Kiwi Crate, August 2015

Kiwi Crate, August 2015

Kiwi Crate, August 2015

I hadn’t planned on trying out Kiwi Crate so soon. However. I came across a deal that was too good to pass up, so I thought, why not?!?!! (Half price is hard to beat, and if you’d like, I’ll share my discount with you! I’ll put a link at the end of this post 🙂 )

We did not open the box up as soon as it arrived.  (The Princess might be a princess, but she doesn’t need to be *too* spoiled, lol.)  So I waited to give it to her.  I’m so glad that I did, because as it turned out, we used it as a fun activity break during school on a few different days.  And let me tell you, it was a big hit!

When the Princess opened the box, this is the first thing that we saw:

011How cute is this?!!  Printed on the inside lid of the box.  (Btw, that’s Steve, the Kiwi, mascot of Kiwi Crate.)  Here’s a first look at the opened box:

 

The opened box!

The opened box!

Since this was our first Kiwi Crate, they included a little poster for the Princess to color and add a monthly sticker to, as well as a nice pair of scissors to help with all of the fun crafts she’ll be receiving in her boxes.

 

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The theme of this box was “A Day at the Lake”.

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Kiwi Crate’s website says that inside each box you’ll receive materials to complete 2-3 projects. (You may have to provide some materials of your own from time to time…I guess either things you should already have on hand or things that they can’t really easily or reasonably ship to you, like the tub full of water we needed to enjoy one of the projects this month 😉 ) What I didn’t realize was just how much more you receive, over and beyond the projects. I have to say, I was really impressed!  We received:

 

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* Little paper cut-out puppets (and the little sticker to put on the sticker chart)

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* A booklet/magazine filled with even more activities, science experiments, puzzles, games, and stories to continue the fun.  There’s really a lot of stuff packed into this little book!  I wasn’t expecting this at all, and it was really a nice surprise.

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*The materials and instructions for this month’s crafts.

When we took everything out of the box, we found this surprise:

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Remember those cut-outs above? Kiwi Crate provided a neat little beach scene for the Princess to color and use as a background for a little puppet play! Yet another nice little touch that made the box extra special 🙂

Overall, it was a really great box.  We’ve already had a lot of fun making and playing with the crafts, and we haven’t even gotten to the booklet yet!  The Princess has really enjoyed it a lot so far 🙂

All the stuff.

All the stuff.

 

Here are our finished projects:

 

My Fish Lantern

My Fish Lantern

 

My Paddle Boats

My Paddle Boats

 

I should say that Kiwi Crate is specifically geared towards children age 4-8.  This company offers similar boxes for multiple ages of children under different names:

* Koala Crate (ages 3-4)
* Kiwi Crate (ages 4-8)
* Tinker Crate (hands on experiments for kids ages 9-16+)
*Doodle Crate (hands on creativity for kids ages 9-16+)

As with many subscription boxes, they offer you multiple options for your subscription length (and therefore price).  The prices for Kiwi Crate are:

* Monthly ($19.95/month)
* 6 Months ($18.50/month)
* 12 Months ($16.95/month)

They also offer subscriptions for:

* 3 Months (19.95/month)
* 24 Months ($14.95/month)
* 36 Months ($12.95/month)

There is also a store to purchase further activities, but if you don’t want to do that, they also send ideas by email as well as have an area on the website for DIY ideas.

I purchased the first month’s box just to give Kiwi Crate a try because it was such a good deal.  The Princess has truly enjoyed the projects, both completing them, and playing with them since.  (She uses the lantern every night as a reading lamp and the boats are her newest addition to her tubby toy collection, lol.)  Needless to say, I think we’ll get at least a few more!

As I mentioned above, I got my first box for half price.  That’s because someone was kind enough to share a $10 off coupon with me!  If you’d like to give Kiwi Crate a try (or any of their other crates, it’ll work on any of them!), then please feel free to use my referral code:  http://www.kiwicrate.com/Refer?i=TracyB43 .  If you do, you’ll receive $10 off your purchase (which makes your first box half off!).  I’ll also receive $10 towards my next purchase.  Win, win!  🙂  And thank you, if you do 🙂  I hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as we have!

