Category Archives: Our Life

Digital Scrapbook Template #83

Edited to add: This freebie has expired as of May 5, 2018. It has been added to my Etsy Store of Digital Scrapbook Templates.

There is a nice snowstorm hitting our state this weekend, which gave me some extra time to get some scrapbooking done. Yay!

12×12 Version

Two-Page Template for 12x12 scrapbookers

Two-Page Template for 12×12 scrapbookers

8.5×11 Version

Two-Page Template for 8.5x11 scrapbookers

Two-Page Template for 8.5×11 scrapbookers

Original Layout:
Butterfly Pavilion

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Trinket Busy Board

Kids always seem to want to play with the metal parts of things, like latches on doors and other things, so my husband had the idea to build something for our girls to fiddle with endlessly that didn’t have any sharp edges or small removable parts, but which wasn’t just another piece of primary colored plastic either.

Trinket Board

This is a board with a bunch of brass hardware screwed to it. There’s a fisheye lens peephole, a hinged door, six different latches, a knob, a handle, a door stop, a threaded rod with nuts and bolts that you can turn, and a few other odds and ends. You can unlatch and remove one whole end of it. The hardware was purchased at our local hardware store and attached to a piece of scrap wood that was nicely cut and stained.

Trinket Board

It doesn’t really do anything, but maybe it will excite the part of their brain that helps them think about mechanics and engineering.  I think it will also help with hand/eye coordination and fine motor skill development. 🙂

Zoo Trip – Scrapbook Layout

One of the benefits of homeschooling – impromptu field trips! 🙂

Zoo Scrapbook Layout
Scraplift of a layout by AnyaL, Kit is Zoe Pearn’s “Isn’t She Lovely”

When spring hits, especially when we have these mild Colorado days, we really struggle with Spring fever and the desire to be outside. Yet I keep looking at the calendar and comparing it with the number of lessons we have yet to do. Guess we’d better not play hooky for too many days. 🙂

Science Experiment (Atoms and Molecules)

In our science curriculum, Real Science 4 Kids Chemistry, we are learning about atoms and how they join together in different ways to create molecules. Adrianna particularly enjoyed the science experiment that went along with this chapter. We got to create molecules using marshmallows and toothpicks! And afterward, we got to eat our creations. 🙂

Science experiment

Science experiment

Science experiment

Starting our First Grade Year

Things have been really busy around our house now that school has started back up. First grade is off to a good start!

We have a new desk from Ikea. Adrianna and I share the desk, which has been working out great. Although I do look forward to the day when she will be able to do more independent work.

New Desk

New Desk

We switched up some of our curriculum this year. Here is a sample of today’s workboxes:

For Math, we are using Abeka.

For History/Geography/Social Studies, we are using Sonlight again. Their Usborne books are still on my favorites list and Adrianna really enjoys them too. She has really been getting into the Peoples of the World book shown below.

For Reading, we are trying out Bob Jones (BJU).

Spelling, Phonics and Handwriting are also BJU. Here is a sample of the spelling.

For Bible, we are using Sonlight. When I sat down on the floor to read this to Adrianna today, Bree spotted the book in my hand and immediately backed up her little hiney and plopped right down into my lap. She loves colorful books.

For Read-Alouds, we are also using Sonlight. Their read-aloud selections are another reason I chose to use them again this year. This is the poetry book we are reading out of. (Warped after a quick stint in the water table, courtesy of Bree.) We are also currently in the middle of Charlotte’s Web, which we usually read at bedtime rather than placing in a workbox.

I found this next book at the homeschool conference in June and, knowing Adrianna’s keen interest in maps, I thought it would be a great addition to our year. It has really been a hit so far and she likes coloring the maps after we are done.


For science, we are going to try out Real Science 4 Kids’ Chemistry curriculum. Hopefully it will arrive in the mail soon!

Bree is pretty good about entertaining herself during school, at least part of the time. Since our school room also doubles as the playroom, she happily toddles around pulling toys and books off of their shelves and generally creates a big mess. My little tornado.

