Winter – January Online Book Club

How is it really the new year already? It feels like it should still be November or December. But, then again, in Minnesota, we have gotten very little snow so far. This makes it seem earlier in the winter. For this month’s book club, the theme is Winter.

*I have used affiliate links in this post. You can find the full details right here.

It makes perfect sense to have winter be the theme for January. With cold temps and snow falling. We have actually also had a lot of fog and hoar frost this month! It makes it feel like we are in Narnia!

This month we are reading a few fun books that are related to the winter theme. I can’t wait to share with you at the end of the month what we thought about them, and how we had fun reading them and bringing them to life!

Voyage of the Frostheart by Jamie Littler

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

The Mitten by Jan Brett

Blizzard! by Jim Murphy

The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz

 

We would love to have you join us in this fun book club adventure! Grab a winter-themed book and let’s share our fun and adventures!

There are other great families joining us also! Check them out right here:

At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Homeschool Coffee Break
A Net in Time

 

Celebrations Around the World – December Online Book Club

The month of December is a slow month for school for us. We like to take this time and just let the kids focus on what interests them, a free month for school. However, I did want to have a little focus on Celebrations and I wanted the kids to learn a little more about celebrations that they may not have known about before.

*Affiliate links are included in this post. To find out more, check here.

For this month’s book club book, I picked Celebrations Around the World. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I grabbed this book from the library, because I had never seen it before. I was pleasantly surprised by it and we were able to have a lot of fun learning about different celebrations!

Celebrations Around the World

This cute and colorful book covers many of the popular celebrations from around the world. We were able to read short tidbits about celebrations such as Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. But not only that, we learned about Las Fallas, Midsummer, Bastille Day, Anzac Day, and many more.

The kids had so much fun learning about these celebrations, and want to do some of the celebrations over the next year. While this book gave a good idea of the celebrations, I knew Ray Ray could learn more. I grabbed a few notebooking pages, had him pick two or three new celebrations, and let him get to work doing his own research on them.

I really love being able to use a book with some basic information about new things to allow my children to dive deeper into their own learning of things. This means, they are learning what they want, but still learning how to do the research that they will need in life.

The Best Birthday Cake in the History of Ever!

So, you may have seen my review of this book last week, but I couldn’t write a book post about celebrations without sharing this book! This is a new favorite book of ours. This takes the celebration of Christmas and brings the focus onto Jesus.

My kids loved sharing with our neighbors about the real reason for Christmas by sharing cupcakes…yes, you can share the meaning of Christmas with a simple cupcake! If you want to know how, check out the review right here.

There are a group of bloggers who are sharing with you in this online book club. Make sure you hop over and check them out!

Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom 

Also, if you have shared about a book on celebrations, we would love to see it! Share it below, but please remember to keep it clean.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

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The Best Birthday Cake in the History of Ever! – Book Review

This year has been a year of making new traditions. So many times we can not or should not do what we love to do. I thought this would be a great time to start a new Christmas tradition with the kids, and Little Miss had actually mentioned doing the same thing before I got the email about this cute book.

I was thrilled to review The Best Birthday Cake in the History of Ever! by Jennifer Hill and Mary Walker from Side Door Communications. Check out what we thought of this book!

What Is It

This is a hardcover book with beautiful color illustrations on the pages. Through this book, we are told the story of how this family came up with the idea of a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve.

The story is told in a rhyming way that made it really fun to read. We also have the birthday cake recipe, because this is no ordinary cake. Every ingredient in the cake has a meaning and a purpose. *One note, for those who have children who believe in Santa, this book does not say anything to change their minds. This just brings the focus to Jesus.

Not only do we get the cake recipe, but we also have access to fun activities and free printables to go along with the story.

How We Used It

We sat down as a family and read this book one afternoon. The kids loved the pictures and the story was very intriguing. We loved the meanings behind each and every part of the cake and the party that they threw for Jesus.

After we read the book, we decided that we wanted to make the cake for our friends and neighbors. However, this year we are not doing a party as we would like, we still wanted to spread the message that this book carried.

Instead of making a cake, we did cupcakes (easier to carry and deliver). Also, I did not have the right cake mix or the chocolate chips, so again we improvised and used food coloring to make the white batter red. This kept the message for what we wanted to share.

Instead of making one angel for the cake, we did multiple angels to go on each plate we were delivering. Once everything was ready, we went out and brought the cupcakes to each house. We did not just drop them and go, we told the story behind the meaning of every aspect of the cupcakes.

