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Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Top 10 posts of 2015 with Link Up

top 10

Here were the most visited posts of 2015 (written in 2015):

10:  Field Trips in Your Own Backyard (Nature Studies)

9:  21 Books of Poems for Children and FREE Task Cards

poems poppins

8:  Real Life at Chestnut Grove Academy–Schedule


7:  Keepin' it Real Tour of Chestnut Grove Academy Home

6:  Workbox Wednesday–Desert Biomes for Preschool/Kindergarten

PicMonkey Collage

5:  Through the Eyes of the Student–Meet My Students

back to school-001

4:  Poppins Book Nook–Weather Themed Books and Activities

poppin weather

3:  Workbox Wednesday–For the Star Wars Fan with Free Printable Worksheets for Upper Elementary

PicMonkey Collage

2:  Workbox Wednesday–Animal Trackers Club Lessons

PicMonkey Collage

1: FREE Chinese Language Worksheets


Thanks for reading! 

Happy New Year!

Link up your BEST OF 2015 posts below:

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas! Enjoy this Christmas Video! #ASaviorisBorn

Feel free to comment below!

I have felt the love of Jesus Christ is my life in so many ways!  I am grateful every day for his sacrifice, so that I could be born again and overcome my sins and sadness.  When no one else in the world can understand, HE CAN!  He blesses me everyday in innumerable ways!  I am happy to be able to celebrate his birth this season and every season!  I try my best to remember him and honor him always!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Field Trip Friday #186 Friday Blog Hop

Field Trip Friday!
Blog Hop designed to share 'FIELD TRIP' related Blog Posts

(does not have to be a 'home school field trip', can be any trip to any place with your children!)

**NOTE:  Before linking up please review guidelines HERE

A local church was working with the IRC to gather items for refugees.  We collected and brought donations, and helped put together hygiene bags.  They had such a great turn out that we were done in like 10mins!  Over 400 bags were made! 

We also attended homeschool jump at the trampoline place near by.  We don’t go often, because it can get pricey, but it’s a great indoor option in the colder weather! 

C also had a cub scout meeting that was attended by the mayor.  The kids got to do a Q&A session with him.

I’m so thankful to have so many great resources in our area for homeschoolers!

Review & #Giveaway: Jeff & Paige ~ Mighty Wolf (A musical exploration of nature and science!) CD (ends 12AM EST 12/24)

For this review we had the pleasure of listening to Mighty Wolf by Jeff & Paige.  This is an educationally based musical CD.  The songs on this CD expound on nature and science!  Kids are learning about the world around them, while they listen.

We all enjoyed the songs on this CD.  I have to be honest, the talking on the CD, I could have done without, but my CDs liked it all the same.  Each song is typically preceded by a dramatic theater of sorts.  I did not find the acting out, and voices nearly as entertaining as the songs (from an adult perspective).  Therefore this CD was not one I wanted to listen to in the car, but was more of a kids listen on their own type of CD.

The songs were great!  A wide variety of topics were covered, wolves, rainbows, ladybugs, spiders, beavers, scavengers, thunderstorms, The Arctic and monarchs to name some.  I really did like the songs and so did my kids!

It's recommended for ages 3- 8, but my 2 year old even enjoyed the songs.  I think younger children of all ages could enjoy the music and benefit from the educational aspects.

It's available www.jeffandpaige.org, CDbaby and iTunes.

Jeff & Paige have other albums too, Get Outdoors, 21st Century Energy Superheroes, Songs from teh Trail and Rocky Mountain Tunes for Rocky Mountain Kids.

Disclaimer:  I received this CD complimentary in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions are my own. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs (Two-Disc Album)

My kids and I had a blast listening to Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids's Songs for this fun review!  My children range in age from 9, 6, 5, and 2 years old!  I honestly was thinking that only my 2 year old would find this enjoyable (youngest and only girl), but all the kids like it, possibly my 6 year old the most!

