Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle Review – the Human Abdomen

Tell me you’re a homeschooler without telling me you’re a homeschooler. I’ll go first: we just completed an intestine puzzle. There are some activities which just scream “homeschooler”, you know what I mean? Assembling the internal organs of the human abdomen in jigsaw form is definitely one of those moments.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle – the Human Abdomen from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this post. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

Continue reading “Dr. Livingston’s Anatomy Jigsaw Puzzle Review – the Human Abdomen”

10 Diverse Picture Books for Every Child’s Library

Usborne and Kane Miller books are well-known for their encyclopedic non-fiction. But did you know about the gorgeous picture books? Here are ten lovely and vibrant picture books featuring diverse characters in everyday situations, doing everyday things.

Disclosure: The links are in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click through and made a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission.

1. I’m (Almost) Always Kind

Perfect for social-emotional learning, this captivatingly-illustrated title features tiny die-cut hearts throughout the pages.

See inside or buy now: I’m (Almost) Always Kind by Anna Milbourne and Åsa Gilland

2. I’m Not (very) Afraid of Being Alone

Another title with tiny laser-cut cutouts, this book emphasizes the heartwarming connection between father and daughter. See inside or buy now: I’m Not (Very) Afraid of Being Alone by Anna Milbourne and Sandra de la Prada

3. The Perfect Shelter

A sober tale, this one tackles how serious illness cannot overcome the bond between sisters.

See inside or buy now: The Perfect Shelter by Clare Helen Welsh and Åsa Gilland

4. Grandma’s Favorite

Grandma’s typical day includes working on cars, singing loudly — and spending time with her grandkids.

See inside or buy now: Grandma’s Favorite by Erin Dealey and Luciana Navarro Powell

5. Babies Come from Airports

A sweet tale of a family knit together through adoption.

See inside or buy now: Babies Come from Airports by Erin Dealey and Luciana Navarro Powell

6. Lenny and Wilbur

This simply-told and brightly-illustrated calm adventure follows an endearing boy as he spends time with his dog.

See inside or buy now: Lenny and Wilbur by Ken Wilson-Max

7. Where’s Lenny?

Another in the Lenny series, this story is perfect for tiny listeners who will want to count and play alongside Lenny.

See inside or buy now: Where’s Lenny by Ken WIlson

8. The Biggest Story

Errol has a fantastic imagination, and the ability to tell the wildest tales.

See inside or buy now: The Biggest Story by Sarah Coyle and Dan Taylor

9. Two Pirates and a Robot

The main characters use math to solve the problems they encounter inside their rocket ship.

See inside or buy now: Two Pirates and a Robot by Henry Henz and Shiho Pate

10. At the Library

In this unique book, kids learn library etiquette while using a flashlight (not provided) to find the pictures hidden in the illustrations.

See inside or buy now: At the Library: A Shine-a-Light Book by Heather Alexander and Ipek Konak

11. And a bonus board book — That’s Not My Pirate

Each board book in the classic Usborne That’s Not My… series invites younger listeners to interact with the touch-and-feel sensory section; in this case, the pirate’s scratchy headscarf.

See inside or buy now: That’s Not My Pirate by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

Diverse books should be a part of every kid’s library! I’m a huge advocate of expanding our young readers’ horizons, and making sure our shelves reflect the incredible cultural and ethnic diversity of God’s global people. But we must never forget: this is more than geography. We also need to celebrate diversity in everyday situations, right here in our neighborhoods, and among our own circle of friends.

Want to learn about even more of my favorite titles from Usborne Books & More? Join my FREE online group, Book Connections with Gina Munsey


These Two Questions Will Transform Your Homeschool Library

I’ve been thinking a lot about the books we homeschoolers choose to highlight in our individual homeschools. Classical Great Books? Vintage readers? Diverse own-voices novels? Non-fiction memoirs? Re-written edited morality tales? (Please, just say no to that last option.)

Why do homeschoolers choose the books they do?

It’s a question worth asking, and worth examining our own choices. As Christian homeschoolers, we want our children to know about God,  and grow up to love Jesus. Certainly we also want to nurture the gifts God has given our children, and not bury our kids’ talents in the ground like the servants in Matthew 25  did with the talents the master had given. If we have a math-minded child, for instance, we want to allow that child to excel and soar in mathematics. And we may make it a priority to raise culturally literate children, who have at least heard of Mother Goose, Winnie the Pooh, and Shakespeare (although they don’t need to love them.)

But beyond the basics of reading and writing, and the basics of spiritual catechesis, why do we choose the books we do? What sorts of books are filling our shelves — and our kids’ minds?

Continue reading “These Two Questions Will Transform Your Homeschool Library”


Take the Diverse Summer Reading Challenge (FREE printable)!

Expand your horizons with this FREE diverse summer reading challenge (includes a printable tracker)

Are you looking for global and culturally diverse summer reading ideas for your kids? Do you want your kids to…

  • …stretch their reading legs outside of their usual North American comfort zone,
  • …tackle topics they haven’t before,
  • …open their eyes to the marvelous diversity found everywhere around us,
  • …turn their attention to countries and cultures with which they aren’t super familiar,
  • …celebrate this great big global world God created,
  • …learn about non-European food, music, art, inventions, and holidays,
  • …enrich their perspectives with culturally diverse reads

…and ultimately, grow closer to Jesus and better learn to love their neighbor?

You need to download our FREE global reading challenge!

[We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]

These culturally-expansive book categories were chosen by a diverse panel of Christian homeschool moms.

