Showing posts with label Education. Show all posts

FREE Valentine Bookmark Printable

 If you have a child who loves all things reading, this FREE Valentine Bookmark Printable will be the perfect card for them to share with classmates this year!


If you've been around for more than two seconds over here, you'll know Kyle is obsessed with books and reading. When most other kids were playing with toys over Christmas break, Kyle had observed that he had 109 books in his bedroom, and was determined to read all of them before he returned back to school in January. 


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With Valentine's right around the corner, I thought it would be so fun and perfect to make a free Valentine bookmark printable to share with all of you, and for Kyle to handout at school. Now admittedly, Kyle found some Minecraft Valentine's that he's really jazzed to give his friends, but he has several teachers this school year, and he's 100% giving these bookmark Valentine's to them at their classroom party. 


Free Valentine Bookmark Printable:

This Valentine bookmark printable is pretty simple to make and cut out. There are two different color formats, a pink and purple template, and a red and blue template. To make these you'll simply print them out on card stock, and then using scissors or a paper cutter, cut along the thick black line to cut them out. 


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You can then leave the bookmarks as is, or you can do a hole punch at the top and add a ribbon. for a fun extra touch. You could also laminate them for extra durability. 


To download these free Valentine's Day Bookmark Cards, please click the large download link below. 


Best All in One Wireless Printer:

I bought the Epsom EcoTank Printer back in February 2020 and it's by far been one of the best purchases I've made. While the initial cost might be high, I can say that I've used this a ton and have not had to purchase new ink yet! The ink that the printer comes with is enough ink to print 4,000 colored pages and 7,500 black and white images. It is seriously the best feeling to not have to worry about running out of ink and being able to use your printer whenever you need it!

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Valentines Day Coloring Pages PDF

This free Valentine's Day Coloring Pages PDF is the perfect activity to print with kids at home! Enjoy coloring pages, word searches, color by number, and more!


With Valentine's Day a month away, I figured it was perfect timing to launch my Valentine's Day coloring pages PDF. This is the sixth installment of coloring pages I've produced over the last year, and I love that I challenge myself to learn new skills with each set that I put out. This month I'm excited to share a new color by number picture, and a Valentine's word search! 


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Valentines Day Coloring Pages PDF:

This pack of coloring pages consists of six different pictures that you can print right from the comfort of your home computer. This set includes four Valentine's Day themed pictures, one heart shaped color by number coloring sheet, and a Valentine's Day word search. I think my very favorite picture of all though would have to be the unicorn! It's the most detailed picture I've done so far, and I had so much fun putting that one together (even though I had to completely redo it twice!)

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How to Print Valentine's Day Coloring Pages PDF:

To print these coloring pages simply scroll down to the bottom of this post where you'll see a large link to click. It will take you to a google drive where you can click the down arrow in the top right corner to download these to your computer. From there you can print the PDF as you normally would!


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Best All in One Wireless Printer:

I bought the Epsom EcoTank Printer back in February 2020 and it's by far been one of the best purchases I've made. While the initial cost might be high, I can say that I've used this a ton and have not had to purchase new ink yet! The ink that the printer comes with is enough ink to print 4,000 colored pages and 7,500 black and white images. It is seriously the best feeling to not have to worry about running out of ink and being able to use your printer whenever you need it!

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Click Here to Download Valentine's Day Coloring Pages PDF


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Lessonface Review (Piano Pass First Month Free!)

Lessonface has the best online piano lessons through their Piano Pass program. You can get your first month free to try it out before you commit! 

While music isn't something that was huge in my life growing up, Derek comes from a long line of family members who can play instruments. Out of his nine siblings, all of them started playing the piano, and then eventually moved to another instrument like the saxophone, trombone, violin, etc... When Kyle turned 8 this year we knew we wanted to get him started with piano, and wound up finding the best online piano lessons through Lessonface and their Piano Pass program! 

