The Ultimate Summer Fun List (and Giveaway!)

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If you’re a Modern Homeschool Family newsletter subscriber, you know how excited I am that summer is almost here! I love being outside with the family (and, admittedly, by myself too) and soaking in the sun.

Summer is a time of some of my most favorite things; sunny days, warm breezes, longer daylight hours, more relaxing, more playing and more smiling.

Recently, I’ve found a few more favorite things for summer, thanks to some friendly PR folks who let me know about them.

The Ultimate Summer Fun List

Here are a few things that caught my attention this summer. I think you’ll like them too:

For road trips or sitting at the beach:


The Cube – Next Generation of Rubik’s Cube

These aren’t the same cubes you used to buy as gifts 30 years ago. This hot new speed cube incorporates a generation’s worth of ideas to help solve the cubes you may have tried in the past. With this new, magic 3-D puzzle and the included online solution guide you can solve it twice as fast. It is a fun, inexpensive and unique gift for everyone… perfect for kids, teens and adults especially on long car trips or plane rides. $12; and available on




Because summer is a great time for sleepovers!


Sleepover Party

SLEEPOVER PARTY where having fun is the name of the game, so be prepared to sing, laugh, perform and make a general fool of yourself! Spin the spinner and attempt to complete one of more than 200 ACT IT, WORK IT or PARTY Challenges. Don’t fall asleep early, or you’ll miss out on earning the most cards and staying up all night!






For the budding engineers …



Your kids will love Max Traxxx Tracer Racer! Racers utilize Light Trail Technology as they blaze streaks of light on Skullduggery patented Glow-in-the-Dark track. Each Tracer Racer beams down purple light rays from its undercarriage onto track specially engineered to emit glow remnants long after the racer has passed. Choose your track, racers and loops, take into a dimly lit room and your kids will be ready to set the darkness ablaze. These racing sets are perfect for both beginning and advanced race fans as variable speed remote control cars and adjustable track heights allow racers to control course difficulty. Four Tracer Racers RC Cars available. Includes one Tracer Racers, RC Car and one Controller. Now available at Toys R Us and More information:


Because these are just too darn cute …


Two Brothers and Olivia Petite Pretend Food

Adorable Petite Pretend Food from Two Brothers and Olivia for your little one’s pretend kitchen! Available in a variety of cheerful, fun designs, including ice cream cones, donuts, cookies and the newest design, pineapples, Two Brothers and Olivia Teethers make a sweet treat for hours of fun! Easily packed into a diaper bag, backpack, or your child’s pack – they are perfect for taking along for fun on-the-go, too! The toys are made from 100% food grade silicone, and can be easily cleaned with soap and water. All products are free of BPA, PVC, or lead. Two Brothers and Olivia products are compliant with safety standards set out by both Canadian and US governments, and have been tested to be compliant with CPSC, CPSIA and ASTM toy standards. They are tested for toxic contents, strength and flammability to ensure that they surpass all the safety standards. NEW Pineapple shapes were just released this month. 


Because, seriously, I want to play with this ….


Taco Truck Fun Kit from Kidstir

A cure for rainy days in the summer! Your little one can now make chef-inspired recipes at home with ease – all while learning Español, practicing math skills, and more! Available without a subscription from this innovative subscription service for children, the Taco Truck Fun Kit from Kidstir will turn your kitchen into a lunch truck — and your child can invite friends and family to step right up and place their orders! In this kit, children will find out how to make three Mexican recipes, including Guac & Roll, Food Truck Tacos, and Arroz con Leche – which will be served in a Food-Truck-in-a-Box tray! They will also discover fun facts about avocados and peppers, learn some Español, and practice menu math. The subscription service can be joined or given as a gift, or you can send one of the single kits, as well. With a focus on fresh, nutritious food and hands-on fun, Kidstir was created by moms who know that through cooking, children will gain important life skills in the kitchen — and cook up some fun family memories!


Because you can never be too organized ….



