Using Digital Books in Our Homeschool & While Travelling

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Last week while we were on our trip to Mexico I managed to read six books.

To me that qualifies as a good vacation!

While I love physical books (I mean, do you follow me on Instagram?!) I also do a lot of reading of ebooks. I love having a number of books at my finger tips. And when going on a trip it means I don’t have to pack dozens of books because I’m not sure what kind of book I’ll be in the mood for, all I need to pack is my tablet and make sure it’s loaded with a variety of books.

For this trip I decided to do the same thing but for the kids!

Using Digital Books in Our Homeschool - Plus while we are travelling!

We use Epic! and the kids and I went through together and found some books for each of them for the trip.

I like that many of the books can be downloaded and accessed offline so we don’t need constant access to the internet because good wifi isn’t always easy to come by when you are travelling.

Raeca chose some Boxcar Children chapter books and Ephraim chose a variety of picture books like the classic Jonathan Cleaned Up and Then He Heard a Sound by Robert Munsch, and he also chose a few non-fiction picture books (one on bald eagles and one on the earth’s surface).

Also, a fun note on the picture books: they have quite a few picture books that are “Read to Me” which is great for kids that aren’t quite reading, that way Ephraim can have his book read to him which can be handy when we are on the plane and I’m not sitting beside him or at home when he wants to have a book read to him but everyone else is occupied at the moment.

Using Digital Books in Our Homeschool - Plus while we are travelling!

I am slowly trying to get more and more into digital books for myself (it all goes with my desire to live more simply) and I love that my kids enjoy digital books and while we will not be abandoning hard copies any time soon I am excited to add more digital books into our homeschool days.

If you are interested in Epic! you can get a free trial for 30 days and see how it works for your family. After that it’s just $5 a month which is less than the cost of one book!

I actually wrote a full post about Epic! and the things we love about them awhile ago, you can read that whole post here!

Printable Minecraft Reading Log

Raeca definitely got her love of reading from me.

She turned seven in October and in that month, November and December she read twelve to thirteen chapter books each month.

It makes my mama and reader heart proud. 📚❤

But then in January she dropped off to three books and this month she hasn’t felt like reading much.

I know it’s not the end of the world and I go through periods of time where I read less than others but I still wanted to try to motivate her to get back into reading.


Printable Minecraft Reading Log - free printable reading log to inspire kids to read more!


My kids are both all into Minecraft these days so I thought I would create a Minecraft reading log that may get help them feel inspired to read more.

I created a printable reading log with Alex from Minecraft and for every book that my daughter reads she gets to color one in.

Once they are all filled in we will go pick up a treat. In our house that means a new book! If Raeca resumes her previous reading speed that means she will get a new book each month!


Free Minecraft Printable Reading Log


Of course, now Ephraim is requesting a Minecraft reading log too, which is perfect because I wanted some way to inspire him to want to do his reading lessons. He’s requested a creeper for his page.

My favorite Minecraft animal is definitely the llama, maybe I should create a printable for myself. 😉

If you need some book inspiration for your kids check out my book lists, there are tons of great book ideas!

Twelve of the Best Novels for Grade Two

It feels like forever since I’ve written a book list! I used to do them every week but I took a little break and it’s been hard to get back in the habit, but I plan on bringing them back every two weeks, if there is a specific genre/type of book list you would like, let me know!

For today’s list I am sharing some of my favorite novels for grade two.

Because every child reads at a different level for some kids these books will be read to them, or listened to on audiobook, for those who are more advanced readers they can read these for themselves.

My daughter is in the second category. She has read a lot in the last six months, though her reading has dropped off in the last month and a half. To try to get her back into reading I created this Minecraft printable reading log and I have decided that she can color in an Alex for each of the books on this list that I’ve given her. When I told her this she was really excited and grabbed a book off of the stack right away.

Twelve of the Best Novels for Grade Two

Since I know Raeca is more than capable of filling the reading log in one month if she got to fill in an Alex in the reading log for each of the books she read I wanted to challenge her a little so she can only color one in each time she reads one of the books off of this list.

Today’s list includes a number of books I have read before and I few I haven’t. I’m curious to see what Raeca thinks of each of them. I am hoping to have a little discussion with her after she finishes each of these books, not really to grill her on what she’s read, but so I can learn about the books too.

Side note: I only noticed this as I was adding the photos to the post but, WOW, Garth Williams really illustrated a lot of great books!

This list has to start with some Laura Ingalls Wilder 🙂 This is the book that Raeca immediately picked up off the stack and started reading.

Little House in the Big Woods, the first book in the Little House series, takes place in 1871 and introduces us to four-year-old Laura, who lives in a log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. She shares the cabin with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their lovable dog, Jack.

Pioneer life isn’t easy for the Ingalls family, since they must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But they make the best of every tough situation. They celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do their spring planting, bring in the harvest in the fall, and make their first trip into town. And every night, safe and warm in their little house, the sound of Pa’s fiddle lulls Laura and her sisters into sleep.


I can’t believe I still haven’t read this book! It takes place right here! I might sneak this off her stack and read it on my own first. 🙂

Every child needs to have a pet. No one could argue with that.

But what happens when your pet is an owl, and your owl is terrorizing the neighbourhood?

In Farley Mowat’s exciting children’s story, a young boy’s pet menagerie—which includes crows, magpies, gophers and a dog—grows out of control with the addition of two cantankerous pet owls. The story of how Wol and Weeps turn the whole town upside down s warm, funny, and bursting with adventure and suspense.


Armand, an old Parisian living on the streets of Paris, relished his solitary life. He begged and did odd jobs for money to keep himself warm and fed, and he liked his carefree life.

Then one day just before Christmas, a struggling mother and her three children walked into his life. Though he tried to ignore their troubles, Armand soon found himself caring for the family and sharing his unusual home under the bridge with them. It did not take Armand very long to realize that he had gotten himself ready-made family; one that he loved with all his heart, and one for whom he would have to find a better home than the bridge.


Tucker is a streetwise city mouse. He thought he’d seen it all. But he’s never met a cricket before, which really isn’t surprising, because, along with his friend Harry Cat, Tucker lives in the very heart of New York City―the Times Square subway station. Chester Cricket never intended to leave his Connecticut meadow. He’d be there still if he hadn’t followed the entrancing aroma of liverwurst right into someone’s picnic basket. Now, like any tourist in the city, he wants to look around. And he could not have found two better guides―and friends―than Tucker and Harry. The trio have many adventures―from taking in the sights and sounds of Broadway to escaping a smoky fire.

Chester makes a third friend, too. It is a boy, Mario, who rescues Chester from a dusty corner of the subway station and brings him to live in the safety of his parents’ newsstand. He hopes at first to keep Chester as a pet, but Mario soon understands that the cricket is more than that. Because Chester has a hidden talent and no one―not even Chester himself―realizes that the little country cricket may just be able to teach even the toughest New Yorkers a thing or two.


Set in the late nineteenth century and told from young Anna’s point of view, Sarah, Plain and Tall tells the story of how Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa’s advertisement for a wife and mother. Before Sarah arrives, Anna and her younger brother Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she sing? Will she stay?

I remember my teacher reading this book aloud to us in grade two or three (I had the same teacher both years so it’s hard to remember which year was which) and I want to re-read this one myself!

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.


This book may be a little too mature for some grade two students but ever since we listened to Echo a few weeks ago (I highly recommend listening to that one on audio) we have been chatting a little bit about WWII and I think this book is a good introductory book on the topic.

As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.


Eleanor Estes’s The Hundred Dresses won a Newbery Honor in 1945 and has never been out of print since. At the heart of the story is Wanda Petronski, a Polish girl in a Connecticut school who is ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. Wanda claims she has one hundred dresses at home, but everyone knows she doesn’t and bullies her mercilessly. The class feels terrible when Wanda is pulled out of the school, but by that time it’s too late for apologies. Maddie, one of Wanda’s classmates, ultimately decides that she is “never going to stand by and say nothing again.”


The Borrowers—the Clock family: Homily, Pod, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Arrietty, to be precise—are tiny people who live underneath the kitchen floor of an old English country manor. All their minuscule home furnishings, from postage stamp paintings to champagne cork chairs, are “borrowed” from the “human beans” who tromp around loudly above them. All is well until Pod is spotted upstairs by a human boy! Can the Clocks stay nested safely in their beloved hidden home, or will they be forced to flee?


Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?


Last seen flying through the sky in a giant elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie Bucket’s back for another adventure. When the giant elevator picks up speed, Charlie, Willy Wonka, and the gang are sent hurtling through space and time. Visiting the world’’ first space hotel, battling the dreaded Vermicious Knids, and saving the world are only a few stops along this remarkable, intergalactic joyride.


In 1707, young Sarah Noble and her father traveled through the wilderness to build a new home for their family. “Keep up your courage, Sarah Noble,” her mother had said, but Sarah found that it was not always easy to feel brave inside. The dark woods were full of animals and Indians, too, and Sarah was only eight!

The true story of Sarah’s journey is inspiring. And as she cares for her father and befriends her Indian neighbors, she learns that to be afraid and to be brave is the greatest courage of all.

Love book lists? Check out more here. Here’s another list of grade two chapter books. And check out Eight Read Alouds and Audiobooks for Grade Two.

Do you have any books you would add to this list?
Let me know in the comments!

Homeschool Without a Curriculum

When we first started homeschooling I knew right away that I didn’t want to invest my money into a curriculum.

I imagine curriculum can be good for some people and families but it just does not mesh with my personality or homeschool goals. Says the woman educated as a teacher, the irony is not lost on me.

I knew if we purchased a curriculum it would be fun to unbox and look over but it just wouldn’t get used. And I’m not into wasting that kind of money.

A few weeks ago I shared a bit about creating broad homeschool goals and it really resonated with a lot of other non-curriculum homeschoolers out there.

Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Workshop - how to homeschool your children without a curriculum a simple homeschooling method that builds a love for learning and strong family bonds

When we started homeschooling it looked a lot more like school at home than it does these days.

Raeca had only gone to school for kindergarten, a full day every other day, but she already had this idea of needing to sit down and “do school” each day, preferably in a desk.

Even though I went to school from kindergarten through grade twelve, one year of college and a few years of university I had dreams of curling up on the couch and reading good books.

But the ideas of having to “do school” were still in my mind as well.

So we tried to follow what our ideas of school were like for awhile and very slowly they kept evolving until I woke up one day and realized how far we had come from our ideas of what school needed to look like and how good that change was for our family.

Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Workshop - how to homeschool your children without a curriculum a simple homeschooling method that builds a love for learning and strong family bonds

These days “school” looks a lot like life.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we are unschooling, maybe we will one day when the kids are older but right now I give too many suggestions on things we should do and projects we should make for it to be unschooling.

I see what we are doing right now as homeschooling as a lifestyle. It involves following our interests and passions, taking advantage of teachable moments, and even the odd time, sitting down and using workbooks.

I am a lifelong learner, always busy researching something that interests me, and that is a passion I want to pass on to my children.

One of my main goals for homeschooling is for my children to love learning and know how to find the resources to quench their thirst for knowledge and our switch from more traditional schooling to homeschooling as a lifestyle has us on the right path.

Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Workshop - how to homeschool your children without a curriculum a simple homeschooling method that builds a love for learning and strong family bonds

Another thing I love about this has been how well it fits with a minimalist lifestyle. I still own way more stuff than I would like to, but this way of homeschooling does not require an excess of material possessions like I feel like so many of the homeschooling curriculums do.

I know I am not alone in my desires to homeschool without a curriculum and have it become our lifestyle instead; I’ve heard from so many people who want to ditch the curriculum but feel uncertain, whether it’s because they don’t feel qualified as an educator or just because they are unsure if their children will really get the education they think they need without it.

I wanted to be able to help those who wanted to homeschool without a curriculum and pursue homeschool as a lifestyle so I’ve created an online workshop.

In the Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Workshop we cover:

  • what homeschooling as a lifestyle is
  • why your family should ditch the curriculum and homeschool as a lifestyle
  • who can educate their children this way
  • our favorite resources and tools
  • why we still have workbooks
  • how we structure our homeschool
  • what homeschooling as a lifestyle looks like in our home
  • how to get started

The Best Picture Books of 2018 – Part One

Now that we are a couple of months into 2018 I wanted to share some of our favorite picture books that have been published so far this year!

We have previously shared our absolute favorite picture books from 2017 and the ones from 2016. I already feel like I know some of these books will be making it onto the final 2018 list!

Even though I enjoy reading when it comes to picture books I’ve noticed that I am drawn to books that don’t have a lot of words on one page. Is that weird of me? It probably is . . .

Anyway, the books on this list are our favorites from 2018 so far, there have been some good ones, I can tell it’s going to be another great year for picture books!

Update: You can now check out part two of The Best Picture Books of 2018 here.

Have you read any great books that have been published this year?
Let me know in the comments, we will definitely want to check them out.

Which of these books are you going to be checking out first?


The Best Picture Books of 2018 - Part One - the best picture books so far this year

Kindness is always something we are working on teaching our children, isn’t it?! This book is a good one!

When Tanisha spills grape juice all over her new dress, her classmate wants to make her feel better, wondering:

What does it mean to be kind?

From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.


I love books that teach kids to dream big, this one has the reaching for the stars.

When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.

She wanted to be an astronaut.

Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”

Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.

This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination.


This book is adorable. Since I have one boy and one girl we read it as “Snow Siblings” and it was funny because each of my children each chose a different character they related to.

When snowflakes fall, two sisters react very differently. One is excited and the other is wary. The first sister spends the morning outdoors, playing until she’s all tuckered out. Meanwhile, the second sister stays indoors, becoming ever more curious about the drifts outside. Soon, they switch places, and spend the second half of the day retracing each other’s footsteps. But each sister puts her own unique spin on activities like sledding, baking and building.


