Interactive Math Curriculum Notebook K offers a 36 week math curriculum for little learners. The program follows a unique schedule that I felt was perfect for kindergarten, four weeks of learning followed by one week of game review activities to be sure concepts are understood before moving forward.
The curriculum covers numbers 1-20, counting, shapes, 3 dimensional shapes, number arrangement and number line addition, greater than and less than, counting by 2’s 5’s and 10’s, tally marks, subtractions, even and odd numbers, as well as practical math concepts like understanding calendar, clocks, and money.
As a mom, I’m not very craft. In fact, crafting with my kids tends to trigger a stress headache, so I was a bit apprehensive that this program would involve me having to cut and glue more than I’d like to, but that wasn’t the case at all! We already had most of the materials on the supply list (playdough, q-tips, dice, coins, candy graphing, beads for sorting, playing cards, money, and bingo daubers) and my daughter was able to use them to complete the activities with little help from me. My role in the lesson was reading the activity to her and helping explain the concept, and then she was able to jump in and do the fun activity!
Each lessons starts with a warm up quick, unscripted warm up time to review some foundational concepts. Cut outs are provided in the downloadable curriculum to create your own colorful review folder. After the material is reviewed, you can jump into the lesson. Each lesson took us 20-30 minutes to complete and consisted of three work pages, one that introduces a concept, a worksheet that goes a long with the concept, and a game or activity.
One of our favorite games so far is called “Bank,” each player rolls a single dice and adds that number of counters to the row. The player to get to the 20th square wins. The game is simple; it helps build confidence with counting and provides a visual of the number all in one activity!
Overall, Interactive Math Curriculum Notebook K by the Crafty Classroom has been exactly what I had hoped for, a simple and fun program that excites little learners about math. I also loved that this downloadable curriculum is only $25 and doesn’t require purchasing other materiel! My daughter has had a blast, coloring, cutting, gluing and playing and gained tremendous confidence along the way!
The Crafty Classroom offers many other resources, and members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed different materials, so be sure to check out the other products and reviews!
Summertime in Connecticut is spectacular. After a long winter, and rainy spring, Nutmeg-ers can emerge from their cocoons to beautiful sunshine, gentle breezes, and pristine summer skies. We make a serious effort to enjoy every ounce of sunshine and fresh air, so this year I decided to make a summer bucket list to make sure we get to all of our favorite spots before winter shows up again. These are the spots I can’t wait to visit this summer, at least once!
Hike at the Audubon at Bent of the River, Southbury CT.
We love exploring the Audubon in all seasons, but when the weather warms, there is a rocky beach that reaches into a mellow part of the Housatonic River. My kids love to splash and cool off after a hike through the nature preserve. Make sure to use tick spray and dress for adventure!
Lavender Pond Farm, Killingworth CT.
This beautiful 25- acre lavender farm is family owned and operated in Killingworth, Connecticut. Complete with a purple train to bring you around the farm for a tour, visitors will enjoy the incredible fragrant plants, a gift shop, I love lavender, and enjoy the opportunity to harvest my own!
Evergreen Berry Farm, Watertown CT.
Evergreen is a family run berry farm that allows visitors to come and pick their own organic berries! They offer Blueberries from July to August, Black Raspberries in Early-Mid July, Red Raspberries in Early July and Early September, and Blackberry in Late August thru Early September. Their Facebook page will keep you updated as to how the berries are ripening so you can plan to visit at the perfect time. Not only is this a delicious stop, but the farm is serenely beautiful and has been the backdrop for our family’s Christmas card photos the last few years!
Silver Sands Beach, Milford CT.
Connecticut is home to some beautiful beaches, but to me, Silver Sands takes the cake AND offers ramps which make it more accessible for moms lugging strollers with 4 kids too much beach gear! We frequent this stop many days throughout the summer and enjoy finding crabs, watching red spotted black birds, and collecting shiny shells which give homage to the name, Silver Sands. There’s even legend that Captain William Kidd buried treasure there, so those plastic buckets and shovels just might pay for themselves!
Visit Mystic Aquarium
The aquarium certainly is an all season activity, but a visit to the Mystic Aquarium during the summer evokes the need to not only visit the explore the quaint town of Mystic, known for their pizza, and sea faring ways. On designated evenings, the Mystic Aquarium remains opened late for visitors who want to tour without the crowds. Special reduced tickets can be purchased at 6 pm. Learn more about their upcoming days here!
