FREE All-in-One Homeschool Curriculum

Homeschool resources

Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool is a terrific site packed full of lessons and curriculum for your homeschooling needs. Even if you are not a homeschooler, but want to supplement your child’s education at home, you will find an invaluable resource with this site.

 

 

CLICK on the Grade Level

Find the appropriate grade level and peruse the outline for that particular age and grade. You can follow it closely or pick and choose what you want to add to your daily lessons.

 

Art and Music

I really enjoy the art and music sections. From ancient art to modern with many at-home art projects to attempt, this tool will really help to fill in a void that many homeschoolers find difficult to fill: art and music. Music also includes geography and cultures to

 

History

History includes ancient, early American, geography lessons and modern history.

 

Science, language arts, bible, foreign languages, reading, and PE/health are also included. It is such a helpful site and so wonderful that is free to utilize. For busy homeschoolers that want some new ideas or want to find budget-friendly curriculum, Easy Peasy something you definitely need to check out.

Click Here to Visit Easy Peasy.

 

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Homemade M&M Cookies

m&M cookie2

I love these cookies and have been making them forever. When I was little, my mom always made them and let me help and now I enjoy making these cookies for my own kids. It is so easy to coordinate them to whatever holiday is around the corner with the various holiday-colored M&Ms.

M&M Cookies

Makes about 5-6 dozen

 

Ingredients:

1 cup shortening

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups M&Ms

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

Directions:

1. Blend shortening and sugars in a large bowl.

2. Beat in the vanilla and eggs.

3. Mix together the dry ingredients.

4. Add to the sugar mixture, blending well.

5. Stir in 2 cups of candies.

6. Drop by teaspoon on an ungreased baking sheet.

7. Decorate the tops with the remaining candy.

8. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees or until golden brown.

Why Travel With Kids?

Travel with Kids

Why travel with kids? It can be inconvenient- dragging toys, extra clothes, portable electronics, and a huge supply of Capri-Suns halfway across the country. Not to mention if you have a baby or toddler and you might as well rent a trailer to haul everything you’re going to need. Plus, the kids are out of their normal routine, might be missing sleep and are eating on the run. Nerves can get frayed and tantrums blow up, particularly if it’s hot and standing in line is involved.

So, now that I’ve made traveling with children seem so glamorous and, well, fun, I will tell you why I think travel with kids can be so great.

First and foremost, it is so important to see the sights and experience the places that our country and world have to offer. If you live in a city on the coast, travel to the middle of the country and enjoy rural and small town life. By the same token, if you live in a small town, visiting some cities is a terrific way to broaden horizons. I do not ever want my children to think that life ends when you cross the line into another town or county.

As a parent, I feel that it is my responsibility to introduce living history to my children. What better way to accomplish this goal, then to travel with them. Take them to the places where things occurred, have a conversation about the events and people that framed the historical site and grow an appreciation in them for the awesomeness of our country. Reading or hearing about history can never substitute for actually visiting Gettysburg, seeing the Declaration of Independence and taking a ride on a steamboat down the Mississippi River. The culmination of actually experiencing history firsthand coupled with the fact that many historical sites are low cost makes it a great way to travel with kids.

Nothing is better and more satisfying as a parent than to see things through the eyes of a child. It may take a lot more work to get from point A to point B when you are traveling as a family with kids, but to see their faces the first time they see the ocean or mountain or meet Mickey Mouse is totally worth the extra trips up the hotel elevator with all of the kid “junk” or the one million questions of “are we there yet?” or even the dozen extra bathroom breaks.

I love to travel with my kids! And, here are some reasons why: the giggles playing in the sand and ocean waves, the utter joy when they meet their first Disney princess, the uncontrollable laughter on a roller coaster, watching their faces as they try a new food, the wonder of looking up into a sea of skyscrapers, the beauty of little feet skipping down a mountain trail, the amazement when you visit our nation’s monuments, the magnificence of bright lights or sunsets over rolling hills, zoos, museums, canyons, rivers, lakes and watching them learn all kinds of new things.

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I guess the question becomes: why would you not want to travel with your kids? Some of the best and more cherished family memories come from trips together. Make sure your kids have those memories and learn about the world around them at the same time. It truly is worth the extra work!

