Pine Lizards

Lou has been hunting lizards lately. She caught this lizard (she named him Kosmos) by the garden, and Daddy let her keep him overnight in her bug box. The next day when she was letting him go again, she caught another lizard! 

She named the new lizard Cool Chatchman. They got to meet briefly before Louise let the first one go.

We looked him up and discovered he is an Easter Fence Lizard, or a Pine Lizard.  We were really excited to learn that, because last year we found some lizard eggs and let them hatch in a jar on our porch. The day they hatched, we got to see them a bit before letting them go in the garden again. They were also Pine Lizards, so we're just sure this lizard is one of the babies we saw last year. :)

just hatched

She recorded these lizards in her field journal. :)


Time Scavenger Hunt Printable

We're studying time right now, and this lead to a little printable activity I wanted to share with you. We started with our little clock and our math workbook, but I wanted to do something a little more fun. I made up a quick Time Scavenger Hunt by drawing some pictures of a few things I knew would happen today. When they happened Lou had to write down the time and add hands to the clock. Easy peasy, but lots of fun!

She wanted to do more so I made up some printable pages. I drew in the drawings, and will let Lou write "when the clock coo coos," "the baby cries," and "lunchtime." You could easily mix it up by writing in the event and letting them draw the picture, or writing in a time, and let them watch the clock to see what's happening when the time rolls around.

We haven't had the baby yet - I just thought it would be a funny picture...

I use a .05 copic pen to draw with a nice black line. I made a few variations of the pages, and one includes some reminders for how to read the clock.

Grab the printables below!


Lego House on the Banks of Plum Creek

We've been spending our evenings reading the Little House series off and on for awhile now. I've really enjoyed family reading time now that we've finally been able to commit to it, and all of the Little House stories have really kept us all eager to hear more.

This week we decided to build a Lego Little House! The girls were skeptical at first, thinking it would be too hard without instructions, but I said I would help (because, come on, I want to play, too!), and it ended up coming together more easily than they expected.

After a bit of fighting over whether we would keep it assembled forever or only a few days, they've been playing with Ma, Pa, Laura and Mary for the last few hours. I looked around on pinterest for other Lego Little House sets, and Lou said, "put ours on there!" So here it is:

The dug-out house on the banks of plum creek!
Unfortunately, lego friends don't come with long skirts.

Lou built the wagon. We only had two wheels, so she worked with what we had.
The part of Pa is played by Flynn Ryder, Ma's long skirt courtesy of Cinderella.

Mary sits nicely by the house, while Laura plays in the creek with Jack.
June arranged the greenery on the roof and built the plum tree by the door.
Lou was in charge of arranging the water, bridge and path, and greenery on the ground.

Inside the house, two beds with patchwork quilts,
Rapunzel's stove with a tall stove pipe, and a broom in the corner.



June found a blank book I'd made a few years ago, and was very excited when I told her that it was blank so that she could fill it up with her own story. She worked diligently, narrating her story to me, and then copying the words into the book. I like the surprise ending. 

"Yay, we're going to have a new baby."

"Yay, the baby came out." and "Yay, the new baby is having a birthday."

There are no more words, but the baby continues to grow and have birthdays. 

We must stack tables on top of tables to make the cake high enough for the baby to reach.

Finally, the baby has grown taller than the chimney,
which says puff, puff, puff, and the Mommy stands nearby.


Printable Cards to Color and Share for Thanksgiving, Winter, and other Greetings

I made these printable-coloring Thanksgiving cards a few years ago, and the girls and I just came across them again. Our plans this year are up in the air, and so I thought writing cards to all the family we won't see would be fun (although a challenge for little ones who don't like writing!)

These are an easy, low-ink printable, that fold in half to make cards. While I'm getting organized here's a list of all my printable coloring cards:

Bon Hiver (Good Winter)

I think I made the last two, but never shared them, so they are brand new. Check out the new Bon Hiver cards below. 