Headed to the beach with kids in tow? The Beachmate is an all-in-one stackable storage system that consolidates multiple beach products in one easy-to-pack bag. The Beachmate solves the age old problem of needing to pack multiple bags and gear to the beach….because we know that with little ones, there are a lot of must-haves besides just a towel & sunscreen! This ultimate carry-all companion has a storage compartment for all the items needed for a day at the beach. The Beachmate is complete with durable buckets, shovels and a soft cooler all packaged in a single tote bag with plenty of storage pockets.

The Beachmate also includes one large, two medium and two small buckets plus two shovels! It holds up to tough play meaning the buckets and shovels will not break with just one use. Truly a parent’s dream come true, the stylish, over-the-shoulder strap design allows for hands-free convenience! Consumers can easily personalize this new beach companion with monogramming options available. 


These have all become my new favorite things and I love them so much that I’m giving one of you lucky duck readers a chance to win EVERYTHING on my list!


TrophyThe Ultimate Summer Fun Giveaway!
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Enter to win the Ultimate Summer Fun Prize Package (ARV: $216.00) including: The Cube (ARV: $11.90) Sleepover Party Game (ARV: $21.99) Maxx Traxx (ARV: $59.99) Two Brothers and Olivia Fun Petite Food (ARV: $3.95) Taco Truck Fun Kit (ARV: $19.95) Beach Mate (ARV: $98.50)
This contest expired.


Don’t forget! The Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle is only available until May 22!


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Must-Have Apps for Family Road Trips

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If you’re planning a road trip with the kids, these apps will help keep the family entertained, safe and exploring the best places in the unfamiliar cities.

Must-Have Apps for Family Road Trips

Roadtrip Bingo

iOS + Android (free)
Roadtrip Bingo allows kids to check off things they spot while on a trip. Similar to the old licence plate spotting game, this app also includes options for airplane travel as well.

FamilyTime Dashboard

iOS + Android (free)
Kids have a tendency to wander off. Better to be safe than sorry, and download FamilyTime Dashboard. Prior to leaving the house, install the app on your mobile device and their phones or tablets. The app safely monitors your child’s location, as well as any Internet or smartphone activity.


iOS (free)
Rather than trusting on an unreliable restaurant reviews in unfamiliar cities, GetBeen to see your friend’s restaurant, hotel, and amusement kid-friendly suggestions on all of your travels! Using GetBeen you can explore what’s nearby, and discover what your friends recommend, and share your experiences. No more frantic Facebook statuses asking for restaurant recommendations in the middle of nowhere, with GetBeen you’d have your friends opinions at your fingertips.

Here WeGo

iOS + Android (free)
Toddlers can be the most impatient road trip buddies ever. Avoid hearing the common phrase “are we there yet” by downloading Here WeGo. Rather than wasting all your data getting directions to your travel destination, this app provides detailed turn-by-turn directions for over 100 different countries that you can download and access offline, making it a great app to help avoid data fees. Here WeGo also offers directions for various forms of transportation, including car, bike or public transportation and updates prices, traffic conditions, where to park, for any drive.

What are some of your favorite apps for family travel? We’d love to hear about them. Drop a note in the comments section below!

Big “thanks” to the good folks at PR Revolution for bringing these apps to my attention.

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STEM Based Fiction Books for Homeschoolers

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Amy, a former teacher and now homeschooling mom, recently had the opportunity to read and review Ghost in the Water and Leonardo da Vinci Gets a Do-Over. Both of these amazing books are published by the Science, Naturally! company and provide a myriad of learning opportunities for the reader. Each book is jammed pack with facts and ideas from multiple subject areas that are seamlessly woven together to create a great story! Readers will be so enthralled in the story that they won’t realize they are learning. Here’s what Amy thought about these STEM novels by Science, Naturally!


Ghost in the Water with Teacher Guide

Ghost in the Water, written by Sue Garcia, is the first book in the League of Scientist Mystery series. This fantastic book introduces us to a great group of middle school students who have banned together to form the League of Scientists. Together they use their knowledge of science, technology, math and logic to solve mysteries – but not in a textbook, science class kind of way. Kids of all ages will be able to identify with problems and challenges faced by the characters as they ban together to save the school swimming pool.

