Category Archives: PK

Really Woolly My First Easter ~ book review and giveaway

Disclaimer: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the author. All views expressed are my opinion.

If you are looking for a sweet addition to a young child’s Easter basket, Really Woolly My First Easter fits the bill. This die-cut board book has a bright, glittered cover and is in the shape of an Easter basket with a handle. Written by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Julie Sawyer Phillips, and published by Dayspring, an imprint of Tommy Nelson, this adorable book will provide hours of snuggle time with you little one while you read and teach the truths of God’s love.

This is a precious board book for a little one to snuggle up with someone and read. It is bright and colorful, with a special rhyme about joy and a prayer on each 2 page spread. The joy of spring, rain, new beginnings, growing, Easter, Jesus, and in “my heart” are sweetly covered to help a young child learn about all that God has placed around us. Each page also contains Easter eggs in the illustrations to provide an egg hunt for the readers, encouraging new discoveries each time. This gorgeous book will captivate the child’s wonder and scripture will place the truth of God in their heart, moment by moment.

The Really Woolly line has been a best-selling brand for 15 years. It is known for sharing encouragement about the relationship Jesus, the Shepherd, has with us, His sheep. The characters are well-known and loved.

This beautiful board-book is perfect for those aged 0-4, and beyond, to reflect on the beauty of spring, new life, and the resurrection of Jesus. Purchase your own copy today. Or visit JustRead Publicity Tours on Instagram to enter to win a copy of this book.

Lori, At Home.

The Manger Mission ~ a nativity book and activity set review

Disclosure: Many thanks to The Manger Mission for providing this product/product information for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.

Nativity sets are such a common and joyful part of the Christmas tradition for us. We enjoy having a number of these out each Christmas season and having a variety of styles. One thing we noticed when our girls were young is that playing with the nativity set is something they did almost daily and really enjoyed. We kept a kid-friendly nativity set where they could reach it and play whenever they wanted. The Manger Mission: A Family Christmas Tradition written by Kristin Vazquez and illustrated by Hannah Santi is just such an activity set with a hardback storybook to go with it.

The Storybook – The Manger Mission

This is a lovely little storybook about about 6″x6″. This hardback book is a fairly muted color scheme of teal, gold, grays, and white. It matches they activity set beautifully. The story introduces the three wise men, modeled on the story from the Bible found in Luke that tells of an unknown number of men, also unnamed, who traveled to Judea to find the king that was foretold in prophecy from the Old Testament. (This Bible account is noted at the end of the story.)

The story is of the three wise men recounting their journey to see the newborn Christ while they are being moved daily by the children of the home for their yearly reenactment of that journey with a nativity set.

The illustrations, of course, are modeled on the activity set. In the story, the three wise men figures are taken out of the box and are excited to start their yearly reenactment to get to the manger where Jesus lay. They talk about the different places the children place them, each day a little bit closer to the destination of Jesus’ manger. It is a sweet little story.

The Activity Set

The activity set contains 12 pieces. Each piece is comfortable suited for a child’s hand and is a piece of shaped wood. They wood is painted and the covered with a protective coating. They are coordinated with the storybook. The pieces include:

  • Shelter/Cover/Barn
  • Joseph and Mary
  • Jesus
  • 3 wise men
  • 3 animals
  • a shepherd (mine had 2 but the purchase site shows 1)
  • an angel


This is a fictionalized story that is based on the Bible, though it does incorporate a lot of the tradition of man. This includes giving names to the wise men, likely based in a denominational tradition, and noted a specific number of wise men, again based solely on tradition and not the Bible account. That does not men this is not an incredible activity set that can bring a lot of meaning to your family. This daily motion of the wise men can start at any time during the holiday season if you would like to use it that way. It could also be just a beautiful, fun activity set for the children to have fun with.

The story is fine but I did not find it super engaging. If my children were still in the age range for this, we would read the story at the beginning and then just have the activity set for the girls to play with whenever they wanted. Whatever works for you family would be just right.