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Lessonface Review:

I had never heard of Lessonface until 2020. I was a little hesitant having Kyle's first introduction to the piano being through online lessons, but it's actually worked out really well for us, and he's been progressing really well over the last 5-6 weeks since we started. 

Lessonface offers both private and group piano lessons. We've been using their Piano Pass program which has over 80 weekly lessons available, so there is bound to be something that works in your timeframe. Kyle does the kid's beginner class with Beverly every Sunday at 12pm. 

I also love that multiple people can all use the same account for the same one time monthly price. Meaning I can sign up to take a lesson at 6pm on Tuesday evenings for adult beginners, while Kyle is signed up for his class on Sunday afternoons, all for the same price. 

Lessonface is more than just piano lessons though! They offer lessons in almost any instrument imaginable. I prefer the group lessons just because it works with our budget and availability really well, but they have over 1,000 teachers that would love to work one-on-one with you or your children if that's something you're interested in too. 

They also recently launched a Guitar Pass program, which works the same way as the group piano lessons, only for the guitar instead. 

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How Much Does Piano Pass Cost:

Your first month of Piano Pass is $14.99, and then $30/mo after that. When you use my link you can get a $15 credit making your first month free! If you have multiple children playing the piano, this is the most cost effective option because you can get all of them playing the piano for that one time $30/month price instead of paying likely double that per child per month using a traditional in person instructor. 


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How Do Piano Pass Lessons Work? 

The day of Kyle's lesson we get an email from his teacher telling us where to print and download the course materials. We print off the needed music for the week, put it at the piano, and then click the button that says "join class". It pulls up a zoom meeting (you will need Zoom downloaded on your computer), and then the teacher and other students show up and the lesson begins. It takes a couple times to get used to the format of everything but it's second nature to us now!

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How to Have Multiple People on One Lessonface Account?

When I initially created our account it was just under my name. Because Kyle and I were both going to be doing lessons, I live chatted their customer service people from my Lessonface dashboard and they were able to make another section of the dashboard for Kyle specifically so that I'm now able to toggle back and forth between Kyle and myself. 

When I click on Kyle's dashboard this is what it looks like. I can click that blue button that says help to chat with someone who can add more users to my account. In the right hand column under classes I can see all the lessons Kyle is signed up for, and when I click that red switch back button, it will take me to my own personal dashboard. 

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To access your weekly materials, you click on the class in the "classes" section that you'll be attending. From there it will take you to that class page. There will be a bolded section that says, "class materials", and a link you can click to download the needed pdfs for the lesson. On the class page is where you'll also click to join the lesson and have Zoom pop up!

How Often Do You Do Piano Practice?

We make Kyle practice 15 minutes per day after school and on weekends. We have a pretty laid out after school routine where he comes home, does homework, practices piano, does some sort of exercise (kids yoga, plays basketball, etc...), and then he can have screen time until dinner (usually about 30 minutes). He's pretty motivated to chill and watch TV so getting him to practice and do other stuff has never been a huge issue. 

We have loved our experience with Piano Pass so far! If you use this link you can get a $15 credit that can be used to make your first month of Piano Pass FREE! The credit can also be used towards Guitar Pass, or any private one-on-one lesson of your choice!

If you liked this post, Lessonface Review, you might also like:

Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects.

Simple Christmas Coloring Pages

 Simple Christmas Coloring Pages are a great and fun activity to do with kids during the holiday season. It's no prep for busy moms, and tons of enjoyment for kids!


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I had no idea when I started doing these coloring pages in 2020 that they would soon become some of my favorite projects that I've brought to the blog this year. It's been so fun to have new content to create, and to challenge myself in a new way! I'm ending the year with these simple Christmas coloring pages that will be great for kids as school lets out and we need easy activities for them to work on! 

Simple Christmas Coloring Pages

These coloring pages consist of seven different pictures for your children to color this holiday season. We have everything from Christmas trees to Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, and so much more! Christmas is one of my favorite seasons which made these super fun to work on! My personal favorite might be the holiday baking coloring page!

