Dollar Tree DIY: Spring Welcome Sign


I had so much fun making my winter welcome sign, that when the weather got warmer, I wanted to update the look outside our home. So I headed over to the local Dollar Tree store to find something I liked. What I came away with was a butterfly-shaped sign that said Happy Easter. Because I had a basic idea of what I was going to make before I even set foot in the store, the image and wording on the sign didn’t matter to me. Here’s what I did.

F40D3EB8-B840-41F1-888D-85B0D2E1441E

The first step was, of course, finding a sign whose basic shape I liked. I avoided the rabbits because I wanted “spring,” not “Easter.” The glittery butterfly was just right. I also spent a few minutes in the craft section looking for embellishments. I’d seen the wood “hello” back in the winter (almost got it for my winter sign, in fact), and I knew I wanted that for the greeting. I also picked up the purple paint because I couldn’t remember which colors we had at home. 

When I got home, I took the two pieces of the sign apart. I rather liked the pink glitter, so I just set the outer frame aside for later. The center, where it originally said “happy Easter,” I coated with Mod Podge and then pressed a piece of butterfly fabric that I had on hand already over it. Then I covered the top in glue as well and put it in the oven on “warm” to dry. 

While the glue was drying, I painted my “hello” sign with the purple paint. When I brought the butterfly out of the oven, I carefully trimmed off the excess fabric. I didn’t have an exacto knife, so I just had to use scissors. It would have looked nicer with a sharper blade, but it’s pretty decent anyway.

Once everything had dried and the fabric was trimmed, I used more Mod Podge to attach “hello” to the center of the butterfly, then replaced the smaller butterfly back into the frame, and it was ready to hang!

I so enjoy making these signs, and as much as I love my winter and spring versions, I’m excited to come up with something new for summer too.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

 

Product Review: Connections Stationary Kit

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.

Grasshopper, who you met earlier today in a Meet the Family post, enjoys writing letters. His favorite person to write to was my dad, and even though Grandpa died earlier this year, I want my son to still enjoy writing letters. It was for this reason I asked to review the Connections Stationary Kit (the misspelling is intentional) from Byron’s Games.

FC65F60D-5689-4E9A-9CED-0C42F2AB5EB1Grasshopper was really excited to see the kit when it arrived, and for good reason. It includes everything your child needs to write and send letters (except the stamps). Included in the box is 

  • 25 printed sheets of stationery paper
  • 25 matching envelopes 
  • 36 envelope-seal stickers
  • 2 ink pads (pink and blue)
  • 1 “thank you” rubber stamp
  • 1 pen

I was very impressed when I first opened up the kit. The box feels very high quality, and inside everything is neatly placed in its spot. It comes with a plastic tray very much like what you’d find inside a board game, so that all the items can stack inside the box while not being disastrous and “ugly.” This tray also helps keep the kit organized even as your child uses some of the supplies. The paper and envelopes themselves are also very high quality. It’s not just printed computer paper in there; the stationery paper is thick (no bleed through from the pen), but not like card stock. If you’ve ever used purchased stationery, you know what I’m talking about. 

5D05884D-4D26-41C8-8F32-C65D3D5C392CGrasshopper wrote letters to my parents (mom and stepdad) on one sheet, which we forgot to photograph before mailing. He also wrote a note to one of his dance friends, thanking her and her family for coming over for dinner (before coronavirus!). He hand delivered that letter. This is the note you see in the graphic above. The envelope is the actual one he used; I just covered up her name for privacy (which is the reason for the off-colored box). This particular little girl (she’s 6) has a huge crush on my son, so he indulged her a little bit by using a heart sticker on the back of the envelope.

We treated the letter writing a bit like copy work. We worked together to dictate a letter, which I wrote down on regular paper. Grasshopper then took a piece of his stationery and the page I wrote, then copied the letter down on the nice paper. On top of being a good way for him to practice his handwriting skills, it made him feel good when he was able to successfully write a legible note that made sense.

My son has really enjoyed using this kit. He’s been very picky about who is “worthy” of a letter because of the limited number of sheets he has, but that’s not automatically a bad thing; he’s using discernment and being very careful about not wasting his resources. 

Byron’s Games also makes the Continent Race game, and some of my fellow crew members are reviewing that this week as well. If you’re looking for a fun way to teach or reinforce geography, I recommend you head over to the Crew blog to find out more. 