DaVinci Gets a DoOver and Teacher Guide

Leonardo da Vinci Gets a Do-Over, written by Mark Friedlander, Jr., is the first book in the Innovators in Action series. This fun adventure takes three American middle school students on a class trip to Florence, Italy. While there they meet Leonardo da Vinci who is back in modern times to help make the world a better place. Join the fun as these engaging characters help the Renaissance legend survive in the 21st century.

Each book also has a free Teacher’s Guide that is filled with hundreds of suggestions, activities and connecting points to help guide the learning during the reading of the book. The Teacher’s Guide makes cross-curricular learning through these books a snap – because so much is already done for the teacher. The hardest part will be choosing which of the activities you want to do because it would be almost impossible to do them all! The activities include everything from discussion topics, writing prompts, areas to research, hands-on activities and more. They are truly what brings the learning to life and the Teacher’s Guide has it all ready to go!

both books

So how am I using these books? It has been very easy in incorporate a book into our daily reading. I started with Ghost in the Water because we are currently learning about physics and chemistry in science and this book is a natural tie to those concepts. Prior to reading a chapter with my son, I review the Teacher’s Guide and determine which of the listed activities I want to do. I generally make this decision based on what I know my son will enjoy or an area that I want him to dig deeper in. Then we read a chapter together.

As we get to a topic in the reading, I pose a discussion question that naturally fits in. I often model the thinking that I want my son to do, so you might hear me questioning why something is happening or making “I wonder . . .” statements. At the end of the chapter we use the discussion or these questions to do further research and learn more about the “cool” things we learned in the chapter, including adding in some hands-on activities from the Teacher’s Guide that fit. When we are ready, we move on to the next chapter. Some chapters have taken us longer to get through than others because there is more we want to explore.

two thumbs up from landryWhen I first got asked to do the review, I was not sure what to expect. My son is a big science lover so I knew it was something I wanted to look further into. However, I never could have dreamed that the books would be as amazing as they are. Whether you have a book lover, science lover or reluctant learner, these books are sure to add some fun and exciting learning. I used these books as part of my current teaching role as a homeschooling mom, however, as a former classroom teacher, I would excitedly use them in a more traditional classroom too!

I am very impressed with the Science, Naturally! books and would recommend them highly if you are looking to add some seriously fun learning to your homeschool or traditional classroom. I have loved these books so much that I am looking at adding some of their other resources to our curriculum too. I am most excited about trying out the One Minute Science Mysteries and the One Minute Math Mysteries.

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Free Beauty and the Beast Activity Sheets

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Whether or not you’ve seen the new 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast (and you really should, it’s excellent!), you and your family can enjoy these free printables.

Just click any of the images below to get your free printables.

Free Beauty and the Beast Activity Pages

Free Beauty and the Beast Coloring Pages


Here’s a clip from one of my favorite songs:

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Visit the official BEAUTY AND THE BEAST website here:

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is now playing in theatres everywhere!

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10 Free Amazon Kindle Books to Use in Your Homeschool

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If you have a Kindle device or one of their apps for reading Kindle books on your mobile device or desktop, you can take advantage of so many ebooks for free. Here are our favorites that are available right now.

Remember, these may not stay available for free for very long so be sure to grab yours while you can!

10 Free Homeschool Books

Free Amazon Kindle Books for High School

The New SAT Study Guide

Varsity Tutors’ New SAT Prep Study Guide has almost 700 pages of content to help you prepare for the New SAT exam. In this book, you’ll find helpful and challenging study material for the New SAT Writing and Language, New SAT Math, New SAT Reading, and New SAT Essay sections. There are over 475 professionally-written questions that will help you practice, and a New SAT practice test to assess your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re preparing to take the New SAT and want to score well, download this award-winning book onto the device of your choice today.

Algebra – The Very Basics

If you’re looking for a gentle introduction to basic mathematics, look no further. This book picks you up at the very beginning and guides you through the foundations of algebra using lots of examples and no-nonsense explanations. Each chapter contains well-chosen exercises as well as all the solutions. No prior knowledge is required.