I was some what familiar with Laurie Berkner previously, but we did not own any of her albums.  It, honestly, had been YEARS since I had listened to her (probably when my oldest was 2, he had a friend who had some of her videos).

This 2 disc set is filled with so many fun, up beat songs.  There are a few Christian renditions as well. It is always a request on car rides, and it's enjoyable enough that I don't mind playing it (over and over and over again) for them.

Their most favorite song is probably "There's a Hole in the Bucket", they are in stitches at the end of it, EVERY TIME!

This CD is available where ever CDs are sold, as well as in digital versions from iTUNES, Amazon, Google Play, etc...

This would be a great gift for the children in your life!   There is still time to order before Christmas!  Talk about a GREAT STOCKING STUFFER!

Laurie Berkner was the first artist ever to appear in music videos on NICK Jr, so you may have seen here there!  She has MANY albums available!

Disclaimer:  I received this CD complimentary in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to make a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review: Kidsemail.org

Disclaimer:  I received a free year subscription and a small cash payment (for my time) to do this review.  I was not required to give a positive review, all opinions are my own.

If you are looking for a kid safe email program, check out KidsEmail.org.  Kids Email has the parental controls you need to help keep your children/teens safe on the internet!

I was able to try out this program for this review.  It is very easy to set up!  I quickly and easily made an email account for my 9 year old son.  I was able to designate which emails he was allowed to receive email from.  I tried sending him an email from a non-designated email account and I received notification that there was an email to be reviewed.  The email I sent it from received back a notification also:

So I feel confident that my son would not be receiving emails from ANYONE without my consent and approval!  This is important to me! 

He was able to SEND emails to non listed email addresses, however at the bottom of the email sent it reads:

"This email was sent by a KidsEmail.org account. Any response will be automatically evaluated for appropriateness by KidsEmail.org according to parental settings."  

After looking more closely into this, I see I overlooked a feature in the Safety option, which excludes emails from going out to non designated email addresses.  There are several other safety features, which include: excluding images, and/or links from being in emails, disallowing attachments, sending copies of emails to your email address (in going and/or out going) and more!  You can make the safety as tight or as loose as you deem necessary.

Also included is time limitation, you can ground them from using email, or limit the amount of time they spend on email. You can also block specific senders (ie if you have your child's account open to sending to anyone, you can still block certain addresses), and you can view their activity log. 

The tablet/phone apps also allow GPS tracking!

The email screen is customize-able for each account.  Kids can pick from several backgrounds/screens.  

The emailing screen if not complicated to navigate!  It is super easy and straight forward.  Pictured below is the standard setting, you can make it even simpler by selecting the simple setting under Child Account Settings (in the parent login).

You can try this program for FREE for 30 days.  After 30 days there are two pricing plans available.  Monthly plans are $4.95/mo and include up to 4 email addresses, the Yearly plan is $38.95 (or $2.99/mo, billed annually) and includes up to 6 email addresses for 13 months!  

Internet safety is of the utmost importance!  Consider getting KidsEmail for you child today!

Disclaimer:  I received a free year subscription and a small cash payment (for my time) to do this review.  I was not required to give a positive review, all opinions are my own.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dinner and a Movie Deal makes a GREAT GIFT! @Restaurant_come #DinnerandaMovie #ad

 Disclaimer:  I received a Restaurant.com gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.

Specials by Restaurant.com Presents Dinner & a Movie
2 Movie Tickets + $100 Restaurant.com Card ONLY $30

Looking for an inexpensive gift idea for someone in your life?  How about Dinner and a Movie!  For $30 you can get them $100 in restaurant discounts AND 2 Movie Tickets!  It's a great deal!  Great for a stocking stuffer, a teen, a married couple....anyone that likes to eat and watch movies!  (Isn't that about everyone???)

The holiday season ushers in festive foods, decor, and winter's highly anticipated movies of 2015. You can the galaxy, sing with the Chipmunks or solve a Sherlock mystery—and dine out with Special by Restaurant.com’s Dinner & a Movie deal. Now through December 20 for $30, you’ll receive two tickets PLUS a $100 Restaurant.com eGift card to redeem for a star-rated restaurant.