What We Thought Of It

My kids loved this book. They also fell in love with making the cupcakes and sharing the story about Jesus’ birthday and the meanings of the different aspects of the cupcakes. By doing this activity of sharing what we learned, my kids are beginning their journey as disciples of Jesus. While the houses we went to already know and believe in Jesus, this was a great way for my kids to start talking to others about Jesus.

This will surely become a family tradition that we will do every year. We look forward to doing this again, and the kids actually want to do the sharing with others we didn’t get to with our first batch of Jesus’ birthday cupcakes. We were even told that one of the angels we shared made it to the top of a Christmas tree to remind the family of what we brought to them (and not just the cupcakes!).

If you are looking for a new tradition for this holiday season, I highly recommend grabbing this book and sharing the story of The Best Birthday Cake in the History of Ever!

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The Loneliness Solution – A Book Review

Over the years there has been a lot of development of technology that is meant to “bring us together”. However, with all the ways to “stay connected,” we are seeing more loneliness than ever before and this was before the pandemic of 2020.

I have been given the book The Loneliness Solution: Finding Meaningful Connection in a Disconnected World by Jack Eason to read and review. I really enjoyed reading this book and learned a lot from it.

What Is It

The Loneliness Solution is a paperback book with 180 pages. It is broken down into two parts, The Problem of Loneliness and The Loneliness Solution. Between these two parts are 18 chapters that walk us through the problem and the solution to this new issue.

Each chapter has a main focus, Living Life Alone, The Fight against Loneliness, We Are Family, The Joy of Meeting Needs to name a few. At the end of each chapter, we find a couple of Practical Questions to Consider. These questions make you think about what you have just read. They are a great summary of the main points you should take away from the chapter.

There is also a Put It Into Practice section at the end of each chapter. This section was sometimes tough to get through. The idea of putting what you are learning into practice would sometimes mean stepping out of your comfort zone, but that is also the point!

How I Used It

For this review, I read the whole book right through. However, I do plan to go back and read only one chapter a week. I want to fully spend time on the putting into practice section. I feel to get the most out of this book, that this would be the way to do it.

Spending time reading the chapter, taking time to think and pray over the questions, and spending the week working on putting things into action will be something I look forward to. I did work on some of putting things into action as I was reading because they just really stood out to me as something that needed to be done and done right now.

What I Thought

This is a book that should be in every house across the world right now. We have so many people who are alone or feel alone. It doesn’t matter how many online friends and followers you have, you need real-life friends and fellowship. We need to take the steps suggested in this book to bring us back to a more connected time.

As I am writing this review, I have seen a Facebook post from a friend. She was asking for prayers for another Facebook friend who was thinking of taking their life. She was trying to reach out to this person, but only knew them through Facebook and didn’t have a phone number or any other means to contact them. This is a struggle of our seemingly connected world. We know people online, but do we really have a fellowship with them?

I am very thankful that I have the opportunity to read this book, to work on putting the steps into action, and to get rid of loneliness with those around me. The chapters are easy to read and are full of information. The action steps, even though they will take you out of your comfort zone are very easy to complete, there are no major supplies needed besides yourself and others around you.

I have the opportunity to help get this book into another set of hands and I am thrilled to do this! Check out how to win your own free copy right here:

Many thanks to Revel Publishers 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 FlyBy Promotions/Momentum Influencer in the last 30 days, from the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

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Give Thank You a Try – November Book Club

I am so excited to share with you a little about our reading for November. If you remember, I shared with you about this new book club at the beginning of the month. I am joining a few other great ladies who are all sharing the books we are reading each month and how we make it fun for our kids, or share our review at the end of the month.

This month, we had some good books picked out, but I wanted to spend some time on something other than Thanksgiving. I found Give Thank You A Try from James Patterson. I love James Patterson books, so I thought this might be a great way to get the kids thinking about being thankful for things, and this book did not disappoint!

Give Thank You A Try is a fun little book full of things that kids are thankful for. They have simple little “thank you” sentences that make up the book. There is no real story, rather just all the things these kids, and families say thank you for.

Saying Thank You

After reading this book, I had my kids think of things they were thankful for. We spent some time thinking about what we could say thank you for. The kids were able to say thank you to our neighbor who gave us cookie dough to make cookies with.

We could say thank you for the food we eat, our family, our church family, and just having a house to stay in. I even found that the kids loved running to the neighbor’s houses and personally telling them thank you for being who they are to us!