Old Testament Timeline Printable

Okay, I'll admit it: I started playing Christmas music yesterday. 

I'm getting ready for one of my favorite family traditions. During Advent we do a Jesse Tree, with readings and ornaments from the Old Testament that lead to the birth of Christ. I've noticed my children don't always have a good sense of how the different events relate to one another. For years, I've wanted a Bible Timeline to provide a context for the stories we tell. There are several commercial ones: most have a lot of text and dates and are more involved than I need. I really like this one with all the pictures, but its 10' long! That just won't work for our home. 

So I obsessed over it for 48 hours, and made my own. I drew a simple cartoon history of the Old Testament. It doesn't include every prophet and king and favorite story (because otherwise it would be 10' long!), but it provides a big picture, so when you're reading your favorite story you can point and say, "this happened here." I'm hoping it will help my kids develop a sense of the continuity of the story.

I drew the timeline over 5 sheets of paper, but through the magic of Adobe, I've squished it onto a single printable page. Yes, ONE page. The pictures are tiny, but they are simple and readable, so I think it works. 

And its for you, too! Wishing you a good Advent and blessed Nativity! Grab the printable PDF here - it includes a black and white page, and one with a little color. 

If you don't want the teeny-tiny version, you can order it in poster form from Zazzle in various sizes and paper qualities. I haven't actually done this yet, but I might. Let me know if you do! Click the embedded poster image below to head over to zazzle. 


Activities for Siblings during Homeschool

This is one of the most common questions for new homeschooling parents (like me): What do I do with the younger kids while I teach the older ones? I've been collecting some great resources that are making our school time richer and more fun (with special thanks to my big sister Christa). I give the sibling activities in the same subject as the other student (its not always the older one!). The activities are so much fun, that the other child often joins in when their lesson is finished!

I have tried really hard to find free activities or printables that stand alone, or complement some of the manipulatives and materials I already own - so if you don't own some of these, you may have to invest in a few good materials. Also, the activities need to be fun for many many sessions, not just once or twice, and something the child can do without a lot of supervision. Print and laminate (if you can) printables ahead of time so you can pull activities out as need. Below is my list of ideas and activities for siblings during homeschool.

We already own lots of manipulatives from Right Start Math and goodwill, so finding good printables and ideas is a great way to use that investment, and prepare them for formal lessons later.
Pattern Blocks and free printable activities from learning resource
Cuisenaire rod and free printable games
Geo-boards and printable shape patterns

Keeping fun, special use books and games on hand makes learning to read feel really special - and Bob books are definitely a favorite around here!
Bob Books and free printable activities from by Bob Books and more from Royal Baloo
Independent Reading for older kids with my reading chart
Sight Words flash cards games (make up sentences with cards, or read through and make piles of "words I know" and "words I don't know")
Explode the Code books

After we read something together, older children sometimes have to do a writing activity following the reading. Younger children can muse on the story by recreating scenes with special materials reserved for this time. The special materials and story prompt  keep children focused.
Modeling Clay like plastillina - encourage them to mold shapes on their own with out extra colors
Drawing with special materials like Beeswax crayons

Coloring and Puzzle Printables
There are tons of free printables online, but finding really great quality coloring pages and worksheets from thoughtful designers is always a bonus. I print lots of these and keep them in a folder, only giving one at a time so each page is valued.
Made by Joel printable Coloring Sheets and Worksheets
Mr. Printables Puzzles and Coloring
Fancy coloring pages from D. Palmer

Do you have more resources to add?


Mermaid Tails

We have a bit of a mermaid obsession lately, and so we decided to make mermaid tails to turn all of our favorite toys into mermaids... and merpoodles.

I just cut out two tail shapes and sewed them together with elastic in the waist. I definitely would have benefitted from working out a template first - since I made a few a bit too small, and the tails get really skinny at the end. I'm thinking of taking another shot at it, so if anyone wants a template and instructions let me know!

