Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fieldtripping With National Geographic Kids Books #NGKInsider

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

Five days a week we are out exploring and fieldtripping. We cannot help it, learning is just way more fun when you are visiting a museum, going on a nature walk or hanging out with friends at a group activity. Everyone may not agree with our road-schooling style, but it is what works best for our family. The kids are more engaged and excited to learn and they retain the information they are learning better. One way we make the road-schooling work is by taking along amazing resources with us on our fieldtrips. When we head out to our fieldtrip we make sure we take along one of our fieldtrip exploration bags. We have 6 bags always ready to go which include things like books, magnifying glasses, colored pencils, clipboards, resources from the venue (which are generally available on their websites under the educator section), tracing paper, tape measures and some of my fieldtrip journal pages (digital download currently 20% off for 60+ journal page file). We have a bag for each type of museum, history museum, zoo, aquarium, etc.

Recently we received some great resources from National Geographic Kids that we will be adding to our bags for upcoming fieldtrips.

Ultimate Ocean-pedia:
This 1 inch thick, hard back book might be heavy to lug around the aquarium but that's okay it will definitely be going into our aquarium bag this year. This 272 page book is the most complete ocean reference book you can find. It is loaded with amazing facts, stunning photos, maps and detailed diagrams. The book is broken into 7 chapters and covers: Oceans, Ocean Life, Ocean in Motion, Wild Weather, Underwater Exploration, Along The Coast and When People and Oceans Meet. One of the things my kids really love about this book are the "Bet you didn't know" blurbs found throughout. Like did you know that a sea otter needs to eat up to 30% of its body weight every day in order to get the energy it needs to stay warm? For a big male otter, that means eating about 25 lbs of food! In the back of the book there is a glossary to help your kids learn the meaning to various terms, a find out more section (includes links to websites, must see movies and recommended places to visit), and a detailed index which makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for. As we looked through the book we also discovered it would be a good compliment to our upcoming fieldtrip to the local science museum too. The museum is getting in a special exhibit and Imax show related to weather. So of course the Wild Weather chapter of the book will be the perfect compliment. The retail cost of this book is $24.99.

Almanac 2017:
This nifty 350 pg, softcover, New York Times bestseller book is the perfect compliment for a variety of fieldtrips. Contents include Your World, Amazing Animals, Going Green, Culture Connection, Awesome Adventure, Fun and Games, Super Science, Wonders of Nature, History Happens and Geography Rocks. So as you can see it compliments many different subjects and topics. My daughter of course found the amazing animals section fascinating and my son was mesmerized by the Awesome Adventure section. I really enjoyed reading through the Culture Connection section. As we paged through the book which includes tons of animal stories, weird-but-true facts, amazing photographs, detailed maps, fun games/jokes/activities, reference materials and more our wheels began turning on ALL the fieldtrips we could utilize this book for. So it won't go into just one will have a permanent home in the car book basket. On page 16 there are some cool events highlighted for 2017 like Star Wars Day on May 4th (which we already have plans for) and International Tiger Day on July 29th (I think we will be heading to the zoo to celebrate). And man do I love it when books contain a detailed index like the Almanac does, it makes it so much easier to find specific topics/subjects. As I was browsing through the index I soon discovered that this book will compliment our Cultural Culinary Club, that we do every other month with our homeschool group, quite nicely. This Spring we will be learning about China, India and France as we dine at authentic restaurants around Atlanta. The almanac has several pages of material on each of these countries, how awesome is that?  The retail cost of this book is $14.99.

Dirtmeister's Nitty Gritty Planet Earth:
We are a rock hound family so this book has been a huge hit with the children. Every few months we go on rock/gem digging fieldtrips so learning all about rocks, minerals, and dirt is sort of never ending for us. This softcover, 128 page book covers everything you need to know about geology in a fun and unique way. It is one of the only National Geographic kids books that actually incorporates graphic novel aspects (my kids love graphic novels as you may know and we hope that Nat Geo will continue to add more to their lineup). Throughout the book Geologist Steve Tomeck aka Dirtmeister and his sidekick Digger dig up amazing information including the origins of Earth, minerals, plate tectonics, erosion, sediments, biographies of scientists, rocks as resources and much more. The book has colorful illustrations, lots of fun facts and even simple experiments. For teachers or homeschoolers who follow educational standards the book even has a science standard correlation guide in the back of the book as well as an index. So get ready to dig in and learn all about geology with this book. The retail cost of this book is $12.99.

