Top 3 Free Resources to Prevent the Dreaded Summer Slide

It is summer! Praise the Lord. No more crazy in-depth curriculum, no more tests, no more school! If your kids are anything like mine, they are super excited to be free from school for a while.

But what about their progress from the school year? Have you ever heard the term “Summer Slide”? It is coined a slide due to the fact that children lose about 2 months worth of skill levels during the summer. It may not sounds like much, but it adds up. Especially when the kids go back to school and the teachers have to focus on reviewing skills instead of building on the skills they learned the year prior.

In an article by published by John Hopkins School of Education the author stated this about summer education loss “Early summer learning losses have later life consequences, including high school curriculum placement, whether kids drop out of high school, and whether they attend college.” (You can read the full article here: Why Summer Learning Deserves a Front-Row Seat in the Education Reform Arena).

With all that said, while it is important to have summer vacation, it is just as vital to continue building the skills your children learn through the summer. So, I have some free (or cheap) resources for you to check out!

  1. Abcmouse.com

Abcmouse.com is an online learning resource (also an app!) for children ranging from pre-K to 2nd grade. My kids absolutely adore it! It is a very entertaining way to help your kids retain skills and learn even more on top of that.

They offer different tracks that teach reading, math, listening skills, science and art skills. Your child can venture through the various levels at their own pace. There are a ton of fun “prizes” for the kiddos to earn along the way.

At the end of their learning track, the kids earn a “graduation certificate”. My daughter was so happy she “graduated” that we had to put the certificate up on our living room wall!

Abcmouse.com offers one free month and then is fairly cheap after that! So, if you’re interested click the link below and check it out:


 

2. Your Local Library

Being a home school family, our library is such an amazing resource for us. Do you get to your library often? You should! Our library offers an incredible summer reading program. This year’s theme is “Building a Better Community”. The kids participate by reading books and marking them down in a book tracker.

Every time the kiddos finish a section, they receive a prize! The prizes range from a sticker to a free pass to a museum. Then, at the end of the summer, the kids that finish the program get to go to a pool party just for them! Not to mention the fun, educational shows the library puts on every week during the summer.

Our kids love doing this program every year and it has been pretty cool to see their love for reading continue to blossom! I highly suggest checking out your public library to see what they have to offer!

3. PBS

PBS is another great free resource for parents to aid in their child’s education. They offer television programming to free apps for devices. They have an entire website dedicated to the kiddos!

The website shares many ways to get involved, including the PBS app, PBS television and printable activities. Here is the link: PBS Kids Summer Adventures.

P.S. if you have a little one that likes to use a tablet (let’s be honest, they all do!) the PBS app is great for educational games that allow your kids to play with their favorite characters and learn skills like math, science and reading.

Those are the three resources we use most during the summer! What other resources do you use? Happy Summer!!

Do You Feel Worthy this Season?

This year, there has been this reoccurring theme of worth. Worth seems to be linked to everything we do. Or don’t do.

According to the dictionary worth means: “sufficiently good, important, or interesting to justify a specified action; deserving to be treated or regarded in the way specified.”

Do you ever feel unworthy? Have you thought that you weren’t deserving?

It isn’t just you. It’s me. It’s all of us. We constantly feel unworthy. In fact, as I write this, I am second guessing every word. Ugh.

Unworthiness is a crazy stronghold. It is time that we, as people, break free from those chains. It is time to remember to whom we belong.

“Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant or insecure, remember to whom you belong.” Ephesians 2:19-22

I figured, what better season to talk about our worth than right now. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember who we are in Christ because we are celebrating him!

Jesus loves us. He wants us to feel worthy.

Feeling worthy is vital. Feeling worthy allows us to live life better. When we feel that we are deserving, we open up to love and happiness. Guess what happens when we feel loved? We love other people better!

Feeling worthy is a necessity, especially if you love Jesus. Listen, friends, he did not put us here to feel bad about ourselves. Jesus doesn’t look at us that way. He loves us exactly where we are. In the thick of our craziness, his love is there.

So, why do we feel like we aren’t deserving?

The enemy. Plain and simple. All those self doubts, negative thoughts, feelings of unworthiness, those aren’t from Jesus.

DO NOT listen to those negative words.

Would Jesus love us so much that he died for us so we could spend eternity with him to only then tell us how horrible we are? NO!!!!

Stop listening to those negative words.

