Glow in the Dark Easter Eggs: Egglo Eggs {a review}

This post was written 5 years ago, and still these eggs are a joyous tradition in our home! While you can no longer find these specific eggs for Resurrection Sunday, you can purchase the scrolls to go inside any glow in the dark egg HERE.
Egglo Review
In our home, we have never done Easter egg hunts, or Easter baskets.  In the spring, the kids get a spring basket, that is completely separate from Easter itself.

For the Resurrection, we read scripture leading up to that Sunday, learn about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, and have a nice family dinner.  We avoid Easter bunnies and chocolate- Everything is pretty low key.

I had the chance to review Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs and the book, The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure by Egglo Entertainment.

About The Program

Egglo Eggs are different; they aren’t just another egg you stuff full of candy for your children to hunt on Easter morning.  This program is based on John 1:5, “The Light shines in the dark and the darkness has not overcome it.”  This entire set encourages your children to learn, love, and truly enjoy the real meaning of Easter. Though it is designed for children ages 4-13, it can be adapted for all ages.  I used it with my three year old and 18 month old.

Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs and The Great Easter Adventure book are fun and Christ centered.  The eggs either have a beautiful cross on them or are plain.  There are 12 in a box, consisting of four colors- blue, green, yellow, and pink.

What I received

  • A box (12 eggs) Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs  ($11.99)
  • The book The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure ($12.99)
  • The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure audio download ($2.99)
  • Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls ($4.29)
  • The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide ($14.99)

How we use the Program

Lexie and Max are both obsessed with eggs in general- Max likes to eat them, Lexie likes to crack them when we bake.  We have one little play egg, I am not even sure where it came from, but they both obsessively play with it.  Now that we have the entire set of glow in the dark Egglo Eggs, they like to go in the closet and watch them glow; we charge them several times a day!  haha

I overheard big sister telling the tot, “Now, this light is just like the light Jesus.”

I wasn’t really sure if they would be into hunting the eggs, but I laid them on the counter and let them “charge” under the light so they would glow really well.  The directions say to let them charge for about 30 minutes in direct sunlight, or 45 minutes under in-home lights.

So, we looked through the book (which in many ways was over Lexie’s 3 year old head, but was valuable non the less.  Then I hid the eggs in her room (we have blackout shades in there so it was nice and dark) while they waited in the hall.

*I cannot tell you how much fun they had hunting for these glow-in-the-dark eggs!*  But then, Lexie also understood the lesson of the glowing eggs, what they represent, and how they tie into Easter.  It was a win-win for us all!

hunting egglo glow in the dark easter eggs

(it was dark in her room, but the flash on my camera is on)

We may have hidden and found the eggs a dozen times the first day.   Quite possibly more.  She has asked to do them once a day ever since.  They are such a joy and I feel good about using them in our home.

After we tired out from the excitement of hunting the eggs, the kids enjoyed coloring some of the pages from The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide.  There was something in there for both the kids to enjoy.  The program guide includes lots of valuable activities, fun snack recipes, and items to print to add to your Egglo Eggs.  It is also set up for both schools/churches and families.  I highly recommend purchasing it to accompany your eggs.

As part of my review, I received the scripture scrolls as well- we love these!  They take the eggs to a whole new level.  We put the scrolls inside our eggs before hiding them, and then after the kids found all the eggs, we opened each one.  Lexie thought it would be fun to choose a few scriptures as our memory verses for the coming weeks.  Max just liked to shake them inside the eggs and make music.  =)

Egglo Scripture Scrolls for Easter Eggs

Overall Experience

Our experience with the Glow In The Dark Egglo Eggs and The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure has been a positive one.  It was a great way to add a little more fun into our Easter celebration, and keep Christ in the center of it all.  Lexie understands the real meaning of Easter, and the little Mister is on his way to understanding too.  That is what this program is about- and that is why I can gladly suggest this program to anyone interested in doing an Easter egg hunt or celebration with their children.

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Homeschool Curricula Choices & Why They Don’t Matter {Part I}

Every year spring comes-the flowers, the rain, the joy of the nearing end of the school year …

and the excitement every homeschool mom has planning next school year’s curricula. Then summer, and finally, fall! Aaaah yes, you see, if you aren’t a homeschooling family, what you may not know is:

Most every homeschool mom was once a little girl that hoarded her favorite, perfectly packaged school supplies in the corner of her room waiting for the first day of school when she could put her supplies- the markers in their pristine box, the spiral notebooks with their shiny, un-bent coils, the Lisa Frank folders and erasers- tidily into a new pencil box, tucked into a fresh backpack. (that isn’t reality for most kids anymore, as in public school supplies are community supplies for the entire class. But man, those were the days of being an 80’s/90’s kid. haha).

And so we see this love flow over into buying homeschool supplies, planners, curricula and books. Me? Well, I love books … a large amount of our budget goes to books. It is just how I roll, and my husband is currently building me more book shelves because I have a problem he loves me. Curricula? I prefer to find what works and stick it out until it either 1) it doesn’t work anymore because we have outgrown it or 2) we complete it.

But overall, our curricula choices matter to us. We don’t take them lightly, do we mama?

