Book Club: “All Four Stars” by Tara Dairman

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I’ve had trouble keeping up with our book club sharing, but we’ve been having loads of fun with books this year!  All Four Stars was one of those books.


Meet Gladys Gatsby: New York’s toughest restaurant critic. (Just don’t tell anyone that she’s in sixth grade.)

Gladys Gatsby has been cooking gourmet dishes since the age of seven, only her fast-food-loving parents have no idea! Now she’s eleven, and after a crème brulee accident (just a small fire), Gladys is cut off from the kitchen (and her allowance). She’s devastated but soon finds just the right opportunity to pay her parents back when she’s mistakenly contacted to write a restaurant review for one of the largest newspapers in the world.  But in order to meet her deadline and keep her dream job, Gladys must cook her way into the heart of her sixth-grade archenemy and sneak into New York City – all while keeping her identity a secret! Easy as pie, right?

There are so many things that I wanted to do with my book clubbers for this book!  The possibilities are endless, and they’re so very fun, but …. I couldn’t decide, so this one became a multi-day event!
Book Club All Four Stars
On the first day of our All Four Stars book club event, we headed to Durham to the India Gate, a family-owned restaurant with a lunch buffet.  This seemed like a great way for our kids, none of whom had ever tasted Indian food before, to sample some of the things that made up Gladys’ best meal ever.
The people at the India Gate couldn’t have been kinder, even though we took up fully half of their tables during their busy lunch rush.  If you’re in the Triangle area of North Carolina, the India Gate is definitely worth a visit.
Gazar Halwa
One reason I chose the India Gate over other local Indian restaurants is that they feature Gazar al Halwa on their menu.  The orange-y dish in the front is this one.  Several of the book clubbers were also excited to try goat, as they’d never eaten it before, and so one family ordered goat biryani and shared it with the group.  
Book Clubbers Foodie Review
Following our delicious lunch, we headed to a Chick Fil-A down the street – not because we were still hungry, but because we wanted a quiet place to sit and write a review, Gladys-style, of the food we had just eaten without being overheard by the India Gate staff.  The kids got in groups and wrote their reviews, trying hard to use foodie phrases and colorful, descriptive words just like Gladys.
The next day we continued our Indian foodie theme.  A former missionary to India came to visit us, and she was wonderful!  She brought photos of her life in India, told stories about cultural differences, and even brought a sari that she wore to a wedding during her time there.  She helped each female put on the main piece of the sari to get a feel for what the traditional clothing was like.  It was a beautiful sari!
Money from India
She also brought money from India for us to pass around and compare to our American money.  She brought storybooks, snacks, and more, too.  It was truly a wonderful and informative visit.
Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes
After that, we baked Gladys’ green tea cupcakes with sesame icing.  I love that Dairman has some of Gladys’ recipes on her website!  We really had no idea what these would taste like, but we were all pleasantly surprised.  Rather than tasting strongly of a new flavor (which would have been okay, just new), they were mild, with the icing tasting like peanut butter.  Several of the kids had seconds!
For our last All Four Stars project, we Skyped with Tara Dairman herself!  She was very nice and told great stories.  I loved hearing the kids ask about her writing journey and her world travels.  (I was so focused on the conversation that I forgot to take pictures!)  I’m so glad that she was willing to speak with us.  Why is it so important to meet friendly authors like Dairman?  Find out here.
All in all, I loved our experiences with All Four Stars.  We tried new things right along with Gladys, we learned about other cultures, and we tried our hand at writing restaurant reviews.  If you have a fellow foodie or are looking for a fun, foodie read, definitely check out All Four Stars.
For even more learning fun, check out these projects:
All Four Stars Cover
Vocab Writing Prompts Cover
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NEW! “All Four Stars” Writing and Novel Study Packs

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I love when we find a book that’s exciting to read but full of springboards for learning, too, and that’s exactly what Tara Dairman’s All Four Stars is. 

It’s the wonderful story of Gladys, a young girl who dreams of writing restaurant and foodie reviews for a major New York newspaper.  We read this book in our book clubs (more about that soon!) and I created a unit study and a vocabulary/writing pack with All Four Stars in mind.

