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!! 
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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

 

 

 

Finding Florida

12 Tips for an Amazing Time at MNSSHP!

mickeys not so scary photo collage

One of my favorite nights of the year is right around the corner! Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World! The night is pure magic! If you ever get the chance to attend I highly recommend it. It is fun for all ages! This will be our 5th year attending MNSSHP and we have learned some really valuable tips and tricks that have helped us along the way so I wanted to share them with YOU!

  1. GET THERE EARLY– The party technically goes from 7pm- midnight…but they will begin admitting MNSSHP ticket holders at 4pm. Getting there early not only allows you to have some extra time in the park before the party begins but it helps avoid the large rush of people entering just before 7pm. In years past they have had a special entrance line for MNSSHP ticket holders to enter and get their wristbands. Like most things at Disney it runs like a well oiled machine!
  2. DRESS UP– Get the whole family involved in the party fun! This is one of the only times at Disney where adults can wear costumes!! I promise you wont be the only adult dressed up! We have noticed a pretty even split between those in costumes and those without. Have some fun with it! We do a family theme every year and it has been a blast! Even my mother-in-law gets in on the action!! It just adds an extra layer of magic to your evening! Just be sure to follow the rules that Disney lays out for costumes…for complete dressing guidelines click here
  3. FLORIDA IS HOT– This goes along with the costuming. I can’t stress to you how hot and humid it is in Florida in early fall. I have seen so many people dressed in full costumes and just melting into a puddle. It does get a little better once the sun goes down…but usually the humidity doesnt die down very much. HOT!
  4. TAKE A NAP– Trust me on this one…especially if you have kids! Have a low key day…hang by the pool, relax, and take a nap!! This is a MNSSHP tradition for us. My kids are well past the age of napping, but we still always take one before the party. We usually get to the party right at 4 and go till about 11:30 or so…so to avoid meltdowns and sleepy kiddos just take it easy!
  5. BOOK FASTPASSES FOR 4pm– While you can’t book fastpasses during the party, you can still schedule some for the hours prior to the party. If you plan to get there for 4pm you can definitely schedule in a couple of rides before the party even starts! Hit a few rides before the party festivities start and then you will have more time for the party extras!
  6. PHOTO OPS– During the party there will be LOTS of places to stop and get special MNSSHP photos taken. Totally worth it!! These are photos that you can only get during the Halloween party so I totally recommend doing it. One of our favorites is just outside of the gates to Magic Kingdom…the Headless Horseman makes an appearance!
  7. PLAN BEFORE YOU GO– Make sure you check out a schedule of party events and map of the event before you go…for reals! There is SO much to see and do and EAT that you dont want to miss anything! We like to take a few minutes and plan out what is most important for us to see and do…for example…which parade do you want to see, where will you eat dinner, what rides are most important, do you want to see any of the extra shows or characters! Go with a plan and the night will be so much smoother!
  8. DON’T MISS THE PARADE– MNSSHP Parade is among the BEST parades that Disney puts on…and Disney does a good parade! Stake out your spot early and make sure you get your little ones up front so they can see. If you have little ones I recommend the earlier parade…it is usually busier but you dont run the risk of your kiddo zonking out in the stroller and missing the whole she-bang! I will warn you…the song to the parade will be stuck in your head until the following year…but thats OK because it is awesome 😉
  9. TRICK-OR-TREATING– It isn’t just for the kids at Disney. Grown ups are totally allowed and encouraged to go trick-or-treat. Disney isn’t shy when it comes to giving out fistfulls of candy either…be prepared for some serious sugar. If you or your kids have food allergies…don’t worry…Disney has you covered. You can exchange your trick-or-treating loot for some treats that you can enjoy!
  10. TAKE A RIGHT– When you entered Magic Kingdom…bang a right! You can enter through a special passageway and here you can get a candy bag and a special goodie bag! There are also a couple of photo spots here!!
  11. SPECIAL CHARACTER MEET AND GREETS– All the villains come out to play at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! This is an awesome chance to catch up with some characters that aren’t usually out and about in the parks. Certain characters like Jack and Sally are hugely popular though, so if they are on your must-meet list…be prepared for a loooong wait! The 7 Dwarfs are also a hot commodity…the line will typically last a couple of hours. There are a lot of meet and greets with shorter lines however…Mickey and friends are available to meet in their full Halloween attire! Pooh and Friends are also dressed in super adorable Halloween costumes and their lines are not bad at all! Halloween is also a good chance to meet the Princes along with their Princesses!
  12. PLAN YOUR EXIT– Now, if you have been to Magic Kingdom you will know that getting IN and OUT of Magic Kingdom isnt always easy. You basically have a monorail, a boat, or a bus if you are staying on property. Exiting the party at midnight with EVERYONE ELSE is no fun…none at all. I have two pieces of advice…if you are like us, bust out a little early…before the second parade gets out. You avoid the rush and and can pretty easily grab a boat or monorail. If you don’t have exhausted children and don’t mind waiting, I say hang back and take your time exiting. Hang toward the back of the park and wait for the mad rush of people to get out before you do! You might even be able to snag some half empty Main St pics!

