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37 Favorite Books from our First Grade Homeschool

Wow, did we cover a lot this past year! I finally went and sorted through the books my son and I worked our way through for his first grade year.

It made me smile to see all the different subjects we covered – art, music, biographies, history, science, culture… I realized what a rich homeschool year we had, despite the setbacks and shortcomings that inevitably happened.

I’m sharing some of our favorites below, in case you’re looking for something new to add to your shelf (fiction, non-fiction and reference books).

** For reference, we primarily followed Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations, which covered medieval to new-world history, physics, and astronomy, along with Beautiful Feet Book’s Around the World Europe study (with a few others mixed in)**

If you have pre-K or Elementary aged children – I promise these books will not disappoint!

The Arts

The Magical Garden of Claude Monet

Van Gogh and the Sunflowers

The Story of the Orchestra – Four Seasons in One Day

A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories

Who Was Leonardo da Vinci?

Leonardo and the Flying Boy

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

Nature + Science

A Butterfly is Patient

A Rock is Lively

The Beetle Book

Bees – A Honeyed History

Trees – A Rooted History

There Once Was a Tree

Ants – Just Like Us

The Night Sky

Who Was Neil Armstrong?

Who Was Isaac Newton?

Hot Air – The (Mostly True) Story of the First Hot Air Balloon Ride

History + Culture

Time Traveler

I Lost My Tooth in Africa

Anno’s Journey

Anatole

Manfish

Ferdinand

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

Martin’s Big Words

When Rosa Parks Went Fishing

Reference Books

MAPS

Nature Anatomy

Read-Aloud Chapter Books

The Long Winter

My Father’s Dragon

The Trumpet of the Swan

Chronicles of Narnia – The Complete 7 Volume CD Box Set

The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Around the World in 80 Days

The Little Prince

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

The Adventures of Robin Hood

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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The Ultimate Nature Themed Holiday Gift List for Kids

Field Supplies


Huckleberry Dual Wooden Magnifying Glass

Child-Sized Binoculars

Wooden Digitial Camera - Point and Shoot

Wooden Digital Point-and-Shoot

Hiking Rucksack

Explorer Backpack

Explorer Backpack


Stellarscope Star Finder

Lensatic Compass

Blank Watercolor Nature Journal


Beginner watercolor Paints and Brushes

Watercolor Paints Pocket Box

Audubon Bird Caller Necklace

Audubon Bird Caller Necklace

My First Pocket Knife

Pocket Swing/Portable Hammock for Kids

Educational Toys and Puzzles


Insect Specimens Pack


Catch and Release Bug Catcher

Flower Press

Animal tracks play dough stampers  animal track stamps  image 1

Animal Track Stampers

Life cycle of a monarch butterfly butterfly life cycle image 2

Butterfly Life Cycle Puzzle 

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Honeycomb + Bee Life Cycle Puzzle

Leaf puzzle Montessori puzzle Christmas gift wooden puzzle image 0

Wooden Leaf Puzzle


Kikkerland Wood Magnifier

National Geographic Break Open Geodes Science Kit

Nature Games

Bird Bingo

Bug Bingo

Match A Track Game

Ocean Bingo

Books and Field Guides

The Backyard Birdsong Guide

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World

On the Nature Trail

Cavallini Nature Posters

Curious Kids Nature Guide

 Curiositree: Natural World

Wild Tracks: A Guide to Nature’s Footprints

Fandex Butterfly Cards

Fandex Bug Cards

Fandex Wildflowers Cards

The Big Book of Bugs

The Big Book of Beasts

The Big Book of Birds

National Parks of the U.S.A.

Sounds of Nature: World of Birds

A Year of Nature Poems

I am the Seed That Grew the Tree

 

 

**Note:  I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

 

 

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Our Favorite Picture Books for Kindergartners

favorite picture books for kindergarten

We are big into books over here.

Like really, really into books.