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Meet the Family: Grasshopper

AC8206FD-B250-4030-B7A3-4EC5FE0AAADC

Grasshopper is my third born son, and he is 7 years old (our gap baby).
He’s been getting a lot of face time on the blog lately due to homeschool curriculum reviews.

His interests include Netflix, dancing (he does a boys’ tumbling class and Irish), embroidery, building puzzles, playing games, and drawing. Just this week, he learned to thread his own embroidery needle, so that’s opened up his ability to do that craft a lot more easily.

Recently he’s been making friends with kids in the neighborhood, but we’re putting a slight hold on that right now due to social distancing recommendations/requirements in our state.

He enjoys eating chicken and pizza. He also loves to help in the kitchen. His favorite fruit is oranges and his favorite vegetable is cucumbers (though that’s technically a fruit too).

He is technically in 2nd grade, but because he’s so far behind in reading (though picking up!) and so far ahead in other areas, I’m not putting much stock in that number.

He is the sweetest, most sensitive boy I’ve ever met. He’s not afraid to show his emotion, and of all my boys, he’s the most likely to show extreme respect to others (except Scorpion; he likes to push his big brother’s buttons for some reason).

So that’s my 7-year-old in a nutshell.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Venturing with God in Congo (book 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.

I love the work that missionaries do, so I was pleased to accept a review for Venturing with God in Congo, a book from Conjurske Publishing.

3907AB9F-4640-4E55-9601-307544FD2BB8

The book is a very nice feeling, matte finish hardcover book spanning 290 pages. Even my non-reading 4-year-old was fascinated by the cover. “What are those eyes?” “Is that a python?!” So even though you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, I’d say the publishers nailed it with this cover. And the inside is just a beautiful as the outside, with an African savannah scene on the end pages and easy-to-read font for the text.

DDBD38E9-7B50-4E7E-A098-540C3B88C2DCThe book opens with a quote from Darrell Champlin (the main subject of the book and late husband of the author, Louise Champlin) about missions, followed by the table of contents, pronunciation tips for the foreign (Lingala) words, a timeline of events, and map of Congo.

514EA17E-FFC7-43C3-8F98-9A401F66BFFCUnfortunately, I’ve been very busy lately, so I assigned this review to Scorpion. Being a 13-year-old boy, he wasn’t especially wordy, but here is his review:

Venturing with God in Congo is a fascinating book about Darrel Champlin, his family, and how they grew to become some of the most famous men and women in the Congo. It takes place in the mid-1950s and 1960s. It goes into great detail on all of the wonders of the great African jungles, which I personally love.

2048057F-812F-44A5-AAD5-B38D0294DDA9It has a photo gallery with real photographs from their adventures. It’s full of fantastic adventures and riveting storytelling, combining to make this an amazing, inspiring book. I would recommend this book for any young missionary, or just as a fun read. Please enjoy Venturing with God in Congo.

After looking briefly over the book and reading my son’s thoughts on it, I am looking forward to reading it myself!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 


As with all Homeschool Review Crew reviews, there are loads more people talking about this book this week. Please click over to the Review Crew site to find out more.

The Continuing Adventures of Captain No Beard (book 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.

A couple of years ago, my two littlest kids (at the time) and I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing the first book in the Captain No Beard series. When the opportunity presented itself recently to choose 4 books from Carole P. Roman’s assorted series, there wasn’t even a question regarding what to choose: more of the Captain No Beard adventures! These are definitely our favorite books by Carole P. Roman.

My kids (ages 4 and 7) have asked to read these books over and over again, and because they are so fun, I absolutely obliged them. 

101F72A8-55F5-4FC2-BDE8-19F05BE17616Book 2 is Pepper Parrot’s Problem with Patience, and in it Pepper, a new character, has trouble telling her left from right. This causes her much grief, to the point the other characters can barely stand to be around her from all the wailing (screeching, really, since she’s a bird). With a bit of guidance and the old “your left hand makes an L” trick, Pepper learns to tell the difference and more importantly, how to show herself grace when things aren’t as easy as she wishes they were. 

2488FAE4-17A3-4E2D-A2BC-63AEF211E23EBook 3 is Stuck in the Doldrums, and this book takes the crew to the beach. While there, Alexander, aka Captain No Beard, has no problem reminding everyone that he is the captain… he is too bossy! The entire crew gets frustrated with him, prompting him to stomp off on his own. When his ship is attacked, he needs his crew more than ever, and realizes that even though he’s the Captain, each member is important.