These Christmas coloring pages are great for kids from preschool all the way through fifth grade. If you have older kids you could even spice things up with an at home Christmas coloring contest! Winner gets a candy cane or another fun and festive prize!

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How to Print Simple Christmas Coloring Pages

To print these coloring pages simply scroll down to the bottom of this post where you'll see a large link to click. It will take you to a google drive where you can click the down arrow in the top right corner to download these to your computer. From there you can print the PDF as you normally would!

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My Favorite Printer

I bought the Epsom EcoTank Printer back in February and it's by far been one of my best purchases in 2020. While the initial cost might be high, I can say that I've used this a ton and have not had to purchase new ink yet! The ink that the printer comes with is enough ink to print 4,000 colored pages and 7,500 black and white images. It is seriously the best feeling to not have to worry about running out of ink and being able to use your printer whenever you need it!

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD SIMPLE CHRISTMAS COLORING PAGES

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Kids Halloween Coloring Pages

 If you're looking for some fun inside activities to do with kids this Halloween, these kids Halloween coloring pages are the perfect thing to do on a lazy afternoon. 


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Halloween is undoubtedly going to look different this year than it has in the past. I've typically always been involved in school activities, parades, parties, all the fun things leading up to Halloween. This year I'm making myself more of a support role and helping when possible and if needed. I made these Kids Halloween Coloring pages that can easily be printed off and sent to school with my kids if their teachers need something for a class party. Otherwise I'll just have a fun activity I can do at home with the kids over the weekend. 


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Kids Halloween Coloring Pages

These kids halloween coloring pages come as a group of six. I tried to have a variety of monsters, bats and spiders, while also keeping some of them cute and fun as well. My personal favorite happens to be the Halloween coloring page with the cauldron and the candy, but I also love the page with the monsters as well. 

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The coloring pages provided would be great for kids in the age range of Kindergarten through 5th grade. They have big thick lines and wide open spaces that make it easy for younger kids to color. 

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How to Print Kids Halloween Coloring Pages

To download this month's coloring pages, scroll down to the bottom of this post where you can click a link to take you to the free downloads. It will take you to a google drive where you can download the files onto your computer, or print them directly from the drive.


My Favorite Printer:

If you're in the market for a new printer, we just bought the Epson Super Tank printer from Target and it's been the best purchase ever! With the ink that comes in the box, you can print 4,500 color pages and 7,000 black and white pages before having to buy more ink! For our family this printer will pay for itself in less than six months! We have zero regrets about this printer!


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Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects.

Raddish Kids Review + Coupon Code

 Raddish Kids is a subscription box service that sends monthly kits to your home to help your child learn basic food prep and cooking skills in the kitchen. Raddish Kids sent us a box for review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. 


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With Kyle doing homeschool this year, I knew that it was going to be my responsibility to to provide any fun activities that he might participate in outside of our typical school books. Coming up with creative things on my own is not necessarily my strong suit, so awesome subscription boxes like Raddish Kids that deliver the fun and education right to my door are something I'll support 100%. 


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What is Raddish Kids?

Raddish Kids is a monthly subscription service that delivers a kit straight to your home for your child/children to learn beginner cooking skills, and other skills such as reading recipes, shopping for ingredients, and so much more. 

Each box comes with a cooking utensil for your child to add to their personal collection, a collectible badge that corresponds with each monthly theme, three recipes, and activities that build off of the monthly themes. Our kit that we were sent was "American Diner" themed and came with little conversation starter cards to use at the dinner table, a notepad to take orders with, and a whisk!

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Who is Raddish Kids Good for?

Raddish Kids is great for children ages 4-14. Younger kids can learn to cook and help along side their parents while older kids can take the lead and be more hands on. Kyle is 8-years-old so I let him take the lead on cutting all the vegetables, cracking all the eggs, and stirring things together, and basically everything that didn't involve him using the stove (building up to that one!) 