All Four Stars Cover

Throughout the story, Gladys takes trips into New York City, where she visits landmarks and navigates the city.  She also eats food from around the world and is a great writer, and all of these make great springboards to study things like the anatomy of the brain, idioms, and the architecture of Penn Station.   This novel study is 45 pages of creative learning activities.  Want to know more?  Check it out here.

Vocab Writing Prompts Cover

All Four Stars is smoothly and well written.  It takes place entirely in New York, but it is very culturally diverse, and so there are words from a variety of languages throughout the book.  There are also ethical dilemmas, dreams for the future, and quite a lot of the main character’s writing throughout the story.  This pack is full of vocabulary activities and writing/discussion prompts that come directly from these story elements.  Want to know more?  Check it out here.

These All Four Stars packs are designed to keep your students learning from the first page of the book until the last.  If your students love to read – or don’t, but you’d like them to – these studies are the perfect way to combine their learning with their reading.

Find these and other fun learning projects at my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

10 Reasons Why Should Kids Meet Authors

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Many people see the benefit of kids being good readers, or, at the very least, of reading good books while in school.

Fewer people see the benefit, it would seem, of meeting the people who write the fantastic books that we believe should be a part of our kids’ education.

Of course, in many cases that’s difficult, or even impossible.  Meeting J.K. Rowling would surely be an amazing experience, but since she lives in Europe, that’s not possible for us.  Meeting Melissa Savage, who’s new book Lemons we devoured as our October book club pick, would be awesome – but she lives in the Midwest somewhere – closer, but still not in our current range of possibility.  My Little Man is currently reading Journey to the Center of the Earth and I know he’d love to speak with Jules Verne, but since he’s long dead – again, not possible.

But sometimes it’s more possible than you think to speak with authors.  Many have active websites, where you can get background information about them and their work.  Others have YouTube channels or active Facebook pages, where you can spend virtual time with the, learning about their journey.  Chris Grabenstein says that kids tend to ask him the same questions, so he periodically records a video of his answers.  It’s a fantastic way to gain information!

None of those are actually meeting them, though, and that might require a little bit more work – but only a little bit.  Many authors go on book tours when releasing a new work.  Others are willing to Skype with classes or book clubs who have read one or more of their books.

That does require work on your part.  You might have to drive to a distant bookstore, wait in line for pictures or autographs, or arrange for Skype visits in advance.  You might fight technology, traffic, or a busy schedule.

Why should you?

10 Reasons Why Kids Should Meet Authors

I think it’s important.  I think it’s worth the time and effort we, as parents and teachers, put in to meet these amazingly creative people.  I think our kids are worth that time and effort.

Why?  What benefit comes from it?

Here are ten reasons why I think we should make meeting authors, either in person or virtually, a priority.

