Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Help Kids Calm Down: Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty

Using Putty to Help Gifted / Twice-Exceptional Kids Calm Down and Focus

There are a few hands-on educational helps which stand out strongly as huge favorites among twice-exceptional kids — putty is definitely one of those resources! My wiggly kinesthetic learner really needs things like this to keep her hands extra busy, so her brain can calm down from overdrive and actually focus.

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Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Baby Gym Board Books (A Timberdoodle Review)

Board Books to Promote Bonding

I’ve been reviewing quite a few board books lately, and I’m back with another round for the littles. These playful books are especially suited for infants, and bigger babies who aren’t quite toddlers yet.

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Homeschooling

Wind in the Willows Diorama: A Real Kid’s Middle School Project

This weekend, my sixth-grader made an utterly enchanting Wind in the Willows diorama, jamming a whole delightful world into a tiny 9×6″ box. Since Thursday night, our kitchen table has been host to a glorious assortment of cereal boxes, cotton balls, glue, thread, acrylic paint, and a whole lot of happiness.

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Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Psalm 23: Board Books for Christian Formation

The new school year tumbles in, with torrential rains, soaked earth, and flickering electric power. Online classes begin, with technology connecting us to classrooms in Serbia and Romania, classmates in Ethiopia and the United States, and language studies in Russian, Chinese, and Greek.

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Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Fischertechnik E-Tronic Review: Easy STEM Elective for Middle/High School

STEM education has been firmly in the spotlight for a long time now, with no signs of wavering. Learning materials promising to infuse science, technology, engineering and math into your homeschool are everywhere. But without actually opening the box and trying the products, it can be hard to know if pre-packaged STEM projects are truly worthwhile, or if they’re just really expensive toys masquerading as educational. Let’s take a look at one popular STEM toy and see if it’s worth the hype.

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Book Reviews, Homeschooling

Did the Pandemic Increase Speech Delays? (plus, Board Books for Speech Therapy)

Did the pandemic increase speech delays? Some researchers say yes.

According to several recent studies, pandemic-era children are talking less than their predecessors1. As a parent to a pandemic toddler — Lochlan turned six months old in March 2020 — this concerns me deeply.

I’m not an expert in speech pathology, but some data seems to show both a measurable uptick in referrals to speech therapy2 and “a decline in verbal functioning”.1 One starts to wonder if maybe the kids are not okay3 in our current pandemic-response environment. (Researchers in at least one study indicated “factors related to the pandemic had ‘by far the greatest impact on infant and toddler neurodevelopment.'”1

It’s easy to feel helpless when the the broader global situation remains so complex and convoluted. But there is an immediately actionable response in our grasp: read books aloud, and talk to our kids!

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Book Reviews, Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Sonlight Pre-Kindergarten Review: NEW Pre-K at Home with Montessori Updates

Sonlight Pre-Kindergarten Review: NEW Pre-K at Home with Montessori Updates

Pre-K at home with good books and hands-on lessons

Homeschoolers are opinionated when it comes to early childhood education. All you have to do is mention preschool or pre-kindergarten in a room full of homeschool moms, and you’ll instantly find yourself the recipient of a ton of free advice — whether or not you want it.

One of the most common bits of advice is to let kids play.

But have you ever stopped to ask, what is play?

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Book Reviews, Curriculum Reviews, Homeschooling

Sonlight’s US History Curriculum: Review & NEW HBL D Updates

[Disclosure: Sonlight provided me with a History / Bible / Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2 package, and compensated me financially for this post. I have used many Sonlight products in our homeschool prior to reviewing this product.  All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

If there’s one thing I’ve excelled at in our homeschool, it’s procrastinating over choosing a US History curriculum.

As a third-culture missionary kid born abroad, teaching US history has never come naturally to me. When I was young, American history seemed worlds away, and even as an adult, I often still feel like an outsider.

I have zero patience for dry legalist curriculum which holds the Founding Fathers on faultless pedestals, doesn’t consider both sides of a story, and ignores the sorrowful brokenness of our nation’s foundations. (Second-generation homeschoolers, you know what I’m talking about!)

But I knew my own kids couldn’t just skip learning the complicated history of our nation. Eventually, we had to dive in. Having spent my early childhood years in a socialist republic without the freedom of speech, religion, or assembly, I’ve learned that no matter how complex US history is to navigate, we must never take such invaluable freedoms for granted. So I needed to find a complete American history curriculum, especially after my own previous unsuccessful attempts to piece together a literature-based US history course always fizzled out.

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