STEM has become a huge catchphrase in the education and toy market during the last few years. Abounding resources have been created to help children grow in STEM fields, but just what does that mean and why is it so important to include products and curricula rich in STEM education in our homes?
STEM is an abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Science is happening all around us at every moment, technology has become a binding thread in western society, engineering is the backbone of all the latest innovations, and mathematics is how we quantify and comprehend order in the world around us. With incredible steps in modern innovation occurring every day, STEM fields are booming with opportunities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, college graduates who have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field have a higher medium income than graduates of other degree programs.
Additionally, jobs in the STEM field are growing 5% faster than other fields and a whopping 2.4 million STEM jobs are projected to go unfulfilled because of a lack of qualified workers. Home educating families have the unique ability to choose products which allow students to develop a deep understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and equip learners to walk through the open the doors into lucrative, higher-paying career fields.
Adding STEM activities and curricula into home education is surprisingly simple and fun. For the smallest learners, learning is spelled P-L-A-Y. Toys that promote “doing” rather than “watching” are key to developing motor dexterity, and sparking a curiosity which is the gateway to STEM learning. Building bricks, turning gears, stacking cups, and sloped car ramps all help build a sense of cause and effect in young children. Through play, they see that when they move one thing, another action occurs: Newton’s third law at its very basic.
As children grow and are ready for more structured learning, finding the right type of curricula that compliments your child’s learning style can help them blossom in STEM fields. Back when I was homeschooled, I found math to be incredibly challenging because my curriculum consisted of reading a textbook about how to perform complex equations. Flash forward to today’s market place and resources are hands-on, featuring multimedia instructions, and appeal to a multitude of different learning styles.
Complex and in-demand skills like coding can be taught to children as young as seven, giving them incredibly valuable tools in their tool belts. Diodeck will send kits to your door and provide unlimited instruction online, making it a perfect fit for homeschooling families. Circuit and Coding Kits offer 12 complete projects. In the very first activity, children will learn how to build a basic circuit and gain an understanding of voltages, currents, and resistances. These concepts are personally above my paygrade and I would have no idea how to teach my kids about them. Thankfully, Diodeck can bring a whole new world of learning to your doorstep! For a limited time, readers can receive 15% off a Circuit and Coding Kits which normally retail for $40. That means students will be able to complete 12 projects for less than $3 a project!
Have you tried Diodeck? What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate STEM learning in your homeschool routine? Tell me about it in the comment section below!
Hand soap is a wonderful, wonderful, thing. Really, where would we be without it?
Short answer: Dead
Long answer: well, let’s just be happy we have soap!
I’ve always loved shopping for soaps. I feel like a kid in a candy shop when I smell the different bottles and admire the beautiful packaging, but when I look at the ingredients, the joy quickly fades. And, if I find a bottle that wows me with the ingredients- the price tag doesn’t.
I decided hand soap really is a simple product with a straight forward purpose, and I could easily and cheaply make it myself with the help of a few household friends.
Now, we purposefully don't use antibacterial hand soap, but I wanted the soap to have some aggression against bacteria so I chose to use a blend of oils well known for their germ-killing power. We use Nature’s Shield, also known as Thieves oil from other companies. This blend has been used since the black plague to keep people healthy, so I figured it’s good enough for my bathroom. (If you have questions about the safety of the ingredients in Thieves for little ones, check out this great article here )
If I'm feeling ambitious, I'll add some vitamin E or a teaspoon of fractionated coconut oil to the mixture to make the soap a bit more luxurious, but it’s not a necessity.
I find that foaming hand soap dispensers are the best with this mixture because the solution is watery. If you don’t have a foaming soap dispenser, you can use a regular one and just pump a few extra squirts on your hands and lather well! My husband thinks the soap smells like Christmas time, and I’m just glad we have something that’s cheap, easy, and healthier!
What’s your go-to for hand soap? Have you made your own before?
Memes are fun, and I think we all can agree that they make social media bearable during election seasons. I've always wondered where the name "meme" came from though?
So, I asked and google answered: The word “meme” is derived from the Greek word mimēma, meaning that which was imitated.
Makes sense, right?
We're imitating silly movies with our own interpretations.
So, without further ado, let’s meme away with some homeschool humor for your midweek boost!
A special thanks to How Do I Homeschool, Intentional Homeschooling, and Homeschool in Memphis for sharing some great ones!
What is your favorite one? Did I miss any good ones? Leave them in the comments for next month!
...and keep smiling, mama!
There's no substitution for quality literature in a child's education, a simple book can build vocabulary, enhance character, and teach a lesson that will stick with children for the rest of their lives. It's been important for me to share classic literature as a part of our homeschooling curriculum, so I was thrilled to review the Second Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press and dive into these tried-and-true literature guides.
Memoria Press is a favorite publisher in our house! I love that they offer Christian, accessible, high-quality products at affordable prices. We received the entire second grade literature set, which includes the Tales from Beatrix Potter Literature Guide Set, Prairie School Literature Guide Set, Little House in the Big Woods Literature Guide Set, Animal Folk Tales of America Literature Guide Set, and The Courage of Sarah Noble Literature Guide Set. Because my son had enjoyed learning about Beatrix Potter in previous studies, we decided to start our journey with the Tales from Beatrix Potter Literature Guide Set. Tales from Beatrix Potter brings students through four of Potter’s beautiful classic works: Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, The Tale of Tom Kitten and the Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse.
