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!!!


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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!

 

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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!

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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??

 

 

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