Visit a Splash Park!
Splash parks are such a fun way to cool down and let the kids burn off some energy. They're especially great for kids who can't yet swim, or moms with too many littles to go to a pool without having a panic attack (aka me).
New Britian is home to three splash parks: Chesley Park, Willow Street Park, and Wolcott Park.
Danbury recently opened a brand new splash pad at Rogers Park and Highland Park
and Stamford has two spalsh pads, one at Mill River Park and one at Scalzi Park.
I'm sure there are many more scattered about the state, have you been to one?
What's on your summer bucket list?? Let me know in the comment sections!
Creativity is a weird gift to manage, and I'll be honest, I'm only beginning to even attempt to harness my creative energy is certain directions. For the last few years, I've enjoyed creating books in a wide variety of fashions, whenever my energy felt right. So, I would wake up; tend to my normal mom life tasks, making 18 meals a day for kids that don't eat them, cleaning up, homeschooling, and taking care of the littles, ext. And when I'd have a moment, I’d jump on my laptop or grab a pen and paper and start creating in whatever capacity felt right at the moment. This helped me write my first 5 books and create a line of workbooks, but I've been feeling the need to harness my creativity in a specific direction to make more progress and better steward my time.
When I have creative session, I have to purpose it well. What I've been doing to plow through my next book is simple:
Start with a synopsis. Having the bones of the story outlined is so important to using your time well. When I jump into creating, I have a guide post that tells me where to start, where to stop, and what I need to portray in this chapter. Of course, the guide post can be amended, but it brings purpose and direction to your work time.
Second: Just write. When I first enter a chapter, I write and write and write in one session. What I end with has a mess of typos, run on sentences, and isn't close to being properly formatted. I save that for another day. If I worry about the grammar semantics, I'll lose my plot and stagnant my creative energy during my short period of time.
Third: In another creative session, I’ll reread what I’ve written and clean it up a bit, focusing on grammar and editing. Then, I’ll add to the plot if time allows.
The fourth, and final time I touch a chapter, I focus on descriptive writing, upgrading vocabulary and making sure I’m showing, not telling. This is often the most tedious process for me, but it’s necessary for creating.
Then, I always let the work sit and simmer. Occasionally, I revisit a project, hate it, and decide I need a new career. But more often than not, when I reopen a project, I see it with fresh eyes and inspiration to make the necessary changes to bring it to life.
Creativity is a messy business- I’d love to hear about how you harness creativity and/or your writing process in the comments!
Learning to read is an exciting time in every child’s development. It sets the stage for their education, provides the ability to learn independently, and hopefully blossoms into a hobby that can transport children into adventures and far off worlds alike. But, learning to read can also be a tedious task filled with bumps in the road and frustration. With an emerging reader and a beginning reader in my house, I was really excited to learn about Learning Dynamics and check out Learning Dynamics Reading Program with the Homeschool Review Crew.
Learning Dynamics Reading Program is a fun an innovative program that provides everything you need to teach your child to read in a neat little box. When you open the box, you’ll find over 50 color books, a lesson manual, child’s workbook, letter flash cards, reward cards, and a music CD to accompany the lessons.
For the first 38 lessons, a single letter is studied each session. The workbook provides practice writing the letter and identifying words that start with it. The CD has songs to accompany each lesson and help children gain familiarity with the sounds. After the first 5 lessons, your child will begin blending sounds to form simple words like “Pam” and “Sam,” and after learning just 8 letters, they’re ready to read their first book!
Once children have completed the single letter sounds, they advance into using two vowels, and various letter blends. These letter blends open up even more doors in reading, and Learning Dynamics Reading Program introduces and explains the concepts with simplicity for parents and kids!
We used this program 4 days a week with my almost 5 year old daughter. She had familiarity with the ABC’s, but had little practice blending sounds or reading words. I was excited by the claim that she would be reading in just 4 weeks, but had a fair level of skepticism. In our case, the claims were true! My daughter began picking up letters, sounds, and blending them with ease! More importantly, she loved using the program and getting her rewards with each lesson!
Each lesson takes about 20 minutes. I pull out the letter flash card, read the short story about the letter in the teachers manual, then we practice making the sound together with our motor mouths, and listen to the song while she completes the work page. After the workbook page [and the first 5 lessons], we practice blending different letters together to make words. When the lesson is complete, I'd give my daughter the letter reward card that she'd earned. The reward cards and flash cards also provided a hands on way to build new words with the sounds she was learning!