  1.  They become real people.  The authors that write our favorite books are usually people we look up to.  We admire their creativity and ability to create new worlds, share wisdom, and paint pictures in our heads with mere words – and we tend to put them on pedestals.  Meeting them in person or via Skype lets us see that they are real people, just like us.  It helps us to view them more realistically.
  2. It makes dreams of writing attainable.  Kids often want to pen books just like their favorite authors do, and while not all of them are meant to do that, some are.  Yet we often hear about how difficult an author’s life is, how hard it can be to make a living as a writer, and those things are discouraging.  The truth is that while it’s not an easy career, it is possible – and our kids need to  hear stories of writers whose dreams have come true.  Authors are also the perfect people to provide encouragement to future writers.  Jenny L. Cote has been a huge source of inspiration and encouragement to My Big Helper.  Since meeting her, Jenny’s kind words, fierce hugs, and sincere discussions of book plots, characters, and life in general have opened up new possibilities for My Big Helper’s future dreams.
  3. It helps to bring the stories to life.  I love hearing authors talk about their books.  I love that Chris Grabenstein chose Mr. Lemoncello’s name because of his close connection with his grandparents and their Greek ancestry.  I love knowing that Jennifer Chambliss Bertman based part of Emily’s character on her own book nerdiness.  I love hearing Jenny L. Cote’s stories of deep faith and about the adventures that writing the Epic Order of the Seven series bring her.  It adds to the background of the story, and the more that background is fleshed out, the more real it feels.
  4. It teaches them perseverance.  While Skyping with Bertman yesterday, we learned that she loves to write picture books, and she’s tried to sell 37 of them – and hasn’t had a single sale yet!  How discouraging that must have been, and yet she didn’t give up.  She switched genres and sold Book Scavenger very quickly – after spending 10 years writing it.  She’s found success, her dream has come true, and yet it took time – and she had to stick with it.  Incidentally, she’s planning to write more picture books – she’s keeping that particular dream alive.
  5. It teaches the value of hard work.  Bertman, the New York Times-bestselling author of Book Scavenger?  She didn’t just hang in there – she worked really hard, too.  She rewrote Book Scavenger 8 times, and she studied the craft of mystery writing to improve her work.  She didn’t just expect her dream to swoop in and land on her desk – she worked really hard to make it happen.  Our kids need to learn that there is value in a job well done – in doing your best, and then working some more.
  6. We learn that there’s more than one way to become an author.  When we Skyped with Beth Fantaskey, author of Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter, we learned that this book grew out of her research to attain her master’s degree (from Penn State – WE ARE!).  I never would have imagined that as the background for this book – but she’s done a masterful job of turning women’s rights, murder, and the mayhem of Chicago in the 1920s into an exciting and yet appropriate middle grade book.  Chris Grabenstein worked in advertising with James Patterson before he began writing novels.  Tara Dairman’s foodie knowledge for her All Four Stars series comes, in part, from her experience during her world-traveling honeymoon.  To write, we must know what we’re writing about, but that doesn’t mean that the basis for stories all come while sitting at a table with pen and paper.  It’s a journey, and hearing those stories are not only exciting in and of themselves, but it helps kids to see open doors in their lives.  And really, isn’t it true that there’s more than one way to become an X no matter what your dream is?
  7. In meeting great authors, our kids meet heroes.  No, I don’t mean that authors should be put on pedestals any more than professional football players or movie stars; no human should live on a pedestal.  But I do think that we can recognize greatness in each other, and we can appreciate that amidst our humanness.  We can do that same thing with authors.  I met Jennifer Chambliss Bertman yesterday via Skype, and I’d definitely consider her a great human – she’s creative and amazingly persistent!  Chris Grabenstein is funny, kind, generous, and humble.  I’ve met and Skyped with him several times now, and over time I’ve heard him reference tutoring at his church, giving books away, and the value he places on family.  He doesn’t draw attention to it, but these are things that he seems to value, and they’re quietly there to find if you’re looking.  I appreciate those values in him, and the way that he shares them, and I think it’s important for our kids to see that there are people out there who are famous who have great qualities.  
  8. Meeting authors helps to learn about the life of an author.  My Big Helper thinks this is important.  At times, she thinks she wants to be an author when she grows up, and so learning about how publication works, the editing and revision process, the way that publishing houses work – it’s all important career information to her.  Not every kid dreams of writing as a career, but, hey, we teach them about firefighters and police officers and doctors – why not writers, too?
  9. It can encourage kids to read more and a wider variety of books.  Sometimes we’ve gone to hear an author because s/he wrote a really great book, but we don’t know too much else about him.  When he gives a great presentation, that usually means that we’re all inspired to go home and find other books that he’s written and give them a read.  We’ve found lots of great books that way.  Also, invariably some kid asks the author what his/her favorite books are, and the answer is usually that “there are so many, but I’d have to say that X and Y and Z are way up there on the list.”  That means that we end up leaving with ideas for books we want to read that were not written by that particular author, but inspired him because of the style/genre/word choice/setting/characterization/something else, and we leave with lists of other great books to read, too.
  10. It encourages kids to speak up and speak properly to adults.  I’ve seen kids hesitate to speak to adults, but especially adults they view as important (I’m still working on this, personally – I’m completely tongue-tied every time I meet an author whose work I love: Chris Grabenstein, Jenny L. Cote, etc.)  I’ve watched my kids interact with authors over time, however, and their speaking skills have improved.  They’re becoming more comfortable in these situations, and, sure, we could set them up with public speaking gigs or sign them up for a debate class, but this is a lot more fun – and we get to become friends with some cool people, too.

