“Blueberries for Sal” Lap Book meets Five in a Row

IMG_2890Right before school started, our family took a trip out to Ohio to help my sister pack up for their big move to Hawaii. It was a great time to play with cousin Owen before he moves so far away.

Even though we weren’t yet into full time school, I still wanted to keep us on track and in our daily school routine. I decided this would be a great time to try out a couple different ways of study that I have been reading about on other homeschool blogs.

I have been very interested in both lap books and the program called 5 in a Row. I decided to combine the two ideas, and in the end I love the result. But before I get into what we did, let me explain a little about these two ideas.

Blueberries_for_SalFive in a Row is a literary based curriculum for children age 4-8 (ish).  It is a Unit Study style program using classic and popular children’s literature as the basis for each individual Unit Study. The idea is this: take a classic book, enjoy it together as a family reading it five days in a row, then use it to learn interesting and applicable lessons.  The learning is done in a natural fun way that children don’t even realize how much they are truly learning. There is curriculum to go alone with 50+ books; I decided to go with “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey.

IMG_3137The term “Lap Book” was first coined by Tammy Duby, a homeschool mother and writer from Virginia, USA. She named it that because the whole project could fit into a “book” that fits in the child’s lap. Lapbooks are a wonderful hands-on homeschooling tool – a kind of ‘scrapbooking meets homeschooling’ – though more than home educators use them. They are an inexpensive portfolio or collection of mini-books, flaps, and folded display material that provides interactive space for drawings, stories, graphs, graphics, timelines, and written work, from any topic, unit study, book you choose, gathered, glued, and creatively displayed in a standard sized folder, often folded in a “shutter-fold”.

For this first go I purchased a printable lap book lesson, but in the future I think I will create my own content. For $7.00 I got all the digital files and daily activities to go along with the story. You can get yours here.

IMG_3138IMG_6148On day one we talked about blueberries and how they grow. We already knew they grew on bushes from our field trip to pick berries a few weeks back, but it was good review to talk about the other ways fruit can grow and the life cycle for berries.

Math was hands on as Eden scooped and measured frozen berries into cups.

IMG_3140-2    IMG_3143-2

On day two we talked about bears. We learned that there are all different kinds of bears all over the world. We pretended we were bears and acted out each step a bear would take to prepare for hibernation. We learned that bears eat a lot more than just blueberries. And we learned what other animals do besides hibernate.


IMG_3139Each day after reading the story, Eden loved pulling out the reading card and having me record the date to track her reading. After hearing the story three times, Eden used the above pictures to retell the story herself.

On day 4, we talked about all the different things we can make from blueberries. Eden thinks we should try blueberry ice-cream sometime.

Our lesson came with a recipe for blueberry pancakes, but we made muffins instead.



We also “painted with blue berries”. We used small wooden beads and a few drops of blue paint in a walled tub. She rolled the beads around by tilting the tray making trails and lines. We did this again a few times after because she had so much fun.

We later added purple paint as Eden thought it would look more realistic.

IMG_6155-2  IMG_6154  IMG_3119

We also got the water beads out and tracked their growth with a ruler every few hours. It would take too long to measure the actual growth of blueberries, but these were close enough.


If you have never played with water beads, they are a lot of fun. They are a little slimy and slick but feel nice and cool between the fingers. They looked a little too much like blueberries as Eli kept trying to eat them.

IMG_3140-3   IMG_3143-3

On day 5 we talked about the state of Maine, which is the setting for this story. We found it on the world map and talked about how Maine is different from Missouri. We learned that 90% of Maine is covered in forest and that Maine is also known for lobsters, shipbuilding, tourism, wood, and blueberries.

To end our week of activities, we set up a fun sensory painting experience for the kids outside.

IMG_2921  IMG_2927  IMG_2932

We set out poster board and blue paint (our color of the week), striped the babies to their diapers, and lined them up. Eden jumped right in, ready for mess. Owen was a little more cautious. And Eli wanted nothing to do with the experience. We lifted both the boys onto the poster board; Owen would put his feet in a move around a little; but Eli did everything he possibly could not to touch the paint (this is not his first painting experience so I don’t know why he was so against the idea of getting messy).

IMG_2929  IMG_2938  IMG_2933

Next they used their hands, and then Owen wasn’t so sure.


Aunt Amber came up with the idea of using sticks and this made everyone happy.

IMG_2971  IMG_2967

We had a great week “rowing” through “Blueberries for Sal” and trying out lap books. IMG_2977



First Day of Kindergarten Homeschool

We too have started school. And what first day of school would be complete without those first day of school photos?

IMG_6011My little girl is growing up so quickly. Kindergarten already?

IMG_6015 IMG_6041 IMG_6020

As I have shared before, we will be schooling at home. It might be a little outside of the norm, but I think it is what is best for us.


While we will be coving all the basics that should be covered in Kindergarten, I am putting a heavy focus on reading. I think good reading skills is going to make everything else more enjoyable and put us off to a great start. Eden also wants to read and is excited about each new word she figures out.

IMG_6065  IMG_6064

We also captured a few pictures with the school principle and homeroom teacher.

IMG_6048-2I wanted to start a few fun first day of school traditions. So I did a bit of searching online and found a few cool ideas.