Spend family time discovering the perfect table and flick. Use your movie tickets to see any winter blockbuster hits here. Hurry – this offer ends Sunday, December 20 at 11:59 pm CT or when it’s sold out.

Restaurant.com and Specials by Restaurant.com make great gifts for everyone on your wish list. Connect with Restaurant.com on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and never miss their next great deal!
 Disclaimer:  I received a Restaurant.com gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Weeks in Review (11/16, 11/23, 11/30, 12/7)

So I seriously lost track of time and did not even realize that 4 weeks have gone by since my last Week in Review.  OOOPS!

Things have been so busy, and I have been having computer problems.  I finally have a new computer, but now I'm having Windows Live Writer problems (if you are a blogger, you will understand).

So, let's see if I can remember what has happened in the last 4 weeks (well at least the gist of it all).

Week of 11/16

This week we had our planning meeting with co-op for the spring semester.  So many great classes being offered, I'm so excited (my kids are too, we LOVE co-op)!  We had a playdate with some friends, C had his cooking class (they made some Thanksgiving side dishes, delish!).  We had co-op and then headed to Costco to get new tires on the Suburban, but they didn't have them in stock (even though I bought them 2 weeks before) so we had to come back on Friday after swimming.  On Saturday the kids had their Past Times History class at the local Historical Society and we also attended a funeral.  :(  A friend of ours (the people we got our dog from), he passed away from cancer.  So sad.  We also had a chick hatch!  We put two of our hens' eggs to be hatched (after losing 2 of our hens), we got ONE chick.  This is a newer pic, but you can she him/her!  The kids love it!
A photo posted by Jen (@cgroveacademy) on

Week of 11/22

This week was pretty lax because of Thanksgiving, not much time for anything else.  We had MMA on Monday, and Wednesday we skipped it to hit the road to my parents house for Thanksgiving.  We had a great time visiting with family, I went Black Friday shopping with my mom and aunts, while the boys went shooting.  On Saturday we headed back home and I had a Mom's Day Out with some co-op moms and family/friends.  We did a painting party, SO FUN!  If you have never done one, you should!   On Sunday we had a Family Home Evening night with another family, was lots of fun!

We had lots of fun playing Wii Dance and my aunt brought the kids some gingerbread houses.

Week of 11/30

We had our 4H robotics meeting, only our 2nd meeting, but it was sign ups for next year.  I was really excited to learn that c (who just turned 5) can enroll for next year!  K and c had their annual visits to the pediatrician.  They are doing great and super healthy!  It was the first time we saw this particular ped, and she was awesome!  Super supportive of homeschooling and was really impressed with how friendly and chatty c was.  (K is a bit more shy, but she's only 2).  We had a field trip to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, we went up with some friends (old friends from Hawaii, who also moved to MD and just started homeschooling this school year).  The performed The Polar Express, it was good (but I liked last year's The Nutcracker, better).  We had co-op, which included a cookie exchange.  Super yummy!  I made two batches of Paleo cookies and they were a hit!  The kids had a trial piano lesson, and will start up after Christmas!  Then we hit the road to my parents again on the way to NC for my cousin's wedding.  It was a quick road trip, so not too exciting.  It was lots of fun visiting with family though.

A photo posted by Jen (@cgroveacademy) on
Week of 12/7

Z and c attended a science class at the library on Monday , then we hit the library again on Tuesday for C to go to his Battle of the Books meeting, it also happened to be storytime...so win for everyone! On Wednesday we had a playdate with friends in the afternoon.  Thursday we were suppose to go to a nursing home to make ornaments with them, but c wasn't feeling well.  Friday hubby had off for a dentist appt and we had a long list of things too do, but everyone woke up not feeling well. Boo!  Saturday we attempted to mark off some of the To Do's from Friday and will be attending our church Christmas party this evening.  Everyone is feeling better (luckily), though I still have some aches and pains (probably Lupus related). Tomorrow we are doing some service with the IRC, putting together some kits for refugees.