 

Be prepared for a great time. Be prepared for a TON of candy. Be prepared to want to go back again!!

For more information or to purchase tickets click here

 

Homeschooling

Our Secular Morning Basket

secular morning basketI have a confession. I thought that morning baskets were totally off the table because we are secular homeschoolers. For real! I don’t know why! I think it stemmed from the fact that the only morning baskets I had seen were centered around bible study…so I just put the idea out of my head! I had never seen a secular morning basket! Fast forward to this summer, I was re-introduced to the idea of morning baskets by my friend Jessica over at The Waldock Way. It quickly hit me that a morning basket could be anything that I wanted it to be. We could include anything we wanted to and take out anything that we didn’t want to cover. No two morning baskets have to look the same! This was a light-bulb moment for me! I LOVED the idea of having a time in the morning to come together with the kids and set the stage for our day!

Which leads me to my next confession… I am not a morning person. Like…at all! You would think that after having 3 kiddos I would have embraced mornings, but, nope, no such luck. I like to ease into my mornings. Coffee and silence…the dynamic duo. Anyway, my point behind that confession is that I love the idea of having an organized morning basket that will help ease my transition into the world of wakefulness!

SO! Without further ado…here is what will be included in our basket! I plan to have subjects in here that we will cover daily…our read aloud, our American History, and Spanish for example…and subjects that will rotate depending on the day…our National Park unit, Music, and Art. So, let’s take a little peek at each subject we will include!

CALDECOTT UNIT

Caldecott Books

This year I am so excited to be studying Caldecott Medal winning books. I have a picture book obsession! I found this amazing unit through Evan-Moor’s TeacherFileBox online…I will have a future blog post about this because it is ah-mazing! Evan-Moor offers two different Literature Pockets all about Caldecott books…one for grades 1-3 and one for grades 4-6. I plan to do both! TeacherFileBox is a yearly subscription to ALL of the amazing books that Evan-Moor has to offer…we are using it for Literature Pockets, History Pockets, Spelling, Science, and a lot more! You can check it out by clicking here: TeacherFileBox

SPANISH

SPANISH BOOKS

Spanish is a subject that I really want to incorporate every day. These are the two primary books we will be using for our Morning Basket. These are both from Usborne Books & More and they are amazing! Listen and Learn First Spanish Words has several cards with different words. When you touch the picture it will correctly pronounce the word in Spanish! First Thousand Words in Spanish is one of my favorites. It has wonderful illustrations and is really eye catching for young kids as well as older kids. One of the best things about this particular book is that it is internet linked…it has a special website you can go to and it will have a correct pronunciation of each word. So awesome. I have a couple of workbooks that we will also be using but those aren’t part of our Morning Basket so I didn’t add them in this post!

ART

art books

Art is a favorite in our house! We love learning about different artists and different art techniques. I plan to continue the artist studies that I began last year…you can check out  my post about our Picasso study right here: http://homeschoolbythebeach.com/2017/05/29/amazing-artists-week-1-becoming-picasso/ We will us the Usborne Art Treasury as our main book. This book is a must-have for homeschoolers! It features many artists and for each artist it will give you a little bio on that artist, introduce some of their work, and then have a project for you to complete in the style of that artist. SO FUN! My kids really enjoyed it! I also adore the Usborne Famous Paintings Cards…they are really heavy duty “flash cards” with a piece of artwork on one side and then information about the piece and the artist on the back. Great resource!

AMERICAN HISTORY

AMERIAN HISTORY BOOKS

AMERICAN HISTORY BOOK

American History is going to be covered every day…mostly because it is one of my favorites! We are doing a full year or two of American History. We will be covering it in greater depth than just what is included in this morning basket, but these are the items that we will cover in the morning. I love The American Story book. It features lots of tales that occured throughout history…so we will add that to our read aloud when we get to the different points in history. I just found the Explorer Cards from Professor Noggin…so excited. They have so many different ones so I will change those out as we progress throughout history. The same will go for the Safari Toob! They have several different varities that I will change as we go.

