Monday, November 30, 2015

List of Awesome Educational Toys

This is week 5 of Blogging Through the Alphabet! E is for Educational Toys that would make great Christmas gifts. I tried to include toys for many different age groups and avoided the obvious {puzzles, pattern blocks, counting bears, etc}.">Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears!
These gears from Learning Resources are high my wish-list for my two youngest! This set comes with 92 pieces for only $24 right now. What a great way for young kids to experiment with simple mechanics. Plus, what child doesn't love to build?">Educational Insights 5351 Nancy B's Science Club Moonscope & Sky Gazers Activity Journal
This moonscope from Educational Insights would be a great gift for a budding astronomer! It comes with an activity journal and guide to help your child get started on their celestial adventure. Best of all? It is priced at $32 on Amazon today {regular $49}.">Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit</
Science kits are great gifts for kids! This kit comes with everything you need to perform 11 experiments! Erupt a coloring changing volcano, grow colorful crystals, and magic ooze are just a few of the fun experiments included in this kit. It's only $15 right now!">Learning Resources Mental Blox Critical Thinking Game
This Mental Blox Critical Thinking Game from Learning Resources looks like a ton of fun! There are 20 activity cards and 20 different blocks included in this game. You can play two ways: either build the structure on the cards, or build a structure while listening to another player describe it. This is on my wish-list for Silas, as it would be a great way to strengthen visual discrimination skills.">Learning Resources Froggy Feeding Fun
This Froggy Feeding Fun Game from Learning Resources looks like a ton of fun. You roll the cube to determine how many and what color flies for the frogs to munch. Fine motor skills are developed by having to squeeze the froggy's mouth open!">Learning Resources Create-a-Maze
This Create A Maze looks like so much fun! You build a maze with the colorful and curvy pieces, and then tilt and move the board around to navigate the ball through!">Learning Resources Anatomy Models Bundle Set
I would love to own this set of human anatomy models! This includes the heart, brain, skeletal and human body models. Each set includes a stand and a guide with facts and assembly instructions. It's on sale right  now for $50 {regular $99}!">Name That State Game
We own this game and love it! It's a great way to learn the states and capitals! You spin a spinner number 1-50, find the state on the map board and name it {or it's capital}, and then roll the dice and move! There are also Postcard cards you can draw with facts about the states. This would be a great addition to any homeschool.">OWI  4 Mode EM4 Motorized Robot Kit
This OWI 4 Mode Motorized Robot Kit would be a great gift for the child who loves to build things! It has 4 different modes you can easily transform the robot into with unique forms of movement.">Educational Insights Design and Drill Activity Center
My two little boys would have a blast with this drill kit from Educational Insights. It includes plastic bolts, a battery-powered drill, board, and activity cards!">NSI Deluxe 3D Wood Burning
Santa is bringing my 10 year old son this Woodburning Kit for Christmas! It includes everything you need to make 19 projects in wood, leather and cork - a woodburning pen, pen stand, pre-cut wood sheets, slats, leather, cork, sandpaper, paint, brush, glue, carbon paper, and more!
I hope some of these ideas were helpful! Leave me a comment and tell me which you would like have for your child!
These links are Amazon Affiliate links. I may make a small percentage if you click and purchase from my links. Thanks.
Linking up with Blogging Through the Alphabet!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Christmas Gift Ideas for Little Boys

I wanted to share some Christmas gift ideas for young boys. My boys are 3 and 5, and these gifts are either presents I'm buying them for Christmas or presents they would like to receive!">Magformers Rainbow 30 Piece Set
Magformers are the best toys! All of my kids love to play with them. They are perfect for any age group. My three year old is entertained by them, and my 5 year old can build rockets, cages for his animals, buildings, anything! They are well worth the price, durable, and super easy to store {they all stick together!}.">PLAYMOBIL 1.2.3 Take Along Barn