 

 

 

 

Homeschool Curriculum for First Grade…Our Choices!

The countdown is on and preparation is nearly complete (…and I have surprisingly been able to somewhat maintain a level of sanity!) so I thought I’d share with you our homeschool curriculum choices for first grade 🙂

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Last year (for Kindergarten), we chose to use Timberdoodle Company’s curriculum kit with a few additional add-ons to both meet our state requirements and introduce things that we personally wanted to implement into our homeschool. This year we are planning on doing something similar, but not exactly…

In researching this year I came across the name of a lady: Charlotte Mason. The more I learn about her educational methods, the more I know that this is the way I want to educate my daughter. Some things will be easier for me to implement than others; reading comes naturally and easy, but getting myself motivated to go outside for a while everyday may be a challenge. (I don’t know why, though, I love being outside once I get there!)

All of that to say that our homeschool this year will be mostly Timberdoodle with a distinct Charlotte Mason slant. If you’d like to see the specifics, keep reading 🙂

Our Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

Bible Study & Morning Routine

Bible Study & Morning Routine

Bible Study & Morning Routine

I’ve decided to continue using the Bible Study Guide for All Ages as our morning Bible study.  The Princess and I have both learned so much from this study (for me, it has been a wonderful way to memorize those lists that you always wanted to and knew you should but just didn’t because, well, you have to memorize it!)  To keep costs down, though, we’re going to continue on through the beginner level.  (Grades 1-2 cost significantly more because you have to purchase a separate teacher’s guide for each lesson packet.)  We’ll re-evaluate when we complete all 416 lessons and decide if we need to use the primary level or if we can just jump into the intermediate level lessons.

To help us with scripture memorization, we’ll be using a CD called Sing the Word:  A new Commandment.

*Part of our morning routine will also focus on learning a new hymn and a new folksong each month.  We’ll be using the lists so kindly put together for us by the lovely ladies at Ambleside Online!

Math

Math

Math

Math is where we will stray the most from the items provided in the Timberdoodle curriculum.  Last year, we used what came with our kit (Mathematical Reasoning A by the Critical Thinking Co).  While the Princess did learn from the book, it just wasn’t the best fit for her.  There was little in the way of explanation, and we ended up supplementing with lots of games (both online and off) as well as with the first two books in the Life of Fred series.  By the time summer came, I knew that we needed to try something different.  Thankfully, I found just what we were looking for!

*Making Math Meaningful by David Quine has really seemed to click with the Princess.  She is learning and enjoying math now!  I like that it tells you exactly what to say and do (although you don’t have to follow the script if you don’t want to).  I also like that it is so inexpensive.  I purchased the counting chips and links separately, and unifix cubes are also on the way.  Everything else you need to use this book you’ll probably already have in your home.  We started going through level 1 for review this summer, so when school begins, we’ll finish the book and move on to level 2.  (And the Mathematical Reasoning B book that we got from Timberdoodle will become the review book next summer 😉 )

*Life of Fred.  The Princess enjoyed her Life of Fred books, so we’ll be continuing on with both Cats and Dogs.  We’ll do it once a week and have a “Fred Friday”.

*The addition and subtraction wrap-ups and the Cuisenaire rods are extras from our Timberdoodle curriculum.  I’m sure we’ll use them at some point.

History

History

Timeline

Timeline

History

  • The Story of the World Vol. 1 by Susan Wise Bauer
  • Famous Figures of Ancient Times
  • A Timeline for All Time by Vickie Froehlich

Both The Story of the World and the Famous Figures are from our Timberdoodle kit.  The timeline I purchased separately and we’ll work on together as a family.  I really enjoy all of the beautiful historic figures that are included, and for the price, it is a great deal!

Geography

Geography

Geography

  • Daily Geography (Evan-Moor)
  • Scrunch Map

Again, both items are from our Timberdoodle kit.