This is a beautiful, engaging activity set that can add a lovely tradition to your holiday season or a play time for your children or grandchildren. It is definitely worth investment. Do remember that they are painted wood, though, so a teething child or one who likes to chew on things could damage the pieces.

This is a recommend from me. My girls are even excited to have this new nativity set to add to our collection this year and they are 17, 15, and 12. 🙂 Visit to purchase your own set or one for a gift and start a new tradition.

Lori, At Home.

Independence for PK and early elementary students

As a parent, one of the things we are always striving to teach our children is independence. In as many areas as are appropriate at the time. I was clearing out some things earlier today and came across the task trackers we used with two of the girls when they were little. These were simple and allowed them to be a bit more independent in their house and school tasks. It also gave them a bit of the freedom desired to choose what to do next.

The girls were in their princess phases at the time so I purchased a couple of pieces of scrapbook paper with their favorite princess. I laminated the ones with the princess and a coordinating one for each child. I also purchased small velcro dots. Out of the coordinating color of paper, I cut as many small squares as I was going to list tasks. I put a small soft velcro dot on both sides each square. I then lined them up on the princess page and added a small hook dot where each square was going to go. I used a wet erase marker to write the tasks on the laminated squares and them put them on the princess base. When a task was completed, the child could turn the square over.

To make this more accessible for a PK child, you could draw simple pictures for each item instead of using words.

I did not put up every task every day. If I didn’t need the child to complete a task that day, I turned it over to start the day. And, as they graduated from one type of task to another, I just used a wet paper towel to wipe off the label and then wrote the new task on.

This was simple and worked really well for a good long while. It can also work in place of a workbox if you are interested in that but don’t really have the space.

Lori, At Home.

Reading Eggs for all things reading (plus some math) ~ a Crew review

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.

Reading Eggs is an online program that many are familiar with. It is hard to go very long in the online education world without coming across this program from Blake eLearning Inc. There is a reason for this – their products do a very good of just what they are supposed to do: support students in the many different aspects of reading (aka language arts) and math (for their math component). I was so pleasantly surprised last time we used the program and we were pleased to take a look at it again this summer.

Reading Eggs site has programs for ages 2-13, depending on the child and family choice. These programs can be accessed through an internet browser or their new app, including iOs and Android apps. We typically use the browser but I have downloaded the Android app and it works pretty well. There are five programs in the Reading Eggs company:

1: Reading Eggs Junior – ages 2-4: toddler games, songs, and activities designed to build pre-reading skills such as alphabet knowledge and phonetic awareness

2: Reading Eggs – ages 3-7: games, activities, and books to work on reading and language arts skills such as reading comprehension, phonics, spelling, and vocabulary

3: Fast Phonics – ages 5-10: helps instruct students in all 26 letters of the alphabet and the 44 sounds in English while reinforcing reading and spelling (Note on site says it moves more quickly than Reading Eggs so they recommend not trying this any earlier than age 5)

4: Reading Eggspress – ages 7-13: students build skills in reading comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary while reading real books

5: Math Seeds – ages 3-9: students work on their core math skills and problem solving skills

There are so many highly engaging activities that the students really seem to stay involved in the learning process and are motivated to do their best by an integrated reward system. This reward system allows them to earn eggs for payment towards upgrading their avatar, the avatar’s home, and pets. This is a safe online place for the student to learn while playing.

Miss J has used this some this summer to keep her “thinking cap” on. She is working at a 6th grade level and is 11 years old. She has worked in the Reading Eggspress portion of the program. As you can see, she was on 150 for this screenshot.

She enters and chooses the lesson to work on for the day.

We required one lesson to be completed each time she logged in before she could do any of the other games or spend time on her avatar and home. These lessons could be really quick (15-20 minutes) if the book she was working with wasn’t too challenging. Most times, though, it took a bit longer than that.

Each lesson had multiple parts to it, as you can see on the left hand side of the image below. For examples, on lesson 150, she had to look at the cover of the story and answer questions based on the cover. She had to do a dictionary activity and then work on “who, what, where, and what.” Following that, there was an activity on making inferences and a fill in the blank acticity. Next she had to work on words in context and a reading comprehension activity. Finally, she had to complete a quiz related to all of the previous activities. If she was unable to complete them all during her time, it would allow her to pick up where she left off so no work was lost.

