PaperPunk Review

My mom has a blog. You should check it out. It’s a review site, so she gives away a ton of cool things. She got PaperPunk to review last year and so she sent it over to our kids to create and have some fun. They did.

Both of my kids LOVED doing this project, and they proudly displayed their creations until they (unfortunately) fell apart… about 3 weeks later. *On a side note, if you used glue they would most likely hold to together longer.






If you are looking for a neat birthday gift that’s original between the ages of 6 and 10, I would recommend PaperPunk. Super neat! *Added bonus: there were a TON of left over stickers so the kids enjoyed those for other projects as well. Cheers!_JAS8130

A Child’s History of the World Review

So before the summer started this year, I had started Story of the World along side A Child’s History of the World for our History curriculum. I had found a neat website that tried to line up the two books as much as possible, but it became overwhelming trying to get everything organized with two separate books and two different ways to tell the story.

So I needed to switch things, new idea: just use/read through A Child’s History of the World starting and then start SOTW afterwards.


A Child’s History of the World because it was ‘supposed to be geared towards younger children’. My kids liked it a little, maybe. At first they enjoyed it, then the consent groans, and ‘that book is boring’. So after our first 6 weeks of kinda torturing my kids and myself (actually we skipped it most days)…. I decided to STOP!

So we are about to start our 7th week of school, our 3rd BLOCK. We are going back to and staying with Story of the World. Staring with Ancients. I got ours off Amazon, but I’ve seen them in the bookstores, along with the audio version at our library. We also picked up the Activity guide, which seems worth the money.

Not to mention: Check out these cool videos that correspond with parts of the entire series of SOTW.

Anyways, back to the actual review.

It is definitely written in a younger-child oriented way. It is kind of like your grandpa is telling you an old story, but sometimes it seems a little fake. My kids just didn’t connect with the story at all. They really liked the first few chapters, then got bored. It’s not in-depth at all, so it was a little hard to explain things to them, when I felt like each day we were talking about a completely different subject. No immersion at all. I tried sticking with it, because of all the other rave reviews it had gotten, but in the end, we just can’t keep wasting time on it, when I have another (better) resource.

I think I may recommend it to someone with 3-5 year olds who just want to ‘skim’ history. The thing about books is not everyone likes everything. So what works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. I don’t think it’s so bad that I’d throw it away, but we will never pick it up again. If anyone wants my copy for cheap, email me 🙂

I would LOVE to hear about other History curriculums. And other people’s takes on what to do AFTER SOTW? Do you just start back at Book 1, or switch entirely?

Learning with The Magic Tree House Series

We started this series a year ago. Our library has all The Magic Tree House books on both audio or paperback, we chose audio, so we can listen to them in the car as a family.

I can’t say enough about the books!  They are great, my kids LOVE them all! Mary Pope Osborne has done a wonderful job taking kids back to great points of history and creating an interesting story. I myself have even learned a few things 🙂

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Each book is set in a different time period, that Jack and Annie must travel to and complete missions. They discover a magic tree house in the woods in Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, and use the books to travel back and forth. Journey with them to far away lands: get lost in the Amazon, help a baby Panda, sail on a Pirate ship, walk on the Moon, fly with Da’Vinci, or find out how Mona Lisa got her famous smile! With over 50 books in the series, there is something for everyone!

We are on book #40 now.


Once you start reading the books, head over to The Magic Tree House website. Here you can go on missions and answer questions, afterwards you receive a souvenir for your own virtual tree house you can decorate.  You can also answer 3 questions about each book and earn a stamp in your Passport.  

My kids go to the website once a week and catch up on their newest books that they have finished. They love it!

This series is great for non-readers or readers. You are learning and enjoying a great adventure at the same time.

I highly encourage anyone that has not picked up these books to do so, your kids will thank you.

Enjoying Explode the Code

Since we started homeschooling over a year ago, we have been using these amazing books.  I read about Explode the Code online, and thought it seemed like a good way to go.   And I was right.

The books are easy to understand and are laid out nicely. They all follow the same basic pattern, so once you finish one and go to the next, it’s easy because you already know what to do, the content is just a little more challenging.

Turner started out with Book 1 and is now using Book 3, at the beginning of his 2nd grade year (he technically should be on Book 4, but there was a 2-3 month span last year where we didn’t use them… oh well).

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Lilly started out with Beyond the Code Books A, B, and C in Kindergarten. She really liked them. She is now on Book 1 1/2.

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Yes, I have had my kids use the 1/2 books as well. I have mentioned before we like to work for mastery in subjects before advancing, so I wanted to be sure they were where they needed to be. However, Turner is such a better reader, and we may just go straight to 4 this time around.