Picture books hold a special place in my heart because they spark a love for reading at literally any age. Both of my boys will look at picture books and listen to me read them for hours.

“One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough; and if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child’s intellectual life.”
― Charlotte Mason

Ever since I posted a list of my preschooler’s favorite picture books, my bigger boy has been wanting to gather his favorites. So here is our list of our family’s absolute favorite picture books for kindergartners (although I should say my preschooler loves them, too.)

{This list doesn’t include holiday-themed books, non-fiction – except the Storybook Bible, he wouldn’t let me leave it out – or chapter books… another post for another day}

favorite picture books for kindergarten

My Kindergartner’s Favorite Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

Roxaboxen

 

The Tree House that Jack Built

The Lorax

Mike Mulligan and More: Four Classic Stories by Virginia Lee Burton

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (picture book edition)

Children of the Forest

Frog and Toad Together

The Velveteen Rabbit

The Jesus Storybook Bible

The First Bear in Africa!

Bread and Jam for Frances

A Year in Brambly Hedge

Richard Scarry’s Bedtime Stories

The Storybook Knight

Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose

Thy Friend, Obadiah

One of my favorite places to find good book recommendations is over at Read Aloud Revival – go hop over there and be amazed at the amazing resources Sarah has! I especially love her holiday and seasonal book lists.

I hope you found some new books to read with your Kindergartner!

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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Introducing Young Children to Classic Literature — Feast on What is Good

One thing we are real big on in our home is literature.

I’m ashamed to say I wasn’t really into the classics as a child – I loved reading, but I read mostly twaddle. You know, horse books and the like. 🙂

It wasn’t until my college years did I start getting into the classics. Despite being a latecomer, I now have a deep love for Lucy Montgomery, J.M. Barrie, C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, etc. etc.

“Reading a classic story when you are young opens your heart. Reading a classic story again — anew — when you are older fills your heart to the brim.”   – Kenneth Grahame

My kids are still pretty young (6 and 3), but they LOVE read-alouds. We usually try to make them special when we are starting a new book or series with a themed tea-time or snack to enjoy while I’m reading to them.

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I don’t have to bribe or convince my kids to love reading (or in the case of my youngest, love listening to me reading) — they love it because it’s presented to them in a fun, relaxed, interesting and delightful way.

The more goodness, beauty and truth they feast on now, the more their hearts will be inclined toward it as they grow.

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Some of our very favorite versions of classic literature are from KinderGuides. They are heavily abridged and in picture book form – which is ideal for longer or more complex books, like the one we are reading now for the kids’ upcoming book club celebration (Around the World in Eighty Days).

The books are beautifully illustrated and adapted well enough for a 6 and 3 year old to sit for the entire book in one sitting, begging me to read it again.

So I’d say that’s a win.

There are also quiz questions to help jump start narration, character profiles, key words, analyses and an about the author section.

(These can only be ordered through the kickstarter campaign that is running now through the end of June, and backers receive half off the set.)

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We are excited to read Jane Eyre next – one of my favorites!

What are your favorite classics?

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Caterpillars Unit Study and Caterpillar Craft

caterpillar craft

For the past few weeks we have been studying caterpillars with our nature study curriculum, Exploring Nature With Children. I have to say, this has been one of the most exciting subjects to study (for all of us).

caterpillar butterfly unit study

Along with our curriculum, here are some of the other resources we used:

Anatomy of a Caterpillar Craft with Homemade Playdough

Since we couldn’t find any real caterpillars for a hands-on study, we made one! Here is the video we watched for instructions on how to make a Swallowtail Caterpillar out of playdough.

We then used a small chalkboard to label the parts of the caterpillar.

caterpillar unit study

Have you tried homemade playdough before? I just recently became a believer and will never go back to the store bought stuff! My boys played for hours after we made the caterpillar craft, literal hours.

