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January Unplugged: Our New Family Tradition

So I have been gone for a while now.  I haven’t forgotten to write.  But a few months ago we decided as a family to do January “Unplugged”.  Thirty days with no television, no video games and no unnecessary computer time.  Sounds crazy right?  Why would we do this?   I have a love/hate relationship with technology.  It’s both extremely valuable as a tool.  But, it can also be a time drainer. Not to mention it can limit our time together as a family.  So we wanted to do our own social experiment and see if we could make it 30 days without devices.  Unfortunately for us, we need tech for our jobs.  So we couldn’t get rid of it entirely.  But the goal wasn’t to get rid of technology.  It was simply to spend more quality time together as a family. In order to make this more fun, we decided to spend some of our days living by candlelight.  We also bought a Dutch oven and tripod and did campfire cookouts in the backyard.  We made stew and roasted marshmallows while drinking tea by the fire. We lit the fireplace on colder evenings and played board games for fun.  We did art projects and read books together and spent more time at the library.  I got art museum passes from the library and we spent an afternoon enjoying modern art. One day we took an inflatable raft onto the lake and read The Hatchet while eating sandwiches.  When we got tired of the book, we went fishing. What was the result?  At the end of the month we decided unanimously that it was one of the most fun months we’ve ever had together.  We started a tradition together.  One that we’ve named January “Unplugged”.  Give it a try.  Who knows, you might decide it’s the best month you’ve ever had too.  Happy homeschooling!

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Smoked Sardines Animal Treats: Easy 1 Ingredient Recipe

I absolutely love happy accidents.  Especially when it comes to recipes.  These smoked sardines for dogs and cats were a great happy accident.  It all started because I was looking for sardines to feed my dog.  I went to an Asian market and bought a big box of them.  But when I opened the box it wasn’t full of small little sardines.  It had these big 4-6″ inch ones.  When I attempted to give it to my girl, she wouldn’t eat it.  I almost threw the box away because while I hate being wasteful, I didn’t think anyone in my home would eat them. Fast forward to my trip to the local farmers market.  While I was there I spotted a smoked dog treat stall.  Among the items I saw were the same smoked sardines I had purchased.  When I asked the women about them she said she would cut one in half to see if my dog liked it.  Well there was no issue.  She gobbled it up in seconds and didn’t have any issues eating it. So I went home that night and pulled all the sardines out of the freezer and went to work.  The neighborhood cats all came out to see what was on the smoker.  So you know it must be good.  This recipe is for cats and dogs.  It can be used both with smelt size fish all the way up to the 4-6″ sardine size.  It retains all it’s healthy omega 3 oils, but seems to be easier to eat.  These smoked sardines are a great source of protein and calcium as they can consume the bones.  Best of all it’s a simple recipe that can be made in large batches.  Keep only what you will use for about 7 days in the fridge and freeze the rest.  I would imagine this will keep for at least 6 months in the freezer. A Word of Caution When using your smoker, make sure to keep it on it’s lowest setting.  We aren’t trying to cook the bones, just smoke them.  Cooked bones aren’t good for your pets.  Low and slow is what you want.  Also, always make sure your pet can handle whatever you are feeding them.  Give small portions to start.  Safety first. How to Know When the Smoked Sardines are Done This really depends on your pet.  You can leave them softer if your animal prefers a little chew.  You can also dry them a little longer for more crunch.  So this part is up to you. This one ingredient smoked sardine recipe will make your dogs and cats go crazy. It's any easy treat that can be made any time. You won't believe how easy it is.

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3rd-4th Grade Reading List: Clean Books w/ Free Printable