Speed Reading: Increase Your Reading Speed by 200%: Double Your Learning Skills In Less Than 7 Hours

Speed reading is a technique vastly used by all sorts of people, or at least attempted by many people. The principle is simple, really. Instead of reading one page per minute, for example, you’ll be reading two pages per minute.

Free Amazon Kindle Books for Preschool and Kindergarten

Counting One to 100 Math for Kids: Early Childhood Education

Mr. Bookworm shares counting to100 by ten and then shares how to get to 100 counting by one. It’s remembering twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty, and ninety that’s the hard part for young children. After that, counting to 100 is easy and the child feels confident and empowered.

Preschool and Kindergarten, How We Learn to Read: Reading Readiness Made Easy Ages 4 to 7 Years

The Magic in Phonics – Explaining the Mystery of Reading to Young Children. Regardless of what adults may believe, children feel stress when it comes to reading. Most times, they pretend to read, but they’re smart enough to know they memorized the words in their favorite bedtime story. This short cute, 10-page book takes the mystery and the stress out of learning to read. Children are introduced to phonics in a way that shows reading can be easy and fun. Of course, we won’t tell them about all the exceptions to the rules when learning to read English. We’ll leave that for when they’re older. Scroll up and grab a copy today.

PHONICS – A Sounds – Book 1: Improve Your Child’s Spelling and Reading Skills- Elementary

Phonics are an essential skill that all beginner readers must master. Do you want to help your child to develop their spelling, reading and writing skills? Work through this Phonics book with your child and they will learn how to spell all the major sounds that start with a. 170 pages of A sounds! You can use this book with a young child who is just starting school or with an older child who has missed out on the basics. If a child doesn’t know their phonic sounds…they will always struggle with spelling, reading and writing.

Free Classic Books on Amazon

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Thomas “Tom” Sawyer is the title character of the Mark Twain novel THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (1876). He appears in three other novels by Twain: ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1884), TOM SAWYER ABROAD (1894), and TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE (1896). Sawyer also appears in at least three unfinished Twain works, HUCK AND TOM AMONG THE INDIANS, SCHOOLHOUSE HILL and TOM SAWYER’S CONSPIRACY. While all three uncompleted works were posthumously published, only Tom Sawyer’s Conspiracy has a complete plot, as Twain abandoned the other two works after finishing only a few chapters.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN is a novel by Mark Twain, first published in the United Kingdom in December 1884 and in the United States in February 1885. Commonly named among the Great American Novels, the work is among the first in major American literature to be written throughout in vernacular English, characterized by local color regionalism. It is told in the first person by Huckleberry “Huck” Finn, a friend of Tom Sawyer and narrator of two other Twain novels (Tom Sawyer Abroad and Tom Sawyer, Detective). It is a direct sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Free Amazon Kindle Books for Homeschooling Parents

Homeschooling: It’s Easier Than You Think!

This book, written by a homeschooling mom, provides just what you are looking for. It not only details the specific method of home education similar to that which more and more homeschooling parents are discovering, but it also gives low-cost, fun ideas for presenting concepts and skills in all of the major subject areas. Finally, it demonstrates how this homeschooling method might look in your family.

So You Want to Be a Homeschooler?: Information and Encouragement for the Journey

There are loads of websites and books and courses designed to help you start homeschooling. But this book is different. It’s practical and has real, useful advice that can help you begin your homeschooling journey and be successful.

Have you noticed any great books for homeschoolers available for free on Amazon? Share them in the comments section!

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What On Earth Review & Giveaway

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I found two wonderful new books for kids who love hands-on science! “What on Earth? Water” and “What on Earth? Wind” are two wonderful books written by Isabel Thomas and Pau Morgan to help kids discover and understand their world. These books encourage kids to investigate the properties of water and wind and experiment with these elements to discover how they work.


What on Earth? Water

by Isabel Thomas and Paulina Morgan

Learn all about the water cycle and find out how water shapes our planet. Make a precipitation gauge or grow your own stalactite. Find out how important it is to conserve water and harness its energy.

Explore, Create and Investigate through experiments, activities and hands-on tasks. What on Earth? takes the reader on a journey of discovery to explore the natural elements of our world.