8C2EB50E-2327-4126-B636-8FC53EE99BEFBook 4 is Strangers on the High Seas, and we meet baby Cayla for the first time. Captain No Beard doesn’t want much to do with her, but when the Flying Dragon (his ship) is attacked, Cayla has just the weapon to save them all.

6BEF2B1B-050F-40F7-A62C-99AE38C53F61The final book we received is book 5, The Treasure of Snake Island. It starts out on a “red sky” morning, and Polly (formerly Pepper) tells the other pirates that this means the afternoon will most certainly be stormy. She knows this because she read about it in a book. Once the storm calms, the conversation turns to snakes, which First Mate Hallie tells the crew she really doesn’t like. Paying her no mind, Captain No Beard pulls out his map and discovers they are near Snake Island. The crew finds the island and docks the ship, then gets off and begins searching for the famous “treasure of Snake Island.” They find the X and start digging, and as the story ends back in Alexander’s bedroom (as all the Captain No Beard books do, because the crew is really his stuffed animals and the ship is his bed), he, Hallie, and Cayla find the treasure chest, and it is full of books!

My boys and I have loved reading these books together the past few weeks, and I’m so glad to have been able to add them to our home library.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

 

Carole P. Roman writes lots of children’s books, not just Captain No Beard. Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are promoting a wide variety of them, so make sure to check out the other reviews!

Step into Reading (book 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.

I wrote recently about Grasshopper and how he’s finally getting excited about reading. To go along with that, I was excited to be able to offer him The Boxcar Children Early Reader Set from Albert Whitman & Company.

116474E7-BDC3-49B3-B27D-355FE8B22D5A

For this review, we received four beautiful, case-laminate hardcover books: The Boxcar Children, Surprise Island, The Yellow House Mystery, and Mystery Ranch. Each one is based on the original Boxcar Children books by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Because Grasshopper is still not fully comfortable enough reading on his own yet, we read them together. To get him warmed up, I read the first page, but then he took over and flew through the books with flying colors.

The first book, The Boxcar Children, sets up the whole series. It tells the story of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden, and explains that they are orphans. The opening scene is of the four hungry children outside a bakery looking for some food and a place to spend the night. That ends up not working long term (or really even short term), so the children move on quickly. They find an abandoned train car, and while Henry works for Doctor Moore, Jessie and the others make the boxcar “home.” Doctor Moore learns more about Henry and his siblings, that they are orphans who are avoiding their grandfather (the only family they have) because they think he is mean. One day, Doctor Moore introduces the children to his friend, Mr. Henry. The kids think this is hilarious – Henry, Mr. Henry. As time goes on, Mr. Henry earns their trust and only then is revealed to actually be James Henry Alden – the children’s grandfather. The kids are thrilled that their grandfather is not mean after all, and they go to live with him. The book ends with them all at his house, and he’s brought their boxcar to his backyard for the children.

The other three books don’t seem to need to go in any particular order, so we read them in Grasshopper’s preferred order.

In Surprise Island, Grandfather gives the children a big surprise: their family owns an island, and they get to spend the summer there on their own! Grandfather shows them the barn where they live for the summer, then he gets on the boat and goes back home. The children are excited to have many adventures on the island! They end up finding many things from clams to shells to broken pottery, to… their cousin Joe. When Grandfather comes for them at the end of the summer, it’s decided that Joe will live them from now on.

We revisit Surprise Island in The Yellow House Mystery. This time, the children find an old yellow house and when they ask Grandfather about it, he tells them that his friend Bill used to love there, but he just up and disappeared one day. The children explore the house, where they find a note that alludes to the fact that Bill borrowed some money from Grandfather, lent it to someone else, and then couldn’t repay the funds. The note says where to find the repayment, so the kids go on an adventure to that location. When they get there, they find Bill! And the box where the money was supposed to be, and though many years have passed, the money is still there. Bill is excited to be able to repay Grandfather and move back into the yellow house.

Mystery Ranch finds the Aldens at Grandfather’s sister’s ranch in Centerville. Aunt Jane is sick and lonely, so Grandfather suggests the children visit her so they can cheer her up. On the train ride there, Benny meets a nice man who shows him their travels on a map. To their surprise, this Mystery Man gets off at the same stop as them. But then they don’t see him again. After many days of taking care of Aunt Jane and her ranch house, she reveals to them that some men have tried to buy her home from her. They also find a hut on the land that looks like it has been occupied recently. They take this information to the sheriff, who introduces them to Mr. Carter – the Mystery Man! It turns out that Aunt Jane’s ranch is also home to some rare rocks, and Mr. Carter is an expert in such stones and has been hired by Grandfather. He determines that Aunt Jane’s rocks are indeed valuable, so a team is brought in to excavate, which saves the ranch.

