Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Unit Study: Thanksgiving & Pilgrims

I should have posted this unit before Thanksgiving, I know, but time got away from me, so here it is now. I’ll try to remember to repost some of this, next year for others benefit.

We thoroughly enjoyed studying Thanksgiving this year, it was our first time, so we focused mostly on just laying a foundation, introductory stuff. 

My mom (who homeschooled me and my three sisters) combined efforts with me to teach my 4 year old niece at the same time as us. My mom is great! She found a lot more than I did, and actually started her unit prior to us, so her research really helped. In fact, my mom and niece came up one day so that we could do part of our unit together – which was really fun for the kids, to see each other learning the same things. 


The Mayflower

The first thing we did as a group was make a Mayflower – I saw this idea on Superheroes and Princesses and thought “that looks easy enough” so we decided to try it.

I cut the boat shape out of cardboard, took some white plastic kite pieces and some construction paper.



After the kids colored the boat, we assembled it with tape.

IMG_0046We talked about what it would have been like on the Mayflower, a boat that wasn’t actually made for people to travel on, but supplies. The kids knew from some of their books, that the trip took 2 months, and that 2 people died on the boat on the way to America.

Treyton colored a picture of the mayflower for his lapbook cover. He was so cute, when I would ask him what the name of the boat was he would say “flower something”.


Popcorn Balls

We made popcorn balls (out of popcorn and marshmallow) because the Indians in the Massachusetts area were thought to have invented them and they were probably at the first Thanksgiving. This was obviously a highlight for the kids, messy and tasty. IMG_0056




Pilgrim Dolls

I printed off these pilgrim dolls (already colored) from making friends. IMG_0016I cut them out, and Treyton assembled them. He really liked this activity, and I was pleased to see that there were lots of different types of dolls we could use again in the future. IMG_0014

Pilgrim Home

I’m not sure where my mom came up with this idea, but we made pilgrim houses from craft sticks (we colored them with brown markers), some type of twisted craft paper, and buttons.


I recommend using cardboard for the backing, regular cardstock or construction paper would not be strong enough.

Treyton had a lot of questions about the pilgrim’s houses. He was surprised to learn that they lived in one-room-homes and that the kids usually slept on the floor. I found some pictures of different types of pilgrim houses (I think I found 3) that we added to our lapbook on a house flip-book.


Squanto & Indians

I also had Treyton assemble the Indian paper dolls to add to our lapbook after reading “Squanto and the First Thanksgiving”.  IMG_0015 I was surprised by the amount of detail in a children’s book, but appreciated the simplicity of the read and the illustrations which helped keep Treyton’s attention.

I also printed off a squanto lapbook piece (page 34 of 44) from the Amanda Bennett free unit study off of homeschool share.

Geography Specifics

We mapped out the route the Pilgrims took on a world map, which we then added to our lapbook.

We also talked about the New England states: which states are included and where specifically the Pilgrims lived (Massachusetts).


We naturally, spent some time discussing what we were thankful for and how much the Lord has blessed us. We generally do a Thanksgiving Hand Tree, which we didn’t do this year, instead we decided to add this thankful turkey craft in our lapbook for the things Treyton was thankful for, and a corn flip book for the things Lexie was thankful for.


I also made some of my own food lapbook pieces. One asking what food the Pilgrims and Indian’s had at the First Thanksgiving and Which foods we have at our Thanksgiving.


Lapbook Pieces

I printed our lapbook pieces from all over. I hope I remember them all. Some of the pieces I’ve already referred to above (the pilgrim dolls, house replica with the house flip book, and mayflower cover.

~ Church Flipbook – I drew a church flip book and wrote on the cover, “Why did the Pilgrims leave England?” on the front. I wrote Treyton’s answer on the inside.


~ I also added the pieces that we put on our timeline into our lapbook. To help reinforce what we learned. 

~ I printed off this Thanksgiving Mini-Book which Treyton, Lexie and I colored together. We had fun doing this all together.




IMG_0005~ Seasons Flip Book: Treyton  specifically asked about the pilgrims in each of the seasons, so I quickly made a lapbook piece to show Treyton what the Pilgrim’s first year was like, through the seasons.     IMG_0011  

Unit Goals – Lessons I Wanted to Teach

  • Why did the Pilgrim’s Leave England?
  • Who was here before the Pilgrims?
  • How Did the Pilgrim’s get here?
    • What was it like on the Mayflower
  • Where did the Pilgrims land in America?
  • Map Studies:
    • The Pilgrims Journey
    • Where the Pilgrims landed is called “New England”
      • Which states make up “New England”
  • What was life like for the Pilgrims?
    • Homes
    • Clothing
    • Chores
  • Who was Squanto?
    • What was Squanto’s story?
  • Thanksgiving Food:
    • What were some of the foods they ate at the first thanksgiving?
    • What foods do we like to eat to celebrate Thanksgiving?
  • What are some of the things we are thankful for this year?