  Here is my reading list for grades 3-4.  I decided to put these lists together for two grade levels at a time.  Many kids do not read at the same level so this allows for some differences in ability.  You will see some overlap in my book lists.  This again is to accommodate multiple reading levels.  My plan is to eventually have a reading list for each grade level.  But until then, this will have to do.   I absolutely believe in reading to kids.  So you will find books for this.  Reading to your children helps develop listening, cognitive and verbal skills.  So don’t skip it! Clean Books Every book on this reading list is a clean book.  This means they are uplifting, wholesome, with no profanity, and no magic or violence (unless noted).  I have done my best to review these books.  However, should I miss something or you feel a book should be added to this list, please send me a comment in the box below. If you are looking for a reading list for K-2 you can read my post below: K-2 Reading List: Clean Books w/ Free Printable. In addition to a reading list, you will see notated books that have study guides available.  I use TCR Study Guides, Novel-Ties and Great Works Literature Guides when available.  Each of the guides is easy to use and can be adapted to Charlotte Mason style narration exercises if desired.  They are also secular in nature, so they should be usable by most, if not all, families. Parent Read Aloud to Children (Above Level) A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer-This is a book about history that is linear in how it’s put together.  Overall, it is a beautiful narrative of history.  The book is decidedly secular with several small references that have some Christian context at the beginning.  If you do not wish to include these in your lessons, just skip the first few chapters.  It won’t cause any issues.   Also, there is some violence in this book.  While it is fairly minimal, if you are concerned, you will want to pre-read the lessons. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett -Note:  This book does contain several references toward magic near the end of the book.  However, it is possible for parents to edit this completely out if you are doing a read aloud.  We chose to use it as a family discussion instead. TCR Unit Study Available A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Weiss Student Led Reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl Novel-Ties Unit Study Available Black Beauty by Anna Sewell Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White Novel-Ties Unit Study or Great Works Lit Guide  The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White Novel-Ties Study Guide Available Stuart Little by E.B. White TCR Unit Study Available The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary Novel-Ties Unit Study Available Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater TCR Unit Study Available Henry Huggins Series by Beverly Cleary Novel-Ties Unit Study Available Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder TCR Unit Study Available Heidi by Joanna Spyri Sara, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan Great Works Lit Guide or TCR Unit Study Available Classic Starts Series Books These are cleaned up, simplified favorites of classic books.  They are meant to be read from ages 7-10.  A good choice for parents looking for classics to read that have been edited to remove many objectionable parts or adult themes.  Some options are Journey to the Center of the Earth, Adventures of Robin Hood, Adventures of Shirlock Holmes, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Great Expectations, Little Women, A Little Princess and The Prince and the Pauper Parent Recommended Series-These are not books I have read yet, but they come highly recommended as clean reads from parents.  Please make sure to pre-read if you have any concerns. Little Britches Series By Ralph Moody. The recommendation by parents is to stop at book 5 as it is a harder read for children after that. Grandma’s Attic Series By Arleta Richardson All of a Kind Family By Sydney Taylor.  This book does have references to religious observances (Jewish). Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan Free Printable List To get your free printable copy of this reading list, click on the link here below: Free Printable 3rd-4th Grade Reading List

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K-2 Reading List: Clean Books w/ Free Printable

  Teaching your children to read is life changing.  It opens up a world of possibilities for them.  It offers them independent learning and so many opportunities.  If you could only teach them how to do one thing in your entire homeschool journey, this is it.  So today, we are going to discuss a reading list for grades K-2. It would be great if every kid was reading in Kindergarten.  However, different kids learn at different rates.  Some will pick up reading really fast.  Some will not.  My child hated reading but loved to be read to with huge novels.  So instead of forcing my child to read, we focused on us reading chapter books together.  So this reading list of books for grades K-2 are not necessarily ones your child will read themselves.  Some of these are books you will read to them.  Yes, some of them are big and long.  But reading books above grade level can do so much good for your child.  They learn big words and big ideas.  This in turn leads to big thinkers. Clean Books Every book on this reading list is a clean book.  This means they are uplifting, wholesome, with no profanity, and no magic or violence (unless noted).  I have done my best to review these books.  However, should I miss something or you feel a book should be added to this list, please send me a comment in the box below. If you are in need of an additional set of reading lists, you can find the 3rd-4th grade reading list below: 3rd-4th Grade Reading List: Clean Books w/ Free Printable Keep in mind that if you are using the Charlotte Mason approach to reading, several of these books would be referred to as “twaddle”.  However, I think that at this young of an age, any book that excites a child to want to read is okay.  Most of these books excite and encourage young readers, and many, while not being exactly Charlotte Mason, do provide good moral lessons.  Even the simple books such as “Press Here” and “Don’t Press the Button” are valuable in their kinesthetic abilities to teach hands on skills.  Study Guides In addition to this reading list, you will see notated books that have study guides available.  I use TCR Study Guides, Novel-Ties and Great Works Literature Guides depending on what’s available.  Each of the guides is easy to use and can be adapted to Charlotte Mason style narration exercises if desired.  They are also secular in nature, so they should be usable by most, if not all, families. Parent Read Aloud to Children (Above Level) A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer-This is a book about history that is linear in how it’s put together.  Overall, it is a beautiful narrative of history.  The book is decidedly secular with several small references that have some Christian context at the beginning.  If you do not wish to include these in your lessons, just skip the first few chapters.  It will not take away anything from the book.  Also, there is some violence in this book.  While it is fairly minimal, if you are concerned, you will want to pre-read the lessons Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl-This book is sooo much better than the movie.  A wonderful story with wonderful values. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White Stuart Little by E.B. White The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary-There are 3 books in this series. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater Henry Huggins Collection by Beverly Cleary-This is a 6 book set all about a little boy and his dog.  All the books are clean reads and make wonderful read a louds for younger kids. Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder-This has 9 books in all. Student Read Aloud Books (At Level) The Elephant & Piggy Series by Mo Williams-Every one of these books is great.  They are clean and funny.  Kids and adults alike will enjoy them. Don’t Let the Pigeon Series by Mo Williams-Another great series that will be enjoyed by all. Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter Press Here by Herve Tullet Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey Caps for Sale by E. Slobodkina TCR Unit Study Available Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett The Little House Book by Virginia Lee Burton The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf If You Give…Series by Laura Numeroff Great Works Lit Guide or TCR Study Guide  The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes by Phyllis-Krasilovsky-Note: This is an old book and does have a reference to smoking in it.  I used it as a teaching opportunity about smoking for my child.   Outside of this, it has an otherwise wonderful lesson about cleanliness. Step into Reading Level 1 These books are made to be read by smaller children as beginning readers.  There are many books in this series.  It is too numerous to list them all.  Please note that not all will be appropriate for all children, nor are they all educational.  Please make sure to pre-read these books if you have any concerns. Free Printable List To get your free printable copy of this reading list, click on the link here below: Free Printable K-2 Reading List  

