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Story Time: The Giving Tree

Story Time: The Giving Tree - Crafts, activities, and free printables to go with the picture book

Earth Day is this Friday, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate it than to do a Story Time on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.  We are huge Silverstein fans in this house.  His poetry is one of the myriad ways I introduced the Littles to verse.  This particular book… It is the consummate environmental children’s book.  It is so lovely, the idea that a tree could love a boy so much she would give him everything.  When you think of all the things trees do for us–provide us with warmth, with our very homes, give us shade and fruit, even supply the very paper you might print my freebies out on–when you consider all that, you have to also remember that there isn’t an unlimited supply of trees on the planet and we should do our level best to replace what we use.

Why?  Well, I believe Silverstein would tell you trees have feelings, too.  And I would have to agree.

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Free Garden Planning Pages

This time of year provides us homeschooling mamas and dadas with a great opportunity to teach our littles about life and biology and botany and how connected we are (or should be) with our planet.  Getting into the garden or the greenhouse is one of my favorite ways to teach.

morning garden 4

You can study life cycles in the garden, simply by growing a plant from seed and watching it for an entire season.  Keeping a diary or calendar of the plant’s growth can help your little understand scientific observation.  Planning a garden helps your little learn about how things grow together.  If you’re planting flowers, you can add an ongoing color lesson for art studies.  If you’re planting vegetables your little can learn about where food comes from and what is good for his body.  Littles can learn how plants need water, soil, and sunlight.  If you’re starting in a greenhouse, they can learn about how different seeds need different temperatures to sprout.

morning garden 1

There is so much a little can learn about life from gardening, but one of the most important lessons they can take away from gardening is that hard work pays off.  Gardening takes some work–you have to baby those seedlings, make sure your plants are getting the right amount of water, keep weeds from stealing the necessary nutrients, and harvest at the right time.  My Littles have been helping with the gardens since they were old enough to walk, and they groan when the weeding or hoeing needs done, but they realize that all that work is going to result in lots of fresh food and beautiful flowers to enjoy from the patio.  So they do it.  I love that it keeps them physical all summer, beyond jumping on the trampoline or swimming in the pool.  It makes them work those growing muscles in ways they wouldn’t otherwise.

morning garden 2

We always grow one special thing for each of the boys in our veggie/fruit garden.  For Littlest it’s watermelon.  For Middle, it’s our grape arbor.  This year we bought some new seeds that are supposed to grow giant watermelons, so Littlest better have his grubby hands ready to get sticky.  We’ve walked out to the orchard and looked at how our fledgling apple trees are covered in blooms this year, promising an actual crop of fresh apples for the first time.  Even the pear trees are producing this year, though not quite as much as the apples.

morning garden 3

Every year the things we grow provide fresh insight and lessons into science and nature.  I want the whole world to enjoy that connection.  I’ve made up a couple of freebies for you, and you don’t even have to subscribe to get them.  Though it’d be a lot cooler if you did.

Here’s a set of Garden Planning Pages to get you and your littles started:


garden planning pages


And here is a set of Garden Diary/Calendar pages to help your littles learn all season:

my plant diary


Print these out and get outside with your littles and enjoy glorious spring.  Learn while you’re having fun?  Yeah yeah.

That’s the stuff.

Love wins,


Free Downloads for National Reading Month

national reading month

Dr. Seuss Day kicked off the greatest month of the year, National Reading Month.  You know me, anything that celebrates reading is top of the list.  It’s the curse of being a Lit Mama.

I’ve often talked about the importance of reading, so I’m not going to bend your ear too much here.  If you want to celebrate national reading month in good form or want to know why you should, check out my posts The Joys of Guided Reading, Teach Your Children Well, 10 Rocking Advantages of Reading Aloud, or 5 Ways to Love Your Library.

Mostly, this month is about teaching or reminding our littles to love literature in all its forms.  To buy them new books, take trips to the library, spread out on the floor with a stack of picture books and read together, start a new chapter book as a family.  It’s about loving stories and the written word.  It’s what we do.

Here are three new free downloads to help your littles celebrate National Reading Month.

My Reading Journey is a book log where your little can track each book he’s read for the month.

Reading journey log

These Belongs To book labels will make your child feel like each book is her special place.

Belongs To book labels

Finally, here are some Dr. Seuss bookmarks so your littles can keep their places in all those incredible books.

seuss bookmarks

I hope they make your littles smile.

Love wins,


10 More Super Sites for Free Homeschooling

I couldn’t help but notice how much my lovely readers appreciated my list of 14 fabulous sites for free homeschooling.  I’ve been watching the comments and shares and realizing that you guys are really into finding ways to homeschool on the cheap.  And why wouldn’t you be?  You know, of course, that you can come here every week for new free printables and units, but you need more.  Right?

more free homeschooling

Well, it just so happens I am a font of information about homeschooling for free.  I’ve been doing it for 5 years, and I have accumulated so. much. stuff.  Many of the blogs I follow are not only full of excellent advice but offer free downloads and resources for other homeschoolers.  In fact, there are 10 more sitting in my inbox right now, so I thought I would share them with you.  You need them.  Once again, these are in no particular order.  I love them all for different reasons.  You will, too.