Tales From The Arabian Nights:
One of our favorite museums in Atlanta is the Michael C. Carlos Museum. The museum has the largest ancient art collection in the Southeast which includes objects from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Near East, Africa and the ancient Americas. Tales From The Arabian Nights is a great book compliment for this fascinating museum. The hard back book is 208 pages and includes 17 tales from the areas we know today as Asia and the Middle East. The magical tales intertwined with beautiful full page colorful illustrations will take you on a journey where you will find adventure, love, royalty, monsters and even magicians. Unlike most storybooks there are sidebars throughout the book that connect the stories to history, culture, and geography. There is also a map in the back of the book that puts the stories into geographic context. Our favorite story so far has been the Ebony Horse. The retail cost of this book is $24.99.

How Things Work:
100 times a day! That is approximately how many times a day my kids ask me how something works. Seriously they are so inquisitive and curious. This book answers everything from opera singers to the waves in the ocean. The hardback book is 205 pages long and provides children with quick answers as well as more complete explanations. The book is a great compliment to many fieldtripping adventures. We used it recently during our visit to the Children's Museum of Atlanta for the launch of their new special exhibit "From Here, To There." The new special exhibit focuses on how things move by land, sea and air, and thanks to this book any questions that popped up were easy to answer! The book contains numerous detailed diagrams and spectacular photos. There are tons of facts, inspiring bios and real-life stories. And there are even hands on activities to get children experimenting. The retail cost of this book is $19.99.

I hope you learned about some new books and how books can be used compliment fieldtrips.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Teaching Liberty and Economics With The Tuttle Twins (Book Review)

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

We are so blessed to be able to homeschool because it means we are able to teach our children about many things they would probably not cover if they were in public school like liberty and economics (at least not in elementary school). The Tuttle Twins books, which now have 5 books in the series, have been on my radar for about a year now but unfortunately I haven't had a chance to pick up a copy of any of them. I was recently contacted by the publishing company and asked if we would review the newest book The Road to Surfdom. Well now we are hooked and we will be definitely be adding the other 4 to our home library. And guess what fellow homeschoolers? The author Connor Boyack is a homeschool dad! He wrote this series of books after trying to find existing material that taught young children about the principles of freedom. After he realized there wasn't anything he stepped up to the plate in hopes of not only educating his own children but thousands of others!

A moms review:
As I mentioned above we received the newest book in the 5 book series The Road to Surfdom. This book teaches children about how government officials decisions, well-intentioned or otherwise, can sometimes harm others. Considering everything that has been happening recently with our country and politics this is such an important lesson for kids right now. This book is a very easy read. It is 60 pages long with full color illustrations and large text. The recommended reading age is age 5-11 years old. We chose to read the book aloud as a family so we could have a discussion afterwards.

This story is actually an introduction to F.A. Hayek's famous text The Road to Surfdom which was published in the 1940s and focuses on the dangers of central planning and collectivism and the importance of being an individual. Hayeks book however is a fairly difficult read and not one that parents would be able to easily pickup and read aloud to their young children. But the Tuttle Twins version of The Road to Surfdom takes these important lessons and boils them down to key basics, and wraps them in a fun story so that children and their parents can read and learn together about these important principles.

In this book The Tuttle Twins head to their favorite beach destination "La Playa" for a family reunion. They are eager to have the same amazing fun they always do which includes soaking up sun on the beach, surfing and snorkeling in the ocean and most of all shopping and eating at the boardwalk shops. But before they even arrive at the beach they notice things in town are not quite the same. First they have to take a long detour to get to the beach which was full of traffic and went through a neighborhood they had not seen before. Then after they arrive at the beach they notice that many of their favorite shops have closed down. Distraught and wanting answers The Tuttle Twins set out with their investigative reporter uncle named Ben, to solve the mystery.

