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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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12 Nature Play Ideas for May

Now that our yard is waking up and everything is blooming, I though it would be fun to do a roundup of nature play ideas you can do from your own backyard:

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Nature Playdough Caterpillars

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Nature Butterfly Symmetry

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Nature Weaving Craft

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Nature Salt-Dough Pendants

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Nature Scavenger Hunt

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Nature Bugs

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Grass Weaving

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Sun Catchers

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Nature Letters

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Nature Mandalas

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Leaf Shape Match

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Flower Mud Kitchen Play

You don’t need anything fancy to do these fun nature crafts – in fact, simpler is often better.

I would love to hear if you try any of these!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter for updates on new crafts, nature printables and FREEBIES!

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Night Sky Playdough; Our Favorite Way to Study Space

Let me begin this post by saying we made this night sky playdough NINE MONTHS ago and it is still going strong!

I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but this playdough lasts forever. (We store it in a ziploc storage bag inside a cupboard inside a cool room).

We’ve used it to study constellations, galaxies, planets and for just plain fun. The glitter – which was my main concern – magically stays contained inside the playdough.

Again, I don’t know how. It’s just plain magic, folks.

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Here is the Recipe for Night Sky Playdough:

Mix together:

  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup fine salt
  • 3 Tbsp cream of tartar (helps make it smooth and elastic)

Stir in:

  • 1.5 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of boiling water (carefully!)
  • 5-10 drops blue or purple food coloring

Knead it together until it’s nice and smooth. Then, pour a small amount of glitter in the center of the dough, and knead it in a little at a time.

Add star sequence or beads and press them in to make constellations.

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Or, use stars or marbles to make galaxy spirals.

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Use different colors of playdough to form planets and create a solar system.

There are so many ways you can play with this playdough!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my email newsletter for updates on new crafts, nature printables and FREEBIES!

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New! The POND Nature Journal is here

Friends, it’s here! The Pond Guided Nature Journal is in my Etsy shop and ready for your little explorer.

Inside are posters, flash cards, coloring pages and journaling prompts covering 5 different topics (frogs, dragonflies, turtles, aquatic plants, aquatic minibeasts), and I’ve also included ideas for activities, sensory play and a book list.

Head over to Etsy to check it out!

 

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Rocks and Mineral Properties – FREE Activity

rocks and mineral download

Here’s a little boredom buster that’s sure to keep the rock-lovers happy in your house. This is a FREE Rock and Mineral Properties Activity Sheet for immediate download. My boys loved testing the rocks from their collection – I hope your kids love it, too!

Rocks and Minerals – Free Download

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DIY Kids’ Space Room – With REMOVABLE Wallpaper!

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My boys share a room – and they’ve been collectively asking for a space room for, well, years. So a few weekends ago, we sent the boys away to their grandparents’ house and surprised them with their new space room.

By far, the coolest part of their new room is this Constellations wallpaper from Coloray.

This isn’t traditional wallpaper. This is actually PEEL-AND-STICK wallpaper. That’s right, folks. Slap it up there, and then when they change their minds or change rooms or if we decide to move – it PEELS RIGHT OFF. And, it’s REUSABLE.

(I am talking in all caps because I have spent a month slowly scraping wallpaper off four walls and THIS IS A BIG DEAL.)

So, yes, this is a life-changing home décor product – but, you do need to know how to hang it properly or you are going to get yourself in trouble. Ask me how I know.

**Note – make sure to remove all jewelry before hanging the wallpaper. We noticed our rings made tiny scratch marks when we first started out – so learn from our mistake!**

Step One – Clean and Prime Your Walls

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This is the most important step.

I repeat – the most important step!

Wipe your walls down with a wet cloth (because you know if it’s in a kid’s room, it’s going to be covered in all sorts of grime). If the wall is painted with a latex paint (especially a gloss paint), the wallpaper won’t stick properly. Your best bet is to lay a quick coat of primer on the wall and let it dry completely.

Step Two – Remove Baseboards and Outlet/Light Switch Covers

Our baseboards were a bit tricky to remove in one piece, but we were able to get them off without doing any damage.

Step Three – Lay Out the Wallpaper Panels

Carefully lay out your wallpaper panels on the floor (with clean hands). Make sure the design on the edges line up and double check the length of your wall. If you have slightly more length than you need, you may be able to overlap the panels a bit, as long as the designs still match up.

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Step Four – Start Hanging

Once you’ve determined your left-to-right panel order, get ready to hang. Starting at the top of the wall (and working in a left-to-right fashion), peel back the first four or so inches of the backing.

(Note: I would NOT recommend peeling the backing on the carpet or bed or any surface that may have dust or hair on it. The first time we did this on the floor, all kinds of little things immediately stuck to the back of the wallpaper and affected its sticking power in those spots.)

Line up the top of the panel with the top of your wall and press it down, making sure it is straight across. Have someone step back and verify that it’s straight. If not, you can peel if off and try again.