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4th Grade Curriculum Picks

  So I thought I would share what we are using this year for our curriculum picks.  I always choose from a lot of different curriculum.  Don’t freak out!  This in no way means that you should use them all.  Some of these programs are not for everyday use.  I do a rotating schedule to fit more subjects in.  Some of them (All About Homophones for example), I only use once every other week.  I like to plan a lot of different options throughout the year.  But this doesn’t mean we use them all at once.  I always like to have more available than less.  Sometimes we use all of our curriculum picks, sometimes we don’t. Many of these curriculums have full lesson plans on Homeschool Planet to make it super easy for you to schedule your lessons. As you can see, we are keeping a lot of the same ones from the year before.  I have been pretty happy with what we are using and would like to continue.  So here’s what we ended up deciding to use. 4th Grade Curriculum Math- Beast Academy Level 4 and Saxon 5/4.  Yes, I really use both.  I use Beast Academy as our main math curriculum and Saxon to fill in any gaps.  You can read more about how we use our math program in my post Why Beast Academy Is My Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculum and you can also read about Choosing a Math Curriculum. Science-Super Charged Science Cursive-Zaner Bloser Cursive 4 Grammar-Shirley English Jingles and Fix It Grammar Art-Artistic Pursuits K-3 History-We are using a mix of unit studies this year from Homeschool in the Woods Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, as well as audiobooks from Story of the World.  We are also reading from A Child’s history of the world. Music-Alfreds Kids Ukulele Course Complete.  We started using this book last year.  It’s easy to use and comes with audio. Spelling-All About Spelling.  If you are interested in this program, you can read all about My Experience With All About Spelling. Homophones-All About Homophones. I’ve also written a full review on this program.  You can read Teaching Kids About Homophones for more information on this program. Reading-Pathways Level 3 English-Climbing to Good English 3 Foreign Language- We are trying a combination of Flip Flop Spanish and Talkbox Spanish this year.  Make sure to check out a complete overview of Unboxing Talkbox.mom Language Subscription Kits for more on this program. Critical Thinking-Basics of Critical Thinking Literature-  For our literature studies this year we are reading A Child’s History of the World, The Sea Wolf, and My Side of the Mountain.  All of these will be read Charlotte Mason Style as narrations with discussion questions or Novel-Ties Study Guides. Self guided reading is done throughout the week with independent choices using a “book box.”   Art History Unit Studies-We will be using Art in History’s Persian and Greek Pottery units to round out our history lessons. STEM-All STEM kits are KIWICO projects which we do throughout the year.

