Category Archives: homeschool

Picture Book Biographies Instagram Series {undergodsmightyhand.com}

28 Awesome Picture Book Biographies

Back in February, I did an Instagram series of 28 mini-reviews of picture book biographies. I loved reading for that series and sharing those books, and I’m finally getting to list all of the books in one place here!

Picture books are an awesome medium for biographies because they can inform, encourage, tell an amazingly relatable story, and inspire all in 1500 words or less (and usually 1000 words or less). They’re useful for people/social studies in classrooms/homeschool, as well as introductions to special events or topics. Plus, most are written uniquely or beautifully and can be great mentor texts for kid writers and grown-up writers!

Read below for the title/author/illustrator for each book, plus a link to my mini-review on Instagram for each book.

Picture Book Biographies Instagram Series {undergodsmightyhand.com}

28 Awesome Picture Book Biographies

Basketball Belles by Sue Macy, illustrated by Matt Collins

Basketball Belles by Sue Macy, illustrated by Matt Collins (Holiday House, 2011) – My mini-review

Before John was a Jazz Giant - Carole Boston Weatherford, Sean Qualls

Before John was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Henry Holt, 2008) – My mini-review

Eleanor, Quiet No More - Doreen Rappaport, Gary Kelley

Eleanor, Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Gary Kelley (Disney-Hyperion, 2009) – My mini-review

Wilma Unlimited - Kathleen Krull, David Diaz

Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by David Diaz (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2000) – My mini-review

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! - Jonah Winter, Kevin Hawkes

Just Behave, Pablo Picasso! by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Arthur A. Levine books, 2012) – My mini-review

Nelson Mandela - Kadir Nelson

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson (Katherine Tegen Books, 2013) – My mini-review

Ben Franklin's Big Splash - Barb Rosenstock, S.D. Schindler

Ben Franklin’s Big Splash by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by S.D. Schindler (Calkins Creek, 2014) – My mini-review

When Marian Sang - Pam Munoz Ryan, Brian Selznick

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, 2002) – My mini-review

Rosa - Nikki Giovanni, Bryan Collier

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Henry Holt, 2007) – My mini-review

On a Beam of Light - Jennifer Berne, Vladimir Radunsky

On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky (Chronicle, 2013) – My mini-review

The Noisy Paint Box - Barb Rosenstock, Mary GrandPre

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPré (Knopf, 2014) – My mini-review

The Tree Lady - H. Joseph Hopkins, Jill McElmurry

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Beach Lane Books, 2013) – My mini-review

The Boy Who Loved Math - Deborah Heiligman, LeUyen Pham

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Roaring Book Press, 2013) – My mini-review

Words Set Me Free - Lesa Cline-Ransome, James E. Ransome

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon and Schuster, 2012) – My mini-review

The Iridescence of Birds - Patricia MacLachlan, Hadley Hooper

The Iridescence of Birds: A Story about Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Hadley Hooper (Roaring Book Press, 2014) – My mini-review

The Camping Trip that Changed America - Barb Rosenstock, Mordicai Gerstein

The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein (Dial, 2014) – My mini-review

Queen of the Falls - Chris Van Allsburg

Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg (HMH Books, 2011) – My mini-review

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library - Barb Rosenstock, John O'Brien

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by John O’Brien (Calkins Creek, 2013) – My mini-review

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise - Jan Pinborough, Debby Atwell

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough, illustrated by Debby Atwell (HMH Books, 2013) – My mini-review

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? - Tanya Lee Stone, Marjorie Priceman

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Henry Holt, 2013) – My mini-review

When the Beat was Born - Laban Carrick Hill, Theodore Taylor III

When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III (Roaring Book Press, 2013) – My mini-review

The Right Word - Jen Bryant, Melissa Sweet

The Right Word by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans, 2014) – My mini-review

Mama Miti - Donna Jo Napoli, Kadir Nelson

Mama Miti by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon and Schuster, 2010) – My mini-review

Seeds of Change - Jen Cullerton Johnson, Sonia Lynn Sadler

Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson, illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler (Lee and Low, 2010) – My mini-review

Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride - Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney

Sojourner Truth’s Step-Stomp Stride by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney (Disney, 2009) – My mini-review

Manfish - Jennifer Berne, Eric Puybaret

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne, illustrated by Eric Puybaret (Chronicle, 2008) – My mini-review

The Streak - Barb Rosenstock, Terry Widener

The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Terry Widener (Calkins Creek, 2014) – My mini-review

Emmanuel's Dream - Laurie Ann Thompson, Sean Qualls

Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Schwartz and Wade, 2015) – My mini-review

Even more great picture book biographies have come out since I did this series, and more are being published in the future! What are some of your family’s favorite picture book biographies?

Disclosure: I either own the books above or checked each out from our library system. I was not given any for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates and GrapeVine Studies. If you click on an Amazon link or a GrapeVine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Finding Special Needs Resources at CurrClick {plus a limited time freebie and a giveaway!}

Special Needs Homeschool Resources from CurrClick {plus a freebie!}

I first learned about CurrClick a couple of years ago from other homeschool bloggers. Then, I was able to meet some of the folks who work behind the scenes with CurrClick at a conference. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been able to find several great resources through CurrClick’s vendors. We’ve used seasonal printables, preschool packets, freebies, and more.

Finding Special Needs Resources at CurrClick {plus a limited time freebie and a giveaway!}

Original photo credit

Finding Special Needs Resources on CurrClick

CurrClick offers downloadable files, lapbooks, classes, videos, and more. CurrClick also runs regular promotions and many vendors offer quality freebies to supplement your homeschool activities. I’m constantly surprised by the affordable prices on CurrClick, too.

One thing I love about CurrClick’s search feature is the filter function. I’m able to narrow my search to age groups or particular needs, both of which are helpful for our family. I found these resources by looking at “preschool” and “Christmas” or “preschool” and “special needs.” Within special needs, there are several subcategories, like “fine motor considerations,” “speech,” and more. Here are just a few of the activities we’ve tried or recently downloaded for our preschooler with special needs (and his typical-developing sister).

Christmas Resources

12 Days of Christmas, Copywork, Activity Book, and Sheet Music – This packet offers copywork, preschool/early elementary learning activities, faith-based information, and actual sheet music of the 12 Days of Christmas song.

Christmas Sprit: Coloring Pages and Activities (a freebie!) – My preschoolers are going to love this packet! We’re using this one from now until Christmas. It offers coloring sheets, dot-to-dots, word searches, and sight word activities. Themed activities often motivate my son to practice handwriting skills. And, right now, it’s a freebie!

Seasonal and Topical Resources

Five Senses Lapbook – I’ve had this on my CurrClick wish list for a while. It’s a full unit download (114 pages) about the five senses with activities that can be modified for various special needs.

Autumn Leaves Lapbook – This lapbook turns leaves exploration in a hands-on learning experience even when reviewing information/facts.

And God Saw that It was Good – This particular download was created for a child with special needs, so it includes a multisensory approach with activities that can be modified for other needs.

Printable Packs that focus on a variety of fine motor skills

I particularly like printable packs that offer a variety of activities for fine motor skills (scissor, handwriting, crafts, etc.), reading, reading comprehension, spelling, and more. CurrClick is full of resources like these! Here are just a couple we’ve used or recently purchased.

African Safari Junior Printable Pack – Animals are always fun, and this printable pack offers information plus hands-on, fine motor practice.

Winter Junior Printable Pack – This pack has multiple kinds of activities, including matching, literacy, math, puzzles, sequencing, cutting practice and more.

All About Me student-created book – We’ve used this book with our preschoolers, both typical-developing and special needs. It’s a great one for self-awareness and fine motor practice.

A CurrClick Freebie!

CurrClick is offering a new freebie each day during this 12 Days of Christmas Homeschool Freebies and Resources promotion!

Today, CurrClick is offering this “Jack and Jill Rhyme Activity Packet” from Notebooking Nook for free! Preschool and elementary ages will love this packet. This freebie is available from December 8-10, 2014, so don’t delay. Add the product to your CurrClick cart, then include the code “CC12days8” at checkout to get this rhyme activity packet for free!