IMG_3026 IMG_5961 IMG_5967  IMG_5971

Eden found this surprise right away. I covered the doorway into the dining room with streamers. She really wanted to see if she could craw under and through the holes (I will have to remember this and do it as an activity on a rainy day), but I explained that this was the passageway into kindergarten; that once she broke through she would be an official kindergartener. She thought this was pretty cool too and didn’t really want to wait for too many pictures to be snapped. Eli was very disappointed that he didn’t get to run through the streams and kept bringing me pieces and pointing to the wall as to say my turn mommy.


I let Eden pick a special breakfast for the first day of school and she wanted to make a trip to the store for donuts and chocolate milk. She was excited to find they had a donut shaped like a school bus. About half way through the donut she decided it was too much sugar and opted for a banana.

Lastly I planned a field trip for our focus for the first day. We did our normal morning routing of calendar time, sight word practice, and centers, but then spent the rest of the day at Maramec Springs.


We enjoyed a picnic lunch. Eden knows that many kids pack their lunch for school, so she though packing all of our lunches was a great idea for our first day too.


While playing on the playground we meet another homeschool family with kids close to Eden’s age. I love watching the older siblings care for and play with their younger siblings.


Daddy enjoyed a little afternoon nap with the kids.

In the afternoon we took a long nature hike while we looked for items on a woodland scavenger hunt. We were able to find 6 different kinds of insects, 3 colors of flowers, a spiky plant, and many other things.

IMG_3050We walked the length river to the bridge; the whole time Eden wished to be playing in the water or “at least touching it” as she put it. As a reward for finding everything on our list I let her hop across the rocks in a calm section of the river.


She was so proud of her last jump that she wanted me to also come out so I could get her picture with the bridge behind her (a little artist in the making as she plans out photo ops). The whole time she instructed me on how not to get my shoes wet and which rocks were a little slick; I guess she was listening when I explained the same things to her as she ventured out.


Eli was sitting in his stroller through rock hopping adventure; which he didn’t mind too much but once I let Eden take her shoes off, Eli was sure he needed to have his shoes off too.


He wasn’t as excited as Eden about the water, but I will admit the water did feel nice after our long walk. (Photo by Eden)

IMG_3060A trip to the springs wouldn’t be complete without a little fishing time (this is what Joseph was doing while we were on our hike).

IMG_3064Joseph and Eden ended up getting two fish; a little unconventionally but you will have to ask Joseph about that.

On our way Eden shared that this was the best first day of school ever. (I hope so, since it was her first, first day.)



G is for Goat

G is for Goat FeatureWe continue through our phonics sounds with the letter Gg. Our theme for the week was Goats.

3goatsWe read several versions of the 3 Billy Goats Gruff and had a blast acting out the story. I found a cool free printable stage (and directions to make it using a tissue box), puppets, and a silly script. Eden loved playing the part of the troll. This was great practice for her retelling the story.

goat game

To practice our sight words this week I made up a small 3 Billy Goats Bridge game. Eden colored the dry field, river, and green pasture while I created a 3-D bridge with card stock and popsicle sticks for the slates. Each popsicle had one of the sight words we have been working on written on it. Those, ones with the word goat, and a picture of a troll went into the bag. She would pull a stick out of the bag; and if she could read the word, she could stick it on to the bridge. If she couldn’t read it, then I will tell her what it was and it would go back in the bag. Goat sticks were free spaces, and if she pulled the troll, she had to start all over by putting all the sticks back in the bag.  This has been a big hit, and will be one that we will keep pulling out to play and practice. We even reused the goat and troll puppets from the activity before.

IMG_2135While in Saint Louis, we made a quick stop at the Saint Louis Zoo to visit the children’s petting zoo. Again she prepared her questions ahead of time. Once we got there and she saw the goats climbing on the rock ledges, she came up with a few more.

I think I am going to try and incorporate time into each field trip for questions. I think it will be a nice way for Eden to learn from other adults and also to practice speaking clearly and planning what she wants to say.

IMG_2129   IMG_2139

One cool part of homeschooling is the number of people that get to be part of our children’s education. I have a few ladies at church and lots of family and friends that are so sweet to come up with field trip ideas, activities, and lesson extensions.

IMG_5689Thanks you to Helen and Robin for organizing our Friday Field Trip to a neighbor’s farm to see their goats and other animals (I will stick to goat pictures for this post).

IMG_5710Both the kids loved the baby goat. He was playful but sweet to the kids. Eden loved that baby goats were called kids and would laugh when I would say, “Hey kids lets go” as she joked that I wanted the kid goat to come home too.

IMG_5692   IMG_5733

Eden loved letting him suckle on her finger and petting him. On the way home she asked if we could have goats someday.

IMG_5724   IMG_5720

Eli enjoyed standing at the gate and calling the goats toward him. The baby loved licking on Eli and “cleaning” his ears. He must have thought it was okay as he didn’t cry or try to get away.

IMG_5267 IMG_5264

After learning about dairy goats, we made a special trip to Trader Joe’s where they have a large selection of goat cheese. With some help, we selected a honey goat cheese and a French baguette for an afternoon snack and tasting event. Unfortunately none of us cared for it. We will have to try a different kind again soon.