Summer Pretend Play – Ice Cream Shop!


School is out and it is beginning to heat up for summer in my neck of the woods! Although we don’t have “school” in the summer months I do plan activities to keep little hands busy and big minds active.

Today we did a fun pretend play activity with “Cloud Dough” (see recipe below). Cloud dough is soft and fluffy and will hold together when packed tightly or fall apart when crumbled. It is a very cheap, fun and entertaining sensory material.

We played Ice Cream Shop!

I gathered some simple supplies that I had on hand and our cloud dough.


Then we headed outside!!! They set up shop in the shade under their club house and waited for their first pretend customer…Me!


I had them color a price list and I paid in play money. The olders then had to count back change while the littles worked on fine motor skills of scooping the cones.


Then we switched for the next customer!


You could easily use real ice cream but cloud dough won’t melt! However, keep a watchful eye and provide gentle reminders that it is just for pretend!


8 cups all purpose flour

1 cup baby oil

Washable paint

Mix flour and baby oil in large bowl. Streak through washable paint and mix well. The paint will look like sprinkles mixed into the flour.

Emmalee Hoggatt - CopyEmmalee is a mother of three beautiful girls, ages 6, 5 & 2. She also works full time operating a childcare from her home. She and her family live in rural Southeast Kansas and enjoy the country life on their growing “Triple-A-Farm.” She enjoys the outdoors, being in the kitchen and diving into God’s word. Emmalee also has a passion for children and family kingdom ministries. She blogs, where she shares a hodgepodge of recipes, craft ideas, homeschooling tips, resources and devotions.

Virtual Field Trip to Washington DC


Virtual Field Trip


*affiliate links may be present

We are about to embark on the best field trip ever.  We are taking a field trip to Washington DC for the Teach Them Diligently National Homeschool Convention where I’ll be speaking! If you are attended – you may have seen me at the  A+ Interactive Math booth. I encourage homeschool families that they need not fear math any longer & that you really can teach your child in math. When God calls, He provides – Amen?

In my preparation for this exciting journey, I have gathered resources and information for anyone who would like to visit DC and for those who will not be able to make the field trip in person . . .  interactive links for you to come along – virtually! 

As you work your way through the download doc – you will find pictures and links that will direct you to some of the most famous icons around the Capital. Instead of printing the document – you can use it as an interactive adventure by clicking on the various links.

Our journey begins at the National Archives where you can peruse through documents which have shaped our country over the years.  You’ll find free worksheets where your students can document what they are learning – whether they visit in person on online – with the FREE Artifact Worksheets.

National Archive docs and tour

Find original documents, photographs & information from the US Patents office: Child Labor Laws, articles, proposals and official documents that have shaped our Constitution.  Learn more about due process, and the rights of the accused to be represented by an attorney. Read a hand written notarized letter dated 1962 about due process and the lack of such. Learn about how certain civil rights issues became officially amended in the Constitution and read real letters by the people who made it happen.  Digging through the old documents is another way to make history come alive and helps you understand the people who have shaped our country.

Washington DC landmarks

You can then move on to explore the famous landmarks around Washington DC and the National Mall! You will find links to some 15 different Smithsonian Museums, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and more.

As you read through the document and explore the links, you’ll find videos, pictures, and information you can read together. Take notes, print pictures, and create a special lapbook, or file folder full of information from your virtual journey!

Download Virtual Field Trip HERE


Tips for Homeschooling All Boys

Why I Love Homeschooling My Boys by Sprouting Tadpoles

We have 5 kids total and 4 of them are boys, ages 13, 11, 5 and 3. My daughter is 17 and this will be her last year of homeschooling. She does her work independently and is pretty much gone all the time, so it’s mostly just me and the boys at home.

Homeschooling my boys means that I must have it together every day. They are very active, curious about how things work and always ready to try something new. If I don’t have a plan of action and things to keep them busy, they will wander off, usually to the video games or outside and then it takes me at least an hour to get them focused again.

