to it! Seeing those beautiful book covers entices kids (and mamas!) to pick it up and flip through it!

bookshelf pic
This is one of my favorite places to display our books!

Embrace ALL Types of Reading Materials

This may not be a hugely popular opinion among reading professionals…but I don’t stress over reading levels. If my kids have a topic they are interested in reading about I will gather anything and everything I can get my hands on regardless of reading level. Through my years as a consultant with Usborne Books & More I have had so many parents refuse a book for their child because it is “too easy”. That bums me out big time! If you have a child that loves horses…let them read about horses!! It’s OK if it is below their reading level…they are reading…and you know what? They are ENJOYING it because it is a topic that interests them!

If you have a child who loves comic books or graphic novels…let them read them! They are great choices for a reluctant reader!

If you have a child who is a non-fiction buff…let them read non-fiction! Some of my kids favorite books are non-fiction!

If you have a child who still loves to read picture books…bust out those picture books! Picture books are some of my very favorite books and are filled with amazing writing!! We often stop reading picture books once our kids have begun reading chapter books, but we are missing out on some seriously amazing reading material!

 

These are just a few simple ways that we have created an atmosphere of reading in our home. How are you raising readers at your house?

 

 

Homeschooling

A Review of Evan-Moor’s Reading Comprehension Fundamentals Grade 6

Evan Moor Reading Comprehension Fundamentals Grade 6

I was recently given the chance to review Evan-Moor’s Reading Comprehension Fundamentals for Grade 6. I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. As a huge fan of Evan-Moor products, I again jumped at the chance to try this product and can’t wait to share it with you!

As a family of books worms, reading is a huge part of our school day. We start every day with a read aloud, have a book based history and geography curriculum, and the kids read for an hour to themselves every day! With that being said, we havent really implemented any sort of formal reading comprehension assessment!

Reading Comprehension Fundamentals is designed to be used in conjunction with Daily Reading Comprehension. In hindsight I should have printed off the Daily Reading Comprehension from my TeacherFileBox online subscription but I didn’t think of it at the time! Having said that, I still think it is a wonderful resource for increasing your students’ comprehension!

WHAT IS READING COMPREHENSION FUNDAMENTALS ALL ABOUT?

Reading Comprehension Fundamentals is organized into 35 units that aim to work on a specific reading skill, text structure, reading strategy, or genre. The book is organized into 4 main units:

  • Comprehension Activities for Nonfiction Texts
  • Nonfiction Genre Study
  • Comprehension Activities for Fiction Texts
  • Fiction Genre Study

The book can be used to supplement your current curriculum, can be used as a way to reinforce concepts that your students may be struggling with, or a core reading resource. We have been using Reading Comprehension Fundamentals as a way to reinforce concepts with my daughter, but I honestly think that it would make an amazing guideline to plan lessons out of.

UNIT ORGANIZATION

Each of the 35 units in Reading Comprehension Fundamentals is organized into 4 sections:

  1. Instructional Activity Page- each unit will contain one or two instructional activity pages. These pages will teach a specific concept or skill and will allow the students to respond in a variety of formats…some of which include multiple choice, open-ended items, and constructed responses.
  2. Text Selection- The texts selections will be either Fiction or Non-Fiction depending on the section they are included in. They are written to complement the specific skill being taught.
  3. Text-Based Activity Page- similar to the Instructional Activity Page, this page will allow the students to respond in numerous different ways. This page will have text to read that corresponds to the specific skill being taught.
  4. Unit Review- I love that each unit will end with a review. This is such a great tool to assess the students mastery of the specific topic or rule.

Here are some sample pages from a unit on Vocabulary!

sample page
The first page introduces the term to be studied…in this case “vocabulary”. We love the combo of multiple choice and open ended questions.

 

sample page 2
The second page offers more tips on vocabulary as well as an additional reading passage and questions.
sample page
My daughter really loved the large reading passages. She found the topics so interesting and was so excited to share her new knowledge with us. We had lots of conversations that started with…”Did you know…” 🙂
Sample Page
Questions from the previous reading passage
sample page
Finally we come to the review! The reviews are an awesome assessment tool and a great way to have the student show what they have learned! Answer key is in the back as well!

TOPICS COVERED

So, what topics can you expect to be covered in Reading Comprehension Fundamentals? I am so impressed by the wide variety of both fiction and non-fiction items that are covered. Here is a photo from the Table of Contents that shows you how things are organized and what topics you can expect. I LOVE that it includes genre study because that is something we will be learning about a lot this year.

Table of contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I am really pleased with Reading Comprehension Fundamentals! I think it is a very well thought out, well put together, comprehensive book that can easily be used to supplement your current reading curriculum, reinforce areas where your student needs extra help, or even as a jumping off point for planning your own curriculum!