We have really loved having these books to read. They are perfect for the stage Grasshopper is at now, and I am thrilled that he is excited to read books! And I imagine that in 3-6 months, when he is ready for his first novel, we’ll be getting a Boxcar Children mystery from the library!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 

 

Please be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew for more information and reviews on these charming books.

Meet the Family: Scorpion

Meet the Family: Scorpion

It took me a while to get this post done because my second son took a long time deciding what he wanted his nickname to be. 

Meet Scorpion. 

BC809F8B-9DAB-4AE0-B7E4-FB767844007C

He is 13 years old, and his main interests are dancing (ballet, tumbling, and Irish) and animation. He has been taking tumbling class for 3 years, Irish for 1 1/2, and ballet just since September. He recently started being super into animation thanks to free iPad apps. He makes at least one new animation each week. We bought him the “king of all animation books” (according to my husband), and he’s been reading that like crazy. It’s written by “Frank and Ollie,” two of the original Disney animators, and Scorpion has learned a lot from it. It’s clear he’s been reading it carefully because his animations are getting better and better the more he reads and learns.

He is also a voracious reader, though not as much as he used to be. Sometimes when I don’t have time to read a book that we need to review, he will write those posts for me. His first one will be later this week.

Blessings, 

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Learning to Read: review of PRIDE Reading

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 post contains affiliate links.

Reading is usually a very difficult thing for students to learn. I’m on my third go-round, and it’s the second time it’s been tough (my second son practically taught himself). With Grasshopper, my 7-year-old, we’ve tried many different programs with varying degrees of success over the past year or two. Our most recent curriculum is PRIDE Reading Program, and for the first time, it seems like he’s making real progress. 

4C919F20-CEA4-443B-89A9-A4EDA7A136B2

When we first got word that we’d been chosen for this review, I sat down with him and did the placement test. This was basically going over letter names, sounds, and blends to see what your child already knows so that you can order the right level for them. He tested at the PRIDE Yellow Book Program Kit – Level 1. This is the second out of four levels. The first is Beginning Consonants, followed by Yellow, Orange, and Red levels (numbered 1-3).

I told my son about the new reading program while we were waiting on the mail, and though he’s been a very reluctant reader thus far, he showed some enthusiasm for trying it. He was so excited that even though it was Saturday when it arrived, he wanted to do the first lesson right away. I never expected that from him out of a reading program!

Before I dive too deeply into the lessons, let’s go over what you get in the kit. Each of these items is available for individual purchase, but you really need the whole kit to really teach the program properly.

393D9159-C521-464F-9E56-E75A3E1ADAC1First is the teacher guide. This is available only online; there’s no physical book, so you need to make sure you have internet access. It has a good mobile version, though, so your phone or tablet will work just fine. (I usually used my iPhone.) The teacher guide is vital. You should not try to teach without it. It goes through every single step of the lesson, telling you just what to say and how to guide your student through the activities.

The student book is a physical, spiral bound book with all the different pages needed for the program. There are reading pages, writing pages, and games. The back cover is also utilized, which leads me to 

Letter Tiles. These are very sturdy, high quality, cardboard squares. You have to punch them out like you would the tiles in a new game, and then store them in a bag. There are single letters as well as prefixes, suffixes, and blends.

The sound cards are like a deck of cards, but instead of game values they have letters (same as the letter tiles) in various singles and combinations. 

The final component of the Yellow Kit is the PRIDE Activity kit. This includes a whiteboard with two markers (black and red) and an eraser, a reading tracker (a piece of translucent plastic, gray on the top and bottom and yellow in the middle, to help your student not mix up lines while they’re reading), a game die, and a canvas zipper pouch to keep everything in.