I have 2 boys that are extremely active and need to be moving constantly and 2 boys that are quiet and calm. It seems that God hard wired boys to be on the go, moving and thinking, preparing themselves to take on the role of leading their own families someday. As their mother, I feel led to train them to conserve that energy for things that are productive and motivate their natural curiosity.

So, I am going to share with you some tips I have picked up over the years on how to keep a house full of boys interested and focused on things other than video games!.

First and foremost, I teach them to love God – This instills compassion and morals in them that they will hopefully carry into adulthood. We read the Bible together each morning before starting school work, we attend church and are active in our community. My husband also reads the Bible with them at night.

Group Time – We have morning group time every day and I use this time to read the Bible, review our memory work, work on our character studies and just have good, quality fellowship time together.

Group Studies – I try to group many of our subjects and activities together. Doing group studies allows the boys more time together and obviously, makes it easier for me to teach them. We also do some fun, competitive games and I have the older boys read to the little ones occasionally.

Activities – I keep activities and projects ready to grab and go. I have Science Boxes, Activity Boxes, Busy Bags, lots of game boards and file folder games, and of course, we have the Legos, K’nex, blocks, race cars and battle zones, all those things boys love. I use a lot of these activities for down time during the school day.

Projects – To keep my boys entertained during school time, we do a lot of hands on projects. We try to do a history project, science project and some sort of art/nature/music activity each week. I try to make their learning as interactive as possible.  Otherwise, I will lose them several times a day.

The Little Ones – For my little guys, I keep 2 bins of Busy Bags available for them to play with. I also have lots of coloring pages and art supplies for them, along with wooden puzzles, magnetic pieces and printables that I made. I keep these easily accessible so that they can grab something and play quietly while I work with the older kids.

Quiet Time – We have quiet time at 3pm every day. We started this about 3  years ago and it has worked really well for our family. The little guys take naps around 2-3pm so we have our quiet time then. My rules for this are simple. They must stay in their bed the entire hour and they are allowed to read, play quietly, listen to audios or music with headphones or catch up on school work, as long as it is done in their bed. The older boys have come to love this down time. It helps them to unwind after a long day of school work, arguing, baby crying, fighting for my attention…………….etc, etc.

Food – One thing my boys do a lot of is EAT! Especially my 13yo! He eats constantly and it’s not snack foods.  He wants full meals 5 -6 times a day! It amazes me and scares me, because I have 3 more that will go through this stage! So I have found some ways to keep myself from cooking constantly and that is by making meals ahead and freezing them. I make things for breakfast that the boys can grab and go, like breakfast burritos, sausage, egg & cheese English muffinspop tarts, waffles, pancakes and muffins. I also make a lunch bar with tacos, burritos, sandwiches, fried chicken, fruit and veggies. And in addition to this, I keep lots of snacks on hand. Most of my dinners are made ahead and frozen or I make Crockpot meals.

I do love raising my boys. They definitely keep me on my toes! I spend a lot of prayer time asking God to guide me in raising them, to show me the right way to train them up, and to be patient enough to instill compassion and kindness for others. Homeschooling gives me the chance to be a better mother and for me and their father to have a stronger influence in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I just really want to give up and crawl in a hole somewhere. But it passes and after praying, I realize that I wouldn’t trade this life for anything!


www.sproutingtadpoles.comI’m Janeen, a Christian homeschooling mom to 5 blessings from God. I am passionate about history and I love to plan and organize! We have been homeschooling for 6 years and started a new journey this year using Heart of Dakota. You can read more about our busy lives at Sprouting Tadpoles where I write about homeschooling, Heart of Dakota, history, toddlers and much more. You can also connect with me on FacebookPinterest and Twitter.


Character Badges Giveaway + Freebies & Giveaways Link Up

Homeschool Freebies & Giveaways Link Up - Every Monday

Homeschool Moms Giveaways & Freebies Linky Party – Week 15

Welcome to Week 15 of the Giveaways & Freebies Linky party!  We’ve been having so much fun these last few weeks with some amazing giveaways!  Thank you to all of the sponsors so far! and Thank YOU for showing up and participating in the giveaways and freebies!