On-Line Resources:

Scholastic had a bunch of incredible resources on their site that we watched and learned a lot from. Here are a few of our favorites:

Tour the Mayflower

Learn about the Daily Life of a Pilgrim

Learn more about the Pilgrims and How they Lived


Squanto and the First Thanksgiving

Sam Eaton’s Day

Links of Printables:

I made quiet a few printables to include in our lapbook.

My Thanksgiving Food Lapbook Pieces

How To Plant Corn  Grades 1-3

Coloring Picture of the Mayflower from ABC Teach

Pilgrim Coloring Pages

Thanksgiving Notebook Paper

Thanksgiving Acrostic Poem Printable

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages from Activity Village

My First Thanksgiving Mini Book

Links to Activties:

How to Make a Corn Husk Doll

Complete Mayflower Passenger List – you could use this list to select someone to be who was on the Mayflower, possibly to imagine you were them and to interview them.

Make a Thanksgiving Hand Tree

Make the Mayflower – I found this idea on Superheroes and Princesses

Possible Vocabulary Words:

Pilgrim, Freedom, Disease, Indian, Harvest, Tradition, Mayflower, Thatch – plant stalks used for roofing

Extra On-Line Links:

Amanda Bennett Free Thanksgiving Lapbook Pieces

1+1+1=1 Thanksgiving Ideas


Extra Lapbook Pictures

Like, I said before my mom and I did this unit together, she was gracious enough to send me picture of her and Shayla’s (my niece’s) lapbook that they put together. I thought you all might enjoy it.

They did an outstanding job (yeah, I’m a little jealous about how nice it turned out!!)








Monday, November 29, 2010


Okay, so I found a site that seems to-good-to be true, but so far I can’t find anything wrong with it. I checked out a few e-pinion and money saving blogs and haven’t found any real negatives about it so I thought I would pass it along.

Ebates is an online cash back shopping site. Ebates pays members cash back every time they shop online as well as provide them with the best coupons and deals online.

It’s very simple to use. You log in to Ebates, type in the store you want to shop at, they give you the most up to date coupon codes for that store as well as a link to click on to get to the website. If you click on their link, you will be brought to the website, all of your purchases will begin earning you cash back (different stores offer different percentages). The key is going through Ebates to get to the online store you are shopping at, but that’s all you have to do!!

Snapfish (which I use for ALL my picture needs) offers a 13% ebate, Barnes and Noble 8% and most of the other stores I use (Kohls, Toys R Us, JCPenney, etc) offer an average of 4% back.

So far (from my Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases) I’ve earned $8.36. Ebates pays you in either check or through paypal, every quarter (after accumulating $5.00).

As an extra incentive (not that there needs to be one!) they offer a 5$ sign-up bonus. All you have to do is sign up and you will receive $5!! This is an excellent program, ecspecially if you already do some online shopping. Why not get paid for shopping?

They do have a referral program, so if you are interested in signing up and using your Ebates account please click on one of the links in this post so that I receive a $5 bonus too!

TOS Review: Smart Kids: Nanuq

HSCrew468x60AnimatedNanuq Book (My Animal Family) by Smart Kids. An animal story book about a Polar Bear named Nanuq that has a very bossy older-brother. It is one of five other stories that My Animal Family offers. image

Included with the book is a DVD that has a narrated story with footage from the BBC.  Also included with the book is a secret password for the Nanuq habitat (www.mafkidsclub.com ) which contains treasure, an art studio, and educational games.

My Animal Family Website has this to say:

Kids love to play games on the internet. It is a known fact that children learn better and learn more when they are enjoying themselves. This is what the MAF Kids' Club website is all about---learning while having fun. By taking advantage of a child's fascination with animals, his enthusiasm for reading stories and watching videos and his excitement for playing interactive games, the MAF Kids Club program captivates a child's attention while integrating valuable educational content into the mix. So children explore the wonder of animal on our planet, they learn valuable life skills and they develop and strengthen family ties---all while having fun!

Product Review:

We used this book, the online games and the DVD quiet extensively during our Bear Unit Study. It was a great addition to our unit.