How cute is this Playmobil Take-Along barn? It comes with a figure, several animals, and plenty of fun accessories. The best part? It folds us and stores everything inside!">Liteaid Rocket Ship Tent

I know plenty of little boys who would love to play in this rocket ship tent! It folds flat for easy storage. Think of all the fun games your child could have! My two boys would play for hours in this!">Thinkfun Roll and Play Board Game
We have this game, and both of my boys love to play it. It is non-competitive, so there will be no tears! Your child rolls the dice, picks a card of the same color he rolled, and perform the action the card shows! It could be "roar like a lion" or "find something red" or "make a happy face". It's loads of fun and great for a rainy day!">PLAYMOBIL Wolf Knights' Castle Playset Building Kit

Also from Playmobil, this castle is for slightly older younger kids. {does that make sense?} This castle includes several figures and horses, accessories, and a break-away wall. The age recommendations are 4-10.">Nickelodeon, Paw Patrol - Look-out Playset
My two boys are obsessed with Paw Patrol, and Santa has decided to bring them this to share. It is the Look Out Playset,with a real working elevator and lights and sounds! The pups can slid down the chute into their vehicles! Chase and his vehicle are included, and the other pups are sold separately.

="">Olive Kids Trains, Planes and Trucks Overnighter Duffel Bag

Every little boy needs a cute duffle bag to take to Grandma's house! This one from Olive Kids is adorable! My three year old, Titus, has the matching backpack, so he may find himself receiving this duffle bag!">KidKraft Bucket Top Mountain Train Set

We have this KidKraft Bucket Top Mountain Train Set. It includes several trains and many different fun accessories, like trees, traffic signs, an airplane runway and airplane, and helipad with helicopter. My boys play with this all the time. The train tracks and everything store inside a bucket, and the lid is the mountain top!">Melissa & Doug Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles in a Box - Vehicles

This set of 4 wooden 12-piece puzzles in a wooden box is a great deal! My boys have a set of these, and love them. The puzzles store inside a divided wooden box. The colors are beautiful and the pictures are fun!

="">ALEX Toys Little Hands My First Mosaic
This is a fun-looking mosaic kit! It comes with 1300 stickers and 5 pictures to fill! Let the little boys get artistic without being too messy! And priced at $10, this would be a great gift.

Now, the first person to share this post on 2 social media outlets {Facebook, Google, Twitter, a blog, etc} and comment here, will receive their choice of the Melissa and Doug puzzles in a box or the My First Mosaic kit! Just tell me where you shared, which gift you want, and then email me your address {}.

I hope this was helpful!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Christmas Gift Ideas for Girls with GIVEAWAY

The following links may be Amazon links. As an Amazon Affiliate, I may receive a small percentage if you click and purchase. Thanks!

I wanted to share some Christmas gift ideas, this time for young girls. My youngest daughter is 7, and I tried to find things I am either getting for her or that she would love to get!">Palace Pets 5-Minute Palace Pets Stories (5-Minute Stories)</

My daughter loves these books! The books are about Disney princesses' pets! They have chapter books, which Mercie loves to read, but I think she would like this hardcover book with 5 minute stories! It would be great to read her for a bedtime story.">Teacup: Belle's Star Pup (Disney Princess: Palace Pets) (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)

 These are the chapter books that Mercie loves! They each come with a collectible bookmark that she thinks are awesome! Easy to read with cute pictures...can't beat it!
="">Disney Princess Palace Pets - 1.5" Pets 9-pk Giftset

These Palace Pet figures would be perfect to go along with the books! What little girl doesn't love cute little animals? Mercie would play with these over and over, especially while I was reading her a story!">PLAYMOBIL Take Along Modern Doll House
Santa is bringing this Playmobil Take-Along Modern Doll House to Mercie! This doll house comes with a TON of accessories, and it folds together and stores all the furniture, people, and little accessories!">Magformers Inspire 30 piece set