I found a great name writing app for the iPad this week too!  I have been wanting to work with c on writing his name, and well... I'm a slacker!  I have all these great ideas sometimes, and with 4 kiddos now, well, they don't always get put into play.!  Check out this app called Write My Name, it's $4, but so worth it!  It also does ABC (uppercase and lowercase) and you could have them practice other people's names too!
A photo posted by Jen (@cgroveacademy) on
I've still been going strong on my new Paleo lifestyle, I aim to follow it 80% of the time, and am pretty sure I follow it more than that.  I do notice a BIG difference in how I feel when I don't follow it.  Dessert is my weakness, so I always try to have a Paleo option available!

I also got my Stitch Fix this month!!!  It was slightly disappointing, but that's okay because I didn't have much extra money this month.  I did keep a pair of pants that I LOVE and a sweater!

I post my Paleo meals, fashion (stitch fix and other), homeschooling and life in general on my Instagram! Come join me!

Linking up at:
My Week in Review at Our 4 Kiddos, and Weekly Wrap up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Field Trip #185 Friday Blog Hop

Field Trip Friday!
Blog Hop designed to share 'FIELD TRIP' related Blog Posts

(does not have to be a 'home school field trip', can be any trip to any place with your children!)

**NOTE:  Before linking up please review guidelines HERE

So our BIG field trip this week didn't happen b/c c (5yo) woke up saying he was 'sick'.  I think he was hungry (didn't eat much dinner the night before), because after eating a TON he felt better.  But by then it was too late to go.  We were suppose to do ornament crafts at a nursing home with our co-op.  BIG BUMMER :(  

But we did hit the library a few times this week.  

Monday was a science class for 4-6 year olds (so 2 kids went), Wednesday my 9yo had a Battle of the Book meeting, and the younger 3 went to story and craft time, and Thursday we were suppose to go to a Letter Preschool Class for the youngest 2, but I had the wrong time on the calendar :(  We got there as it ended, but they were excited they still got to have the snack... D is for Doughnuts!  We also brought stuff to drop off for Toys for Tots.

My oldest and I also did some service at a local soup kitchen!

We also attended my cousin's wedding this last weekend (quick road trip) and they had a good 'ol time getting down! c (5yo) said "I don't dance", but the other 3 tore it up!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Field Trip #184 Friday Blog Hop

Field Trip Friday!
Blog Hop designed to share 'FIELD TRIP' related Blog Posts

(does not have to be a 'home school field trip', can be any trip to any place with your children!)

**NOTE:  Before linking up please review guidelines HERE


    We went to the BSO Educational Production of The Polar Express this week.  Last year we attended The Nutcracker performance.  Both were great!
    2015-12-02 10.10.22
    I’m excited to have some DOWN time this month.  Sports are on hold for the month, as well as co-op.  Though the weather is getting ‘frightful’, we do have some library activities planned, and hope to be able to fit in some other field trips!

    Monday, November 30, 2015

    Educational Gift Ideas for the Holidays!