Here is the recipe I used (taken from @wovenchildhood on Instagram):

  • 2 Cups White Flour
  • 1 Cup Iodized Salt
  • 3 Tbs Cream of Tartar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Cups Boiling Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Essential oils (optional, for an extra sensory element)
  1. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl
  2. Carefully add in oil and hot water
  3. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil of your choosing (we added lemon EO)
  4. Stir together until blended
  5. Add food coloring, then stir again
  6. Knead and sprinkle a little more flour until your preferred consistency

Caterpillar and Butterfly Free Printables

Butterfly life cycle sequencing cards

caterpillar craft

Here’s another fun, hands-on craft we found for teaching kids about the butterfly life cycle and metamorphosis.

What better way to study caterpillars than to observe them in real life? We’ve ordered this butterfly kit from Amazon before to grow and release our own butterflies and it was an incredible experience! (Sadly, we didn’t get to it this year)

Caterpillar Unit Study and Life Cycle Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

From Caterpillar to Butterfly

Summer Birds – The Butterflies of Maria Merian (so fascinating!)

Caterpillar Dreams

Ten Little Caterpillars

The Caterpillar and the Polliwog

Monarch and Milkweed

 

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

 

 

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My Preschooler’s Favorite Picture Books for Preschoolers

It’s no secret that we are a book-loving family. My big boy was reading short chapter books by the time he was four, and both boys will sit for hours and let me read to them. Because of them and their love for reading, I’ve become a huge fan of children’s literature.

For posterity’s sake, I went ahead and compiled a list of our family’s favorite fiction books for toddler to preschool aged children – all selected and approved by my own little one. If he didn’t love it, I didn’t include it.

(This list doesn’t include holiday-themed books, non-fiction books or books my Kindergartner loves – those will be in a separate post!)

A few of these I’m borrowing from the library until I can snatch them up, but most we own, because we love them and read them endlessly. I consider these books heirlooms, to be passed down someday to my grandchildren (good Lord, that’s scary to think about).

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One of my favorite places to find good book recommendations is over at Read Aloud Revival – go hop over there and be amazed at the amazing resources Sarah has! I especially love her holiday and seasonal book lists.

Some of these are new books, some are classics – but we love them all!

Our Favorite Picture Books for Preschoolers

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

10 Little Rubber Ducks

Blueberries for Sal

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Climb the Family Tree, Jesse Bear!

Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury

Green Eggs and Ham

Go Dog, Go!

Goodnight Gorilla

Goodnight Moon

Home for a Bunny

How to Be a Bigger Bunny

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

If you Give a Moose a Muffin

Inch by Inch

Jamberry

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?

Little Blue Truck

Looking for a Moose

Olivia

Run, Peter, Run!

Sophie’s Squash

Stellaluna

Stone Soup

The Cat in the Hat

The Grouchy Ladybug

The Little Fireman

The Little Red Hen

The Story About Ping

Where the Wild Things Are

 

I hope you found some new books to check out with your little ones!

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**

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A Fun Science Experiment to Teach Kids About Pollution

earth day pollution science

Today is Earth Day, and we ditched our regular lessons to spend the day learning about pollution and how it affects our earth.

We began with this oil spill activity that was really eye-opening, even for me! We started with a pristine-looking ocean scene which turned yucky very fast. The boys tried several times to wash the slimy oil off their sea creatures and it was harder than they thought it would be.

We got the idea from here, if you want to see the original post.

Oil Spill Science Experiment

First, we started with a large, clear plastic tub to hold our ocean animals and water (plus some blue marbles to add a sensory element).

I added two drops of blue food coloring so that the water would be more visible. The boys played in the ocean with their animals for a bit, and then we added the boat.

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To make the oil look like crude oil, we mixed some cocoa powder into the vegetable oil before pouring it into the boat’s compartment. It looked like oil, but smelled like brownies. 😉

Now it’s time for the oil spill. Once the boat gets bumped around enough, the oil will begin spilling into the pristine blue water. The boys thought it was fascinating to see the oil droplets swirl around in the water. And actually, so did I.