We fret over the math that is just right, or wait … is it too rigorous for my 8 year old? We ask- can the 7 year old keep up with the writing needed in the science workbook I want to use, or should we wait? Should we even use a workbook? Charlotte Mason purists say never… Am I a purist?!

We ask ourselves, will this program help my 12 year old be more independent so I can wrangle the other 5 kids in the house, and teach the 6 year old to read this year? HOW do I get my reluctant 9 year old to read?! The list goes on.

And while it does matter what we choose, it really doesn’t, mama.

Why Curriculum Choices Dont Matter

Like most things in life, if you use it, it will work. If you don’t … it never had a chance.

It’s similar to keeping your body strong and healthy- just about any workout or eating program will work if you use it consistently (and don’t have other health problems in the way).

Just about any curriculum will work if you use it consistently, and don’t have any learning struggles that make the program incompatible with your learner. BUT because we homeschoolers are freaks of nature you have those struggles in mind, and know your child better than anyone, you can avoid that mistake.

So what does matter when choosing a program? How do you choose? When do you ditch the thing that seems to not be working and try something new?

Choosing the right curricula is 2 fold- 1) does it meet our needs, and 2) does it bring joy to our days?

If you need a program to have quick lessons (20 minutes for each: math, reading, and writing is ideal) then don’t choose something that has a long, drawn out script that takes 45 minutes to get through, PLUS the child’s practice work. Maybe it does hit writing, spelling, and reading all in one tidy teacher’s manual (every homeschooler’s dream). But if you never get to the curricula because lessons are LOOOOOONG, and your child is struggling because of it, then that won’t work.

Does it bring joy to your day? If a program is dry, or we add in too many “joyful” things, homeschool life will be harder than it needs to be. We don’t HAVE to do all the things right now! We have them for 18 years; that’s a lot of years to add in foreign language, science journaling, notebooking, extra curricular activities, art lessons, classic literature, and every single read aloud on your “to be read” list.

It goes by quickly- I know! In 10 years my oldest will be an adult, and HOLY COW that is terrifying. It was nearly 10 years ago that I was pregnant with her. But dividing your school years into semesters, terms, or 6 week intervals can allow you to try different things each term, if that’s how you roll. Want to learn about art this term? Drop the science for 6/9/12 weeks and do art instead.

Want to use a morning basket for a loop schedule routine? That’s great too, but again, adding too many things to that loop will make it seem like *nothing* ever gets done. If you need to feel successful, set yourself up for success!

All the things sound like joy, don’t they? Who doesn’t want to read aloud from a beautiful nature book while their children practice the art they learned during a rigorous online art program they attend 4 days a week via the internet, after their music lessons on Tuesday, their Spanish lessons on Wednesdays, and their nature walks on Fridays, between co-op meets every Monday morning? I mean- FEAST right? We want to give them a feast, this amazing life of experiences and fun that continues that fire for learning they naturally have, that wouldn’t get anywhere else is what homeschooling is about (mostly).

But we can’t do it at the expense of our sanity or theirs. 18 years. 18 short years, but years non the less, to try and accomplish so many things they may love. Dipping our toes in here and there is fun and creates that feast of delight we are all looking for. But know, we can take it slowly! We can do science this term, family tree history next term, and a huge literature unit the next term or year.

So if putting too many joyful things in your life is creating a bigger to-do list that never gets done, stressing your family out, not allowing time for your children to have freedom to create and have down time-then something needs to go! That’s when we say, “ok, what isn’t getting done that doesn’t HAVE to be done now? What can go and wait until the baby isn’t a constant nursing machine? What can wait until the kids are 10 & 12, instead of 6 and 8?”

That is how you know.

Because is doesn’t really matter what program we choose-if it is the most popular, the best, new thing, the oldest tried-and-true, if we don’t actually do it.

This year, our family is taking a break from everything that isn’t priority-this year’s priorities will be placed on all the changes happening in my children, and fostering them. They are turning 8, 6, and 4 (with a very loud toddler running around), which means we are on to new phases.

We are focusing on good habits so they can develop great, Godly character that will serve them their whole life through.

We want this homeschool year to be filled with more games, more reading aloud than we’ve ever done before, and more time in our woods. This means more self-directed delight for them, and less stress for me.

We are *simplifying* which means more time at home with friends that love us, and building the meaningful relationships in our community, because those are most impactful day in and day out vs running all over the place for other’s expectations. We are building a life, and that means focusing on what that life should look like for our family.

Because homeschool IS what life looks like, it is learning everywhere, everyday, during everything. It isn’t just grades and workbooks, paying our kids to read a book, or awarding them points for achieving something that is just part of living. We were made to learn non stop, all our live long days.

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Our Fall homeschool Routine {2018}

Our Fall School Routine 2018


One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that with each season in life, or literal weather season, we can do what works best for our family.

In this season of both life, and weather, we are enjoying the fall 100%! Waking up to the windows open, crisp fall air, and spending a lot of time in nature is what autumn is all bout. So far, we have watched monarch caterpillars flock to our milkweed, make cocoons, and develop into butterflies.

We have enjoyed collecting different colored leaves as they fall, and acorns we have found. We’ve worked together to prep the garden for winter, and finished the last of our harvest. We have raked leaves to feed to the goats, and enjoyed collecting sticks for kindling.