She didn’t mind it too much but it definitely was not as engaging for her this year as it was last time we used the program. She did like the races that she got to do on spelling and word forms in the stadium after she finished her lesson and she absolutely adored getting to play with her avatar’s home. But, she is definitely at the upper end of the appeal for Reading Eggs.

One thing I plan to have her use more often this fall is new to the Reading Eggs family. In Math Seeds, you will find Mental Minute. This is a one minute challenge of math facts. This is an area that most students need to shore up a bit so we will be having her log into this area once or twice a week. She will need to work in both the addition and subtraction section, as well as the multiplication and division area.

Between the programs that have been around for a long time with Reading Eggs and their new ones such as Fast Phonics and the Mental Minute, there is a good bit to continue challenging your student from their very young preschool years up through their middle school years. Add to it the easy access for the parents to see what kind of growth is being made and this is a great program. As you can see, growth is shown from the dashboard in various areas.

The Homeschool Review Crew has had a number of families using Reading Eggs from Blake eLearning Inc. You can read reviews of their experiences with students of all ages by visiting the Crew website and choosing several other reviewers to read.

Lori, At Home.

PandaParents MESSYLEARNING ~ a Crew review


Preschool and kindergarten learning was a few years ago for our family but I am still often asked about programs that are out there. PandaParents is one of those. This company send me three months, or “courses”, in PDF version of their program MESSYLEARNING FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND KINDERGARTNERS.

PandaParents has a few basic ideas that guide their creation of materials. The company wants to promote learning that helps complex brain function. They focus on reading, writing, and STEM activities and building fine motor skills. They do this while working to decrease screen dependent learning and minimize rote memorization.

MESSYLearning is not about creating an area that looks like a tornado has gone through (though it might if your preschooler is anything like mine were at learning times at that age!). Rather MESSY is an acronym.
M – mixed subjects, integrated learning
E – engaging activities
S – simple steps
S – smart designs with creative learning
Y – Yeah! a new way to promote preschool STEM learning

MESSY Learning

Each course of the program has a book, a video, and a workbook. I received PDFs of each of these for three courses: A Jolly Jingling Journey, Mommy’s Baby, and Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound.

A Jolly Jingling Journey – This is the story of Davy and his pets as they travel to the North Pole in search of Santa. After finding Santa, they have to find the reindeer. The story highlights words that begin with the letter J. Each page of the eBook and video have the words of the story at the bottom. There are several sentences per page, which is a bit much and a small font for this age group. Some of the concepts and ideas covered include:

  • letter J
  • migration
  • patterns
  • seek and find/matching
  • science of moving in snow and ice
  • reindeer
  • counting

This story has two videos. The first one focuses on the letter J. It is about 10 minutes. The second is the story to go along with the book. It is mostly the story being read, showing the storybook page and a few animations along the way. It is really quite long for this age at just over 38 minutes.

Jingle workbook pages

The workbook to go along with this is about 40 pages and is full color. It includes activities for

  • story recall
  • counting
  • order, sequences
  • tracing
  • animals and their tracks
  • feelings and emotions
  • fast/slow
  • and much, much more.

Mommy’s Baby – In this story, it is bedtime for Amanda. She doesn’t want to go to sleep but mommy goes through a story with her. The story is made up of the question “Are you mommy’s little ___________________?” and the answer, “I am your little __________________.” At the end of the story there are some “extra credit” questions that have the reader looking for how many of something can be found, looking for shapes, or answering a question about the story. The pages are nice and bright, with a large font that is easy to read and for the preschool student to see. There are just a few words on each page.

Mommy's Baby page

The video for Mommy’s Baby is right about the perfect length at around 5 minutes. It goes through the story and shows the pages of the storybook while reading it out loud.

The workbook for Mommy’s Baby is about 40 pages and is full color. The activities cover letters P, T, X, and B. It covers memory, tracing, patterns, and feelings. In science it talks about living vs non-living and all different kinds of animal tails and their uses. There is some matching, big/small comparisons, and shapes.