The story of Nanuq was adorable. It was well illustrated and simply written. The DVDs are narrated by a child’s voice, which Treyton noticed and commented on, he liked it.

Treyton really enjoyed the website play. I think his favorite part was creating his player, designing it as much like himself as he could!! Though I thought there were some really neat games on the website (dot-to-dot, puzzles and other math games) I felt like it took a lot of play to earn enough coins to buy the items Treyton wanted from the store to progress to new games. There weren’t like tons of levels or anything, but being a younger-child computer game, I thought it could be a little easier.

How to Purchase:

You can purchase one (of the five) Animal Family books for $12.99 a piece, which includes the DVDs and your secret pass-code for the website habitat. Or you can purchase a monthly on-line membership for $5.99

To See What Others are Saying

Visit the TOS Crew site here.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free for purchase  because of my membership with the TOS Crew for the purpose of my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New Advent Calendar!!

Surprise, surprise, I decided to go ahead and make a new advent calendar. IMG_0020

For the past two years I have wanted to get one of those wooden calendars, but couldn’t bring myself to spend the big bucks on them (even on the half price after-Christmas sales!) So when I saw these two ideas on The Painter Family Blog and The Crafty Nest and I decided to make my own version.

I made cardstock paper boxes of all different sizes and colors, labeled them with number stickers and attached them to a white cardboard piece (which I put a black paper border around).


I LOVE the end result, I can’t wait to start using it!!

Advent 2010!!

image It’s that time of year again, when I begin organizing and planning our our Advent Calendar. I am really looking forward to our calendar this year, I have found lots of new great ideas and traditions that I have added.

The main “theme” for our calendar, like last year, is Christmas Symbols (origins and meanings) but we also add in our own fun family traditions.

An excellent book that I found and that we are using as imageour primary resource this year is Lisa Welchel’s “The ADVENTure of Christmas”. This is a GREAT book, I can’t recommend it enough. (the page numbers in italics below refer to this book) 

We will also be reading:

Jesus, Me and My Christmas Tree

B is for Bethlehem

Jotham’s Journey

The First Christmas

The Legend of the Three Trees

The Legend of the Candy Cane

These are the activities and schedule that I am including in our Calendar this year:

  1. Nativity: Read the Christmas Story, start painting our Plaster Natvitiy set (I picked up for $3 last year, at an after-christmas sale) and set up our little people nativity set, identifying every member of the nativity as we do. (Page 52-54)
  2. Christmas Tree: make a sugar cone Christmas tree – turn it upside down, covering it with green frosting and decorating with M & Ms (Pages 8-9)
  3. Ornaments: give the kids their yearly ornaments, explain why we chose those ornaments for them. Talk about some of the past years ornaments. (Pages 12-13)
  4. Presents: Make presents for extended family members (Pages 44-45 & 60-61)
  5. Wrapping presents: make some home made wrapping paper and wrap the gifts we made for our family. (Pages 42-43)
  6. Christmas Cards: pray for some of the families who have sent us Christmas Cards, continue praying for new families who send us cards throughout the season. Have the kids make some Christmas Cards for the friends. (Pages 20-23 & 32-35)
  7. Colors: Make Colored Popcorn (Pages 26-27)
  8. Game Night
  9. Star: Take a long piece of string attached to a small gift for the kids and pull it all over the house, place a star on the end you give to the kids, have them follow the string, like the Wisemen followed the star to find their gift. (Pages 18-19)
  13. Candy Canes: Make some homemade candy canes with play-doh or cooking doh or using the recipe on page 15 (pages 14-17)
  14. Have Hot Cocoa by the fire and read Christmas Books
  15. Shepherds: Make a lamb craft out of cut out hand prints and cotton balls.
  16. Gingerbread House: Make a Gingerbread House
  17. Lights: go on the tour of lights at the Botanical Garden or take a Holiday Light drive if it’s too cold. Make Paper Bag Luminaries (Page 24 –25)
  18. Snow & Snowmen: (1) Make Snowman Pancakes for breakfast (2) Make Play-Doh Snowmen, or real snowmen if we have snow on the ground. (3) Make Paper Snowflakes, melt crayon patterns on them.
  20. Game Night
  21. Baking: Bake cookies together as a family, enjoy a few fresh out of the oven cookies in front of a fire with some cocoa and read the Christmas Story.
  22. Angels: Make a few angel crafts (there are LOTS of great ideas) (Pages 28-29)
  23. The Reason Jesus came: Read “The Tale of Three Trees” - Decorate Jesus’ Name and a Cross
  24. CHRISTMAS at Grandma’s and Papa’s
  25. Bake Jesus a Birthday Cake

Collecting ideas and activities to include in your own advent calendar can be so much fun, or it can also be overwhelming, because let’s be honest, there’s lots out there. Below are a few of the places I gleaned some of my ideas from.