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Homeschool Hardware: 10 Equipment Must Haves

  So last time we discussed all the smaller equipment you might need for your homeschool classroom.  This time I thought we should discuss all the big homeschool equipment you should consider having.  Every classroom needs some actual equipment to use.  Each families needs are different, so remember these are my top 10 picks for classroom equipment must haves.  Get what works for you. 1. Color Laser Printer I know what you’re thinking.  A color laser printer is a need?  Yes, in my home it is.  Just about every project we do requires printing.  Many of these projects (Homeschool in the Woods for instance) require color printing.  It is much more cost effective to print on a laser printer than an inkjet.  It also doesn’t bleed or smear on the page and the toner lasts way longer than ink.  I usually go through a set of cartridges a year.  It costs more upfront but in the long run I save money.  If color is not in your budget, a basic black and white laser printer will work too.  I used one for years.  No matter which one you get, make sure they have Bluetooth printing.  One that prints from your phone or your tablet is what I use.  There are so many times when I am looking up something on my device and I end up wanting it for school.  This feature makes it so easy to print.  No running to my desktop.  Just click, print and it’s done. 2. The Laminator & Sheets Okay so this is a biggie.  Every classroom needs a laminator.  You will be amazed at how often you use it.  I use it constantly for things like chore charts, cheat sheets, speed math and so much more.  I recommend an inexpensive one that has a high and low setting.  Sometimes it’s a thickness setting.  You can go with a nicer model, but really it’s not necessary unless you are doing tons of laminating in different sizes.   Some of the models come as multi-tasking devices.  They come as 3 in 1 laminators and have things like paper cutters and corner rounders built in.  Don’t forget to pick up laminating sheets as well.  The standard thickness will work for most jobs. 3. Google or Alexa Device I use my smart device all the time in the classroom.  If I need to know how much the earth weighs, I don’t have to reach for an encyclopedia.  I just ask Google or Alexa.  I can play classical music for my music appreciation classes and it can read us stories and facts.  When in comes to smart devices, my choice is google device for the classroom.  Google device wins hands down over Alexa for information because it uses google for its search engine.  So if you are choosing one, go Google .  However, if Alexa is on sale the least expensive model will do for a small classroom.  The speaker range is good and it will work for most things.  4. CD Player I know what you’re going to ask?  Why have both a smart device and a CD player???  Well, the reason is because a lot of curriculums use either a CD, USB, or MP3/4’s for their audio tracks.  I have found that there really isn’t a standard system for what companies use. I prefer to have a multitasking device.  That way, I always have what I need.  So when you go looking for a CD player, make sure it can play CD’s, USB’s and has Bluetooth.  5. Electric Tracing Light Board This electric tracing light board is another great inexpensive tool for the classroom.  It’s amazing for teaching art lessons and science class.  The board plugs into the wall and lights up.  You put whatever you are tracing on it and you can easily trace everything from leaves to portraits.  It’s thin, lightweight and portable.  To be able to use it on the go, make sure to get one that plugs into the wall.    6. Microscope Every classroom, no matter the age, needs a microscope.  Nothing is cooler than collecting specimens wherever you are and making slides out of them.  We have studied everything from bugs to Aloe Vera cuttings. Nature class just isn’t the same without one. The good news is a really good microscope doesn’t have to cost a ton.  They have come down in price a lot over the years.  When thinking of what to buy, consider that it’s a piece of equipment that will be used for many years.  We get lots of use out of ours, so durability is a must.  I highly recommend one that runs on both batteries and a plug in model.  It allows you to take it outside and study things like snowflakes in the winter.  You can even take it on outdoor adventures.  Another great feature of ours is that it allows you to attach a smartphone to it and take pictures of what you are studying.  Be sure that is has a secondary light that shines down on your specimens.  This allows you to insert larger items like giant bugs into it.  So cool! We store all of our larger specimens in Petri dishes or glass jars.  But, you can buy pre-made slides or just make your own. 7. Globe No classroom is complete without a map or globe of some sort.  This is a long term, budget friendly purchase that helps with everything from geography to art or even history.  I really like globes as they show what our earth looks like better than flat maps.  I particularly enjoy the ones that have topographical features for more of a 3d look, but a simple globe will work just fine. 8. Teaching Clock So this teaching clock is great for the elementary grades.  They make a basic plastic practice version of these that will teach children how to use an analog clock.  Get several mini versions, and you can teach about time zones. I’m also

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Homeschool Hardware: 10 Basic Must Haves

