Learning History with American Girl (Civil Rights Movement)

There is a brand new American Girl movie coming out based on their “Melody” doll. Melody’s story is set in Detroit during the Civil Rights Movement and examines the joyful life and troubled times of an irrepressible 10-year-old African-American girl whose vivid imagination and creativity reinforce her optimism. When shocking national events threaten her sense of security, Melody must find inner strength to restore her hope for a better world.

Even though we’ve never purchased the actual American Girl dolls – we are big fans of their stories! Both of my kids (5 year old girl and 11 year old boy) enjoy reading about the lives of the girls and the times they lived in. I think it brings history “home” when kids see other kids their age living their lives in different historical times! We have a couple of the non-fiction books (“Welcome to Kit’s World, 1934: Growing Up During America’s Great Depression” and “Welcome to Molly’s World, 1944: Growing Up in World War Two America“) that teach kids about specific time periods (with lots of photos!) I’m hoping that they come out with one for Melody also!

Until then – here are some books for kids about the Civil Rights Movement and the 1960’s:

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Also, here are a couple lesson ideas for teaching about Civil Rights:

  1. Civil Rights Activity Book via Teaching Tolerance
  2. Civil Rights Movement for Kids (.pdf file)
  3. Civil Rights Lesson Ideas via BrainPOP

Don’t forget! An American Girl Story – Melody 1963: Love Has to Win premiers on Amazon on 10/21!

* This post contains affiliate links – affiliate links help pay the bills! However, the ideas, opinions and text are all mine.

Awesome Writing Prompt Websites for All Writers

Awesome Writing Prompt Websites for All Writers

I’ve been on the hunt for imaginative writing prompts for my eleven year old lately. A lot of “prompt” pages are so boring! I mean, yes, I understand that little kids are just learning how to write but can’t we have some cool prompts to use? Some of the prompts we’ve used in our house (we homeschool) include things based off of Minecraft (“Imagine you are Steve and wake up one day alone in a forest. What do you do first? Keep in mind you will need shelter, food and protection!”) and recently, Fallout (I can’t remember that prompt off the top of my head though!)

Take your kids’ interests and roll with them! Video games, movies, books .. they all make wonderful writing prompts! Here are a few websites I’ve found that have awesome writing prompts for any age.

Ps. Parents YOU know your kid best – please check out the links *before* you send your kid to them!

  1. Writing Prompts (via tumblr)
  2. 365 Creative Writing Prompts
  3. 100 Not Boring Writing Prompts for Middle/High Schoolers
  4. Minecraft Writing Prompts
  5. Star Wars Writing Prompts
  6. Writing Prompts that Don’t Suck (via tumblr)
  7. Nerdtastic Writing Prompts for Beginners (includes links to more!)
  8. 55 Creative Writing Prompts for Teens & Tweens
  9. Writing Prompts (via Reddit) [parents, pre-read these because some are not kid-friendly!]
  10. Writing Prompts (via Pinterest)

Please share your favorite writing prompt links in the comments!

Homeschool Week One

This was our very first week of homeschooling and it went … er … okay? It went better than I thought, but we had a little drama yesterday. Mostly because the three year old wanted attention (which, I had just finished giving her) and the nine year old just didn’t want to do what I had asked of him. For the most part though, it was a positive experience. I learned a couple things from my homeschool mama friends though:

  • Start simple and be upfront about what the schedule is.

In light of the whole “be upfront about schedule” idea I’ve decided that I need to buy a bigger whiteboard and keep it in an obvious place. I brought down Xander’s desk and am ready to hang a whiteboard above it. I will keep track of our daily expectations on there so it’s obvious and will hopefully help us both keep better track.


We used two of the workbooks that I picked up for English leaving the third that I bought for later. We also did the first two lessons in the Saxon 5/4 math book (although, I printed off the pages since Amazon hasn’t shipped me my books yet!)

For History/Science/Geography we started off our “Around the World in 26 Letters” with Australia! We watched a show on Netflix about Australia called Australia: First Four Billion Years (NOVA). I also purchased a unit study country pack from Teachers Pay Teachers (Country Pack (Egypt, Australia & Russia)) and used the worksheets from Australia. Some of the words from the worksheet weren’t familiar to Xander so those words, combined with some of the words from the show made for a great exercise in finding definitions and learning how to look up words in a dictionary and online.


For my little Pre-K minion (Juliana) we did a lot of tracing! I bought her some new dry erase markers and used a print-out of her name in a clear, plastic sheet protector. We also sorted colors with the super cute Paint Brush Matching Lapbook via Confessions of a Homeschooler! Little really enjoyed working on her own schoolwork while Big Brother did his!

Next week we’re heading to Brazil!

Planes: Fire & Rescue FREE Educational Activity Book #FireAndRescue

Planes: Fire & Rescue / Educational Activity BookSmoky the Bear, National Parks, and the heroes from Disney’ Planes: Fire & Rescue have teamed up to help your kids have fun with fire safety this summer!

The activity book has a word search, a quiz, camping safety tips, facts about wild fires, and lots of tips on general outdoor fire safety. I would recommend this for ages 5 to 10; it’s an easy read for the older kids, but there aren’t any coloring pages.

Planes: Fire & Rescue is an upcoming American 3D computer-animated comedy-adventure film. It is a sequel to the 2013 film Planes, a spin-off of Pixar’s Cars franchise. Produced by DisneyToon Studios, it will be released theatrically by Walt Disney Pictures on July 18, 2014.

You can download this free activity book by clicking this link!


Learning and Teaching

10246614_510334319067570_7811031388482900585_nAfter a ton of thinking about the subject and weighing the pros & cons on the matter, I’ve decided to homeschool my son next year. Alexander will be in 4th grade (and Juliana will be in pre-school) and I think it will be the absolutely BEST thing for us all. It will be our last year in Hawaii and the schools here seem to be a bit “lacking” (honestly) and I’m worried that the both of them – mostly Xander – will be behind once we get back to the mainland.

I’ve been “pinning” a ton of resources onto my Pinterest “Learning & Teaching” board and I have some homeschool and teacher friends sharing ideas and curriculum information with me! Lots of support (for which I am very grateful.)

I’m planning on more of an “unschool” sort of direction in homeschool. I was never really “into” school even though I adore learning – and it seems as though my son is similar to me in that sense. I plan on using a “curriculum” for math (Saxon) but the rest of the schooling will be based very loosely on what he “should” be learning. I get to teach not for TESTING but for LEARNING! 4th and 5th grades were my absolutely favorite in school – so I am super stoked to be his teacher for at least 4th grade.

I don’t really mind lesson planning. There are so many friends of mine who homeschool and there are so many FREE resources available online! I’m not stressed about this, I’m excited! (Perhaps a little TOO excited!) My husband is even totally on board! He’s excited about working in lots of science lessons when we do a little family vacation to the Big Island soon!

So, be prepared for the onslaught of homeschooling information. I find it easier to re-locate information via my own blog sometimes (much like the meatloaf recipe I had lost, then found on here!)

Anyway, you’ve been warned. I even added a new Category 😉