My son, who is 7, has also been enjoying the program. He started by helping his sister build words during the blending time, and then began reading some of the more advanced books that accompany the program. He loves reading the red level books and has grown in confidence by being able to master the vocabulary that’s displayed on the front cover, and then read the stories to his little sisters. If you have two learning to read, you can purchase a separate workbook for the additional learner without having to buy all of the material again!
My son has really enjoyed the books, and I’m thrilled that my reluctant reader feels encouraged by his progress!
Over all, I have loved using Learning Dynamics with my kids! Learning Dynamics Reading Program is a wonderful, easy to use, program for learning to read and developing existing reading skills. I would recommend it to homeschooling families who are beginning their reading journey, and traditionally schooled children who are looking to get a jump start of reading or struggling on their journey.
Make sure to check out the other crew member's reviews to see how Learning Dynamics worked in their homes!
I often feel like I’m living inside a children’s book. Call is a coping mechanism for the craziness of life with four littles, but sometimes creating kids stories out of real life brings a level of sanity and humor to the day to day.
So, guess what happened yesterday?
Without further ado, I present you the story behind the picture:
Gevy and the Purple Marker
One afternoon, I was playing nicely in my sister's room when I little spider climbed up on the bed.
He said, "Hello!"
And I said, "Hello, Mr. Spider, it's nice to meet you, but please don't bother me, I'm playing nicely."
He said, "Kind girl, I really need your help for you are big and I am small, yet I have big dreams deep inside my heart."
“What do you dream of?" I asked the spider, only trying to be polite.
"I dream of being purple, just like your pretty purple marker on the floor..."
"Oh," I replied.
And then I continued playing nicely by myself. But, poor Mr. Spider began to cry, and cry, and cry.
I was afraid he'd wake up my baby brother, so I offered to help him, just this once.
I grabbed my purple marker and put a little on his back, but then his crying turned to laughter.
"That tickles!" He giggled.
I kept trying to color him purple, and he kept squiggling and jumping about.
I told him to lay down on the bed, and I'd try to finish his coloring, but he rolled some more.
Finally, I held him in my hand and colored his legs. Ha was so ticklish that he jumped onto my leg and rolled about some more, but I didn't give up. I kept coloring him until the job was done.
Mr. Spider’s dreams came true, and my sister was very mad. I think mom will understand.
"I am the true vine and my father is the gardener... No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."
Remember Abraham, a man filled with God's amazing promises and chosen to be the father of a great nation... except he had no children. After years of waiting, and only getting pushed further away from the promise land, he decided to try to help God out with his plan and had a child with his wife's servant. This decision only led to more pain, heartbreak and created a counterfeit compared to what God truly wanted for his children.
When we abide in Jesus, the true vine, we put his calling above our desires, his truth above our feelings and his thoughts above our imaginations. Then, we can bear the most incredible fruit that will bless the nations of the world!
How do you know if you’re abiding in Jesus? Well, look around in your life to see if the fruit of the spirit is growing on your vine: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)
If you’re lacking in a certain area, then spend some time asking God about how you can abide more deeply in Him and find out what area needs to be pruned. If you need more love, ask God to help you see others through his love and truth. If you need more joy, cast your worries on the Lord and allow him to carry them for you, you need more peace, guard your spirit with the truth from the word of God. When we lack wisdom, God is faithful to provide the wisdom we ask for so that we can glorify the Father more and bear good fruit.
One thing I love about life is that when you think you've mastered something, you're usually proven wrong. I've dealt with a handful of serious health issues over the last few years, and managed through faith to see some incredible healings and miracles (Read some testimonies here and here).
Recently I received news that some blood tests weren't normal, my thyroid is under functioning and protein and calcium levels suggest a tumor. I took the news well, for the first 7 days, but while I waited for further testing, my faith began to flail around like the arms of a person about to drown. To make matters worse, I had a terrible dream which confirmed all of my deepest fears and made me certain that death was a few months away. That dream did more damage than any WebMD article could and I was shaken.
It's difficult to conform bad situations to the goodness of God. When decaying life hands us more dirt, it's easy to feel like a victim with an absent Father. But our circumstances won't ever change heaven's truth. God is good and there's no darkness in Him.
Today, I head to the Dr. for more testing, and my heart is resting firmly on the notion that as I wake, God is good. And when I sleep, He'll be just as good. There's no path I could ever walk where my savior won't accompany me, and he was more mercy and grace than I could comprehend- no test results have the power to change that!