Overall, we loved this book as a way to remember how we have so much to say thank you for. Now, I notice them saying thank you for many things they may never have thought to say thank you for before.

I am glad we took the time to find books on thankfulness to read this month! I would love to hear of some of your favorite books on thankfulness, can you share them with me in the comments?

 

Also, make sure to stop and check out what my friends have shared for their books for the month!

Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom 

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Homeschooling During a Pandemic – 5 Tips

pandemic

How many of you are new homeschoolers? How many are homeschooling because of the uncertainties of your public school system this year? Whether you are new to homeschooling or a veteran, plan to homeschool for one year or for more, I want to share some tips for homeschooling during a pandemic.

pandemic

Things are not Normal

If 2020 was your first year of homeschooling, I want to point out first and foremost, things are not normal. They are not normal in the public schools, and they are not normal for homeschoolers either. We don’t have access to the same things we did before, and we need to follow the same rules about meeting in groups as anyone else.

What does that mean? We don’t have our co-ops, library dates, and field trips. These are some of the things that make homeschooling so much fun. So please, don’t judge homeschooling on the lack of things we can do right now, we normally have a lot more fun!

Get Out of the House

I said it, and I will always say it. One of my best tips for making homeschooling work is to get out of the house. When the weather is nice, take school to the backyard. Gather on a blanket and do your lessons in the sun. However, in the north, it is getting colder for the winter. How do you take school outside when the weather is bad?

When the weather doesn’t allow for sitting in the backyard and learning, go for a walk. Taking a nature walk, on a windy day, snowy day, during the winter months, it doesn’t matter. There is so much to be learned from walking, even the same path, during the different seasons.

Getting out of the house doesn’t mean going on field trips, it just means to get outside and soak up the learning in the fresh air!

Grab Books

Life is stressful for everyone right now. There is so much happening and emotions are everywhere. If you feel nervous, what do you think your kids feel? Some days, you need a mental health day from school, take it! Gather everyone up and read some books. Not for school, just for fun. 

I strongly believe that by reading aloud to my kids, they will learn without me teaching them. I still teach them of course, but taking the time out of my day to read with them will teach them so much more. Not only that, but we can travel far and wide together by grabbing a book.

We like to read chapter books aloud before bed, but we don’t pass on good picture books either! I have learned that these picture books are a great way of teaching older students also.

Listen to Your Kids

This one took me a long time to grasp. It sounds so simple, even without a pandemic. Listen to your kids. They are full of great ideas. They know things they want to learn about. They are ready and capable of learning a lot more than we think!

When I stopped demanding that they do everything I wanted them to do, and I listened to what they were interested in, it helped our homeschool a lot. Yes, I still make them do the required subjects, but I listen when they have ideas about what they want to do next. They tell me the books they like, and that is what they read for school. They tell me things they want to know more about and we find a way to include that in our lessons.

Give Them Many Things in Small Doses

This is a thing that I learned about just recently. This is based on the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. We have a bunch of fun things that we are learning about but doing small doses (15-20 minutes) once or twice a week. This is allowing the kids to experience many things and finding what they like and don’t like. 

Not only that, but their minds have things that can do when they are bored. Yes, I allow my children to get bored and make them come up with things, not electronics, to keep them busy. By giving their minds many things in small doses, they are able to find something they like to keep them busy.

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Using Charlotte Mason Style Homeschooling

Charlotte Mason

Over our years of homeschooling, I have learned a few things. The first thing I learned was that I could not do it all. However, this left some gaps. Then, I learned about the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling.

While I learned about this style of homeschooling early on, I didn’t actually find it to work for us until just recently. And now that I know about it and how it really works, we have gone full-on Charlotte Mason Homeschooling!

While I am still reading a lot about Charlotte Mason and her standing on education (there is a lot out there for you to read!), I have gathered enough to implement this style of homeschooling. On top of this, I am excited to learn more as we continue on this journey.

Charlotte Mason

What Is Charlotte Mason Style Homeschooling?

Charlotte Mason was a British educator in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her style of learning was to do small bits of information and lots of different subjects to keep the child’s mind wanting more. She did not like the textbooks and thought that time outside and reading “living books” was a better way of learning.

Along with this, she didn’t believe in worksheets, rather she wanted the children to narrate, or tell back, what they had learned from the readings. And even though there are a lot of subjects, they are short and spread out throughout the week, making each day a fun new adventure.

