Plants Unit Study

Our second summer unit study covered parts of a plant and the tall tale, Jack and the Beanstalk.  We made a lapbook for this unit, as we did for the first one.  We spent the first of the two weeks reading as many Jack and the Beanstalk books as I could get my hands on.  I found plenty of great printables at to coordinate.  For the second week, we studied the basic parts of a plant, observed lima beans sprouting and read plenty of books.

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Using a biodegradable egg carton and some potting soil, Nugget planted lima beans!  He watered them every other day or so using a children’s medicine cup.  We placed the egg carton inside of a gallon sized zip-top bag and placed it in front of the patio doors on the south side of our home.  This created a mini-greenhouse so we didn’t need to water them everyday.  We have since moved the successful sprouts to a pot on the deck.  Update to come soon!



Product DetailsTrust Me, Jack’s Beanstalk Stinks, Eric Braun

Product DetailsJack and the Beanstalk, Richard Walker

Product DetailsJack and the Baked Beanstalk, Carol Ottolenghi

Product DetailsWaynetta and the Cornstalk: A Texas Fairytale, Helen Ketteman

Product DetailsJack and the Beanstalk, Nina Crews

Some of these are even available as a read-along cd version.  I love getting the same story in as many different versions as possible.  It adds variety and Nugget likes using the different devices during our school time.

Plant Plumbing: A Book About Roots and Stems, Susan Blackaby; One Bean, Anne Rockwell; The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds, Joanna Cole; The Tiny Seed, Eric Carle; Planting a Rainbow, Lois Ehlert

Product DetailsThe Magic School Bus Gets Planted, Lenore Notkin

Product DetailsHow a Seed Grows, Helene Jordan

At my local library, I found an educational kit to accompany How a Seed Grows which contained plush potted plants in 4 stages of growth.  We set them up on our school table for decoration during this unit.




Minibook: Parable of the Sower

Plant Wordsearch

Plant Worksheets

How-Do-Plants-Grow minibook

Gardening Unit with Printables

Jack and the Beanstalk Printables

More or Less using beans

Lapbook ideas

Planting a Rainbow ideas


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Fun Stuff:

Create a Fairy Garden

Family Fun with Wreck-It-Ralph

Seeds and Plants YouTube video with rockin’ music :)

The Magic School Bus Gets Planted YouTube

Space Unit Study


The theme for our church’s summer camp this year was “Galaxy Chase: Living Out of this World.”  For our second summer homeschool unit, I decided to build on that theme with a simple solar system unit study.  As with the Japan unit, Nugget compiled a summary of what he learned in a lapbook.  By the end of summer, we should have a nice little collection of lapbooks showcasing what Nugget has studied these past few months.  I started my planning on…Pinterest!  :)  From the pins, I made printables and reserved library books.  I also inserted pages from our school year curricula when I could not find appropriate printables that fit the theme.  With this unit we worked on Explode the Code Book 1, A Reason for Handwriting, Zaner-Bloser Handwriting, Story of the World Vol. 1 and Saxon Math.  

One thing I was particularly excited about was the use of a set of Star Wars phonics books we purchased from Scholastic.  We’ve had them for about a year, but I wanted to wait and use them when they coordinated with a theme.  This was the perfect unit!  The collection includes 5 small books that each cover the short vowel sounds, a workbook for the short vowel sounds, 5 small books on the long vowel sounds and a workbook for the long vowel sounds.  I placed the workbooks inside a page protector and Nugget used a white board marker.  This way, the books can be reused again later.


The Solar System, Howard Trammel; Beyond Pluto, Elaine Landau; Pluto, from Planet to Dwarf, Elaine Landau; Mars, Melanie Chrismer; Martian Rock, Carol Shields; Pluto Visits Earth, Steve Metzger

Product Details  Product Details  



Royal Baloo space themed printables – great first grade pages!

3 Dinosaurs space printables

3 Dinosaurs Star Wars printables



We made our own mini-book for each planet using the fact cards here.

Space themed color sheets (some color by number, color by math)

Planets can be found at 3 Dinosaurs space pack, part 1.