Raddish Kids is also great for children who need more help working on fine motor skills. While the kit we got was meant for Kyle, after using and preparing one of the recipes I can see how this would be really beneficial for children with disabilities like Kinsley. She could totally work alongside me in the kitchen whisking eggs, pouring ingredients, and I could even help her hand over hand to cut and chop ingredients. The entire process would be so great to help her work on her hand strength and other occupational therapy goals. 

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How Much Does Raddish Kids Cost + Coupon Code!

Raddish Kids kits are available starting at $24/mo for their month to month plans. However, the price decreases if you choose to purchase a six or twelve month subscription. At the time of writing this there is currently a $15 off coupon code when you purchase a six month subscription. Use promo code HARVEST at checkout to take advantage of this offer! 

Have you tried Raddish Kids yet? It is serisouly such a fun service, and it's something I'm really excited about rotating into our homeschool schedule with Kyle each month! 

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Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects!

Easy Peasy Homeschool Hacks

With so many people choosing alternative methods for their children's education this year, I thought I would share my tips and tricks on how we're simplifying homeschool in our home, how to make homeschooling easy on you and your family, and what some of my favorite inexpensive and easy homeschool curriculums are. There are a ton of free homeschool curriculums out there, but I'll be sharing which ones are my go-to favorites. 

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Easy Peasy Homeschool Mindset:

I'm more than happy to admit that I'm a bit of a lazy parent. I chose to homeschool Kyle this year because I did not want to deal with 1,000 zoom calls and a million different programs. I see a lot of first time homeschooling moms online right now sharing all the things they're trying to implement this year and it honestly makes me hot and sweaty just watching them talk about it all. 

If this is your first year homeschooling my number one tip is to stick with the basics and what absolutely needs to be taught. In our home we're doing math, science, language arts, history, and handwriting. End of story. Do your children absolutely need to be homeschooled in Spanish, typing, art history, music, and every other subject? My opinion is no. If your child likes those things and they are fun and interesting, sure add them in, but if you're adding them in because you're trying to fill a seven hour school day at home and you think you need to do those things? That seems like and easy recipe for burnout in my book. 

Stick to what needs to be done, and build from there. Don't go out guns blazing just to find out that it's not sustainable a month into the year. 

Homeschool Isn't Meant To Replicate Public School:

There is a reason why you chose to not send your child to public school this year, so don't try to make your home into a public school. Homeschool absolutely does not need to fill an entire school day. Kyle starts his schoolwork in the morning around 9am, and we're done for the day well before lunchtime. He gets a math and a language arts lesson taught by Derek or I, and then he does science, history, and handwriting independently. I would say most days it takes us 2 1/2 hours to get through all the work for the day, and when I talk to other homeschool families they all say they're around a similar timeframe, possibly even shorter. 

You Don't Need to Teach to the Public School Standards:

In Utah homeschool is super flexible. We sign one legal document saying we're homeschooling and the state doesn't want any proof of hours or what we're teaching. My main reason for homeschooling this year was because I was sick of jumping through the public school system's hoops, and wanted to do my own thing. I know roughly that Kyle needs to learn multiplication and division this year, but other than that I'm doing my own thing and teaching what I want to be teaching for all the other subjects. If Kyle goes back into the public school system next year and didn't learn exactly what he should have for science and history but still got an enriching year out of it? I'll be happy. We're taking this year to learn and teach what we want to be learning about, and not letting standards or any outside influences impact our decisions.

The Best Free Homeschool Curriculums:

There are a lot of free and amazing resources for homeschool curriculum. The main curriculum we use is The Good and The Beautiful. While a lot of their curriculum is available for purchase, their entire language arts program for every grade is available for free as a PDF download (scroll down on that link and you'll see orange cricles you can click on to download for the grade you need). Their language arts is all encompassing with reading, writing, spelling, poetry memorization, and so much more. We're only a few weeks in but so far we've seen geography, history, and biblical studies all intertwined within the language arts curriculum. It's really well done, and we have no regrets so far. We downloaded the PDFs for free and then had them printed in black and white and spiral bound at our local Fedex. 