5008E9B7-9413-4A62-814E-DE921B9D44EBThe lessons are completely “open and go.” After you, the teacher, complete the PRIDE Reading training (which took me just about an hour, and I did during the week we were waiting on the mail), all you have to do is gather the supplies (everything I listed above), open the teacher manual on the website, and go through the steps. When you’ve completed each step (there have been about 10 in each lesson we’ve done so far), you verify that your student has completed the module to your satisfaction, and then the next lesson is unlocked.
The lessons (modules) contain a variety of activities, but many are the same each time. You always start by reviewing the letter names and sounds of every consonant plus the vowels that have been studied up to that point. Then there are a few different activities that rotate somewhat from lesson to lesson. These include spelling activities (spelling words on the back cover of the workbook using the letter tiles), phonemic awareness (say a word, then repeat the word but change one of the sounds), blending (divide the consonant sound cards into two stacks with a vowel in the middle and have your student read the words, some of which won’t be real), and more.
Then you move on to “red words.” These are words that can’t be sounded out in English (like “said”), so students must STOP! and focus  on the word in order to read it. You write the word on the whiteboard using the provided red marker, introduce the word, the have the student write, read, and spell the word out loud until they’re comfortable with it.

After red words (of which there was one new one per module), students read. Sometimes they read a list of words, sometimes it’s sentence to two, and sometimes it’s a full story. On the days they read a story, students learn to read silently. My son didn’t especially enjoy this, but it’s such a vital skill that I’m glad it was taught. When your student is reading silently, you have them stop periodically and answer comprehension questions so you can be sure they’ve read properly.

C04B3526-59C1-40AC-B7A5-683FB3FEE093The final steps of each module are writing. This is done by dictation. You say a sound, the student writes the letter. You say a word, the student writes it down, correctly spelled. You say a sentence, the student writes it down. 

There are 3 modules in each lesson: introduction, practice, and reinforcement. These should be done over a total of 3-5 days. Because of time constraints with dance class and a needy toddler, we ended up needing to take 2 days for each 10-step module most of the time. I would’ve loved to move through more quickly, but it just wouldn’t happen for us.

When I first saw the initial lesson, I worried it would be too much for Grasshopper, but I was wrong. He is easily (but not too easily) able to work through every part of every lesson. His enthusiasm hasn’t waned one bit since we first started. And now, he’s finally excited about reading and has actually started to read things on his own. He even finished his first “step into reading level 2” book recently! I couldn’t be happier with PRIDE Reading Program, and I know Grasshopper feels the same.

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 


Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are telling about their experiences with PRIDE Reading Program this week too. Make sure to click through to read those reviews!

Christian Apologetics: a TOS review

DISCLAIMER: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange fir my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

 
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working through The Unbreakable Faith Course from Pilgrim’s Rock, LLC. As you can surmise from my post title, this is a course on Christian Apologetics (defending the faith), and it is very well done.

6F192806-43F5-4305-9640-2654E0232C24The course consists of video lessons and two textbooks: The Box and God the Reason, both written by series creator Craig Biehl. The books (called “textbooks,” but formatted like and as easy to read as novels) are available either as physical copies or PDF ebooks. The video lessons are online. The course is self-paced, but required to be completed within 36 weeks (one standard school year). The course is designed for teens 15+ and adults, and complete enough to earn your teen one high school credit. 

B2EC8C51-1871-4165-B551-6CF8157E33EEThe course has 6 parts, each one with required reading from the texts and several videos. There is a quiz at the end of each part. Like any high school or college course, the best place to start is with the syllabus, and The Unbreakable Faith Course has a very complete one that goes over the expectations, grading scale, and course calendar very clearly.

The first assignment was to read The Box in its entirety. This was easily done because, like I mentioned before, it reads like a novel. The book forms the foundation of the course, and is interesting to read because it has many “conversations” between two characters, called Mr. A (atheist) and Mr. C (Christian). There are some interesting points made by Mr. C, but the one I found most compelling was that atheism requires just as much, if not more, faith as Christianity. The only difference is where that faith lies.

AC112BB1-C59D-4079-BB3B-5095DA77F824Once you finish reading The Box, you work through God the Reason and the video lessons. The videos are usually in the 10-13 minute range, and I usually watched either after the kids were in bed or while I was cooking dinner. Those are typically the only times I had a few minutes to myself (as other moms understand!). The information contained therein was really solid, and I enjoyed the singing of hymns at the beginning and end of each one.

Overall, I think this is a very complete course, and definitely doesn’t skimp on information. I can understand how it earns a full credit for high schoolers!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

 

 


Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are reviewing The Unbreakable Faith Course this week too. Head over to the Crew blog to find links to those reviews; if you’re even a little curious about this course, you don’t want to miss the other reviews!