What on Earth? Wind

by Isabel Thomas and Paulina Morgan

Find out how humans have harnessed the wind’s energy and traveled the world.

Create an experiment using your own windmill and learn how to make a sail racer.

Discover all about the water cycle and make a precipitation gauge or grow your own stalactite.

About The Authors

Isabel Thomas studied Human Sciences at Oxford University, trained as a journalist and explored the world before becoming an author. She has written more than 100 titles, from picture books to encyclopedias.

Paulina Morgan works as an independent illustrator based in Santiago de Chile. She studied design before moving to Barcelona, Spain to obtain her master’s degree in Art Direction. She worked in advertising before deciding to pursue her passion for illustration.

My kids are a couple of years younger than the books’ recommended ages but they love most science topics so I thought they might enjoy reading these books. This week we read a few of the sections in these books that I though my kids would be most interested in and they liked them very much. The illustrations were engaging and each unit covered topics that were interesting to kids in a simple way.


The writing style was easy for them to understand and encouraged lots of questions. Our favorite parts in each section were the Investigate and Create segments where we could do great, easy to follow experiments to see firsthand how water and wind works and how people use these elements in their everyday life. We got to make projects such as a waterwheel, a rainbow, a kite and a sail racer to explore and reinforce the concepts that were introduced in the sections.


We did a few of the activities and learned about volume and capacity, states of water, clouds, how plants grow, life in the desert, erosion, music, wind power, the history of sailing ships, storms and winged seeds. I was truly amazed at how much information was packed into these little science books and how many great activities were included in each unit! My kids and I also liked the units about the water cycle, water on other planets, the different water zones in the ocean, weather, wind power and geography and climate.


These beautiful books are an amazing reference and a great overview of all things related to water and wind. They are simple enough for younger kids to understand and enjoy and include fun poetry, clear step by step illustrations for each activity and diagrams to help kids visualize and remember some of the more abstract subjects. They are also great for older kids because they encourage and motivate them to find out more by asking thought provoking questions and challenging them to explore these elements on their own time with ideas for cool activities with lots of fun facts and background history.

I recommend these great books for kids who ask lots of questions and love to explore the world around them with a very hands-on approach. These books are a fantastic and fun resource for kids to learn more about our planet and how it works.

Enter to Win!

Here’s a chance to win your very own set of Isabel Thomas and Paulina Morgan books! Leave a comment below, telling us how you can use them in your homeschool, fill out the Gleam form below (there are chances to win extra entries for sharing the sweepstakes with your friends!) and you’ll be entered to our give-away!

What On Earth Review & Giveaway


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Art Books for Homeschooling: Review & Giveaway

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I was very excited to get the book ‘Art Parts’ by Kim Bogren Owen. It is a very simple overview of art and what it is. For parents like me who don’t necessarily know much about art (I’m more of a math and science kind of girl) and not sure where to begin, this book is a great introduction.

art parts review

ART PARTS: A Child’s Introduction to the Elements of Art

by Kim Bogren Owen

Illustrated by: Kay, TJ, Maddie, Stephanie, Darin, Abi, Timothy, Kaila, and Zac

 A Book that Introduces the Elements of Art to Children

 Using simple text and children’s art, Art Parts: A Child’s Introduction to the Elements of Art introduces children to 6 elements of art.  Designed for children between the ages of 2 and 8, it includes blank pages after each element where children can experiment with the concepts of line, color, shape, texture, space, and emotion.

 These blank pages allow children to personalize the book making it a keepsake to treasure, and a wonderful gift for a special child in your life.  It would, also, be a great asset to any classroom to add to the art center with materials that allow children to investigate the elements of art.

 In addition, Art Parts includes an activities page to expand on concepts in the book for parents and teachers to use.  These activities include suggestions for special projects, as well as things parents and teachers can do during everyday routines.

 Five percent of the profits from Art Parts is donated to Reach Out and Read.

Get free lesson plan ideas for using “Art Parts” here.

Normally I just give my kids paint or markers and paper and let them go crazy, but this book helped me to separate out the different elements of art and talk about lines, space, colors, shapes, textures and feelings so we could experiment with each one separately before combining them. We also learned a lot of new vocabulary that we can use when describing art or talking about art.  “Art Parts’ is a very nice book. I love the included art pictures by other kids.


