Martin Luther King Jr. Day is approaching! Teachers are you ready? Don’t worry, I got you. Enjoy this FREE MLK coloring page on me. This FREE download consists of palatable fun facts suitable for preschool and early elementary students. All you need is an application that supports PDF files.
Why honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? The MLK holiday celebrates the birthday and legacy of a man who fought for, and helped establish, freedom and equality for all. Dr. King played an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement by leading peaceful protests to help end legal segregation and discrimination in the United States.
Dr. King’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream,” was delivered at the 1963 March on Washington. The speech, which called for freedom, equality, and harmony for all mankind, marked a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. Read the full text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, I Have a Dream, here.
I do hope that you take full advantage if this MLK freebie. If you’re looking for more resources on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I highly recommend you check out the full MLK packet at my online store. Click here to view Martin Luther King Jr. Activities and Fun Facts.
The full packet includes the following activities for preschool and early elementary:
Reading comprehension activity
Cut and paste activity
Key terms word search
Key terms definition sheet
Kinesthetic Activity Game
This packet aims to develop and strengthen the following skills:
Be sure to visit Nike Anderson’s Classroom for more quality resources like this one! Don’t forget to follow my store to be the first to know when I upload new freebies.
This week, I’ll be sharing how we pulled off an entire year of free curriculum during our first penny-pinching homeschool years.
If you’re new here, welcome! My name is Nike and I’m entering my fourth homeschool year with a new kindergartner and third grader.
Can you believe I’ve never written a proper curriculum review? Well, you’re in for a treat because I’ll be reviewing our entire year of free curriculum for devotional, language arts, reading, math, science, and geography!
Basically, the first two years of our homeschool journey was a free curriculum frenzy. Before I invested money in a box curriculum, I first wanted to see what resources were available for FREE. I was shocked to find awesome quality resources for kindergarten through second-grade—and beyond! I’ve even made a few resources myself. Visit my FREEBIES page to check some of them out!
I was in resource heaven putting together a comprehensive curriculum for my then first-grader, but I admit it was so much work! Maybe I can help alleviate some of the workload for you by giving you the links to everything we used in one blog post? Of course, this is only helpful if you have a first or second-grader (or an advanced kindergartner). However, some of these resources have curricula available for grades up through high-school.
To make things even better, I’ll give you a brief description of each resource, as well as the pros and cons of each. Are you ready?
This resource is my collective 180-day Bible series for kids that covers 36 scriptures or one memory verse each week! I created this resource because we needed fun activities to accompany our memory verses. It includes 180 fun activities that are designed to improve cognitive skills by helping children to think, reason, and write for themselves. The activities also encourage children to strengthen fine motor skills, encourage creativity, and strengthen handwriting skills. The following topics are covered:
Obviously, this resource was free for me because I created it. However, I do offer the series “God Thinks I’m Awesome” for FREE, here!
First, the activities for this resource are great for helping children learn edifying scripture. There’s an activity for each weekday, Monday thru Friday, that requires children to do the following for each memory verse:
Activity 1—Draw what the verse means to you.
Activity 2—Write a sentence about the verse.
Activity 3—Arrange the verse (cut-and-paste activity).
Activity 4—Trace the verse.
Activity 5—Color the picture.
Second, my boys loved learning their verses while doing these activities! The memory verses were a terrific addition to our family devotional time. They inspired my boys to ask questions and encouraged great conversation. The memory verses are also designed to be palatable for young children, as my youngest son was three-years-old when we utilized this resource. Therefore, the verses are kept short and sweet, and the activities provide lots of repetition for mastery.
Third, this is a top-selling resource at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. By the looks of the reviews, other teachers, parents, and students have been loving this resource, too! All the scriptures included in this resource are available for patrons to view before downloading the product, so it’s clear exactly what verses are covered and how they are worded in each series.
The activities are designed for younger children from pre-k through third-grade, which means some of the verses in the activities have been re-phrased for palatability and understanding. You’ll mainly find this to be true for the “Our God the Creator” series, which summarizes some of the Genesis verses to “God created light on the first day,” “God created the sky on the second day,” and so forth. This hasn’t been a problem for us since we always read and review the verses straight from the Bible before completing the activities.