  Whenever I read questions from parents about homeschool, someone always asks what items you can’t live without.  So I thought we would talk about must have classroom equipment or as I like to call it “The Homeschool Hardware”.  Today we will talk about 10 of my favorite must have items you need for your classroom to run efficiently and smoothly.  Keep in mind, these are my “must haves”.  So if you wouldn’t use them, don’t.  You do you.   1. Three Hole Punch It’s amazing how something as simple as this, is so necessary.  I use mine weekly.  Make sure to get a simple, easy to use three hole punch.  I like ones with adjustable guides and an easy disposal bin like this one.  It also requires less weight to push, making it easier for kids to use.  If you are limited on space, go for a compact model.   2. Paper trimmer or cutter If you have the space for a full size paper cutter, I would definitely invest in a big one.  I don’t have the room for it so I use a small paper trimmer.  It still works great, but you can only cut one or two pieces of paper at a time, not twenty.  Make sure it has an extendable ruler for odd sizes of paper.  You also want to have one that has an easy to swap out replacement blade option, as paper tends to dull them out rather quickly.  I’ve tried quite a few and my favorite is this Cricut paper trimmer. 3. The Whiteboard I have several sizes of whiteboards.  If your classroom is big enough get a wall mounted white board for everyday use.  But, I always like to keep a small portable whiteboard around 8.5×11 inches.  This makes it easy to take on the go.  Sometimes we like to work outside when the weather is nice.  Make sure to get one that is magnetic.  It makes it easy to keep things attached to them.  You will also need it for curriculums that use magnetic pieces such as All About Spelling. Don’t forget your dry erase markers.  I only use Expo brand.  I have tried many others, but they just don’t erase as well.  Honestly, not all the colors are as erasable either.  I find that the standard colors are the best.   4. Boogie boards If you are not a fan of whiteboards or you just want something a little more techie, I love our boogie board.  If you haven’t seen these, they are awesome.  It’s like a writeable etch-a-sketch.  You can write, erase and write again thousands of times, without needing a new one.  Ours is a couple of years old and still going strong.  These are great for school, car rides, the doctor’s office and church.  It keeps the kids busy and isn’t distracting. 5. Pencil Sharpener I tried going my first year with just a little handheld pencil sharpener. Nope, it just doesn’t cut it.  Every five minutes I was attempting to hand sharpen a pencil.  So now, I keep two models in the classroom, an old school classroom pencil sharpener like this one below.  Kids just enjoy using it and find it fun.  Plus, it gives their fine motor skills a workout.  But if that’s not your style, I also use a fully electric pencil sharpener.  Get one with different size holes so you can sharpen colored pencils and odd sizes.  I also recommend one that has a large disposal bin so you don’t have to change it every three seconds.  You will want one that plugs into the wall, not a battery operated only model.  They don’t have enough power and you will be changing batteries all the time. Speaking of pencils, Ticonderoga’s are my favorite.  They are the best, hands down.  They work better, sharpen better, and they don’t lose chunks when you sharpen them, making them last longer.  For a few pennies more, they are totally worth it.   6. Tape Dispenser I used to buy tape in the little portable handheld dispensers.  But honestly, we go through a lot of tape during the year.   Not only that, I hate waste and excess packaging.  A tape dispenser is more economical and less wasteful in the long run.  The initial investment is worth the long term savings.  You don’t need anything fancy here.  Just get the basic one. 7. The Stapler A stapler is another must have in my opinion.  My advice is don’t buy the cheapest one.  Nothing is as annoying as a stapler that jams every time you use it.  So go with a decent quality one and don’t forget the staples.  If you are low on space, they make these mini versions which actually work very well.  You can also get a full size vertical model that saves space as well. 8. Pencil/Pen Caddy I’m a big fan of desk caddy’s.  Every classroom should have one.  I prefer a desk caddy that spins like a Lazy Susan.  They make it easier to access what you need quickly.  It also makes it easier for kids to put their things away.  Keeping your classroom tidy is a full time job if you don’t keep on top of it.  The easier the clean up, the happier you will be. 9. Hot Glue Gun Glue sticks are great.  But when I need more I reach for the hot glue gun.  It works for art projects, history, and science.  It’s also cheap and effective.  If you are saving space, get the smaller models that come with smaller hot glue sticks.  Otherwise, I like the sturdiness of larger hot glue guns.  When looking for a glue gun, make sure to get one that stands up on its own.  Otherwise you will have a hot mess.  Another feature to look for is a high/low temp switch.  That way you can adjust the temperature based on who’s using it.  A nice feature when working with little ones. 10.