It was less intimidating (I think) for my preschoolers to see those rather than perfect paintings by adults. My kids and I enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it. I would definitely recommend it to others who would like to introduce simple art concepts to their preschoolers but are not sure how to start.


‘Orchids’ by Kim Bogren Owen is a wonderful book for preschoolers. It’s beautiful illustrations, engaging, short sentences and descriptive style even captured the attention of my wiggly three-year-old. It has easy to understand, simple language but it was very informative. I even learned a few new things!

orchids kim borgen own


by Kim Bogren Owen

Photography by Amber Owen, Ron Hanko, and Mike Pearson

The perfect book for a young orchid or flower enthusiast, as well as for the parent who is a  lover of orchids, Orchids features beautiful photographs that bring the beauty and appeal of orchids to life. In addition to introducing children to the diversity of orchids, this book introduces simple science concepts.  Developed for children between the ages of 2 and 8, the concepts  in this books include opposites, diversity, pollination, and symmetry.

This book includes a page with ideas for activities that expand on the concepts introduced in Orchids.  These activities include simple art projects, as well as conversation starters to make the concepts meaningful to young children.

 Five percent of profits from Orchids are donated to Reach Out and Read.

Get FREE lesson plan idea for using “Orchids” here.


This book included a very good introduction to pollination, growing seeds, and other math and science concepts like symmetry, color, shape, size and function of different orchid flowers. And it did this without boring or overwhelming my two kids (4 and 3).


In fact, I was surprised that the kids were interested and stopped me often to asked questions and point things out to me. At the end it also made the different kinds of orchids relative to people. They are all different, just like us! Overall I was impressed with the quality, writing style and illustrations in this book.

In summary, it is obvious the author knows her audience and understands how to capture their attention. The books are beautiful and interesting and don’t shy away from using “big words” with little kids. I like how they introduce new vocabulary and ideas in a fun, engaging way and keeps the kids’ attention. I recommend this book for anyone who has or works with a child of preschool or elementary school age.

Enter to Win!

Here’s a chance to win your very own set of Kim Borgen books! Leave a comment below, telling us how you incorporate art into your homeschool, fill out the Gleam form below (there are chances to win extra entries for sharing the sweepstakes with your friends!) and you’ll be entered to win one of five set of books we’re giving away!

Art Books for Homeschooling: Review & Giveaway

About Kim Bogren Owen 

Kim Bogren Owen has worked in Early Childhood Education since 1988 in a variety of programs and roles from teacher to coach to Quality Initiative Coordinator. As part of that work, she learned to tell and make up stories for the children in her care which started her passion for writing. She brings her expertise as an educator and love of working with children to her books.



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What Inspires You? Enter to Win a $25 Target Gift Card

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What Inspires You_

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by A&E’s “Born this Way.” All opinions in this post are my own.


Whether it’s seeing someone come through a major life struggle or something as simple as seeing a rainbow after a storm, there is inspiration all around us. Sometimes it comes in the form of a Facebook quote, sometimes it’s much deeper than that.

Every day, we are challenged to be the best we can be. Sometimes, though, I forget. Some days, I lose my cool. Some days, I’m too busy thinking about my own struggles. Some days, quite honestly, I’m too busy having fun and thinking about others is the farthest thing from my mind.

A few years ago, I was in New York City with my best friend, Melissa. Do you know how much I love NYC? Broadway, the food, the shopping!!!! I was so. incredibly. excited. as we were walking towards the garment district (hello, accessories!), and chatting it up with my friend.

On our way to NYC


If you’ve ever been in Manhattan, you know the hustle and bustle of the city. If you haven’t been, it’s exactly like it appears in movies and television. While the city is jam-packed with people, you pretty much keep to yourself. In fact, it’s kind of weird if someone smiles and says “hello.”