5 Homeschool-y Printables

I'm thinking ahead for school this fall, and wanted to share some of the printables I made for myself for last year. You can download each free printable pdf by clicking on the links below and then selecting download when you see the preview.

1. My Weekly Lesson Records are sorta boring, but a practical resource. One of the biggest things I learned last year is that I rarely ever stick to my lesson plans, and that's okay. I map out what we need to accomplish for the year and divide it by weeks in a word document. When we get off track, I scribble and draw arrows all over that paper. When the week is finished, I record what we actually did here on these templates that I save in my folder. That way, I don't have to feel bad about scribbling, and my record at the end of the year is nice and tidy. I preferred printing 2 weeks/page on 9 pages front and back for 36 weeks. Grab the planners here:  2 weeks/page and 1 week/page

2. The girls wanted to earn money, so we developed this Chore and Allowance Chart. I tried to keep all of the earnings in 10's as a way to further reinforce the math the kindergartener is learning. She helps tally it up at the end of the week. We slip these in a plastic sleeve and use dry erase markers so we can reuse them each week. There are two per page: grab it here.

3. This was a fun idea I got from another homeschooling mom. When the kids clean up their space, I leave these House Fairy Reward Cards for them to find later. I try not to warn them ahead of time - its just a fun reward for cleaning up their mess. They trade it in for a chocolate from Daddy's office. The pdf is just black and white, and I printed mine on pink construction paper (which is my favorite new trick for printing with color and not using up my ink!) Download it.

4. Isn't it awesome when the reading skills suddenly click and your little one takes off! I made these Book and Chapter Reading Charts for my new reader earlier this year. Whenever she read a book on her own, she x'ed a circle. When she got to 50 books, we went out for ice cream. I really thought the 50 books would take longer, so when she finished in a week I started her on chapter books. These charts really motivated her, and now she's read all of my old American Girl books! Get them: "I read 50 Books" chart and "I read 50 chapters!" chart.

5. Finally, I printed these Talk Nicely Cards. If I spend a lot of time correcting the kids ("Can you say that again nicely?", "What do you say?", etc.) I start to get a bit discouraged. So to lighten it up a bit, I made these cars, and when they are having trouble saying what they need to say nicely, I ask them to go look for the right card for the situation.  I'll admit, this only worked well for the older child who can read, and it is really the younger toddler who needs to work on talking nicely. I added some symbols to help her out, but we don't use them very much. Print 4 per page and cut them out

I'm finding home schooling to be very fun, but also very consuming, and it seems I spend more of my efforts there now than at other creative pursuits. You can find more of my homeschool and church school printables here also. I kind of don't know what direction I'll be going in my own work this year, but that's kind of exciting, too. We'll see!



Congratulations to Victoria who won the book giveaway! I had so much fun connecting with all of you - thank you for participating and linking up and sharing.


Book Give Away!

Tomorrow is the last day to sign up for the book give-away and link up. Thanks so much for your participation so far! I'll announce the winner on Monday.


Flip Doll Pattern Hop Round Up

Today is the last day of the Pattern Hop - but not to worry! If you haven't made the rounds yet, you can hit all five today for five chances to win a copy of Flip Dolls and Other Toys that Zip, Stack, Hide, Grab and Go. The link up and most of the Book Give-aways last through next week. Here's a quick run down:


Spoonflower Easter Basket cover

A quick break from the blog hop to show a bit of sewing I've been up to this week. Although, my projects seem to involve less sewing and more drawing these days. :)

In our church, we bring baskets of food to church to bless for Easter (or Pascha). I didn't finish my basket cover in time - in fact, my spoonflower package arrived on Bright Monday! But, I took red eggs to a gathering on Wednesday, so I decided to hem up the cloth and take it then.

I printed it on a fat quarter of cotton voile, although tea towels are usually printed on their linen-cotton canvas. I thought the cotton voile felt more like a handkerchief, and being a bit fancier, I'd be less likely to use it for dish washing and save it for Pascha. I'm very pleased with how it turned out! The print is available now on Spoonflower.