Each day has a nice rhythm to it and looks something like this:

  • I wake 5:30-6am for my coffee, journal, and Jesus time
  • 7am I get the kids up, we have breakfast, brush teeth, and get dressed for the day, morning chores
  • Some mornings we do our morning basket during breakfast, some days it is in the afternoon. (morning basket is our science, history, a read aloud with the littles, a little memory work and whatever else the kids are into. there are handicrafts involved too)
  • 8/830am I do my workout, then the kids do their brain gym/dancing movements from youtube, or we may do animal walks across the room to mama for a bear hug reward
  • by 9/930 We begin table work together
  • 1130/11:45- lunch time!
  • Everyone goes outside to play until naps
  • Our afternoons are filled with: playing games (Uno, rat a tat cat, and Qwirkle are current favorites), being outside, doing chores on the farm, prepping dinner if needed, and reading aloud from our current family chapter book. Some days we do our morning basket here if we didn’t have time in the morning.

The weather outside (rainy or not) determines during which part of the day we do games, read alouds, etc.

Every-other Wednesday afternoon is still poetry tea time, sometimes it is every week if we don’t have an errand or other plans. I plan to hit the zoo 1x a month to take full advantage of membership and homeschool freedom. =)

As we come into winter, I am sure our routine may change up a bit. But for now, this is working well for our family. Fall is our favorite time of the year!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Learning to Read: Rhyme, Memorization, & Phonics {and a llama llama review}

You probably know by now, our family loves to read! My youngest children begin their love of learning with poems and rhyming books from some of the greatest authors of children’s literature. I have videos of my oldest at 18 months old reading a Llama Llama book from memory; that book, as well as many other Llama Llama books have become favorites in our home. But my favorite part of this character series is the rhyming!
The latest book from Anna Dewdey, a teacher, mother, and enthusiastic proponent of reading aloud to children, is Llama Llama Loves to Read. Anna’s passion for children and building their love for reading is evident in all her books. This time our children shared Llama Llama’s love for learning to read in this beautifully illustrated (as always) 40 page picture book.
llama llama loves to read
Llama Llama learns at school.
Counting, writing, reading, rules.
Friends and school — there’s nothing better.
Llama learning all the letters!
All of my children have learned to read organically; simply by listening to others read to them. We know research tells us reading aloud to children increases their own love for learning, as well as relationships, and test scores (yes, especially test scores!). What many may not know, is that reading rhyming books, poems, and nursery rhymes to children increases their overall literacy!
Rhythm and rhyming increase listening and speaking skills, which are the very foundation of learning to read and write. A child will not learn to read as easily if they lack the skill of hearing rhyming patterns and sounds-which is done by being read to early in life. (This is also why educators take courses in all areas of development, including physical education, where we learn to combine rhythm, motion, and rhymes! Think of the hand clapping games from your childhood-they were important, whether you knew it or not!)
Rhyming books like Llama Llama Loves to Read not only help build a child’s confidence as they learn the rhyming words on the pages, these books increase their fluency and set the stage for future independent reading.

Learning to Read With Rhyme and Memory Work

As I type this, I am thinking of my 3.5 year old daughter (3rd born) that read cvc words to me last week. On her own. Without an ounce of formal instruction or prompting from me. I don’t say this to brag, or inflate my mom ego, I say this to you because it truly has to do with our family culture and environment combined with her eagerness to learn to read. She has told me for months she was going to read soon “like Mister!” (her older brother).  I told her she could learn as soon as she wanted and it wouldn’t be long; she’s been asking all of us to help her write her letters so she could tell us the sounds, and eagerly listens to any book we will read to her. One day last week she brought her little journal to me at the homeschool table and asked that I write words for her … I randomly wrote cat, asked her each letter sound and then she read the whole word. Just blended it. Boom! She continued on to do several more and I was able to record her on video.
So how do I use rhyming to encourage literacy? Simply, we read a book, and the next time (after all, there is always a next time!) I leave out one word of each line or page. For instance, I would read: Llama Llama learns at school. Counting, writing, reading, rules the first time.
But the next time we read it, I would leave out the word school, and maybe even rules, allowing my kids to fill it in for me as I read. This pulls them even more into the story and encourages not only their comprehension but also application of vocabulary, as well as “reading” along with me. So far of my 4 children, none of them have ever been disappointed with their chance to say the next word. Even my youngest, only a toddler, can fill in the simplest words in rhyming books (Llama Llama Time for Bed being one of them).
We also start learning poetry very young, simply because it is SO fun! My oldest memorized a few poems during each season starting at age 3. I am not sure how many poems my oldest three kids know now, but it is probably more than me (I can’t remember them all like they can without some prompting). That same 3 year old that is reading CVC words has spent this year memorizing more poetry than her 2 older siblings combined! Her absolute favorite is The Fairies by William Allingham, along with several others from A Child’s Book of Poems.