This Week’s Giveaway is sponsored by The Modest Mom 

Caroline, from The Modest Mom has offered to give away 3 Character Badges Bundles.  That means 3 different people will win!  In the bundle, you’ll get:

Character Badges recommended for children ages 5-12
Little Character Badges recommended for children ages 3-5

The value of this bundle is $12.99.

What is “Character Badges”?

Character Badges Little Character Badges

Character Badges is a system consisting of three charts (the Obedience Chart, the Disobedience Chart, and the Consequence Chart), a series of specially designed badges, and a set of flash cards which work together to make character training fun and rewarding for both you and your child.

The chart system presents a visual representation of your child’s behavior for a specified period of time and can show you any areas that need attention. You may also assign consequences to specific acts of disobedience (and keep it all organized) in the hopes of helping your child better understand why what they did was wrong.

Character Badges is not intended to be the magic solution for instant obedience in your child. It’s simply a fun and creative way for you to reward them for good behavior and to teach the habits of good character with more consistency. If you feel your child training could benefit from both of these things, Character Badges can produce amazing results in your child.

Buy It

You can buy Character Badges and Little Character Badges for $12.99 at The Modest Mom.

Win It

Would you like to win one of 3 different Character Badge bundles that Caroline at The Modest Mom is giving away?  Enter in the Rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other Giveaways & Freebies:  Lets Link Up!

It’s time to link up!  If you’re a blogger linking up, I only ask that you link back to me, if possible.  I can’t wait to see your giveaways and freebies! (If you’re reading this in an email, be sure to click to the site to see more giveaways. More could be added all week!)

Homeschool Movement With Easter Eggs


Here in the state of Washington it rains ALL the time. It is only sunny about 90-100 days out of the year and it can be quite depressing. As a homeschool mom, we want our kids to keep active and busy, but if your kids are like mine, they get bored with the same old activities. Recently I got a package of plastic Easter Eggs to use as a Math activity with my youngest.  After we completed the activity, he wanted more time playing with the eggs. On a whim I came up with some activities and they loved it!!!

Homeschool Activities Using Easter Eggs

The first activity they did was balancing an egg on a kitchen spoon.  Here are some things that we did:

  • Walk from the living room to the kitchen with the eggs without them dropping to the floor
  • Walk backwards from the living room to the kitchen
  • Walk forward two steps, turn and walk backward two steps and repeat


They enjoyed this new activity and did so well with it that I decided to turn it up a notch.  Here are some other things we did:

  • Balance the egg on a spoon and hop through the house (this did cause many “broken” eggs – good thing they were plastic:)
  • Crawled on the floor while balancing the eggs under their chin
  • Scooted all over the floor on their backs with their feet straight up and the egg balancing on their feet. This was quite hilarious! 🙂

We had a great time and really enjoyed it! This was just one idea of how to beat the rainy day blues. What are some of the ways you beat the blues or keep your kids entertained on rainy days, or snowed-in days for that matter?  I would love to hear from you!!!

In Christ,



Laura PraterLaura is an Army wife to a Soldier who has served the last 18.5 years active duty. They reside in WA for the time being with their 3 boys. Laura home schools all 3. They are very active in their church and community. You can find Laura blogging on Facebook at, on Pinterest and on Twitter

FREEbie: Easter Cross Luminary

*This post contains affiliate links.

My boys absolutely love craft time, and the holidays are always the perfect “excuse” for a new craft! With Easter right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to create a homemade Easter Cross Luminary.

*Be sure to read all the way through to download the FREEbie!

