Exploring education through books, travel, and adventure

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Give the Gift of Poetry Tea Time

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 […]

Our Review of Evan-Moor Skill Sharpeners Science Grade 4

Our Review of Evan-Moor Skill Sharpeners Science Grade 4

  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 […]

A DINO-RIFIC Experience Box for your Little Paleontologists!

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!!!


Give the Gift of Experience Boxes this Holiday Season

Give the Gift of Experience Boxes this Holiday Season

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 […]

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

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

  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 […]

Raising Readers – One Books at a Time!

Raising Readers – One Books at a Time!

 

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?

 

 

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

A Review of Evan-Moor’s 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 […]

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

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 […]

12 Tips for an Amazing Time at MNSSHP!

12 Tips for an Amazing Time at MNSSHP!

 

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

 

Our Secular Morning Basket

Our Secular Morning Basket

I 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 […]