My daughter thought that the reading passages were very interesting! She was especially impressed at the presence of some Greek topics…her favorite subject. Since beginning to use this book she is always coming to us to share some new facts or information! I am so thankful that the topics included are interesting and presented in such a way that she is not only retaining the information…but she is actually interested in what she is reading! Such a huge plus for this homeschool Mama!!

We love that there is an answer key provided at the back. Really helped my daughter to be able to check her work!

We do wish that the book had a glossary at the back to aid in looking up terms, but each term is extremely well defined at the top of the page in their specific section. I also like that the definition is repeated at the top of the page several times throughout each unit…really reinforces the subject for the student!

The last thing I want to mention is both a pro and a con depending on where you are coming from. The book is black and white which is wonderful if you are using it for more than one child and want to make copies! Since I am using it for just one child and don’t plan to copy it, I do wish that it was in color. There are some photos that I think would pop more if they were in color…but I do realize that for classroom teachers and homeschoolers using the book for multiple children, being in color would be impractical.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

As with all of the other products we have tried from Evan-Moor, I highly recommend adding this one to your homeschool. Very well done! I also highly recommend checking out Evan-Moor’s amazing Skill Sharpeners Books. Check out my post on Skill Sharpeners Geography Grade 4!

In addition to Reading Comprehension Fundamentals, you can find Language Fundamentals (I have a blog post in the works!), Math Fundamentals, and Vocabulary Fundamentals! Head on over to http://www.jdoqocy.com/click-8828052-13435687 or click the link below to grab a copy for your homeschool!

Homeschooling

A Review of Evan-Moor’s Skill Sharpeners Geography for 4th Grade

I was recently given the opportunity to receive a copy of Evan-Moor’s Skill Sharpeners Geography in exchange for my honest review. Being a long time fan of Evan-Moor products, I jumped at the chance! I had never used the Skills Sharpener books so I was eager to see what they were all about! Let me just say, I was not disappointed!! The following review will be on Evan-Moor’s Skill Sharpeners Geography for 4th Grade.

WHAT ARE SKILL SHARPENERS?

Skill Sharpeners are activity books created for children in PreK – Grade 6. There are 6 different topics covered: Critical Thinking, Math, Science, Reading, Spell & Write, and Geography. Skill Sharpeners are a perfect addition to any homeschool curriculum to provide enrichment in  specific topic area, to plan grade level appropriate lessons, or as a review. Each Skill Sharpener book is aligned to grade appropriate standards so you can easily gauge your childs grasp in a particular learning area.

SKILL SHARPENERS GEOGRAPHY GRADE 4- FIRST IMPRESSIONS

1.) The first thing I noticed was how beautiful this book is! It is such a brightly colored book! Very vibrant and eye catching. It is absolutely full of clear photos and illustrations. Both my daughter and I were so impressed with the colors and the layout…very eye appealing!

2.) As soon as you open Skill Sharpeners Geography you will notice how well organized the book is. It is organized into 6 areas called “Essential Elements”. Each of these Essential Elements is then broken down into extremely well organized units. Each of these 16 Units will include:

  • Non-Fiction Reading Selection
  • Comprehension Activities
  • Map Skills Practice
  • Vocabulary Practice
  • Writing Prompts
  • Hands On Activities

3.) The answer key at the back is an awesome resource to allow your child to check their own work! Great feature!

Before I give you a sneak peak inside one of the units I would like to share how engaging, interesting, and informative they are. These aren’t the boring workbooks you may be used to! I even hesitate to use the word workbook because it often gives the sense of something used for busy work. This is not the case. These are entertaining units and my daughter is thoroughly enjoying them! They are designed with the kids in mind…they are broken into kid friendly chunks of information, have great picture to text ratio, and aren’t intimidating at all!!

My favorite 4th grader, Sophia 🙂

 

LETS TAKE A PEEK INSIDE

Interesting and engaging reading selections are included! We love the addition of the photographs! I also LOVE the Concept in the margin…helps kids to focus in on the main point!

 

I love the inclusion of the vocabulary words in bold in a separate box!

 

This is just a sampling of the beautiful pages you will find throughout Skill Sharpeners Geography. The maps and photos are all so eye catching!

 

My daughter LOVED the fun ways to learn and practice vocabulary! Crosswords and word searches are always a hit!

 

This may be one of my favorite parts…so many amazing hands on activities! This is not something you find in a traditional “workbook”!

 

I can’t say enough wonderful things about the Skill Sharpeners Geography 4th Grade book. Not only do I think it is a great enrichment to our Geography curriculum…but my daughter is loving it!

These books are jam packed with information that is presented in such a beautiful and kid friendly way, I know you will love them too! I am already planning to grab the Skill Sharpeners Science books for ALL 3 of my kiddos!

What subject do you think your kids would enjoy learning more about???

For more information or to shop for your own Skill Sharpeners, just click the link below.

 

Skill Sharpeners for Grades PreK, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6