After interviewing shop owners and the town residents they discover that a new roadway and beach town called Surfdom was to blame. The new roadway that La Playa residents thought would help their town instead brought them disruption, sadness and home and business loss. While spending the day at Surfdom The Tuttle Twins learned more about central planning, collectivism  and individualism as they built a sand castle with their parents. They learned that sometimes unintended consequences occur that were never anticipated and probably not even considered. You know how the saying goes, "be careful what you wish for"? The Tuttle Twins and Uncle Ben solve the mystery and Ben exposes the story on his news channel. But unfortunately this story has no happy ending for the town because the damage is done. But The Tuttle Twins hope that Ben's news story will go viral and provide knowledge to future towns about the damage of central planning. And the Tuttle Twins refuse to give into the new exciting stores and restaurants at Surfdom and chose to stay at La Playa and enjoy the road less traveled!

I cannot say enough good things about this book. As a mom who once had her real estate license I was very excited to see terms like eminent domain being introduced in the book. I know many adults who don't even know what eminent domain is. The story was engaging and educational and raised lots of questions, and any book that gets the kids asking questions gets 5 stars. In the back of the book there is even a glossary of terms and several discussion questions.

A kids review:
I really liked the book. It helped me learn about the responsibilities that I need to take when it comes to decisions about my home. It also taught me that even when things don't go as planned you should still never give up and should still work hard to continue to make your dreams come true. I liked the artwork in the book too. I hope mom buys the other books for us.

About the Author:
Connor Boyack is president of Libertas Institute, a public policy think tank in Utah. He is the author of several books on politics and religion, along with hundreds of columns and articles championing individual liberty. His work has been featured on international, national, and local TV, radio, and other forms of media. A California native and Brigham Young University graduate, Connor currently resides in Lehi, Utah, with his wife and two children.

For $4.99 you can get a a pdf workbook that compliments the book.

Links to follow:

The Tuttle Twins - a child's foundation of freedom

Where to buy:
The retail price is $9.99 per book or you can get all 5 plus bonuses for $41.99. You can order the books on the Tuttle Twin website.

The Best Educational Toys that Offer Holistic Development

*This post may be a sponsored post or may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

Kids definitely have it all in this day and age. It is so easy to get them toys from all across the world these days, some parents just cannot keep up with all of their requests. You can get them building blocks from the UK, educational toys from Australia, even those animal rocking chairs in the US. But there are some toys that we should be focusing on, and those are toys that stimulate a child’s mental capabilities. These are not just educational, in a way, it also enhances their physical capabilities.

Here we have listed down toys that offer holistic development when our kids play with them.

Smart Globe Discovery by Oregon Scientific
Teach your kids all about the different countries and continents of the world with the Smart Globe Discovery. It comes with 19 interactive games that can teach you kids all about capital cities, geologic features, and more. This is one of the best ways to help expand your kids’ vocabulary and to ensure that their grasp on general knowledge is improving.

Genius Kit by Osmo
If the name of this is any indicator, our kids will probably become smarter than us in the future. The Genius Kit is a technology-based board game that aims to stimulate a child’s problem-solving skills. It features interactive activities on Tangram, Masterpiece, Newton, Words, and Numbers. There are also a whole lot more that can be downloaded through iOS.

Rock on! Geology Game with Rock and Mineral Collection Kit by iLaughnLearn
A different kind of science kit is surely a good addition to your child’s growing number of toys. This does not make use of the usual soft chemicals to make volcanoes or bolts and wires for their first circuit board; Rock On! is meant to teach kids about the planet through its natural geologic processes. They will learn about and be able to create rock formations and stones. The kit comes with rock cards, rock specimens, and a little more than 60 minerals and elements.

Mathlink Cubes - 100 by Learning Resources
Mathlink Cubes work like LEGOs, in a way that each cube can be attached to another on all its sides. It has been used to teach kids basic mathematical concepts, like assigning values to differently coloured cubes and allowing them to think through the problem in front of them. It has become a most helpful tool in improving their math skills, but more than that, it can also improve a child’s spatial skills and motor coordination.