So there you go – ten reasons why I think it’s super important to make the time and effort to meet authors.  What do you think?  Have you met any authors?

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The Homeschool Review Crew

Have You Tried – Review

I’m excited to announce that I’ve joined the Homeschool Review Crew this year!  That will mean more reviews, more versatility, and a wider variety of great products and programs that I can share.  Telling others about great discoveries makes me happy, and I hope to help you find products and programs that you love, too.

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}
The first one I can share with you is – a subscription-based website with classes, videos, printables, planning guides, videos, research resources, and more.  The kids and I have been digging all around this website, and we’ve found some things that we’re excited to try this semester.  This website is accessed through a membership, and you can subscribe monthly or yearly; I’ll be sharing benefits of a Yearly Membership, which we reviewed, below.

My Big Helper loves architecture.  I’ll randomly find her drawing buildings, sketching floor plans, or deciding how to rearrange the furniture in her bedroom to create a new look.  She’s been asking for information about architecture, and so I was super excited to find just such a class under the electives on  It’s worth a full credit for high school students, too!

The architecture class has thirty-seven lessons, and while clicking around to check out all the exciting elements, I chose to download the Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater lesson for closer examination as I’ve visited that house personally.

The lesson is impressive.  The base of it is text describing the history and style of the house, as well as basic biographical information about Frank Lloyd Wright.  There are many links to more information, including pictures and videos, and there are activities, projects, quizzes, and vocabulary words.  It is a very complete lesson, and with thirty-six more in the class, a student must gain a treasury of knowledge from it.  If all of the classes are as well-written as this one, we’ll have more exciting choices than we know what to do with.

We’re often rather eclectic homeschoolers, though, and sometimes it works best for us to study things in our own way.  This architecture class would be fantastic just as written, working through it sequentially – but it looks as if you could also, because each class is focused on a different structure, match the lesson with your topic of study.  For example, we could have studied the Hoover Dam lesson and the Empire State Building lesson when we were learning about the Great Depression this past fall.

So, still excited about the topic of architecture, I hopped over to the World Book section of, hoping for great things.  My Little Man loves to sit and read dictionaries, and I think he’d do the same to encyclopedias if any were still around.

Happily, I discovered loads and loads of books about every subject – even architecture!  There are lots of books about animals, though, too, and space, myths, legends, history, science, etc.  My Little Man will love it!  There’s even a classic books section with several hundred offerings – it’s like having access to your own little library.

There’s a video section to, too, and I was curious as to what that contained.  It turned out to be a master list of all videos found on their website, and I made a few fun discoveries.  “Stevie’s Trek to India” is a 32-minute documentary style video that would complement the India study we just completed.  There’s even a worksheet to go with it, if that’s your thing.

But the BEST PART about the videos?  They have DRIVE-THRU HISTORY.  ALL OF THEM.  We love those! – but we only have a few. We will definitely be making use of this resource. 

My Big Helper is currently in seventh grade.  Time is flying by, and I know I need to be planning ahead for her high school classes, but it seems like such a huge  and daunting task that I’ve procrastinated doing research about that.  There’s a whole section of the website called “Member Resources” that contains ebooks, one of which is all about getting into college – CLEPs, transcripts, etc.  I really like the printable section of that area, though, too – there are gradebook pages, GPA pages, college prep printouts, and more.  These will all really come in handy, and I love that they’re all gathered together in one place.

That’s a lot, right?  A lot of great things, and a lot of things in general.  It might even seem overwhelming (kind of like the thought of sending my firstborn off to high school), but there’s another fabulous feature to that’s definitely worth using: the chat-and-help feature.  

Somehow, after joining the site, I lost my password.  I’m not sure how – but the next time I wanted in, I couldn’t figure it out.  Since it was only my second time logging in, I thought that maybe my registration had gone wonky or something.  After learning about the chat feature, I starting type-talking to a super nice person who was able to find my info and get me access in minutes – and the problem was my own Christmas brain and not a registration problem.  She solved my problem on the spot and offered help for anything else, too.  How great is it to work with a customer service rep who’s really, really nice?