This is another set I am purchasing for Mercie for Christmas. Magformers are some of my kid's favorite toys! They are even fun for me to play with! They can be expensive, but this set is $38.99 on Amazon right now!">Disney Princess Enchanted Cupcake Party Game
Mercie loves board games, and I think this Cupcake Party game looks like a lot of fun! You work together to build the cupcakes, so there's not a competitive vibe. I am purchasing this for my 4 year old niece, but I think my 7 year old daughter would enjoy this as well!">ALEX Toys Craft My First Sewing Kit
This sewing kit is adorable! It is perfect for young girls who would like to learn to sew. There are simple projects included, like notebook covers and stuffed animals, with all the needed supplies. Plus, it comes in this charming case! And priced under $20, it would make a great gift.">Sanuk Kids I Am Game Flat (Little Kid/Big Kid),Zebra Rose/Peach
Sanuks aren't just for big girls! These precious pink and white zebra Sanuks may find their way under our Christmas tree this year! They are so comfortable and come in many patterns.">Princess Stories: Real Bible Stories of God's Princesses

Mercie has this book, and we have enjoyed it very much! There are short stories about God's Princesses in the Bible! Ruth, Esther, and many others. There are beautiful illustrations and questions to ask your daughter. This would be a great gift for any girl to remind them that they are God's princess.">Princess Stories: Real Bible Stories of God's Princesses

Shopkins are so much fun to collect! Mercie would love this Super Shopper Pack that includes 33 pieces! With so many accessories and different Shopkins, this is a lot of fun to play with and collect!

="">ALEX Toys Spa Metallic Hair Chalk Salon

Mercie has been begging for hair chalk! This kit looks like a lot of fun, with 5 different colors and beads to put in your hair!

="">Polar Bears and the Arctic: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker)
Mercie picked up this book at the library last week and loved it! It was such an easy, interesting read. She is a 2nd grader, and read this book with no problem. There are lots of illustrations and interesting facts. They are companion guides to the Magic Tree House books, but they are great stand-alone books, too! She will have several different titles in this series in her stocking this year!

And now for the giveaway! I am giving away this Palace Pets gift set! It includes 1 Rapunzel doll, her pet peacock, and a Palace Pets coloring book with 300 stickers!

To enter, you must:
1.) Share this blog post on Facebook, Google, another blog, Twitter, or Instagram!
2.) Leave a comment telling me where you shared this post!
3.) For an extra entry, share my blog on another social media outlet! Let me know where in your comment.

I will choose a winner on Monday, November 31, 2015! If I cannot contact the winner within 24 hours, another will be chosen. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Christmas Gift Ideas for Pre-teen and Teen Girls

All of the following links are Amazon Affiliate links. I will make a small percentage if you click and make a purchase. Thanks!
Christmas is just around the corner, and I am sure many of you are already trying to find the perfect gift! As I have a new teenage girl in my house {she turned 13 yesterday!}, I am going to share some Christmas gift ideas for pre-teen and teen girls.">Candy Craft Chocolate Pen , 8oz
This Chocolate Pen is awesome! It dispenses chocolate in different colors that hardens at room temperature! You can decorate cupcakes and cakes easily! It comes with 50 candy molds, gift bags, and 8 ounces of chocolate! Most teen girls love to bake, and this would get a lot of use!">Sanuk Women's On The Prowl Flat
Sanuks are the best shoes! My daughter and her friends love them. {So do I! I have three pair!} They are so comfortable to wear and come in so many colors and patterns!">HDE Faux Suede Fringe Tassel Boho Crossbody Carryall Tote Messenger Handbag (Coffee)