Learning Letter Sounds

Before I began reading lessons with any of my children, we sing a phonics song throughout our days. From the time they are about 18 months old (?) until … well, my oldest is 7.5 and we still sing it haha, we don’t say our ABCS.
We sing them along with their correlating sound; during our morning time we do the song with a little letter chart like this one: 
The song goes something like this:
A, /a/, apple
B, /buh/ball
C, /ck/, cat
D, /duh/ dog
… you get the picture. When we sing it while swinging on the swing, playing in the floor, or walking down the driveway, we learn to use other words that make those sounds; instead of E, eh, elephant I may say egg or elbow. It is always fun to hear what other words they can come up with (you will be surprised); sometimes we extend that and just start naming words that rhyme with a word, who knows where we may bunny trail to! But it is a fun and easy, loving, and memorable way to connect with and teach my children naturally, without any formal lessons.
This simple song, along with reading aloud to them, truly lays the foundation for learning to read later. Sometimes when I talk I will just say “t, /t/ train!” when we see a train. Obviously my 7 year old gets less out of this than my 3yo and toddler do, but so often we can forget those little ones are still soaking up everything around them, as Little Miss showed me just last week. Having a literature rich family culture helps support children in their love of learning which, when they are ready, will help them learn to read.

If you want to submerge your children in a literature rich environment, reading rhyming books, poetry, and teaching letter sounds through play are the best places to start!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

18-20 Month Baby Schedule & Summary {baby #4}

{yes, I am 4 months late on the 18month baby summary … I’m just now realizing it is the year 2018, and spring is here}

Wow. just wow!
My how 18 months has flown! I can’t even keep up with her baby summary posts. My how we love our sweet little baby #4.

Development 18 months vs 20 Months

It has taken her longer than the first 3 children, but Squish has started walking and talking non stop (18 months). She is just totting around everywhere; her vocabulary has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few months. She is saying everything from her siblings names, to pointing and naming objects she wants/needs.

She tends to drag her right foot, which is worrisome, but hopefully that will resolve itself. If it doesn’t we will talk to our doc in July. Her disposition is still pretty tough most days (18 months), she goes through phases where she is extremely happy for a week or 2, and then is incredibly difficult for a few weeks. I’m guessing it is wonder weeks and development related? I haven’t been tracking WW much anymore, but I probably should!

At 20 months, she is now talking EVEN more, is almost always happy, and has really come into her own. She really, really enjoys playing independently, she is a very smart girl, love counting and talking about everything. I often sneak into her room during independent play, before I get her out, and watch as she reads books, dances, and does finger plays to the songs on Pandora (like itsy bitsy spider). She is so full of herself when alone!

Her favorite words are: Lexie, Maxie, Ila, baby, Huck, and every animal sound she can make. We brought Yona (our Anatolian Shepherd) inside for a week or so while she was getting over some tummy troubles (due to her puppy food!) and Coralie REALLY found an outlet for bossing others. haha I think being the 4th, with her 3 older siblings always talking, bossing, and being active around her, she rarely had a chance to be heard. But when Yona came inside, she had someone that had to listen to HER (our dogs are raised to submit to all family members, be calm and quiet around their animal charges and people), so I guess the cure to some of her frustrations was power… that’s a scary thought!

She still signs for some things, especially if we remind her to do so, but she will also attempt to say the words for most everything around her-cups, water, eat, more, two (which means more …), up, down, snuggles, night night, baby, please, thank you, stinky, poopy, t.t., potty, nasty, num num, blanket, outside, downstairs, seat (which means put me there or she is demanding someone else sit there). So, lots of vocabulary.

She definitely loves animals, talking, dancing, counting, and toting around her baby dolls. We put a newborn diaper on one of her dolls, and it was game. on. She is now mama to her babies, gives them bottles, swaddles them, puts them to bed. She recently took to a baby blanket that was Lexie’s and requests it all day long, taking it with her wherever she goes; Squish will tot to her crib and pull the blanket from between the rails and just looove on it. She is counting like crazy, knows all her body parts, sings songs with us, and loves organizing toys “just so.” This video was taken just last week, and is a perfect example of her personality!

SNUGLLES! Yall, oh my gosh, the snuggles. This girl has never been much of a snuggler, but more of a “give me want when I want it or I dont want it at all” kinda girl. It has honestly been hard to “love” on her, simply because she so often didn’t want that connection. But now?!  Oooh, now she is a lovey girl, wanting squeeze hugs, wrapping her arms around our necks, and saying “Nuggle! Nuggle!” It is so fun!

I really can’t say how thankful I am that her personality has blossomed so much; it has been hard for all of us to enjoy her… Not because she didn’t meet our expectations, or our views of having a baby, but because we didn’t know HOW to love her- she didn’t accept the ways we showed her love, if that makes sense? We tried everything, she liked food-check, she liked attention 1:1 with me in the mornings- check, She liked telling everyone else no-check … but nothing really screamed “connection” with her. Oooh how I am thankful for grace and what now feels like peace.

We’ve decided she is exactly like her oldest sibling; if Lady had been the 4th in the family, I suspect her very Type A, independent, determined, sweet self would have been exactly like Squish. They also look pretty identical, and really just have the same personality traits. I predict Coralie will be an early reader, a fast learner, and a determined girl like Lady, but we shall see!

18 months to 21 months has been night and day for her; all of our relationships have flourished with her, even the kids. Her ability to talk more, and finding interest in specific things has truly helped her disposition. I feel like even though we have always known her, we are finally getting a peak at what’s been inside those beautiful blue eyes for the last 20 months, or maybe we are just starting to listen? Either way, it is a blessing!