The only reason those thoughts creep in is so that enemy can handicap us.

I heard this great quote at a convention I recently attended: “You can only love other people once you love yourself.” Wow. Guys, that says it all.

What is our command from Jesus, friends? To LOVE God and to LOVE one another. How can we do that if we don’t feel worthy enough to be loved?

Trust me here guys, we are worthy. Jesus says so.

Do me a favor, listen to God instead. He loves us. He wants us. We are important to him.

This Christmas season, show other people how much he loves us. Remember to whom you belong and put on your crowns.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

A Day In The Life

Hey guys!

I have received some questions about how in the world we home school. Well, frankly, God. If not for God, I would not be able to do it!

I thought instead of talking about it all day long, I would just show you some pictures of some of our day today! Enjoy 🙂

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We add a number each day to our 100 day caterpillar!
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We are learning about the different meanings behind Jesus’ name!
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Each child adds their own artistic version!
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Our sensory bin is full of rice this week. It is a great way to learn about measurement!
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We LOVE abcmouse.com in this house!
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The table the we mainly use for formal instruction.
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Days of the week!
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We have a timeline for our history curriculum. Jesus is the marker between B.C. and A.D., Leif Ericsson is in a Viking ship and Christopher Columbus is sporting some awesome fashion!
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The little man learns spacial reasoning, colors, and numbers by playing with blocks!

Shout out to Abcmouse.com! They are a great supplemental online curriculum for kids that attend public school, private school or home school! All three of my kids have enjoyed “playing” on abcmouse.com. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it!

Hope you all have a great day!

Melissa

Laundry and Dishes

Hubby and I had the week off from our kids last week. Before they left , I thought that I would be doing all sorts of things from household honey-do lists to shopping for fun. Then the real kid vacation began and I honestly didn’t do much of anything. It was pretty anticlimactic. And, honestly, eye-opening.

Let’s back up a bit. I have been struggling hard with who I am at this point in my life. I keep asking myself what on earth do I have to offer other people; how can I help. I thought maybe going back to school to finish my masters would be the best thing to do, but it just doesn’t work at the moment for numerous reasons. I have been at a loss. Am I really here to do laundry and make dinner? That just seems too quintessential.

With all that on my mind, I thought for sure that I would have a great time catching up on all sorts of things and maybe have some epiphany of who I am supposed to be or what I am supposed to do with this life while the kids were gone. You know, come to see the bigger picture of what God was wanting in my life. (Which is a whole different post to discuss at a later time, lol!)

Guess what? I did have an epiphany. I realized that, my most important work right now is my family. I am meant to lead those children to become disciples. That is a hard realization. That is an answer which requires me to die to myself daily; to die to my own glory for the sake of God’s glory in them. Ouch.

After being punched in the face with that reality, I felt ashamed of not thinking that I was doing any work worthwhile. I felt guilty for thinking of only me and my life. And then I was brought to my knees with the weight of the task at hand. Hubby and I are our kids examples and leaders to Christ. That is INSANE! That takes my breath away.

So, here we are on the first day of the school year (we home school, yes, we are that family) and I feel more fulfilled than I have felt in a very long time. It has astonished me that serving other people, like my husband and children, actually makes me feel better. All I have to do is give it up to God. Every. Day. Give my life up to God. I wish I would have learned that sooner.

Ode to Laundry

Hello there load of laundry that I have washed three times in a row,

I keep forgetting about you, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make you feel unwanted or forgotten. I swear that I want to dry and fold you. Here’s the deal, there is just too much to do every day and unfortunately you are my least favorite chore.

My kids must think that you get washed and folded by some glamorous glittering flying laundry fairies because I obviously can only have time for them. It seems that if I pay attention to anything or anyone else, meltdowns are eminent and the world is ending. They wake up yelling for milk, then breakfast. Before I know it it’s lunch time, then, poof, dinner! As if making all the meals wasn’t enough, we need to do school work (homeschooling is a tad bit time consuming), clean house, play, brush teeth, wipe butts, break up ridiculous fights, attend to the hubby and find time to write.

Amidst all the chaos, there you are load of laundry, just waiting to get some attention. I promise that my intentions are good, I mean to get you clean and put back in your place, but somehow still I am always searching for clean underwear. I really do enjoy clean underwear.