There are still countless of other educational toys your kids can play with on their free time. Bring this list with you when you are considering what to give them for as a gift. Remember, though, that education does not just come from the toys or from lessons learnt in school. Being able to do things with them, something as simple as playing these toys with them helps enhance their communication skills and will surely add to your bonding moments.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Multicultural Children's Book Day - I Am Not A Number Book Review #ReadYourWorld

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

I am really proud to be part of the Multicultural Children's Book Day event for a third year. As part of the blogging team our family received a fantastic book from Jenny Kay and Kathy Kacer to review. Our review is below along with a fun project idea, but first let me tell you more about this event, the sponsors and the cohosts.

What is Multicultural Children's Book Day?
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include  kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors: 
MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

Platinum Sponsors include: ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey PressCandlewick Press,  Fathers IncorporatedKidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte RiggleChronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra RichardsElsa TakaokaGraciela TiscareƱo-Sato,  Sarah StevensonMonica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNationAndrea Y. Wang

You can view the co-hosts here.

A Moms Review:
As you may know (if you read my blog often) my daughter loves learning about Native Americans. She fell in love with their culture after attending her first powwow when she was just 4 yrs old. Every year we cover some part of Native American history in our homeschool lessons, per her request. We have reviewed a variety of Native American books, have taken many Native American related fieldtrips and have collected numerous Native American artifacts. But when I found out what book we were receiving for MCCBD I realized there were 2 topics we have failed to cover.....the Native Americans of Canada which are called the First Nations and the residential schools.

I Am Not A Number introduces one of the First Nation tribes of Canada the Nipissing and the topic of residential schools. The residential schools were something even I knew very little about so I was anxious to read this book to the children. Residential schools are definitely a sensitive subject to discuss with children, but I Am Not A Number did a great job of telling what the residential schools were and what horrible atrocities occurred at them in a way children could easily understand.

I Am Not a Number is geared towards children in grades 4th-6th and is based on the true account of author Dupuis's grandmother. Irene the main character in the book and the authors grandmother shared her story with Dupuis when she was a teen so she could learn more about the legacy of the residential school system and understand what Irene and many others had to endure. The residential schools are an unfortunate part of history that need to be remembered so that something like this never happens to children again. The watercolor illustrations in the book are beautiful and eye catching and translated the written words very well. Even the color palette for the illustrations helps tell the story.

I Am Not A Number begins with Irene in her reservation home with her and her siblings huddled behind their parents as an Indian agent tells her parents that he is taking the children that are of age to the residential school. Her parents have no choice because if they don't obey they will be fined and imprisoned. Irene and her 2 brothers are whisked away by the agent in a bus and sent to an unfamiliar place. Before leaving though her mother tells them, "Never forget home or our ways. Never forget us. Never forget who you are!" Those words would stay with Irene throughout her time at the residential school. The majority of the story is about Irene's time at the residential school and the hurt, fear and pain she experiences. The nuns try their hardest to strip away Irene's culture including the way she speaks and looks. They even try to strip away her name and only refer to her as number 759. But Irene stays strong and when summer arrives she gets to go home to her family for a short time. She is reunited with her parents and siblings back on the reservation, she is home. But she knows that the time will be short and eventually she will have to return back to the residential the family comes up with a plan. If you want to know how the story ends you will have to read the book.

In the back of the book is a section telling more history about the residential schools and the 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children who for over a century were removed from their homes and sent to live at residential schools across Canada.  There is also more information (including photos) on Irene Couchie and her family.

This book was the perfect way to introduce the history of residential schools to the children. It provided them with just enough details about residential schools and the way that the children were treated at them. And because it was a true account I think it made even more of an impact.  Whenever I read a book like this to the kids I hope that it will spark an interest to want to learn more and I Am Not A Number did just that.

About the Author:
There were two authors for this book:

Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis

Dupuis is of Ojibway/Anishinaabe ancestry and is a proud member of the Nipissing First Nation. Jenny's commitment to teaching about Indigenous issues along with her interest in her family's past led her to write her grandmother Irene Couchie Dupuis' story. Jenny lives in Toronto, where she works for the advancement of Indigenous education.