Our multi-racial homeschool co-op, @restorationscholé, created this amazing FREE summer reading challenge, and I think you’re going to absolutely love it. Over the past several weeks, I worked together with my co-director @_bethanyhoover and Restoration Schole parent @marielhowsepian (she’s a public school educator and a homeschooler!) to compile an incredibly clever list of reading categories. I haven’t seen another challenge quite like this! This summer, kids are invited to..

  • Read a book about math / science in a non-European nation
  • Read a book containing ingredients not for sale at your local Walmart
  • Read a book with a holiday your family doesn’t celebrate

and many, many more!

Stop right now to see the full list, and download the FREE diverse summer reading ideas printable, here.

If you’re stuck for ideas of books to fit various categories, I list a few ideas below– but I’d also like to invite you to ask friends who might have different reading habits than you. Ask friends to share favorite books from their heritage or culture!

Favorite Diverse Reads for Summer Reading (books translated from Chinese, books by Indian-American authors, and more!)

  • Bronze & Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan
    • This is a 2021-2022 Restoration Scholé modern literature selection. Originally published in Chinese, and set in rural China during the Cultural Revolution. Lyrical and immersive.

I absolutely love stepping outside my world into other cultures and realms through books, don’t you? For even more ideas for diverse reads, head over and browse my Amazon storefront, here. I’m constantly updating it with more and more books.

Download our FREE global reading challenge printable!

And be sure to follow @_bethanyhoover, @marielhowsepian, @restorationschole, and me (@oaxacaborn) to see what books are on our bedside tables this summer, too.

Happy summer reading!


The Problem with Cultivating Good Taste in our Students

The Problem with Cultivating Good Taste in our Students - Classical Education, Classical Christian Homeschooling, What is Beauty?Among certain thinkers in classical education, there exists the idea that one must strive to cultivate good taste in children, to the betterment of their eternal soul. Here’s the problem: good taste is often confused with parental preference. Poor taste is elevated to a place reserved for actual sin.

Lest you think I have imagined this — lest you think I have imagined the pedestal Christian classicists have given to taste — consider this from a prominent writer in classical education:

“One of the most important things we can offer students is good taste, by which I mean learning to love beautiful things that have lasted. Bad taste is not a personality quirk, but a significant moral problem. If our students don’t love beautiful things, we have failed them. If we are graduating students who love shallow things, they might as well go to public school.”

Bad taste is a significant moral problem? Sin is a significant moral problem. Taste is not. We cannot, and must not, equate taste with worth.

Continue reading “The Problem with Cultivating Good Taste in our Students”


Non Fiction Matters: “100 Things to Know About the Human Body” Book Review

Non-Fiction Matters: 101 Things to Know About the Human Body Usborne Timberdoodle Book Review

“Do you want to hear a song?” my now-ten-year-old  asked a random stranger the summer before kindergarten. “I know a song. ‘Immune system, with your lymph system / will your enemies attack / With the white blood cells, the leukocyte cells / that will destroy and turn them back.'”

Oblivious to the expression on the startled shopper’s face, she continued much-too-loudly, “…a germ is like a cucaracha! That would love to live inside ya!” The stranger vanished into the clearance racks at Target, and my singing scientist, perched inside the red shopping cart, kept belting out a symphony of lymphatic facts.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary copy of 100 Things to Know About the Human Body from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.] Continue reading “Non Fiction Matters: “100 Things to Know About the Human Body” Book Review”


Teaching Vocabulary Through Art: 101 Doodle Definitions

What’s the best vocabulary curriculum?

What’s the best vocabulary curriculum — one with Greek and Latin, right? Although I’m a big proponent of teaching word roots, I’d argue that for elementary-aged kids, the most effective vocabulary curriculum might actually be the one that’s the most fun. (Fun is often profoundly effective.)

Words are thrilling. They’re flexible yet bold, evocative yet concise, and powerful yet ephemeral. They can be translated and transcribed, sung and spoken, spun into cantatas, carved and chanted, whispered and written. Twenty-six letters can be woven into sonnets and mysteries, songs and orders, death and life.

In spite of the absolute magic of words, we somehow often manage to turn vocabulary study into a chore, transforming words into tasks. When vocabulary study becomes drudgery, when words are wrenched from their context and vocabulary becomes copywork — and nothing more — even the most voracious of bookworms begin to resent vocabulary. This is a travesty! A vocabulary study in which kids don’t retain the material isn’t much of vocabulary study at all.

But what if vocabulary study was creative?

What if we let kids draw?

What if we even allowed doodling?

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary copy of 101 Doodle Definitions from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

Continue reading “Teaching Vocabulary Through Art: 101 Doodle Definitions”

Homeschooling, Poetry & Words

Taking Back February

2021 sweeps in, steadily. Time marches and flies, ebbs and flows, for better and for worse. November, December, January float away, torn calendar pages of the past.

Inside our homes, the steam sinks ceiling-bound from the mugs of steaming coffee, and tired spoons clink on bowls of stirred porridge. Babies cry, faucets run, doors creak on hinges, cars roll by. The news scrolls. Numbers upward, spirits downward, hopelessness slung around. Talking heads spout carelessly. Some seethe, some hide, few stand up and whisper truth.

We do not listen.

The damage digs in to all of us.

Inside our homes, laundry tumbles, wet. Tired arms mop up footprints and wipe away crumbs. Babies cry, faucets run, doors creak on hinges, cars roll by. The pages open. Stories deepening, spirits upward, hope burst up and waters us, like a snow melting down the mountain in the spring. Listening ears tuck treasures thoughtfully. Some ponder, some wonder, many stand up and shout the truth.

We listen.

His redemption springs forth anew in all of us.

March pads softly in, rapping quietly at the door. Something stirs beneath the frozen soil. We stand up, square our shoulders back, and walk squarely into the sun.