Scotty Skunk page

Scotty Skunk Hears a Scary Sound – Scotty Skunk is awoken from his winter sleep when spring arrives by a sound. What sound? The baby birds so he decides he must find a quiet place for his home. As he finds each new home, a new sound startles him and a new season finds him in a new place. This story teaches the letter S and touches on seasons, emotions, and transportation (train, tractor, sailboat, firetruck, etc.). It has bright pages with several sentences per page, written across the bottom of the page.

The video for Scotty Skunk is pretty long at about 32 minutes. It has some introductory material, like introducing the children and going to a classroom, that is about half the video before getting to the story.

The workbook is a 51 page file in full color. It covers

  • S and H
  • colors
  • tracing
  • number sequence
  • seasons
  • story sequences
  • letter mazes
  • animal homes/habitats
  • shapes

There are also some crafts in this workbook such as making a sailboat, painting, and creating a home for Scotty.


My Thoughts:

This is a bright, whimsical program. It covers a lot of material and has had a lot of thought put into each piece of the program. The integration of various concepts and subject areas helps students transfer information better and learn problem solving. Creating a book, video, and workbook also ties in a few of the different styles of learning. Adding in some physical movement activities would be fantastic.

I think this will appeal to many preschoolers but I feel much of the activity is too easy for kindergartners. At least in the way it is presented here. My girls were all beyond this material by the time they were 5 so I feel like this is a good preschool program but it would definitely bear looking at to see if it would fit your 5 or older student.

Also, consider whether this style of animation is right for your child. I had my girls look at it with me to get their thoughts on the animations and drawings since they help care for preschoolers on a weekly basis. I asked them whether they thought the children they work with would enjoy these. They felt like most of the children would not care for it; they felt the videos were silly and wouldn’t keep the kids’ attention. They thought some of the characters were somewhat scary to look at with their lopsided and unmatched eyes.

The workbooks are my biggest hangup with this program. I would not be able to justify printing these workbooks at a office place and we only have black-and-white here at the house. Many of these activities would not work as a black-and-white. Also, I would have to purchase sticker paper for some of the activities or make it work with a cut-and-paste approach. If I chose to print the workbook. But if I didn’t, I would need to do these at a computer screen which brings me to my next concern.

One of the big parts of PandaParents  is wanting to get kids away from screens. As the program was presented to me, at this point, it does not do that. The book is a PDF, the video is online, and because I would not be able to print large parts of the workbook, I would need to do some of the activities with the child at a screen. This program would definitely work better as a physical product, rather than an online/downloadable program. I understand that is in the works.

There is much to be admired in this program and I think it fits a need. The themed story, video, and workbook is a great combo.

At Home.

Some of the Homeschool Review Crew families had kids in the right age for this program and used it with them. Definitely go check out what they and their kids thought of PandaParents.


Night Night Farm ~ a review and giveaway

night night farm giveaway

Sweet bedtime books are just about my favorites. Especially for newborns and infants. I was given Night Night Farm by Amy Parker, illustrated by Virginia Allyn to review for Flyby Promotions.

This board book is just perfect for cuddling with your sweet little one as sleepytime approaches. Featuring bright, vibrant images and cheerful, rhyming verse, Night Night Farm brings nighttime to the farm and to your home. With all the animals small children love – cows, pigs, horses, owls, cats, sheep and chickens – saying good night has never been more fun. Your children will revel in the antics the animal babies go through on their way to bed.

night night farm inside

As the farm says “good night,” each animal prominently takes the time to say good night in their own special ways. From getting their baths (messy little pigs!) to a sweet lullaby (sung by mama cow) to snuggling down with daddy to watch over (as daddy owl does), the farm goes through the same bedtime routine each little boy or girl does.  But my very favorite part is the last page where the reader, or listener, is reminded that God made not only these very special animals who each have their own special place on the farm but he made the special listener or reader as well. And it is important to say “good night” to God, too.

I would definitely be happy giving this book as a gift to a family who is expecting a new baby sometime soon. Vibrant, fun, and colorful, Night Night Farm by Amy Parker is a joy.