We use these books 4 days of the week and they do 2-4 pages each time.  They like to listen to classical music while working on them. It’s takes about 15 minutes for this, so it’s quick and fun.

*They do offer an online version, however, I wanted my kids to have that extra handwriting practice and less screen time, so we opt for the workbooks.  I also order mine off Amazon with Prime Shipping, but I see deals on them all the time through Homeschool sites.

Would LOVE to hear your thoughts on Explode the Code:  how they did or didn’t work for you.

*There is a short video of my son using Book 3 on our Facebook page.

Awesome game to play for Math Review

The kids give this game 2 thumbs up!

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My mom actually has a blog where she gives away things all the time, check it out and follow her on FB, she has over 6000 followers!  She received this game to review, so she passed it to us and we got to have some fun 🙂

#1     The box is fun and we were excited to try it out!  It’s a game from The Young Scientists Club

#2     There are 2 different game versions to choose from, they are pretty similar though.

#3     You are asked to print out math facts from the website. I did this, and we used them the 1st time, but the 2nd time we played, I ditched them and used a wipe-off board instead. It was easier, because the kids could work out the problem. I just made up each persons question on their turn.

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#4     Players must answer a math question correctly to move one space ahead, first player to the volcano wins and gets to dump their baking soda in the vinegar….  but everyone gets to enjoy the fun 🙂  I also fill it back up and let each kid dump theirs in the volcano.

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#5     Since you can change the difficulty level for each child, anyone of any age level and math level can play this game. We had a 4 year old as our youngest player and an 8 year old as our oldest player.  All players had fun.

I would recommend this game to any family.  It can get messy, but that’s part of the fun. It’s not something we would play all the time, but I can see us breaking out this game 2-3 times a month.

Khan Academy is so cool

Our kids have 2 Math programs they use: Miquon and Khan.  I wrote an earlier post on why we love Miquon and today I wanted to share the coolest of Khan.

Our kids spend 3-5 days a week on Khan, they do all the Mastery Challenges for that day (this is where they can move up to Mastery in each category and it challenges what they know).  Once they complete those (usually 2-3 challenges), they do 1-2 practice categories.  That’s it then they log off 🙂

What the Dashboard looks like:

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Here are detailed reports of what they have been working on:


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I love how Khan emails me each week with a mini overview of what they have been doing.

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You get points each time you complete a set of problems, my kids LOVE seeing their points go up. You also get Badges based on a number of different things, so it’s fun to see what ones they have gotten.

I would HIGHLY recommend Khan Academy for anyone, from Kindergarten to college.  It works great, and is like a personal tutor with videos and a forum.


We [love] Miquon Math

Before I started homeschooling, I, like many of you, read countless blogs and reviews for a plethora of Math programs.  It was a lot of information to go through, but I finally settled on Miquon.

It seems to be a lesser-used curriculum, I’m not sure why, because it works great!

The program consists of 6 books for 1st-3rd grade. They also sell a First Grade Diary (you don’t need this), a manual (you do need this), and rods for hands-on learning.

With the rods they are able to introduce multiplication, division and fractions more easily for little ones to understand. I just love how it pushes them in a gentle way that they understand. 

On a side note: I went through and marked each rod with the number they represent on the ends, it was such a HUGE help! 

There are 6 books in the program. <—– Check out what each book covers.

1st grade:  Orange and Red    |     2nd grade:  Blue and Green                                                     3rd grade:  Yellow and Purple

My kids do Miquon each morning for 15 minutes.  We set a timer and they work at their own pace. It seems like it takes about 1-3 months to go through an entire book, depending on how fast your child works and if they need extra help.

Lilly is finishing up her Kindergarten year with the Orange book. She should get through the first 4 books by the end of next year. Which would put her working a grade ahead.

Turner should be finished with all 6 books by the end of his 2nd grade year (next summer).  That would put him a year ahead also. He is in the Red book now.

Afterward Miquon I plan on using Beast Academy or Teaching Textbooks.

Miquon is unique and different, with a hands on approach. I really enjoy doing the books with my kids and helping them along the way. There are little games in the books too, and the kids just love them.

I highly recommend Miquon to homeschoolers that want to have their kids working a grade level ahead and for a unique, hands-on approach.

****Both kids also use Khan Academy 3-4 times a week for 15-30 minutes at a time.

Easy Peasy…. is it really easy?

I was thinking about a completely free homeschooling resource called Easy Peasy today.  We have been using this for about 5-6 months now.  However, not all subjects. At first, I was a little overwhelmed with understanding how to maneuver the site and find my way around, but with a little patience and some reading, I figured it out soon enough.

The site has everything K to 12. We mainly use it for art study, science and some history.  We also use the McGuffey Readers daily.

