Education

For the love of Reading.

One of my favorite activities to do with my daughter is sitting down in our living room and reading books together. Growing up my mom has countless photos of me reading my favorite books and now I see that same image when I take a photo of my daughter as she attempts to flip pages, chew on covers and climb over the towers of books we have. 

Little Sarah Reading

Little Sarah Reading

Walking into book stores is a serious struggle for me and gosh, there is something about children's books that gets me caught in Barnes and Noble for hours. So when my friend, Megan, invited me to her Usborne book party I couldn't help but be excited for a party in my pajamas at home and the chance to see lots and lots of new and exciting kids books. 

Now, I'm not trying to sell these books to you or push you to join Usborne, this is just my real and honest experience in buying their books and how I fell more in love with children's books after I hosted my own party. 

"Usborne and Kane Miller books are the most exciting, engaging, and educational books on the market today. They are high-quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated, and best of all, they are the books kids love to read. Choose from over 1,800 bright, colorful, and fun titles covering a wide variety of subjects."

"Usborne and Kane Miller books are the most exciting, engaging, and educational books on the market today. They are high-quality, innovative, lavishly-illustrated, and best of all, they are the books kids love to read. Choose from over 1,800 bright, colorful, and fun titles covering a wide variety of subjects."

When looking for books for my daughter I am always on the lookout for fun and educational books. I love learning and I love a well illustrated book. When these two are combined its hard for me to set down the book and walk away. A majority of the Usborne books help children learn new skills and attain new knowledge. They are durable and I love the bright and colorful illustrations in each of their books and this is why it took me almost 2 hours to pick out the books I wanted to buy Eleanor. They not only have babies buts but books for all kids which is great because I know we will be buying some more of these books as Ellie grows up.

Im going to share with you our top 4 books I got from hosting a party. It was great because I paid so little for all of them and I absolutely LOVE each one I got (and so does Ellie) 

One of our favorites is "That's Not my Princess" It is great because Eleanor loves touchy feely books and the book is full of bright pictures and catches her attention. 

The next book we got that is hard to put down is Garden Sounds. This book is full of pretty birds chirping, bees buzz and rain pitter pattering. What drew me to this book was that the sounds are really pretty and don't get annoying! They have little cutouts throughout the book that Ellie loves to feel and she enjoys listening to the different sounds.

Baby's Very First Play Book Animal Words and Farm words are two books full of cut outs and finger trails, bright beautiful pictures that help children understand and recognize different animals and farm words. I loved it because I am not a fan of lift the flap books. Most of my experience with them is children ripping them off. This book is just finger trails and cutouts for little ones like Ellie so that she can play and I know when Im giving her the book it wont be destroyed in a matter of moments.

The last book I'm going to gush on is Baby's very first slide and see: Under the Sea. This book is so unique and I never saw anything on the market like it. Each page has a fun sliding aspect that creates a new, fun experience when reading together. Eleanor is too little to do the sliding part, but she loves watching the pages change and see the book come alive.

I seriously could go on and tell you about each book in our library, not just Usborne books, and why I love each of them. Reading is so important, it helps our kids learn listening skills, stimulates their imagination, and helps them get a love for learning at a young age. Plus it's a fun activity to do together.

Hope you enjoyed learning about some new books!

Have a great Monday! 

Sarah

**Today on Instagram Stories I will be showing the Garden Sounds Book and Noisy Nursery Rhymes book. So head on over and follow us @honestlymotherhood so you can get see these books in action. You can also go to Megan's Blog to find out more about Usborne books and how you can purchase them if you are interested.** 

Winter Fun for Everyone!

It is that time of year again. That time of year where we dream of warmer weather, flowers growing, kids running and playing outside, campfires, hot days by the pool, s'mores, lawn games, vacations...I could go on! However, currently it's Winter. That time of year where most of us are stuck inside avoiding the frigid temperatures and only wishing we could step outside without 4 layers on. We watch the sun go down at 5:15 and have a countdown on the calendar until Spring/Summer....How's a mom to survive the Winter?