On our way to NYC 2

So, here I am, in my favorite city, on my way to do my favorite thing (shopping!) with one of my favorite people in the world and not really paying attention to anything or anyone else. We’re walking along, chatting it up and laughing and do you know what happened next???? My friend, Melissa, stopped walking and stopped talking because she noticed an elderly gentleman struggling to open the door to a CVS. And she stopped to help him.

We weren’t going into the CVS. But still, she took the time to help him. In this busy city, during our fun jaunt, she stopped to help someone else. This might not seem like the biggest gesture in the world but to me, it was. My jaw dropped (on the inside anyway). She didn’t open that door to feel good about herself. She didn’t open the door to receive the reward of acknowledgment. She just did it out of kindness. It was like second nature to her.

In that moment, I was reminded that there is more to life than, quite frankly, me. In that moment, I was reminded that the simplest act can have the biggest impact on someone else’s life. In that moment, I was reminded how great Melissa is and how much she genuinely cares for other people. In that moment, I was inspired to be more like her.


Melissa has so many inspirational qualities by what I admire about her the most is how much she genuinely cares for others.

What Inspires You?

Have you ever had a moment like that? Where a small act done by someone else inspired you to be a better person?

Maybe your inspiration is watching your child learn to write or read? Or maybe it’s seeing how others overcome their challenges?

I’d love to hear your story! Please share it with me in the comments section below. If you do, I’ll enter you into a giveaway to win a $25 Target gift card (just be sure to complete the form too).

This giveaway is inspired by the heartwarming hit series BORN THIS WAY which premieres Season 2 next Tuesday, July 26 on A&E Network.

BORN THIS WAY chronicles the lives of a group of young adults born with Down syndrome as they pursue their passions while defying society’s expectations. The series also follows their parents who share their own journey of joy, sacrifice, and unconditional love.

Enter to Win!

Leave a comment, telling me what inspires you and fill out the form below.

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The Educational Benefits of Pokemon Go

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Pokemon Go App has been the hottest thing in the news lately, but what about using Pokemon Go for more than just fun? Have you ever considered the possible educational benefits of Pokemon Go and tried to encourage your kids to play the game for this purpose? It’s quite interesting actually once you start thinking about all the different elements you could include and touch upon with the Pokemon Go App as an object lesson or tool! Honestly you could cover aspects of Health/Fitness/Safety, Science, Geography, Spelling/Vocabulary, Reading, and even Math! Here are a few of these subjects as they relate to the app:


Educational Benefits of Pokemon Go: Geography and Map Reading

In order to truly understand the app, you have to become fully engaged in game play. That means you’ll want to go on walks, bike rides, or even road trips in the car to explore different areas of town and different Geographic locations. This includes keeping an eye out to visit these areas and search for wild Pokemon such as the Pidgey and Spearow that appeared here. You will find them from different land types such as desert, mountains, lakes, oceans, rivers, forest, or city. Having long chats with your child about the different types of land or water you are noticing on your adventures can help build their vocabulary skills and enhance their learning through this hands-on activity.


Educational Benefits of Pokemon Go: Map Skills To Locate Poke Stops

Being able to read the map is important too and covers their practice in Geography. You use your map to follow the roads until you come across a blue square shape on a stick (a 3D Poke Stop icon). This square shape will transform into a circular shape on top and allow you to click on it. You can now spin the image in the middle to earn free items such as extra pokeballs, potions, revives, and even berries. These items are all extremely valuable when it comes to capturing and powering up Pokemon. If you are taking a drive in the car for your adventure with your child, you could have your child play navigator. Ask them to read the map directions to you using the compass or following the roads. They could specifically say, “travel south and turn right here”, or “stop up ahead at the next intersection and park”.


Educational Benefits of Pokemon Go: Addition, Subtraction, and Counting

Kids can practice their addition and subtraction skills when trying to figure out how many Pokemon Candies they need to evolve their Pokemon. For example: It takes 25 Ratatta candies to evolve your Pokemon into a Raticate. If you only have 3 Ratatta candies right now, how many more do you need to find (by catching more Ratatta Pokemon) in order to have enough to evolve it? Or, if you have 91 Ratatta candies and you need 25 to evolve it, how many candies will you have left over?