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Now, it’s time for cleanup.

First, they tried cleaning up the oil spill by scooping it out. They soon found, though, they were scooping way more water than oil, and the water was looking dirtier.

Next, they used items to try and suck up the oil – cotton balls and a sponge. Both materials were able to remove a bit of the oil, but not enough to make a real difference.

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I think they were beginning to understand how irreversible some types of pollution are.

Now it was time for animal rescue. Using tongs, they took turns removing the ocean creatures from the water and washing them with soapy water. It took many tries to wash all of the slimy oil off. Another good lesson.

We also dunked a real bird feather into the oily water so the boys could see the effects of an oil spill on real animals.

Pollution Walk

After our science experiment, we put on disposable gloves and headed to our neighborhood’s nature trail for a pollution cleanup walk. We found SO. MUCH. TRASH. Either I never noticed it before or today was just a messy day in our neighborhood, but I’m sad to say we filled half a trash bag full of litter on our short walk.

The boys were pros at spotting the trash – it was like a treasure hunt, but less glamorous.

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Honestly, I was pretty disgusted at the amount of litter we picked up. On our walk we talked about what happens to trash when it sits on the ground (and what biodegradable means) and why it’s important not to litter.

Earth Day Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

Oil Spill!

The Lorax

The Curious Garden

Compost Stew

Miss Rumphius

Once There Was a Tree

Pond

 

 

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What Makes the Seasons? {Spring Equinox Science Experiment}

spring equinox seasons

Have your kids ever asked you what makes the seasons?

The days are finally getting longer around here and the snow is almost gone, which is making us all slightly giddy. After a long, cold winter, the spring sunshine feels GOOD.

A few weeks ago, I prepared a little lesson to teach my boys about the spring equinox, and what makes the seasons. We ran a quick little experiment to visualize how the tilt of the earth makes it summer, fall, winter and spring in different parts of the world.

spring equinox seasons

It was a great way for them to see why we have seasons and I think it’ll really stick with them.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Orange
  • Marker
  • Pencil or Wood Skewer
  • Pushpin
  • At Least 2 People

First, grab your orange (the “earth”) and label the equator and Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Place the pushpin approximately where you live. Push the pencil or skewer through the center of the orange – this will act as the earth’s axis.

Now, assign one kid to hold the flashlight in the center of the room – he/she is the sun. Kid number two will hold the earth and move in a wide circle around the sun. The person with the flashlight keeps it pointed at the orange as it moves around the circle.

spring equinox seasons

The MOST important part of this experiment is to make sure whoever is holding the earth is keeping it tilted slightly, with the top tilted towards them and bottom tilted away from them. The trickiest part of this activity is making sure the earth remains tilted in the same direction as their body moves around the sun. So, on the opposite side of the circle, the top of the orange will be tilted away from them and the bottom will be tilted toward them.

On opposite sides of the circle, have the person holding the earth pause and note which hemisphere is receiving more light. As the earth moves around the circle, you’ll be able to see the sun hit each hemisphere differently – full strength in the Northern Hemisphere (our summer), partial strength in the Northern Hemisphere (our fall), full strength in the Southern Hemisphere (our winter), and partial strength in the Southern Hemisphere (our spring).

You can also ask them to make the earth rotate as it moves around the circle (this requires slightly more hand-eye coordination, a little trickier for smaller kids). observing night and day.

For more reading on the spring equinox and seasons, we loved these books:

The Reasons for Seasons

A New Beginning – Celebrating the Spring Equinox

The Spring Equinox

spring equinox seasons

Happy Spring, friends!

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Celebrating Easter with a Resurrection Garden

Easter is one of those holidays we try to be intentional about at our home. We don’t do much with the Easter Bunny (the kids do get baskets) and instead aim to remember the most crucial event of our faith.