It is funny to watch how she interacts with each of her siblings: Lady she considers her care taker. She helps with Squish’s bath, getting her dressed, taking her downstairs to play, totting outside, sliding, and reaching things. Mister she sees as her playmate; they are silly together, romp, play silly games, get LOUD, shoot guns, and snuggle. The Miss … well, we are working on that dynamic, because the last several months have been all competition! Miss is learning to help care for Squish, and take some responsibility like the older 2, which I think is helping with how she sees Coralie. They both consider themselves the baby, and it is hard on them to share space, attention, and favorite items, but I feel like things are getting easier.

Overall, I am excited for this new phase with Squish!

just one of the gang, watching duckling splish splash


So far Baby #4 is still on a one nap schedule- usually she goes down for nap abut 12-12:15, and gets up at 3:00.

So her days look like this:

  • 7am wake, snuggles, breakfast
  • playtime/workout with mama time
  • read school books with us in mama’s room
  • independent play while we do table work, sometimes a snack first
  • 11:15/11:30 lunch
  • 12:00/12:15 nap
  • 3:00 up from nap, snack
  • 5:30/6pm dinner
  • 6:40 bedtime

She is drinking out of a straw sippy, and Thermos brand sippy cups. She enjoys eating some things with a spoon, and I often let her do the last bite of messier foods with a spoon, everything else she eats with her fingers. Her favorite foods are … pretty much everything! We discovered this winter that she has a cashew allergy, and thus probably has a pistachio allergy. She reacts to the oils and the actual cashew nut; it also appears when she has too much peanut butter she reacts? So we are playing that one safe and avoid peanut butter for her most of the time.

She has recently graduated from her Zipadee Zip to a regular sleep sack. I thought this might lead to thumb sucking, since she sucked on the sleeve of all her zipadees and swaddles, but so far I think we are thumb-sucking free!




Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Homeschool Weekly Wrap-Up {April 7th}

The last 2 weeks we’ve spent our days adjusting our routine. I think I’ve said it before … at least I’ve thought it-vaulted ceilings and hardwood floors make reading aloud SO. HARD. I feel like I am yelling over a toddler the entire time. At this stage everyone fusses over my lap, so we’ve moved our reading aloud to my room, on the big king sized bed where they can spread out and hear me better.

Our new routine involves mama tending to the farm chores before the kids wake, getting her workout in after breakfast ,and brain warm-ups for all the kids! Day light savings really threw me for a loop this year as far as waking early goes. I am finally getting used to it. I strive for my mornings to look like this:

  • 5:30/6am- mama wakes, breakfast for the hubs, pack his lunch, coffee with him before he leaves
  • tend to meat chicks & LGD pup outside
  • Jesus devotional & coffee with my Help Club for Moms book
  • Prep Breakfast
  • 7am Kids up, eat, morning basket
  • Kid chores and 7yo practice violin- dishwasher, waste baskets, laundry, pick up floors if not done night before
  • 8:15/8:30 Mama works out, kid brain warm-ups (videos on youtube for crossing midline)
  • 9:00 Begin read alouds in my room
  • 9:30/9:45 begin table work- each day includes Reading/LArts for each child, math, handwriting/copy work We do other activities on various days, looping them (Latin, Apologia Science we are reviewing, art, messy play, game school)
  • During that time, the tot (20 months) goes to independent play in her room, and after the 3yo has done school along with us for a while, she also goes to IP
  • 11:30 Lunch
  • 12:15 Tot’s nap, others play outside
  • 12:45 Preschooler’s nap
  • 1:30 5yo naps, 7yo rest time or time with mama
  • 3:00 everyone up from naps-play outside, nature study, handicrafts of their choice
  • 5:30 dinner
  • This time of year, depending on what daddy is doing outside after work and how everyone napped, we are outside after dinner then come in for baths and wind down. We’ve been spending several evenings a week at the table coloring, doing more learning time (science, or new spelling, writing letters, practicing cursive, etc). I LOVE this time because it brings Daddy into our homeschool setting for just a snippet, allowing the kids to tell him all about what they’re learning, show him new skills, inviting him into their world.

**Some evenings are spent folding laundry as a family while watching Create TV on PBS-Martha Bakes, This old House, Lydia, America’s Test Kitchen, etc. They are our favorites! We have pretty much written off all the mind numbingly ridiculous kids shows on Netflix & Amazon. They truly hurt my brain- We are already very picky about what our kids take in (supposedly targeted for kids … targeted being the key word here) but even the appropriate shows are just stupid. These days our shows consist of Mr. Rogers, Reading Rainbow, and sometimes the book adaptations of If You Give a Mouse, or The Snowy Day, or nature shows. Nothing else seems worth our time or brain cells. (If you have any suggestions for quality kid shows that aren’t “twaddle,” please share in the comments!) The amount of content out there that you really wouldn’t want your kids seeing really seems to be overwhelming these days but at least parents have access to more information than ever on how to combat this harmful material being consumed by their children.