Fun Stuff:

snack bag rocket

fruit rocket kabobs

oreo phases of the moon

moon phase printable

Japan (ninja) Unit Study


Although kindergarten officially ended in May, I’ve decided to do school 3 days a week over the summer to get a head start.  This will provide us with “credit” in the school days bank so we won’t have to catch up after vacations or sick days.  Besides that… why not?  We home school so, we can  :)

For the first two weeks of summer school, I prepared a unit study about Japan.  Nugget is very interested in Lego Ninjago and ninjas in general but, rather than only read about ninjas (not the best role models I might add), I thought we’d work them into an introductory lesson on Japan.  For the first week, we used a lap book on Japan as our guide along with any ninja picture books I could get my hands on.  I also found some ninja themed printables.  We watched a great Hulu video about ancient Japanese history that I found on Pinterest.  I also worked in some “ninja training” on respect.  The second week of our study included map work and an introduction to syllables using haiku, a form of Japanese poetry.


Look What Came from Japan  Look What Came From Japan, Miles Harvey

Nighttime Ninja, Barbara DaCosta

Three Ninja Pigs, Corey Rosen Schwartz 

You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Ninja Warrior: A Secrety Job That’s Your Destiny, John Malam 

Ninja, Ninja Never Stop!, Todd Tuell

Wink: the Ninja Who Wanted to Be Noticed, J.C. Phillipps

Wink: the Ninja Who Wanted a Nap, J.C. Phillipps

Tsubame the Ninja, Mayumi Ichikawa

Magic Tree House: Night of the Ninjas, Mary Pope Osborne 

Wabi Sabi children's bookWabi Sabi, Mark Reibstein

GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys (A ~ poems about little boys & what they do, like fishing and flying kites)    Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys, Bob Raczka

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku--Pair of Red Clogs or Grandfather's JourneyWon Ton, Lee Wardlaw

One Leaf Rides the Wind  One Leaf Rides the Wind, Celeste Mannis


Lap Book


Video of Japan’s Ancient History

Free Ninja Printables (math, language arts)

Map of Japan painting project

Haiku Printables

Grammar Ninja free online game

Math Ninja free app available for iPhone, iPad, iPod

Clumsy Ninja free app for Android on Google Play or iTunes

Ninja Training: Respect




Summer Church Camp Decorations

It’s summer, it must be time for bible school! Like most every other church, mine puts on a week long camp in the summer. Last year I took on the job of decorating the church lobby area. The theme for last year was “Mission Xtreme: Secret Agents of Change.”

To create a “mission control” atmosphere, I covered the wood grain finishes with gray butcher paper. For the wood finish double doors, I used white shelf paper to add to the sterile look. I was able to purchase “caution” and “no entry” signs from Amazon and Staples. For an interactive element, my dad helped me build desk top control panels. We reused vintage electronic components with knobs, switches and dials that the kids could really push and turn. The desktop is where campers wrote notes that would be sent to our ministry partners in Haiti.
This year, the theme is “Galaxy Chase: Out of this World.” My big idea was to hang paper mâché planets from the nearly 50 foot ceilings. You’ll never understand my joy when the facilities team said yes! I was sure they’d shoot me down. Well, paper mâché eventually turned to paper lanterns. But they look amazing- better than I imagined.

In addition to the lanterns mod-podged to look like planets, I covered the brown walls with black butcher paper and wrote on them with white paint pens in a chalkboard style. Major props to my husband, mom and student helpers with the chalkboard walls! They wrote verses, song lyrics and space doodles for more hours than any of us thought we would. For this year’s interactive element, I purchased two cardboard space shuttles for the kids to decorate and play in.
I wanted to create a feeling of the vastness and enormity of space to, hopefully, impress upon the kids how great God really is.


We just returned from our bi-annual trip to the North Carolina coast.  Five years ago we found a lovely little resort in a frantic search for a last-minute vacation.  I was desperate for some rest.  Since then, we’ve made the 26 hour drive (round trip) twice more for a total of three visits to “our” beach.  :)

This year’s trip was particularly restful.  I was determined it would be so.  You see, two years ago, I ruined the trip – for myself and my husband.  Well, we were both pretty ticked when it rained all but the first day.  Thirteen hours, after all, is a long time to drive for a rainy beach vacation.  But I, in particular, let my inner baby out.  I spent most of that week pouting, crying and whining.  It wasn’t attractive.

So, this year, I decided before we even left that this would be a good vacation, regardless of weather.  We knew heading down that there were a couple of days when the chance for rain was good, if not certain, and we made backup plans for those days.  Thanks be to God, we only needed to pull out those plans one half of one day!  The remainder of the trip was sunny and beautiful!