Jory John is back with another funny book, we always enjoy his books.

Persnickety Elephant has an itch–a big one–and he can’t reach it! While he isn’t above asking for a little help, no one is up to the task. Turtle is too lazy, Snail is too slimy, and Alligator… well, Elephant isn’t sure he wants his assistance. Does Elephant have to do everything himself?


Um, anyone else have a child that likes to talk more than listen? If so, you’ll enjoy this book!

Wordy Birdy LOVES to talk. “Hello, sunrise. Hello, pink sky. Hello, orange sky. . . .” But does she love to listen? NOPE. One day, while she’s walking through the forest, her gift of the gab gets her into hot water: “That’s a pretty tree and that’s a pretty tree and that’s a pretty danger sign and that’s a pretty tree. . . .” Will this inattentive bird walk right into danger? Will her faraway thoughts lead her along a path of doom? It’s up to her long-suffering, heard-it-all-before pals Squirrel, Raccoon, and Rabbit to save their distracted friend.


You just never know what a new day will hold if you are brave enough to find out. On one quiet afternoon, a boy and his special friend’s unexpected adventure bring joy and excitement and sights never imagined. And the best part of any adventure is returning home with stories to tell and you best friend at your side.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers.

But before that, she was just an ordinary girl.

In fact, young Jane was a bit quiet and shy; if you had met her back then, you might not have noticed her at all. But she would have noticed you.

Jane watched and listened to all the things people around her did and said, and locked those observations away for safekeeping.

Jane also loved to read. She devoured everything in her father’s massive library and before long, she began creating her own stories. In her time, the most popular books were grand adventures and romances, but Jane wanted to go her own way…and went on to invent an entirely new kind of novel.

What have been your favorite picture books published so far this year?

The Best Adoption Picture Books

I can’t believe I’ve never shared an adoption picture book list here on the blog yet!

Truth be told they aren’t the easiest of books to find, at least not good ones, but we’ve read a number of them and today we are sharing some of our favorites.

Adoption is a topic that has always been on my heart, even as a teenager, I always knew that I wanted to adopt and was very fortunate to find a guy who was with me on that.

The adoption process was not easy in the least, but three country programs and four agencies later, we were blessed with the funniest, cutest little guy that adds so much sunshine to our family. The process was long and hard but so worth it.


The sweetest and best adoption picture books.


Adoption is something we are very open about and is a constant conversation in our house. A few months ago (okay, maybe a year ago?) I asked Ephraim what adoption meant and he said, “keeped”. I feel like there is no better explanation than that.




On to our list of the best adoption picture books!


The Best Adoption Picture Books - Adoption picture books your whole family will love


This is one of our absolute favorites! It’s hilarious and oddly representative of our family (right down to the parents that are constantly taking pictures).

The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can–and might–eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. A new brother takes getting used to, and when (in a twist of fate) it’s Wolfie who’s threatened, can Dot save the day?


Every child is special. And every child deserves to be recognized for what makes him or her unique. My Adopted Child, There’s No One Like You creatively celebrates the adopted child. Adopted children need to know they are special, loved, and secure. Read this book with your adopted child to show him or her the never-ending reach of your love.


As Little Fox gets ready for bed, Mama Fox tells him the miraculous story of his arrival. First there was the waiting: ‘I’d go up to the cliffs and watch for you,’ Mama Fox tells her child. Then the mother who had Little Fox made the big decision to give him away: ‘I think she prayed like crazy that you would be safe, Little Fox. I think she prayed for me as much as I prayed for her.’ Then, finally, both their prayers were answered, the day God delivered Little Fox to Mama Fox: ‘When God found us you, you made me the happiest mama in the world.’ Lisa Tawn Bergren tells this heartwarming tale with tenderness and a true understanding. Just as How Big Is God captures the immensity of looking at God through a young child’s eyes, this book captures the more intimate, but no less profound, discovery of the blessings that adoption brings to both parent and child.


A king and queen should be full of joy and contentment, but they both feel a strange pain that worsens every day. Then a peddler’s magic spectacles reveal a red thread pulling at each of their hearts. The king and queen know they must follow the thread.



One day in class, Orange Peel—who got her nickname by eating orange peels when she was little—and her classmates learn about China. Everyone starts to ask Orange Peel questions about the country because they know that’s where she was born. But she doesn’t have all the answers. So Orange Peel joins her mother on her neighborhood errands to find out.


This beautiful poem celebrates the bond between parent and child in a special way. Through the exchanges between a little Chinese girl and her mother, Motherbridge of Love offers a poignant and inspiring message to parents and children all over the world.



This is another favorite! It’s a sweet story of a robot who finds a home.

Clink was a state-of-the-art robot with the dazzling ability to make toast and play music at the same time. But that was many years ago.

Now kids want snazzier robots who do things like play baseball and bake cookies. So day after day, Clink sits on a shelf and sadly watches as his friends leave with their new owners. He almost gives up on ever finding a home—until the day Clink spies a boy who just might be able to be the right one for him. . . .


Do you have any more adoption picture books that you would add to this list? I would love to heard them!

Antonio Vivaldi Composer Study

Growing up I knew absolutely nothing about composers or classical music. With the exception of the tune of Ode to Joy thanks to the Drink Milk Love Life commercials back in the 90’s (what I’ve since learned: the commercial lied; milk doesn’t make everyone love life). Was this commercial just a Canadian thing?

So, despite my limited composer knowledge, or maybe because of it, I wanted to give my children a little more of a well rounded music education than I had.

Even though I had good intentions, it was a slow start, but we are picking up pace now.

For our first composer study we decided to go with Antonio Vivaldi. My daughter was actually briefly introduced to his work in her one year of piano lessons a couple of years ago and we already knew we enjoyed his Four Seasons so he seemed like a great composer to study a little more in-depth.


Antonio Vivaldi Composer Unit Study


I decided to document all the resources we used and turned it into an online Vivaldi Composer Unity Study. The composer study is filled with resources for learning all about Vivaldi and his music.

The contents of this unit study include:

* an unit study sample schedule
* who is Antonio Vivaldi?
* book list
* playlists
* how to document your learning
* extended learning opportunities
* and more!

The study is now available to purchase!

Antonio Vivaldi Composer Unit Study


We will be studying Mozart next! Who should we study after that?
Do you have a favorite composer?

The Best Funny Poetry Books for Kids

Since April is Poetry Month I wanted to share a list of our favorite poetry books. I’ve actually already shared some of our all-time favorite poetry books so I thought I would great a list with a twist: our favorite funny poetry books.

My kids love poetry, maybe it is because they are young yet, but I personally think the reason they love poetry is because of how we approach it, reading poems is usually done during poetry tea time. Except for us it’s more like poetry-hot-chocolate-and-cupcake time. I mean, what kid wouldn’t love that?! (Here’s more information on our relaxed poetry tea time.)

I think this approach is brilliant (and I can say that because I didn’t make it up), and it’s a great concept to carry over in any area you find your child struggling or dreading.

Do they fight when it comes to math? What if it was popcorn and math time? The popcorn can even be used as counters, sneaky math. 😊

Do they despise reading? How about Brownies and Books? (I just made that idea up and now I kind of want to implement it.)

Okay, how about we get on to the list of funny poetry books! If you have any suggestions you would like to add, please leave a comment and we’ll check it out!


The Best Funny Poetry Books for Kids - great for poetry tea time.

A Light in the Attic delights with remarkable characters and hilariously profound poems in a collection readers will return to again and again.

Here in the attic you will find Backward Bill, Sour Face Ann, the Meehoo with an Exactlywatt, and the Polar Bear in the Frigidaire. You will talk with Broiled Face, and find out what happens when Somebody steals your knees, you get caught by the Quick-Digesting Gink, a Mountain snores, and They Put a Brassiere on the Camel.

Come on up to the attic of Shel Silverstein and let the light bring you home.


If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer,
A wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er,
A magic bean buyer …

Come in … for where the sidewalk ends, Shel Silverstein’s world begins. You’ll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.


With fantastic characters and enchanting language, Lewis Carroll created magical wonderlands children have always loved to visit. These 26 selections from his classic works have never lost their fascination. Open the covers of this beautifully illustrated collection and take a magical journey through selections from his classic works, including Alice’s Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking GlassThe Hunting of the Snark, and Sylvie and Bruno. Humorous paintings by Eric Copeland gloriously depict both the beloved and fantastic characters—from the fearsome Jabberwock to the wacky Tweedledum and Tweedledee


Edward Lear was the greatest nonsensicalist of all time. He was the inventor of the limerick and created the Jumblies and The Owl and the Pussycat. This complete edition of Lear’s nonsense verse – including the limericks, longer verses, alphabets and his own illustrations – is lovingly restored and beautifully presented, for adults and children to enjoy together.



Millie McDeevit screamed a scream
So loud it made her eyebrows steam.
She screamed so loud
Her jawbone broke,
Her tongue caught fire,
Her nostrils smoked…

Poor Screamin’ Millie is just one of the unforgettable characters in this wondrous new book of poems and drawings by the creator of Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. Here you will also meet Allison Beals and her twenty-five eels; Danny O’Dare, the dancin’ bear; the Human Balloon; and Headphone Harold.

So come, wander through the Nose Garden, ride the Little Hoarse, eat in the Strange Restaurant, and let the magic of Shel Silverstein open your eyes and tickle your mind.


Have you ever read a book with everything on it? Well, here it is! You will say Hi-ho for the toilet troll, get tongue-tied with Stick-a-Tongue-Out-Sid, play a highly unusual horn, and experience the joys of growing down.

What’s that? You have a case of the Lovetobutcants? Impossible! Just come on in and let the magic of Shel Silverstein bend your brain and open your heart.


We’ve enjoyed this book! Think: modern day Shel Silverstein. This book has us laughing out loud and creating our own funny poems.


Let us know if you have other books you would add to this list!


Interested in learning more about Poetry Tea Time? Check out my post from last year on how we keep ours relaxed and fun and you can also check out the Poetry Tea Time website for lots of fun ideas.

50 Books Every Parent Should Read to Their Child

I’ve been going through our picture books the last few weeks and doing the unthinkable: setting some aside to get rid of.

It’s like I’ve got two sides when it comes to this: my minimalist side and my bibliophile side.

I want to get rid of everything but I want to keep the books.

So, I’ve come to a decision to at least get rid of the picture books that aren’t our favorites.

I know a great picture book can be enjoyed by all ages but as my children get older I feel like we have less need to keep so many picture books. Especially with our weekly library hauls, all the picture books are at our fingertips.

We do have a number of picture books we can part with, which  my minimalist side is happy about, but while I’ve been going through all the books I’ve been realizing how many really great books there are.

And if you have been around this site for any length of time you can guess what happened next: I decided to create a book list.

This time though, I came up with 50 books every parent should read to their child.


A great list of 50 picture and chapter books every parent should read to their child


Could I have thought of more books than just 50? Absolutely! But I didn’t want to get overwhelming and so I decided to pick just 50; 25 picture books and 25 chapter books.

There are a few books that I really wanted to add to the list but I tried to keep it well balanced so for whatever reason a few trusted favorites didn’t make the cut.

I also have some very specific tastes when it comes to children’s books. I know I am nearly alone when I say that I don’t really like Curious George or Winnie-the-Pooh (can a Canadian really say that about the cute little bear that was from this country? No offence, Winnie.). So, those books aren’t on the list. And there are some great series’ that are represented on the list and I just tried to pick the one I personally think is the best from the series.

All in all, don’t get upset at me if your favorite book didn’t make the cut. Just send me an email or leave me a comment and let me know which book(s) you would add and who knows, maybe they will make it onto a part two list if I make one down the road!

Okay, I’m done chatting now. 🙂 📚

50 Books Every Parent Should Read to Their Child

Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour

Today I’ve got a guest post from Rochelle Garrison Cocomello, she is going to show us inside her minimalist homeschool room. If we had a designated homeschool space I imagine it would look similar to this. Enjoy the peek inside their homeschool room! – Chantel


One question I often get asked is “how do you actually DO homeschool?”. After I blabber on for (too long) excitedly about curriculum, I realize that generally what people actually want to know is “what does homeschooling LOOK like?”. They want a visual.

So I am here to take you on a short tour of our simple space. We live just outside of Montreal and are fairly new homeschoolers (my oldest is 6 – we’ve done preK and kindergarten at home). This space has greatly contributed to us settling into a daily rhythm.


A Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling


My office is our dedicated “classroom” though generally only our table work takes place here (math and language arts). This room was recently renovated (the previous owners smoked heavily and the tar-covered wallpaper definitely needed to go). I am drawn to crisp, clean and bold decor so I chose black and white paint colours. I keep the walls empty which helps us with concentration (the rest of my house is chaos but this is the one room I’ve managed to make uncluttered and minimalistic and I love how it feels. #progress).


Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling


We used a combination of hand-me-down furniture and Ikea items to furnish the space.

This is our activity shelf. Here I keep markers, our feather collection, a tin of crayons and some educational toys/activities for my 4 year old. We haven’t started any formal schooling with her yet, so she will either pick an activity from this shelf or a book to keep her busy (and quiet-ish) while I work one-on-one with my son.


Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling

Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling


For our math and language art demos, I use a whiteboard that I purchased from Walmart. It sits on top of the shelf along with our latest art or history project (displaying only one project at a time keeps the clutter to a minimum plus adds a bit of continual visual interest since we change it up often).

The one item we have on the wall is a calendar the kids work on together every month.


Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling


My desk is from Ikea (Linnmon table top with two Alex drawer units). Approximately half of the drawers are dedicated to homeschooling materials and the other half to business supplies.


Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling


Here is the breakdown of the left drawer unit:
Top drawer: Basics (tape, binder hole-punch, etc).
Second drawer: iPhone tripod (I do a lot of YouTube videos and Facebook Lives for work).
Third drawer: This is what I humbly refer to as my “homeschooling junk drawer”. It houses any piece of paper that I’m unsure of what to do with (extra art or worksheets that I can’t decide if we should keep).
Last two drawers: Business items (branded stationary, customer forms, etc).

And here’s what is in the right drawer unit:
Top drawer: Note books (I use these for work).
Second drawer: Batteries, label maker and printer ink.
Third drawer: Stamps, envelopes and art paper (we have a craft cupboard in the kitchen that houses the rest of our art and craft supplies).
Fourth drawer: Laminator and laminator sleeves (such a homeschooling staple right?).
Fifth drawer: Printer paper (our printer is wonderfully out of sight in my husband’s office in the basement).


Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling


This is a Kallax Ikea shelf. My husband lifted it (so it wouldn’t cover the air return) and added the trim to make it look more like a built-in unit.

The top row holds both of our PreK and K curricula. We use a mix of Bookshark, Build Your Library and The Good and The Beautiful programs. Overall, our style of homeschool follows a Charlotte Mason/literature-based philosophy so hence why all the books.


Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling


These seagrass baskets are also from Ikea (Knipsa baskets). I put all of our manipulates in the first two (clocks, beads, letter games, science supplies). The second two baskets hold anything techie (USBs, wires/cables/cords, camera gear, etc).

I have an Usborne book addiction (no affiliation) but thankfully so many of their books tie in well with our homeschool and/or provide great entertainment for my 4 year old while my 6 year old and I do table work. I keep all of our educational books here for that purpose.

We have one section of the shelf housing empty binders dedicated to a French curriculum not-yet-purchased. Quebec laws require some schooling to be done in French (the homeschooling laws have recently changed here so we’re waiting to see the official requirements).


Minimalist Homeschool Room Tour - Intentional Homeschooling


The kids’ desk is also from Ikea and we use two simple folding chairs (I hope to upgrade the chairs at some point to something more sturdy).

And that wraps up the tour. I hope you enjoyed getting an idea of what homeschooling can actually “look like”. Thank you so much for stopping by 🙂


I am a mom of two living outside of Montreal, Quebec.

Our family is striving for a slow, rich life. Not necessarily in monetary terms (though I would never resist wealth should it come our way . I want our life to be rich in time and flexibility and improvement and beauty – through homeschooling, entrepreneurship, green(ish) living and renovating a disastrous foreclosure house.

The slow is a nod to the pace at which we seem to be accomplishing things (patience is a hard lesson I’m learning). But also the pace we are trying to set for ourselves. We have one life, let it be rich and not a race.

You can find Rochelle online on HER WEBSITE & INSTAGRAM



The Ultimate Guide to Using Audiobooks in Your Home

We are big into audiobooks in our home and I get a lot of questions about it. About a year ago I wrote a post about How to Incorporate Audiobooks into Your Homeschool Day but we’ve amped up our listening since then so I figured it was time to go big and share The Ultimate Guide to Using Audiobooks with Kids.

You definitely don’t need to do everything we do or even do things how we do them but I wanted to share our experience in order to help out my fellow homeschoolers.

First off, let’s start with why I am so keen on audiobooks!





I’ve admitted this many times, I can read a good picture book really well but I struggle with reading chapter books aloud. While I am working on this by reading some of the easier chapter books aloud I didn’t want this struggle of mine to affect the number and quality of books we listen to.


Want to listen to more audiobooks with your kids? Here is a great guide with lots of tips on how and when to listen to audiobooks with kids!



I really enjoy productivity and appreciate that our minds can be busy listening to a story while our hands are busy doing something else. Ideas on what this can be to follow . . .



Back to my issues with productivity but I find reading aloud takes me such a long time, so I’ve gotten in the habit of speeding up our books. This depends on the narrator but I find we usually put our family audiobooks on to 1.2x speed. If you have headphones on it’s easier to listen at a faster speed, I usually listen at 2x for my own books and my daughter listens between 1.4x and 1.8x depending on the book. It’s also something that needs to be done gradually, you can’t just go from always listening at regular 1x speed and then jump up to 2x, you need to hit the speeds in between first or else it sounds way too fast.


Want to listen to more audiobooks with your kids? Here is a great guide with lots of tips on how and when to listen to audiobooks with kids!


If you know that audiobooks are amazing and something you need to incorporate into your homeschool, I bet you are wondering about the best ways to listen to these great books. The good news is, the majority of the ways we listen to audiobooks are completely free!

The first two apps we use for free via our library, the third one is free online and only the fourth and fifth ones do you need to pay for (but I’ve got some tips for you to get some of them for free or super cheap).



I love this app because we can have up to ten books out at a time. With three of us listening to audiobooks quite heavily we actually use two library cards which bumps us up to 20 books at a time! Plus, they are automatically returned when they are due so we never have to worry about late fees or trying to remember when to bring them back. If your library has access to Overdrive they will only have a limited number of copy of each book so some times you have to put a hold on a book and wait awhile for your turn.

Side note: I just heard about the app Libby. I thought it was another app but as far as I can tell it is Overdrive but looks nicer? I’ll update here when I’ve used it more and know more about it!



Another great app our library uses! Our local library limits us to three books a month which is not usually enough for us from this app since they have a different selection than the Overdrive app (it’s where we are listening to the Christian Heroes Then and Now Series). The good thing about Hoopla though is that there are no waiting lists! If you find a book you want to read or listen to you can do so immediately.


The Ultimate Guide to Using Audiobooks in Your Homeschool


Prior to using the library apps we used the website Librivox a lot more, it’s been awhile since we’ve used it now but there are some great books to listen to for free on the site. Librivox uses volunteers to read books that are in the public domain so if you are looking for classics, chances are it will be there! Narrators can be hit and miss but we’ve always enjoyed Kara Shallenberg.



If we can’t access an audiobook we want from any of these sites I will consider purchasing it from Audible. There aren’t many books we re-listen to so for that reason I prefer to not buy them. If I do buy one off of Audible I make sure I don’t pay more than $5. The Green Ember was a book I kept waiting for our library to get and they never did so I bought it on Audible when it was on sale for a few dollars.

The nice thing about Audible is, if you haven’t already done their free trial you can get some books for free! Or, you can just buy the discounted books when you find them and you don’t need a subscription. Plus, sometimes if you already have the ebook you can get the audiobook for just $0.99!



We also use Epic Books at times to listen to books. They have a pretty good selection of picture books which kids can listen to and look at the pictures at the same time. They also have some audiobooks for older kids but not as much selection for audiobooks for older kids as the other apps I’ve previously mentioned. Epic does come with a monthly subscription but they often have deals for you to get the first month free. I would definitely recommend looking into Epic and seeing if it’s something you want to incorporate into your audiobook arsenal.


The Ultimate Guide to Using Audiobooks in Your Homeschool


Now that I’ve shared our favorite sites/apps for audiobooks let’s get into when to listen to them! We listen to a few of books a month by implementing the following methods.

Actually before I get into this list I should just mention that we usually have one audiobook on the go that we are listening to together as a family (minus my husband who is usually at work while we are listening) and then the kids and I also have individual books we listen to. We listen via this bluetooth speaker.

For individual listening I use my phone and headphones and the kids have old tablets and headphones. I’m looking into getting us all bluetooth headphones so we can walk around more but first we have to do a little saving, I’m still using the headphones that came with an old phone I bought six years ago, it’s about time I got some new ones.


Want to listen to more audiobooks with your kids? Here is a great guide with lots of tips on how and when to listen to audiobooks with kids!



This is my favorite one, because I may have one child who is a bit of a chatterbox. Listening to books at meals began as a way to get her to actually eat her food instead of just talking through the entire meal but quickly turned into something we enjoyed. For about a year we only listened at lunch time (20-30 minutes a day) but over the past few weeks we’ve started listening at breakfast too. Often we will be so into a book we will sit at the table for awhile after eating or my daughter will pull out a paper to draw on, which brings me to the next one . . .



There are so many things a person could do while listening to a book: drawing, coloring, playing Lego, driving cars (as long as there aren’t too many car noises 😉 ), making perler bead creations, etc. Anything that is fairly mindless could be done at the same time. I have a list of more than thirty ideas of things you can do while listening coming out soon!



This is usually more of an individual thing in our house, where we have headphones on and do some kind of cleaning while listening. I like to listen while doing the dishes, folding laundry or sweeping. The kids usually listening while cleaning up their rooms and all those clothes at somehow end up on their floor. Cleaning can be a struggle but listening to something at the same time makes it more enjoyable for me and eliminates the complaining from my kids (except if their headphones get tangled as they walk around). 🙂


The Ultimate Guide to Using Audiobooks in Your Homeschool


If we are going to be in the car for more than five minutes we’ll put our current book on to listen to. When we are on road trips we can listen to hours worth of audio but it’s amazing how much we can get through on a day when we are just running errands, five minutes here and ten minutes there adds up!

Sometimes on road trips the kids will listen to their individual books as well. It makes the vehicle so quiet and Jared and I can actually have a conversation without kids inserting their two cents every few seconds. It’s pretty much like a road trip date.



This started not too long ago because my daughter usually reads for an hour before bed but my son isn’t quite reading yet and he was getting sick of looking at the same books over and over again, so he started listening before bed and it has made that time of day less of a struggle and has helped to settle him down before bed.

Those are our main listening times, if you have other times you listen to audiobooks, I would love to hear them!


If you need some audiobook recommendations, you can check out my list of best audiobooks for young children, audiobooks for grade one and audiobooks for grade two.

The Ultimate Guide to Using Audiobooks in Your Homeschool

Nine Summer Read Alouds and Audiobooks for 7-10 Year Olds

This is my third year sharing a list of read alouds I would like to get to during the summer. You can view the first one here and the second one here.

The first two lists were more early elementary based and this one is starting to get a little older as my kids get older.

Since the books on this list are read alouds the reading level can be higher than when they are reading on their own. My kids are 5 and 7 and they both listen to our books though they are more geared towards the 7 year old.

This being the third year of our summer reading list, I’ve learned some things:

#1 We won’t read all the books on this list

There are some books on our previous lists we still haven’t gotten to. I like to have extras on the list because I know when it comes down to it we won’t be in the mood for certain books so I like to have some variety and options.

#2 When I say “read aloud” I mean “audiobook”

Try as I might I’m just not very good at reading chapter books out loud. I’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web to the kids for the past month and a half and I’m still not done, and there really aren’t that many chapters . . . Audiobooks happen much more consistently in our house.

Check my Ultimate Guide to Using Audiobooks in Your Homeschool.

We definitely have two main genres we are listening to these days: missionary biographies and fantasy stories.

My daughter loves fantasy which always weirds me out a little bit because based on her personality I feel like she should be completely freaked out by fantasy but she just loves it. I didn’t grow up reading fantasy so I feel like I’m learning to love it alongside her.

We’ve listened to so much fantasy in the last couple of years I can’t believe I don’t have a fantasy book list here yet (I’m adding that to my list of posts to add shortly!).


Nine Summer Read Alouds and Audiobooks for ages 7-10 - early middle years


If you haven’t already read book one, The Green Ember you must start there!

The stage is set. It’s war. Morbin Blackhawk, slaver and tyrant, threatens to destroy the rabbit resistance forever. Heather and Picket are two young rabbits improbably thrust into pivotal roles.

The fragile alliance forged around the young heir seems certain to fail. Can Heather and Picket help rescue the cause from a certain, sudden defeat?

My Place Beside You
My Blood For Yours
Till The Green… Ember Falls


The question in this first volume is resoundingly clear: What can the peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey do to defend themselves against Cluny the Scourge and his battle-seasoned army of rats? If only they had the sword of Martin the Warrior, they might have a chance. But the legendary weapon has long been forgotten-except, that is, by the bumbling young apprentice Matthias, who becomes the unlikeliest of heroes.


Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darknesspresents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.


At the age of five, little orphan Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather in the Alps. Everyone in the village is afraid of him, but Heidi is fascinated by his long beard and bushy grey eyebrows. She loves her life in the mountains, playing in the sunshine and growing up amongst the goats and birds. But one terrible day, Heidi is collected by her aunt and is made to live with a new family in town. Heidi can’t bear to be away from her grandfather; can she find a way back up the mountain, where she belongs?


Far off the coast of California looms a harsh rock known as the island of San Nicholas. Dolphins flash in the blue waters around it, sea otter play in the vast kep beds, and sea elephants loll on the stony beaches.

Here, in the early 1800s, according to history, an Indian girl spent eighteen years alone, and this beautifully written novel is her story. It is a romantic adventure filled with drama and heartache, for not only was mere subsistence on so desolate a spot a near miracle, but Karana had to contend with the ferocious pack of wild dogs that had killed her younger brother, constantly guard against the Aleutian sea otter hunters, and maintain a precarious food supply.


Make sure you read The Wild Robot first!

Shipwrecked on a remote, wild island, Robot Roz learned from the unwelcoming animal inhabitants and adapted to her surroundings–but can she survive the challenges of the civilized world and find her way home to Brightbill and the island?


We are on a Christian Heroes: Then and Now series kick right now. So far our favorites in the series have been George Muller and Lillian Trasher.

Eric’s refusal earlier that week to run on Sunday in the Olympic 100-meter race had stunned the world. Now his incredible victory in the 400-meter race further strengthened his belief in God’s promise, “He who honors Me, I will honor.”
Years later, Eric Liddell would be tested far beyond mere physical ability as a missionary to China. His character, perseverance, and endurance are a challenging example for all who would obey the call to bring the gospel to the nations.


Betty Greene coaxed her Grumman seaplane to two thousand feet….. Suddenly, silence–total silence. The plane engine had stopped! Her passengers gasped, but Betty knew she must remain calm. They had only a slim chance for survival: the twisting jungle river below them.