If you’re not familiar with the All-In-One Homeschool, it’s an online comprehensive Christian-based curriculum that is free to use! While I’m going to talk about their level one language arts curriculum, this resource offers curricula for all core subjects for grades pre-k through high school. It even offers electives like Bible, Art, Computer, Foreign Languages, and more! As I mentioned, it’s free, but you’ll need access to the internet, computer, and basic school supplies to take advantage of this resource.
My first-grader enjoyed the Language Arts 1 curriculum. This curriculum offers a basic review of phonics before delving into the following concepts for first and/or second graders:
Literature (Poetry from Abroad, Crane)
First, let me say that this curriculum was well organized and easy to follow. The author did a phenomenal job arranging virtual worksheets, games, quizzes, and activity ideas for each subject. It is no-prep and no-nonsense!
Second, I loved that this curriculum was comprehensive and covered all the key concepts for first and second grade. I felt pretty confident that my child was getting a solid foundation in literature.
Third, I loved that this curriculum sets students up to work independently. Provided your child has great fluency in reading, they can totally work independently on this curriculum.
Lastly, incorporating levels rather than grades is another great concept. If a level is too easy or difficult for a child, they can be moved up or down to fit their academic need. Since all the levels are available at your fingertips, you can actually skim through them and extract from each one. For instance, your child may be ready to move up to level two for grammar but may have to stay on level one for spelling. The flexibility is awesome!
I had to supplement this curriculum to incorporate more repetition and practice for mastery with certain concepts. I also ended up using another curriculum for spelling, as I did not like AIO’s setup for learning spelling words. I want to stress that every curriculum has different standards and will cover different concepts and topics. It’s up to you to decipher which topics outside the curriculum you’d like to cover. For me, using extra worksheets and free printables wasn’t much of a problem. But it does mean you have to search them out, making it an extra thing to add to your to-do list.
This online Christian-based reading curriculum by All-In-One Homeschool is designed to introduce readers to full-length novels, practice narration and summarizing, and improve vocabulary and comprehension. The curriculum uses the following literature:
The Tale of Jolly Robin by Bailey
The Tale of Solomon Owl by Bailey
The Tale of Reddy Woodpecker by Bailey
The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse by Burgess
Buster Bear by Burgess
McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader
Beatrix Potter stories
A variety of other short stories and poems
This resource can be used primarily online or you can purchase the materials in book form for just $15.
First, the curriculum had a great choice of literature with advanced vocabulary. The vocabulary is challenging, yet appropriate, and not too overwhelming.
Second, I loved the fact that the curriculum introduced my first-grader to chapter books. He really enjoyed reading the novels authored by Bailey.
Lastly, this curriculum was no fuss and easy-to-follow. There’s also an audio option available, which is great because children can listen and follow along with the hardcopy at the same time—giving them an ear for what proper reading fluency sounds like.
The major con was that this curriculum is online. If you do not want your child to read entire chapters on the computer, you must print out the chapters, which can cost you ink and paper. Otherwise, purchasing the materials in book form is the better bet, but that defeats the whole purpose of the curriculum being free. Still, I think it’s a wise investment if you want your child to hold a physical book while reading.
Another con was that there were very few follow-up questions for each chapter, which means if you’re keeping a reading journal you’ll have to think of clever entry questions yourself. Children are just encouraged to “tell someone about the chapter,” which is fine, but not very thought-provoking.
My son was also disinterred in most of the literature selections and struggled to relate to the reading material. All-in-all, this was not our favorite curriculum.
This is another curriculum from the free online Christian-based resource All-In-One Homeschool. This comprehensive math curriculum covers the following concepts for first and second graders:
Memorizing addition and subtraction facts
This curriculum comprises levels rather than grades, so it’s advisable to ensure the material is appropriate for your child’s mastery level before you begin. This curriculum is also set up for independent learning, so strong reading skills are required unless the child is accompanied by an adult.
First, I loved the access to other free resources. There were a ton of free awesome math games for fluency practice! My son enjoyed playing most of the games and they really did help him understand and master the material.
Second, I loved that the first half of the curriculum focused on practicing mental math for sums up to 20, which is essential for advancing to a third-grade math level.
Lastly, I loved that this curriculum encouraged hands-on learning with manipulatives you can find in your home. Hands-on learning is so important at this age!
This math curriculum did not cover multiplication. At least not to the degree that it should, considering it’s recommended that second-graders know how to multiply fluently by 2’s, 3’s and 5’s by the end of the school year. There’s some coverage on skip counting but not necessarily multiplication factors and products, so if this is important to you be sure to give your child more practice using supplementary materials. There is not much material on adding or regrouping three-digit numbers, either. Again, I recommend supplementary materials if you wish to learn and practice advanced regrouping.