Sunday Funday: Card Games & Family Fun

Family Card Games

A long Sunday afternoon, particularly a rainy Sunday afternoon, can be enjoyed with some fun family card games. Other than providing an alternative to sitting in front of the TV, card games are also great for strengthening a child’s math and memory skills, building valuable family time and giving a boost to children’s confidence. My top three favorites growing up were Crazy Eights, Go Fish, and Spoons. The following links outline some popular choices:

http://boardgames.about.com/od/cardgames/tp/best_family_card_games.htm

http://www.bicyclecards.com/article/top-three-classic-family-card-games/

http://www.classicgamesandpuzzles.com/Card-Games.html

http://grandparents.about.com/od/projectsactivities/tp/Easy_Card_Games_for_Kids.htm

 

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3 Favorite Parenting Books

Parenting Books

Being a parent is such a rewarding experience, but it is also fraught with worries, doubts and insecurities about whether you are following the right path in your parenting. Like most moms, I’ve read lots of child rearing books and some are full of practical application while others leave a lot to be desired. I have highlighted three books (series of books) that I have found to not tell me “what to do”, but give me some insight into what makes kids tick or people in general for that matter.

The first book is “The Birth Order Book” by Dr. Kevin Leman.  I personally find this subject matter fascinating. It not only gives you an idea of the positives and negatives of each birth order, but it really helps you to see how responses to a similar situation could be different given where someone falls in the family birth line. Not only for applying the information to parenting, but I also found it helpful in regards to  friendships, work relationships and my own reactions. It was interesting to note that the birth order of the parents can affect their parenting style and expectations of children.

The Birth Order Book

“The Five Love Languages of Children” by Gary Chapman is the next book from which I have gleaned a lot of parenting direction. The book gives advice on how to understand and make practical applications on how your child gives, receives and interprets love. Based on the five love languages: receiving gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, and acts of service, there are illustrations of how your own love language and your child’s might affect one another.

The Five Love Languages of Children

 

 

favorite parenting books

The third book is actually a series of books Dr. Louise Bates Ames based on studies from The Gesell Institute of Human Development. Even though the books were primarily written from a late 1970s perspective and some scenarios reflect that time, I have found a lot of useful knowledge and peace of mind. Each book focuses on a certain age and tells parents what to expect both good and bad for that age. Backed by data from studying thousands of children, the author sets up the scenario for the normal developmental strides and bumps you will more than likely encounter. I believe that in today’s society we are quick to try and classify any little perceived abnormal behavior, but these books really put the “norm” in proper perspective. It is not so much telling you what to do, but describing what to expect with each age. It also details what happens as the child rides into their half birthdays as well. The following link is a good synopsis for each age and the books are listed at the top.

http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/child-development/child-development-by-age/

FREE Preschool and Early Learning Resource

Art supplies for school.

1+1+1=1 is a terrific website/blog with tons and tons of fabulous, free ideas, activities, tot and preschool packs, tot trays and printables. They also have resources for kindergarten and first grade as well as lapbook templates.

Preschool Learning

Preschool Learning

 

I have found some awesome learning tools to use with the kids. This is definitely a bookmark-worthy site: http://www.1plus1plus1equals1.net/2010/12/welcome-to-1111/

Italian Potatoes

potatoes

Great-tasting side dish featuring potatoes that is quick and easy to prepare. My kids love this dish so it is a surefire way to get them to eat some veggies.

Ingredients:

4 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 cup creamy Italian salad dressing

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/3 cup dry bread crumbs

Directions:

1. Toss potatoes with dressing, salt and pepper.

2. Place in a greased 13X9X2 inch baking pan.

3. Sprinkle with bread crumbs.

4. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

5. Uncover and bake 20 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

One-Night Family Trip to Indianapolis

Conner Prairie

Indianapolis is such a great city! The destinations in this 1-night stay work really well together because both are incredibly kid-friendly and one is mainly an outside attraction while the other is strictly inside so you can plan according to the weather.