  1. Handbook of Nature Study When I first started homeschooling, and I knew Nothing About what I was doing or where to start, one of the first things that intrigued me as I trolled the interweb was nature study.  I had never heard of it until 5 years ago, but I was immediately drawn to it.  Nature study is a fun and ludicrously easy way to start homeschooling.  All littles love learning about their world, and there are so many ways to do nature study that 5 years later, my Littles never get bored with it.  Barbara McCoy’s Handbook of Nature Study site is a great place to start.  If you subscribe to the site, you will receive for free Every Month the Handbook of Nature Study Newsletter, a pdf download that covers a different topic each month.  These newsletters are full of information, ideas, and even printable planning pages for your child’s nature journal.  I’m telling you, this is one of the best resources for nature study I’ve come across.  handbook of nature study
  2. The Old Schoolhouse The Old Schoolhouse is a homeschool blog and magazine that offers tons of free advice from myriad homeschoolers.  Its estore is full of cheapity-cheap homeschool resources as well as lots of free stuff that is truly usable.  I can’t tell you how full my school folder is with awesome stuff from TOS.  My favorites are The Curiosity Files science units and the Wanna Be career units.  And I got them for free!!  You have to check this out.the old schoolhouse
  3. Only Passionate Curiosity Heather has a shop where you can get units and printables on the cheap, and she also offers freebies all the time.  If you click on her Homeschool for Free tab, you will find a huge list of links similar to this very post.  But more in-depth.  With some sites even I have never heard of.  Which rocks, because obviously I am going back there to check those out.  I’ll see you there.passionate curiosity
  4. Schoolhouse Connect Technically, Schoolhouse Connect is part of The Old Schoolhouse.  But if you go straight to this link, you’ll see the opportunity to get a free welcome basket.  And it. is. awesome.  You get a choice of 2–one is all e-resources and is totally free, and the other includes a few physical products that will be mailed to you if you just pay shipping.  This ‘basket’ is full of goodies to help the homeschool parent, whether you’re a veteran or just starting out.  There are even a couple of free Curiosity Files in the basket, so Win.  schoolhouse connect
  5. Hip Homeschool Moms I love the Hip Homeschool Moms.  For one thing, look at that name.  Bask in that stuff.  I crush hard on it.  But also because nearly every other blog post contains free printables.  And because the girls over there are intelligent, witty, experienced homeschool mamas who truly help my journey.  And I have to admit, I kinda have that feeling like when I grow up I want to also be a hip homeschool mom.  Ya know? hip homeschool moms
  6. The Practical Mom Blog Are you kidding me?  Swapna has an entire tab devoted to more than 75 art project tutorials as well as directions on setting up an art studio for next to nothing.  You have got to see this.  The projects are for 2.5 to 5 year olds, but I think they could easily be adapted for older kids.  She also has a link for STEM and literacy activities that is full of juicy goodness. The Practical Mom
  7. The Natural Homeschool Tanya’s site is beautiful and her free printables are excellent.  Think history, organization, science, and all things Montessori-inspired.  I love it when a blogger truly puts effort into the stuff she offers, and Tanya made this list because of that effort.  She also has an activities tab that you Have To take a look at.  Yeah yeah, this one is fun. natural homeschool
  8. The Multitasking Mom Stephanie has free printables for darn near everything.  Not just stuff your littles can use, but stuff for you, too, mama, like personal goal trackers and organization charts.  Plus, 40,000 followers must be onto something.  Check this amazing site out and you’re sure to find more than one thing your homeschool can’t do without.  multi taskin mom
  9. Confessions of a Homeschooler Another very cool blog title.  I like it.  Erica offers a tab full of entirely free downloads that cover everything from art and animals to science and sight words.  Plus, Erica is incredibly cool and honest about her journey and I love reading her blog.  I started following her before I started blogging myself, and I still eagerly await every update.  confessions of a homeschooler
  10. Donna Young This site requires a subscription, but you won’t be sad about subscribing when you see all the free stuff she has to offer.  I have used the science tab on Donna Young more than probably any other site.  There is so much here that it’s almost overwhelming.  Do not blow this one off.  You will be amazed.  In fact, I’d like to start a new club.  We’ll call it “I Heart Donna Young.”  You in? Donna Young


Seriously.  Put this list with the 14 I gave you a couple of weeks ago (and don’t forget to add on Lit Mama! haha), and homeschool is taken care of.  Which Rocks.

Also, if you’re into the free stuff, don’t forget to go over to my giveaway and enter to win a canvas with a Seuss quote on it for your classroom or littles’ room.

Have a glorious weekend, lovely readers.  It’s gonna be spring weather here, so I am looking forward.

Love wins,