This is a comprehensive science curriculum that includes videos, lesson plans, experiments, and activity pages for pre-K thru second-grade. There are twelve units and topics covered:
In the home
The human body
All twelve units encompass a 180-day curriculum with corresponding episodes from The Magic School Bus. That means there’s something to do for every weekday of the school year!
First, the experiments were easy to do and most of the materials needed could be found right in my home. I recommend printing out all the experiments for the week and making a checklist to ensure you have everything you need.
Second, I loved that the curriculum was no-prep. The lessons provided notations for the instructor explaining what students should learn, key terms, and what questions to ask the students, among other things. There was no additional research required unless my boys wished to advance in a topic.
The third thing I loved about this free curriculum was that it was pretty adaptable and I did not have to cover all the topics in sequence. There were many weeks where we jumped to other topics that were more relevant to my children’s current interests.
Lastly, I loved that this curriculum included a list of recommended books for each unit. That made reserving library books and planning ahead much easier. It also meant I didn’t have to struggle to find supplementary materials!
While the Magic School Bus curriculum is great, especially for those moms who aren’t well versed in science, I do forewarn that older children (closer to second grade) may become bored or unimpressed by some of the experiments. This is definitely a curriculum for the younger ones who are new to science. My then seven-year-old, who took STEM classes at the time, started to lose interest in the curriculum by the second semester. However, he loved watching the corresponding episodes!
I created this 50 States of the USA resource as a gentle introduction to geography for anyone looking to go through the US map state-by-state. Each activity covers all 50 states, including the state capital, and aims to build and strengthen the following skills for grades pre-k thru first-grade:
Find it—Critical thinking and problem-solving.
Color it—Creativity and fine motor skills.
These activities not only help familiarize children with the US map, but helps children learn how to recognize and spell state names and recognize state flags.
First, this product is wallet friendly. This product was only free for me because I created it, but I do have a freebie available, here, for those interested in trying it out. The freebie includes three states, Alaska, Rhode Island, and DC. If you’re interested in the full set, it is available at Nike Anderson’s Classroom and is extremely affordable. It is also currently my Best Seller.
Second, the activities in this resource not only helped familiarize my children with the US map, but also helped them learn how to recognize and spell state names and recognize state flags. It also covered state abbreviations and regions. My boys learned so much and enjoyed coloring the flags for each state.
Third, this resource is very buildable. I maximized this resource by supplementing it with other free resources. I checked-out books from the local library, I utilized the political maps in our classroom, and we watched National Geographic Kids’ YouTube channel that has awesome educational videos for almost every US state.
Lastly, this resource is no-nonsense and easy to use. It doesn’t bombard children with a bunch of facts and is a very gentle introduction to US geography.
This resource is not a comprehensive curriculum, so you will need to supplement it. For a more comprehensive curriculum that covers regions, capitals, fun facts, and more, I created the All About the 50 States of the USA mega bundle.
Would I recommend these resources to a friend? I have actually recommended all of them to any friend that asks for curriculum advice. You’ll hear me mention often that it’s not the curriculum itself, but what you put into the curriculum that makes it effective. Where I felt a curriculum lacked, I simply supplemented. However, I’ve even had to supplement some of the boxed curriculum I purchased. Which goes to show that every curriculum will have “holes.” There’s no such thing as a perfect curriculum. If you don’t believe me, read the forums for some of the most recommended award-winning curricula and you’ll see not everyone is impressed by them.
I want to hear from you: Have you ever tried any of these freebies? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!
In Georgia, most kids are out of school by the third week of May. But in our homeschool, summer vacation wasn’t supposed to begin until June.
My second-grader decided he wanted to take his final assessments early. All his friends at church were already out of public school, and he wanted to join the crowd.
So, I let him.
It was a win-win, really. We had a family trip approaching and I thought It’d be nice to come back home and not have to worry about school work.
After that lovely trip to Maryland, where we got to visit my siblings and explore the beauty of Washington, DC, there was total chaos in our home. Fighting over games, tablets, toys, and personal space ensued. Our living room floor was full of Legos, art supplies, and Cheerios. Our kitchen sink housed every single dish from the cabinets by the end of the day. And I was close to losing it.