All in all, I can’t wait to begin using with my kids.  Since we’re still on Christmas break, they’ve explored the site with me a bit, but we haven’t resumed classes yet.  They’re excited about these new options, though, and they’re going to love it! 

Homeschool Curriculum for Everybody - { Reviews}
You can find out more about by clicking on the title and hopping over for a visit.  I bet you’ll find great things for your family, too.

Crew Disclaimer

Book Club: “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone”

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We recently embarked on one of our most fun book clubs ever:  we read Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone.  

My Big Helper worked with me to flesh out details of the book that we could bring to life.  We spent several days making labels and creating things to turn my yard into a wizarding world.

Book Club

The day of our book club event dawned bright and sunny with brilliant blue skies.  The kids hurriedly donned their Hogwarts gear and ran outside.

Harry Potter

After everyone had arrived, we kicked off the day with the Sorting Hat.  I sewed it out of some khaki-colored felt and carefully put a small pocket on the inside of the hat.  When it came time for our sorting, a friend called my phone, which we then hid in that pocket.  As I loudly called each child’s name, he declared the house each child would go into.  It was a very fun part of the day, and the kids cheered for their housemates as the sorting continued.

Harry Potter

Following the Sorting and welcoming speeches, we moved onto the back deck for History of Magic.  We decided to recreate most of the classes that Harry Potter and his friends attended, and we used this class to summarize and discuss the book.

Harry Potter

The kids also decorated paper neckties that matched their individual houses.  Then they wrote about what they thought they might see in the Mirror of Erised.

Harry Potter

Potions class had us relocating to the driveaway, where we used a mixture of powders to create neat reactions.

Harry Potter

They were very fun to watch!

Harry Potter

Lunch was especially fun.  We made many of the foods mentioned in this book, particularly those found on the lunch trolley on the Hogwarts Express, like Pumpkin Pasties …

Harry Potter

Golden Snitches ….


and Pumpkin Juice.

Harry Potter

We ended the day with a rousing game of Quidditch.  We modified it a bit, of course, since our brooms don’t actually fly, but the kids didn’t seem to mind.  They had a great time chasing their Snitch around our yard and trying to win the house cup.

The Harry Potter books have become cultural icons.  They’re amazing works of literature, but they’re loads of fun, too.  Give it a try and see what Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone can do for your book club.

NEW! “Lemoncello” Movie Pack and Bundles!

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series, and I’m not the only one – that first book spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times’ Bestseller List.  The second in the series is just as good, and the third is due to be released in just a few weeks – I’m super excited!

There are a few things that makes these books so wonderful – first, that they’re entertaining but completely clean reads, which is a rare thing for a middle-grade book these days.  Just as good, though, is that they’re smart books.  Grabenstein writes philosophical truths, lessons about kindness, and educational skills throughout his books, but your kids won’t realize that they’re learning anything – they’ll be too busy laughing at Mr. Lemoncello’s antics and trying to solve the mysteries before Kyle Keeley does.

I’m all for maximizing learning opportunities, though, and so that’s why I’ve created some really fun extension activities and novel studies to accompany these books.  You can find them here – and I’m happy to share a few NEW products, just in time for the movie release!

That’s right –  Nickolodeon has turned Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library into a movie, and it premieres on October 9.

To go along with this fantabulous opportunity to compare book and movie, I’ve created a new movie pack – full of discussion questions, creative writing projects, recipes for your movie party, printables, and more!  You can get your own copy here.


You might want more than just those few pages of movie-related fun, though.  Perhaps you’re going all out for a big Lemoncello party, reading and watching for a book club event, or hosting your own library-style gala, just like in the book.  I’ve put together a bundle with both resources from Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, which features three games, loads of printables, a recipe for Lemonberry Fizz, and more.  You’ll find both the original party pack and the new movie pack in this bundle – 89 pages of fun!