My kids were in K and 1 when we started using this after Christmas.  It seemed short and too the point, everything laid out, so not too much work involved.  On the flip side, everything may be laid out, but do I agree with “everything”, do I think that “everything” is enough?

A few thoughts:

1.  Math is WAY too easy, First Year Math is better suited for Pre-K to me, maybe Kinder.  The older years may be more of a challenge, I haven’t looked, but I personally wouldn’t recommend EP for elementary Math.

2. EP has you do each subject daily.  We tried it and it didn’t work for us, I felt to rushed to get it all in without really taking time to talk about things, just click on links and do them sort of thing. It never seemed in depth enough, so we now do either Science of History each day, not both.  I feel like the material is being covered better and the kids are more relaxed.

3. EP has you start at Day 1 and follow it in order.  We like to skip around though.  We decide what we want to learn about and look to see what resources EP has for that subject, i.e. birds. You would find EP’s bird unit in Zoology.  Then maybe we want to do the Human Body, so we hop over to Biology and study that.  EP has it laid out pretty nicely to find what you want.

4. I like some of the games and videos we get to link to, I probably never would have found them myself, but the site tends to repeat itself a lot, and we just skip those days.

5. Lap books, lap books, lap books.  When I first started homeschooling I thought lap books were fun and exciting and so did my kids, but after the 4th one they get a bit…. boring.  So we find other activities to do instead and haven’t done a lap book in 4 months.  I would rather my kids go outside and observe birds to see differences, etc than fill out a lap book when they are in K and 1.  They get more out of it.

Wrapping it up:  Easy Peasy is a good resource and I would recommend it to other families.  Make sure you are doing what is best for your style of teaching and just because it says you should take a quiz one day, maybe skip it, maybe quizzes aren’t for your kiddo right now.  Maybe doing their 10th lap book isn’t either.

Look around the site and get ideas to inspire to do other things.  It’s free, why not try it out and see if it works for you.

Has anyone else used the site?  What do you use it for?


*These are my own opinions.

Reviews of what my kids used for K & 1….

We are “finishing” up this year 2013-2014, T is in 1st, L in Kindergarten.  We homeschool year round, but the end of June they do get a 2 week break and then they move up to the next grade level (however, my kids work in all different grade levels, I use this primarily as a resource to make sure they don’t fall behind others and to keep the state happy).  Our focus is on mastery/understanding of the subject rather than what ‘grade level’ they are in (and each subject is different).

Math: Miquon Math– T has used this since Kindergarten (at first it was hard to understand, but after using it for a few weeks I got the hang of it, and he likes it. I love how it challenges him and jumps around different concepts, like multiplication and division even in book 1 (and he gets it). L just started using it in May.  The First Grade Diaries is a waste (I think), I never used it.

Math: Khan Academy– LOVE this site, completely FREE and my kids really enjoy it also. I even used it when I was in college to help reinforce what I was learning.  It claims it starts at a 3rd grade level, but my Kinder does fine with it and likes it also.

Math: I had gotten both kids Spectrum grade 1 (L) and grade 2 (T), the kids did 1-2 pages a day for while, but once again, very repetitive, and the kids really didn’t like them, so we went to Khan Academy and haven’t looked back 🙂

Science/History: Easy Peasy– I use this on and off, it’s also Free.  Science so far is my favorite on there and the reading list is nice. We focused on Zoology this year. We love nature hikes and geocaching as well.

Spelling: Explode the Code books- T started out with book 1, and he seems to like them okay, I really think they have helped him with reading and spelling. L started her Kindergarten year with Before the Code A, and has went all the way through to Book 1 1/2, which she is on now.

Music: We got the kids a keyboard for Christmas and T has taken to it the most, however, both kids play on it about 10 minutes a day. They have made a lot of progress. I recommend Alfred’s Basic Piano.  I am not musical at all, but was able to sit down and teach myself the entire book in a few days.

Reading:  We do a TON of reading, they read, I read, we listen to audiobooks in the car, and stories before bed.

T also used Daily Trait Writing for Grade 1 and Scholastic Writing this year.  I do like them, however, we are trying to be more interest-based and with the $25 price tag (daily trait), I think we will pass for this next year. Trying to move toward quality not quantity. He also used 100 Words you Need to Know Before 1st Grade/2nd Grade and Word Ladders, Turner is just now starting to enjoy WordLadders since he can read the description himself, it’s like a riddle to solve.

L used Kumon books in the beginning and they did help her a lot, but became very repetitive and boring after a while.

Would love to hear what you use and if you have used Miquon Math and what you think of the higher level books?   Also, I am looking for some good resources for Science/experiments.