Hello, all things fringe! This fringe purse is so cute! And priced at just under $14, this would make a great gift!">Shagwear Women's Large Wallet Bird Houses Teal
How cute is this wallet! I love the bird house snap closure! What teen girl wouldn't love this? Especially if you tuck some cash into it!">Soft Leather Multicolour Ropes Women Leather Bracelet Women Wrap Cuff Bracelet SL2284
I absolutely love these leather bracelets, and I know any teen girl would! The colors are so cute and versatile! This would make a great stocking stuffer or gift!">MapleClan Vintage Fashion Tribal Stripes Bohemian Women's Canvas Travel Backpack Rucksack Mint Green">MapleClan Vintage Fashion Tribal Stripes Bohemian Women's Canvas Travel Backpack Rucksack Mint Green
This backpack from MapleClan is beautiful! What girl wouldn't want to carry her stuff in something this cute?!">ACORN Women's Acorn Moc Slipper
These Acorn slippers look so warm and comfy! They would make a great gift, and they come in many colors and patterns {although this Buff Popcorn is my favorite!}">Wrapables Hand Knit Floral Headband, Grey
Your teen girl will keep warm while looking cute wearing this hand-knit head wrap! Lots of colors, and only $12.99 with free shipping - can't beat it!">Kris Nations Louisiana State Gold-Plated Necklace, 18"</
My daughter would LOVE this Louisiana necklace! Pick your teen's state, and let her wear it and be proud!">iscream / Sweet Treats Donut Microbead Pillow</
How cute are these cookie and donut pillows? This would be a fun gift to give or receive!"
And don't forget gift cards! Amazon, iTunes, Bath and Body Works, a clothing store, or restaurant would all be good for your teen!
I hope some of these gift ideas were helpful! Leave me a comment if you decided to buy any of these!

Monday, November 23, 2015

D is for DELIGHT-DIRECTED learning! Review and GIVE-AWAY {ended}


SET 1: Dad Time Homeschooling; Do it Yourself Cooking Tips and Ideas and How to Homeschool -DEBBIE ROGERS

SET 2: Teach Your Child to Read, Write and Spell 100 Easy Bible Verses, Life Love and Dyslexia, Favorite Things to Color and How to Homeschool - CHASING SLOW

Please email me your mailing address at so I can mail these out as soon as possible! Congratulations! CHECK OUT MY OTHER GIVEAWAY {Palace Pet, Rapunzel doll and Coloring Book} HERE. Ends Monday.

This is week 4 of Blogging Through the Alphabet - D is for Delight-Directed learning.

What exactly is delight-directed learning?

My favorite definition comes from Home Hearts:
Delight-directed learning takes advantage of the natural motivation in our children toward a passionate interest. Under mentoring, support, and guidance, the child is given the time and space to investigate and explore his interests. By providing the materials and applying the educational tools of learning (reading, writing, arithmetic, reason) to the subject matter, the child can learn to acquire knowledge for himself.
In delight-directed learning, there is no scope and sequence in which to learn “the facts.” Rather, the facts are acquired as a subject is developed from our child’s interests.
This will look different in each homeschool. And that's fine! Every homeschool family is different; every homeschool approach is different; and every homeschool family will homeschool differently with every homeschool approach. {Wow, that was a mouthful.}
We have just started our journey into delight-directed learning, but I am going to share how it looks in our family so far.
We take trips to the library at least once a week; normally, it's two or three trips weekly. The kids are allowed to select books on any subject that interests them. I do require one science, one history, one biography or geography book. Sometimes, they know what they want to explore. Other times, they pick books that look interesting. I usually throw in a book or two that I think they will enjoy. {And they always do!}
We use these journals from the Thinking Tree. There are a variety of pages in these journals like Reading Time; Creative Writing; Screen Time; Math Time; Spelling Time; World News Events; Meal Planning; and so many more! Each day, the kids have 1 hour of Reading Time. They choose four of their books and read each one for 15 minutes. Then, they use the squares on the Reading Time page to write a few interesting sentences or draw a picture or diagram. There are also Draw Anything pages in the journals, and I encourage them to draw a chart or diagram or something they can label on that page. {Doesn't always happen...but I do allow plenty of creativity!}
For screen time, they watch a tutorial or educational video and write and draw about it. I allow them to choose any topic they want - they have watched anything from a video on how the Titanic sunk to how to French braid hair, from science experiments with balloons to how to build a working Lego gun, from how to pet a bird to Native American homes. I enjoy seeing the diversity in their interests!