Another amazing resource for free homeschool curriculum is Miniature Masterminds. They have everything you would ever need to teach grades pk-2 available to print and download for absolutely free. Kyle is technically in third grade this year but we're using their US History and Health curriculums to fulfill Kyle's history and science for this year. They also have an entire cursive writing curriculum that we worked through over the summer.  

Their website is pretty well divided by grade level, so you can click on the grade you need, and then see all their subjects and full year curriculums listed from there. 

You Set The Pace for Your Child's Learning, Not A Book or Lesson Outline:

Just because a math book is divided into 180 preplanned lessons does not mean you absolutely need to do that entire lesson all in one day. If your child is struggling on a topic it's going to be a lot easier to break it down over several days than to plow through tears and frustration just because a book you're using said you need to get this entire lesson done today.

We noticed at one point that Kyle was struggling with learning to tell time on a clock. Instead of plowing through to the next lesson, or feeling like we had to keep digging and digging at the concept in one day until he got it right we just stopped mid lesson. We then went online and printed some more worksheets and resources that would help him learn the concept, and spent several days on it until he mastered it, and then moved onto the next lesson in the book. Let your child be the judge of how fast or slow you progress through your lessons, but don't let the books dictate what you should be doing. Be flexible, know when your child is at their limit, and stay focused on a topic until they're ready to move on. 

The Best Printer for Homeschooling:

With all of your free curriculum you're going to need a good printer to print it off. We purchased this Epsom Ecotank printer at the beginning of quarantine and it's been an amazing tool for us. For $200 you get the printer and enough ink to print 4,500 color pages and 7,000 black and white pages. It was well worth the investment and we made our money back in what we would have spent in ink cartridges in just a few months. Replacement ink when needed is also very inexpensive when you do get to the point of replacing. 

If you don't want to pay for printing at FedEx this is an awesome option. You can print at home, hole punch, and put in a binder to make them into organized books for your child. 

Outsource What You Can't/Don't Want to Teach:

If there is a subject that you know is just beyond your scope or mental/physical capacity, outsource to a tutor or online class through Out School. Outschool has a ton of classes you can sign your child up for in basically every subject you can imagine, taught by teachers. Having someone else teach your child multiplication, division, US History, Music Theory, Minecraft, sharks, baking etc... can help take a load off of your plate, and give your child a fun experience outside of working one-on-one with you each day.

If you want to try Outschool you can get $20 off your first class through my referral link.  

The cool thing about Outschool is that you can do a class that is once a week for 8 weeks, or even find teachers who are teaching all of third grade where they meet three times a week for the entire school year. There is literally something for everyone and it can be from anything as regimented as math all the way to something fun like baking. 

These are my best tips for making homeschool an easy experience for both my husband and I, and our son. While It's definitely something to be taken seriously, it doesn't need to be taken too seriously. If your child is in a loving environment and is being taught what they need to know, they're going to do great. Don't get caught up in all the things that people say you should be doing, or that you see online, and as always, do what works best for your home and family. 

If you like this post, Easy Peasy Homeschool Hacks, you might also like:

Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects.

Why We Chose to Homeschool Kyle This School Year

I honestly don't even know how to start this blog post, and definitely don't have a fancy literary way to start this off, so I'll lead with this: 2020 is the worst. Now that we got that out of the way, I wanted to talk about what went into us making the hard decision to homeschool Kyle this upcoming school year, even though we're still planning on sending Kinsley to public school. 


Backing up to a few months ago Kyle was at a private school during the pandemic, did remote learning which wasn't awful, but also not ideal. It took 2+ hours of very hands on course work from me each day, while also having several zoom meetings throughout the week that we had to stay on top of and juggle with all of life's demands. I will say that I loved his school, and after hearing what other kids got in the remote learning deal, I think we fared a lot better than most to be honest. I think Kyle got everything he could of out of second grade academically, despite finishing the last half of the year at home. 

