Officer Buckle and Gloria: A book on Safety

FullSizeRender 2There are some books that you just keep you returning to them and Officer Buckle and Gloria is one of those children’s books that makes me recommend it repeatedly because it just that good. :)

Safety is one area that homeschool families who see me for portfolio reviews ask me for ideas. This book is a great springboard for discussions on safety in that it not only has some rules, but it teaches about the concept of pride and valuing others (including animals).

After you read the book you can:

  • Write a list of  safety rules for your house.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt of things that are unsafe around the house.
  • Discuss household and bicycle safety practices.
  • Read the safety rules that are in the book and discuss the ones that pertain to your family.

The Joy of Legos: Benefits of Playing with Them

lego+pileAs a girl growing up I only remember boys playing with Legos. Maybe that is part of the reason I am not spatially intelligent. Well, I gotta blame it on something! These days I hardly see a child that has not played or built with Legos. Since there are a variety of sets available you can find a set that interests almost everyone. If you have not considered incorporating them into your school day, here are some benefits to giving your child the opportunity to use them as part of your lessons.

They build creativity. Students can create a variety of items to build from the blocks. They can use their imagination to design something new with the blocks and can play countless hours with their creations.

They help with following directions. How many times have you tried to build a piece of furniture and just wanted to throw all of it away because the directions were hard to follow? Building and playing with Legos helps children “see” the pieces and how each part is fitted together.

They foster cooperative play. Children have to learn to work together when building with Legos. I have heard many a conversation on finding just the right piece for the design the boys were building. Even when building a set, the builders can help each other find the necessary pieces.

They enhance fine motor skills. If you have a young child, they can begin with the larger set called Duplos and can graduate to the smaller sets as they get older. Fine motor skills are important in holding a pencil, typing on a keyboard, picking up insects for a bug collection. :)

They help teach money management and goal setting. Yes, you read that right. My boys wanted a certain Lego set and had to earn money or save their allowance and birthday money to purchase some of the sets. What a great way to teach your child about how to set a goal to purchase the desired set.

They help with mathematics. “How much money do you need in order to get that set?” was the question I asked when looking at the more expensive sets. This is a practical way of showing addition and subtraction to a child who is struggling to see how math applies to them. It also motivates them to practice those mathematical operations.

Benefits for Parents? 

Yes, there are benefits to parents as well. Some serious, some not so serious.

They help motivate your student. You can use Lego time as a motivator to help a child complete a task such as creative writing or a science lesson. Reward them with a job completed and well done.

You can incorporate them into your school plans. If you are working on a history lesson why not have your children build a model? Yesterday I had a student present a model of the Parthenon he had made, complete with a removable roof to show how an earthquake destroyed part of it.

They help build self-control. I can’t tell you how many times I stepped on a block in my bare feet and wanted to grab up the offending pieces and hurl them violently in the garbage. I am sure you have wanted to do the same thing at one time or another, but the idea of a set not being complete and being wasteful of the money invested  kept you from doing that.

They test your limits. If you are not careful, Legos can take over your house. This is where you either set limits to how many one person can have, or bless someone else with sets your child is no longer using .

They help you with organization. After you have all of these wonderful Lego pieces, you must decide how to organize them. Where do you keep the instruction manuals? Do you keep the pieces as individual sets or do you combine them? Do you organize according to color or function or size? Let your child help if s/he is old enough to do that.

Guess what? I found a set of Lego characters to either introduce your child to them, or help enhance sets they already have on hand. Lego characters are so much fun and my boys loved playing with them as much as building the sets. These are less than $5.00 and includes FREE shipping. CLICK HERE

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7 Family Fall Activities

Autumn-leaves-autumn-on-treeHappy Autumn to all of you! This is such a wonderful time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. Here are some fall specific activities you can do with your family.

  • Have a campfire; roast marshmallows; sing or share stories around the fire. 
  • Go on a nature walk. Observe all of the changes that are taking place to the plants and animals.
  • Collect various leaves and make a leaf collection.
  • Make bark rubbings of the trees.
  • Find a pumpkin patch and pick a favorite pumpkin.
  • Go on a hayride or go through a corn maze. (<-Click for information)
  • Rake leaves and have a leaf fight.
  • Above all, take time to enjoy the days with your family.