How We Use Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

We have been dabbling in the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling for a bit now. This is what led me to dig deeper, when the little bits were working, I wanted to know more! That is what happens in homeschooling when something clicks and starts working, you dig deeper! That is what I did.

We found that it was fun doing math with Master Books and the Math Lessons for a Living Education. We found that we loved doing science together with Simply Charlotte Mason and their 106 Days of Creation (which I don’t see available anymore 🙁 ). Finally, I knew that I wanted to have my kids with a knowledge of all the fine arts. But how was I to teach all of that!?

I found that my subscription to Your Morning Basket from Pam Barnhill covered many of the “extras” I was worried about. These plans include handicrafts, poetry, picture studies, music appreciation, nature studies, and art. All of these, plus family read-aloud time. This all takes just about an hour to complete each day.

So, besides math and science, we have been doing BiblioPlan for our history, Bible, and geography. We have added in Your Morning Baskets for the extras and Learning Literature Through Language Arts for our language arts. This program focuses on great literature to learn language arts.

What We Think of Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

As my kids are learning to crochet, read A Midsummer’s Night Dream, reciting Edgar Allen Poe along with their normal math, history, and language arts, I am finding Charlotte Mason’s style of homeschooling to be the fit that we had missed. We are enjoying our days, reading Stuart Little together, and have many more books lined up for when we finish that book.

My kids long for the next lesson, they want to know the next thing we are going to learn. They know the lessons won’t last long. They know that each day will be something different when we start the day. They are wanting to learn! Is that what you want for your children? Do you want them to want to learn?

If you want your child to yearn to learn, you will want to check out Charlotte Mason’s style of homeschooling. I will be sharing with you some more over the next few weeks about habit training, life skills, and handicrafts. Not only that, but we will dig deeper into the other subjects.

We love learning together, around the kitchen table, having fun. We want you to join us in this adventure and the joys of learning!

Who else loves to follow Charlotte Mason and her style of learning?

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November Book Club – Thankful

So, I am working on something. Something I want all of you to be a part of, whether you have a blog or not! A monthly book club. This can be for kids, mom, dad, the whole family, whatever works for you!

What Is the Monthly Book Club?

Every month, during the first week of the month, I will share with you the theme of the books for the month. Yes, theme, not title. I get it, most book clubs will tell you the title you should be reading, but since this is open to all ages, I just want to go with a theme.

As the month goes on, you read your book(s) that go with the theme. If you have kids, have fun with the books, do activities, watch the movie after you read the book, whatever you want. If you are doing this with older kids, or yourself, get a review going. Find out what you like or don’t like. Why should I add it to my list, or why should I avoid it?

Come back during the last week of the month and share! Share what you read and what you did. Share your review. Just come back and share. So, how do you do this if you don’t have a blog? Simple, leave your books, and review in the comments!

November Books Club 2020

This month, since we are truly just starting out, I went with an easy theme, Thanksgiving/Thankful. I know there are many books on this theme, relating to the holiday, or just the act of being thankful. Get onto GoodReads, Amazon, or your library page and start finding those books!

I am not alone in this, I have a group of fellow blogger friends who will be joining me. Check them out and give them some love!

Life on Chickadee Lane
School Days
At Home: Where Life Happens
The Life We Build
Let’s Get Real
Homeschool Coffee Break
Tots and Me
Bossy Homeschool Mom

To help you out with finding some fun books to read, I made a November Reading Challenge. Print up your free copy and let your kids have fun getting three in a row to win!

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Habakkuk Bible Study – A Review

2020 has been a year that we won’t soon forget. It has been a time of worry and stress. This, added to how my husband’s health has been slowly getting worse, I sometimes wonder why God is being so silent during this time. As faith would have it, I was asked to review Habakkuk: Remembering God’s Faithfulness When He Seems Silent by Dannah Gresh from Moody Publishers.

How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Habakkuk 1:2

If you have never really heard of the book of Habakkuk, don’t worry you are not alone. I had not heard of it before this study was available to me. Habakkuk is a short book, only 3 chapters long and only 2.5 pages long in my bible. My first question when seeing this, what am I going to do for 6 weeks in this short amount of reading? Oh, I have not been disappointed!

What It Is

This is a 6-week bible study focused on the book of Habakkuk. The book is a softcover book with just over 200 pages. There are two parts to this study, How to Pray When You’re Devasted and How to Hear God Through the Hurt. There are three weeks in each of the parts.

