Maine: The Treasure Chest

I mentioned yesterday that I didn’t find a whole lot of books on Maine.  Most of the ones I found were about light houses.  Apparently, there are a lot of light houses up in Maine.


This particular one isn’t exactly a true story, but it is based off a compilation of several true stories.

The Sea Chest is a story about a young girl and her family who live on an island tending the lighthouse.  One night a bad storm washes a sea chest up on their island, and what was found inside.


I previewed this book a couple of days beforehand, and fell in love with the story.  It’s so touching and is a great multi-generational story of love.  I don’t want to give away any of the details, but it was so sweet.




Before we read the book I had them guess what was going to be found in the book. 


As you can guess they mostly thought treasure, gold, shells.  Batman guessed a manta ray, just to be silly.


Afterwards they drew what was really in the chest.


Finally they drew what they would put in the chest.  This related to the key plot point of the story, but I figured you probably can’t guess what Princess drew.




It was a bittersweet day for us because one of the families in our group is moving to South Austin and so they won’t be joining us regularly.  I’m gonna miss getting together with them weekly, but we’re gonna still get together from time to time.


I’m sure God will bring another family to join our little group, that’s how we got the family that just moved.  I ran into her at the library while getting books for our geography group.

I’m gonna link up to these fun parties:
learning laboratory at mama smilesShibley Smiles

Illinois: Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers

On my list of president’s I admire is Abraham Lincoln, I think he’s on everyone’s list though, so that’s not all that remarkable.  As an odd factoid there was a photographer who got a rare photo of soon to be President Lincoln shortly before he headed to Washington.  He printed dozens, maybe even a few hundred prints of that picture thinking he had made his fortune.


Unfortunately for him, President Lincoln had since grown a beard and no one believed it was him.  So he was not able to sell all of the pictures he had printed.


And in writing this, I have now just spent 15 minutes trying to find something to back me up on this story.  I’ve found the picture taken, right after he had won, but nothing with the story…. Widgets

Well, this is the story of the little girl who inspired him to grow that beard.  Here’s two links giving a little more information: Lincoln’s Beard and an Eleven year old girl’s letter.  If you read those links or do some of your own search, you’ll discover that up until shortly before he grew his beard, most American men of the time were beardless.



Well, in the middle of reading that story, we had to stop and write our own letter to Mister Lincoln.


What would you suggest Mister Lincoln do to get people to vote for him?


I loved Princess’ answer:

Dear President Lincoln,

I think you should smile more, then people would vote for you.

love, Princess.


Seriously adorable, not just my cute little girl, the book is too.


So what advice would you have given then presidential candidate Lincoln?


I’m gonna link up to these fun parties:
learning laboratory at mama smilesShibley Smiles

Make your own portable writing center

writing center

Oh darn, my step by step is on my lost camera…… WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, it’s super simple.  Get a metal box (for sturdiness), newspaper, and mod podge.

Tear the newspaper into little bitty squares.  Mod podge it all over.  I wrote a letter for the top modeling proper letter writing form.

I added a frequently written words cards.  It included things like people they write to, things they talk about a lot, and extra space to add more words.

I also included clearance stationary I’ve been picking up at Michael’s.  I wait until it’s in the 50 cents or less bin for a pack of 6-8.  They care more about quantity than quality.  I plan to eventually add in some address stickers and real stamps to let them mail cards to their grandparents.


And now they’re running around writing letters.

New York: Norman Rockwell

We read this super cute book about Norman Rockwell, which is apparently part of a series.  At the time I wrote this I forgot to put the link in originally.  But I highly recommend it.  It tells a fair amount about his life and a little bit about how he drew and what his goals and aspirations were.


And then I googled Norman Rockwell pictures, and each kid wrote a story to go with their picture.  There was some last minute trading around of the pictures, but eventually everyone was happy with their pictures.

Here’s Princess’ story to go with this picture:  She is waiting for her mom and dad to come..


Pretty good handwriting for a 4 year old (she copied after I wrote it out for her).

I love the idea of taking a picture or illustration and writing a story around it.  Debbie over at Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn had been doing this with Selena for a while, and I kept meaning to do this, and now I have.  Hopefully I’ll do it again soon.

Geography: Georgia and Coke’s great advertising



I think we can all remember our favorite Coke ad.



First I introduced the idea of how there are so many iconic Coke images, and they are one of the best companies at advertising.  Each kid had a Coke commercial picture at their place and got a chance to share it.



After we talked for a while and looked at various examples I turned them lose with an index card, lots of stickers, and coke bottle pictures that I printed out.


Then they designed their own ads:

Writer’s World: spelling

Favorite Resource This Week



And here’s our new method for spelling.  We’re using All About Spelling, but were having problems with the magnets, and since we’re not using blends or digraphs yet, we’re just using the letters from a workbook that I laminated.


The white sheet you can see above is from “Rainbow Spelling Letters,” or that’s what we called them when I was teaching.  The letters perfectly fit into the space, but I haven’t found a duplicate of that yet.  I’ve bought some cheap magnet letters that might work.  We’ll see.

I’ve been loving using this and it makes spelling so much easier not trying to keep the magnets on the board.  I’ll probably eventually get another couple of sets of the “Official letters,” but for now this is really working for us.

Sometimes you have to let them lead the way

learning laboratory at mama smiles

009For Valentine’s Day they got some stuffed animals.  Now we were learning about birds and migrating, so we decided to migrate (this is actually a totally different post, but you need the background).  But, these migrating birds had babies, oh and picnics in the park.




I brought my old camera and let them take a lot of pictures.  Mainly Batman, the other two were way too busy with other important adventures.