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Step Five – Work Your Way Down

You’ll want two people for this step – one person to pull the backing off from behind, about a foot at a time, and one to smooth down the paper by pressing from the middle out to the edges. Smooth out all those little creases and bubbles.

If you’re finding that the paper isn’t laying flat, peel it up a bit and try again. Continue smoothing it down, one foot at a time, until you get to the bottom of the wall.

Step Six – Cut Around Outlets and Light Switches

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If you run into an outlet or light switch as you’re laying the paper down, make note of where it is and lay the paper right over it.

Then, before you do anything else – GO TURN OFF THE POWER.

Seriously, don’t try to cut the hole out with the switch power on. Use a flashlight if you must for this part (we did).

Using a sharp utility knife or a single edge razor blade, carefully cut a hole as big as the opening in the drywall. The cover will give you some leeway to work with, so don’t worry about it being perfect.

Step Seven – Cut Off the Excess

Once you reach the bottom of the wall, cut off the excess below where the top of your baseboards will be. (You’ll want a little wiggle room.) Then, press really well and voila! You’ve just finished your first panel.

Step Eight – Repeat Steps One Through Seven

Keep following this process with additional panels until you’ve finished your wall.

You may want to run your hands over it once more to smooth out any additional bubbles. If there’s a tricky spot, you can run a blow dryer over it and then try smoothing it out – this works surprisingly well.

Step Nine – Install Your Baseboard

(Or convince your husband to do it thirty minutes before your kids’ bedtime while you get the kids dressed for bed. I mean, he’s a lucky guy.)

That’s it! So much easier than traditional wallpaper – as long as you follow the important preparation steps.

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We chose the Constellations pattern, but there are so many beautiful categories to choose from:

Coloray Vintage

Coloray Floral

Coloray Patterns

and Coloray Kids

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Have you ever tried removable wallpaper? Tell me what questions you have!

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Little Brown Bat FREE download

Little Brown Bat Printable

What with Halloween approaching, my kids are currently obsessed with bats – and after watching the Wild Kratt’s little brown bat episode – well, now we are the proud owners of a backyard bat house.

What can I say. Nature is my weakness.

I’ve created these Little Brown Bat nature study pages, if you and your littles would like to study bats along with us.

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And here’s a fun craft to go along with it, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Download the FREE Little Brown Bats Printable

 

 

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The Forest Guided Nature Journal

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It’s finally HERE!

The Wild Child’s Nature Journal ~ The Forest is done and up in my Etsy shop.

This project feels a bit like my fourth child, and I hope it’s something that can be a blessing to you and your kiddos.

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Inside The Forest, I’ve included 8.5×11 posters, flash cards, coloring pages and journaling prompts for eight fascinating organisms you can find in the forest:

Autumn Leaves
Forest Beetles
Fungi
Conifer Trees
Woodpeckers
Ferns
Forest Animals
Moss and Lichen 

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This guided journal is a great option for those of you who have kids just getting started with nature study and nature journaling. It presents a variety of information on species, nature anatomy and life cycles, while keeping it simple and non-intimidating (is that a word???).

Use it alongside your favorite nature study curriculum, or bring it along on your nature walks. 

“We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.” -Charlotte Mason

We bound ours in a pocket folder (minus the flashcards – those hang above our nature table), and when it’s time for nature study we just pull out the folder and it’s all there.

Nature study is something that is really important to our family, and I believe it’s an essential piece of my children’s education.

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Please let me know how you like it! And feel free to share your experience with the journal on Instagram by using #journalingthewild ~ I would love to see and share your photos.

 

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Salt-Dough Nature Pendants

The boys and I needed a handcraft to make for the Wild + Free handicraft fair and this was the perfect little project. While I plan on teaching my boys practical handcrafts – like sewing and woodworking – this time I needed something simple enough that my three year old could participate in.

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Salt-dough is such a neat medium to work with and very easy to mix up (my favorite recipe is below). We used cookie cutters to cut out the pendants and nature treasures from our nature collection to use as stamps.

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Straws work perfectly to make holes for stringing the pendants into necklaces.

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Once the pendants were all designed, we let them dry. Air drying is an option, but we were in a bit of a time crunch so we dried ours in the oven. We placed them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and dried them at 200 degrees for an hour on both sides. Then we left them on the counter overnight to completely dry out before painting.

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Both of the boys got a paintbrush and some acrylic paint and painted the nature impressions, leaving the rest white. (You can also use watercolors or even crayons)

Once the paint was dry, I went ahead and brushed on a coat of clear polycrylic. Then, the boys strung some colorful beads onto a string and through the hole in the pendants. I tied them off and viola!

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These would also make sweet little gifts for Christmas or birthdays.

Salt-Dough Recipe

2 cups of flour

1 cup of salt

1 cup of water

Thoroughly mix the first two ingredients together. Gradually stir in the water bit by bit, until you get a dough-like consistency. Form it into a ball and knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes. (If the dough gets too sticky, add some more flour.) Roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness before cutting out the pendants with cookie cutters.

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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.**