Zoey’s Closet

My friend, Myndi, has been busy raising awareness for the sweet kids on Reece’s Rainbow and specifically for a little 3 year old girl named Annabell. Myndi has been busy sewing adorable dresses and aprons as a part of a project she is calling Zoey’s Closet, named after her daughter. The winner gets to keep one dress and then has another one to give away to a friend while telling them about the Zoey’s Closet and Reece’s Rainbow. I was the lucky winner for June and I am thrilled with the dresses!!

Here are a couple pictures of my daughter wearing the “AnnaBanana Dress”. Which works out well since we often call Adrianna our Adrianna-banana. Adrianna loves this dress so much that she has worn it for the last 2 days in a row.

And here is Zoey wearing the “Hope Dress”.

Aren’t they adorable? (Both the girls and the dresses!) I am having a hard time deciding which dress to keep and which to give away – I love them both!!

Well, Myndi is hosting another great giveway on her blog for the month of July. This time, it is for some cute art aprons named after two more precious children on Reece’s Rainbow, Thalia and Josie. (Update: it looks like Thalia has found her forever family – hooray!)

Here are a couple pics I lifted from her blog.

It is so easy to enter the drawing to win these.

Each one gives you an entry into the drawing. Make sure to leave a comment on the giveway page so Myndi knows how many times to enter your name in the drawing!

Thanks for looking.

Using Pinterest For Scrapbooking (and Other) Inspiration

When I feel like I am in a scrapbooking slump or when I am looking for some motivation to create a new layout, one of my first moves is to check out an online scrapbook gallery. Browsing through so many creative layouts often provides me with some inspiration or ideas to create a layout of my own.

If I run across a layout that I truly love, I find myself wanting to bookmark it so that I can return to it again in the future. I have tried several different methods of bookmarking my favorite layouts. First, I tried just using my browser’s bookmarking capability. That quickly became overwhelming, even after I created individual folders to contain them in. Next, I tried Delicious. I stuck with this one for a year or more and did appreciate that I could add and search on keywords for my bookmarks, but it was still cumbersome since I would have to actually click on each bookmarked link to open it up in my browser to view and see which particular layout it was. Then last year, I stumbled across Tumblr and was excited that each of my bookmarked scrapbook layouts actually appeared as an image. And I could follow other people with similar interests. I was with Tumblr for a year and thought I was happy…until a friend introduced me to Pinterest.

Pinterest has become a new online addiction for me. It does everything (and more) than I had hoped for from Tumblr and Delicious. If you haven’t heard of Pinterest, it is basically all about visual bookmarking. According to their website:

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

I can create and organize my own folders (called boards) of bookmarked images (called pins) in any manner I like. I have boards for scrapbook layouts, craft ideas, homeschool ideas, recipes, home decorating ideas, dachshunds and many more.
My Pinterest Boards

I can also follow people who have similar interests. Or if I choose, I can follow just their individual boards that I am interested in. For instance, Pam Beasley might have two boards on her profile. One of scrapbook layouts and one of sports. I am not a fan of sports but I like her taste in scrapbooking, so I can choose to follow only her scrapbook layouts board instead of everything she pins. All activity from the boards I follow will show up on my main page, where I can easily repin anything I like to one of my own boards.

All pins are automatically linked to the original website/blog where the image was located. For instance, if I pin a recipe I find online, I can click on the pinned image to be brought back to the website/blog where the image was pinned from so that I can read the actual recipe. (Note: be sure your pins are from direct blog post rather than the main blog itself so that you are brought back to the original post rather than only the top level of the blog.)

Pinning a photo from any website is so simple. Pinterest has a little bookmark you can put right on your browser’s bookmarks bar and when you are on the website that has the image you want to pin, simple click the Pin It bookmark and you can select the image and which board you want to add it to. Done and done. In fact, it is SO simple that I think scrapbook freebie finders could use it. Instead of them having to save and recreate freebie previews and links on their blogs, they could simply pin the freebies they find into a folder in just seconds. I’ve even started a freebies folder of my own.

You can assign keywords to your pins so that others can easily find them when searching. I try to always make sure I add the keywords of #scrapbook #layout to the layouts I pin.

As of right now, you do need to request an invite from Pinterest in order to create a profile and start pinning. I am not sure how long they are in getting back to you, so I would recommend having someone you know invite you so that you can get started faster. If you want an invite, just leave me a comment and I will be happy to send you one.