That being said, when we originally thought he was going back to the private school for third grade, I was relieved to hear from the principal that the kids were going to return to school no matter what (unless Utah went back to the red which so far it has not). Then we bought our new home and part of that whole situation was we were buying here for Kyle to go back to the school he went to for Kindergarten and First Grade. He was so excited about that, and at the time I was super jazzed because we'd gotten an email during the summer from the district saying school would be starting full time in the fall. 

Last week we got the rug ripped out from underneath us and were told that our district was going to be doing 1/2 virtual learning and 1/2 in person learning. How it shook out was that kids with a last name in the first half of the alphabet would go to school M/W and remote learn T/TH/F and kids with a last name in the second half of the alphabet would go to school T/TH and remote learn M/W/F. This was strike one for me. 

Strike two through a million were the following: kids that went to school M/W would not be able to make up their in person school day on Fridays if there was a holiday or something that would prevent them from going to school on a Monday. Meaning the kids with a last name in the second half of the alphabet simply get more in person days than the kids in the other half  because of where their last name fell. This meant most weeks I'd be doing all the work at home three days a week, and some weeks would be four days a week. That in and of itself made the entire thing seem useless. 

Other things the school sent out were: Kids would be doing most of their remote work on a screen, and would also be heavily utilizing technology in the classrooms (I didn't want Kyle staring at a screen all day long to complete his work), kids would only be given 15 minutes to eat their lunch in the cafeteria (I've never seen Kyle eat a meal in 15 minutes in my life), kids would be instructed in games at recess where they could play with friends 6 feet a part (I get it but it sounds awful). They would also only get PE and their other specials once per month. 

For me it was just a lot of things that were stacking against each other that made me feel like I wasn't willing to jump through all of the hoops with the school district until things went back to normal. I feel like my mental health has really been struggling through all of this and I realize that my highs and lows are almost entirely based off what the school district is and is not doing. I decided that cutting ties and making decisions for my child on where, when, and how he receives his education puts me in the driver seat. 

If I'm going to be remote learning 3-4 days, I might as well do it five days a week, pick my own curriculum, and not have to jump through a million hoops and zoom meetings to get work done each day. We've homeschooled in the past, and knowing I can get through a day's work in 1-2 hours, report to no one but myself (and the state at some point?), and do it with pen and paper and minimal screens works best for us, although I know and respect that it's not for everyone. 

There are a few obstacles in all of this because we are going to be keeping Kinsley in public school right now. Kinsley simply does not participate in learning at home. She's good for maybe a week and then she's over it and doesn't really want anything to do with it anymore. We need the support of her school team and anything they're willing to help her with. She also gets PT/OT/ and speech services at school which are an amazing blessing in her life. School in general is an amazing blessing in her life and I have so much respect for everyone in education in general, but especially special education. 

Her school did send out a notice saying that if your child has a valid reason for switching from the M/W track to the T/TH track you could apply to have your days switched, which I did, and am crossing my fingers it gets accepted. I am teaching PE at Kyle's old private school two days a week this upcoming school year, and the days I teach are the exact days that Kinsley and Kyle would both be home for remote learning. It's one thing for Kyle to be doing his work at home without me and Derek loosely monitoring while Derek himself is working, but it's really just not practical for Derek to be able to watch/entertain Kinsley and monitor Kyle's school work while he is also trying to do his job. So we're praying hard that they throw us a bone and approve our switch. 

How the plan will logistically all work out is that I will homeschool Kyle in the mornings on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, while also trying to keep up with some semblance of school for Kinsley. On Tuesday's and Thursday's I'll have to use the time between getting home from teaching and making dinner to do Kyle's school work if he hasn't been able to get it done before I get home. We might be able to get into a routine where he does some of it while I'm gone for things that are self guided like handwriting, and reading passages and answering questions, but for things that need instruction like math and English, they'll have to wait until I get home. Also hoping that Kinsley won't be home on Tuesdays and Thursdays otherwise that's going to turn our house into a real-life wild west situation. 

