Homeschooling is all about options. Parents are able to pick from a plethora of material and find what works best for their child and family. If you tend to be a bit indecisive like myself, this freedom can feel paralyzing.
Over the last year, I've been working with the Homeschool Review Crew to try out and review many different curricula and I wanted to break down what we've used for 1st grade and some of the pros and cons of each curriculum to help you find ideas that might work for your family!
First Grade Math
First Grade English
Pros: We jumped into this curriculum because I had heard about it from many different moms, all boasting that the content was amazing and it was FREE. The curriculum has not disappointing. I love how the material is clearly presented and the curriculum lives up to it's name: Good and Beautiful.
Cons: Well, we've yet to encounter one. This program has suited two of my children, with very different learning styles.
Memoria Press offers a variety of resources that can be used in first grade. They are a favorite of mine because they offer simple, clear, classical material at an affordable price. For first grade, we used book D and E from the Classical Phonics First Start Reading Program. The earlier books are amazing for starting your child's on a journey of reading!
We also practiced spelling with their Simply Classical Spelling Program, which is a great supplement for working through spelling words. The books are simply workbooks with spelling lists and a suggested plan to help children memorize the spelling words. It's not essential if your student is learning to spell easily through their main curricula, but can be used for extra help in that area!
If you're looking to focus in on grammar, we enjoyed the Easy Grammar System, which offers a simple one page lesson to complete each day. The lessons build upon each other and reinforce simple grammar concepts. The Pros are that the program is extremely simple. The cons were that I'm not sure how necessary this book was at this level. But, to learn more about the scope and sequence, check out our review!
First Grade History
First Grade Science
Generation Genius has been pure fun for my kids! They offer science videos, worksheets, and quizzes to test your knowledge! The topics are presented in a fun engaging way, and it's perfect for unit studies or diving into a specific topic. The only Con I've found is that I wish there were more videos! We watched them all during our free trial period, but I'm looking forward to seeing more content they develop!
Keep in mind that so much science can be learned by observing the world around us, nature walks, and books!
Whewwww, I'm out of breath, we covered a lot of ground and learned a ton last year! I hope you'll enjoy some of the above recommendations and am happy to answer questions in the comment section! Also, tell me about your favorite programs so we can check them out!
There's something so rewarding about making your own baby food. Except if your little one refuses to eat it, which was the story of my older three kids.
I'd puree carrots, sweet potatoes, garden fresh produce and they would refuse to eat it. It was frustrating to say the least.
With my one year old, I've mostly purchased organic baby food puree, but I've made one easy recipe that he loves. The best part is it doesn't require cooking, only blending.
To make this puree, simply slice an avocado in half and place one half in a blender or food processor. For this puree, we're only using half an avocado, so I use the side of the avocado that doesn't have the pit and tightly wrap the other piece for later.
Next, add one full banana and your half of an avocado to a blender. I use a nutribullet because the small cups are a great size for a single serving of baby food!
Add 1 tablespoon of water, and blend!
Because this has avocado and banana, it's best to eat quickly after making as both will brown with air exposure- but the taste won't change!
What's your little one's favorite baby food puree to eat? Tell me about it in the comments!
Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
This time last year, I was about to embark on my very first year with the Homeschool Review Crew. Little did I know that an amazing journey was awaiting my family, checking out incredible curricula and recording it all to share with you! The first review I completed was for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, so it’s only fitting that I start my second year reviewing SchoolhouseTeachers.com and sharing about the curricula we enjoy from them! We’re using the Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership, which grants families access to 460+ courses, a video library, Worldbook, and AppleCore record-keeping service.
We use SchoolhouseTeachers.com to conveniently explore topics we’re interested in- at our own pace! If I start to feel like we need some more science in our day to day lessons, I can log in and browse through the assortment of curricula that are grade-level appropriate, and then access different programs at the click of a button. I might pull one lesson from Living Geography to do with my kids, and then add in a little of Everyday Explores to expand on a specific location. There’s no more buying a curriculum and then white-knuckling through because you paid for it! Families can easily print out one lesson, or entire curricula at the click of a button. Need handwriting practice? Print out a unique lesson each day, and pick and choose from hundreds of options!
Because we enjoy Charlotte Mason homeschooling, we also benefit from the Focused Learning Center which links to all different curriculum options that align with Charlotte Mason’s ideologies. The Focused Learning Centers can also direct your curricula searches based on educational needs like math, reading, foreign languages, or special needs. Through the center, we found some awesome curricula that we’ve been enjoying like Living Geography, Bold Explorers, and my son’s personal favorite: Dinosaurs in the Bible, which is a video teaching series with accompanying worksheets and quizzes!