The Daily Digi has a great step-by-step beginner’s post on Pinterest here if you are interested in learning more.

Do you use Pinterest?

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Homeschooling and Personal History

AdriannaOne (of the many) things I love about homeschooling is the opportunity to tie history or world events to our family and personal histories. Or being able to tie them to experiences that I know Adrianna has had. Not only does it make school more real and fun, but it also helps broaden her world view so she can see how it relates to her personally.

For instance, today in History we discussed World War 2. Part of the discussion was about how the Germans began to bomb London so many of the children were sent away, for their safety, to live in the countryside. Tie in: the reason the kids in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe were in that big mysterious house in the country at the beginning of the story. I love watching the wheels turn in her mind as she puts those two pieces of information together. Another tie in in regards to the Nazis and the Holocaust that I was able to remind her of: the Twenty and Ten story we read a few weeks ago.

In Social Studies today, we had a true story about C.F. Klassen and how, right after World War 2, he helped many Russian Mennonites (who spoke Low German) immigrate to safety to Canada, the U.S. and South America. Tie in: my husband’s family has a Mennonite background, his grandparents speak Low German and his grandfather has done translation work into Low German for Low German speaking people in South America. I was very excited to be able to talk about these pieces of family history right along with our Social Studies story.

Now obviously, not every day has such obvious tie-ins but it is so nice getting a firsthand look at everything Adrianna is learning and being able to point back to school things that come up in everyday conversations. Also today, she was coloring a picture online of a castle that had a moat. I was able to remind her of the castles we learned about in History a few months ago that had moats as a form of protection from enemies and also refer to a book we read (The Magic Tree House: Knight at Dawn) that also had a moat in it. Repetition, repetition.

*If* Adrianna does make it into the charter school down the road for the next school year and *if* I decide to send her, I am going to be sorely tempted to ask the teacher for a syllabus just so I can stay actively involved in what she is learning and continue to look for opportunities to tie it to our everyday lives. (Do elementary teachers even have syllabuses?)

Super Mario Pictograph

For our Math curriculum, we are using Saxon Math. The recommended assignment for Friday was to create a Winter Activities pictograph, graphing favorite indoor vs. outdoor winter activities. When making my lesson plans the night before, I decided that it would be a lot more fun for Adrianna to make a Super Mario pictograph instead.

In her work box, I put 8 squares I had cut out of some light blue card stock. When she opened that drawer, she was instructed to draw 8 of her favorite Mario characters. (I did not include the chart I’d made for the project nor did I tell her what we would be doing with the drawings, as I didn’t want to skew the results in any way.)

After she had drawn 8 characters, I gave her a glue stick and the chart and told her we were going to make a pictograph and that she needed to graph out the “good guys” on the first line and the “bad guys” on the lower line.

Final result – Good Guys 5 (Mario, Princess Daisy, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad) vs. Bad Guys 3 (Goomba, Bowser, Magikoopa).

Mario Pictograph

Scrapbook Layout – Pumpkin Patch

I just finished a two-page layout of our trip to the pumpkin patch this year.

Pumpkin Patch - 2 Page Scrapbook Layout
Credits: Kit is Falling Softly by Kristin Cronin-Barrow, Scraplift of a layout by AmyInKy which was based off a sketch by Allison Davis

Pumpkin Patch - 2 Page Scrapbook Layout

Pumpkin Patch - 2 Page Scrapbook Layout

What’s in the WorkBox: Kindergarten edition

I really enjoy seeing samples of what others are using in their workbox system. It was blog posts by other homeschool moms showing how they used their workbox system in their school day that inspired me to want to give it a try. I also am hooked on seeing what curriculum and creative ideas others use with their kids.

So, here is my first “What’s in the box Wednesday” post. Except the day I took the photos was Thursday and I am posting it on a Saturday. Oh well, it still will provide a glimpse of our school days this past week.