    In some ways I dread the holidays…it’s just more stuff!  I don’t need anymore stuff in my house, do you?  This year I’m really trying to focus more on educational items.  Not just stuff that will cause more clutter!  I’ve also been searching for good deals on items.  Here is a great list of educational items, for all ages and they come at great prices!  This year my kids will be receiving blocks, books, games, and outdoor equipment!  I love to get them stuff that I know is helping build brain cells as well as enjoyable entertainment! 
      Educents Deals Toys Tegu Blocks - Give your kiddos the opportunity to defy gravity! These wooden blocks are embedded with magnets so that kids can build structures they have only dreamed of!
    Magformers Challenger Set - With this 112-Piece magnetic building set, kids ages 6 to 12 imaginations are guaranteed to run wild! This is a great gift to give to siblings to share. It can also be a generous addition to a classroom or after-school program!
    Frozen Puzzle Pack - Winter is the time of year to celebrate the very popular Disney movie, Frozen! Keep the Frozen fun going after the movie is over with these four Frozen puzzles.
    Veggie Tales Floor Puzzle - Little ones can put together this fun floor puzzle with their favorite Veggie Tales characters! This 3-foot puzzle will keep your little learners thinking and laughing as the faces of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber begin to appear piece by piece. Educents Art Deals Coloring Books for Everyone - Coloring is not just for kids anymore, it's for everyone - making this a great gift for an entire family! These six coloring books are filled with mesmerizing designs. Gift these coloring books to a family, classroom, or split up the books to give to six artists who you love!
    Frozen Etch a Sketch Jr. - The classic and creative tool we all grew up with has been updated with your child's favorite characters from Disney's Frozen. Elsa and Olaf can watch your little one draw on the Etch a Sketch as they are inspired by their favorite Disney movie. Then Elsa's magical snow will wipe the canvas clean, ready for another masterpiece.
    Holiday Coloring Book Freebie - If you’re looking for a low-cost way to say “thinking of you,” this coloring book is as easy to give as 1-2-3. Just download it for free, print it, and add a nice card to your envelope. Educents-Science-Deals Slimy Squishy Polymer Set - Give the gift of science exploration! This fun, hands-on experiment only requires water, adult supervision, and creativity! What a fun way for kids and parents or older siblings to learn together!
    Science Experiment Subscription - Science experiments require a lot of planning. Let the scientific FUN come to you with a 1-year subscription to the award-winning Young Scientist Club! Educents Books
    Life of Fred Beginning Reader Set - Children who are learning to read will love listening to mom, dad, grandma, older brother, or anyone else read the Life of Fred stories aloud! Read these silly stories together and learn basic concepts about math, the English language, colors, and science!
    Berenstain Bears Books - Read these books over the holidays to encourage family values like cleaning up, the joy of giving, saying “I’m sorry,” and more! The book bundle includes Thanksgiving and Christmas stories too!
    A set of The Velveteen Rabbit, Corduroy, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and other classic books! Add these classic titles to your little one’s library, or distribute the books to a handful of little ones who love to read!

    What are you shopping for this holiday season? The gift of learning a new language? Picking up a new talent like playing a musical instruments or stargazing? Discover amazing gift ideas that promote education on Educents!

    Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post and contains affiliate links.

    Restaurant.com #CyberMonday Sale! #ad @Restaurant_com

    Disclaimer:  I received a Restaurant.com gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.


    Restaurant.com Delivers the "Better than Best" Cyber Monday Sale

    For families who want to avoid the hours of cooking and clean-up this holiday season, Restaurant.com delivers $3 for $25 Certificates with Promo Code: CYBER today only! Find places to meet, eat and be merry from 22,000 restaurants nationwide.


    And if you’re traveling, feel free to take Restaurant.com on the road with you. Their mobile app makes a primary travel companion! Search for eateries by zip code and simply use the certificate from your phone at the restaurant.

    Hurry – this "Better than Best" $3 Cyber Monday Sale won’t last. Restaurant.com is the trusted and valued source for connecting restaurants and diners nationwide. This offer ends Monday, November 30 at 11:59 pm CT.

    **The perfect gift for someone who likes to eat out, travels a lot or a great way to get some date nights planned!** 


    Disclaimer:  I received a Restaurant.com gift card for the purpose of this review. This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.

    Friday, November 27, 2015

    14 Educational Stocking Stuffer Ideas

    Okay, we don’t actually ‘do’ Santa….but, my kids have these Ginormous stockings that I always feel pressured to fill up!  I’m trying really hard not to spend a fortune filling them year and I’d also prefer not to have all the ‘junk’ around the house that tends to come with them.  I’m putting less stuff in this year, and I’d like it to be useful, educational stuff (including most of their gifts!).  I have enough clutter around, who needs more?  NOT I!