If you’re as big of a Lemoncello fan as we are, though, that might not be enough.  Maybe you also want to try your hand at Lemoncello-style scavenger hunts, STEAM activities, a unit study, plus all the printables, games, recipes, and more from the above bundle, then this is the one for you.  With 199 pages of Lemoncello-style fun, you’re guaranteed to find just the right learning projects and activities to maximize your child’s learning.


Who else is counting down the days ’til the movie and the new book release?

NEW! A Linked Unit Study for Elise Broach’s “The Wolf Keepers”

Every once in a while, I read a book that I grabs all of my attention and screams to be used for fun with kids.  I love taking those books and turning them into fun unit studies for educational purposes, and Elise Broach’s new book The Wolf Keepers is just such a book.

Elise Broach

A high-stakes middle grade historical adventure through Yosemite National Park by the New York Times-bestselling author of Masterpiece.

Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango and her dad have always had a zoo to call their home. Lizzie spends her days watching the animals and taking note of their various behaviors. Though the zoo makes for a unique home, it’s a hard place for Lizzie to make lasting friends. But all this changes one afternoon when she finds Tyler Briggs, a runaway who has secretly made the zoo his makeshift home. The two become friends and, just as quickly, stumble into a covert investigation involving the zoo wolves who are suddenly dying. Little do they know, this mystery will draw them into a high-stakes historical adventure involving the legend of John Muir as they try to navigate safely while lost in Yosemite National Park.

Elise Broach has written a fantastic novel around the real life story of John Muir!  I love the approach she takes with his mystery, and she deepens the story by adding layers upon layers of moral dilemmas.  While the story is suspenseful, it stays upbeat, even when there are large things afoot, making it the perfect book to carry deep, yet kid-friendly discussions.

Elise Broach

So what will you find in a unit study for The Wolf Keepers?

  • a vocabulary puzzle with answer key
  • discussion/comprehension questions by chapter
  • creative and expository writing prompts
  • research projects for history, science, math, and biographies
  • poetry and literature activities
  • art projects
  • a recipe

This work can be done individually or cooperatively.  You could assign all of it or just certain projects.  Students can work at their own pace, and safe links are provided to ensure a safe Internet experience.

The Wolf Keepers would make a fantastic book club book, as well!  

If you want to grab a copy of this unit study, you’ll find it here.

Happy reading!


NEW! Make Planning Beautiful with the Year Round Homeschooling Planner

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If you’ve been following our school journey for any length of time, you know that we do homeschool a bit differently, and I don’t mean just because we homeschool.  Sometimes we’re eclectic.  Sometimes we’re unit study-ers.  Sometimes we’re road-schoolers.  Sometimes we’re project-based learners. 

We don’t use any packaged curriculum as-is except for math, because I enjoy writing our own and being creative with resources and I may be a little bit crazy.  Ahem.

We love doing school this way, but that means that there’s no one, easy calendar, chart, or plan for us to follow.  We do something for a month or a unit, and then we move on, and our days might look quite different.  It means I do a lot of planning over the summer, I buy random resources in advance, and we pull from the library, Netflix, field trips, etc.

It can be hard to organize, and for sure I can’t remember it all without help.

I love putting everything into charts and being organized, but I hate making charts.

That’s why I was thrilled to check out Misty Leask’s brand-new Year Round Homeschooling Planner.  It’s 80+ pages of gorgeous charts, calendars, and list-pages, all designed to help you plan your school year and keep everything organized.  
year round homeschooling planner, year round homeschool planner, homeschool planner

You’ll find everything you need inside, but Best Thing #1?  The Year Round Homeschooling Planner  is beautiful.  The graphics and colors are done in a watercolor-style wash, and feature things like butterflies that are peaceful and calming.  It’s going to be so much fun to write on these pages.

Best Thing #2:  A few of these prettiest pages are done in different colors, so if you prefer warm colors over cool?  No problem!  Print the pages you want in your preference of colors.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there’s really only half as many pages, because in reality there are only a few done with those options of color, but I love that it’s there.  Certain styles definitely spoke to me, and with this option, I can print those favorites to use.