Our studies this week have included:

  • David and Saul in the Bible
  • each day we read The Little Island– focusing on narration and seasons (3yo loooves this living book!)
  • read The Apple and The Arrow from our Sonlight Core A, and our missionary stories from The Good News Must Go Out
  • commas in a series, writing sentences, list making and narrating an item from that list (from The Good and The Beautiful LA), spelling from our new Memoria Press (for review), handwriting letter review (5yo),
  • naming and measuring line segments using linking cubes, writing numbers, skip counting (5yo)
  • handicrafts- my daughter is finishing a bag for her co-op sewing class, all of the kids are really into card making, and other paper crafts. We made crowns this week
  • All About Reading level 1-beginning and ending blends, read stories from reader (5yo)
  • the 3yo is learning her letter sounds, enjoys Starfall 1 day a week, and literally writes and draws all day long
  • Science right now is coming from Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Anatomy & Physiology We are loving this just as much as their Astronomy, and I will have a review on that very soon!

In between lessons we have planned special plants for our garden, played outside, studied the bees collecting pollen, taken nature walks in the woods, and observed the changes that come with SPRING! (though this morning we have played in SNOW, and made snow cream … Because winter just doesn’t want to leave us!)

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Using The Starfall Home Membership in our Homeschool {an honest review}

We have enjoyed learning games from Starfall Education Foundation for many years. The last several weeks we have had a chance to use The Starfall Home Membership which offers even MORE wonderful math tools and phonemic exploration for children learning to read, learn early math skills, and sing nursery rhymes.

This has probably been one of our favorite products to review that all my children can use. Even my 18 month old can use the app, but because I don’t yet give her screen time, she enjoys singing and dancing to the songs and rhymes with her 3 older siblings as they learn through games and play.

About The Starfall Home Membership

Starfall is a publicly supported non-profit organization that offers free and low cost learning experiences for children via their website and apps. We have been using Starfall since my oldest was a toddler; my mother is a veteran school teacher of over 20 years, and when she introduced me to Starfall 6 years ago, I knew it was amazing! The Starfall Home Membership not only supports a noble organization, as they are constantly updating & expanding content in their apps/programs thanks to members, it offers even more quality resources to families. (Your $35 membership is also tax deductible!)

The Starfall Home Membership is one account for use by immediate family (including grandparents) for one year. One email and password is all your family needs to authorize all your computers and mobile devices. It can be used in a web browser, or via the Starfall App (this is how we use it the most, as my children do not yet get a lot of computer time).

Below are only a few of the many activities included with The Starfall Home Membership:

  • ABC rhyme’s
  • Historical American Folk Songs
  • 48 Nursery Rhyme songs (in the form of a playlist, which can be shuffled, or played continuously in the app!)
  • seasonal songs and activities
  • more math songs
  • identifying colors activities
  • SO many more 2nd grade level activities in both language arts and math (too many to name them all)

Starfall Membership

In all, there are nearly 1,000 activities that can be accessed when you purchase The Starfall Home Membership! There are many ways for your children to grow in both language, math, and critical thinking skills with Starfall when you join. I am really kicking myself for not having joined sooner; I can imagine number sense and math in general would have been much smoother for my very analytical thinking child, had I used all that Starfall offers! She is now 7 years old, enjoys using Starfall for math practice, as well as the folk songs and reading stories from the I’m Reading section. She soaks up everything she can about cultures and history, so the Greek Myths, Folk Tales, and Chinese Fables are favorites.

My now 5 year old is a very bright boy, who loves to read and do math. Starfall’s learning games have allowed him to expand his mathematical thinking far beyond where we are in our homeschool math curriculum, making those concepts easier for him to grow on later. They are simple, yet challenging and *very* developmentally appropriate, all while being effective. We all know boys typically enjoy learning through games and activity, so Starfall is perfect for my son! The number sense activities allow him to see the digits, as well as the amount they represent, ideal for visual learners.

A few days a week, while I am schooling with my older children, my 3 year old sits next to me and uses the app for her “learning time.” She has already learned so much about sorting letters, their sounds, capital and lower case, counting, and 1:1 correspondence with Starfall! It is something she (and I) looks forward to, and I can feel 100% certain she is “safe” while using The Starfall Home Membership. There is much to be said for peace of mind when handing a small child a device, especially when it involves education.

Starfall In Our Homeschool


On top of all this, Starfall Education Foundation‘s website offers a Starfall Parent-Teacher Center FULL of helpful teaching and learning tools. I found guides for using Pre-K through 2nd grade levels with outlines for using both the free program, and the expanded content for members. There is a plethora of resources that support the concepts learned within The Starfall Home Membership.

In the printable downloads sections there are language, writing, and math resources which include: printable books, writing prompts, crossword puzzles and other phonemic activities, grammar and parts of speech activities, journaling, counting money, value, more and less than, and the list goes on! It is truly a treasure trove of resources that make learning fun and solidify those early learning concepts.

I am so thankful for Starfall Education Foundation. I am even more thankful for their option to become a member through The Starfall Home Membership, how they have helped my children grow, and develop confidence through play based learning.

Connect with The Starfall Education Foundation:

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Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Top Educational Toys for Toddlers-PreK

*original post May 2013, updated*

I am a teacher by trade, and a mama by … everything else.  =)  My husband and I try to keep educational/classic toys and books in our home, avoiding twaddle, and “junk” toys.

A fellow homeschooling (and dear) friend, and a few other readers have asked me what we use for toys in our house (I think my reputation for a toy nazi must precede me?!).  So I thought I would make an easy list of educational and fun learning toys that we enjoy or wish we had to enjoy.