    This is a great list of some DIY, as well as inexpensive educational stocking stuffer ideas!  Hope you find it helpful!

    educational stocking stuffer ideas

    Personalized Letter from Santa

    Gone are the days of trying to write in “Santa’s handwriting.” Educents has made it so easy to make your child feel special and loved by Santa! The personalized letter comes straight to your front door from the North Pole in a beautiful red envelope, and highlights your child’s exciting accomplishments this year. The letter also includes some fun Santa-approved activities for you and your kiddo to spend some sweet holiday time together, like a recipe for Mrs. Claus’ Famous Cookies, two snowflake craft templates, a packet of reindeer food (glitter!) and a sheet of festive stickers. This special letter will make for an imaginative and exciting addition to the very top of our Christmas stockings this year!
    4_2_20 This letter will make for an imaginative start to any Christmas morning, but there’s more pressure now to keep the fun going! Here are some other easy stocking stuffers to keep the magic going for your kiddos this year!

    Educational Stocking Stuffer Ideas

    1. FREE DIY Crystal Christmas Tree Experiment - An opportunity to spend more time together as a family is one of the best gifts you can give! These directions for a DIY salt-crystal Christmas tree can get the whole family involved and teach everyone something new!
    2. DIY Push Light Planets - Create these amazing lights for your kiddo's bedroom. Each light is decorated to represent one of the planets. To encourage planet recognition, even paint the names of the planets onto each pushable light! Push Light Planets
    3. Show Me the Kwan - Looking for a great, fun game for the whole family to play after all the presents have been opened? This clever and upbeat word game gets kids excited about vocabulary, word construction and more and is the perfect size for a stocking!
    4. Matching Games for Little Learners - These handmade wooden matching games from Mama May I are a very sweet stocking stuffer for little learners. Choose from Zoo, Trucks, Vegetables, Space and more ! mama_may_i_make_a_match_dino1_large_9117
    5. The Familia Craft Kit - This craft kit has all the tools for your kiddos to decoupage little wooden peg dolls to create their own story or to include in a new adventure! They come in a slim tube that’s easy to fit in a stocking!
    6. DIY Domino Set - This homemade domino set is one you and your family can play for years to come. To make this set special for the holidays, use green and red puff paint! DIY Domino Set 7. DIY Pop-Up Alphabet Sponges - This simple gift is a low-cost way to make baby's bath time fun and educational! Cut sponges into the shapes of alphabet letters and numbers.
    8. DigiPuppets - This adorable animal finger puppet acts as a touchscreen-sensitive stylus for phones and tablets. Use them on their own to keep kids engaged with digital learning tools, or head to the app store to download DigiPuppet’s educational games. digipuppets_zipusageforzulily2_5db6 9. Just Add Milk Science & Art Kit - This kit is filled with fun science and art projects you can do along with some at home ingredients, and it’s just the size of a milk carton! If your child is lactose-intolerant, don’t worry, the experiments work with non-dairy milk as well!
    10. DIY Telling Time Clock Pillow - Crafty family members can take a few hours to create this comfortable accessory for kiddos learning to tell time!DIY Telling Time Clock pillow 11. Clever Catch Math Balls - These inflatable balls make math-learning fun with active games you can play with 2 or more people. Just keep it deflated, and this blow-up Clever Catch is ready for the stocking! Choose from: Numbers 0-25, Money, Multiplication, Addition, or Subtraction.
    12. DIY Hopscotch Mat - Here's a fun game you can make yourself, roll up into a Christmas stocking, and then play on Christmas Day and many, MANY days after that!
    13. DIY Bongo Rice Shakers - Use some household materials to make shakable, musical instruments for little ones to use while Christmas caroling on Christmas Day! DIY Stocking Stuffer Instrument Looking for more ways to make your Christmas stockings and holiday gifts extra special this year? Head to Educents' Give the Gift of Education page for more ideas, tips, steals and deals!

    Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post and contains some affiliate links.  Thank you.


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