Greatly Blessed

Greatly Blessed

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Very Hungry Caterpillar outfit


When I saw the Very Hungry Caterpillar shirt on zulily.com I couldn't resist getting for Hannah.  It showed up while I was making Hannah's panda skirt, and I was inspired to make a caterpillar skirt to go with it.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have caught the picture I posted when the skirt was almost done.  I ran out of green ric rac on the hem and had to get some more to finish it.


I happened to have some Hungry Caterpillar ribbon on hand from a co op, so I made a bow to go with the outfit.

Hannah wore it to school this week.  Now that she's been back in school for 2 weeks, we're starting to get into a routine.  Hannah loves school, and she's happy to be back with her friends from last year.  As I try to help her with her homework, I realize Paul was right to insist that she stay in school.  I just don't have the patience to homeschool her right now.


I also recently made Hannah a couple summer PJ sets.


I realized while working on this project that I bought this fabric the year Hannah was born.  I think it was time to cut into it!

Hannah was late for school today because we were up at Shriners this morning.  Hannah and Katie both got new feet on their prosthetic legs.

I have some more projects going in the sewing room that I can't wait to share with you when they're done!  It feels good to carve out some time to create again.  I love seeing my kids wear what I've made for them.  I even like seeing things I've made go through the laundry.  It makes me smile.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Katie's July Tot Trays


I kept thinking I might not be able to pull off a Tot Trays post this month because we were on vacation, but it looks like we still managed to have some preschool fun around here.  


I've been saving the lids from Lukey's little squeeze pouches.  There are lots of ideas on Pinterest for things you can do with them, but to start with, I wanted to give Katie the chance to just play with them.


Fine motor skills, stacking, sorting, matching, patterns...  There are endless opportunities for learning play with them.  I think they'll make good game pieces, too.


I had Eli help me gather up various solid colored items so I could make COLOR theme tot trays.


Katie actually played with the red tray a few times, since there were so many different things to play with in it.


Paint chip cards, beads, buttons, a shoe, a pipe cleaner, Hello Kitty take out box, a car... it's an I Spy of random things we tossed in there.


Stringing beads on pipe cleaners remains a favorite activity.  I may pick up some Pony Bead Bracelets so she can string and wear her creations.  


This next activity isn't really a "tray" but it was fun for Katie.


She helped Brianna make amazing mint cookies by unwrapping the mints and pouring various ingredients into the big bowl.


I already shared about this one, but it's worth mentioning again if you mentioned it.


The printed worksheet is actually a dot marker page I found online.  I think I searched, "Free Printable Dot Marker Rainbow" or something along those lines.  Katie matched cereal to the blanks by color, and at some point, we'll use the page with dot markers.  (She needs a new set, ours are more than a decade old.)


We had a bunch of random rainbow colored items mixed together, so I set Katie to work with some lids, sorting them out.  You can really see the paint chip cards in this shot.  I picked those up for a game, but we haven't made the game yet.


Great job sorting, Katie!


As you can see, we continue to enjoy the water beads around here.  This blue batch was scented with Christmas Spirit essential oil, a blend of cinnamon, pine, and orange.  Smells wonderful!

If you've missed previous Tot Trays posts, you can catch up on June's Tot Trays and May's Tot Trays.

Linking up with:
The Deliberate Mom

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Get Ready For Back To School With Roaring Spring Paper Products



I received a generous package of notebooks from Roaring Spring Paper.


My favorite were the Color Me Notebooks!


Brianna colored this one for me.


Jack colored the sports-themed notebook.


They also offer Color Me composition books and folders.


The Genesis Poly Cover notebook line comes in a rainbow of colors and 1, 2, 3, or 5 subject options.


The Cross-over line is pretty neat!  The lines on one side of the page go horizontal, and the lines on the other side of the page are vertical, creating a graph paper grid when backlit.

Roaring Spring also carries 3 kinds of music paper, which was noteworthy for us, since Brianna's interest in piano has picked up again.  I also noticed Teacher Plan Books and other great products while I was poking around their website.


The Sugarcane Paper notebooks really do save trees.  They're made from sugarcane pulp, which is a byproduct of sugar production.


Stay up to date with all the latest Roaring Spring Paper Products on Facebook!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Learning About The Western United States With Hewitt Homeschooling


Have you ever seen something in a homeschool catalog, thought it would be great, ordered it, and had it arrive, only to realize it wasn't what you expected?

Our family was selected to review Western United States from Hewitt Homeschooling.  When it arrived, something tickled the back of my mind, and I went to the Misfit Curriculum Shelf (admit it, you have one, too) and found...  not one, not two, but THREE other units in the My First Report series from Hewitt!  Totally unused.  Given the titles, I'm guessing I purchased these close to a decade ago, when Sam was obsessed with dolphins and sharks.

