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Back to School Tips for Raising a Reader

I am SO passionate about literacy!

Reading skills are vital to every area of life, but many parents struggle with the “how” of instilling a lifelong love of reading in their children. I did a little research and have come up with five tips to help you raise a reader!

Make sure you:

  1. Take a look.
  2. Leave a comment telling me your favorite book to read aloud.
  3. Click through to visit the other bloggers and gather tips. (Next is HeidiSongs. HeidiSongs are sing along songs that teach- and a WHOLE lot more! Heidi’s post this week is on ideas for using printable labels in the classroom.)
  4. Enter our giveaway by August 31!

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Education, Language Arts

The DOs & DON’Ts of Reading Aloud

Read Aloud (1)

DO read aloud early and often. Start from infancy, and read aloud every day – even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes!

DON’T stop reading aloud just because your kids are growing up!

DO choose books that you love to share with your children. Your love of reading and of the story will be contagious!

DON’T be afraid to admit it if you made a poor choice of reading material. Give the book a chance, but if you can’t get into it, set it aside. Reading aloud is supposed to be fun, not miserable!

DON’T rush! Read slowly and carefully so that your child has time to process the story and enjoy the pictures.

DO pause to enjoy the pictures with your child. Point out words and show them how they relate to the images!

DO read with expression! Change your tone and inflection for different characters.

DON’T be afraid to be silly. Your character voices and sound effects don’t have to be perfect!

DON’T be afraid to pause and explain challenging vocabulary or complicated situations.

DO admit it if you don’t understand a word or concept. Look it up with your child!

DON’T wait to stop reading until your children are tired and bored.

DO leave them wanting more… try to find a stopping place with a cliffhanger. They will be excited for your next read aloud session!

DON’T leave home without a book!

DO read to your kids everywhere – at a restaurant, in a waiting room, while stuck in a traffic jam, while they eat lunch, etc.

DON’T feel the need to tie everything back to the curriculum. Sometimes reading is just for fun!

DO discuss what you read! Ask your child what they liked about the story and what they disliked. This will help you pick books that pique their interest.

Lapbooking 101, The Basics

Lapbooking 101: Why Use Lapbooks

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Lapbooks have been around for nearly a decade, and have continued to gain popularity over the years. What originated in homeschooling communities across the country has grown and spread – even into traditional classrooms around the world.

Why have lapbooks continued to gain popularity instead of fizzling out as most educational trends do? There are many reasons! Here are some of the best:

  1. Lapbooking helps both visual and kinesthetic learners pick up and retain information. Lapbooks are visually stimulating. They involve not only text and images, but also a variety of shapes and colors. These elements are not only helpful to visual learners, but kinesthetic learners as well, as creating them involves cutting, gluing, drawing, and writing!
  2. Lapbooking allows seamless integration of various subjects during a unit study. Regardless of your original topic, you can almost always incorporate language arts, science, social studies, and even math into your lapbook! In a recent elementary literature class, we read Pippi Longstocking and Cricket in Times Square. Our lapbooks for these novels included maps, fun facts about insects, flippable books about counting money, and more!
  3. Lapbooking is an inexpensive way to record student learning and create a keepsake for years to come. Lapbooks can be created with supplies that you may already have on hand. All you really need are file folders, paper, scissors, glue, and colored pencils! (We will discuss supplies in further detail in a later post.)Lapbooking 101 - Pinterest
  4. Lapbooking is an easy way to capitalize on your child’s creativity. Lapbooks can be created very simply, or very intricately! There are no limits to lapbooking! If your child is very creative, you can investigate the hundreds of different foldable pieces and mini-books, and incorporate all sorts of fun paper, stickers, and scrapbook supplies.
  5. Lapbooking is more than another boring worksheet or report! While there is a time and place for formal reports and worksheets, variety is the spice of life (and education)!

Do you have any of your own reasons for creating lapbooks? Join the conversation and share your ideas in the comments!

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Education, Uncategorized

The ABC’s of Creating a Positive Home Learning Environment

(Please note that the following post may contain affiliate links.)

positive learning environment

I’ll be honest.

I consider myself to be a fairly positive person. I try to look for the bright side in unfortunate situations, I strive to see the best in people, and I am a firm believer that something good can be found in even the worst days…

But positivity does not come naturally to me.

My husband and I were discussing this recently while we were driving in some crummy traffic and thinking about some all-too-recent storms that we’ve walked through. Fortunately, this gave us the chance to talk about a few of the ways we can work together to create a positive environment in our home and hopefully train our children to be positive individuals. (See? Bright side!)

I thought while it was fresh on my mind, I’d share some of the things we came up with that relate specifically to learning. I hope they will be of help to you on your home education journey!

positive self talk quotes

Acknowledge Efforts

Praising efforts instead of end results helps students develop a growth mindset that helps them build resilience, fosters a love of learning, and ultimately takes them further than talent alone. When encouraging your child, choose specific compliments that praise process more than performance. Encourage them to acknowledge their own efforts by asking them to seek out their own daily successes, either orally or in a “success journal” that they can refer back to when they are feeling frustrated.

growth mindset quotes

Be Mindful of Your Own Attitude

Children are remarkably perceptive, and easily pick up on their parents’ attitudes. Strive to find ways to manage your own stress levels, and check your own negative “vibes” before working with your children. Take it a step further by modeling positive self-talk when you struggle with your own frustrations or difficult circumstances.