Best Thing #3:  I can print only the pages I need.  The year at a glance, or the monthly pages, the pre-planning lists, or the purchasing lists – I can print whatever I need, and it’s ready to go and beautiful.  I can also print copies for each kid, or make each kid a different color (that works because I have only two; if you have more, you’ll need to duplicate colors), but options are there.  You know what this means?  Best Thing #3.5:  You don’t have to be a year-round homeschooler to use this.  Just print the pages you need, and go.  Need to keep track of what books you need to buy for Kid #1?  Which activities are counting towards which subjects for Kid #2?  Need pretty grading sheets?  This will totally help you out.

Best Thing #4:  After reading through all 80+ pages of the Year Round Homeschooling Planner , I can’t think of a single, solitary chart, graph, or list that I might need that isn’t in this packet.  It’s all here.  There’s not a single thing left for me to do besides print my favorite pages and dig in.

Best Thing #5:  Right now, this beautiful planner is on sale for only $9.99!  How reasonable is that for an undated planner that you can use year after year? – but after today, the price goes up to $12.99, so don’t wait.

Get your Year Round Homeschooling Planner here!

Field Work Friday: Visiting the Nina & the Pinta

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Did you know that there are reproductions of historic ships sailing around the world?

Tall Ships

I didn’t, until recently, but when we found out, my DH arranged to take us to a nearby port city to see the Nina and the Pinta, two of the three ships sailing with Christopher Columbus on his famous voyage in 1492.


The ships were at the Wilmington, NC, waterfront, and after purchasing tickets, we were permitted through the gates to board the ships.

Tall Ships

Once on board, we could explore the main gate.  There were signs everywhere, telling us facts about the ship and other equipment on board.  There were volunteers hanging around, ready to answer questions or talk with anyone willing.  This woman had been on board since February and was making jewelry while she waited for a question.  When my Big Helper saw what she was working on, they struck up a conversation, and the volunteer ended up asking my Big Helper for help with an earring.  My Big Helper loved that!

Tall Ships

The ships are fascinating, even though you can’t go belowdecks.  Since the ships are manned by volunteers, and each ship features a modern kitchen, the bottom of the ships are off limits. Being able to see the size of the ships, the gigantic proportions of the anchor, and the thickness of the ropes really makes one admire the bravery of the men sailing with Columbus.

There are tall ships sailing all over the world.  if you have the opportunity to see one, be sure to check it out! 

Learn more about the Nina and the Pinta with these great resources!


Living History: The Roaring ’20s

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It was the era of gangsters, Prohibition, and all that glitters.  It’s known as the Roaring ‘20s, and our living history club brought the era back to life.  We love holding this special events each semester, and this one was definitely the glitziest.


The day kicked off with a photography session, as the dressed-up students were dressed to the nines as flappers and mobsters.  After that, they introduced themselves, as each student had studied a particular person from history and had come dressed as that person.


Next, My Big Helper shared some popular slang of the time and asked the students to incorporate as many of these terms as possible into their conversations throughout the day.


My Little Man explained the history of a Hamilton Beach fruit juicer that was patented during the 1920s.  The particular machine in question used to reside in a local pharmacy, and following his speech, he  demonstrated how to make the perfect fresh lemonade.  While lemonades were made for each student, another mom taught the students how to play table games.18056996_10212172736616620_7481163634049384896_n

Another mom taught the students about the characteristics of the art deco style.  Each student then chose a quote from a celebrity of the era and created their own unique art piece with art deco-inspired fonts and colors.

Living History

Living History

A dad shared the silent movie A Trip to the Moon.  Following the show, the students lined up to feast from a variety of foods popular in this decade.  With the advent of refrigerated transportation and the popularity of parties, many new foods came onto the scene, including peanut butter cups, chow mein, Coca-Cola, Crush, cheeseballs, Jell-O parfaits, and tuna wraps.

 Living History

After lunch, the students returned to the year 2017, concluding that the Roaring ‘20s might be fun to visit, but that they wouldn’t want to live there.

If you’re studying this era, you might also want to check out my post about our book club event for Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter.

Some resources that we loved for studying the ’20s are:



Living History