Jack and Jill rhyme activity packet freebie from CurrClick!

Follow allow with the rest of the 12 Days of Christmas Freebies and Resources blog series to get more freebies and check out more great resources other homeschool families are using from CurrClick!

12 Days of Christmas CurrClick Giveaway

12 Days of Christmas Homeschool Freebies and Resources from CurrClick

Enter to win a $20 gift certificate to CurrClick.com to get your own great curriculum supplements for your homeschool! They’ll draw 12 names for a $20 gift certificate each!

The giveaway runs through December 16th, 2014 at 10pm.

Enter below!

CurrClick

 

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for CurrClick, so if you click on a CurrClick link and then purchase a product, I will receive a small commission fee. This does not affect your cost. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family! I also received a few free CurrClick downloads to use and review as a participant in the 12 days blog tour.

One of our favorite preschool learning resources! Signing Time DVDs

A Favorite Preschool Learning Resource

I’ve mentioned it a few times here, but one of our favorite preschool resources are the Signing Time DVDs.

One of our favorite preschool learning resources! Signing Time DVDs

Not only were these essential when my son (who has multiple special needs) was expanding his sign vocabulary to be able to communicate with others, but these DVDs also incorporate early literacy skills through auditory, visual, and tactile aspects. Both of my children learned sight words earlypartly due to these episodes. Signing also provided my typical-developing daughter ways to communicate her wants and needs before she began talking. (And now she can interpret what her brother is saying when needed!)

Even after years of watching these shows, my husband and I still walk around the house singing these songs. They’re actually good “kid music.” The songs vary in sound, are fun to listen to, and allow practice with signing and memorization.

Today and tomorrow only (Tuesday, November 25th and Wednesday, November 26th): Signing Time is hosting a huge $10 DVD sale! Each DVD is only $10 week, which is half off the regular sale price!

Our favorites are in the Series 1 DVDs, especially:

And now they recently released a lovely Christmas episode!

Signing Time Christmas!

 

This sale runs today only, so click the links above to check these shows out! UPDATE! The lovely folks at Two Little Hands Productions extended the sale for one more day! The sale now runs through Wednesday, November 26th!

Have you used signing with any of your children? How so?

I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Amazon Associates. If you click on a Signing Time link or Amazon and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

3 Ways to Motivate Handwriting Practice - plus tips for special needs and a review {undergodsmightyhand.com}

3 Ways to Motivate Handwriting Practice

My son has special needs and seems to understand that he has difficulty with prewriting and handwriting skills. He can actually complete many activities his occupational therapist and I give him, but motivating him to practice for any length of time takes some creativity.

Here are three ways we’ve found to increase interest.

3 Ways to Motivate Handwriting Practice - plus tips for special needs and a review {undergodsmightyhand.com}

3 Ways to Increase Interest in Handwriting Practice

  1. Provide scaffolding. Offer a few ways to guide handwriting practice rather than just copying. You can draw the shape or letter first, then have your child go over your marking with a highlighter or marker. You can also draw bubble letters to provide a “box” for your child to write within. (See this post at I Can Teach My Child for other scaffolding ideas.)
  2. Integrate sensory options. My son is a sensory seeker and needs almost constant deep sensory input. Having your child draw (with a finger or with an implement) in sand, shaving cream, oobleck, etc. can increase interest. You can even write the letters/shapes on fine sandpaper or another textured surface and allow your child to trace it with a finger. The caution here: Sometimes the sensory method becomes too enticing and he can’t focus on writing! We have to balance this, which is really just trial-and-error so far for us.
  3. Use specific tools to change the writing surface. Through tablets, we have access to so many amazing writing and prewriting apps. My son loves several of those and thrives using them. However, he also knows what else sits on an iPad desktop (more games!), and that can be a bit distracting for him at times.

We were recently introduced to the Boogie Board LCD eWriter.

Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice

This tablet-sized device is solely an LCD screen with a stylus. It’s easy to hold, thinner than most tablets, and feels very smooth to write on. You easily jot any note down, then erase it with a simple push of the button at the top of the device.