Science

Science

Science

  • Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright, and the Junior Notebook Journal
  • Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock

The astronomy book is from our Timberdoodle curriculum.  The handbook and sketch diaries will hopefully help us to get outside at least once a week for class!  I’m not sure how the two will work together, but we’ll see.

Handwriting

Handwriting

Handwriting

  • A Reason for Handwriting
  • The Usborne Very Big Maze Book

We used A Reason for Handwriting last year and saw a tremendous improvement in the Princess’ handwriting ability, so we’re sticking with it this year.  The teacher’s guide was purchased separately and was actually a very big help for the kindergarten year.  (When you buy it, you can use it for grades k-6, so it’s a good investment if you think you’ll use it.)  The Usborne Maze Book will just be a little added fun (and it’s a sneaky way to get her to practice!)

Language Arts

Language Arts

Language Arts

  • Language Smarts B (The Critical Thinking Co)
  • Daily 6-Trait Writing Grade 1

Again, both from our Timberdoodle kit.  They look like they will be a fun introduction to language arts and writing.

Reading

The majority of our reading material this year will come from Ambleside Online‘s Year 1.  We’ll be following their reading schedule and begin practicing our narration skills!  I’ll post these pics a little bigger so that you can see the titles.

These will be the readers the Princess will read to me (some from Timberdoodle, some from AO, and we’ll probably be making bi-weekly trips to the library):

Age-Appropriate Readers

Age-Appropriate Readers

Here are our daily read-alouds:

Read-Alouds

Read-Alouds

On the top is my Kindle.  Some of our AO books are on it.

And here are our free reads.  They’ll probably end up being our bedtime stories:

Free-Reads

Free-Reads

Health

Health

Health

  • A Beka Health, Safety, & Manners 1

Our state requires that we teach health.  We used Horizons Health last year for Kindergarten (there just aren’t that many health curriculums for kindergarten) and I wasn’t a fan for most of the year.  So this year we’re going to give A Beka a try.

Art

Art

Art

Rather than use what Timberdoodle sends as our main art curriculum, we’ll be using Meet the Masters.  I like that it incorporates artist study along with making art.  We used it a little bit last year, so we’ve already got our portfolios made and pictured above.  I actually found a great deal on it last year at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Music

Music

Music

Last year’s music curriculum (Pfeiffer House Music) was just not a good fit for us.  I’m hoping that this program will be more enjoyable!  It looks like lots of fun, and like we’ll actually be learning, so we’ll see.

Spanish

Sorry I don’t have a picture for it.  But it’s only online!  We’ll be watching one episode per week.

P.E.  The Princess has been in dance class for almost as long as she’s been alive (we started with Mommy & Me classes) and she’s continuing on this year with a first year of gymnastics.

And last but not least…

Fun!

Fun!

Fun!

Yep, fun 🙂  Not that the other stuff won’t be fun, but this will be miscellaneous fun and games, art, handicrafts, go outside and run around like crazy, take a break from the more difficult subjects kind of time.  A lot of the stuff in the picture above is from Timberdoodle–the extras that came with our kit last year that we didn’t quite finish (or that you can play again and again), and the extras in the kit this year, too.  We’ll see how it changes as the year progresses.  But we all need some fun in our everyday 🙂

And I think that’s it.  If it’s like last year, there will be continual tweaking and change to meet the needs of my student.  So this is our starting point.  Here’s to a happy, fun, and successful year for us all!

My Pretend Place, Summer Quarter 2015

Ok.  So I have recently fallen in love with monthly subscription boxes.  I’m really trying to not go too overboard with them.  (Not *too* overboard…*L*)  But I am subscribing to a few now, one of which is a quarterly (or monthly depending on your purchase) box from My Pretend Place.

My Pretend Place, Summer 2015

My Pretend Place, Summer 2015

My Pretend Place is a subscription box for kids starting at 3 yrs old. It offers 2 different types of subscriptions depending on what you’re looking for: either a dress-up box that includes a costume and other fun stuff (for kids age 3-6, $50/quarter), or a DIY project box (for kids age 3-8, $15/month). When you order, you can specify if you would like a box for a boy, a girl, or one that isn’t gender specific.