Kathy Kacer
Kacer is an award winning author who has written many books about the Holocaust for young readers including The Secret of Gabi's dresser, Shanghai Escape, and The Magician of Auschwitz. She is very honored to help share Jenny Kay Dupuis' family story with young people. Kathy lives with her family in Toronto.

About the Illustrator:
Gillian Newland is an artist who works mostly in watercolor, ink and pencils. She finds most of her inspiration to draw outside of her studio, and can sometimes be found sketching her fellow customers at a coffee shop. She is the illustrator of The Magician of Auschwitz and many other books. She lives in Toronto.

Fun Project Idea:
Our project to compliment this book was making story stones. The First Nations are great storytellers and this book was about a grandmother telling her story to her granddaughter so we though story stones was the perfect fit.


  • Flat stones
  • Permanent markers
  • Native American picture symbol examples like these and these
  1. Choose 10-15 flat stones.
  2. Decide what symbols you are going to use.
  3. Draw the symbols on the stones with a temperament marker.
  4. Put the stones into a baggie. Without looking choose 5 stones then tell a story using the stones symbols.

More Resources:
-Free Multicultural Books for Teachers
-Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators
-Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents

Links to Follow:-Multicultural Children's Book Day Facebook
-Multicultural Children's Book Day Twitter

-Multicultural Children's Book Day Pinterest

Where to Buy:
You can buy I Am Not A Number on Amazon for $18.95.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kid Beowulf Book Review (Book 1)

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

Graphic novels are the preferred genre in our home. You see we are an artistic family so it should come as no surprise that comic style books area huge hit. Both kids go through graphic novel series so quickly that I am always on the search for exciting new series they will enjoy. Well just before Christmas I was contacted by Andrews McMeel Publishing about doing a review on Kid Beowulf The Bloodline Oath. I took one look at the front cover and knew it was right up my kids alley.

A moms review:
Kid Beowulf is a series (currently 3 books, plus an educational guide and prequel) inspired by the epic poem "Beowulf" and introduces children to classical literature in a way they will enjoy and understand. Any book that introduces my children to classical literature gets a star in my book.

Kid Beowulf is geared towards children ages 8-14 years old. It is a 280 page soft cover book written and illustrated by Alexi E. Fajardo. This story is about 12 year old twin brothers Beowulf and Grendel and their quest to redeem their fallen ancestor. Throughout the book there are dragons, monsters, kings, an enchanted swords and oh a pig! This book will appeal to Percy Jackson fans who love mythology and adventure. The book teaches important lessons about family, loyalty and integrity.

One of my favorite things about the book is the more to explore section in the back of the book. This section includes a world map showing Beowulf and Grendels adventures, key terms, character glossary, Beowulf family tree, origins of the epic poem, information on monster slayers, a how to draw Beowulf lesson and even the anatomy of a comic book page

Gwyns Review:
Okay so let's hear about the book from one of the kids that read it. Gwyn is soon to be 11 and a reading fanatic.

The book is about a boy who was being raised by his Uncle who sets out on an adventure after his ghost father tells him to stole away on a ship to find his long lost brother......but ends up finding much more. The story taught me that family bloodlines may not be what you always expect. The book is really funny and many of the characters are sarcastic. My favorite character was the dragon because he has a really cool backstory. He used to fight King Arthur's dad and took off the Kings hand in return the King took the dragons eye. I also like Grendel because he frees animals out of traps. The character I could relate with most though was the sword because he never stops talking, just like me. I recommend the book to kids who are interested in mythology, bloodlines and comics.

I am really looking forward to reading book #2. I cannot wait to find out what happens next with Beowulf's family.

About the Author and Illustrator:
Alexis E. Fajardo is a student of the classics – whether Daffy Duck or Damocles – and has created a unique blend of the two in his graphic novel series, Kid Beowulf. Lex has taught cartooning throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and currently resides in Santa Rosa, where, when not penning Kid Beowulf, he works for PEANUTS at the Charles M. Schulz Studio.

Be sure to check out the Kid Beowulf website for some games and download a teacher guide.

Where to buy:
The retail price is $10.99 and the book can be purchased at local books stores and on Amazon.

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