Because I know it will be asked, we did keep Kyle very heavily involved in all of the decision making process. We explained to him what school was going to look like, and the real possibility that kids could go back to school, just for things to get bad again and there be a full closure. We even asked him if he'd want to go back to his private school which would be five full days of school and he verbally told me that he didn't want to go back to any school public or private until things were back to normal, and that when they were normal he wanted to go to public school where he'd be with all his friends from church and the neighborhood. So while this was mostly a mutually agreed conversation between Derek and I, Kyle was also 100% onboard with no backlash at all. 

For anyone who is curious and still reading, we are using curriculum entirely from The Good and The Beautiful. My main reason for going this route was because it was highly rated by all my homeschool friends, they claim to be a touch more rigorous than public school so I hopefully won't have to worry about Kyle being behind when he does go back to school, and it was much cheaper than most other curriculums we researched. We bought everything he needed for math, science, english, social studies, and handwriting for $130. When we tried to piece everything together with companies we've used in the past, the totals were $400+. I love that TGATB has everything for the student and teacher bundled together whereas other places have packs you have to purchase for the student, and packs you have to buy for the parents. So it turns into you paying double for all the things. I just loved that TGATB was all inclusive with everything, and it was generally more affordable than other places and highly rated by my mama friends! 

I think that is everything you'd ever want to know about our homeschool situation for next year. We'll be sure to keep you updated with how this all shakes out in practice over the coming months. The district has said school won't go back to normal until January at the earliest, so we know we'll be doing this for at least the next 4-5 months. Wish us luck!

9 Fine Motor Skills Activities

Working on fine motor skills with your child will help increase their brain development dramatically. Here are nine fine motor skills activities we like to do at home!

Right before the plague happened we took Kinsley to occupational therapy in the clinic for the first time in her entire life. The only time she'd had OT outside of what she got at school was the last six months that she was eligible for early intervention services when we lived in Georgia. Because money had been tight it felt like we needed to pick and choose which therapies were most important. We always picked PT over OT, but now that Kinsley is on medicaid, we felt like we should really hone in on all the therapies available to her. 

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We've seen our therapist three times now and are finally in a routine with implementing these things at home. A lot of what Kinsley is working on right now is building simple hand strength. For the most part she does really well and is certainly functional with her hands, but if we want to see some real progression with handwriting (as opposed to just tracing), cutting, and being able to do a lot more things independently, that basic hand strength and coordination is really what we need to hone in on.

Fine Motor Skills Activities:

Here are nine occupational therapy exercises we're currently working on in our house, and hopefully they can help you in your home! Most of the "supplies" we have you can get at Dollar Tree. I'll note where I got everything below, and will leave links for things when possible. 

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Threading Beads on Pipe Cleaners

This activity is really great because you can get beads and pipe cleaners at dollar tree. I like using pipe cleaners because the beads don't fall off them as easily as they would with a piece of string and it helps to keep the activity going in the right direction when things aren't falling apart. We love to make these into bracelets and it's pretty much always a hit! 

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Cutting a Straight Line

Kinsley has gotten really good at cutting this last year and now we're working on cutting straight lines. Her OT recommended drawing lines on index cards or card stock because of how sturdy they are, and because they won't flop around all over the place like a normal piece of paper. Her OT also recommended the paint strip samples from Home Depot since they're colorful, already have lines on them, and they're free!

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Snapping Math Cubes Together: 

We got these math cubes from the Target Dollar Spot ages ago, but they're really great for working on hand-eye-coordination and putting things together, and are also great for hand strength for pushing them together and then pulling them apart. If you can't find these locally, here are some on amazon for $12. (They're likely a lot better quality than the ones we have anyways).

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Picking Things Up With Tweezers

We found these same kid tweezers that her OT  uses at Dollar Tree, although they are available on Amazon as well, but they're $8 for literally the same thing. Tweezers are really great for hand-eye-coordination and hand strength and you can use them to pick up beads, learning cubes, connect four pieces, really anything. This is pretty hard for Kinsley and becomes frustrating fast, but I'm holding out that it will pay off dividends later. 