As a young girl growing up on the shores of Lake Washington Betty Greene had two passions: a love for Christ and a love of flying. As a young World War ll WASP pilot, Betty dreamed of combining her two passions by using wings to serve God. Betty’s dream became reality when she helped found the Mission Aviation Fellowship. Her faith-filled adventures and faithful service helped create what is today a global ministry that operates over eighty aircraft in nineteen countries.


Ten-year old Lottie Moon had seen too much bitterness and gossip among churchgoers to want anything to do with religion or God. In fact, if there was a single way to waste a life, Lottie told herself, being a missionary was it.

In a twist that only God could orchestrate, this spirited young girl who grew up to become the most educated woman in the American South would ultimately find her calling as a missionary to China. As Lottie watched her fellow missionaries fall to disease, exhaustion, mental breakdowns, and death, she became just as dedicated to educating Christians about the often preventable tragedies of missionary life as she was to educating Chinese people about the Christian life.

The sacrificial service of the unforgettable Lottie Moon has inspired and enabled countless others to give their all for the dream of seeing the whole world reached with the gospel.


What are you reading this summer?
Any suggestions on what we should add to our list?

How to Teach Your Children to Fall in Love with Geography

Today I want to share the second best way to teach your children geography.

I think I know what you are thinking right now, why in the world would she tell us about the second best way to teach geography? What is the first?!

So, let’s chat about the first and then we’ll get on to the second.

In my opinion, the best way to have your children learn and fall in love with geography​​​​ is to travel. Hands down. But sometimes it doesn’t work to travel everywhere you wan to go; maybe your family is large and it takes a lot of money to get you all where you want to go, or maybe you have other factors keeping you back, or maybe, like us, you are saving for a trip but it takes time! (I’ve go enough saved so far that would ​take 2/4 of us to London and no money to do anything once we get there, so I’ve got aways to go.)

How to Teach Your Children to Love Geography and want to explore the world!On a small river boat in Uganda.

My kids, especially my daughter, are fairly well traveled. When she was four she had been to three provinces, seven or eight states, including flying to California twice, and had been to Uganda and South Africa. We aren’t afraid to travel as a family with young kids, but it definitely involves a lot of saving. This winter we went to Mexico which was our first international trip since returning from South Africa three years prior. There are definitely seasons for travel and seasons for sticking closer to home.

Since the first option for teaching your children to love geography may not on the table for most of us at this time, let me tell you that the second option is a much cheaper alternative that will still teach you and your children a lot about the world. Just be warned though, it may lengthen your to-travel list.

How to Teach Your Children to Love Geography and want to explore the world!Giraffes on our safari in South Africa.

The second option is learning all about countries from your home. With books and the internet at your fingertips you can still learn and explore about the world.

I have spent hours scouring the internet finding great books, YouTube videos, projects, online field trips and treks for us to learn about different countries. If you want to spend the time looking you can find them too! Or if you prefer to have it already laid out for you, you are in luck because I’ve been keeping track of all our findings and have turned it into a resource guide!

How to Teach Your Children to Love Geography and want to explore the world!Anyone else notice how much dogs roam the streets in many countries? Mexico is one of those countries.

The resource I am talking about is my Explore the World Resource Guide. I know you’ve probably heard me talk about it a few times but today I wanted to give you a bit of a peek inside and give you more info on what the guide can do for you.

What the Explore the World Resource Guide is, is a way to teach your children about different countries without having to leave your home (and without having to save a bunch of money to travel to each of the countries).

Before I go any farther, I need to tell you that the Explore the World Resource Guide is currently 50% off over at Hey Parent! I don’t see it ever being this discounted again but you need to grab it before Monday to get this deal! (Plus the $30 2018-2019 Mulberry Homeschool Planner is included as well!)

How to Teach Your Children to Love Geography and want to explore the world!Watching the monkey steal bird seed in South Africa.

The guide includes an overview of each of the continents plus an in-depth look at a number of different countries and I periodically add more countries as we learn about them in our homeschool.

Here is an overview of the topics in the guide:

  • Geography Book List
  • Geography Board Games
  • Videos
  • Virtual Reality
  • General Links & Resources
  • Let’s Get Started!
  • North America
    • Canada
    • Mexico
    • United States
  • South America
  • Europe
    • England
    • France
    • Germany
    • Italy
    • Russia
  • Africa
  • Asia
    • China
    • India
    • Japan
    • Nepal
    • United Arab Emirates
  • Oceania
  • Antarctica

Inside each of the countries there are a number of different resources including book lists, video clips, virtual reality tours, online treks you can explore and discover and more!

How to Teach Your Children to Love Geography and want to explore the world!An aloe plant taller than him in Mexico!

Want a peek inside? Take a look inside the France unit!

You can go as surface or as in-depth with each of the countries as you want. There are some countries that haven’t interested us as much so we’ve just watched the videos and read a couple of books, but others have captured our attention and have had us digging deeper and creating art projects and notebooking pages.

I personally think that a big way to get your children to love geography is to not force a country they don’t feel interested in, not every country will interest every child and that’s okay. I know not every country interests me and I have a huge sense of wanderlust, so for this my bank account, and my husband, thank me.

How to Teach Your Children to Love Geography and want to explore the world!One of the smaller centipedes in South Africa.

If physically travelling the world isn’t in your budget for this time but you still want your children to fall in love with geography grab the Explore the World Resource Guide and start digitally travelling the world!

And remember, you can currently get the guide for 50% off over at Hey Parent, but the deal ends soon so grab it before Monday!

How to Teach Your Children to Love Geography and want to explore the world!

Our Favorite Grade Three Homeschool Resources

Last week I shared our favorite kindergarten homeschool resources and today I wanted to share our favorite grade three resources.

Because we view homeschooling as a lifestyle we don’t follow a purchased or pre-made curriculum but rather create a list of broad homeschool goals for the year and create our own “curriculum” (using the term very loosely).

Originally I assumed as we moved up in grades we would want to incorporate a curriculum into our homeschool but as we go along I’m learning more about each of my kids and I’m realizing we are running our homeschool in a very interest-led way. Though, unlike most interest-led homeschools part of it is also parent-interest-led. I want my children to learn about what interests me too. 🙂

Once again, I’ve created a video to share a bit about each of our favorite resources, I’ve also linked the resources below but to know more about each of the resources definitely check out the video. And if YouTube is your jam, subscribe to my channel and ensure you don’t miss a video.

Our Favorite Grade Three Homeschool Resources



Here are the main resources we will be using for the grade three year:


Our Favorite Grade Three Homeschool Resources

If you have some favorite resources for grade three I would love to hear them!

The Homeschool un-Planner – Free Printable Monthly Record Sheets

I remember at the beginning of every school year in middle school and high school vowing to make that the year that I kept my binder and notes much more organized. That generally lasted about a month and by the time Christmas came my binder was a complete disorganized mess.

Was I the only that went through this?

This year I find myself making this same promise to myself as a homeschooling parent. Though the problem is not that my notes have gotten disorganized, it’s that I stopped taking any! And we’ve been doing some pretty neat stuff, so I want to make sure I keep track of it.


Free Printable Homeschool un-Planner Monthly Records Sheets


Last week I finished our homeschool portfolio for the year that I had to submit to our school division, the portfolio is really simple and I am happy to do that little bit of work for the little bit of monetary reimbursement the division gives us. But, it was a struggle to fill out our last few months because I simply stopped writing down what we had been doing.

I like the idea of a homeschool planner but if you’ve read about how I prefer to reverse schedule actually planning out our day doesn’t really work for us, I prefer to write down what we’ve done instead of what we plan on doing.


Free Printable Homeschool un-Planner Monthly Records Sheets


I decided to create some printables for myself in hopes to keep myself a little more organized this year. And since we’ve already started the new school year a few months early I printed out June and have already started keeping track.

I made a page for jot notes of what we’ve done for the month and since Ephraim is starting kindergarten I will be printing out a different jot note page for each of my kids to keep their stuff separate. But because we do a lot of our major topics together I also created another page where I could record our major topics for the month as well as our read alouds (which are usually audiobooks).

Once upon a time I had thought of creating a homeschool planner but knew that wouldn’t work for my personality and homeschooling style so I’m calling this the Homeschool un-Planner, which is a much more appropriate title.


Free Printable Homeschool un-Planner Monthly Sheets


I thought I would share the printables with anyone else who likes to reverse schedule and instead likes to write down what they’ve done instead of what they are going to do. I have a lot of ideas for future pages for the un-Planner but if you have some ideas feel free to leave me a comment below!

Ready for the pages?

Free Printable Homeschool un-Planner Monthly Sheets


Picture Books About Knights

Back in the spring we spent quite a bit of time studying knights.

I was reading Knights in Training and hosted an online book club about the book and then I took my kids through some knight training exercises.


Picture Books About Knights


I would highly recommend grabbing a copy of Knights in Training and reading through it. Prior to reading it I had no idea of the code of conduct knights had to adhere to, it’s very inspirational and all of the codes they had to follow are ones I would like my children to follow.

The ten codes knights were to follow:

  1. Love God
  2. Obey
  3. Stand Against Injustice
  4. Protect the Weak
  5. Respect Women
  6. Don’t Give Offense
  7. Speak Truth
  8. Be Generous
  9. Persevere
  10. Pursue Excellence


Picture Books About Knights


Part of our knight training involved reading a number of picture books about knights.

The following picture books have great illustrations and do a great job of giving some of the background of what was required from knights and the process they went through for years before reaching knighthood.

I generally don’t like picture books that have a lot of words on a page, I may be alone in this and we could just chalk it up to some weird personal quirk, but for the most part these books have a fair number of words per page and I still found them easy and enjoyable to read, that’s saying something.




The Best Picture Books About Knights


Here noble Gareth, King Arthur’s nephew is knighted by Sir Lancelot, vanquishes the dreaded knight of the Red Plain, and wins the hand of a fair maiden.


Hodges retells an exciting segment from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, in which the Red Cross Knight slays a dreadful dragon that has been terrorizing the countryside for years, bringing peace and joy back to the land. Featuring a fresh new cover design – with artwork that highlights the dragon adventure within – and distinctive embossed gold Caldecott Award sticker, this is the perfect way to introduce the classic tale to a whole new generation of readers.


Except for the dragon-shaped constellation that appeared at his birth, there was nothing that suggested Arthur was destined for greatness.

Raised by the gentle Sir Ector, Arthur spends his boyhood exploring the Welsh woodlands, until one day a messenger arrives announcing a grand tournament to be held in London. Arthur’s older brother, Sir Kay, insists they must attend with Arthur as his squire. After traveling the long road to London on horseback, Kay performs brilliantly in the contest, but it’s young Arthur himself who ultimately wins the day.


As a lad of only sixteen years, Arthur pulled the sword from the stone and thus became High King of all Britain. But scarcely has he begun to arrange his court when twelve of the country’s lesser kings, jealous of Arthur’s glory, declare war on him.

Culminating in the Battle of Bedegraine, this war is fateful in more ways than one–for not only does it secure Arthur’s place among his people, it also unites his destiny with that of Lady Guinevere.


Though Arthur was the greatest king that Britain had ever known, Lancelot was the Round Table’s greatest knight. Orphaned in battle and rescued by the Lady of the Lake, Lancelot is raised in the enchanted domain of Avalon, where he is schooled in the arts of chivalry by the finest knights in the world. After his arrival at Camelot, Lancelot goes forth to prove himself worthy of the honor bestowed upon him as the queen’s champion. Defeating giants, slaying dragons and rescuing damsels in distress are all in a day’s work for the dynamic, young warrior. But the passion that drives him to great deeds eventually drives him mad when he discovers the truth of his own heart’s desire. Only love could wound him so deeply, but only love can heal him.


When the young Arthur pulled the sword from the stone and became High King of all Britain, he didn’t realize that an even greater task lay ahead: that of uniting his country behind him. Wielding the great Pendragon sword, Arthur leads his men to victory in the Battle of Bedegraine. Afterward, his knights disperse in pursuit of individual glory and Arthur stays behind, listening wistfully to the older knights’ tales of daring and heroism. All the time he wonders, Why can’t I go questing as they have?

But soon he does discover a quest of his own, and despite the warnings of his adviser, Merlin, he sets out to challenge the rebellious warrior King Pellinore in a fight that could prove to be his downfall.


Seven-year-old James wants to be a brave and noble knight like his father. He dreams of the day that he too will wear the golden spurs that symbolize knighthood. But before his dreams are realized, James must work for seven years as a page and for seven more as a squire, learning to ride, hunt, and fight.

Why LEGO® is a Great Learning Tool

I think the hardest part of homeschooling for me is knowing that my kids are missing some great learning opportunities because of my weaknesses. We are rocking all things literature and book-ish, but you know something that is all the rage these days that I am definitely not rocking? STEM.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Personally, in my own life, it’s okay to skip over STEM because that is not where my interests lie, but my kids? They have both declared they want to be scientists when they grow up. (Raeca wants to be a chemist and Ephraim I’ve already decided is going to be an engineer.)

Our homeschool is very interest based so obviously we need to include Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, but since it is such a weak spot for me, that’s where my husband comes in. Jared is all things sciency, techy and nerdy (and I mean this in the best possible way, he’s really smart). Let me tell you, my math mark increased a lot in high school after we started dating because he took the time to explain what we were learning (any excuse for a date when you are 17, even if that means math homework).

This year Jared is going to be taking over the majority of the STEM activities in our house. For science our overall theme is an introduction to chemistry but I know there is going to be a lot of other stuff thrown in there. And, he has decided to help share the STEM activities they do here on the blog!

So, for the first time ever, I’ve got a guest post by my husband! And I’ve convinced him to keep it up to, so there will be more to come. Okay, that was a long enough introduction, on to the post!