Most importantly for our situation: my son loves writing on this device.

How We Use the Boogie Board LCD eWriter for Handwriting Practice

  • Tracing – I write the letter or shape first, then my son traces over it. (My youngest practices, too!)
    Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice
  • Copying – I first draw a model of the letter or shape, then my son draws one beside my model.
  • Connect-the-dots – I draw a simple connect-the-dot image, number the dots, then my son does the connecting—and practices different line directions at the same time!
  • Smiley faces – My son’s occupational therapist helped him draw a smiley face (“circle, dot, dot, smile”) with arms and legs and a simple body. She first drew with him using hand-over-hand assistance, then had him complete certain parts on his own in subsequent trials.
  • Mazes – I create simple mazes that change direction, add curves, and more. So far, he loves these the most out of any other writing exercises.

Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice

We generally just practice for 5-15 minutes each time. I’m aiming for 3 times a week or more with this device right now. We also allow him to have freewriting time before and after each mini-session. He mainly just scribbles (and erases repeatedly), but he allows us to position the stylus correctly, so he’s still getting practice controlling a writing implement!

Review of the Boogie Board eWriter, plus tips for increasing interest in handwriting practice

A few considerations:

It’s marketed as an environmentally friendly-alternative to taking notes on paper, but with just an 8.5-inch screen and no way to save the notes, I’m not sure how practical it is for general/daily adult use. However, as evidenced above, this device has great potential for special needs populations, schools, and therapists. My son’s occupational therapist says she could see many therapists using this as an alternative to a tablet device. My husband (a public school teacher) says he’d love a class set of these to use for group work, silent class-wide answers, and in-class practice. (Although he did say they’d need to be twice the size and half the price.)

For us, this device offers enough screen-like input to interest my son to write, but without the extra distractions of a tablet. We’re glad to have it for handwriting practice!

We’re going to use this device during December when we use our Grapevine Studies packet for study on the Christmas story. We love the “Birth of Jesus” traceables for our preschoolers, and we can use the Boogie Board to motivate my son to do the tracing and perhaps even freehand drawing of the story figures. (This particular study from Grapevine is 20% off from now until December 15th!)

How do you motivate your beginning writer or child with special needs to practice handwriting?

Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of the Boogie Board LCD eWriter from Stone’s Education in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and I only share what I believe to be helpful or useful.

StonesLogo - Copy 300x135

I am an affiliate for Grapevine Studies. If you click on a Grapevine Studies link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This post is also linked up with The Homeschool Village’s Ultimate Homeschool Link-UpHomeschool Creation’s Preschool and Kindergarten Corner, In Lieu of Preschool’s Tuesday Tots, UpsideDown Homeschooling’s Hearts for Home linkup, and the Weekly Kids Co-op, Show and Share Saturday, and .


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5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com} - includes a list of other resources and experiments, too!

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers

Most of our “science” study to this point has been through living life: learning that a cool breeze feels pleasant on a warm day, food with steam coming off of it is too hot to touch, shade provides a cooler respite from the hot sunshine. But, taking time to understand foundational knowledge of learning science, how to use basic lab equipment, and the steps to experimenting helps us gain better ways to explore what’s around us.

Below are some of the concepts we’ve introduced so far (and a sneak peek to others we’re going to explore). We don’t introduce all these concepts at once, but over a week or two (or longer) to build foundational knowledge.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com} - includes a list of other resources and experiments, too!