These have really been a blessing in our home and homeschool- I know that seems ridiculous to say about “toys,” things that are material.  But they have really helped Lexie learn so much, often times on her own, or through questioning me.  Many things were gifts or bought with gift money from family and friends.  We are very grateful for their love and support.

This is a list that excludes puzzles, books, baby dolls, and toy trucks, etc-the general toys kids have aren’t on here.  I will do another post on those recommendations.  But I don’t think you would generally find many of these items in most homes.

These are not in a particular order, except the first one.  All the others Lexie plays with equally as much or in conjunction with the Magna Tiles.  haha

1. Magna Tiles!  You probably saw my post.  They are an investment … I know; I was nervous clicking the checkout button.  BUT, they’re amazing learning fun!  Last time I talked about them on here (the light table post) I wasn’t kidding about grabbing them for $120 with free shipping and the free book promotion.  That is no longer available, two weeks later.  I scoped theses things out for weeks to get that deal; but it sells out quickly.
2. Sorting bears– she loves them.  And they are great for her to play with during independent play.  They are good for learning and imaginative play-this set comes in 3 different sizes.  We read the three bears and then I introduced them.  She plays with them several days a week (if you get them, be sure to get the set with 3 sizes like the one in the link)
3. These basic pattern blocks get used ALL the time, for all different things.  They also make the pattern block cards that go with them, to use for more instruction type learning/play.  My younger children love using the pattern block cards independently while I school with my olders.
4. Unifix Cubes, or some sort of snapping cube.  Unifix cubes are great for building, sorting, counting, and learning about number sense, etc.  They’re a great math manipulative!  I linked to the 500 count set because 100 isn’t really enough.  When you get into complicated math down the road (multiplication, division, fractions) you will need more than 100 to compare amounts, makes graphs, etc.  So I’d suggest the larger set if you are able  (Especially if you will have more than one child using them at a time)
5. This letter construction set is Ah-MAZING.  I think I paid $25 w shipping (we have amazon prime, it’s worth it just for the shipping on Christmas gifts for family, alone!)  The set is a little more now.  The set is very strong, the pieces are big and wide so they’re easy for little hands to manipulate, and it’s fun.
This wasn’t a toy Lexie just jumped into- I let her explore with them first, then when she asked, I showed her what they were really for.  Now, a few years later, all of my children enjoy this set.
6. The Thomas Wooden Railway.  She loves it and uses it all the time.  We got the wooden one, and the wooden trains to go with it (we only have a few, but she seems happy with that for now).  I thought she would get frustrated with it, because the tracks have to be put together a certain way, unless you have enough track pieces then it doesn’t matter.  But she doesn’t.  She just pretends, takes it apart, can almost get it back together correctly… but often she plays with the trains without the tracks. **All 4 children now enjoy this train set, playing with the train tracks, and the trains. One of the first sounds baby #4 learned was “choo choo”
7. this shape sorter wooden clock by Melissa and Doug.  I know- it looks simple but it has seriously been on her table in the living room for over a year, and she plays with it almost daily.  We have used it for numbers, colors, and shapes.
8. Lexie learned her letters and letter sounds with foam bath letters and numbers like these (they were a gift for her first bday, I have no clue what brand ours are.  But they are a nice thick foam made for the bath tub, though they’ve never been in the tub…)
She lines them up, sorts them by color, stands them up (that takes some time and focus!) She still plays with them regularly.  They are one of the toys I don’t really rotate out. Our set came with numbers as well.  This is also how she learned her numbers.  I would just point to the letter/number and tell her its name and the sound it made.  Sometimes the most simple things are so great for learning! She has done the same with her younger siblings, teaching them on her own.
9. A small dry erase board and dry erase markers– my mom brought one for the trip from Memphis to NE when we moved.  Bug really likes it, but it isn’t something I let her have all the time (we are learning not to bang the marker on the board….)  The board is a small 12 x 12 board, great for playing, and learning to write.  The one linked has both a lined side, and a blank side; so as children develop their writing skills they can use the lined side.  We enjoy ours so far!
10. Her doll house– it is the fisher price loving family dollhouse, I had when I was a kid.  She plays with it all the time, and we play with it together.
11. water beads– you may have seen my post.  Cheap and fun (and they come in colors, too)!  They aren’t something we do every day, or even every week.  But Lexie LOVES them!  I think we may cover them in shaving cream for some extra sensory fun in the next few days.
12. Magnets– So much fun, so much learning and exploring.

13. Lacing cards– we have a few different sets of these from friends and family.  My kids use them often, they are something fun to do together as well.  They pretend to sew, knit, and crochet like mama.  Great for fine motor, critical thinking, and hand eye coordination.

14. Melissa and Doug Buckets– we have a few different versions of these- they are all VERY well loved, and have held up so to much abuse play. Living on a farm, outside toys like buckets get used on an almost daily basis and these have no disappointed! This is one toy that we can’t really have too many of.

15. ABC Bean Bags– I cannot count the ways we use these bean bags! One way, is by throwing them into those buckets I posted above. These have been so much fun for all ages in our home (7 down to baby). We toss, stack, count, hide, and tote around these bean bags daily. We also like our shapes bean bags and I plan to get the number bean bags eventually.

So, there are my top toys for toddlers through PreK children.  Of course always supervise your young children with any toy.