Easter Cross Decoupage Luminary

Books are an integral part of our educational journey, so anytime we embark on a holiday-themed craft, I always try to find great books to accompany the fun. Here are some of our favorite Easter books:

  • The Legend of the Three Trees by Catherine McCafferty – This is perhaps one of my favorite children’s books of all time. There are several versions of this story available, but I personally prefer this one by Catherine McCafferty. In this beautifully illustrated book is the story of three trees with big dreams. When the woodcutters come to chop them down, they fear their dreams won’t be realized. Instead, they learn that God’s plan is always bigger and perfect!
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Easter Story by Mike Berenstain – I’ve always been a fan of The Berenstain Bears, both the books and TV show. The wholesome stories share valuable life lessons that are relatable for kids. In The Berestain Bears and the Easter Story, Papa and the cubs are lured by the commercialism of Easter. But Mama is there to remind them of the true reason for the holiday and why we celebrate it.
  • The Legend of the Easter Egg by Lori Walburg VandenBosch – One of our all-time favorite Christmas books is The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered she had another book for the Easter holiday, The Legend of the Easter Egg! This treasure of a book includes gorgeous illustrations and brings a new perspective on the meaning of Easter eggs as an example of the miracle of Easter.
  • Rechenka’s Eggs by Patricia Polacco – We first discovered author Patricia Polacco when our K-3 Book Club read The Bee Tree together and have been a fan ever since. In this uniquely illustrated book, we learn lessons about love and kindness, along with the beautiful tradition of Ukrainian-style Easter eggs.

Easter Recommended Book List

After enjoying these fabulous Easter books, we had fun making Easter Cross Luminaries! This is a craft that is simple, inexpensive and fun for the whole family. For a supplies list, instructions, and Easter Cross templates, download our Easter Cross Decoupage Luminary FREEbie today!

Easter Cross Decoupage Luminary

Kat ReaderKat is the proud mama to 3 incredible boys. Her family began their homeschooling journey in 2006 when her oldest was in 2nd grade, and the twins were barely 6 months old. She’s passionate about researching resources and activities that allow her children to use all of their senses and learning styles, which she shares at World of Learning. In her “spare time”, she’s a Virtual Assistant, creating printables, logos, business cards and more, and providing editing services.  Connect with Kat on FacebookTwitterPinterest andGoogle +.

Giveaway: “When I Survey” Hymn Study for Easter + Giveaways & Freebies Link Up

Homeschool Freebies & Giveaways Link Up - Every Monday

Homeschool Moms Giveaways & Freebies Linky Party – Week 13

Welcome to Week 12 of the Giveaways & Freebies Linky party!  We’ve been having so much fun these last few weeks with some amazing giveaways!  Thank you to all of the sponsors so far! and Thank YOU for showing up and participating in the giveaways and freebies!

This Week’s Giveaway is sponsored by Kim of Not Consumed

(this post contains affiliate links)

When I Survey - Hymn Study


With Easter coming up, this is the PERFECT time to study the hymns that we typically sing at church around Easter (and hopefully all year round, too!).

When I Survey is a 12-day hymnological journey to the cross. Students and families will dig into the Bible and then support their learning with the study of a hymn. It is my desire to empower you to set truth deep into the hearts of your children in a simple and easy way!


Each day you will journey through the following activities:

  • Bible reading
  • Hymn
  • Suggested act of service
  • Notebooking page for the hymn
  • Activity page
  • Copywork (manuscript and cursive provided in both ESV and KJV)

Today, Kim is giving you all a chance to win one of these for free, but she’s also having a super sale.  If you decide to buy one and later found out you won, she will gladly refund your purchase price.  Great deal, right?!

Now, let me tell you about her sale…..

You can buy the hymn study for $4.99 and get her JOY Prayer cards for free OR if you just want the hymn study, you can get $2 off.  It’s a great deal and I love how you can choose which promotion you’d receive!

Easter Hymn Study Sale



To Enter Giveaway, Use Rafflecopter Below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other Giveaways & Freebies

It’s time to link up!  If you’re a blogger linking up, I only ask that you link back to me, if possible.  I can’t wait to see your giveaways and freebies! (If you’re reading this in an email, be sure to click to the site to see more giveaways. More could be added all week!)

Tips From A (Self-Proclaimed) “Curriculum Junkie”

Tips from a Self Proclaimed Curriculum Junkie


The season for shopping for new curriculum is fast approaching. For a curriculum junkie like myself, that can be both exciting and overwhelming. I have purchased everything under the sun in hopes of finding exactly what I’m looking for. But guess what? Even I, myself have no clue what exactly that is. So, before you begin your search for a curriculum that fits your needs, I hope you’ll follow my advice.