For all you newbies (or mom’s that just don’t have the time) out there, I found this great link on Hubbard’s Cupboard eliminating all the “leg work” of putting together your own advent activities. They have it broken down into the 25 days, give you a theme, a verse and activity for each day. It is easily printable so all you have to do is print it out, and add the pieces to your advent calendar. Several of my ideas came from here.

There are lots of creative ideas out there as far as how to make or design your own advent calendar. I have heard of some moms  hiding 24 envelopes around the house for their kids to find, making an advent calendar “chain”, or flip book poster boards. The possibilities are endless, you could make it as simple or complex as you want. 

If you want to make your own advent calendar with your kids I found this adorable idea of making an Advent Christmas Tree Calendar out of craft sticks and oragami boxes! Check it out at Crafty Nest. I also really liked this box calendar, but not sure where I would get all those boxes from…. and if for some reason neither of those work for you, here is a post from tip junkie (that I found off of One Hook Wonder) giving you 25 other homemade advent calendar ideas

* If I decide to make one for our family, I’ll be sure to post about it!!

UPDATE: I did decide to make a new “box” calendar – you can see it here.

abc button

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bible: Elijah

Bible Story: Elijah and the Prophets of Baal.

After completing our grapevine study pages, which Treyton was not that excited about this week, we decided to act out our own little version of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal. IMG_0014

We took 12 stones, a piece of wood and some deli meat. Set up a make-shift alter, and poured some water on it.

We talked about how God sending the fire from heaven was a miracle, not only because fire doesn’t normally come out of the sky, but because of how hard the sacrifice would have been to burn after the water was poured on it. IMG_0013

We tried to light our meat on fire with matches and were unable to do it.

This was a simple activity but Treyton got a lot out of it, most importantly remembering details of the story.  

~ And as always, we also added the Timeline Figure to our timeline. ~

For More Elijah Resources visit MSSS Crafts

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weeks 14 & 15

After deciding to move on from MFW K, our school has been much more simple (and a little boring), I haven’t had all that much to post on so have spent my time doing other things.

We have still have a pretty great 2 weeks. Mostly because I put together a Superhero Unit as well as a Pilgrim Unit (coming soon). And we’ve spent a lot of time just reading, which has been GREAT!!

Some of our favorite books we’ve been reading:

Paddle to the Sea

Aesop’s Fables

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy

Princess Bible

A Child’s Garden of Verses

Lot’s of Pilgrim books (our favorites to be posted as part of our unit)

The Little Engine that Could


Along with our read alouds and units we have been doing the following:


Elijah and the Prophets of Baal 

Memory Verse Genesis 1:1


Working our way through Horizon’s K I remain happy with this curriculum, we are now up to lesson 60. Treyton does well with it but I continue to question myself on how well I am teaching it or if he is really “getting it”. He always seems to come up with the right answers and can do a lot of the lessons on his own (excluding introducing new concepts) but often times he can’t communicate to me if he really knows what it is he is doing. I continue to look at Singapore math for our next curriculum but struggle moving away from Horizon’s which seems to be doing okay.

Some of the new concepts we have been working on have been counting by 5s and tens and ones place values. IMG_0019In addition to Horizon’s we also did an estimating activity. While working with Lexie on her shapes one day, Treyton decided to make “rows of corn” using our peg stackers, seeing a great teaching opportunity we turned it into a “guessing game”. IMG_0020After he put them all together, I took some colors off (randomly) and we estimated how many of each color there was. This was a fun activity for all of us, because we of course made a competitive game out of it. Treyton graphed each of our guesses and then also recorded the actual number of “corns in the field”. IMG_0023


He is going back through his Handwriting without Tears book and practicing the letters we didn’t cover in MFW K before we switched. He just finished the last of the capital letters. I continue to give him his memory verses and short sentences to copy for copywork as well.

image Phonics

After spending some time talking about vowels, including which letters were vowels, the jobs of vowels, sounds of vowels, etc. We continued through our Explode the Code book 1. Treyton completed the short vowel Ee lessons and a review lesson (I believe lessons 6 & 7). IMG_0016

To start making sight words a little more fun I made several sight word Bingo sheets by hand for us to do during our table time. Treyton has enjoyed it.  IMG_0009


Treyton is about 1/4 of they way through his I Can Read It! book. He reads about 2 stories a week. He had the pleasure of reading to both of his grandma’s in the past few weeks.