The Usborne Book of Living Long Ago: I love this history book and its illustrations. Even I feel like I am learning as I read it out loud to Adrianna. This week, we read about “Chinese Ways” from 500 years ago.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia: Like the book above, this is another amazing book from Usborne. It contains science and history. This week we read about Ming China around 500ish years ago. This book also has a website with many linked resources to supplement and enhance whatever subject you are studying. Adrianna and I used google to search for images of the Great Wall of China.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

I Can Read It! Book 1: This particular subject (reading) tends to be one of our most difficult to complete each day in terms of motivation on Adrianna’s part, so I always try to put it towards the beginning of our day, basically so we can get it over with. I also try to sandwich it between two books that I read out loud to her so that the subjects before and after are easier for her.

She is doing well with her reading and can read or sound out consonant-vowel-consonant words pretty easily when she wants to.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

The Light at Tern Rock: A fiction read-aloud book that we read through this week. She wasn’t as into it as some of the other read-alouds we’ve done in the past with the Sonlight curriculum.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

Explode the Code 1: Our writing curriculum which basically is a workbook of activities to get her thinking, reading and writing vowel-consonant-vowel words. She usually does very well with these.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

For math, one thing we are currently working on is learning how to tell time on both regular and digital clocks. So far we have worked on the full and half hours. These worksheets I found for free online and are not part of our normal curriculum. We also practice identifying the time using a whiteboard, on which I write a digital clock time, and by moving the big and little hands on some clock faces that came with our Saxon Math curriculum as a manipulative.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

Weather: For science right now we are learning more about the weather. This week we discussed how animals adapt and survive different weather by their fur coats changing color or by migrating.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

National Geographic Kids Magazine and Great Migrations Map from the National Geographic Magazine: We recently subscribed to National Geographic and also National Geographic Kids. I was so excited to see the first kids magazine that we received talked about animal migrations since that lined up with what we talked about in our Science class. And even better was the fact that one of our recent National Geographic magazines included a map of animal migrations as well. Love it! So these made it into a workbox to expand upon animal migrations this week.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

Arts/Crafts: I try to include some fun projects or even small dollar store toy incentives in our workboxes from time to time. Adrianna loves to paint, so these new paints and brushes were a big hit.

What's in the Box Wednesday: Kindergarten Workbox Example

With our new paint, we painted Adrianna’s hand and made a turkey out of it. I found the idea on Itsy Bitsy Learning. My little girly-girl decided to add a crown, a bib, and jewels at the ends of the turkeys feathers.

For more workbox ideas, you can visit Confessions of a Homeschooler every Wednesday.

Our Homeschool Workbox System

As a new homeschool mom, I have been frequenting many homeschool blogs for ideas, tips and any other helpful information I can find. One thing I have noticed is a lot of buzz surrounding the “workbox system”.

Our first six weeks of homeschooling went well overall. But although our Sonlight curriculum breaks everything down daily/weekly for me, I was still feeling a bit disorganized. It doesn’t help that we are currently on Week 8 for History and English, Week 5 for Reading (our most difficult subject), Week 3 for Science (which we added after we’d already started our school year), our Math isn’t broken up in the same way by weeks and I enjoy adding a lot of supplemental worksheets and tasks I find online.

After reading this great post on workboxes by Confessions of a Homeschooler, I decided I wanted to give the workbox system a try. So a couple of weekends ago, Greg and I visited one of my favorite stores, The Container Store, to see what they had that could be used for a workbox system. I ended up deciding to get some elfa metal drawers similar to the ones that we had bought earlier this year to organize our large Lego collection.

elfa Drawers for Legos

We ended up buying two more of the elfa metal drawer systems. The one on the left with the 10 shallow drawers will be used for our homeschooling. Since our school room also doubles as my office and the playroom, the drawer set on the right is going to house popular toys, such as dress-up clothes, Duplos (yes, we have a lot of Legos AND Duplos), kitchen set supplies and toy animals.

Our Workbox System

We decided not to buy the particle board tops to the drawer systems that The Container Store sells. Instead, Greg made me one out of some leftover wood, stain and varnish he had in the garage from when he made me my kitchen island. I love that the top he made me is one solid table top instead of two separate ones like the store had because I can easily put some school supplies and my printer on top.

Using our new drawers, we started our own version of the workbox system last week. What a difference it has made in our school day already! I am able to easily plan out our school day the night before (using a spreadsheet) and put each subject or task into its own drawer. When we start school, my daughter and I can both see how much schoolwork we have left before we are done for the day. Another bonus: we are actually getting more done in the same amount of time we had spent previously on our school day. I love this system.