The Tales from Beatrix Potter Literature Guide broke Peter Rabbit into two separate lessons, one that covered the content on page 7-35 and another lesson that covered 36-69. We broke this down even further into four lessons to allow for reading at a slower pace. Each lesson is composed of pre-reading, post- reading, language lesson, life lesson and enrichment activities. The post-reading aspect focused on defining new vocabulary and asking comprehension questions like, “What did Mr. McGregor do with Peter’s jacket and shoes?” The enrichment activities for the Tales from Beatrix Potter Literature Guide vary from discussion questions to drawing activities, each which add a fun element to the lesson and affirm the concepts learned.
For second grade, Memoria Press recommends reading Beatrix Potter, Prairie School, Little House in the Big Woods, Animal Folk Tales of America, and The Courage of Sarah Noble throughout the year. Each literature guide set is expected to take 6-7 weeks to complete, so the entire Second Grade Literature Guide Set is a year's worth of studies. Each set can also be purchased individually.
I’ve been very encouraged by our time working on the Second Grade Literature Guide Set. When we began, I was nervous that the content might be too difficult for my reluctant reader, but he’s grown in reading fluency and I’m most elated to see that he is demonstrating clear comprehension of what he reads! The Second Grade Literature Guide Set is a beautiful guide through rich literary treasures, enhancing the meaning and bringing deep understanding in a way that Memoria Press consistently does! This curriculum is a great addition for homeschooling families who want to dive into classic literature and soak up all that the stories have to offer!
The Review Crew checked out different products for Memoria Press, so be sure to read the Crew Reviews and hear about other awesome products offered!
I have a question for you all this week, a question God posed to me recently: how long do you think Daniel was afraid in the lion’s den?
We all know the story from picture books, or maybe a Sunday sermon, but Daniel, the righteous aid to the King Darius and servant of God, refused to stop praying three times a day and ended up entangled in a trap set for him by wicked people. Daniel decided to keep praying despite the king’s edict and ended up on the floor of a dark lion’s den.
So walk with me for a moment and picture yourself as Daniel, and you've just been flung into a deep dark pit. You hit the ground with a thud, probably bruise a few ribs, if not worse, and then you wait. The lions haven't yet started tearing your flesh apart, so maybe you have a few more minutes to live. What do you do?
If I'm Daniel, I would probably not move, try not to even take a breath, and pray that the lions can't smell the fear dripping off of me. Maybe as your eyes adjust to the darkness, you look for a place to hide, but any movement might trigger the beasts to dive on their prey.
At what point during that very long night do you stop anticipating being mauled to death at any moment, and start realizing that God's shut the mouth of the lions? Do you wait until the morning light is breaking through and you hear the king’s voice, or do you start to realize God's given you victory long before you’re even flung into the pit?
That's been my battle these last few months. Though I feel healthy, every time I visit the doctor's I hear negative news that lands me on the floor of the lion's den, anticipating the worst instead of anticipating hearing the kings voice in the morning.
The funny thing about this place is that you can only anticipate one thing at one time. It's impossible to envision your rescue and your death during that same long night, you can have faith or fear. One will bring you peace, one might just do you in from a heart attack of the lions don't get you first.
But Jesus asked, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”
When the negative thoughts start to spiral and I begin to worry, I’m so thankful to have wonderful friends and family who are praying for me, letting me borrow their faith, and pulling me up out of the lion’s den, and most thankful to have the King of all Kings on this journey with me!
Have an amazing week, friends! And, don’t let your faith be darkened by things you see, trust in the unseen.
Taco Tuesday is a real thing in our house, and sometimes Taco Wednesday and Thursday too. Anyone else run out of meal ideas constantly!?
Since we have a crew of different tastes in our house, I love that taco night allows for me to cook one thing, and my kids to make their dinner plates suit their tastes.
My oldest three like their taco meat plain, without seasoning. I know, I'm not sure if that really counts as a taco either. But, they eat the plain meat so I won't complain!
We use ground turkey, cook it, and then season it with store bought seasoning, but you can also easily make your own healthy taco seasoning with advice from Gimme Delicious. The best part of homemade seasoning is that you can adjust the spiciness for your family’s pallets!
All you need are:
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried onion
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
Check out Gimme Delicious for the details!
While we're cooking the meat, I cook three cups of rice in a different pot and heat frozen corn in the microwave for ease. Research suggests that cooking vegetables in a microwave, and plastic bag, are safe, BUT I have trust issues so I empty the bag content into a glass bowl, add some water and cover it with a silicone lid.
The final step for taco night is cutting up some tomatoes to add in or just eat up!
Does your family enjoy taco night? I'd love to hear how you do it in your house in the comment section!
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!
is an author, blogger, and homeschooling mom of four, giving her excellent credentials to run her own circus one day!