This Month's Featured Resources...

Revolutionary WarScrap Crafting Lego History Latin Calendar

Tuesday, May 31

The Story Box

Thinking about ways to keep the kids happy through the summer?  If you have little ones, The Story Box is a new subscription that you’re going to want to check out right now!  (We even have a coupon for you…if you’re on the fence about it.)

The books are chosen based on many different factors with a preference towards those that are colorful, have great illustrations, good vocabulary, good story line, rhyming, alliteration, and more. Along with the books, you’ll also receive a parent guide that is specific to the books in your box and organized into various age groups.

The guide is written by a nationally certified speech-language pathologist and includes tips for making the most out of reading time, ways to encourage communication, and even suggested activities to go along with the particular books.  (The Story Box books are intended for children ages 1 through 7.)

The back of the welcome letter featured a guide to adapting the included books to various age groups.
Each of the books came with its own parent guide which listed language concepts for each reading level, as well as hands-on activities to try that are based on the book.

I LOVE the fact that a portion of each subscription fee is used to purchase books and other educational materials to benefit children with disabilities and children from low-income families.  What a nice touch!
The books were shipped in a flat brown box with a large bright green Story Box logo on it.

Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos & Illustrated by Joy Ang
This is a unique book with good vocabulary and a fun storyline. I love the colorful, contemporary illustrations that highlight the character’s emotions and actions. My youngest really liked this book!

Pirates Don’t Change Diapers by Melinda Long & Illustrated by David Shannon
This book is beautifully illustrated with colorful, detailed pictures that are attractive to kids of any age. The images can tell the story alone, which is perfect for young readers. For older children, this book offers a great story line and good vocabulary lessons. It’s a bit of a longer read than the other book, which is good for some quality time with young ones.

Overall Impression
I was really impressed with TheStory Box! The books they selected were both totally new to me and I love the messages that they portrayed. Value-wise, the total of both books (using Amazon prices) is just over $30. So not only do you get discounted books, but you also have the additional bonus of the parent guides/activity ideas to go along with them.

The Nitty Gritty
  • The Cost:
    • Month-to-Month Plan: $21.99 per month
    • 3 Month Prepay: $20.99 per month
    • 6 Month Prepay: $19.99 per month
    • Shipping is always FREE for all plans!  (US only)
  • Boxes ship around the 21st of the month and arrive to your door within 2 to 8 business days. Join by the 19th so we can ship your box on the 21st.
  • Coupon Code: TAKESIX – Save $6 off your first order!

Sunday, May 29

The Twist (Chubby Checker)

Last year, while visiting Pennsylvania, we stopped by Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery, the first commercial pretzel bakery in America.  (See that post here.)

We learned all about the history of pretzels, and just how easy it is to make them at home.  Since the kids love these tasty snacks, we have been experimenting with different types this year.  

Here are our best recipes, along with a fun unit study!

This is us making pretzels....that is a very big mess!  We made regular pretzels, pretzel sticks, and pretzel bites.  They are super yummy with hot mustard or almond butter.  We even cut some of the larger ones up and made cheesy garlic bread with them...

Pretzel Unit Study

Friday, May 27

Montana (Hank Williams Jr)

(scroll to bottom for unit study)  
We left Yellowstone National Park and chose Couer d'Alene as our sightseeing destination in Idaho. But when you're towing your home on wheels, this drive was too long for us to make in a single day. So we planned a short stop and stay in Butte, Montana. We had no idea what we were going to see and learn on "the Richest Hill on Earth."  Our first stop in Butte was the Visitor Information Center, where we learned about the history and geology of this area and the importance of mining to this area, and to our nation's economy.
 At the Visitor Center, we learned that:
  • the town of Butte is located at an elevation of 5,538 feet and sits within the Rocky Mountains and straddles the Continental Divide
  • in Butte, gold was discovered in 1864; silver was found in 1874; and copper was discovered in the 1880s
  • there are many different mining methods
  • the town of Butte once produced more than 1/2 of our countries and more than 1/4 of the world's copper which has earned Butte the distinction as "the richest hill on earth"
Excited to learn more about mining, our family headed to the Granite Mountain Mine Memorial, where we learned about the worst hard rock mining disaster in the US which occurred here in 1917.
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We felt the hazards of mining as we stood on location and read information about this tragic day in our nation's history of mining.  Not wanting to end our school day, we made one more stop in Butte.
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We stopped at Berkeley Pit, where we read, learned, and discussed:
  • different mining techniques like underground mining, block cave mining, open pit mining, and vein mining
  • the advantages and disadvantages of each mining technique for the mining companies, the miners, and our environment
  • environmental hazard sites and the responsibilities of mining companies to protect and restore the environment
Our family had no idea how much we'd learn in Butte, Montana!