At Home.


night night farm win a copy

About the Author:

Amy Parker’s children’s books have sold more than 800,000 copies including two Christian Retailing’s Best award-winning books and the bestselling A Night Night Prayer. She lives outside Nashville with her husband and two children.

You can purchase this book online at this retailer:

Facebook @AmyParkerAuthor

Facebook @TommyNelsonBooks

Twitter @AmyParker

Twitter @TommyNelson

Instagram  @TommyNelsonBooks

Pinterest Tommy-Nelson- Books



Want to Win a Copy? There will be one winner of Night Night Farm and this is open to residents of the US or Canada. The form will be open from 8/12/2016 through 8/20/2016. Here’s the nitty-gritty requirements posting:

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Click below to be taken to the Rafflecopter form for this giveaway.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

J is for J’s Jewel Box

J - jewel box

No, it is not a box for real jewels or gems. It is a box full of fun, educational activities that J can do by herself. It is full of things that encourage her to use her imagination and play. It is full of toys and books and dolls and games and letters and numbers and whatever else I decide to throw in there for the week (or the month or for however long I leave them in this time).

As we began our homeschool adventure last summer/fall, I was looking for a way to encourage J to entertain herself that would be a challenging, educational “something” for her to do. Some people call these sorts of things “All By Myself” boxes. Or maybe “busy bags.” This is somewhat along the same line but I didn’t want these things to be completely dictated to her about how to use them. So, maybe they are more along the lines of what some folks call “invitations” for play or exploration.

Here, J is playing with dry pinto beans and a tractor. She created a whole story about what she was doing and why and what it was for. No direction for me for her play. Exploration, creativity, imagination.

J - J playing

What all is there –

We bought a large box, probably about 15 gallons, that has easy lock handles on the sides. This was so that she could open it up by herself AND, more importantly, put it away by herself. This holds the big stuff, the baggies of smaller things, the books, or whatever else is going to be in the Jewel Box for now.

In the big box:J - big box

  • Board books with opposites, numbers, letters, shapes, and colors
  • Bible picture pairs game
  • large numbers 1 – 10
  • matching game for numbers 1 – 20
  • Dear Zoo book and giraffe
  • Stamp Marker activity pad
  • jacks
  • little dolls
  • tractor
  • counting bears and cards to work
  • pattern matching cards
  • building set from a kid’s meal somewhere
  • shapes that her older sister made for her to practice with
  • fishing game for ABCs
  • some easy reader books from Reading the Alphabet
  • the letter B matching activity and phonics work

These are the things that are in there right now. These get changed out from week to week or month to month for anything and everything I can find that might encourage J to work on her own or work on a concept that she is about to learn or one that she might need practice with. I find things at the dollar stores, garage sales, the toy box, the bookshelf – everywhere! Just keep your eyes open and you’ll find lots of things in your home that could work for something like this.


We also bought 3 small boxes with the same easy lock handles that hold things like dry beans, rice, cotton balls, pompoms, foam stickers, polished rocks, marbles, and more. I only have 3 of these so that there isn’t too much separation that has to happen at clean up time.

In the small boxes:J - small boxes

  • blue – thick foam stickers in a winter theme (this one hasn’t been changed for a LONG time!)
  • purple – dry beans
  • pink – cotton balls (had some small glittery hearts in there for February)
  • (Middle row left to right) small bits of paper the girls colored and cut to be ice cream toppings
  • pompoms
  • acorns, leaves, and pumpkins – small acrylic things I found at Target’s dollar spot
  • polished rocks
  • (Bottom row left to right) marbles
  • popcorn
  • colored rice

**Please use caution when choosing the items to go in these if they are left where small children are or you have a child who might want to put these things in their mouths. Every child is different and these work for my kids but I do pick them up when we have others over so that the temptation is not there for someone else’s child.**

J - containers

We also collected a mish-mash of containers – old parmesan cheese canister, the little bubble gum egg cartons from Easter, a large dish packer (looks like an egg crate for ostrich eggs!), mini M&M canisters. We put in whatever we could find. I also put in a set of plastic tweezers that had a little red light on the end that lit up when it was closed.