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

It’s hard to be negative when you focus on the things that fill your heart with joy. One way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. I’m particularly in love with this one by Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom. It’s designed just for kids! You can check it out by clicking the pic below.

Discourage Complaining for the Sake of Complaining

As the old saying goes, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” Teach your kids to reframe their negative whining and complaining into a positive by brainstorming solutions for their problems. Doing this not only creates a more positive environment, but also prepares them for independence by teaching them to resolve issues on their own.

Encourage SMART Goal Setting

Goals should be challenging, but unrealistic expectations can leave children feeling defeated and trigger negative thoughts and behavior. Help them choose action-oriented goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Focus on Strengths

One of the most wonderful things about homeschooling is that you get to teach in a way that aligns with your child’s strengths. It is an incredible gift to be able to customize your curriculum in a way that helps them become the people they are called to be! As my friend Sallie Borrink says, “embrace your child and embrace the freedom you have to tailor her education to her specific needs.”

What tips and tricks have you successfully used to create a more positive learning environment? Share your best ideas in the comments.

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Lapbooking 101, The Basics

Lapbooking 101: Qualities of a Great Lapbook

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Once you’ve decided to use lapbooks, there are two ways to go about creating your first lapbook. You can either:

  1. Purchase a lapbook kit that is ready to print, assemble, and fill with research.
  2. Create a lapbook to accompany your own unit of study.

Whichever route you choose to take, there are several things to keep in mind when choosing materials. Lapbooks work best when they are more than just a cut and paste busy-work activity – they need to be designed with authentic learning in mind.

What does an excellent lapbook, designed with learning in mind look like? It should contain the following elements:

  • Cross-curricular materials. Choosing to take an interdisciplinary approach will help students develop a more holistic view of any topic. For instance, when choosing a literature lapbook, look for lapbooks that tie in (at the very least) science and social studies. Likewise, science lapbooks should tie in math and geography, and social studies lapbooks should tie in literature and science.
  • Real-life applications. Relating new facts to everyday life will make them more memorable. What does this look like in practice? You might look for activities that include writing letters to characters from stories, or comparing life today to a different era. If you’re creating a science-based lapbook, find ways to include day-to-day applications of different concepts.
  • Appropriate amounts of research and writing. This may seem like common sense, but select a lapbook geared towards your child’s age and ability level. For example, don’t choose a lapbook with lots of internet research for your second grader, or a fill-in-the-blank project for your eighth grader. If you are looking to pLapbooking 101 - Pinteresturchase a pre-designed lapbook kit and simply can’t find anything that will work, be prepared to adapt it to your child’s needs.
  • The right amount of material to fit your schedule. Don’t try to rush it! A rushed lapbook doesn’t make for a pleasant or effective learning experience. Try to find enough material to give your students a complete understanding of a topic, but avoid excess.
  • Engaging colors, shapes, fonts, etc. Lapbooks should be attractive and appealing to young learners. The brighter and more visually appealing a lapbook is, the more likely children will be to review a lapbook over and over. You may wish to do some research into color and shape psychology if you have time, but at the very least, make sure your lapbooks are engaging and inviting.

Have you noticed any other qualities of great lapbooks? Join the conversation and share them in the comments! Or, share your lapbook photos on Facebook and Instagram with #Lapbooking101 and tag me @edventuresathome.

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Ask The Grad, Education

Does Homeschooling Prepare Kids for College?


Recently, it was suggested that I start writing a series of blog posts reflecting on my homeschool memories and detailing my experiences as a homeschool graduate. There are many blogs written by homeschool parents, but not nearly as many written by those who were homeschool students. With that in mind, I am setting out on a new adventure! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to consider writing on, leave me a comment, or email me at rebeccam (at) edventuresathome (dot) com.

One of the questions I hear most frequently from those considering homeschooling their children is “Will my child be able to get into college? Will they be adequately prepared?” The answer to that is yes, with a quality home education, students are able to get into college. And truthfully, I believe that the majority of homeschooled students are not only adequately, but also uniquely prepared for a college environment.

Based on my experiences, here are four reasons why:


1. Homeschooled students view learning as a lifestyle. No school bell means no end to learning! Homeschooling families are likely to keep both formal and informal educational experiences rolling through evenings, weekends, and even vacations.

2. Homeschooled students have the flexibility to participate in academic pursuits that are meaningful to them. Colleges love to seek out students who have shown themselves to be dedicated to their academic pursuits. Homeschooling allows students not only to explore areas of interest, but gives them flexibility in structuring their time so that they can study, develop skills, and excel in areas that are of particular interest to them.

3. The types of socialization afforded to homeschooled students transfer well into the college environment. Rather than socializing with a group of peers who are the same age, but may or may not have similar interests, homeschooled students tend to socialize with people of similar interests, with less focus on age group. This is much like the college environment, where students spend time working and networking with individuals who share similar academic and social pursuits, but who may or may not be the same age.