These last few days have surely been a reminder of James 1:2-4,
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Though this isn’t a path I’d chose, I can chose to glorify God at each step of the way and I’m trusting that He will “Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. (Isaiah 40:4).
We appreciate you adding your faith to ours during this time!
Oh, and this song has so blessed me recently! Check it out if you need some encouragement!
I still have flashbacks of choking back tears in a classroom, spelling “l-i-g-h-t-i-n-g” for the 10x time after failing a second-grade spelling test. Comprehending spelling did not come easily for me, and to be honest, I still rely heavily on Grammarly and spellcheck. When I saw my son struggling in the same way that I had, I wanted to find a comprehensive way to instill confidence and comprehension in his spelling studies before any tears could be shed, so I was thrilled to discover that Memoria Press offered a program that focused on spelling: Simply Classical Spelling Book One: Step-by-Step Words and Simply Classical Spelling Book Two: Step-by-Step Words.
We started our spelling studies by using Simply Classical Spelling Book One: Step-by-Step Words. Book One introduces 7 to 8 spelling words per week. The first 5 the words follow a letter pattern such as CVC, silent e, plurals, consonant blends, consonant digraphs, and possessives. Additionally, there are 2-3 “words to know” which are featured. Many of the “words to know” are sight words that beginner readers might be familiar with such as “done” or “again,” but they may not know how to spell them independently. Each week, students work on memorizing their spelling words through different, multi-sensory, activities (I’ll break it down day by day below).
The next level, Simply Classical Spelling Book Two: Step-by-Step Words is designed for more advanced grade school spellers. Student’s working in this book should be familiar with (‘s), consonant blends, and vowel teams. They’ll work on their spelling words 4 days per week (potentially 5 days if you choose to review missed words), and they’ll play some fun and simple games that help with word familiarity and memorization.
Students begin the program based on their current ability. I found that my son was able to correctly spell the first ten lessons, so we began with Book One, lesson eleven. We used Simply Spelling four days a week and typically spent 15-20 minutes on each lesson. On Monday, we’d look over the words that we’d be studying that week and I’d have my son search for any letter patterns that he might see. Then, he would practice writing the words in the space provided in the workbook.
Tuesday, we’d review the words we’d learned the previous day and then practice writing them in a multisensory way with chalk, letter tiles, sand, and cards.
Wednesday, or “Write-High Wednesday” as the program calls it, we’d spell the words verbally and rhythmically (sometimes clapping), and then write them high up in the air with our fingers. Thursday was the official spelling bee day (my son liked pretending to be Charlie Brown, must have been from a movie I missed?) and he’d stand by the chalkboard and say each word and then spell it.
When we first began the program, I didn’t even know how I’d remember our weekly spelling words, I seldom remember why I went into the kitchen, but I was pleasantly surprised that just a bit of diligence and consistency sharpened my brain. My son caught on more quickly than I did, and he’d remember the words without looking at the book, and soon had an “aha” moment when he realized that he could spell the words more easily when he pictured them in his mind.
Simply Classical Spelling really helped us to be intentional and thorough in our spelling practice. Learning a few new words each week helped instill confidence in my son and his ability and allowed us to avoid any frustration and tears. The program was also simple to jump into and required no prep for book one, and simple prep with note cards for book two. No additional materials were required. I’d highly recommend this for kids 6-9 who would like to gain a solid grasp on spelling, increase phonetic awareness, and auditory comprehension!
The Homeschool Review Crew checked out different material from Memoria Press, so be sure to read their thoughts on many more amazing products!
One of my favorite ways to save money on every day grocery purchases is by using Ibotta. Ibotta is a rebate program that rewards you for buying things you probably are already buying. You simply register, add the offers to your account, and upload a receipt after you buy the item. In the last two weeks, I’ve gotten $40 back from grocery shopping. One of the best parts is that you can still use coupons, and get a store discount, PLUS the Ibotta rebate.
Here’s a score from last week that I found at our local Shoprite:
StonyField Yo Baby Yogurt- on sale 2 for $7
Then, I used a $2 manufacturer’s coupon
Then, topped it off with a $0.75 Ibotta rebate for each package.