As a parent I have a love/hate relationship with LEGO®. It seems to magically migrate to cover every floor in the house making walking barefoot more challenging than walking on hot coals. Looking for a lost piece of LEGO? Just turn off the lights and walk around barefoot for a minute, you’ll find it stuck to the bottom of your foot.



Despite its foot destroying properties LEGO remains one of my favorite toys. I loved it as a kid and I still love it as a parent. My kids still play with the LEGO sets I had as a kids over 20 years ago.





One of the best things about LEGO is the creativity it allows. Sure, the LEGO sets are awesome but usually a few weeks after they are put together they are disassembled and re-purposed into all sorts of crazy contraptions and scenes. There is no “Kragle” in our house (although I’ll admit that sometimes I’m tempted).



Another awesome thing about LEGO is that kids can learn so much while they play with it. The best kind of learning happens when kids don’t realize they are learning, they’re just having fun. That’s exactly the kind of learning that LEGO promotes.


Fine Motor Skills

LEGO is a fantastic way for kids to develop their fine motor skills. While playing with LEGO, you kids learn how to hold and manipulate different shapes and sizes of pieces and make them fit together. It also helps strengthen their tiny fingers in the process.



Most of the time when we think about playing with LEGO we think about the free form play it allows. Digging through a bin of bricks to create whatever comes to our imagination. Yes, most LEGO comes in sets with instructions on how to build it but if your house is anything like ours, it doesn’t take long for that set to be dissembled and turned into something completely different. I’m continually impressed by the creativity my kids show in their wacky creations.



Puzzle Solving

Whether they are following instructions from a set or building their own creation putting LEGO together is like solving a puzzle. Searching for and finding the correct pieces and figuring out how they will all fit together is all part of turning a pile of bricks into something awesome.



If your kids play with LEGO they’ve likely come running to you after their latest creation was completely destroyed after it tipped over on the table. With a little help kids can learn how to build stronger structures by using things like bracing and support.

Those are just a small sample of the things kids can learn from playing with LEGO. It continues to be a toy that provides endless hours of entertainment and exciting opportunities for learning.

So this love/hate relationship will continue, at least for a few more years.


Eleven Chapter Books with Positive Female Characters for Young Girls

In the last year or two I’ve really been paying attention to the type of books we have been reading as I’ve been focusing a lot on making sure I am raising children with good character. Books with inspiring, courageous and positive characters are becoming more and more important to me.

As parents we are given this gift of these tiny humans that come with their own personalities, all of which need some shaping, some a little more than others.


A great list of chapter books for young pre-teen and young teen girls with inspiring, strong and positive characters


There are many books that I weed out or refuse to read aloud to my children. I don’t want to read books with whiny characters because whining is so easy for children to default to as it is. I’m personally not even a fan of the character Ramona because she is always getting into what appears to me as intentional trouble that never really results in any consequences. My daughter really enjoys Ramona though, she has listened to the whole series on audio at least twice and is currently on her second read through of the series in the last year. Ramona’s struggles are not my daughter’s struggles so I am more okay with her reading that book, but characters like Junie B. Jones I have refused to introduce her.

So, it is very important for me to make sure we have a good selection of books with characters who can be positive role models, especially female characters. The following book list includes some of my favorites in the area of positive female characters. If you have other books you would add to the list I would love for you to include them in the comments!

(While I don’t include books from the Christian Heroes Then & Now series in the list because the are not fiction books, they are some of my favorites for men and women of courage and inspiration, if you haven’t read or listened to them with your kids yet, I would go as far as saying that you need to.)




A great list of chapter books for young pre-teen and young teen girls with inspiring, strong and positive characters



We just recently listened to this one on audio and I thoroughly enjoyed it, it reminded me a lot of Swiss Family Robinson. Nim is a brave girl and an inspiring role model. (If you are thinking about watching the movie, just heed my warning that the book is 100 times better and then maybe you won’t be as disappointed as I was.)

A girl. An iguana. An island. And e-mail. Meet Nim–a modern-day Robinson Crusoe! She can chop down bananas with a machete, climb tall palm trees, and start a fire with a piece of glass. So she’s not afraid when her scientist dad sails off to study plankton for three days, leaving her alone on their island. Besides, it’s not as if no one’s looking after her–she’s got a sea lion to mother her and an iguana for comic relief. She also has an interesting new e-mail pal. But when her father’s cell-phone calls stop coming and disaster seems near, Nim has to be stronger and braver than she’s ever been before.



Don’t let the name of this book fool you, it’s not “princess” as in fancy balls and ditzy girls. Plus, the book has all sorts of twists and turns and did not end in the way I expected. The main character is tough, smart and resourceful.

Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince will choose his bride from among the village girls.

The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess. Soon Miri finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires. Winning the contest could give her everything she ever wanted-but it would mean leaving her home and family behind.



I found out after reading this book that it is based off of one of the Grimm’s fairy tales, which made me like it even more. The main character goes through a lot of character development during the book and is kind and compassionate to others.

Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. As she grows up, Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but she never feels quite comfortable speaking with people.

So when Ani’s mother sends her away to be married in a foreign land, she finds herself at the mercy of her silver-tongued lady in waiting, who leads a mutiny that leaves her alone, destitute, and fleeing for her life. To survive, Ani takes on work as a royal goose girl, hiding in plain sight while she develops her forbidden talents and works to discover her own true, powerful voice.



I realize Fern isn’t the main character of this book, nor is she really in it for long, but she was bold in standing up for a little runt pig and was a good friend to him.

Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.



While I had watched the Pollyanna movie many times as a child I had no idea it was a book until a few years ago! Pollyanna’s optimism and positivity are two characteristics most people could use some more of.

The orphan girl Pollyanna moves in with her strict aunt in New England. Despite a difficult start, Pollyanna’s exuberance and positivity affect everyone who meets her, and she spreads joy and love wherever she goes. But when tragedy strikes, Pollyanna finds her optimistic attitude tested, and she must learn to find happiness again.



Another one that I watched the movie when I was a child but didn’t read the book until adulthood. Sara Crewe is a great role model, she is kind to everyone, even the servants, when she is rich and is just as kind when she is penniless. If you are going to watch a movie for this one you have to watch the 90’s version, skip over Shirley Temple, that one doesn’t follow the book nearly as well and her character is not nearly as sweet.

Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she’ll never see her beloved father gain, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and generosity are all the riches she truly needs?



I read this one myself and I haven’t read it with my daughter yet but we will read it soon since we will be covering WWII. Annemarie shows that young girls can be brave too.

As the German troops begin their campaign to “relocate” all the Jews of Denmark, Annemarie Johansen’s family takes in Annemarie’s best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her as part of the family.

Through the eyes of ten-year-old Annemarie, we watch as the Danish Resistance smuggles almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark, nearly seven thousand people, across the sea to Sweden. The heroism of an entire nation reminds us that there was pride and human decency in the world even during a time of terror and war.



This is one of my favorite free verse novels, and the main character just happens to be a girl who gets put in a position that teaches her how strong she really is.

I’ve known it since last night:
It’s been too long to expect them to return.
Something’s happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.



Reading this series as a parent has given me an appreciation for Ma that I never had when I read these books as a child. She works hard to make sure her daughters are well educated, hard working and kind.

Laura Ingalls and her family are heading to Kansas! Leaving behind their home in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, they travel by covered wagon until they find the perfect spot to build a little house on the prairie. Laura and her sister Mary love exploring the rolling hills around their new home, but the family must soon get to work, farming and hunting and gathering food for themselves and for their livestock. Just when the Ingalls family starts to settle into their new home, they find themselves caught in the middle of a conflict. Will they have to move again?



It takes the right kind of person to melt a cranky old man’s heart and Heidi is that kind of person.

At the age of five, little orphan Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather in the Alps. Everyone in the village is afraid of him, but Heidi is fascinated by his long beard and bushy grey eyebrows. She loves her life in the mountains, playing in the sunshine and growing up amongst the goats and birds. But one terrible day, Heidi is collected by her aunt and is made to live with a new family in town. Heidi can’t bear to be away from her grandfather; can she find a way back up the mountain, where she belongs?



Little Women has so many positive female characters to choose from! Each girl has their own struggles but grow throughout the book.

Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?


Do you have any other books you would add to the list? Let me know!


A great list of chapter books for young pre-teen and young teen girls with inspiring, strong and positive characters

Ten Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Library – and Saving You Thousands

We use the library a lot. Like a LOT, A LOT.

So much so that they usually give us our own shelf for our holds. #jobsecurity #yourwelcomelibrarians


You Know You Are A Homeschooler When . . .


You Know You Are A Homeschooler When . . .


We have an awesome library system where we live, I used to take it for granted and then I started sharing some of our library hauls over on Instagram (I usually share them on my personal account but you can also follow me at the Intentional Homeschooling account @intentionalhomeschooling), our library allows us to have 100 books out and 100 holds per card! I know some people on Instagram have told me before that they have a limit of 22 or 5! I’m not sure how we would deal! (Oh yeah, I know, we would just go to the library

No matter your library card limit, the tips in this post should help you to use your library more efficiently!


Tips for Getting the Most out of Your Library - and Saving You Thousands



Our library has this handy feature where each receipt tells you the cost of all the books you took out and “how much you saved” in your visit, plus our total amount saved for the year, last year our total came out to just over $23,000 saved! (And that doesn’t count ebooks and audiobooks which we go through quite a few of.) Granted, we definitely wouldn’t have bought all those books, but we sure were able to use a lot of resources for free.

We are now in July and this year we have only saved $8,993.31 by using the library, but our last trip to the library included over $1,000 in books, so it can go up pretty quickly. I’m curious to see what number we hit this year.

We use the library to save us money and also to “test drive” books before purchasing, if I am going to pay for a book I want to make sure it is something we will get our use from and the library helps us with that.




Get the most out of your library with these tricks and save yourself thousands each year




I’m not sure if some libraries have a rule on the age of those getting cards but I got Raeca hers when she was 5 and since Ephraim just recently turned 5 we are planning on going this week to get him his own card. I don’t usually like them taking physical books out on their card because it’s just another account for me to keep track of, but the odd time I’ve hit my limit of 100 holds and then have moved on to Raeca’s cards to put some on there. But mainly I like to use their cards for audiobooks, since they each have their own (old, passed-down-to-them) tablet they have the library apps on there and like to listen when we are traveling or sometimes before bed.



The library online system is great for requesting books (more on that next) but there are often additional resources you can access through your library such as online magazines, research information, etc. Ours even has access to TumbleBooks.

The online system is also where I prefer to check to see when my books are due back, instead of getting a printed receipt (a mile long) each week I get that emailed to me but I never actually look at it, I just look at my account online to see when I need bring things back.



While I do love our provincial library system our local library leaves a lot to be desired. It is in a middle school so it is also their school library and the junior fiction is stellar but I struggle to find other books there. So, I prefer to put pretty much very book we get on hold. Thankfully we can request library books from all over our province and they get shipped to our library for free.


Get the most out of your library with these tricks and save yourself thousands each year



We almost always go to the library once a week. Sometimes we will miss a week and other times, when we’ve been requesting a lot of books, we’ll go twice a week. We generally try to go every Thursday because that is one of the days the holds come in and if we need to go a second day we will go Monday because that is the other day they receive holds. I prefer going on the same day of the week because then I always know that I have library books that are due on Thursdays. Our movies we can have checked out for a week and most everything else is three weeks, so each Thursday I just look to see what we all need to bring back that week.



If you want to enjoy your library experience it’s best to avoid fines. While we took out over $23,000 in books and other library resources last year we only got a total of $3 in fines, that’s worth it to me! (Plus, we don’t actually have to pay our fines until they are over $5 so I still have that $3 fine and haven’t wracked up any more this year because we’ve been good at sticking to one library day.) Another way to avoid fines is to write your due dates in your calendar or put your receipt on your fridge or whatever else you need to do to remind you to take your books back.


Get the most out of your library with these tricks and save yourself thousands each year



To my knowledge all the libraries are using apps these days, ours uses OverDrive (which I think is being taken over by/changed to Libby?) and Hoopla. From what I’ve observed Hoopla titles can be borrowed instantly, as in, no waiting for holds, but our library tops us off at 3 titles per month per card (hence another reason every person in our family needs their own cards). In our library systems Hoopla seems to have more non-fiction titles and they also have TV shows and movies as well. Overdrive has no monthly limit but libraries seem to own a specific number of titles so some popular titles I’ve had on hold for quite awhile before it was my turn. But we tend to use OverDrive more because they have more fiction titles so we use that a lot for our audiobooks. While OverDrive has no monthly limit, they do (or at least our library has) a limit of 10 holds at a time, which can be annoying if you have a number of popular books you want to get and have to wait awhile for. The nice thing about the apps is the books auto-return so you never have to deal with late fees.


Another benefit of libraries is the different kind of programs they offer! At stages in the past we used to go to the preschool story time quite regularly, though now we are past that stage. Ours also has a variety of other programs throughout the year; Lego clubs, movie afternoons, game days, etc, plus every summer they have a reading program where kids get entered to win prizes for reading certain amounts each week.


Get the most out of your library with these tricks and save yourself thousands each year



It’s a great idea to get to know the (usually) ladies who will be serving you every week! We’ve had many perks because we’ve gotten to know the librarians: I off offhandedly mentioned to one of them once that we were waiting for a particular movie to come in but it was taking awhile and she let us borrow that movie from her personally (!), we also get a few library fees waived because . . . well, I don’t know, but they have waived a few fees in the past, I’m assuming because they wanted to be nice. Another random benefit: a couple of years ago I had a friend who was doing missions work overseas and needed her library card renewed so she could listen to audiobooks and read some ebooks but she obviously couldn’t go in and do it. So I went in and explained the situation, I didn’t know her library card number, her previous address, I wasn’t even sure if the card was in her maiden name or her married last name but they found her in the system, renewed her card and gave me her library number and password to give to her so she could access their apps while overseas. Obviously a level of trust had been built over the years.