4. Homeschooling prepares students to stand out. Instead of being shaped and influenced by constant peer pressure, homeschooled students are able to be who they want to be. Developing these independent roots at a young age allows them to stand strong in their beliefs and worldview during their college years.

So, what about academically? How can you make sure your students are prepared? I’ll explore that in a future post! For now, leave a comment and let me know if you can think of other ways that homeschooling prepares students for college.

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Lapbooking 101, The Basics

Lapbooking 101: What Are Lapbooks?

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What are lapbooks?

Maybe you’ve heard the term “lapbook,” but have never investigated what they really are. Or, maybe you’ve seen them advertised on your favorite blogs, splashed across Teachers Pay Teachers, or in your favorite catalogs, but you still don’t quite understand the concept. Today, as the first part in our Lapbooking 101 series, we’ll investigate what they are!

Here’s a basic definition: Lapbooks are a hands-on, creatively designed portfolio project that allow students to organize their learning into a small, keepsake “book” that fits in their lap.

Let’s break it down into smaller pieces:

Lapbooks are hands-on. Like the pop-up books you probably remember from your childhood, lapbooks are multi-dimensional and allow children to interact with their learning. Upon opening a lapbook folder, you’ll often find a variety of mini books and pockets that contain illustrations, stories, facts, flashcards, maps, and games.

Lapbooks are creative. If your children love cutting and pasting, coloring and designing and creating beautiful works of art, they are sure to love lapbooks! Made from file folders and colored paper that you probably already have handy, the mini-books inside of a lapbook can be made in any number of shapes or colors. Children can also get creative with their learning by adding their own personalized flair, such as drawings, stickers, and other embellishments.

Lapbooks are a portfolio. Like a passport, lapbooks provide students with a space to store artifacts of learning, and information can all be stored in one place without the hassle of keeping up with multiple loose papers.

Lapbooks are an organizational tool. In the process of creating a lapbook, children are required to sort the facts that they’ve learned into the appropriate pockets and mini books, which helps them begin to develop the studyLapbooking 101 - Pinterest skills necessary for later in life. Completed lapbooks can also be used as a study guide for review, as they contain all of the necessary details from a lesson or unit and the interactive nature boosts retention.

Lapbooks are a keepsake. Just like scrapbooks, passports, or sticker books, lapbooks are a keepsake that your children will enjoy looking through year after year as they go back, review, and deepen their knowledge on a topic. (And, as an added bonus, they take up much less space than a notebook, binder, or science fair board!)

Next week in Lapbooking 101, we’ll explore why you should start using lapbooks with your kids! In the meantime, join the conversation by sharing your lapbook photos on Facebook and Instagram with #Lapbooking101 and tag me @edventuresathome.


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Education, Language Arts

20 Books for Sixth Grade Reading

how toget more
I always get excited about summer, but for all the “wrong” reasons. Many people believe that summer is a time for rest and relaxation without a care about school, but my summers are always filled with excitement and planning for the new school year. I love the “blank slate” of a new school year!

A few days ago, I was watching some of my favorite YouTube vloggers as they discussed their plans for the upcoming school year. One of them referenced a box of books she had been collecting for her kids to read, and that flipped a switch in my brain. I pulled together some of my favorite literature resources and started putting together a reading list for our sixth grade year next year!

I ended up with a list of twenty books, which I know is a little on the long side. I’m a voracious reader working with a voracious reader, so I’m pretty sure we will get through them all. However, I divided it into three sections: “Planned Book Studies,” “Additional Reading,” and “Read Aloud and Independent Reading,” because I know that we won’t be able to study them all in great depth.

Here’s our list…

Planned Book Studies

We will be using the book studies from Learning Language Arts through Literature (The Tan Book – Sixth Grade Skills) for these studies. We will probably design lapbooks to go along with our studies, too, since we enjoy the hands-on aspect. 🙂

1. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
2. The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
3. Big Red by Jim Kjelgaard
4. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Additional Reading

I pulled these book suggestions from Reading Roadmaps (published by the Center for Lit). As of right now, I do not plan to complete full book studies on these books. We may decide to dive deeper into them if time allows! I like that Reading Roadmaps offers some basic discussion info (i.e. theme, plot, and conflict) for each of these stories.
5. Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
6. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
9. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
10. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
11. The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
12. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Read Aloud & Independent Reading

I added these books to the list because they were either (a) sequels or additional parts of a series or (b) enjoyable books I remember from upper elementary years. I will probably encourage independent reading of these books, though there are a few I would like to use as read alouds (marked with an asterisk).

13. Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
14. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry*
15. The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett
16. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
17. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis*
18. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
19. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg*
20. The Borrowers by Mary Norton*

I’m really excited about this list, and I hope that these books are a hit! I think we will have fun exploring them. Hopefully, we will even get around to seeing a few of the movies based on these books! 😉 Regardless, our main focus this year will be on learning about literary devices and key literary terms, and I think this list of books will help us accomplish that goal.

What’s on your reading list this year?
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