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is one of the nation’s top tourist draws and the world’s largest children’s museum. For those of you that have never been, it is huge and the kids will LOVE it! We spent at least 4 hours there and could have spent more time. From the fantastic dinosaur exhibit to the train exhibit, indoor carousel, toddler/preschooler play area and special touring exhibits, there is definitely something for everyone. They also have a cafeteria on the premises so you don’t have to leave for lunch. If you have kids, make sure you visit this great museum.
www.childrensmuseum.org

 

Indianpolis

Conner Prairie is such a terrific place to visit and learn about early American history in a fun and interactive way. It is one of the nation’s largest outdoor living history museums and really brings history to life with costumed historical interpreters playing the part of their time periods. From the Indian encampment to the Prairetown,animal encounters, working farm and dedicated kids’ discovery areas, Conner Prairie will provide the whole family with hours of activities. My kids loved the old-fashioned dress-up play area and the Indian encampment the most, but my daughter was also enthralled with all of the baby animals in the farm area (we were last there in the spring and the baby animals were plentiful).
www.connerprairie.org

Indianapolis has a lot to offer in the way of hotel accommodations. I would recommend checking out the Caribean Cove Hotel and Waterpark. While we have not stayed there, I know that they offer special deals for some of the Indianapolis attractions.

Sunday Funday- Take a Nature Hike

family nature hike

Each week, I add to the Sunday Funday list with a new family activity to enjoy together. This week, I am highlighting nature hikes. Most of us have free hiking trails nearby or at least a low cost nature center, county park, or state park. Take advantage of these gems- get some fresh air, enjoy the sounds of nature, and help to boost your health.

Check out your state, county, and city park systems’ websites for more information about trails in your area.

I have used these scavenger hunt printables with my own kids. http://www.thejennyevolution.com/nature-scavenger-hunt-free-printable/

Bird calls can be easily identified through these audio recordings.

http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/songwav.html

This guide can help kids learn to identify animal tracks. http://www.naturetracking.com/getting-started/

5 Steps To Organizing a Closet Purge

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What do you think when you take a peek in your closet? Is it pristine with everything in its place? Or do the organization fairies need to pay a visit? I know for myself when I am trying to get ready in the morning, it is much less stressful with everything in its logical place. Not knowing where a certain piece of clothing might be located or scrounging around on the floor looking for that missing shoe would not be the way I enjoy starting my day. Make the start of a new year the beginning of a  renewed organization in your home. The closet is a good place to start organizing because it often becomes quite the dumping ground for many things we can no longer use or wear. I have narrowed the organization of a closet purge into 5 easy steps that will take you an afternoon to complete.

1) Before taking anything out of the closet, take a close look at how you might want to go about re-organizing. Will you need a new method of storing shoes? How much shelf space do you think you might have after purging? Are winter and summer clothes stuffed into the same space? Take a few moments to consider how things are arranged now and what changes you might want to make.

2) Start removing everything from the clothing rods. Make three piles- definitely keep, definitely get rid of, need to check fit/style. Once you have finished, go through the need to check pile while you are motivated and just really look those items over. Are they out of style? Are they no longer the right size with little chance of being the right size anytime soon? If you haven’t worn it for a year, the chances that you will start to wear it are slim. Put it in the definitely get rid of pile.

Now you should have the “keep” clothes and “get rid of” clothes. Here is where things can get dicey. Don’t put the “get rid of” clothes back in the closet thinking you will take care of them later. This rarely happens. Somehow, they just start cluttering up the closet once again. Box them up and either put them in the car for a trip to Goodwill, donate them to a clothing bank or remove them into the garage/attic for the next garage sale.

3)  Now tackle the floor and upper shelving. Take all of the shoes and items off the floor. Repeat the clothing purge with the shoes. Have a box, empty laundry basket or trash can on hand to remove miscellaneous items that have made their way onto your closet floor. Pack up those items that really don’t belong in your closet for distribution to their rightful homes throughout your house. Or, take the easy way and throw things away. If it is broken or missing pieces that have little chance of being found, pitch it!

4) Everything should be out of the closet and divided into piles based on what you plan to do with it. Take this opportunity to thoroughly sweep out the area, wipe down the clothing rods, get new hangars, bins or shoe racks and change the lightbulbs in your closet area. Improving the lighting can make a huge difference!

5) Start organizing the shelving and floors with shoes, scarves, belts etc. Make a concerted effort to make these items as manageable as possible. Decide how you would like your clothes organized- by season, function (work, casual, sports), or color. Try to stick with the organizational method you have decided upon as you put the clothes back. It will really make putting outfits together so much easier.

Your closet should look much improved at this point! Having an organized closet area truly does help to reduce an area of stress for many people. Plus, getting rid of things that you will no longer use can be a huge blessing to others when you donate these items.

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