Dinosaurs in the Bible can be found in SchoolhouseTeachers.com video library, which has been a lifesaver for our family during chaotic weeks! Our favorite series, Drive-Thru History, is available to stream from the video library absolutely free. For us, just that feature alone makes the SchoolhouseTeachers.com Membership financially worth it! We also love the Torchlighter videos series which are incredibly moving for the whole family!
SchoolhouseTeachers.com also helps keep you organized with lesson plans and record-keeping services. The lesson plans accompany many of the free curricula and break down the programs into daily activities. This year, I’m looking forward to taking advantage of their record-keeping service, AppleCore. At our stage in homeschooling, I’m not incredibly concerned about grades, but it helps me to organize and record the different courses and learning experiences that we’ve accomplished.
Overall, SchoolhouseTeachers.com has been an amazing addition to our homeschool curricula. The range of material is incredible and the ease of accessing and using it is superb! The entire homeschool review crew has reviewed SchoolhouseTeachers.com this time around, so be sure to check out the rest of the crew’s review!
Happy New Years, friends! I don't normally write these types of blog post, but God has been pressing my heart about a specific topic and I wanted to share about it this week,
Over the last few months, I've been writing up a storm and having a blast on my first historic fiction book, which is loosely based on my grandfather's early years. I've shared before how my grandfather was dropped off at a police station Christmas Eve, 1923, and never saw his mother again. The circumstances surrounding his early years have been a mystery, and we're told they just might involve a former president. I've been filling in my own details and crafting a story, which probably has another 9 months of work before you'll hear more about it!
Anyway, as I've been diving into this story, God has been stressing how important one life is. My g. grandmother died young, leaving her child in the care of a cruel world. It's a heartbreaking scenario, and many people these days would say, "Hey, she should have had an abortion!" She was in no position to have a baby and care for him, but she did. And the results,
My grandfather had 6 children.
Those 6 children have combined 15 children.
And at the current time, there's 14 great grandchildren- including my kids, a number which will continue to grow over the next years...
and even one great-great grandchild.
That one life my great grandmother gave birth to developed a lasting legacy that carried into the next century and beyond.
The message for 2020: God's releasing vision to sustain long-term and generational assignments.
Tragedy and brokenness can give birth to life and beauty. We see our world in part, but God sees in full. God knows the beginning from the end, and He's not afraid of our minuscule [or big] mistakes because they can't mess up His plan. It might not always look the way we'd thought, or match up to our earthly plan, and it might be downright painful, but God has it worked out.
One day, your great great grandchildren just might want to thank you for your part that you played in the story!
Here's to a blessed year, friends!
I was homeschooled from 9th grade on, but both of my parents worked full time, so it was a bit of a different situation. I completed my work through Keystone National High School and enjoyed having tremendous flexibility to pursue other passions.
On Fridays in the spring and summer, my mom would have the day off and we'd hightail it to the beach, making a quick stop at Starbucks on the way. I'd always order an iced tall nonfat mocha and a coffee cake to go and sip and eat as I watched the waves crash.
Since going gluten-free 7 years ago, I haven't been able to enjoy that luxury, but I have found a coffee cake recipe that takes me right back to the beach with my mom. I adapted it from to make it gluten-free, cut the sugar content way back and use a different topping without flour. I think you'll enjoy this healthy spin on the coffee cake!
Well, my faithful smartphone has run into some terminal tech issues. It's been time for an upgrade anyway, but I've been smartphone- less for about a week now, and am still not sure what my next phone will be.
The first 48 hours were the hardest. I would want to check facebook or instagram only to realize I wouldn't be able to. BUT, once that past, I've fully been enjoying not having the chaos and the clutter of a zillion notifications and constant ads. It's making me re-think if I even want to replace it, or just stick with an older phone with less bells and whistles.
The biggest thing I miss is the camera. When we're out and about, I keep wanting to reach into my pocket and pull out my phone to snap a picture, but my current old-school phone takes the grainiest pictures that you can't even tell what you're looking at. So, I simply refrain.
Inadvertently, I've been given the gift of a tech-free Christmas. And, I'm very thankful for that! It has me reflecting on what truly matters, simplified my days, and opened my eyes to how much I rely on it.
However you're celebrating this year, I hope you have a happy- blessed- and merry Christmas!
From my family to yours!
Something about Christmas time just inspires me to create! This year, we decided to take a beak from our routine studies a bit early and venture into learning through creating. Maybe we'll even create a new tradition while we're at it!
Each day, I we picked something to make. These ideas aren't all baking, or crafting, or sewing- they are a big mixture, hence my odd grammatical choice of a title ;)
I hope you'll get some inspiration to make things of your own!
Day One: Pop-Up Christmas Cards
I normally skimp on Christmas cards, because, really, what would you rather get? A card or a gift? But, my kids LOVE to make cards and I wanted to help them make cards this year that, well, popped!
It might be a 20 minute video, but the pop up cutting instructions are in the first 5 minutes, then we cut out some cute Christmas trees and snowmen to decorate instead of drawing our own.