For the past 8 years I have been involved in different avenues of childcare. I worked from the world of daycare to being an assistant teacher in a public school. During my time in these places I was able to create a lot of fun lesson plans for my kids. There were countless Pennsylvania winter storms that kept me inside with 8 school age boys, who just wanted to go outside and play, many afternoons with my little babies where I couldn't come to terms with reading another Dr. Seuss book, to the headaches of hearing preschoolers stealing toy trucks from one another...I had to do something! So today I'm digging down deep into my lesson plans to hopefully help you brave another winter day with your kiddos. These are just some fun activities and crafts that I found to be fun with the kids I worked with and a few I've gotten to do with my daughter. Some cost not a single penny, while a few may require a small trip to the dollar store, it really depends on what you have on hand.

Each age will have an activity and a craft! So here we go!

Infant (0-12 months)

Winter in a Bag:

Sensory tables/ bags are the best for little ones to explore different objects. What I love about this project is that it's no mess and I don't have to worry about Eleanor (6 months) putting stuff in her mouth. You can use what the website says in your bag or use whatever you have at home. Personally I am going to use hair gel, marshmallows, glitter and some sprinkles! Use whatever you have, you don't necessarily have to go out and buy things! 

Snowmen Feet:

photo credit: crafting for holidays

photo credit: crafting for holidays

Getting babies to do crafts can be a bit challenging but it doesn't mean it can't be fun. I love doing little crafts like this with Eleanor because it shows her growth. Doing footprints is a lot easier than handprint activities with ones this little because it's easier to control little feet with paint better than little hands with paint. This project is simple and all you need is construction paper and paint. It's always fun to paint their feet and get a little giggle out of them too. 

A little tip: When painting baby's feet make sure to have a book nearby to place the paper on. it makes it a little easier by having a hard surface behind the paper when getting their footprint. Oh, be sure to have some wipes or soapy water nearby to quickly wipe their feet and avoid white paint from getting everywhere!

Toddler (12 months-2)

Snow Play Dough:

This activity allows your toddler to help make and create with their hands. They can help you measure out the ingredients and place them in the bowl. To make the play dough you only need three ingredients which is pretty great! ( one of them is essential oils; I'm no pro in this area but you should definitely talk to Alicia about getting some doTERRA peppermint for this project ;) )

Paper Heart Penguin

This is a cute project to do with your little ones. An adult will have to do the cutting but it is fun to see the kiddos put together a cute little penguin. Of course most penguins won't look like the image above but that's the fun of letting them place the pieces of paper where they want. It creates a unique penguin they made on their own. 

Preschool (3-5)

Free Winter Printable

This is a great set of worksheets for preschoolers learning their letters, working on tracing and using scissors. They can also have fun by coloring the sheets and they can work on learning their phone number. Best of all it's FREE! All you have to do is print it out. 

Melting Snowman:

This craft was always a hit with my kids. It is great because it allows the kids to work on fine motor skills while having a fun time. It can get a little messy, but it's worth it in the end. 

FOR EVEN MORE FUN: Make the snowman with Cool Whip or Shaving Cream! All you have to do is get yourself a container of cool whip or shaving cream and add some Elmer's glue. It creates a fun puffy consistency.

School Age (6-12)

Winter Roll and Write:

This is a great activity that uses imagination and creativity. It allows children to work on writing skills or if they can't write have them draw a picture and tell you their story and of course the printable is FREE, which is awesome. 

Snowball Fight:

You don't need snow for a snowball fight! Grab some extra paper you have around the house, and crumble it up to make some snowballs. Place your "snowballs" in a basket. Create boundaries with a halfway mark. Get two teams together (e.g. brother vs. sister, mom vs. kids, Dad vs. everyone etc...) and start throwing those snowballs. Make sure you set a timer, once it goes off everyone stops and they count their snowballs on their side. Whoever has the least amount wins! It's a fun way to burn some energy inside and have fun with the whole family!

 

I hope some of these activities sparked your interest or gave you ideas to go out and look for more on your own! Creating and learning together with your kids is some of the best fun you can have! 

Sincerely, Sarah :)

Homeschooling Logistics

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We've tackled the beauty of homeschooling.  

We've gone thru a non-exhaustive list of curriculum to consider. 

Now, let's dive into the "how in world do I start?" question.  

 

Homeschooling requirements are different in each state. So, you'll need to get a good look at this handy dandy map to see if your state is a red, orange, yellow, or green state.  