You can also encourage younger kids to count the number of different Pokemon they see in their “Nearby” Pokemon screen in the bottom right corner. Sometimes there is one, sometimes there are nine! The most common Pokemon can be fun to count too, as sometimes there could be several of the same kind of Pokemon all around you while on a walk in the fresh air, or when sitting in your car near a Poke Stop. The options could be endless on things you could have kids count, add, or subtract within the Pokemon Go game app.


Educational Benefits of Pokemon Go: Science

Being outdoors and experiencing nature first hand on their walks while adventuring (even if holding an electronic device in the process) is a fabulous way to bring up conversations in Science. As you are capturing snapshots of wild Pokemon with your device, consider it a goal to try to work in other animals, birds, or even trees and flowers into the pics.


No matter what subject you’d like to try applying to this app whether P.E. with walking long hikes to hatch those Pokemon eggs, or encouraging your child to read the “hints and tips”, you’re sure to have lots of material to work with that will make your child smile and enjoy learning these concepts while playing Pokemon Go.


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Audiobooks as Teaching Tools {Giveaway}

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Technology and education have formed a rather unique relationship and as technology continues to develop so will it impact learning. Take for example audiobooks, they are becoming widely available at different price points so as to provide affordable options for people.

These portable devices are also making education a unique and individual experience; individual in that audiobooks have become a student’s own personal, interactive educational tool that they can control and over time, with technology advancing so rapidly they may become an ever increasing supplemental educational tool with teachers.

Let’s face it, people have different learning styles and not all students grasp concepts as easily by just sitting at a desk and reading chapters from a book. According to researchers audiobooks will become a vital tool in alternate educational resources. What that means is that students have access to pages and pages of information and it is only a click away.

Audiobooks open up a world of possibilities for kids who are not able to sit still for hours on end engaged in reading a textbook. Reading is merely the mechanical means to an end and what is that end? Listening is just another way to get to the desired end and it does not necessarily have to compromise the growth and advancement of other skills.

Also, it is very important to add that the use of audiobooks can help a child who is more adept at learning through listening. This type of learner is called an auditory learner and they learn best through hearing. They simply grasp knowledge better when they listen to them and audiobooks could be an excellent tool for driving home various concepts. Research even suggests that auditory learners can benefit from watching videos, recording notes after writing them, and using audiotapes. So it stands to reason that audiobooks would be an excellent supplemental educational tool if you have a student or are the parent of a child who leans more toward this learning style.

Audiobooks can be a fun alternative to reading. The process of learning can sometimes be tedious and monotonous because sometimes a child’s faculties are only engaged in one way but when a student’s senses are engaged in such a way that learning becomes fun, well then that benefit alone is worth its weight in gold.

Times have truly changed. Reading isn’t just sitting down and having a printed book right in front of you. Now, you can “read” while on road trips, during commutes to work, while homeschooling, doing different activities, and even while running errands.

Lights out? No problem!

How? With audio books!

Like the good ol’ print books, audio books can be comfort reads and favorites that you can listen to over and over and over again. Here are some of my favorites:

A History of Football (retail value: $22.95)

a history of football

Listen as Greg Proops uses archive, actuality and music as he travels from coast-to-coast exploring the fascinating sport of football. From the early origins of the game from Native Americans to the Washington Redskins to the super stadiums and the game’s growing popularity abroad, you’ll be amazed at how this sports have come so far.

The Looking Glass Wars (retail value: $74.95)

the looking glass wars

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”, Frank Beddor’s “The Looking Glass Wars” shows how the two books written by Lewis Carroll are a distortion of the ‘true story’ portrayed in those novels. Twists and turns featured on the original story include the white rabbit as really being Alyss’s (Alice’s) tutor, Bibwit Harte, and the Mad Hatter as a very agile, somber bodyguard called Hatter Madigan.

Dear America: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce (retail value: $29.99)


Eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her fourteen-year-old brother, Daniel, of Portland, Maine found themselves orphaned in 1918 because of the Spanish flu epidemic. They are taken by their uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Lydia must grapple with a new world and she must adjust to many changes. With her courageous spirit, joy fills her life again.

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Audiobooks as Teaching Tools {Giveaway}


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