You can download the print out below!
Day Two: #Paperbob Coloring Contest
Day three: gingerbread houses
We were given silicone ginger bread house molds last year and have loved them! Instead of buying pre-made houses for the same cost, we can make our own year after year!
For the dough, we used this recipe from Sally Bakes Blog. If you're using the same Silicone Ginger Bread Molds, I'd recommend doubling the recipe- but if you don't have them, Sally offers printable templates to use!
The results were yummy and fun!
Day Four: Hand Lotion
This was a different type of Christmas craft for us, but my skin has been so dry lately and I wanted to make some lotion and teach my kids how to do it too!
We reused baby food jars to make the perfect cute little gift jars to give to friends and family. And for the recipe, I use a Wellness Mama inspired recipe:
1/8c of a light liquid oil such as jojoba, olive, or fractionated coconut oil
1/4c Coconut Oil
2tbs shea butter
2 capsules of vitamin e oil (for moisture and preservation)
10 drops of essential oils.
If you've never made lotion, check out her simple recipe here!
Day Five: Pipe Cleaner Candy Canes
Day Six: Popsicle Star Ornaments
Next week, I'll share our final 6 days of making! What's your favorite thing to make this time of year? Tell me about it in the comment section!
The more reviews I do, the more I see the need to consistently use a product for an extended period of time before recommending it. It's great when you get a brand new appliance and it's shiny and functions wonderfully... then you right a glowing review for the world to see, only to have something to wrong a month later.
For that reason, I've waited an entire year to review my Instant Pot Ace Blender. We purchased it last November, (and got a one year protection plan just in case) and I was a bit skeptical because it was new to the market and the reviews were mixed.
Previously, I had been relying on my Nutribullet which has been a faithful accessory for 6 years! I felt like I was cheating when I pulled out this new mega blender in front of my Nutribullet, but with so many smoothie drinkers in my house, I needed something bigger and wasn't about to spend Vitamix money.
The first thing I tried to make was a frozen dessert. I took coconut milk, frozen bananas and cacao and hit the frozen dessert button. A few minutes later, the mixture was perfectly smooth and I put it in the freezer as a special treat for later!
Then, I made our traditional green drink, but family sized. The Instant Pot Ace Blender crushed it perfectly. I do notice more green foam on top than with my Nutribullet so it’s possible that the smoothie setting was over blending, but that can be avoided by simply using the high medium or low setting and turning it off sooner.
I also made a cauliflower mash recipe in the Instant Pot Ace Blender. The puree function heated the cauliflower perfectly and blended it. The only thing I didn't love was that the blender smelled like garlic for quite a while after, despite multiple washings.
The final recipe I hesitantly tried was butternut squash soup in the blender. My cauliflower mash didn't burn in the pot, so I was optimistic that the soup would work out, despite reading other reviews that said the soup burned. I loaded up the blender and hit the soup button... and it burned.
Especially because it's really hard to get the burn out with the blades. I found soaking it in soapy water helpful as well as scraping it out with those straw cleaners. NOT ideal at all...
I feel like the design is also a bit cumbersome. The heating element is at the base of the pot, which makes it heavy and harder to clean. The blender is also too tall to slide neatly under the cabinet, so you might have to get creative on where you’ll store it depending on your kitchen layout. But it doesn't change my love for the Instapot Ace Blender- it just means my make my soup in a regular pot! The functionality of this blender is amazing and at a fraction of the price of other machines.
If you’re looking for something to make pureed soups- check out the Hamilton beach immersion blender. I’ve had this one for 4 years, and trust it with all my pureed soups!
Have you tried the Instant Pot Ace Blender? What do you think?
Back in June, I embarked on a quest to save money to stash away for Christmas time. I thought that I might save $50 bucks or so, but had no idea that there were so many ways to save... and that I was about to embark on such a fun journey and save hundreds!!
If you’re looking to save money and live better, aren’t we all? Then, here are my suggestions for the top ways to save!
Ibotta: Savings $251.87
Ibotta has been a game-changer for me! With the amount of groceries we purchase, grocery shopping feels like a full-time job and now I'm actually earning some benefits from it! Ibotta is an app that provides rebates for items you regularly purchase at the grocery store.
Do you like DiGiorno Pizza? Well, you can get $1.50 back for buying it.
What about Udi’s Bread? You can get $1 on that too.
What makes Ibotta even more fun is that you can stack coupons rebates for a single item. This makes it easy to walk away with free food, or incredibly cheap deals! Today, DiGiorno Pizza was on sale 2 for $10 and I had a coupon for $1.50 off so, and the $1.50 rebate x2. That means I scored two pizzas for $5.50, which is cheaper than the regular price of one!
Last week, Canyon’s Gluten-Free Bread was 20% off with Target Circle, then I used a $2 coupon and cashed in a $1 rebate to walk away with bread for $1.89!