 

If you're living in one of those beautiful green states, I envy you. You can just go for it...and ignore the rest of this post, entirely. (j/k...sorta) Happy homeschooling.  

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If you're any other color, there is a little or a lot of homework involved.  

 

As a NC homeschooler, I can only confidently speak for our regulations. Being a moderately regulated state, we really don't have a lot of hoops to jump thru.  

 

What you may want to do, no matter what state you're in are the following basic steps: 

1) Name your school 

Even if your state doesn't require school naming (NC does), you'll still want to give your school a name. If you want to make awesome shirts to wear on field trips, print certificates, and even for the eventual high school diploma and college apps, you'll want a name. 

 

I know of a lady who named her homeschool "Smarty Pants Academy" and literally put that on her child's diploma. I bet colleges got a kick out of that one. But, seriously, try not to be too embarrassing. 

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We named our school Carolina Christian Prep. My friend chose Eagles Nest Christian Academy. I know another that did ArrowsWay Christian Academy. Be creative! This is YOUR school that represents YOUR family.  

 

2) Keep attendance

Even if you don't have to. Our state requires it, but some states don't. It is nice to have some record of school attendance to keep on file for each child.  

 

Our states department of non-public education has a handy printable ready made. Check with your states Dept. of Non-Public Edu. to see what they offer. 

 

3) Join a support group. 

There are probably several homeschool associations in your area to join. Some charge a small fee for the year and encourage you to sign up for one volunteer activity in exchange for a decrease in fee.  

 

These groups are especially great for those just starting out. They plan field trips, activities, get-to-gethers, graduations, proms, sports, you name it. The calendars are usually full in these groups and there is NO shortage to the amount of social time they offer.  

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In addition, being a member of these groups usually means exclusive discounts and coupons available to you to take advantage of every fun opportunity. Since most homeschool families have three or more children, much consideration is given in terms of extracurricular costs.  

 

4) Join HSLDA 

For a rather small yearly fee, I highly highly recommend every homeschool family join this Homeschool Legal Defense Association. You never know when you'll need protected from the homeschool haters out there.  

 

5) Consider joining a co-op 

Co-ops are just that, they are a cooperation of homeschool families that gather for the purpose of enhanced, away-from-home instruction whether in one or several subjects. 

Some co-ops, like our church based one we attend, meet once a week for a small yearly fee, and all of the homeschool parents divide up and teach in the different subjects and age groups. 

Our co-op offers nursery up thru high school, even some courses offered give high school credit such as Spanish 1, etc. We offer extracurriculars such as drama, concert band, last year they did STEM classes, history, science, music, and more! 

It's a wonderful time to connect and pour into other children than your own. 

 

Some co-ops are not church based and do not require for the parent to stay on site. These co-ops generally cost quite a bit more, but gives the parent the chance to drop off and go for a few hours. Just find one that works best for you! 

 

6) Prepare for and embrace the haters 

Unless you personally were homeschooled as a child, and your spouse was homeschooled, and all your neighbors and their friends were homeschooled, too, prepare yourself for the homeschool haters

We're five years in, our children are scoring crazy well on the required end of year tests, they are in so many extras and experience a lot of social time, and we still have the "traditional school wishers" . 

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All I can tell you is, you may have a concerned parent or grandparent or friend that just says the wrong thing at the wrong time about your willingness to try homeschooling, and you may just break down at one point. You may begin to doubt yourself and God's plan and become entirely too overwhelmed. You may feel like a bad parent or just plain crazy by the way others may respond to you homeschooling. 

I want to encourage you. I've been there and sometimes I still am there. I know, I am the best teacher for my children. I know I am. I know them better than anyone does, even their own father. I know their learning styles. I know their struggles, passions, and the ways to best encourage them when something seems too hard.  

I am creative, fun, thorough, and spontaneous. You may be all of those things too. In fact, I bet you are. 

My advice would be to invite those people who assume the worst about homeschooling to any activity you can. Invite them to peek at a day in the life. Invite them to come and look at your curriculum, what you've been working on, or share your homeschool photo album with them. 

Over time, and with prayer, hopefully they will stop the negativity and be proud that you had the courage to take this step for your children.  

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Comment below! I love to hear from yall! I'd love to see if any homeschoolers could add to this list, too!  

 

Love, Alicia