We had one of the best family vacations we’ve ever had, so far.  And as we headed home I found myself wondering, “How can I maintain these feelings of rest and contentment back at home?  Are they only accessible when we disconnect and literally distance ourselves from our everyday life?”  I prayed about this last night and felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to read passages in scripture that mention or discuss rest.  This morning, the first passage I read was Psalm 37:7, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.”  Knowing that one verse alone rarely tells the whole story, I read the entire Psalm.  Here it is, taken from Bible Gateway.  I encourage you to read it now, making note of a few things:  repeated words or phrases, cause & effect, words or phrases that stand out to you.  I have made some bold and italic markings in the passage and I’ll explain them below.

37 Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and [a]cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.

[b]Rest in the Lord and wait [c]patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fretit leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
10 Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
11 But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

12 The wicked plots against the righteous
And gnashes at him with his teeth.
13 The Lord laughs at him,
For He sees his day is coming.
14 The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow
To cast down the afflicted and the needy,
To slay those who are upright in conduct.
15 Their sword will enter their own heart,
And their bows will be broken.

16 Better is the little of the righteous
Than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked will be broken,
But the Lord sustains the righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the [d]blameless,
And their inheritance will be forever.
19 They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,
And in the days of famine they will have abundance.
20 But the wicked will perish;
And the enemies of the Lord will be like the [e]glory of the pastures,
They vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
21 The wicked borrows and does not pay back,
But the righteous is gracious and gives.
22 For those blessed by Him will inherit the land,
But those cursed by Him will be cut off.

23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One [f]who holds his hand.
25 I have been young and now I am old,
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
Or his [g]descendants begging bread.
26 All day long he is gracious and lends,
And his [h]descendants are a blessing.

27 Depart from evil and do good,
[i]So you will abide forever.
28 For the Lord loves [j]justice
And does not forsake His godly ones;
They are preserved forever,
But the [k]descendants of the wicked will be cut off.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
And dwell in it forever.
30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
And his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
His steps do not slip.
32 The wicked spies upon the righteous
And seeks to kill him.
33 The Lord will not leave him in his hand
Or let him be condemned when he is judged.
34 Wait for the Lord and keep His way,
And He will exalt you to inherit the land;
When the wicked are cut off, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked, violent man
Spreading himself like a luxuriant [l]tree in its native soil.
36 Then [m]he passed away, and lo, he was no more;
I sought for him, but he could not be found.
37 Mark the [n]blameless man, and behold the upright;
For the man of peace will have a [o]posterity.
38 But transgressors will be altogether destroyed;
The [p]posterity of the wicked will be cut off.
39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
He is their strength in time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
Because they take refuge in Him.

Some phrases and words that stood out to me in verse 37 (and above marked in italics) were “do not fret…be not envious of wrongdoers” (even supposed wrongdoers) and “cultivate faithfulness” (grow it, feed it, fertilize it, train it; delight in this cultivation, it will lead to rest).  From the rest of the passage I noticed the following enemies of rest:  jealousy, resentment, anger, wrath and worry (fret).  Here, the keys to rest:  humility, waiting, trust in the Lord, faithfulness, delight in the Lord, commitment to the Lord, patience, graciousness, generosity, speaking justice and wisdom and taking refuge in Him.

I particularly liked verse 17: “the Lord sustains the righteous.”

The words and phrases that I found repeated throughout the Psalm I marked above in bold.  Here, I have listed them individually along with my own train of thought after meditating on each.

  • do not fret:  when we worry (fret), we jump on a solution, we set about ‘fixing’
  • wait: wait on the Lord to show you the way or He may even fix it for you!
  • delight: joy, happiness, pleasure in the waiting, knowing the Lord is working on your behalf
  • delight (same word, this time from the Lord’s perspective): the Lord also delights in the waiting, in our trusting Him to handle it; whether He ‘fixes’ it or allows us to be strengthened by the experience
  • inherit the land:  consider the word ‘inherit,’ He will give you what is His – peace, rest, (specific to verse 4) “the desires of your heart”

So, hopefully you can see what I have seen in Psalm 37 regarding rest.  1.  DO NOT FRET.  :)  Easier said than done, but doable nonetheless.  It’s repeated several times so, it must be important.  Consider a breath prayer in those moments when worry tries to seize you.  “Lord, help me,” or “do not fret.”  2.  Wait.  Be patient and allow the Lord to have the control that is rightly His.  “Thy will be done.”  3.  Delight.  See and experience the happiness (conditional feeling)  that comes from waiting and not worrying.  See and experience the joy (contentment regardless of circumstance) that comes from waiting and not worrying.  4. Inherit the land.  Receive the promise.  “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  I desire rest.  I seek to wait and not worry so that I might delight in inheriting the land.