*This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting my site!  I was not paid or compensated in anyway for these opinions; they are my own.

Gingerbread Play Dough

I have been looking at a lot of different crafts for the kids and I to do together.  I came across a recipe for salt dough, which is a homemade play dough.  I had planned on trying it, then today my mom sent me a similar recipe, but there were two differences: 1) her recipe was for GINGERBREAD play dough and 2) it used fewer ingredients than the recipe I had.

Gingerbread Salt Dough
You will need:
  • 1c flour
  • 1/2c salt
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, etc to desired smell/color
  • 2tsp cream of tartar
  • 1c water
  • 1tsp veg oil
  • essential oils of your choosing

Just as in baking, mix all your dry ingredients together- the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and spices.  The spices are just for a great gingerbread smell and color.
In a separate bowl, mix the water and oil
Add water-oil mixture with your dry ingredients in a small/med pan.
Cook mixture over low/med heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  WARNING-it becomes thick quickly.
You will know it’s done when it starts to pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan.
When it’s done, knead on the counter until it is nice and smooth.
*don’t forget the cookie cutters and rolling pin!*

This is the best and easiest play dough recipe I have found.  When the holidays are over, exclude the seasonings and add regular food coloring for year-round fun!

(Original post Dec 2011)
Here is Lady (15 months old) playing with play dough for the first time:

 She was really only interested in the cookie cutters at first .. and yes she arranged them in size order?
” Hrm .. maybe I will touch it a little”
She did not like the texture of the dough at the beginning.


More with the cookie cutters ..


Then I made her name out of the play dough and she liked it!  Her favorite letter from her name is “i,” so she enjoyed playing with the “ball” on the “i.”  When I spell her name out loud, it goes something like this:
Me- “l, e, x
her- “I!!  I!!! I!!! I!”
her- “LEXIE!”

It’s a lot of fun!  So, our first go at play dough was a success.  There were a few snacking attempts, but overall she did really well!  This has made me less fearful of doing more crafts and activities with her, for sure!

Try it out with your little one!

What are some of your children’s favorite activities, crafts, etc to pass the time and learn?

Mess Free Kids Paints {Kwik Stix Thin Stix- a review}

The Pencil Grip- Kwik Stix Tempera Paint

As any regular reader knows, we *love*The Pencil Grip, Inc., and their products! We have reviewed Kwik Stix before, but this time we are sharing our love for their Thin Stix Creativity Pack. These tempera paint sticks are quick, easy, and allow limitless creativity for your children (and you, too!).

The Creativity Pack has 24 vibrant colors, including the Kwik Stix bright and metallics-these are our favorite colors to use. You will also find, Thin Stix are non-toxic, as well as nut, egg, and gluten free! This means if you have a child that puts everything in their mouth, or “paints” their fingers, toes, and lips (like my 3 year old…), you can feel confident that they aren’t getting toxins or a common allergen in their mouth, or on their skin.

Easy, allergy and mess free art supplies- tempera paint sticks. Dry in 90 seconds, no cracks after drying, smooth, shiny finish. Fun and safe creativity!


What Are Thin Stix, and How We Use Them

Kwik Stix Thin Stix are a solid tempera paint, in a stick; These are mess free and 100% washable. There are NO cups, brushes, smocks, or spills! You use Kwik Stix just like you would a marker or glue stick- remove the lid, twist the paint up, and start creating. They really do dry in 90 seconds with no smudges, or sticking, and we have never had them stain our skin or clothing.

Thin Stix are much thinner than original Kwik Stix. These are taller and thinner, allowing more precision and detail on smaller surfaces, or in smaller spaces. They’re recommended for ages 3+, and trust me when I say children and adults of all ages will enjoy these paints! My children are 7, 5, 3, and 1; the baby doesn’t use them yet, because she would just eat them, but the others all love our Thin Stix.

I like that you can blend the colors before they dry, and layer them for even darker shades. The thinness of the paints in this set allows ease for writing and making details pop. The paint goes on so smoothly- in a satisfying, buttery-smooth kind of way. The metallics give just the right amount of “sparkle” to your project, and the bright colors are super neon! So much fun!


The uses for Thin Stix are really endless. My children are small, so we use them for creative fun on paper the most. It is *so* easy for this mama to whip out our art tote with all the Kwik Stix in it and let the kids go to town creating. My favorite on cold mornings is to let my kids paint and create after breakfast, before we begin our school day.

We have used Kwik Stix:

  • on plaster and paper mache projects
  • to create pictures
  • make thank you cards
  • create illustrations for homemade books and journals
  • to decorate poster board signs, banners
  • in coloring books
  • to mark answers on school work
  • marking bingo and other games
  • finger and hands print carfts
  • decorating pumpkins

You can use the Thin Stix Creativity Pack on just about any surface- if you can paint it, you can use Thin Stix on it- paper, poster board, wood, plaster, food (haha), canvas, and fabric- sometimes you may need to seal with a sealant if your project will be exposed to rain/the elements.

I really like that Thin Stix are developmentally appropriate for small children learning to hold writing/art tools, can be used at an easel, and are so easy to clean up! With 4 small children at home, a simple painting activity has to be planned in advanced with lots of room for messes- but not with Kwik Stix!

Connect with The Pencil Grip, Inc.


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