The Princess has always liked to play dress-up and pretend, so I ordered the quarterly dress-up box for her. So far, we’ve only received the box I’m going to tell you about today, but I want to note that their website says: “Once a quarter, your child will receive a shipment of theme specific pretend play items (including a dress-up costume), and the rest of the months, you’ll receive smaller shipments via mail that may include sticker activity sets, recipe ideas, crafts, games, etc. all focused on the main theme for that quarter. We supply everything your child will need for tons of fun, laughter and learning.” You can also check out their website for extra freebies like activity ideas and recipes for your boxes theme, or splurge and purchase extra items for the theme as well.

But enough of that. Let’s look at this box!

Opening the box...

Opening the box…

The Princess couldn’t wait to get into this box! (Ok, maybe I was a little excited to see what was inside, too…)

First look

First look…

The first thing I opened was the envelope. Here’s what was inside:

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A cute magnet (the thing with the astronaut), little fairy stickers and a handle to decorate the outside of your box so you can use it as a storage trunk for your dress-up clothes, and a little note thanking us for our purchase. Nice little extra touches. Next, we found this:

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How cute is this??? I think it’s a nice invitation and jumping off point for a child to start playing pretend and coming up with imaginative stories of their own. Of course, most kids probably won’t need this, but it’s a nice touch, anyway.

Other things in our box included:

A fairy house to paint and decorate

A fairy house to paint and decorate

The Princess really liked this. She wanted to do it right away! Anything painting or drawing or art, she’s there.

Blendy Pens

Blendy Pens and pictures to color

So far, the Princess has only colored one picture from this. As much as she loves artsy things, she’s not so big on coloring pages. But she does think blending the colors together in the markers is pretty cool.

A story book: Alice the Fairy

A story book: Alice the Fairy

The Princess read this to me the afternoon she received it. I asked her what she thought of it. “Pretty cool.”

And of course, the fairy costume!

And of course, the fairy costume!

Of course she loved the costume!

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I’d share a pic of the Princess in her costume so you can see how it fits, but I can’t seem to figure out how to crop a photo. (It shouldn’t be this difficult…and it’s probably not, lol) Anyway, the costume fits an in-between size 5 & 6 very well.

Overall, this box is a hit at our house!  I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of extra goodies they send us in the in-between months!

In summary…

Who this box is for:  Girls, age 3-6 (although there is the option of the DIY craft box for ages 3-8 yrs., and you can specify whether you want a box for a girl, a boy, or gender neutral.)

What you get:  1 box every 3 months filled with things like crafts, activities, and a dress-up costume, and smaller shipments each month in-between that complement the quarterly theme.  (Or, you can opt for the DIY box and receive 1 box each month that contains projects to add to your dress-up wardrobe.  They include material for two finished projects–but they might be two of the same in case there is a sibling, I’m not sure.)

The cost:  $50/quarter and ships free (which works out to $16.67/month.  If you opt for the DIY box, the price is $15/month with free shipping.)  Also, right now they are running a special to save 30% on your first box if you use the code “pretend”.

If you’d like more information, check out their website:  http://mypretendplace.com/

Happy pretending!

Happy pretending!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation…2015 (Part 2)

Earlier this year, the Princess, the P, and me were fortunate enough to be able to go on the trip of a lifetime to England and France! I’ve already posted a bit here in Part 1 if you’d like to take a look at what we did our first few days there: https://princesspandme.wordpress.com/2015/08/15/how-i-spent-my-summer-vacation-2015-part-1/ .

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London, 2015

I tend to be kind of a picture-taking over-achiever (1,256 pictures from this trip to be exact!) so unfortunately I can’t share them all with you. But here are some of my faves 🙂

During our time in Europe, we got to:

* Take an open-top, hop-on-hop-off bus tour with the Original Tour Company which included a complimentary cruise on the River Thames. We saw lots of sights and spent part of our day exploring the British Museum. (Part 1)

* Travel by train to Liverpool. “We love you, Beatles, oh yes we do…” 🙂 (Part 1)

* Spend a day at the London Zoo. We always end up at zoos in our travels (always have, even before the Princess came along…) and the London Zoo is by far the best I’ve ever been to. I love how in so many of the exhibits, animals are roaming freely among the visitors so you can really get an up close and personal look at all of the fascinating critters!