We get a ton of physical books out from our library, but that’s not all, we also get movies, audiobooks, ebooks, and even some awesome create kits like the Makey Makey and Little Bits kits. Other libraries in our province also have video games, music instruments, toys and other cool stuff!


Get the most out of your library with these tricks and save yourself thousands each year



The biggest thing we do to make sure we don’t lose any library books is to have a designated spot for our library books. In our living room we have a vintage magazine stand/holder that our library books go in when we get home. My reads migrate to my nightstand and Rae’s go on hers but all our picture books generally stay in the living room area. We also have a bin in one of our closets where we put the books we are done with, that way when it’s time for our library run on Thursday we can just grab the bin.


Get the most out of your library with these tricks and save yourself thousands each year


Phew! I think that is all for my library tips! Do you have anything you would add to the list?

Free Printable Lego STEM Challenge Cards

Remember last week when I said Jared (my husband) was going to be sharing some STEM posts on here for the next while because he’s kind of taking over that area of our homeschool this year? Well, he’s back!

While I usually spend 1-2 hours with the kids doing some intentional learning during the day (reading, working in our relaxed notebooks, etc) the rest of the day is pretty much free play for them. They love it and I try to keep our days open so they have this opportunity.

During their free play time they will often do some pretend play, a lot of swinging on their Ikea swings in our basement and the majority of the time is playing Lego. To say they often play Lego for five hours a day would not be lying. You could say we get our moneys worth out of it!

Okay, I’m going to stop taking over his post now. 🙂



LEGO® is great toy for learning and early skill development. It’s also one of our most used toys in the house. Our kids will spend hours building, re-building, breaking, and modifying their LEGO creations. As much as it can be annoying to try and avoid stepping on it all over the house I love the learning that happens when kids play with LEGO.

LEGO Challenge Cards are a great way to sneak some STEM learning into your kids day. They will develop their problem solving skills, creativity and engineering skills as they work on various different challenges.


Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!


These cards can be used in a number of different ways depending on the number of kids using them and their ages. You can let your kids pick a card they want to do or have them draw a card randomly from the stack. You can also have a group of kids work on the same card and then compare their creations when they are done and discuss how they tackled the task in a variety of different ways.




Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!


Our kids had a lot of fun going through the stack of cards and picking challenges that they thought would be fun. It’s awesome to see them think about a card and watch their creativity come out in their creations.


Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!


These cards are free for you to download, print and use with your kids or class. I hope they enjoy them as much as our kids do!


Download the FREE LEGO STEM Challenge Cards


Free printable Lego challenge cards - a great STEM activity!

The Best Picture Books of 2018 – Part Two

It continues to astound me that there are new picture books be written that are so good! How have authors not run out of ideas yet?!

Back in April I shared our favorite books that had been published in 2018 that we had read up until then and we already have even more favorites!

I also shared a number of our favorite picture books from 2017, some of those are still some of my favorite picture books to date.

I have previously shared that I prefer picture books without a lot of text on the page, just a quirk of mine, in my opinion, if they want to write a lot of words it may as well be a chapter book. I also really appreciate good illustrations though there isn’t one particular style I enjoy more than others.


Check out these awesome picture books that have been published in 2018 - the best picture books of 2018.


When reading/picking out picture books I have the most respect for books that have characters with positive qualities that can be a role model to my children, or characters that start with somewhat negative characteristics but show growth throughout the book.




Check out these awesome picture books that have been published in 2018 - the best picture books of 2018.




Who doesn’t love a story about a porcupine who has troubles making friends? Just look at how cute he is!

Elmore is a porcupine desperate to make friends. But it is hard to seek closeness with others when you’re covered with spikes that shoot off your back every so often. Elmore suffers rejection and heartbreak, but the goodness of his forest community ultimately shines through as the animals find a way to connect with this prickly bundle of love.



I will be honest and admit that I was originally drawn to this book because of the photo of an African girl on the cover, as an adoptive mother I feel hyper aware of books that include diversity and this is one of them!

This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another.

We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.



“In the beginning there is light 
and two wide-eyed figures standing near the foot of your bed 
and the sound of their voices is love.

A cab driver plays love softly on his radio
while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city
and everything smells new, and it smells like life.”



Bravery is one of the character traits I want my children to learn and this sweet story shows how we can be brave enough to help our friends.

Olive is a little girl who likes the types of adventures that exist in books. Her best friend Hoot, a stuffed-animal owl, prefers the ones that take place in the real world. Today, Hoot gets to pick the adventures. At first, Olive isn’t sure if she’s brave enough for the activities Hoot has picked: flying a makeshift hot-air balloon and navigating raging rivers. But when her dearest friend gets hurt, Olive discovers that she’s not only brave, she’s brave enough for two.


I hope to have a book list on here soon about women and science and this book will definitely be going on that list!

Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good.

They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.



What kid doesn’t dream of having an awesome treehouse?! This book reminded me of the days of having that childhood dream.

Treehouses are for wonder.
Treehouses are for snacks.
Treehouses are for whispers and snickers and echoes.
Treehouses are for everyone.



I love all of  Jo Witek’s books (if you haven’t read any you need to!) and this one is no exception.

Our spunky heroine loves spending time with her dad. They ride bikes and swim in the pool! They can imagine exciting adventures, or just lounge around on a hot day. Being with her dad makes her feel safe and comforted, strong and powerful. She can confront the neighbor’s dog and get thrown up in the air! And when she gets too scared, or too angry, nothing calms her down better than a big hug from dad



You know those books that you feel the need to touch every page? This is one of those books! The inner cut-outs are so fun but it was actually the artwork that made me want to touch it to see if it was popping up.

Listen: the forest is calling. Take a quiet walk through the woods, where shadows fall in the darkness, eyes peek out, and some animals sleep while others run and leap. Simple, poetic text and intricate papercut illustrations introduce children to a deer, black rook, fox, rabbit, and many more beautiful creatures as they wait for morning—and spring—to come.



I am trying to include a few coding activities in our homeschool every now and then, this book was a fun one!

All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done. Using fundamental computer coding concepts like sequences and loops, Pearl and Pascal are able to break down their sandcastle problem into small, manageable steps. If they can create working code, this could turn out to be the best beach day ever!



In the early nineteenth century lived Ada Byron: a young girl with a wild and wonderful imagination. The daughter of internationally acclaimed poet Lord Byron, Ada was tutored in science and mathematics from a very early age. But Ada’s imagination was never meant to be tamed and, armed with the fundamentals of math and engineering, she came into her own as a woman of ideas―equal parts mathematician and philosopher.

From her whimsical beginnings as a gifted child to her most sophisticated notes on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, this book celebrates the woman recognized today as the first computer programmer.



This book is based on a true story from one of the participants in bombing in the Boston Marathon.

Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog — it’s the family business, after all. When he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time.



Wednesday is a whale who lives in a fishbowl smack dab in the middle of a city–it’s the only home she’s ever known. Cars whizz around her and people hurry past; even the sun and moon circle above. But if she leaps high enough out of her bowl, Wednesday can see it: a calm bit of blue off in the distance. When a girl in a paisley dress tells Wednesday “You belong in the sea,” the whale starts to wonder, what is the sea? Readers will cheer–and get all choked up– when, one day, Wednesday leaps higher than ever before and sets in motion a breathtaking chain of events that will carry her to her rightful home. Touching, and ultimately uplifting, here is a story about a lonely creature longing to be free–and longing to find someone just like her.



I love books that are all about imagination, and seriously, this is another stellar book by the Fan Brothers.

Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float.

Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself!

And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.


What have been your favorite picture books you’ve read so far this year?

Mamas Making Money – A Free Course on How to Make Money from a Blog

Today I am sharing something completely different than my normal posts!

I put a question out on Instagram stories last week asking if anyone would be interested in a free course on how to make money from blogging and I got a lot of positive responses!

All the comments gave me the push to go ahead with the course.


A free course on how to make money from blogging - Mamas Making Money



This is something I have wanted to do for a long time because I am quite passionate about blogging. I started my first blog over a decade ago and have had quite a variety of different sites over the years. Some I’ve made money from, some I haven’t, but I’ve enjoyed it either way (but making money from it does make it easier to justify!).

I know a lot of fellow moms who want to make a little bit of an income but so many options available have hours that don’t work for them or include more of a monetary investment than they are able to put forward. Creating a website/blog is quite cheap to do and can be done at any time of the day and from your own home – perfect for moms!

I love personality tests of all kinds and one of my favorites is the Strengths Finder, my top strength is Maximizer – which means I like to help people succeed by helping them find their strengths and strengthening them!



In case you are new around here, I’m Chantel! I live in the Canadian prairies with my husband (Jared), daughter (Raeca) and son (Ephraim). I dream of living in a place where is is never winter and having the time to read all.the.books.

I was educated as a teacher and then realized: a) I don’t really like other people’s kids that much (wait, am I allowed to admit that?!) and b) I don’t like/agree with the school system. So, homeschooling has been an amazing fit for us! #rebelmom

Oh look, it’s us! 🙂

(What you don’t see is that Ephraim peed his shorts shortly before this photoshoot and my dress is a very thin mesh so at this point I could definitely feel his dampness on my legs. #keepingitreal)

I kind of feel like I should include a little about my past blogging/online income history here but it’s a long one, I think it will probably serve as the intro to the course as a result, so, stay tuned!



Because I know some of you will be wondering and possibly leery of a free course, here’s my thought process behind that:

At this point I am not quite making a full-time income online (which is my goal). This blog just reached the two year mark and my income has definitely increased over the last two years, but I’m not quite there yet. The way things are trending now I should be at a full-time income by the time it reaches its third birthday.

I may one day make this into a paid course, I’m honestly not sure at this point (seriously, I have no hidden agenda), but to make things a little bit more worth my while I will be leaving the ads on for the course pages. That way advertisers can pay for your spot in the course! 🙂

(In case you don’t already know, ads are one way to make money while blogging, you get some money for page views and even more money if visitors click on an ad, something to keep in mind while browsing the web; if you want to support a blogger, click on a few of the ads on their page.)



Okay, I already mentioned a few of these but these are my favorite things about blogging:

  • it’s a creative outlet
  • I can write any time
  • I can do it from home or in a different country!
  • there are a variety of different ways to make money from blogging
  • I can invest as much time as I want
  • I am in charge (I don’t like people telling me what to do, remember, #rebelmom)
  • so much more!


A free course on how to make money from blogging - Mamas Making Money



Well, that is kind of up to you! At the bottom of this post I’ve added a form for you to fill out to help me get to know you a little more and for you to give some input on what you would like to see from the course. As of right now the course outline looks like the following:

  • Overview
    • My story
    • Some short questions answered
  • Starting a blog
    • finding your niche
    • setting your blog up
    • a few design tips
    • pages every blog should have
    • how often should you post and what about?
  • Monetizing your blog
    • ads
    • creating your own products
    • affiliate income
  • Social media
    • Pinterest
    • Instagram
    • Facebook
  • Email
    • Do you need an email list? (Spoiler alert: the answer? Maybe.)
    • A peek into a few different email service providers
    • How to get people to sign up for your newsletter
    • What to put in your newsletter



The course will be almost all written/text with maybe some video thrown in there.



I will be writing the course over the next few weeks and will be releasing a section at a time as I have them written. As of right now you can enroll in the course and read my blogging story and a few questions I’ve answered so far. A new section should be up every week or so until it is all up.


A free course on how to make money from blogging - Mamas Making Money



I’ve created this course for mothers who are interested in making an income from blogging. That’s pretty simple! The type of person that will come away with the most from this course is the kind who is willing to put effort in and is self-motivated. While I will be releasing the course one section at a time in the beginning there will be no one checking in on you or making sure you read through the lesson. You will get out of it what you put in.



Here’s where you get to tell me about yourself so I can try to tailor this course to those of you who are taking it!

Once you fill out the form below there will be a link to enroll in the free course. I will be emailing those enrolled in the course to let them know when each new section is up.

The Ten Funniest Picture Books Ever

If I look at the most popular posts on this site it’s always the same. My lists of funny picture books are always the winners. I’m pretty strict with my book lists, our funny picture books actually need to have us laughing or giggling to count.

On the site I have a list of  Ten Funny Pictures Books, then I wrote a list of Nine Funny Picture Books and then I wrote yet another list of Nine More Funny Picture Books.

Now today I’m going to give you the best of the best in terms of funny picture books (well, so far anyway).


This list has ten funny picture books that will have kids giggling and laughing out loud. They are the best funny picture books ever!




If you have other funny picture book suggestions I would love to hear them, just leave me a comment below!

This list has ten funny picture books that will have kids giggling and laughing out loud. They are the best funny picture books ever!



How can a book with no pictures be hilarious? You’ll have to read it to find out!

You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . . BLORK. Or BLUURF. Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY. Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)



Chances are, as you read this book you’ll realize you know a Betty Bunny in your life. She’s hilarious to read about but I image would be a difficult child to have.

Meet Betty Bunny, a lovable handful no bunny can resist.

Betty Bunny is the youngest in her family of rabbits and she’s just discovering the important things in life, like chocolate cake. She declares, “I am going to marry chocolate cake” and takes a piece to school with her in her pocket. Mom values healthy eating and tells Betty Bunny she needs patience when it comes to dessert. But Betty Bunny doesn’t want patience, she wants chocolate cake!



I really enjoyed this book, everything from the story line to the illustrations! Who knew goblins could be so likable?!

Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cosy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of “heroic” adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off with Skeleton―leaving Goblin all alone!

It’s up to Goblin to save the day. But first he’s going to have to leave the dungeon and find out how the rest of the world feels about goblins.