How we used it –

When I needed time to work with the older two giggly girls, J was asked to go play at her Jewel Box. This was time for her to guide her own choices. She could use the items in the box however she wanted as long as she did it quietly. Sometimes, she would ask for help to know how to play a game or do an activity for real and I would tell her and show her. Most of the time, she used her imagination and came up with ways to learn and play all on her own. She seldom had to play there for more than an hour by herself because her sisters really wanted to play there, too. So, they would work harder to get their part done and then ask if they could go play with J in her Jewel Box.

This summer, it is still being used every single day, though it is all her choice to use it for the summer. It is not at all uncommon for all three giggly girls to be sitting around the Jewel Box, creating some play scenario and having a good time. At Home.


This post is linked up with ABC Blogging on Ben and Me.

Ben and Me


A Review – Logic of English

LOE title

J is newly 5 and has been working towards reading for a while now, though very slowly. We were given the chance to review Logic of English and were so happy to have the opportunity.

Logic of English Foundations, Level A, suggested for ages 4-7,  is a phonemic awareness and writing program that begins at the beginning – sounds. While this makes total sense, I was not expecting it to start quite that basic. We probably could have started a bit further into the program but I figured – hey! It will only help to make sure we have covered the basics well. So, we started at the very beginning with sounds.

Logic of English ReviewfoundationsA_zps8f3e10a0

Logic Of English Foundations A Components

What you will need to teach Foundations A:
Level A Teacher’s Manual ($38.00)
Level A Student Workbook (cursive or manuscript – $18.00)
Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds ($15.00)

These are optional but I think you will also want to have the following reusable resources:
Student Whiteboard ($9.00)
Basic Phonogram Flash Cards ($18.00)
Phonogram Game Cards ($10.00)
Rhythm of Handwriting Tactile Cards (in cursive or manuscript – $28.00)
Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference Chart (cursive or manuscript – $10.00)

So, how does a lesson work?

Each lesson in the teacher’s manual begins with a box that lists the objectives for Handwriting, Phonemic Awareness, Words, and Common Core Standards. The first three I love and the last one I completely ignore. It also includes a materials list of both the necessary materials and the optional materials for activities. Paying attention to this list of materials makes each lesson so much easier to prepare for and just zip right through, instead of having to scramble for something after you get started.

From there, the lessons take you through exactly what you need to know as the teacher and exactly what you should say, as well as the expected response from the student. Each lesson begins with Phonemic Awareness. After you complete the activities for that, you will have the new phonogram for the lesson, if there is one. Then you get the Handwriting section – this can be a challenging portion because the cursive and manuscript are right along side of each other and, more than once, I found myself reading out the cursive instead of the manuscript information.  Next the lesson goes through Phonogram Practice. This section includes a hands-on activity for practicing the phonograms. Often there are challenge activities listed off to the side and it almost always includes a multi-sensory activity for the kiddos that need that. (These were lots of fun for J! I highly recommend making time to do these with as often as possible.) At this point in the lesson, you either come to the end or you’ll find the Words section. This section includes the spelling portion of the lesson. It is followed by the last section: Reading. This is where the child practices reading different words and completing activities to help their reading ability grow.

More Detail About the Program:

One of the first things the program does is bring the student awareness about how sounds are made. After having worked through this program, the student will be well versed in how sounds are formed in the mouth and vocal chords. The student becomes very aware of voiced and unvoiced sounds, how they are alike, how they are different, how they are formed. This has helped a lot – she often mixes up b and d but when I ask her to think about voiced/unvoiced, she gets it right away. Same with m and n.

scavenger hunt finds

The student also works a lot on segmenting words. The parent begins by segmenting words and asking the student to recognize the word. This recognition is shown through many varied activities – hands-on, movement, scavenger hunts, and more. We also switch it around and have the student segment and the parent blend. Segmenting, both ways, is one of J’s favorite parts.