1). Make a list of your goals for the upcoming school year. If you have an outline of what you hope to accomplish, you’ll have a better chance of narrowing down your items of choice.

2). Describe the method you’d like to use. Do you like literature based? Are you strictly workbook based? Do you like the idea of doing unit studies or notebooking? This will certainly help narrow your curriculum choices down.

3). Do you plan on purchasing a complete boxed set or does the idea of purchasing books of your choice and compiling them to create a curriculum catered to your teaching approach sound more appealing? This is where I struggle every single time. I love a “grab and go” complete boxed set. With 4 kids ages 6 and under, it is so appealing to me to just open an instructors manual and follow the directions. Unfortunately, I have yet to purchase a complete set that fits my style. This has become a very expensive habit. We have so much curriculum sitting in our shelves and not being used because, well, I haven’t found exactly what I’m looking for. Whatever “that” is.

4). Another important thing to keep in mind is what learning style your homeschool child has, and remember, not every child will learn the same! What works perfect for one child may not appeal to another. So, it’s important to be open-minded.

5). What budget do you have set aside for homeschool curriculum and supplies? That will narrow your choice down greatly and remember, some of the best curriculum is free! Library visits, field trips, nature walks; these can be one of the best parts of your homeschool plan!

6). Do you like the idea of a digital program (software, iBooks, etc) or is print-based a better fit? This is another topic I struggle with. I love the idea of my kids taking books (iBook/kindle form) wherever we go and not losing a paper book in the process of getting from point A to point B. I love the idea of pages not getting ripped, book covers written on, not needing storage space for yet another item, etc. But I also love the idea of them using a paper book, feeling the pages, reading a book and not using technology for everything.

7). Used or new? Do you like to be frugal and purchase used items or even borrow them? Or do you veer more in the direction of purchasing new?

I lean towards boxed curriculum, but my husband (who is referred to as “The New Farmer” on my blog) loves to piece our curriculum together using books and supplies he feels are important to use. We grab several books in all subject areas and create curriculum that works best for our kids.

Over the next several months (especially this summer) you’ll find an abundance of wonderful blogs showing their curriculum choices for the new year. I absolutely love reading about everyone’s choices! We’ll hopefully have ours narrowed and picked soon and will certainly post about our choices on my blog!

Best wishes and blessings to you and your family as you start planning for the new year!


Tammy CarrollTammy is the owner of The New Farmer’s Wife blog.  She and her husband recently decided to give farming a try and she’s blogging all about their adventures.  Take a moment to stop on by!

Bringing History to Life

Living History Title | Homeschool Survival

They say it is important to know our history so we don’t repeat the same mistakes. While this may be true, many find studying history to be boring and irrelevant. How can we capture our children’s interest so they learn the wonderful lessons history has to offer?  How are we bringing history to life?

Problem: History = Boring, Irrelevant, Uninteresting

My own experience with history is that it was dry and unconnected. I read snippets of someone else’s interpretation of events and tried to memorize long lists of dates. My eyes would glaze over, my brain would zone out. I have a tiny recollection of studying the Ancient Greeks in my high school World Civ class, but I more clearly remember the monotone voice and polyester pantsuits my teacher wore. I can tell you exactly what the cover of my American History text looked like, even the title, but I cannot remember any information contained within that thick book.

How can we make History studies a better experience for our children? We can look for opportunities that would help make learning come alive for our children. In our homeschool, history studies include reading as many biographies and first-hand accounts of people and events as we can. Reenacting the accounts we read about, discussing the events and the differences in their lives and ours at the dinner table or around the school table help reinforce what we’ve read.