So I got a good chuckle out of that discovery and set about learning what the My First Report series is all about.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

Different from a fill in the blanks workbook, where kids read and regurgitate answers, this series helps you teach kids how to look for those answers from other sources.  The packet includes a page of suggested resources, some of which we already had in our home library.  There's no "assigned" reading, only questions to investigate and facts listed to guide you in further pursuit of learning about your topic.

For example, Wyoming's report page states that Wyoming was the first territory or state to allow women the right to vote, and it lists the year that happened.  Interested families could decide to research and find out when other states granted women the vote, read about women's suffrage, or be assigned a persuasive paper or speech telling why women should or should not be allowed to vote.  Or, you could read that fact and move along to something else on the list that you find more interesting and research that instead.  Think of Hewitt's My First Report series as a springboard for all sorts of fascinating "bird walk" learning adventures.


The states covered in the Western United States report packet are:  Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Hawaii.  Since we had just come back from a trip to Nevada, we started out our learning there.


I asked Eli to help Jack in looking up information on the computer.  They ended up watching several videos about the mine that we'd visited, that we wouldn't have found if we hadn't been researching.


The packet includes both a US map and individual maps for each of the featured states.  Although these packets are designed to be consumable, I photocopied the state map onto cardstock so he could use paint on it without soaking through.  Jack's Nevada map art was... interesting, but I mainly wanted him to be familiar with the shape of the state, so I didn't say anything.  He also colored in Nevada on the US map.


For some of our other states, I had him use wikki stix (basically string coated with wax) to outline the state.  Really working on reinforcing the shape of each state.


For his next report, he chose Alaska.  My mom had brought the book How Alaska Got Its Flag back from a cruise she took several years ago, so I read it to him.


It was while using Hewitt Homeschooling's study that I realized just how little I've been expecting of Jack.  He had no real concept of what a report was or how to do one.  For each state, Hewitt offers a list of questions to get you started, and a page of facts about the state.  Just getting him to research the questions and answer them in complete sentences and correct his spelling and capitalization errors was a stretch for both of us.  I've really done him a disservice in allowing him to the be "baby" for so long.

I'm glad we did this review, because it pushed us to work on new skills in a guided manner.  Hewitt's My First Reports series was created for 1st through 4th graders, but it's also good remedial work for older students.  Jack will be a 5th grader next month, and this is a good way for him to pick up skills that he has missed.

There are currently 14 different packets to choose from, and they sell for $8.95 each, or $69.95 for the entire set.  Each packet has at least 12 topics for your student to research, as well as suggestions for report skills you can teach and several pages of unit study expanding ideas in the areas of art, music, language, reading, math, social studies, science, health, P.E., Bible, and field trips.

Although we did this during the summer, Hewitt's My First Report would be easy to add to our typical school week.  You could organize it so that you define the vocabulary words on Monday, research the questions on Tuesday, do a unit study activity on Wednesday (and maybe Friday, too, if you schedule school on Fridays), and write the final report on Thursday.  In this manner, a packet would last 3 months, if not longer, depending on how many rabbit trails you decide to follow.

The pages in the consumable packet come already hole punched, which makes it easy to pop them in a binder or a report folder.  It also comes with reproducible "story paper" of various line heights, so your kids can draw a picture and write about it underneath, as well as fully lined pages.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review

Thanks to this review, I've discovered a treasure on my own shelf!  I plan to add Marine Life to our studies in the coming school year, and depending on how long we spend on that packet, we may be able to finish Birds and Plants as well, all from something I'd written off years ago, because it wasn't what I thought it was going to be when I ordered it.

You can connect with Hewitt Homeschooling on FacebookTwitter, PinterestGoogle Plus, or at the Hewitt Blog.  Please click the box below to read Crew reviews on other Hewitt products.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Spellbinders Celebra'tions


Today I want to share with you about Spellbinders newest collection, Celebra'tions!  I received some fun paper crafting supplies to check out, and they're just lovely.


My samples included two ready to make projects and a sheet of rubber stamp words, along with instructions for each of the projects.


In addition to the materials I received, Spellbinders carries dies, stamps, papers, and inks for all sorts of fun projects such as papercrafting, card making, and scrapbooking!  One of our favorite things to make for a small project is a bookmark.  The word stamps would be perfect for bookmarks.


I really liked the foam adhesive sticky dots used to attach components to the card above.  The backing was easier to peel off than many other adhesives I've used.

Be sure to check out the online store at Spellbinders for not only the Celebra'tions line, but also tons of other craft ideas and supplies.


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