Then, there’s the hubby. He loves you too. Well, at least the clean version of you that has already been put in his drawer. He once tried to attend to you, but alas, you gave him such trouble that he hasn’t dared to venture in the laundry room ever again.

I know, I know, his side of the story is not very likely. You must have told him that you would shrink down from a woman’s size large to a tiny toddler size. Surely, you told him not to put you in the dryer at all. I bet you even kicked and screamed as he pulled you from the washer to the dryer. Yet, here we are. And there he is not.

Again, I apologize, lonely load of laundry that has to be stripped of all your color by now and probably smells a bit musty. But, I am your sole provider and the pressure is just too much. Sometimes it is just easier to pour in a little more detergent and run the wash cycle one more time. So, please forgive me as I ensure that while you may not be dried and put away the first time around, you will be super clean!

Signed,

Not the laundry fairy

Top 10 Kid Games that Foster Learning

Our family loves to play games. We love it so much that we try to have a family game night every week. (Though lately it’s been difficult, lol). Our kids are finally ALL at an age that everyone can play board games for at least one round. We have rounded up what we think are the 10 best games to own. If you would like to own any of them, just click the name and it will bring you to Amazon. (I tried finding the cheapest version of all of them). They are listed in no particular order!

  1. Hi-Ho Cherry-O

This game is great for the littles that are just starting off in the board game world! It allows the children to count, take turns and learn good sportsmanship.

2. Candyland

It’s an oldie but a goodie! Candyland helps the kiddos to learn about colors, counting, taking turns and good sportsmanship.

3. Sequence For Kids

I was excited to see that this game came as a junior edition; my three year old even loves this game! Sequence For Kids teaches about animals, colors, counting, taking turns, good sportsmanship and thinking ahead.

4. Fairytale Spinner Game

Who doesn’t love a good story? Fairytale Spinner Game teaches children the basics of story telling, taking turns, good sportsmanship, counting, and creativity!

5. Memory Match

While this game may take awhile, it is well worth it! Memory Match helps foster recognition, recollection, taking turns and good sportsmanship.

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6. Making Cents

I had a difficult time trying to figure out new ways to teach our kids about money. This game is perfect for that! Making Cents teaches kiddos how to count change, recognition of money, taking turns, and good sportsmanship.

7. Uno

There are many different house rules when it comes to Uno, as we have found out! But any way you play it, it helps the kids to learn colors, counting, patience, taking turns, thinking ahead, and good sportsmanship.

8. Mancala

Though I had never heard of this game until marrying my husband, I would rather play it than a lot of other games. Mancala is a marble counting game that teaches how to count, take turns and good sportsmanship.

9. Trouble

My daughter loves to play this one! Trouble teaches counting, thinking ahead, colors, taking turns, and good sportsmanship.

10. Monopoly Here & Now

I know what you’re thinking, Monopoly is a horrid game that only ends in someone flipping the table over. But not so with this version! Monopoly Here & Now is a shorter kid friendly version in which there are no houses or hotels! It teaches counting, taking turns, good sportsmanship, patience, problem-solving and thinking ahead!

What games does your family love to play?

 

**This blog has Amazon Affiliate links. If you click the link and buy on Amazon, I will receive a percentage at absolutely no extra cost to you!!**

 

Squirt Gun Painting

Summer seems to be here, at least weather wise! I have been trying to get my kids outdoors more and more each day. Two things that they always love to do is paint and have a water gun fight. So, why not put that together?! I took our easel outdoors, snapped some new paper into place and let the kids create squirt gun paintings.

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We used water guns, water spray bottles and condiment squirt bottles. The kids LOVED it! If you want to try it, just mix together some washable, nontoxic paint (we enjoy Crayola paint, which you can purchase with this link: Crayola Washable Paint) with water using a 2 paint:1 water ratio. We played around with how much water to use and it seemed like the paint was more vibrant and easily squirtable with a 2:1 ratio! After you mix it, simply pour into your desired squirt gun and have a blast!

Word of caution, don’t do this inside. It got a little crazy and paint pretty much covered our yard, driveway, car, plants and children!

For more activities, thoughts and other tidbits, sign-up for our email list!

 

**This blog has Amazon Affiliate links. Should you click on them and purchase through Amazon, I will receive a percentage at no extra cost to you!**

Fun, Kid Friendly Pancakes!

The littles are hard to feed sometimes. (Can I get an amen!) I have to get creative from time to time so that they’ll eat. I know, I know, “if they are hungry enough they will eat what you make”. Well, I’m too tired for all that! In any case, this little trick is super easy and in all honesty really fun to do!