I loved this book. Sometimes I feel like I’d like my day to be a wordless day and can relate to Rupert a little bit . . .

All Rupert the mouse wants is to star in a beautiful, wordless picture book. One that’s visually stimulating! With scenic pictures! And style! He has plenty of ideas about what makes a great book, but his friends just WON’T. STOP. TALKING.



Four friends creep through the woods, and what do they spot? An exquisite bird high in a tree! “Hello birdie,” waves one. “Shh! We have a plan,” hush the others. They stealthily make their advance, nets in the air. Ready one, ready two, ready three, and go! But as one comically foiled plan follows another, it soon becomes clear that their quiet, observant companion, hand outstretched, has a far better idea.



Jon Klassen always amazes me with his books (plus he gets bonus points because we have the same last name!), how does he take a bear who is so drab and monotone and turn it into a funny book?! I have no idea, I just know that he does.

The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance.



Have you ever felt like this as a parent? Thankfully I don’t have any lions trying to sit on me . . .

Giraffe has a problem. It’s his first day in the jungle, and everyone thinks he’s a chair! All the animals take turns sitting on him—a monkey, a hippopotamus, and even a human mistake the herbivore for a comfy chair! Giraffe has no luck vocalizing his concern. However, when a lion decides to take a seat, Giraffe musters the courage to say, “I am not a chair!”



I was a bit of a messy/hoarder/packrat child and appear to be raising one now, this book is a hilarious cautionary tale.

Playing and having fun is a kid’s job, right? Cleaning up is a parent’s job, right? Why do grown-ups make such a fuss about tidiness and cleanliness, anyway? What’s the worst that could happen? A couple of ants pass through? A lone little mouse pays a midnight call? No big deal, right? Right? Author Jason Carter Eaton and illustrator Mark Fearing are here to caution you that being a slob might in fact be a big deal—a really big deal. Maybe even a BARBARIAN-size deal! This outrageously absurd cautionary tale might just make you think twice about the cupcake crumbs in your bed and the half-eaten cheese curls behind the sofa. After all, you could end up with an infestation of barbaric proportions!



Sure, dragons love tacos, but what happens when they accidentally eat spicy salsa??

Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You’re in red-hot trouble.



This book had Ephraim completely in stitches, he was giggling the cutest little giggle as we read it over and over again.

They told you, but you just couldn’t listen—so the creators of Warning: Do Not Open This Book! are back with a zany monkey crew, and they need your help!

Now the tables have turned, and opening the book is the only way to save the group of monkeys who are trapped between its pages. This irresistibly entertaining rescue effort puts power in the hands of the page-turner, and giggles into everyone!

A Peek Inside Our Homeschool During the Summer

I love that as homeschoolers we have the option to continue homeschooling throughout the summer. Because we live in the Canadian prairies our summers offer some unique learning experiences that we can’t get during the school year (aka winter) here.

I thought it would be fun for this post to give you a little look inside our homeschool this summer. If you would like to see more detailed peeks into our homeschool either each week or once a month let me know, I’d love to share whatever helps!


A look inside summer homeschooling


Because summer is better outdoor weather here we tend to stick fairly close to home in the summer months and then try to get away to somewhere warmer at least once in the winter months. This last year we went to Mexico and for next winter we are hoping Hawaii (if you have any Hawaii tips I would love to hear them!).


A look inside summer homeschooling




A look inside summer homeschooling



Here’s a big/recent one, we got a kitten!

Raeca has been pouring over the cat pages in the Do Unto Animals book, this is such a cute and informative book, we are currently just borrowing it from the library but I have it on my to-purchase list for the fall.

This is the first pet the kids have had, Jared and I got a cat shortly after we were married but he was a little aggressive so we found a new home for him before Raeca was born.

Ephraim is pretty confident in his pet owner abilities but true to her personality Raeca is a little hesitant. We partly wanted to get a kitten/cat in hopes it would help her with some of her anxieties, time will tell on that. But the kids have been learning some extra responsibilities, like litter box cleaning, I think it’s a good thing for them to learn to have something to look after.


A look inside summer homeschooling



Jared has been doing all kids of science experiments and STEM activities with the kids and has a bunch more planned. I’ve really appreciated him taking over that part of homeschooling. The kids often both say they want to be scientists when they grow up and this is a great way to explore what being a “scientist” could all entail.


A look inside summer homeschooling



Ephraim is still working on a lot of fine motor practice, it’s definitely an area he struggles with so I make sure to give him plenty of opportunities to practice. One of my favorite things for him to do is draw birthday cards – it feels like a double win: a birthday card gets made and he practices his drawing and fine motor skills.

We are doing a variety of other fine motor activities as well, I hope to write a new post about that shortly.


A look inside summer homeschooling



All on her own Raeca decided to fill a sketchbook with drawings and small writes up of famous people. I think this will be such a treasure to look back on later.

If you have idea for famous people she could include in her book, let me know in the comments, she is looking for more ideas.


A look inside summer homeschooling



We enjoy playing games together as a family. I’m not talking about the Monopoly and Sorry you grew up playing but much more interesting games!

Our family favorite for the last while has been Castle Panic (pictured above) and in the last couple of months we got two expansions for it: Wizard’s Tower and Engines of War, they help to make the game even more interesting and complicated. One of my favorite things about Castle Panic is that it is a cooperative game, so we are all working together to defend our castle.

I’ve got a full list of our favorite games that we play here, and yes, even Monopoly is included because despite it being crazy boring to play it works on some great math skills.


A look inside summer homeschooling



Raeca and I are trying to use watercolors more this summer. We are learning different techniques and I’m hoping to challenge myself to do some watercolors every day in August. I’m thinking of making this into some kind of Instagram challenge over on my personal Instagram for the month.


A look inside summer homeschooling



Every week we have been each (the kids and I) been picking a topic to learn about and then are creating what I call relaxing notebooking pages with what we’ve learned. I’m seriously having just as much fun as the kids with this.


A look inside summer homeschooling



Ephraim is still working on learning to read, I definitely didn’t want to stop that for the summer and have him loose ground. I’ve shared a bit about our method for learning to read before, we take breaks and take it slow but taking the entire summer off would be too much.




The kids have been so excited to learn about different bugs and nature-y things this summer. Raeca considers herself a pro ant catcher and we watched some videos on how to catch queen ants, the video even told us how to start an ant colony once you do have a queen ant but we haven’t gone that far yet.

Our nature study in the winter is much more book based but I love that in the summer we can actually get outside and see the things we are learning about, it makes everything so much more real.


A look inside summer homeschooling



Part of living in Saskatchewan means going to the lake in the summer, we have so many lakes here and a lot of people go there every weekend. We used to be more into camping but this year we’ve just decided to make a few day trips.

Of course time at the lake means lots of water time, building sandcastles and trying to catch all sorts of creatures (though I’m glad the last time we went to the lake my kids weren’t trying to catch leeches like some others were, I draw the line there).


This list has ten funny picture books that will have kids giggling and laughing out loud. They are the best funny picture books ever!



Not everything changes in the summer! We still spend lots of time going to the library and reading a number of books. Normally our library hauls slow down in the summer but this summer they’ve actually picked up because there are just so many good books out there!

I shared earlier this year a great list of summer read alouds and audiobooks for kids 7-10.


Fostering Imagination in Our Home and our Homeschool



And last, but certainly not least, I always make sure my kids have lots of free time. These days that usually means playing Lego or dressing up and pretending they are in some different kind of world.

I used to be a skeptic and I have now come to realize how much kids can learn through free play.

Okay, your turn! I’d love to hear what your homeschool looks like in the summer, leave me a comment below!

The Amazing Leakproof Bag – A Fun Experiment

This is the fourth week in a row of my husband, Jared, sharing a STEM related post on here! I know my kids are excited to have him doing all sorts of experiments with them and I’m glad he is filling in some of the hole in our science that are not as high on my priority list.

Today’s experiment is super simple and fun for the kids to do!



What happens when you fill a plastic bag full of water and then poke holes in it?  Not what you might expect actually! This is a super easy experiment that even young kids can do, is incredibly easy to set up and uses only materials you probably have around the house.

Before starting this experiment have everyone make a guess about what they think will happen when you poke a pencil into a bag full of water. Small experiments like this are a great way for kids to learn about developing a hypothesis (though you don’t have to use that word, especially with younger kids). Having them think about what might happen before experiments begin gets their minds working and helps them develop their logic skills.




Here's a fun and simple experiment for kids! A leak proof bag with pencils stuck in it?!



Have I mentioned that this is a super simple experiment to do? All you need for this is 3 things:

  • resealable plastic sandwich bags
  • sharpened pencils
  • water

Yup, that’s it, three really easy to find things.



You may want to try this experiment outside or over a sink just in case things don’t go according to plan.

  1. Fill a resealable plastic bag about 1/2 to 3/4 full of water.
  2. Hold the top of the bag with one hand, and with the other hand push a pencil into the bag. The pencil should poke through both sides of the bag. Make sure not to push the pencil all the way through.
  3. Continue adding as many pencils to the bag as you want.


Testing the leakproof bag


If you want to up the stakes ask for a volunteer who would be willing to stand under the bag as you poke pencils into it! You may also find it interesting to experiment with different types of plastic bags and different pencils (rounded and ones with straight edges for example).


Testing the leakproof bag


What’s Happening?

Plastic bags like the one you probably used are made of a polymer. This polymer (called low-density polyethylene) is a long chain of molecules. An easier way to think of it would be to imagine each of these chains as a strand of cooked spaghetti. The bag is made up of a whole bunch of theses strands right next to each other. As you push a pencil in it pushes the strands apart and the pencil goes between them. The strands are flexible so instead of breaking they are pushed aside and create a temporary seal against the pencil. This causes the water to stay in the bag.

Of course, if you poke a hole in the bag without pushing the pencil into the hole it won’t seal and you will have a leak.


We have a leak!


Once they got the hang of it our kids were able to add a lot of pencils into the bag without having it leak. We tried with mostly straight sided pencils and they worked well, though the rounded pencils probably sealed a little better.


Testing the leakproof bag

The Best Picture Books About Girls and Science

Science has been a bit topic in our house lately and if you know us at all any time we are interested in a topic that means attempting to read all the books on that topic.

Science has been no exception. We’ve been attempting to read all the books.

On a semi-related note, Raeca noticed that a lot of the girls science books we’ve been reading the girls either have a pet dog or cat and a tree house. Of course it made her want both. Well, now we’ve got the kitten but I think the tree house will just continue to be a dream.



Lately there has been a lot more books being published that involve girls and science, my personal favorites are the picture books biographies of women scientists who have done some amazing things. So I thought it would be a great topic for my next book list. Of course, while writing this list I came across even more good books about girls and science so I suspect there will be a part two to this post in the future!

If you have any suggestions for books that involve girls and science leave a comment at the bottom of the post, I’d love to check them out!




The best picture books about girls and science - a great list of picture book biographies of women scientists and more!




We are loving this new series!

If you’ve ever felt different, if you’ve ever been low, if you don’t quite fit in, there’s a name you should know… Meet Dr. Temple Grandin―one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes!

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!



Raeca loves going to the eye doctor (is that weird?) so of course she loved this book!

If you like to think big, but some say you’re too small, or they say you’re too young or too slow or too tall… Meet Dr. Bath―the scientist who never lost sight of her dreams!

As a girl coming of age during the Civil Rights Movement, Patricia Bath made it her mission to become a doctor. When obstacles like racism, poverty, and sexism threatened this goal, she persevered―brightening the world with a game-changing treatment for blindness!



Okay, so we haven’t actually read this book yet because it doesn’t come out until September, but the other two books in this series were excellent so I feel like I can already recommend this one!

Meet Raye Montague―the hidden mastermind who made waves in the U.S. Navy!

After touring a German submarine in the early 1940s, young Raye set her sights on becoming an engineer. Little did she know sexism and racial inequality would challenge that dream every step of the way, even keeping her greatest career accomplishment a secret for decades. Through it all, the gifted mathematician persisted―finally gaining her well-deserved title in history: a pioneer who changed the course of ship design forever.



What child doesn’t wish they could go live with monkeys? Even I thoroughly enjoyed thinking about that as we read this one.

Follow Jane from her childhood in London watching a robin on her windowsill, to her years in the African forests of Gombe, Tanzania, invited by brilliant scientist Louis Leakey to observe chimps, to her worldwide crusade to save these primates who are now in danger of extinction, and their habitat. Young animal lovers and Winter’s many fans will welcome this fascinating and moving portrait of an extraordinary person and the animals to whom she has dedicated her life.



Being a shark lady may cross a line for us, but it was still fun to read about!

This is the story of a woman who dared to dive, defy, discover, and inspire. This is the story of Shark Lady.

Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks from the first moment she saw them at the aquarium. She couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than studying these graceful creatures. But Eugenie quickly discovered that many people believed sharks to be ugly and scary―and they didn’t think women should be scientists.

Determined to prove them wrong, Eugenie devoted her life to learning about sharks. After earning several college degrees and making countless discoveries, Eugenie wrote herself into the history of science, earning the nickname “Shark Lady.” Through her accomplishments, she taught the world that sharks were to be admired rather than feared and that women can do anything they set their minds to.



Being a tree lady may be more realistic than a shark lady, though my tree in my front yard is dying so maybe I wouldn’t be so good at being a tree lady.

Unearth the true story of green-thumbed pioneer and activist Kate Sessions, who helped San Diego grow from a dry desert town into a lush, leafy city known for its gorgeous parks and gardens.

Katherine Olivia Sessions never thought she’d live in a place without trees. After all, Kate grew up among the towering pines and redwoods of Northern California. But after becoming the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science, she took a job as a teacher far south in the dry desert town of San Diego. Where there were almost no trees.