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Lemur

Anteater

Anteater

* Stroll past the Sherlock Holmes Museum. If we’d had more time and the line wasn’t so long, we would’ve taken a peek inside. Maybe next time 😉

added Not sure, bit I love his expression!

Not sure, bit I love his expression!

added Sherlock Holmes Museum

Sherlock Holmes Museum

* Take a trip to LEGOLAND Windsor (and drive past Windsor Castle along the way)

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LEGOLAND, Windsor

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View of Windsor Castle from LEGOLAND

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View of Windsor Castle from the bus, lol

* Take a day trip to Paris! We got to take a cruise on the River Seine, eat lunch on the Eiffel Tower, and tour the Luvre Museum.

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Notre Dame Cathedral

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Check out the gargoyles!

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Paris is a truly beautiful city!

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The Eiffel Tower

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Looking over the city

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A pretty park

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Looking down to the bottom of the Eiffel Tower!

From the Eiffel Tower on to the Louvre…

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The Louvre Museum

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The Mona Lisa

After Paris, we headed back to London for lots more fun, but that will have to wait until another time 🙂

How I Spent My Summer Vacation…2015 (Part 1)

Summer. My favorite time of year. As usual these days, it has completely flown by. School will start in two Mondays (YIPES!) So I thought I’d share a few of our photos from vacation before life gets too busy to do anything else.

Destinations: England and France.

Here we go!

Here we go!

Elizabeth Tower (aka, Big Ben)

Elizabeth Tower (aka, Big Ben)

We decided to travel in early June and hope for good weather. Most days were beautiful, although some were a bit on the chilly side for me. The rain held off until our last day, and even then, it only sprinkled a bit.

The London Eye

The London Eye

Our first day in the city, we took a double-decker, open-topped, hop-on-hop-off bus tour by The Original Tour company. We chose it because it seemed like the best value for our money, and because they had a special audio track for the Princess to listen to while we saw the sights. It was a nice way to kind’ve orient ourselves and get familiar with our surroundings. The tour also came with a ticket for a cruise on the River Thames (which turned out to be one of my favorite things!), and the company itself offers many other tickets at a discount price for other London attractions. Definitely worth looking into if you’re ever planning a trip 🙂

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If you look really closely in the picture above, in the background you’ll see the famous London Bridge. Yeah, it’s pretty uneventful, isn’t it? At least it didn’t fall down while we were there 😉

The next day, we boarded a train and headed north. The Beatle fan in me knew that if we came this far and didn’t go to Liverpool I’d regret it forever.

Liverpool, England

Liverpool, England

Jackie Spencer. That’s the name you need to know if you’re going to do a Beatle tour in Liverpool! Especially if you have young children along. She was so nice and accommodating with the Princess. For each stop, she brought along one of her Beatles stuffed dolls and let her pose for the camera (which is also a great way to remember whose home you were looking at when you get back and look at your photos…) Here’s a link to her website: http://beatleguides.weebly.com/#_=_ She is a treasure of information and very personable. I highly recommend her!

Beatle Park at Penny Lane

Beatle Park at Penny Lane

The Princess, being silly.

The Princess, being silly.

Mendips (Childhood home of John Lennon)

Mendips (Childhood home of John Lennon)

Where John and Paul met

Where John and Paul met

Strawberry Field

Strawberry Field

Matthew Street

Matthew Street

The Beatles Story Museum

The Beatles Story Museum

The whole time in Liverpool was so surreal. It was like a dream. Of course, I’d only been dreaming since I was 16 years old of going there someday (but never actually imagined I ever would…) A dream come true, for me! So thankful!

And this was only the beginning of our trip. We were there for many more days, but it looks like I’m going to have to save part 2 for another time… 🙂