A Blog to Help You Save Money

Stressed+Woman+No+MoneyHaven’t we all felt like this picture?  We are in the midst of remodeling some rooms in our house and I have been tempted to not only do this, but turn my billfold inside out when we walk out of the home improvement stores. My husband says he thinks we own a portion of the store now!  I have asked a homeschool friend, Katie, if she would share some things about her amazing blog. I found it extremely helpful aiding in stretching my dollars and I think you will too.

What is the name of your blog? 

Cincinnati Cents 

How did you get started? 

Back in 2008, I was talking with a friend about grocery shopping, and she told me how she purchased almost a dozen items at CVS while spending less than $0.07 out of pocket.  Of course, I considered myself a coupon clipper, but my savings were anything but spectacular, and I had never purchased one item for $0.07, nevertheless several!  

I was intrigued by the notion of saving such a significant amount on our family’s grocery bill.  I started surfing the internet for money saving websites and was amazed by the couponing advice that I found.  Since I was spending an average of $150-$200 per week to feed our family of six, I decided to give this whole “couponing thing” a try.  

I purchased a 3-ring binder and a set of dividers, printed off my newly-found internet coupons, and compiled a grocery list.  With my coupons in hand, I set out for the store, determined to cut a significant portion off of our family’s grocery bill total.  Within weeks, I began filling shelves in our pantry, cupboards, and freezer – and cut our grocery bill to just $80 per week.

Before long, I had family members and friends asking me about the bargains I had found.  I’d call or e-mail them with the details of each deal, but after awhile, it seemed that there might be an easier way to disperse this information.  As a result, the idea for Cincinnati Cents came to fruition.  The first introductory post was drafted in July of 2008, and I suppose the rest is history!

What is the purpose of your blog? 

Cincinnati Cents is a money saving blog that focuses on frugal living, helping you stretch your dollars and cents, and finding inexpensive resources for families.  Each week on Cincinnati Cents, you’ll find the best deals at local grocery and drug stores, free offers, inexpensive or free homeschooling resources, healthy recipes, time-saving tips, and frugal family events.  

How do you find time to do that and homeschool?

I typically work on my blog in the early morning hours before the kids wake up or in the evening after the younger children have gone to bed.  While I do pop in and check posts and e-mail during breaks throughout the day, the majority of my work is completed outside of the school day.  

Do you get paid for doing it?

I partner with a variety of companies to earn a small income from my blog.  This income is typically the result of affiliate companies and sponsored posts.  

Any other ideas, words of wisdom to give to other homeschool moms?

My number one piece of advice is to remember to give yourself grace.  Regardless of whether you’re a mom of four or a mom of one, whether you work outside the home or are a stay-at-home mom, every homeschooling parent has good days and not-so-great days.  

We all have moments that are frustrating, less-than-productive, and enough to send us over the edge. That being said, it’s important not to lose the forest for the trees.  Homeschooling is a process….it cannot be crushed by one bad stretch.  

Sometimes it’s necessary to step back, take a deep breath, and remember the joys of homeschooling – snuggling on the couch while reading a novel, that “a-ha” moment when your child finally gets that really tough math problem, learning together in your jammies….those moments are just as meaningful and important as that “perfect” day.  

I think as moms, we are way too hard on ourselves.  We’re so willing to forgive others, look past their faults, and lend an extra hand whenever the need arises.  I think it’s imperative that we extend the same professional courtesy to ourselves as well.

Well said, Katie! Thanks so much for sharing. Please check out her blog, Cincinnati Cents 

Free Unit Study Planets Guide


With most homeschool families being a one-income family it’s nice to find curriculum and resources that are low-cost. Well, I found a low-cost unit study on planets that homeschoolgiveaways is offering, and it is so low that it is FREE! Here are some features this curriculum offers for your 1st- 6th grade students:

  • Planet and solar fact sheets and corresponding fill-in-the-blank worksheets
  • Cursive & manuscript copywork
  • Glossary of terms and corresponding fill-in-the-blank worksheets

If you would like to find out more about this resource, CLICK HERE