He gets really nervous and doesn’t want to read out loud to other people, but then later when it’s just us, he brags about how he read a story to Mommer or Grandma Lex. He’ll say “Are you proud of me mom?” Of course, I tell him how I am proud of him ALL the time even if he doesn’t read well, as long as he tries, he makes me proud.

Computer Time

Treyton continues to LOVE LOVE LOVE his Talking Fingers program, he is slowly progressing through it. I cannot say enough how much we have enjoyed this program.

Tot School

Lexie wants us to sing “Jesus Loves Me” every morning during our daily board time, which I have been happy to do for her. She has added a real fun aspect to our morning routine.

We have spent most of our one-on-one time on shapes. She knows triangle and oval well and is hit or miss with circle and square (they sound similar to her so I think that’s why they are a little slower to sink in). IMG_0018 

IMG_0017 While Treyton does his sight word Bingo I made Lexa a color BINGO which she is very good at. She has surprised me more than once with the colors she knows.  IMG_0008

Looking Ahead

We just got in our My Father’s World 1st Grade! I am SOOOO excited!! I cannot even tell you. I’m up through planning day 23 and it is perfect for us. I can’t wait to start, though I’m not sure if we will start in the beginning of December or the beginning of January.

We will also continue doing some read-aloud book units (including a few from FIAR and classic chapter books). My mom (who is teaching my niece preschool) and I are planning on working together to find some fun activities to go a long with a few books to add into our school. It should be a great second semester!


Homeschool Creations Pre-K and 5K Weekly Posts

Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Weekly Wrap-Up

Tot-School Weekly Posts

TOS Review: KB Teachers

HSCrew468x60Animated KBTeachers is a web site that offers free and premium worksheets, activities and printable pages for all age students (preschool – high school). All content is 100% unique, and created by their team. imagePros:

In several categories they have worksheet generators allowing you to more precisely customize a worksheet for your student(s).

And who doesn’t use worksheets? Even for families and teachers that don’t use worksheets as part of their primary curriculum usually find a need at some point for some good worksheets.

KB Teachers seems to have great customer service I read on their site that if they didn’t have a worksheet that you want that you could contact them (24/7) and that they would work towards making it for you!!

One of my favorite pages was their monthly worksheets and web adventures feature, they call them webquests. Here they have listed (by day of the month) different national days (like national sandwich day) or famous birthdays or other historical events (like Independence day in Lebanon). This section was over Treyton’s grade level, but something that would be fun for the near future.

They are constantly changing their site, this is a good and bad for me, while it seems as though they are adding material they also seem to “hibernate” material as well which makes it harder to find. I would really prefer that they keep all of their materials (especially the seasonal themes) easily accessible so that I could plan ahead or even go back if I so chose.


There is no search box. This is a huge negative for me, personally. I use search boxes ALOT! They actually address this concern on Their FAQ page, saying “We believe that on a well designed website you should easily find your way around and find what you need in 3 clicks or less.  Gone are the days of searching endlessly!”  I do not share their belief. The ability to search is a great tool, one that I feel KBTeachers would benefit greatly from.

KB Teachers had a good selection of subjects and topics, however, I was not sure if what I was able to find for Treyton’s current level would be worth the price of a membership.

How to Purchase:

The cost is $29 per year, or $49 for two years. As an added bonus: Before you join, you can preview our entire library, and after you join, you have 30 days to cancel your membership and ask for a refund.”

To See What Others Are Saying:

Visit the TOS Crew Blog to see what my fellow crew members are saying about KB Teachers


I was given a complimentary membership to the KB Teachers site for the purpose of the review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


SwagBucks10 Swagbucks is a search engine that randomly pays you in swagbucks for doing searches. You are then able to redeem your swagbucks for prices.

My favorite is the $5 amazon gift card, because I shop there the most. It is worth 450 swagbucks. But, there are hundreds of other options though.

The search engine is backed by google and ask.com so even though you are rewarded for doing searches there, you are still getting good results.

I have received no junk mail or pressure from swagbucks, all I did was sign up and start searching.

If you haven't signed up yet sign up here and you will get started with 30 swagbucks. I honestly would not recommend swagbucks this much or this often if I didn't love what they were about! Check it out and see what I am talking about!