Pretty quickly, the program introduces phenomes. This was kind of difficult for me as the teacher. I have a hard time looking at /a/ and thinking not the letter name but the three sounds. For J? Piece of cake. She is zipping through learning the sounds and knows them better than I do, for the most part. There are a couple that trip her up but we have been doing some extra practice activities with them and she is making improvements. Again, the program encourages hands-on and movement activities to help the children learn these quickly. J loves the various activities, especially when it means we are going to head outside with the chalk!

outside activities

From the beginning, the program has the student working on handwriting and correct formation of various letters. They program has both manuscript and cursive available so you can order which ever style fits with what you want your student to start out with. We are using the manuscript cards because J already knows how to write most of the letters in manuscript and we are hoping this will help her formation. We are working on the neatness and fluidity of the writing.

handwriting practice

The way the program teaches it, there are several different strokes and each letter is make up of one or more of these strokes. We received tactile cards, which feel like they have sandpaper on them, to help us teach the handwriting. The tactile cards work really nicely because it is large muscle movement to help get the original stroke and then you can move to a dry erase marker or pencil, which ever works best for your family. We always have gone from the tactile cards to the large line side of the white board. We work on the stroke or letter on the big lines for a while, picking out the best one each time, and then move to the smaller lines on the other side of the white board. After working with that, we then would move to a pencil and the work book. We would start at the bottom of the page because that is where the larger lines are and then we would move up to the smaller ones. (The program instructions say that the child can choose whichever sized line is most comfortable for her.) This progression really helped J pay attention to her formation. While I am not yet seeing a tremendous difference in her every day writing, I think it is mostly because she gets in such a hurry when she is writing.


In Lesson 21 (out of 40), the student begins spelling and reading words. They start out with CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant) and progress using the phonograms they have learned. This is where it gets really exciting for the child. They are reading! As the lessons move along, the words progress a bit in difficulty but always within the ability they have gained using the phonograms.

And the reusable resources?

Well, I am glad you asked! J absolutely adores the Doodling Dragons: An ABC Book of Sounds. We read it every lesson, whether it is included in the instructions or not. And, we read each page over. And over. Faster. And over. Slower. And… well, you get the picture. It is a great addition. It allows J to see the phonogram we are working on in context for visual and for sound. And, it makes her laugh.

The Basic Phonogram Flash Cards we use every single lesson. Whether it is for the new phonogram for that lesson or to review the previous phonograms, we use them. For viewing, for reading, for games, for hopscotch, for lots of things – they get used. They are sturdy cardstock and have held up well thus far.

The Rhythm of Handwriting Tactile Cards we also use every lesson. These are sturdy cardstock cards with the stroke or phonogram shown with a rough surface, like fine grit sandpaper. We use them for J to feel the strokes and practice the strokes before we move to the white board and on to paper. Sometimes it is to learn the new stroke or phonogram that is being written. Sometimes it is to review ones J has worked on already and is just a review. Other times, it is to work on a phonogram that J has already learned but is just not writing fluidly or is struggling with the combination of strokes.

The Student Whiteboard is another part that we use every single lesson. In practicing handwriting, this is a piece that has been very helpful. We practice on the white board after using the tactile cards and before moving to pencil and paper. This is a necessary step for J, as she is still learning to write the phonograms and working on the fluidity of connecting strokes.

We have not yet used the Phonogram Game Cards very much. They can be used in some of the lessons where the flash cards are used but not in every lesson, so they cannot replace the flash cards. The game cards are also designed to be a game to play that helps the students increase their recognition of phonograms and their fluency. Two sets of these are recommended so that the student becomes familiar with not only the style of handwriting they are learning but also the standard book print style that they see many places.

The Rhythm of Handwriting Quick Reference Chart is something that I have used some but is becoming more useful the further we get. It is a quick way to find exactly what set of strokes I need to remind J of as she is practicing writing her phonograms. Very helpful if you are anything like me and can’t seem to remember them.

What Do I Think?