Each week starts with a free podcast. You are able to find the podcast on Dannah’s website. These podcasts usually last about 20-30 minutes. After the podcast, there are five meditations for the week. Dannah uses the word meditation because meditation is a combination of prayer and studying.

As we go through the different events that happen, we also have a timeline at the back of the book to write down the events and dates.

How I Used It

I decided for me to get the best use out of this study, I was going to listen to the podcast, and fill in the corresponding study guide, on Mondays. That was all I did on Mondays. Tuesday through Saturday I would go through the meditations. This allowed me to make up a day on Sunday if something prevented me from doing completing each day as I planned.

This was a very easy to follow bible study. There was just enough happening on the pages while still allowing for enough room to write and jot notes. The binding of this book allowed me to lay it flat, or fold it over without causing any damage. The meditations were easy to follow and allowed me to learn more about waiting for God, and even wrestling with Him when times are tough and he is silent.

What I Thought

This bible could not have come at such a greater time! God surely is using Dannah to help us through this time we are facing right now. She sent this book to the printer right as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Really, there could not have been a better time. Even if we didn’t have this pandemic, this study would have still made just as much of an impact on me

We all struggle to hear God at times, especially during the tough times. Did you know that it is ok to wrestle with Him? Honest wrestling with God, not just doubt, honest wrestling. I have done this, and to see examples of others in the bible who have been through the same thing really helped me know that it was ok.

Dannah is using Habakkuk’s story to help us take our struggles and our tough times to bring us closer to God. You will take time to look deep within yourself to find ways to talk and listen to God, even when you think he is not listening because he is silent.

This time is hard, life is hard, we will always have struggles and have some sort of battle we will have to face. Don’t do it alone. Take the time to learn to listen to the one who will help you through. Grab your copy of this bible study and find peace knowing that God is there with you.

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Keeping a Book Journal Instead of Book Reports

Reading is a huge thing for children. We need to teach them to love to read. So how do we do that while still knowing what they are reading? Take out the book reports and give them a book journal instead!

**Affiliate links have been used in this post. Find out more here.

Book reports suck the fun of reading out of the book. You need to spend the time paying attention so that you can write words on paper, be it the number of words or the number of pages you need to write. Kids start to not want to read because of having to write a book report after reading the book.

So, what do you do instead? How do you know your kids are reading the books they say they are? As I was reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, I found out about book journals. While this book is written for public school teachers, there is a wealth of information for homeschoolers as well!

Book Journals over Book Reports

I have modified the idea of the book journal from Donalyn Miller to make it work for us. However, I loved her idea of allowing a child to abandon a book that just doesn’t fit for the child. I know that I have found some books that just didn’t work for me to finish, so I agree with allowing our children to do the same.

That is why I have a section in my new book journal that not only allows us to track the books the kids have read, but also write down the books they have started and abandoned. Within this section, I have a notes column. Kids are able to write down notes about the books they have read, but they can also write down notes on the books they abandoned. Who knows, maybe they will come back to these books later.

How Do We Use the Book Journal

This is the fun part, you use it how you want! you can print the pages and just use it as it is. You can put it in a three-ring binder, bind it with a binding machine, or staple it and go. But you can also use it as a notebooking guide. You can take the pages and cut and glue them into a regular notebook. Make your child a whole notebook full of remembering the books they have journeyed through, and keep it for your records of what they have done.

Not only do you have the chance to list the books that have been read, but you also get the chance to write down the books your child wants to read. Let them take control over this. Let them find books they want to read and write them down.

I also take this further by giving space for your child’s favorite quotes from the books they read, their favorite parts of books they have read, their favorite characters from the books they have read, and a list of their favorite books. By having my kids write down these favorites, I know if they read the book or not.

I also have one page to allow children to track the different genres they are reading. This is something new for me. I hadn’t thought about making my kids read different genres, I was just happy to have them reading! This year we are making a few changes to our reading time. Not only do we have daily drop everything and read time, but we are also exploring different books and genres. I can’t wait to see what this will bring forth in my kids!

Grab Your Own Book Journal

I am in love with the book journal I have created. My kids love that I don’t pester them about the books they are reading when I can grab their journal and see for myself.  My kids love the fact that I trust them to pick books they will read. They get ideas and recommendations from me, but ultimately, I leave the choice up to them.

Give your child the freedom of their reading and allow them to love reading, by having them fill out a book journal instead of numerous book reports by grabbing your copy right here.

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