An Easter Resurrection Garden is a simple and lovely way to visualize that declaration spoken all over the world – “He is risen!”

It’s best to start this activity a couple of weeks before Easter so the grass has time to grow.

How to Make an Easter Resurrection Garden

Start with a shallow dish, tray or planter saucer. It should have sides tall enough to contain the soil.

First, lay a small empty planter pot on its side in the middle of the tray. This will symbolize the empty tomb. Fill the container around the pot with planting soil, pressing some on to the top of the pot as well. You could even make a pathway to the tomb using small rocks or gravel.

Using sticks, cut and tie three crosses together to place on the hill over the tomb. Then, sprinkle grass seed over the soil, raking it in with your fingers, and spray with a water bottle until the soil is damp. You can use other types of seeds that are quick to germinate, like wheat grass and alfalfa. The kids can take turns spraying the soil to keep it damp over the next few days while the seeds germinate and sprout.

If you’re in a pinch for time, you can take the kids on a nature walk and collect some live moss to spread on your garden instead of grass. Just be sure to check for critters first. 😉

On Good Friday, place a large-ish rock in front of the tomb – this would be a good time to read the story of Jesus’ final days and crucifixion. (We LOVE The Jesus Storybook Bible. So, so good.)

On Easter morning, roll the stone away with your kiddos and pick up your reading at the story of the resurrection.

We have really enjoyed adding this to our list of traditions each year. It’s a simple way to illustrate that the tomb is empty – Hallelujah!

 

 

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Spring Nesting Bird Study and Egg Craft

nesting bird spring study

This week we studied all things birds with our nature study curriculum, Exploring Nature with Children. We are crazy about birds over at our house, so I thought I’d share our activities and resources here.

Bird Study Activities

nest and egg spring craft

Nest Building and Egg Painting

This spring craft is a bit messy but worth it! The boys each painted wooden eggs with acrylic paint (you could use any paint) and then using moss, twigs, string, yarn and rubber bands, they made a nest. A good book to go with this activity is Mama Built a Little Nest (listed below in Resources).

There are so many materials birds use in their nests – you could have the kids search your house for other items birds commonly use, like socks, feathers, hair, shoelaces – the list is practically endless.

nesting bird spring study

The best thing about this craft? It doubles as a pretty Easter decoration!

Bird’s Nest Cookies

birds nest cookies for spring

A fun and tasty way to celebrate the birds coming back for the season.

Get the recipe here.

DIY Bird Feeders

Remember making these growing up?

Gather some cardboard toilet paper rolls, peanut butter, bird seed and some string and let the kids go at it. Sunflower butter works just as well if there are any peanut allergies.

bird feeder DIY craft

If you wanted to make it into a “bird store” of sorts, you could also hang nest building materials in the toilet paper roll – string, shoelaces, etc. This is a fun spring craft to do with friends.

Bird Bingo

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Such a fun way to learn about bird species and play at the same time!

Find the Bird Bingo Game on Amazon (it’s very affordable)

Bird Watching Nature Walk

Take the kiddos on a nature walk and look for birds flying back and forth to their nests. Listen to the new bird calls of spring, bring along a bird call identification guide and nature journals if you wish.

Resources

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The Backyard Birdsong Guide – An absolute must-have! Our whole family has learned so much about birds just by keeping this book on our table by the window

Bird Feather Identification Cards by Chickie & Roo

Nature Journal

Picture Books

**You can probably find most of these at your local library, but we try to add our favorites to the shelf, because ALWAYS more books!**

Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest

Mama Built a Little Nest

Robins, Songbirds of Spring

Have you Heard the Nesting Bird?

My Book of Birds

Blue Sky Bluebird

A Nest is Noisy

 

 

 

 

 

**I’m an affiliate of Amazon, which means every purchase from product links helps keep this website going. I only write about things I’m truly passionate about, and products I actually recommend and use for our family.**