Living History 2  Apron Strings & other things

Solution: A Living History Museum

Anything we can do to help connect our children to their history will help reinforce the lessons that can be learned from history and make the future so much brighter. How about a Living History Museum? Have you ever seen the movie ‘Night at the Museum’? Where the displays come alive at night? Next month that is exactly what will be happening with our homeschool support group. We’ll be stepping back in history, meeting the famous and reliving memorable events that have influenced our lives today. This is how we accomplish it:

  1. Invite all participants to research the life of an important person in history. Learn all they can about that person, their lifestyle, family, circumstances, events in their lives.
  2. Prepare a display of some type and step into their hero’s shoes. Collect samples of tools and items that person may have used, learn a skill they might have known, find/create clothing that is typical of that time period.
  3. Learn the names and places of their family, their home, their occupation.
  4. Be ready to represent this person to those visiting our museum. Child will interract with visitors explaining how an event or invention or discovery came about, from the first person point of view.
  5. Invite your friends, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunts and Uncles, others interested in homeschooling or skeptical about educating children at home.
  6. Open the doors and walk back in time! Have fun! Absorb! Learn!


Laura Ingalls | Homeschool Survival

At our Living History Museum last year, we met Israelites who were at the Wall of Jericho when it fell and Queen Esther with King Xerxes. What a treat it was to meet Laura Ingalls, barefoot with her sunbonnet hanging down her back, practicing her letters on  a slate. Oh! and one of the Wright Brothers. We conversed with Betsy Ross as she worked on the first flag of our new nation, she had some interesting tales to share. Let’s not forget Sally Ride. She even had some freeze dried ice cream for us to sample, just like the astronauts ate when they were in space. Our children brought history to life for their grandparents and neighbors and learned some things along the way. What a great educational opportunity! History, Reading, Speech, Language, Writing, Art, Woodshop, HomeEc, Science, Geography – these are just some of the subjects we covered while preparing for this big assignment.

I wonder who we’ll meet at our Living History Museum this year? Who would you most like to meet?


stop and smell the daisies

Linda Sears is a stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mother and doting grandmother. She and her husband have 8 children, a daughter-in-law, 2 sons-in-law and 5 grandchildren, so far. They have been homeschooling for more than 20 years, graduating 4 of their 8 children, with 4 more to go. You’ll find her at Apron Strings & other things where she blogs about life as she knows it, with children in various stages of cutting those apron strings.



FREEbie: Shamrock Faux Stained Glass Craft

*This post contains affiliate links.

Stained glass is beautiful, but not necessarily the most “kid-friendly” craft. So we decided to come up with an alternative … faux stained glass! Our FREEbie: Shamrock Faux Stained Glass is a fun craft for kids and adults and the end result is so pretty! Once complete, you can frame your creation or hang in a window to enjoy.

The inspiration for this stained glass comes from the legend of the shamrock. St. Patrick used the shamrock as a symbol to explain the Holy Trinity to the people of Ireland. Tomie dePaola beautifully shares the story of St. Patrick, along with the legend of the shamrock, in his book Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland.

“When Saint Patrick was preaching about the Holy Trinity, the people could not understand that there was one God in three Divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Patrick looked down, and growing at his feet was a shamrock. He picked it and held it up, showing that there was one stem, but three leaves. The people understood the Holy Trinity at once.” – excerpt from Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaolo

Tomie dePaolo’s Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland does a beautiful job of sharing the true story of how a young boy went from being a slave to a faithful servant of God. Along with the biography of Saint Patrick, he also includes several legends: Saint Patrick and the Snakes, Saint Patrick and the Lost Horses, Saint Patrick and the Evil Coroticus, Saint Patrick and the Altar Stone, and Saint Patrick and the Shamrock.

Download our FREEbie: Shamrock Faux Stained Glass to celebrate the legend of the shamrock as you learn more about Saint Patrick and the reason we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day!


Kat ReaderKat is the proud mama to 3 incredible boys. Her family began their homeschooling journey in 2006 when her oldest was in 2nd grade, and the twins were barely 6 months old. She’s passionate about researching resources and activities that allow her children to use all of their senses and learning styles, which she shares at World of Learning. In her “spare time”, she’s a Virtual Assistant, creating printables, logos, business cards and more, and providing editing services.  Connect with Kat on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.