Montana State Unit Study

Robin is a wife, homeschool mom, and blogger. She has been homeschooling for 14 years and has
recently started a blog,, to help other homeschool families. In 2011-2012, Robin and her family took a year-long RV Road Trip across the USA. She blogs about their travel adventure

Thursday, May 26

Freezer Cooking : Cultural Classics

Love to freezer cook?  Check out our new book : Freezer Cooking Through the Year!!

Better-for-You Taco Soup
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • (2) 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15.5-ounce can hominy, drained
  • 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • 1 cup red enchilada sauce
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions : 
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a 5-quart slow cooker. Cook on high for 6 hours.
  2. To freeze : Divide the soup into meal-size portions in plastic containers. Chill before freezing.
  3. To serve :  Thaw the soup in the refrigerator. Reheat, stirring, in a saucepan until heated.  When ready to serve, you will need salsa, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

Herbed Soda Bread
If you want an authentic Irish taste, add a tsp of caraway seeds and a cup of raisins to the batter before baking.
  • 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp finely-chopped fresh herbs (dill, thyme, or basil)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Directions :
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease the loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the butter, using your fingers or a pastry blender, until it is fully incorpo­rated into the flour. The mix should resemble coarse bread crumbs or small peas. (You can also do this in the food processor. Pulse the flour and butter 3 to 5 times, or until they are mixed.) Blend in the herbs.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the buttermilk. Quickly stir this wet mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Press the dough into the prepared pan and cut a long slash down the center.
  4. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaf stand for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn it out onto a cooling rack. It can be sliced immediately or eaten cool.

Friday, May 20

Upcycle with Chick-fil-A Moms!

Our challenge from Chick-Fil-A Moms was to upcycle the salad container from our yummy Spicy Southwest Salad lunch!!  As you can see...I stole a few of the kids' fries to complement the ensemble.  Doesn't it look colorful and tasty?!

I passed the challenge along to my kids (gave me an entire afternoon to clean house!!), and they came up with four different ways for you to reuse that container...

  1. Sprouted Garden
  2. Lego Travel Container
  3. Toiletry / Hospitality Kits
  4. Egg Basket

Their first idea is probably the first thing that most people think of...creating a small herb garden, or window garden.  We are using our's to sprout baby greens for salads and dinner toppers.  Sprouts are high in minerals, and help to alkalize your body.

This one is fairly straight forward...
  1. Clean out the container very well
  2. Put a layer of potting soil in the bottom part
  3. Plant your sprouting seeds (we are using radish and wheat)
  4. Water with about 1/8 cup water initially
  5. If it's cool, cover with the clear top for the greenhouse effect
  6. Place in the window, and watch the sprouts grow!
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Who hasn't forgotten something when they travel?  We pick up samples and save them for guests to use.  Once a year, we also use our samples to create toiletry kits for those in need.  The salad containers may not work as well for the ones that are being handed out, but they are the perfect size to fill with some samples and set to the side.  When a guest arrives...voila!  They'll have everything they need!

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In this case, we do want to put all of our eggs into one basket...and the salad container makes a handy one!  Use the black part to gather eggs from the coop, and set them in the clear section after they have been washed - instant color coding than even the youngest of children can easily grasp!

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I Can't Get Started (Dakota Station)

(scroll to bottom for unit study)  

Today, we're heading north to Bismarck, North Dakota with the Smith Family!

Lewis & Clark / North Dakota Unit
Mom writes :
After not enough time in South Dakota, our family chose Bismarck as our sightseeing destination in North Dakota. One of our family's long term goals on a year-long road trip was to visit as many state capitals as we could. When it was time to decide where we wanted to go in North Dakota, we realized that we hadn't toured a capitol since New Mexico.  We didn't stay in Bismarck long, but we did stay long enough to :
  • tour the North Dakota State Capitol
  • explore the North Dakota Heritage Center
  • enjoy the Steamboat / Keelboat Park along the Missouri River
Most of the time our family takes a self-guided tour of capitols, but we took a guided tour of North Dakota State Capitol. On the tour, we learned that the capitol is the tallest building in Bismarck...
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...which offers great views from the 18th floor.  Our tour guide said that on a clear day you could see the Pacific Ocean and look into Canada from the 18th floor of the North Dakota Capitol.
On our way to the North Dakota Heritage Center, we met up with Sacagawea and saw a buffalo.
At the North Dakota Heritage Center, we explored the exhibits and galleries and learned about the history of North Dakota. We especially enjoyed the exhibits on dinosaurs.
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After spending a couple of hours indoors, we took a short walk and found the Steamboat / Keelboat Park where we enjoyed the walking trail along the Missouri River.  We also enjoyed the wayside exhibits which taught us about this area at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
This full-size replica of a keelboat is similar to what Lewis and Clark would have used.

One Week Only - Ends 5/23/16 - Save 88% on the Upper Grades #1
Robin is a wife, homeschool mom, and blogger. She has been homeschooling for 14 years and has
recently started a blog,, to help other homeschool families. In 2011-2012, Robin and her family took a year-long RV Road Trip across the USA. She blogs about their travel adventure