Total spent after coupon and rebate: $3.50 for TWO packs
Another awesome deal I found at Shoprite was Udi’s Gluten Free Bread on sale buy 5 for $14.44- then I used an Ibotta rebate and saved $1.30 PER bread so I got back $6.50. Total spent was $7.94 for FIVE loaves of Udi’s Bread. Normally, each one is over $5 so my freezer is stocked.
If you sign up for Ibotta: tell them I sent you with my referral code rojqsja and we both win!
Another coupon app I love is Fetch Rewards. Fetch rewards you with points for uploading your receipt (which is essentially something I’d trash 5 minutes after it printed). Every time you upload, you get points, and then you get bonus points it you purchase any of their specific brands. Sometimes, the bonuses will even equal the full value of the item purchased, so you essentially can try new products for free. The points can be redeemed for cash through various gift cards. My game plan: upload all my receipts throughout the year, and then cash out for an Amazon Gift card when it’s time to start Christmas shopping. In two weeks, I’ve earned $5 without going out of my way at all, so I’m optimistic that I might be earn $60 by Christmas. Talk about turning receipt trash into treasure!
Tell them I sent you and get referral bonus points just for signing up! W6JWR
The next app I use is Checkout 51
Checkout51 is like Ibotta, but has fewer offers. One of the biggest bonuses is that it’s super simple to link all of your rewards cards to your Checkout 51 account, so you don’t have to take pictures of your receipts. Simply add the offers you’ll likely buy, purchase them, and stack rewards. After hitting the $20 in saving threshold, you can redeem your cash. In two weeks, I’ve earned back $1.50, BUT a penny saved is a penny earned!
The final app that you MUST have if you shop at Target is the Target Cartwheel App. The app allows you to load coupons (a max of 50) and special deals, then you simply show them your smart phone at checkout. My FAVORITE ways to score are to take advantage of their deals that offer a $5 reward card after your purchase. Last week, they had a deal where if you spent $20 on meat, you get a $5 reward card. Then, they had a coupon to save additionally on ground meat and chicken. We walked away with an amazing deal on something that we constantly are buying, plus a reward card to use on the next trip. The Krazy Coupon Lady can keep you up to date on all the ways to score big at Target if you’re worried about missing a deal!
How do you like to save money on groceries? Am I missing out on any other ways to save?? Tell me in the comment section!
Southbury, Connecticut is a quintessential New England town with historic churches built before the American Revolution, scenic nature preserves, and fun thrift shops. Southbury was founded in 1673 by religious dissidents from Stratford who purchased the region from the Native Americans. Today, it offers charming historic sites, modern conveniences, and scenic outdoor adventures. My family's favorite way to spend the day in Southbury involves a little shopping, exploring, and of course, eating!
Though Southbury is home to many well-known chain stores, we prefer to take a ride to Southbury Training School Thrift Store. The thrift store is large, occupying 4 separate sections: clothing, antiques, miscellaneous toys and housewares, and electronics. The clothing store frequently has amazing sales, like 4 pieces of kids clothing for $1. The antique section and electronic sections sell used products at marked prices, but our favorite part is always the toys and miscellaneous section. There, you bundle up anything that looks appealing and asks an associate for a price. Based on the items, we normally score a bag full of goodies for $5 or less.
After our thrift shop fun, we head down the street to the Audubon Center at the Bent of the River. The Audubon is a 700 acre nature sanctuary, filled with trails, bird sanctuaries and scenic views of the Housatonic River. There is a main barn equipped with a bird look-out deck, information, and restrooms. If we're feeling energetic, we continue on to the rocky beach and splash in the Housatonic River.
We always pack snacks and extra clothes for the kids and take precaution against ticks. Our last visit was in May, and we spent 4 hours and left with 3 ticks. I'm always far more concerned with the ticks you don't see and remove, so be sure to use tick spray and dress appropriately when exploring the Audubon!
All that shopping and exploring makes for a hungry crew so we drive a few miles to a family owned sandwich shop, Nardelli's. Nardelli's is one of my favorite stops because they serve up unique in house sandwich creations right alongside the traditional deli favorites AND they offer gluten-free buns and cookies. My favorite sandwich is the original turkey club on a gluten-free bun and my picky eaters love it just as much as I do!
Some other fun Southbury stops that we enjoy include the playground at Ballantine Park, the library's children section, which houses a small play area for small kids, and Denmo's for an Ice cream treat!
Have you been to Southbury? What do you enjoy?
is an author, blogger, and homeschooling mom of four, giving her excellent credentials to run her own circus one day!