Playing With Thera Putty
Thera Putty is essentially glorified silly putty. It comes in a bunch of different consistencies from really loose to really firm. The firmer the putty, the harder it is to manipulate. Kinsley's OT gave us some to take home with mini beads in it, and Kinsley loves playing with it and digging out all the letters. Thera Putty is actually really affordable. You can purchase one pack for less than $5 on Amazon, or all of the different levels of firmness in a multipack for $12!

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Sticking Coins In A Tennis Ball: 

This is super cheap and easy to do! I bought a pack of tennis balls on Amazon for $2 (yes I was as shocked as you are that something on amazon was actually $2 shipped!). Then I used a knife to cut a hole in the tennis ball, and drew a face on it. When Kinsley squeezes the sides of the ball, it opens up the mouth and she can stick coins inside. This is an awesome hand strengthener, and is another activity that tends to lead to frustration quickly, but I know it's doing good things for her!

Squigz: 

You can get a pack of these on Amazon for $9. They're little rubber pieces that suction to each other so you can build random structures and and stuff. They also stick well to walls and windows. If you have your child stick them to a surface, and then pull them back off, it takes quite a bit of strength to get them apart/off of things, which makes them really great for building those hand muscles. 

Button Art Game: 

Kinsley's OT introduced this to us in the clinic and I think I'm going to grab it for Kinsley's birthday coming up. You put different pictures down on a board, and then you have to put the corresponding color peg into the picture to fill it in all the way. It's really fun and helps with hand-eye-coordination and also cognitive skills such as seeing which color you need, finding the correct color, and then getting it where it needs to go. 

Cupcake Party Game: 

This was another game that got introduced to us in the clinic that might go on the birthday list. Each cupcake is coordinated in color to match a Disney Princess. You get a card, and then it tells you which color piece you need for the top, middle, and bottom of the cupcake, and then you find the pieces and put them together to match the card. It's a really great multi-sensory learning activity! 

I hope this list of activities was helpful for you! I want to do better at sharing OT/PT things on the blog in hopes of it helping other mamas! Be sure to follow along on instagram @thahappyflammily where I share therapy activities and other things a lot more frequently!

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Free June 2020 Coloring Pages

I'm back with another coloring page bundle for the month of June. I've been having so much fun creating these pages each month, and it's been so fun to see hundreds of you downloading the images and sharing them with your children! There are so many fun and wonderful occasions to celebrate in the month of June, and I wanted to make sure that I included them all in this bundle! 

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What's Included in this month's free coloring bundle?
This month's free coloring bundle includes six PDF pages of everything you need to celebrate the month of June. I've included a coloring page for Father's Day, National Donut Day, Flag Day, and a coloring page for the first day of summer. There is also a super fun baseball coloring page for the sports fans in your house. 

In light of the recent events in our country, I also made an "all you need is love" coloring page. I know my voice is small here on the internet, but I felt like this was a small way that I could incorporate inclusion. I hope your children color those people every color of the rainbow and make each and everyone as unique as they should be. 



How to Print the Coloring Pages:
To download this month's coloring pages, scroll down to the bottom of this post where you can click a link to take you to the free downloads. It will take you to a google drive where you can download the files onto your computer, or print them directly from the drive. 


My Favorite Printer:
If you're in the market for a new printer, we just bought the Epson Super Tank printer from Target and it's been the best purchase ever! With the ink that comes in the box, you can print 4,500 color pages and 7,000 black and white pages before having to buy more ink! For our family this printer will pay for itself in less than six months! We have zero regrets about this printer!


I want to see your pictures!
My favorite thing is when you tag me in your photos (I'm on instagram @thehappyflammily) of your little ones enjoying the coloring pages, so be sure to tag me in your pictures on your instagram stories or in your feed so I can share your pictures too!

Click Here to Download this Month's Coloring Pages!


Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of the latest things in our lives by following along in instagram @thehappyflammily!