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3rd Grade Curriculum Picks

  Okay so I’m really behind on this post.  I wanted to get our curriculum choices out a lot earlier.  But since we already used these, I thought it was a good idea to post our 3rd grade curriculum picks.  So here’s what we ended up using: Math-Beast Academy Level 3 and Saxon Homeschool 3 Science-Supercharged Science Cursive-Zaner Bloser Cursive 3 Grammar Shirley English Homeschool 3 and Shirley English Jingles Grammar-Fix it! Grammar Art-Artistic Pursuits K-3 History Unit Studies-Time Travelers The Civil War & The Early 19th Century History-Story of the World Music-Alfreds Kids Ukulele Course Complete Spelling-All About Spelling 3 Vocabulary-All About Homophones Reading-Pathway Readers Level 2 English-Climbing to Good English 2 Writing-Writing with Ease: Design Your Own Curriculum Foreign Language-Calico Spanish  Literature-Charlottes Web, Journey to the Center of the Earth and the Secret Garden STEM-All STEM kits were KIWICO projects All of our literature studies were done as Charlotte Mason Style narration with the exception of Charlottes Web.  We added a unit study to it.  Self guided reading was done throughout the week with independent choices.   Just about everything we used was really good.  We did switch from Shirley English to Fix It! Grammar mid way through the year.  I kept the Shirley English Jingles, but found that Fix It! Grammar worked better for us.  We also made the choice to switch our Spanish curriculum as we had outgrown the Calico Spanish program. If you are interested in some of the programs we use, I have written full reviews of the following: My Experience with All About Spelling Teaching Kids About Homophones My Honest Review of Calico Spanish KiwiCo Eureka Crates Overview Why Beast Academy Is My Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculum Be sure to check these out!  I’ll be sure to share what we use for our upcoming curriculum shortly.

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Bad Handwriting-Why The Paper Matters

  So, you have a child with bad handwriting.  Maybe it’s sloppy or maybe it’s huge.  What do you do?  How do you help them?  Today we will be discussing how to improve handwriting. One way to really help a child with poor handwriting is paper. Yes really!  The paper you use matters and today we are going to talk about why. Paper is something no one really thinks about.  We use it constantly.  But we never really stop to consider its value.  Having the right kind of paper can make the difference between illegible handwriting and beautiful, clean writing for years to come. Why the Paper Matters My child has always had trouble writing neatly.  In kindergarten they gave the kids special lined paper, but the next thing you know, they are moving them to standard, wide ruled paper.  Smaller handwriting allows a child to write more without tiring the hand as much.  However, what I found was that it is extremely hard for a child to go from writing really big to really small.  I found myself just allowing the use of two lines on college ruled paper as one line and making dashes in the middle.  This actually works quite well if you are on a budget.  But it causes a whole other problem.  The handwriting, while neater, is now bigger than before.  So how do we make it smaller?     Primary Composition Books Some companies make what are called primary composition notebooks.  These have dashed lines for making clean letters.  They are also very reasonably priced, and you can find them HERE.  The downside to these type of notebooks is that they only come in one size.  Roaring Springs In my search for another option, I stumbled upon Roaring Springs Composition Books by accident.  Can I just say that I’m so excited by these!  These composition books are organized by grade. You can select grades 1, 2 or 3.  Each grade is ruled with horizontal lines and a dashed line in between.  This helps train handwriting skills in print and in cursive.  The best part is, that as the grade goes up, the lines get closer and closer together.  This ensures that a smooth transition can be made to standard wide ruled paper. Roaring Springs Grade 1 has a 1” lines, with ½” center lines & can be found HERE. Roaring Springs Grade 2 has ¾” lines, with ⅜” center lines & can be found HERE. Roaring Springs Grade 3 has ⅜” lines, with 3/16” center lines & can be found HERE. Final Thoughts These composition books make it easy to teach proper letter formation and control the size and structure of both cursive and print.  They also teach boundaries and proper control when forming letters.  After using these it’s easy to move on to wide ruled paper and then eventually, college ruled.  Don’t forget my nifty trick for smaller hands, golf pencils.  By using smaller golf pencils and composition notebooks, you will ensure neater and cleaner writing skills. Try these out and let me know what you think.  Hopefully, they will help your child smoothly transition to smaller, cleaner and more beautiful handwriting.  If you have any other amazing paper or handwriting finds, let me know.  For more tips on better handwriting, you can check out my post Writing Challenges-When Your Child Hates Writing If you enjoyed this post, check out these others: How to Choose a Cursive Curriculum 10 Ways to Make History Come to Life Unboxing All About Spelling Level 4

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