Something I am really excited about for our American History Curriculum is all of the living books we will be using. I have some for each time period. This will be one of the first that we read as we are beginning with some early native americans. This one covers the Seminole Indians which is super exciting because we live in Florida! 🙂

MUSIC

usborne classical music book

Time for another confession…we don’t do a lot of music. We LISTEN to a lot of music…but as far as music history or instruction…yeah not so much! I LOVE this book…The Usborne Classical Music Reference Book…teaches all about music history and again…is internet linked! You can scan the codes and you will get to listen to different pieces of music from different time periods. Genius!

NATIONAL PARKS

NATIONAL PARKS BOOKS

We are also planning to learn about National Parks of the US. I came up with this unit based on the National Parks of the U.S.A. book. You need this book…seriously. It is gorgeous. Now imagine my surprise when I discovered that one of my favorite book series has a book on National Parks…M is for Majestic is stunning. It is a gorgeous picture book with tons of amazing information on National Parks. So excited to see where this unit takes us! Even if we just end up reading and enjoying these gorgeous books I will be happy.

A YEAR FULL OF STORIES

SECULAR MORNING BASKET

Lastly we will be incorporating this beautiful book! A Year Full of Stories is a gorgeous book! It includes 52 Folktales and Legends from around the world. I am planning to do this once a week. It provides such a great opportunity to not only learn about folktales and legends but also learn a little bit about different cultures and different parts of the world. I am really excited to dig into this book!

So, that is our current plan! I am so excited to put our morning basket into motion. I will try to post some updates about how things are going and if we are changing anything up or sticking to our schedule!

Do you use a Morning Basket in your homeschool? What are some of the things you like to incorporate??

 

 

Finding Florida

Exploring Florida- Sweetwater Wetlands Park

sweetwater wetlands boardwalk

Last Sunday we set out on another family adventure. This time we headed north to Gainesville, Florida! Before we moved to Florida all I really associated Florida with was Disney, beaches, and TONS of people. I never anticipated how much gorgeous nature there would be to explore. Florida is home to more State Parks, Nature Preserves, and Wilderness Parks than I can even count. I want to see them ALL!

In an attempt to see as much of Florida as we can we are trying to dedicate one day every weekend to adventures! We pick a destination and just go! This past weekend our goal was to hit Sweetwater Wetlands Park and I am so glad that we made the journey! Sweetwater Wetlands is a man-made wetland habitat that is home to some absolutely amazing nature. There is a 3.5 mile trail that you can hike through the wetlands…it is a combination of crushed gravel and elevated boardwalk. One of the biggest draws of this particular park are the wild horses. Sadly we didn’t see any when we visited but we did see prints in the gravel and other…ahem…”signs” that horses had been there… (it was poop). 🙂

When you arrive at the park there is a drop box to pay the $5 parking fee…totally worth it in my book. Upon entering the trail there is a place where you can grab a map of the park as well as some pamphlets that tell you the types of birds you can see…was really awesome because we saw a LOT of birds! There is also a board where people will write which wildlife has been seen that day…my eyes only bugged out a little when I read the words 7 FT ALLIGATOR and COTTONMOUTH SNAKE! Anyway…we headed out and I was immediately struck by how gorgeous this place is…sweetwater wetlands park

Everything was so green…and FLAT! We could hear so many birds and bugs singing…it was just awesome! We also heard something grunting…pretty sure it was an alligator!

 

There are two different loops you can take one you get on the trail. We opted for the shorter loop because it was seriously so HOT. The elevated boardwalk was awesome and so well maintained. We stopped at the viewing pavilion at the beginning to take it all in. observation tower

This park is a homeschoolers dream. There are signs everywhere explaining things and providing mini science lessons. A+, Sweetwater Wetlands Park! As we walked along the boardwalk we saw birds, snakes, and alligators. It was awesome! The boardwalk and gravel path are really well maintained…we saw people pushing baby strollers without any trouble so it is definitely a wonderful place for the whole family!

After completing the smaller loop we really wanted to do the bigger trail but the heat had gotten to be too much for Max. I should have put everyone in hats and filled a backpack with waters…I think that would have helped. So we decided that we would come back again when the weather isn’t 100 billion degrees. I would really love to visit early in the morning or around sunset…I think it would be stunning here.

If you find yourself in the Gainesville area I can’t recommend Sweetwater Wetlands Park enough. It was an absolutely amazing place to get out and explore Florida.

For more information on Sweetwater Wetlands Park head on over to their website at:  http://www.sweetwaterwetlands.org

They offer ranger lead hikes as well that I think would be fantastic! I would love to take the kiddos on one of those!

The park is open 7am to sunset Monday-Sunday including holidays. There is a bathroom available at the start of the trail. We were also impressed to find a sunblock station at one of the first observation pavilions! Really awesome touch! 🙂