Kate decided that San Diego needed trees more than anything else. So this trailblazing young woman single handedly started a massive movement that transformed the town into the green, garden-filled oasis it is today. Now, more than 100 years after Kate first arrived in San Diego, her gorgeous gardens and parks can be found all over the city.



Who was Grace Hopper? A software tester, workplace jester, cherished mentor, ace inventor, avid reader, naval leader—AND rule breaker, chance taker, and troublemaker. Grace Hopper coined the term “computer bug” and taught computers to “speak English.” Throughout her life, Hopper succeeded in doing what no one had ever done before. Delighting in difficult ideas and in defying expectations, the insatiably curious Hopper truly was “Amazing Grace” . . . and a role model for science- and math-minded girls and boys. With a wealth of witty quotes, and richly detailed illustrations, this book brings Hopper’s incredible accomplishments to life.



I still haven’t watched the Hidden Figures movie! But this book sure made me want to, soon!

Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…reallygood.

They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.

In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.



This is one of my favorites on this list! Plus we noticed that next month Katherine Johnson will be turning 100!

You’ve likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home?

As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps on the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink, everything! Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe.

From Katherine’s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, Counting on Katherine is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.



Maria Salomea Sklodowaska was born on November 7, 1867. Her family called her Manya, but the world would remember her by another name: Marie Curie, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived.

In a time when few women attended college, Marie earned degrees in physics and mathematics and went on to discover two elements: radium and polonium. She also invented a new word along the way: radioactive. This book celebrates her momentous achievements while also educating its readers about her scientific accomplishments and their implications.



This book was actually on our list of The Best Books of 2018!

When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.

She wanted to be an astronaut.

Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”

Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.



In the early nineteenth century lived Ada Byron: a young girl with a wild and wonderful imagination. The daughter of internationally acclaimed poet Lord Byron, Ada was tutored in science and mathematics from a very early age. But Ada’s imagination was never meant to be tamed and, armed with the fundamentals of math and engineering, she came into her own as a woman of ideas―equal parts mathematician and philosopher.



I appreciate that Ada Lovelace was so imaginative and science smart!

Two hundred years ago, a daughter was born to the famous poet, Lord Byron, and his mathematical wife, Annabella.

Like her father, Ada had a vivid imagination and a creative gift for connecting ideas in original ways. Like her mother, she had a passion for science, math, and machines. It was a very good combination. Ada hoped that one day she could do something important with her creative and nimble mind.

A hundred years before the dawn of the digital age, Ada Lovelace envisioned the computer-driven world we know today. And in demonstrating how the machine would be coded, she wrote the first computer program. She would go down in history as Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.



Cece loves science! In this STEM-themed picture book, Cece asks one of life’s most pressing questions: Do dogs eat vegetables? Cece and her best friend, Isaac, head to the lab to find out.



I can never decide which of the books in this series are my favorite, I really like all of them!

Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of color, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. What would you do with a problem like this? Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble!

Inspired by real-life makers such as Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Twist, Scientist champions girl power and women scientists, and brings welcome diversity to picture books about girls in science. Touching on themes of never giving up and problem solving, Ada comes to learn that her questions might not always lead to answers, but rather to more questions. She may never find the source of the stink, but with a supportive family and the space to figure it out, she’ll be able to feed her curiosity in the ways a young scientist should.


Have another one to suggest? Let me know!

Free Elementary Homeschool Printables

In just a few short weeks the Elementary Homeschool Bundle will be launching over at Intentional Bundles, this is going to be a great deal that you won’t want to miss if you homeschool kids from preschool through to grade four.

But, before we kick off the bundle, there is a great pack of freebies that you can download!


Grab this pack of free printables for your elementary homeschool!


These free printables are also for the preschool – grade four range and include:

  • sight word cards
  • Lego challenge cards
  • under the sea fact cards
  • famous European buildings fact cards


Grab this pack of free printables for your elementary homeschool!



The Lego challenge cards are great to pull out on a rainy day (or any time in the freezing Saskatchewan winter) they help give your kids a little bit of a nudge in their play when they say they are bored.

The sight word cards are the Dolch pre-kindergarten list and are a great start to help beginning or struggling readers. There may be a chance that I give rewards in the form of chocolate chips after going through them with my son.


Grab this pack of free printables for your elementary homeschool!


The under the sea info cards include a few different fun and often weird facts about eight creatures that live in the sea. I plan on studying the ocean with the kids a bit this fall and these will be a great addition.

And the famous European buildings set, what can I say? I may have an obsession with Europe. I definitely have a list of places in Europe I want to go and it gets longer all the time. But if I learned anything from my time as an au pair in England it is that you don’t appreciate being abroad as much if you don’t know the history and story of the place you are in, so I want to teach my children famous European landmarks and all kinds of European history so the experience is richer for them when we do get out there.


Grab this pack of free printables for your elementary homeschool!


Just a heads up though, the downloads will only be available until August 17th so make sure you grab them before time runs out!


If you like free printables, you can check out some more that I have on the site here. If there are particular printables you would like to see in the future let me know in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do!

21 of the Best STEM Books for Kids

I’m continuing the STEM theme from the last few weeks with 21 of the best STEM books for kids.

There are a number of the typical picture books on this list and then some great non-fiction books as well.

I’m also hoping to share some of our favorite (non-book) STEM related resources soon too, so keep an eye out for that! (And if you have any favorite STEM resources, book or non-book, I would love for you to leave me a comment at the bottom of the post so we can check them out.)


The best STEM books for kids, including picture books and non-fiction STEM books. A great way to get kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math!




The best STEM books for kids, including picture books and non-fiction STEM books. A great way to get kids excited about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math!



I’m kicking this book list of with three of my favorite picture books:


Iggy has one passion: building. His parents are proud of his fabulous creations, though they’re sometimes surprised by his materials—who could forget the tower he built of dirty diapers? When his second-grade teacher declares her dislike of architecture, Iggy faces a challenge. He loves building too much to give it up! With Andrea Beaty’s irresistible rhyming text and David Roberts’s puckish illustrations, this book will charm creative kids everywhere, and amuse their sometimes bewildered parents.


Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose (Rosie the Riveter) comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal—to fly—Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her contraption doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success: you can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit.



Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of color, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. What would you do with a problem like this? Not afraid of failure, Ada embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble!

Inspired by real-life makers such as Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Twist, Scientist champions girl power and women scientists, and brings welcome diversity to picture books about girls in science. Touching on themes of never giving up and problem solving, Ada comes to learn that her questions might not always lead to answers, but rather to more questions. She may never find the source of the stink, but with a supportive family and the space to figure it out, she’ll be able to feed her curiosity in the ways a young scientist should.



I love Ashley Spires and this is (one of) my favorite picture books of hers.

A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!



Haha, who knew a science project could go so terribly wrong?!

Some kids are too smart for their own good…and maybe for everybody else’s good. When an overly ambitious little girl builds a humongous robot for her science fair, she fully expects to win first place. What she doesn’t expect is the chaos that follows.



Peter Reynolds is awesome, and he partnered up with his brother Paul for this book!

It’s time for this year’s Going Places contest! Finally. Time to build a go-cart, race it—and win. Each kid grabs an identical kit, and scrambles to build. Everyone but Maya. She sure doesn’t seem to be in a hurry…and that sure doesn’t look like anybody else’s go-cart! But who said it had to be a go-cart? And who said there’s only one way to cross the finish line?



This book is so good for showing kids the steps and revisions involved in building and creating.

Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirr! That’s the sound of Papa at work. Although he is an inventor, he has never made anything that works perfectly, and that’s because he hasn’t yet found a truly fantastic idea. But when he takes his family fishing on Lake Michigan, his daughter Virena asks, “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fish?”―and Papa is off to his workshop. With a lot of persistence and a little bit of help, Papa―who is based on the real-life inventor Lodner Phillips―creates a submarine that can take his family for a trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan.



By the time she’s two years old, Violet Van Winkle can fix nearly any appliance in the house. And by eight she’s building elaborate flying machines from scratch—mind-boggling contraptions such as the Tubbubbler, the Bicycopter, and the Wing-a-ma-jig. The kids at school tease her, but they have no idea what she’s capable of. Maybe she could earn their respect by winning the blue ribbon in the upcoming Air Show. Or maybe something even better will happen—something involving her best-ever invention, a Boy Scout troop in peril, and even the mayor himself!



Young Frank is an architect. He lives with his grandfather, Old Frank, who is also an architect and his spotted dog, Eddie. Using anything he can get his hands on; macaroni, pillows, toilet paper, shoes, Young Frank likes to build buildings that twist, chairs with zig zag legs and even entire cities. But Old Frank disapproves, saying architects only build buildings.



My kids loved this one! It’s equal amounts of funny and creative building.

Anyone can dive for treasure in the ocean, but Steve dives for it in his neighborhood dumpster! As he delves into the trash each weekend, Steve encourages his young neighbors (aka the Diving Team) to see the potential in what other people throw away. With a little bit of imagination, trash can be transformed into treasure — and as the Diving Team soon discovers, it might even help a friend in need.



“If I built a car, it’d be totally new! Here are a few of the things that I’d do. . . .” Jack has designed the ultimate fantasy car. Inspired by zeppelins and trains, Cadillacs and old planes, with brilliant colors and lots of shiny chrome, this far-out vision is ready to cruise! there’s a fireplace, a pool, and even a snack bar! After a tour of the ritzy interior, robert the robot starts up the motor . . . and Jack and his dad set off on the wildest test drive ever!



In If I Built a Car, imaginative Jack dreamed up a whimsical fantasy ride that could do just about anything. Now he’s back and ready to build the house of his dreams, complete with a racetrack, flying room, and gigantic slide. Jack’s limitless creativity and infectious enthusiasm will inspire budding young inventors to imagine their own fantastical designs.



This is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens. This is a story for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd, too difficult. It’s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next. Because your idea isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s just getting started.



In this quirky, artsy retelling of “The Three Little Pigs,” the pigs and their homes are nods to three famous architects―Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright―and their signature homes. Each house is filled with clever details, including furnishings by the architects and their contemporaries. Of course, not all the houses are going to protect the pigs from the wolf’s huffing and puffing. Which one will? The wolf, and readers, are in for a clever surprise ending.



This is one of our family favorites, Molly Lou Melon is such a fun character and she’s so inventive!

Molly Lou Melon’s grandma taught her to be happy with herself no matter what, but  that’s not all she learned. Molly Lou heard all about how her grandma didn’t have fancy store-bought toys when she was little. She made dolls out of twigs and flowers and created her own fun in her backyard.

So Molly Lou does just that, proving that the best thing to play with is a huge imagination!



If Rube’s inventions are any indication, “normal” means something very different in the Goldberg household. For Rube, up is down, in is out, and the simplest path to accomplishing an everyday task—like brushing his teeth or getting dressed—is a humorously complicated one. Follow Rube as he sets out on a typical school day, overcomplicating each and every step from the time he wakes up in the morning until the time he goes to bed at night.

This book features fourteen inventions, each depicting an interactive sequence whose purpose is to help Rube accomplish mundane daily tasks: a simple way to get ready for school, to make breakfast, to do his homework, and so much more.



So You Want to Be an Inventor? features some of the world’s best-known inventors-Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Eli Whitney-as well as lesser-known geniuses like Georges de Mestral (inventor of Velcro), Wilhelm Roentgen (inventor of X rays), and Hedy Lamarr (inventor of a system that became the basis for satellite communication-who knew?). Whether you’re a dreamer or a loner, a copycat or a daredevil, this book might just inspire readers to invent something that could change the world!



This is one of Ephraim’s absolute favorite books, he can’t read and yet he has spent hours pouring over this book.

Explainer-in-Chief David Macaulay updates the worldwide bestseller The New Way Things Work to capture the latest developments in the technology that most impacts our lives. Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow. This sweepingly revised edition embraces all of the latest developments, from touchscreens to 3D printer. Each scientific principle is brilliantly explained–with the help of a charming, if rather slow-witted, woolly mammoth.



What can I say, David Macaulay is one of our favorites!

This new book—inspired by three classic, award-winning books—reveals the how and why behind some of the most fascinating and enduring structures humankind has ever created. Macaulay has revised texts based on new research, created gorgeous new drawings, in some cases wholly re-imagined scenes from the books—bringing Castle and Cathedral to life in full-color for the very first time. The resulting illustrations add to the reader’s understanding of these buildings, capturing intriguing new perspectives and a depth of detail in structure and atmosphere.



Get ready to explore the city in a whole new way. This innovative book for younger readers is packed with city facts, loads of flaps to lift, and unfolding pages to see inside buildings and under the streets.

Children can learn about skyscrapers, subway systems and stinky sewers. Discover where people live and peek behind closed doors to see what’s going on in houses and apartments, or why not find out about what goes on underneath the streets you walk on every day?



Learning about buildings and how they are constructed has never been so much fun. This gem of a book introduces young readers to basic construction concepts through the eyes of five friends keen on building a doghouse for their pet pooch, Max. To find out more about the task, Yulee, Martin, Nick, Sally and Pedro head to the library, where they learn about foundations, beams, frames and other building fundamentals. Fun facts, bright illustrations and comic-book-style discussions among the characters add to the mix. An activity at the end of the book invites readers to make their own mini doghouse out of marshmallows, paper, glue and craft sticks.



My kids are Lego obsessed, this book is a fun one with lots of great ideas!

Divided into six themed chapters—transportation, buildings, space, kingdoms, adventure, and useful makes—each section contains basic templates of key models to inspire you to create your own. Hints and tips from Master Builders can help you turn your classic car into a race car or add a bridge to your castle. Don’t be concerned if you haven’t got all the bricks you need: this book also shows how to simplify details, making this a user-friendly guide for any building ability.


Do you have any great STEM books you would add to this list?

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