Ancient Greece Mycenaean Shield

Here in our homeschool we use Story of the World for our history curriculum. This material, by Susan Wise Bauer, follows a classical education timeline. Nugget loves when it is time for the history lesson and I believe it’s due to the quality and style of the material. History is presented in story form instead of a series of facts and dates. The action and drama of real history come alive. Nugget also likes that the textbook portion is available for Kindle. He enjoys doing anything on a “device.” I like the Kindle download because it’s less expensive than the hard copy and there’s no shipping cost.
This week’s history chapter was about the early Greeks, the Mycenaeans. Besides the two reading portions, review questions, narration exercises and map work, there were a number of crafts to choose from. I offered Nugget the choice of a Greek vase or Mycenaean shield. Duh, the boy chose the shield. ;) We used a piece of card board and painted the front side. Nugget decided to paint symbols from the Lego Ninjago cartoon. Not very Greek, but certainly of interest to him. Incidentally, I am planning a study of Japan for this summer due to his interest in ninja and samurai.. The directions said to glue or tape two handles on the back: one to put his forearm through and one to hold on to. That’s the picture on top. The finished product turned out great and Nugget can’t wait to use his new Mycenaean shield in battle against daddy.



Good morning! So, I’ve been taking a lot of pictures of my food lately and I thought I’d share the fruits of my labor with you. The first pictures are of the mini donuts I made for Easter brunch on Saturday with my side of the family. I used a recipe for chocolate strawberry donuts from Juli at Paleo OMG and tweaked it a bit. I made the batter without the chocolate ingredients and then divided it in half. To one half, I added a teaspoon of coconut flour. To the other half, I added the chocolate ingredients (decreased the amounts by half). I dipped the plain ones (plain = cinnamon & honey) in warm honey for a glaze and drizzled the others with melted Enjoy Life chocolate. I thought the choco ones would be the favorite, but the honey-glazed won. If you haven’t been to Juli’s blog, please do: here. And if you don’t have a donut maker, keep an eye out for the Babycakes model to go on sale. I love mine! 3 minutes in the machine beats 10 in the oven!

My next food pictures are all about food prep.













Whenever I cut celery or kale, I save the ends, ribs, etc. and add them to a zip-close bag in the freezer. I also save the carcass of rotisserie chickens from dinner and keep those in the freezer. When I have at least one carcass and a bag full of greens, I make stock! I found a slow cooker recipe at Elana’s Pantry but, basically I put the frozen chicken bones and frozen leftover greens in the cooker, cover with water, add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and whatever herbs you like with chicken (I add apprx. 1t each of thyme and sage). Add in a generous pinch of salt and of pepper, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. When it’s done, strain & allow to cool a bit. I like to portion mine out using a muffin tin. I ladle the stock into the muffin tin and pop it in the freezer. Once frozen, I put the individual portions into a large freezer bag so I can have 1/2 cup portions of chicken stock at the ready. I use them for other crockpot dishes and for cooking brown rice.
Recently, I also prepped some spinach for smoothies. I put one bag of organic spinach into a blender with 1/2 cup of So Delicious vanilla coconut milk yogurt and the leftover coconut water from a can of Thai Kitchen coconut milk. I used the solid part for coconut milk whipped cream. Blended it all together until smooth and portioned out using my new IKEA silicone muffin cups. After freezing them, I popped out my spinach disks into another freezer bag. What would we do without Ziploc? For a smoothie, blend 1/2 a banana, OJ, 1-2 spinach disks and berries of choice.

Finally, the last pictures are all about the absence of food. With each holiday that rolls around, I struggle to find a way not to give Nugget candy treats. With both sets of grandparents living close by, he gets plenty of those – and not just on holidays. Since he is near the point of obsession with Legos currently, we decided to hide Easter eggs filled with Lego pieces. We found the eggs and small Lego packs ($3.99 each, we bought two) at a discount store called Five Below. He was thrilled! By the way, we are big fans of the Peanuts gang so, that’s why the Picollage says the Easter Beagle brought Legos. ;)