I will occasionally branch out on a topic {especially for Mercie, my 2nd grader}. When she was interested in Pocahontas, we watched movies on Indians, made some Indian crafts, and played Indians! When I could tell she was tiring of these activities, we stopped. Eli and Mikaela can branch out on their own, as they are in 5th and 7th grade, although they may need a push. Eli was reading books on how to pitch a baseball and practiced everyday in the yard. He can tell you exactly how to throw a curve ball or a split ball. Mikaela loves horses, and she has read books on horses, drawn horses, and call tell you what kind of horse it is by looking at it. We read a book on air, and the three littles and I did lots of experiments with air!

I am going to start a Pinterest board for each of them. They will be allowed to check their boards, pick an activity or two, read an article, and  branch out from there! This will allow them freedom to explore what peaks their curiosity, and I will be happy to have them learning more!

The biggest thing I have learned from delight-directed learning is to relax. I have to stop worrying that they will not learn the "appropriate" things and appreciate the diversity of their personalities and interests. I have to watch them learn, not force them to learn. {And don't we all know, you can't force a child to learn! Not that I have ever tried...No.}
We have used several boxed curriculums {curricula?} before, and I have written my own curriculum for the kids to use. What I have found is that they retain so little when homeschool this way. School is boring to them, something to dread rather than to anticipate. For me, too. Who wants to teach kids that obviously don't want to learn what you're teaching? How discouraging is it when our kids don't remember anything we have read to them? I know it has made me want to quit homeschooling before! Why bother when they don't want to learn? 
Our homeschool attitudes have done a 180 since we started delight-directed learning! They are interested in the books they are reading, therefore they retain so much! They get excited to read something they didn't know or learn an interesting fact they want to share with me. They don't complain about having to "do school". They want to work in their journals! They have been so motivated, that it motivates me.
We still use math and grammar workbooks. I am looking to do more hands-on math; more games and activities for the younger ones. I have yet to find a grammar program I love. I make the kids do math, grammar, and cursive first in the mornings, so they don't feel rushed through their journals, through their books, through their learning.
These journals are a wonderful resource for anyone using the Delight-Directed method of homeschooling. There is just enough structure that you can feel confident your kids are "doing enough schoolwork", but there is enough wiggle room for creativity and independence that your kids will feel in charge of their own education! This is not a multiple choice, fill in the blanks workbook. Look at these sample pages:


Sarah Janisse Brown has graciously sent me enough journals and books to have TWO giveaways! I am so excited for this.

The first set include the Dad-Time Homeschooling Journal, the Do It Yourself Cooking Tips and Ideas {my daughters love this one!}, and the purse-sized How to Homeschool book.

The second set includes Teach Your Child to Read, Write and Spell 100 Easy Bible Verses, "Life, Love and Dyslexia", Favorite Things to Color, and the purse-sized How to Homeschool book.

All you have to do to enter is this:
1.) Leave a comment {1 entry}.
2.) Follow me on Pinterest {1 entry}.
3.) Follow me on Google {1 entry}.

In your comment, please tell me if you start or if you already follow me on Pinterest or Google so I can know how many entries to give you. If you don't, you will only get one entry! You will be entered to win both sets, but you can only win one.  The winners will be chosen on Friday, November 27, 2015 at 8:00 am {yes, Black Friday}.

Check out Dyslexia Games on Facebook or here. Sarah has an amazing variety of journals and books on Amazon, so check that out, too!
Linking up with Adventures with Jude and Through the Calm and Through the Storm for Blogging Through the Alphabet!