So, Batman happily ran around the park taking lots of pictures of his Buzz Lightyear baby.



And that’s most of them.  Then we went through all of the pictures and he told me the story of his Buzz Lightyear’s brave adventures.


Now, I just need to print them off and write it all down.  Buzz is incredibly brave.  I mean amazingly so.

Writer’s World: making books

Did you know it’s very hard to type when a dog is laying on top of your arm?  I’d make him move but hes so warm and comfy…….

Here’s another great way to make use of your workbooks.

All right, I made him move.  He’s still on my lap, but it was really driving me crazy typing with one hand.  It was taking so LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG.

Yes, I am working on my patience, and it is much better, thank you.

Back to my point though, this section of our workbook has the kids drawing lines and matching the picture to the sentence.  Well, I knew what would happen if I had my kids do that.
I’d have a very messy page with lots of extra lines, and kids who weren’t happy.

Instead, I cut out the sentences and pictures, and then made a mini-book by cutting copy paper in half and hamburger folding it into a book.  I set it up using a placemat and putting the words on one side and the pictures on the other with a gluestick.

Voila, instant easy reading activity.  Added bonus, they had to decide what order to put the sentences in for it to make sense.

That is the face of a happy little girl, and I’m sure it has nothing to do with the giant cup of water she has sitting next to her.

Other added bonus, they happily haul these little books back out to read to their Daddy when he gets home.


Okay, typing around a puppy is getting a little hard, and he ate my queso, which I’m not happy about.  So, I’m off to bed.

Oh, and make sure to check out my post today over at ABC and 123 for a great idea for Groundhog’s Day.  We’re doing it again this year, provided the weather cooperates.

Review: The Write Start

So back a month or so ago I got asked to review this book.  At the time I thought, “Perfect, I’m really wanting to start focusing on writing with the kids.”

I’m happy to say I was right!  I tore through the firs several chapters about writing theory, and the definitions of the different stages of writing.  How to encourage it and then slowed down on the last half of specific suggestions.

Now, down to the nitty gritty of the review, who is this for?  I’d say it’s aimed more towards parents than classroom teachers.  This is for the parent who wants to give their child a little extra help or something else to do.  It really reminded me of a combination of all of my education classes for reading/writing.  It went into a fair amount more detail on writing, but I never took a specifically writing course.

The first half of the book, like I said before is more of a theory and a few ideas of how to inspired your kids.

The second half is where the wonder lies.  It’s 52 different ideas for getting your child writing, and the great part is she gives ideas for each of the different ability levels she describes in her book.  So, if your child is a scribbler, than here’s ideas to help them move along.  If your child is a speller, here’s some ideas to help move them along; so on and so forth.

I’m already thinking how I can incorporate many of these ideas into my homeschooling, and have done a few little things, and am in process of setting up some of the bigger things.

I totally recommend this book if you want to encourage your child’s writing, I’m loving my copy and think I might reread it soon.

I’m going to link this up to Works for Me Wednesday to spread the word of my loving this book.

more pumpkin work



To follow up on the pumpkin post from Monday, here’s an update on how it’s gone so far.


I printed off 4 copies of the little book I had made, yes you read that right 4.  One for each of the kids to write their own version of the story, and one for putting in order.


I took turns sitting down with each of the kids while the other two played and had them dictate to me what was happening in the pictures.  I’m going to share with you the boys’ stories, because Princess disappeared with hers with a mad gleam in her eyes.  It disappeared into her toy shopping cart along with about 10 My Little Ponies, 5 Strawberry Shortcakes, and a miscellany of other toys.


Here are the boys’ versions, I leave it to you to guess who wrote which one.


1: Title: A Bat found Pumpkin and he named it George Bob


The bat found a pumpkin.  The bat carved the pumpkin.  And then he went to do Halloween.  He left him home.  His Mom and Dad stayed home and he scared the kids with his bat pumpkin.  Then they baked a pumpkin pie.  Princess got some water in her tea pot.  They are making the pumpkin pie by pouring water in with the pumpkin.  The Boogeyball family said, “Trick or treat,” to the bat family.  They baked two sets of pumpkin pie because the kids really like pumpkin pie.  The kids are scooping the pumpkin pie.  One kid tasted the pumpkin pie, but he didn’t like it that way.  Someone is pouring water in there.  Mac ate pumpkin pie when we dropped it on the floor.  One guy scooped a part of the pumpkin.  Someone mixed it, but it wasn’t a girl, it was a boy (It was a picture of Princess he was looking at).  Me mixed it until his Mom said, “stop!”  I ate a seed, but I didn’t like it.


2: Title:  ________ carving a pumpking


We are carving the pumpkin.  We are taking the icky stuff out of it.  We’re using spoons to get the icky stuff out.  Batman is putting the pumpkin piece in there.  Princess is getting water for a tea party.  Batman is pouring water on the pumpkin pieces.  We put foil on to make it cook good.  The pumpkin pieces are getting cooked.  I am scooping out the part we eat of the inside.  Batman is pouring water.  Mac eat a piece of pumpkin.  I think he liked it.  Princess is scooping more pumpkin pieces.  She is pouring water I think.  Princess is stirring it.  Batman is eating a pumpkin seed.


It was really interesting to see how they each approached it.  You could also tell the difference in age and personality.  Princess didn’t use as many descriptive words even when I tried to coax them out of her.  My more creative and original thinker of a boy went in a totally different direction than I was thinking and then added his own bat illustrations.  My thinker was able to add more details as I coaxed him through it.


All in all it was a great writing experience I look forward to them being able to write it themselves, but they all had fun.