I wish I had started using Ibotta years ago!
If you want to check out Ibotta for yourself, I'd love for you to use my referral code so we both earn an extra bonus!
Target Circle: saved $98.83 in addition to receiving $60 in gift cards
I was hesitant to jump on board with this program at first, but I'm glad I did. Target Circle is a simple app that has additional deals for members who shop at Target. It’s really simple to find additional deals for what you’re shopping for, and you receive bonus offers like “Spend $50 on groceries and receive a $10 Target gift card.” Pairing Target deals with Ibotta deals deepens the savings and makes this a huge win!
We ended up opening a Target Redcard to save an additional 5%. Plus, my target has some of the best customer service around, so I love my weekly visits!
Target Circle is a free download in your app store, so be sure to check them out if you don’t use it already!
TopCashback is a program similar to Ebates. When you are looking to make an online purchase, you click through their site or app and then they give you cash back from your purchase. Ibotta also offers this feature with some retailer, but I've found that TopCashback offers higher percentages back, plus they have a $10 sign up bonus if you click through my link.
I have used this with three orders, one I received the $10 bonus, one I received $2.28, and one was not properly tracked so I'm currently waiting on a claim. I'll update this post, depending on how it goes! All in all, the sign-up bonus is worth it in my books!
Fetch Rewards: [almost] $10
Fetch is a similar program to Ibotta in that you upload photos of your receipts, but instead of adding individual offers, you receive points for what you buy and can use the points for gift cards. I like that you don’t have to add any offers ahead of time, they do that work for you and you simply get points if your items qualify!
So far, I've earned about 9,454 points which is a few receipts away from a $10 gift card. Certain brands earn more points, so check out fetch and see if what you purchase can start earning you major cash back!
If you’re interested in checking out Fetch Rewards, use my referral code for 2,000 bonus points!
These programs have made saving money FUN! I hope you'll enjoy them just as much too!
Happy Holiday shopping, friends!
This post originally appeared at Rebirththebook.com.
The following post is not meant to be medical advice, please discuss your unique situation with your medical team.
I wanted to take a moment to address stitches for perennial tears after birth. "Did you tear?" Is one of the leading questions I hear when discussing births, and understandably so as no one wants to go through labor, childbirth, and THEN face stitches.
In my opinion, stitches are overly used on tears which could heal on their own without intervention. But, they're overly used because doctors and midwives know that for a tear to heal correctly, the new mom must be laying down in bed for two weeks in a position that allows for the tear to properly line up. Sounds a bit complicated, eh?
First, let's address the tear lining up correctly because this is crucial. Picture a rectangular piece of cloth... now take a pair of scissors and cut it about one inch in the center. When that piece of cloth is lying flat on a table, the part of the cloth that is cut will still line up neatly. Many perennial tears that line up correctly when mom lays down will heal perfectly on their own with bed rest. If mom is running around after a toddler and trying to do the dishes, the extra movement can undo any natural healing and make the damage worse.
Not all tears will line up correctly. In this case, stitches are the best option and will prevent mom from dealing with any future issues. A local anesthetic is injected, and self-dissolving stitches are placed to ensure proper healing and minimal scar tissue. Though no mom wants this to happen, stitches prevent any major complications such as painful or difficult intercourse, pain sitting or walking, and excess scar tissue.
In my own life, I've had 4 babies and torn 3 times. I received stitches the first time and really was uncomfortable for weeks after. Part of it may have been more physiological than physical, but I never wanted to go through stitches again. My second birth was my smallest baby, and I did not tear. But, I did tear during my next two homebirth.
My first homebirth was in Virginia. At that time, midwives weren't permitted to carry lidocaine to numb the area before performing stitches, so for them to be performed, mom needed to be taken to the hospital after birth. Nobody wants to do that. My wonderful midwife said she felt I would heal on my own if I laid down and rested, and I did.
My second homebirth was in Connecticut, and the midwives are permitted to keep lidocaine on them so they can perform stitches in a home setting. My tearing was a bit more complicated and my midwife recommended stitches because she felt that rest and proper healing would be tough with 4 kids running around. I REALLY didn't want stitches so I declined them and agreed to lie in bed with my legs and knees together so the tear would line up properly and rest for 2 weeks. I did heal perfectly without stitches and was really relieved.
The bottom line is that stitches can be declined if you discuss it thoroughly with your provider. Declining stitches poses the risk of not healing correctly or taking longer to heal, so be sure that you’re aware of your tear and your ability to properly rest before declining stitches. If I tear heals in separate sections, a person would be looking at much more complex surgical repair work than simply having stitches after birth so talk about it with your provider and postpartum support team before deciding!
is an author, blogger, and homeschooling mom of four, giving her excellent credentials to run her own circus one day!