Category Archives: Resources and Reviews

Inspiring Green Smoothies?

Last time I posted about Keeping It Real, Michelle asked:

I have been making green drinks for a while but haven’t found anything to make kale taste good. What is your smoothly recipe?


While I will NEVER aspire to run a food blog (I know my limitations!), here’s the recipe that I’ve worked out for my family. Continue reading



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How to Teach Handwriting in 8 Easy Steps

Despite what you might think, teaching handwriting to your seven year old isn’t as difficult as it might seem. Just follow these eight easy steps . . .

Step 1: Decide that your seven year old needs to learn how to correctly form her letters, despite her hesitancy to try anything new and hard. Determine that her resistance to handwriting is actually a product of fear–and not because she is incapable or unready. Determine that this is something you feel ready to require her to do.

Step 2: Spend an afternoon looking through your boxes and shelves of curriculum for the handwriting workbooks you were given years ago. After a fruitless search, determine that you must have given away that curriculum at some point because you decided you didn’t believe in workbooks any more. Continue reading


Filed under Examples and Stories, Learning Activities, Resources and Reviews

The Joy of Discarded History Books

I hate a love-hate relationship with the public library.

I love going to the library. Whenever I move to a new location, the public library is the first place I visit after the grocery store and the bank. The quiet immensity of any public library fills me with a sense of wonder.

But I also have trouble whenever I enter a public library because inevitably they have a discarded-book-sale section. And despite my best efforts to the contrary, I am inexplicably pulled toward said book-sale section. I find my eyes and fingers scanning the titles–even as my brain is saying, “You DO NOT have any room in your house for more books!”

Guess which one wins?

Actually, some of the best books in our house have been discarded by the library. Often these discards are for seemingly minute reasons–like the pages are getting a little worn where people turn them at the spine so they “might” rip soon. Seriously? THAT’S what merits discard status?

But the library’s loss is my gain. Well . . . gain for awesome books on my shelves. Not so much gain for my bank account.

Nevertheless, here are a few of my favorite history books that we’ve acquired over the years: Continue reading

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Math Magic

Time for another great little gem that my family found the other day.

Math and Donald Duck. Who knew that such a combination could be so entertaining? On a day when I could do little more than slap some food on the counter for lunch, this served for a great educational diversion.

And my kids, who are enamored of Pythagoras because we’ve read “What’s Your Angle, Pythagoras,” and “Pythagoras and the Ratios” by Julie Ellis recently, spent the next few days pointing out golden rectangles wherever they could find them.


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A Giant Science Opportunity

On a day I’d rather not remember, I mentioned we started out by watching science videos by the very cool, very talented, very musical group “They Might Be Giants.”

We found said videos because I had borrowed their alphabet CD, “Here Come the ABC’s” from the library, and we had listened to it over and over and over again in the car . . . and in the living room . . . and in the kitchen.

Why I went searching for videos, I can’t remember. But I stumbled upon an entire YouTube channel of They Might Be Giants educational videos. And what a treasure trove it is.

I really enjoy their alphabet and number songs (they have a CD for each with a DVD that has a video created for each song), but the one they did for science has turned out to be my favorite!

You can watch all the videos on YouTube for free. (Here’s the science videos. And the alphabet videos.) I ended up buying the CD/DVD combo for the science one because I loved it so much and wanted to own a physical copy. How can you not want to own songs about the periodic table, cells, and photosynthesis? And what’s not to love about lyrics like these: Continue reading


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Music Fun and Games

It’s time to drill . . . and no, we are not going to the dentist.

Lima Bean (9) is getting more and more proficient at the piano, but his teacher requested we spend some extra time doing note recognition with flash cards. The ones I found several years ago online are small and only have one staff. I knew it was time to look for something new.

Ah . . . the joys of Google. Five minutes later, I stumbled upon an AMAZING music-teaching resource site. Not only does she offer great flash cards, but also all sorts of games and ideas for teaching music theory, along with a series of technique books.

And IT’S ALL FREE! Continue reading

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Life of Fred

Life of Fred PictureWhy do all math books have to seem so boring? Pages and pages of problems. Standing in rows. Like soldiers in a phalanx that must be mowed down to  conquer.

But math isn’t about mowing down soldiers are moaning at the kitchen counter . . . at least it shouldn’t be. Math is all around us. It’s what gives structure and explains why and how things work.

But we often teach it in neat little rows and columns. We divide and segment it. We isolate it from everything else in the world. And then we wonder why kids think it’s boring.

Except we don’t ALL teach it that way. Continue reading

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