I used to have a pancake batter dispenser that cost too much and broke too soon. I needed a way to get fancy with the pancakes without that thing. So, Amazon shopping I went! I bought this gem:

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

These squeeze bottles work wonderfully! You simply pour your pancake batter into the squeeze bottle and start designing anything that your little heart desires.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Here are some ideas:

ruff-family-circus-pancakesLittle round dippers, shapes, cars, trains, names, ninja turtles, mickey mouse.etc.

*Tip: In order to get better lines, outline the shape first and then fill it in. Also, if you are going to be doing letters or names, make sure to write them backwards otherwise they end up like this:

KODAK Digital Still Camera
OOPS!!

Here is the recipe that I used:

  • 2 Cup of flour (I use Great River Organic Flour, it’s amazing!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional (I use honey)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted organic butter
  • Organic coconut oil for cooking

(This recipe is one of a million recipes, so please use whatever one fits your dietary needs.)

Needless to say, the kids loved their breakfast and ate pretty much all of it! Plus, any pancake that they didn’t eat, is easily frozen for another day.

 

For more fun and learning, please subscribe to our emailing list and receive a free 10 week summer curriculum for PreK-1st grade!

 

**This site has Amazon Affiliate links. When you click on the link and purchase through Amazon, I will receive a percentage at no extra cost to you!!**

Summer Home Schooling

If you are anything like me, (crazy and needing organization, lol!) you like to keep your kids education going through the summer with light and fun activities. I am NOT talking about full-blown school here, I need a break from that! With that said, I put together our summer curriculum over the past couple of weeks. It is aimed at the age of my children; PreK-1st grade.

I was inspired by another curriculum called Five In A Row, however, I figured I am more than capable of writing my own while using the books that we have already purchased. In any case, you can check it out:

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Each week has a specific book assigned to it. There are different activities Monday through Friday. All the activities are detailed and include a material list. There is also a separate material list included in the PDF organized by week.

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Every Friday during this 10 week curriculum, the children will use this printable journal page to answer the weekly journal question (by writing on their own, copying the words or tracing them!) and draw a picture of their answer. At the end of the 10 weeks, each child will have their very own completed journal!

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The printable PDF includes all 10 weeks worth of detailed activities, the printable journal page, a full material list organized by week, a full book list and instructions.

We are going to start using the curriculum in June. Now, you can too! If you want a FREE copy of this curriculum, let us know on our Contact Us page!

Until next time!

It’s Not About Me

Selflessness has been the ongoing theme of lifeWorshipping-_art lately. When I first started attending our church, I was out on a mission to “help” other people. I know that sounds like a good goal, but little did I realize that it was a selfish goal.

Did you know that you need to learn in order to teach? Sounds pretty straight forward.  I mean, if you sat down and thought about something that you would like to do, you first need to learn the ins and outs of everything, right? But, maybe you thought you already knew. Maybe, just maybe, there was enough pride poking into your life that you thought there was not much else to learn. Maybe you thought that it would be so awesome to be the “leader” of something that it kind of became just about leading. There was no research involved, no prayer really, just taking the reigns and hoping for the best. For the spotlight.

That is where I have continually fumbled. This life, although enjoyed by me, is NOT about me. Recently, a friend of mine was told that she was going through a tough time in life because God was testing her. That is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in the Christian world. I don’t like it. I don’t believe it. I think that God is teaching us, not testing us. We tend to think that if the same situation happens again and again in our lives, God is testing us and we are failing. But in reality, I think that God is teaching us and we keep missing the point. The only reason I bring this up is because, although I really thought I knew what I supposed to be doing, it never seemed to go quite right. When I thought I was helping someone, I realized that I wasn’t equipped or I was ill-equipped. Either way, I needed to LEARN.

This past Sunday, the sermon was about selflessness. The Bible study that I am working in is about selflessness. Just about every conversation lately has led to the topic of selflessness. So, here I am talking about, you guessed it, selflessness! I am learning that maybe I could be a leader in some kind of plan of God’s, but maybe not. I am learning that I need to learn. My prayer is that I am filled everyday with new knowledge that will help me to help other people. I prayer that I am filled with new knowledge that helps me to be selfless.

Let’s face it, who needs another selfish person that just craves the spotlight?