Having worked with this program for a bit now, I think this is a very well done program. It is a good fit for any child age 4 or 5 who is beginning their reading and writing education. The handwriting is a challenge if your child already knows a bit of letter formation but it has been really good to have J slow down and really work at doing it correctly. If your child already knows the phonograms and corresponding sounds well, she is probably beyond this program. If she only knows some of them or doesn’t know them at all, though she can do a little bit of phonetic work, I would suggest this program. That is where J started and it was good to go back to the beginning. We have seen growth in her ability to recognize sounds and she can pick things out at random to notice and share with us.

While we are not yet all the way through Logic of English Foundations A, I am pleased with what we have seen and the progress we are seeing with J. We will be continuing with this all the way through Foundations A and then we will reevaluate to see if we want to keep going with Foundations B. I think she’ll be reading pretty well shortly. And then, we’ll have three independent readers. At Home.

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Fruit of the Spirit – Kindness

Kindness title

We started this day’s study with a felt activity we borrowed from the church workroom. This was a fun, no-right-no-wrong-way-to-do-it activity. I just handed them the package and let them go at it. They played. They worked together (showing kindness – yea) and put it together several different ways. They have even pulled it out a few times since then. It is by Little Folk Visuals and is called Felt Wonders – Fruit of the Spirit. It is bright, colorful, durable, and lots of fun.

After they had free time with it for a while, I did step in and direct a little bit. We used the small words (love and joy) as reading practice and some phonics work with J, who is beginning to read a bit. We also did some sequencing with the older girls. Of course, we sang the song and they took turns pointing to the words and putting them in order. The set also comes with different words for some of the fruit since different translations of the Bible use alternate words. So, there was a short built in vocabulary lesson. Additionally, we talked about the part of speech for each of the words.


After they had played for a while, we did put it away and moved on with the written part of the lesson. The rest follows the same format as the previous parts of the Fruit of the Spirit study, except there is not a printable coloring sheet or activity sheet this time.

Kindness – what does the Bible say

Kindness – handwriting practice cursive

Kindness – handwriting practice print

Kindness – handwriting practice copy prinit

Here’s hoping you are able to find some use for these ideas and that they will bless your students. At Home.

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Coloring time – a tutorial

It is that time. It is time to color eggs. Oops – nope. Rice. That’s it. We are coloring rice today. P1070788

I wanted some colored rice to put in a sensory bin for J so we colored it ourselves. It was a quick and easy project that the big sisters had fun helping with. Who doesn’t like playing with liquid color and something that can be dyed? I highly recommend it if you do any kind of sensory play (or maybe even just play) with your younger ones. (Truly, this is going to be for the bigger ones too. The 9 year old was talking about playing with it! Of course, she’ll let her little sister be the first but then it may be a free-for-all.)

After combing the internet and Pinterest for all of about, oh, 5 minutes, I found that most folks used rubbing alcohol and food coloring. There were, however, as many different measurements for these things as blogs you could find doing it. (So we’ll just add one more to the mix…) Here is what we ended up doing.

Items needed:
liquid food coloring in dropper bottles

uncooked long grain white rice

rubbing alcohol

glass bowls – one small and one large for each color of rice you are making

1 tablespoon measuring spoon

4 spoons to stir

Decide how much rice you are going to make of each color. I did 3/4 cup of rice for each of 4 colors. I decided on this amount based on the container it will be going into after it is dry. Place the rice in the larger bowl. In the smaller bowl for each color, place 2 T of the rubbing alcohol and about 8 drops of food coloring. Stir this up. Add the liquid to the rice in the larger bowl and stir it well. After it is stirred up, evaluate your color. If it is not dark enough, add some more of the food coloring directly to the rice in the bowl and stir again. Do this until you are happy. My oldest decided, after we were into the process, that she didn’t want to make yellow rice after all. (“Mom, the colors go green and then blue, so we should do red and then orange, not yellow.”) So, she added red to the yellow to make it orange. If doing that, make sure you go one drop at a time and stir well in between so you don’t overdo it and end up with another batch of red.
Then, we spread it out in a pan and set it in the sun to dry. Once dry, place it in the contain you are going to store it in or use it in. Watch and enjoy as your little ones (and not-so-little ones) have fun playing with the colored rice. At Home.

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