5 Steps to Introducing Science Basics to Preschoolers

  1. Allow free play. This step is one I constantly have to remind myself. I want to dive into the experiment, but I already know how to use the equipment and follow lab steps. My kids are just learning this process. When I brought out our new lab set, I first allowed free play. We named each piece within the lab set, and the kids handled each piece first. I then poured a little water into each test tube and the beaker. The kids poured between the test tubes, beaker, and flask and tested out the eyedropper. Five or ten minutes of free play before we began specific experiments helped them be ready to focus.
    5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}
  2. Concentrate on basic results (not too detailed yet), and focus more on becoming familiar with the process and gaining experience. Begin with a variety of experiments to engage multiple senses and incorporate various fine motor skills (pouring, gripping, squeezing, pre-scissor skills, etc.). Take time for hands-on experience with the process itself rather than obtaining a perfect outcome.
  3. Begin with great first experiments. Choose experiments geared towards preschoolers both in directions and components. Experiments with quick results help keep budding learners engaged and able to see the fruits of their work, as well as the process of an experiment. Choose experiments that expand on current knowledge and utilize observations children already witness in daily living. We did a simple color mixing experiment, a sink-or-float experiment, and inspected cereal and ants under a preschool-aged microscope in our first week.
    5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}
  4. Introduce predictions and charting results. For our sink-or-float experiment, I introduced a prediction chart. We described sink (“the object goes all the way to the bottom”) and float (“the object stays at the top of the water”), then predicted what each of our five objects would do. As we tested each one (the best part!), the kids told us if the object was sinking or floating, and I marked it appropriately. After more practice, we’ll let the kids mark their own charts, but this introduced the practice of recording results.
    5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}
  5. Try “instant” experiments first (like ones above), then complete experiments that take longer spans of time to complete. Experiments that take less than 15 minutes from start to finish allow preschoolers to stay focused, learn, but also see results without getting distracted. As your preschoolers understand the process of experimenting more, advance to more in-depth experiments, like growing seeds or mold explorations.

Special needs considerations: Kids with special needs can perform experiments, too! For our son, I often asked questions with multiple-choice answers to allow him to consider what he viewed and learned. We also helped him grade his motions more smoothly when using the eyedropper by using hand-over-hand assistance. I love that the activity cards included incorporate the sense of smell in a couple of experiments. I’ve read about the link between the olfactory system and increased neuron connections, so I’m excited to use this lab set to further his experiences.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set and ViewScope

Thanks to Learning Resources and Stone’s Education Superstore, we were given the Primary Science Lab Set and ViewScope to review.

Review of Primary Science Lab Set and ViewScope

We love these sets!

I knew I would quickly fall in love with the lab set, but I’m ecstatic at how excited and engaged my kids are with this set. The set includes a beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, eyedropper, flask with stopper, tweezers, goggles, large 6″ test tube and stand, and two small test tubes with lids and stand. Like most Learning Resources materials, these pieces are durable and easy to clean. (Though, you might need to take a little longer time cleaning the eyedropper out after using colored liquids.) The lab set allowed us to provide a solid introduction of lab terms, and the set is definitely multi-use.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}

I love the set of ten experiment cards included! These ten experiments alone cover a variety of subjects within science and engage multiple senses (including sight, touch, and smell).

My only cautions so far: watch for how you place the lids back on the test tubes and hand wash after each use (especially when using scents or food coloring). For young hands, it can be a little difficult to tighten the test tube lids correctly which might result in slight leakage. We also placed a towel or two under our experimenting surface to make clean up even easier.

We were happily surprised with how well the ViewScope works! Not only does it provide experience in using a microscope, it actually magnifies! To test if my kids could actually see through the viewer, I wrote small letters on pieces of paper. If my kids could tell me what letter they saw, I knew they were looking through the microscope correctly and in focus. (Choose letters like “t” and “x” that look the same when inverted.)

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}

We also caught a few ants and watched them under the microscope. Amazing! This ViewScope uses natural light (which is usually sufficient), so to see the ants in more detail, we pointed a flashlight at the disk. The scope potion can also be unhooked from the base to allow your young scientists to explore outside. This is a great tool for preschool through about 1st grade.

5 Steps to Introduce Science Basics to Preschoolers {undergodsmightyhand.com}

Look how much the ants are magnified! So cool!

Other Resources and Experiments

What do your preschoolers love studying in science right now?

Disclosure: I received the Primary Science lab set and ViewScope free from Stone’s Education in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other manner.

This post was featured at Homeschool Creations!

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Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Signing Time and Bundle of the Week. If you click on a Signing Time link or Bundle of the Week and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

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BundleoftheWeek.com, 5 eBooks for $7.40!