Right now I am only planning one day at a time and that seems to work fine for us.

An additional benefit I hope to glean from this system is for my daughter to become more independent with some of her schoolwork. The Sonlight curriculum is literature based and since she is only now learning to read (she is in Kindergarten), that means that much of my time is spent reading to her. When we do have worksheets or other work that she could do on her own, she often wants me to sit with her and basically look over her shoulder as she completes the assignment and asks me lots of questions instead of trying to figure things out on her own. What I am working toward is have her work on her own, when it makes sense to do so, and turn in the assignment for me to grade later. I will be available for questions but I don’t want to be her crutch; I want her to try to figure things out on her own.

Here is a picture from our workboxes today. You can see that we have already finished our first two assignments, as the drawers have already been emptied.

Our Workbox System

I do not do the subjects in the same order each day. My only loose guidelines (so far) are that I put reading near the top since it is our most difficult subject and I try to intersperse independent or fun activities so we don’t feel too bogged down by too many read-alouds in a row, etc.

The beauty of the workbox system is that it is so customizable. Do a search for the workbox system and a lot of homeschool blogs will come up, each with their own version of the system. I have also joined some Yahoo groups that are just for workboxes and sharing ideas and free printables. How in the world did people homeschool before the internet? 😉

Do you use the workbox system or another organization system in your school day? Link me up in the comments; I would love to come check out how YOU do school.

Scrapbook Layout – Science Experiment

This is a scrapbook layout of our first science experiment as a part of our homeschooling.

Scrapbook Layout - Homeschooling Science Experiment
Credits: Layout created from a sketch by Allison Davis, Kit is “Sweet & Simple #10” by Gina Marie Huff

Journaling reads:

In science this week, we have been discussing the atmosphere and air. We found an easy little science
experiment where we could create carbon dioxide using baking soda and vinegar and have the gas that is created blow up a balloon.

First, we filled up a bottle with vinegar. Next, we made a funnel so that we could pour baking soda into the balloon. Then we fitted the balloon on the bottle and let the baking soda fall in to meet with the vinegar and create the gas, carbon dioxide, which blew into and inflated the balloon.

After we finished with our experiment, Adrianna named the blue balloon “Bluey” and the pink balloon “Pinky” and drew faces on them and enjoyed playing with them for a few days.

Fun Thanksgiving Kindergarten Math Project

This is my first year of homeschooling, and I am really enjoying it. My daughter is in Kindergarten. Our current curriculum (Sonlight) is very literature based, with lots of reading aloud by me. Many of the books are Usborne books, which I have fallen in love with. Usborne also has a website that offers many links to fun activities to go along with what we are learning in history or science.

I have decided that the internet, Google and a printer are a homeschooling mom’s best friend. There are so many resources available, many of them free. I also have a few blogs that I follow, written by other homeschool moms, that have been a source of valuable information and fun ideas. Almost every day we have incorporated a worksheet, color sheet or something else I find online to supplement, review or expand upon what we are learning in our actual school books.

Today, my daughter did this fun turkey math project. (At least I thought it was fun!) I found the turkey and the feathers online at File Folder Fun (free), printed them out and cut out all the feathers last night. Each turkey had a number on it. Each feather had a math problem. She had to glue each feather to the appropriate turkey which contained the correct number/answer to the math problem on the feather. And isn’t it fun that it is a turkey since Thanksgiving is coming up? Thank you, internet!

Turkey Math

Turkey Math

Okay, so this picture doesn’t have anything to do with the fun turkey math project, I just liked her cool hat that she made at her homeschool enrichment class on Tuesday.
Great Hat

First Barbie and Getting Crafty Scrapbook Layouts

My daughter and I making cards together. She is so creative!

Getting Crafty Scrapbook Layout
Credits: Template by Trixie Scraps (The FREE template is found here), Kit is “Forget Me Not” by Zoe Pearn

My daughter’s first Barbie doll.

First Barbie Scrapbook Layout
Credits: Template “freebie42” by ChrissyW, Papers are from “This Little Piggy” by Lliella, Ric-Rak by Misty Cato (recolored by me)