But then I remembered something; amid our travel adventures, I’d forgotten to write out our summer schedule. So, I did just that.
When I say peace was restored almost immediately, it’s no exaggeration. I showed the schedule to our boys and it was like a weight was taken off them. Knowing their daily expectations offered them a sense of security and control. Even more, creating a schedule that carried out my vision to combat summer learning loss gave me peace of mind.
Let’s not get it twisted. There are still those days when everyone’s mood clashes. Today, as I write this post, is one of them. However, incorporating a summer routine has definitely given us smoother days when we’re stuck at home.
So, what does the schedule entail?
The purpose of the schedule, other than to restore order, is to ensure our boys keep their brains sharp, limit technology usage, and learn something new this summer. I understand resting from the demands of schoolwork is essential for developing brains, but I also wanted to ensure our boys were spending a little time each day building fluency with old skills and taking the initiative to develop new ones.
As you can see, I’ve split the schedule into three parts: mornings, afternoons, and evenings. Every morning, there are three requirements to enjoy afternoon screen time:
First, our boys must read at least one book or two chapters. My five-year-old is still new at reading so we’ve worked it out where my oldest son does shared-reading with him. There are several studies that illustrate the significance of summer reading to prevent learning loss. However, our reason for ensuring our children hit the books during summer vacation is to simply encourage the lifestyle of reading.
Second, our boys must do at least one math activity. I made each of them fun interactive activity binders that house at least 35 activities for math fluency practice. You can read more about it here or purchase it here. These binders are a great alternative to worksheets because the Velcro attachments allow for repeated use until mastery. Additionally, these activities are perfect for kinesthetic learners who thrive with hands-on learning.
Third, our boys must complete their chore checklist. This checklist is basically a reminder for them to clean up after themselves, which is super helpful to me. Since they’ll either be playing with their tablets or watching TV, completing their chores in the morning means the house is likely to stay tidy all afternoon. I laminated the checklist (and schedule) to make them reusable with dry-erase markers.
Believe it or not, these requirements only take my boys about an hour or two to complete after breakfast. After that, they usually build Legos or draw pictures until the afternoon. I also created a list of activities to choose from should they grow tired of building skyscrapers with their Legos or drawing Sonic characters with scrap paper.
Why have a summer schedule?
Like most children, my boys thrive on structure. It offers them a sense of control and limits the frustration that can often trigger defiance and sibling rivalry. I’ve also made it a requirement that both must complete their checklist before afternoon screen time, which encourages them to work as a team.
Schedules are also great for me and my husband, who work from home. We know that from noon until four in the evening is going to be the quietest time to get important things done since the kids are typically quiet during screen time. To be honest, they’re actually so quiet, they’ve finessed us into having longer screen time because we’ve lost track of the clock. We must remember to set that egg timer!
Lastly, schedules are a great way to ensure we reach our summer goals. In our case, our main goal was to ensure our children were still sharpening their brains and building new skills. Trust me when I say that summer learning loss is real, but over the years we’ve discovered that making fluency practice a requirement decreased the amount of re-teaching we’d have to do for reading and math in the Fall. Repetition is one of the keys to mastery for children.
What are some alternatives to screen time?
Evenings in our home are scheduled to help our boys get their minds off the screen. Children must be encouraged to try new things and develop interests apart from television and video games. Therefore, our schedule reminds the boys of some of the things they like to do. Those activities include:
Playing the keyboard
Listening to audiobooks
Playing board games
Not only are these activities fun, but they’re also a sneaky way to incorporate additional learning into our daily summer routine. Of course, most of these activities will hold the attention of older children. But if you have wee ones, visit my friends Zoe, Josephine, and Angela at ThinkBaby.org and read their post “FUN & EDUCATIONAL DIY CRAFT IDEAS FOR TODDLERS.” They’ve got an awesome website full of gems for new and veteran moms!
What happens when we’ve got somewhere to be?
Summer vacation is filled with camps, traveling, sports, swimming, fellowship, and much more! This week, my boys have Vacation Bible School in the mornings. Next week, they’ll have afternoon swimming at our local pool. We try as much as possible to keep them involved with outdoor activities. When we have somewhere to be, we just pick up the schedule where we left off.
For instance, after VBS, my boys complete all their morning requirements and enjoy screen time for the rest of the afternoon. Next week, morning requirements must be completed before afternoon swimming. The remainder of the schedule will commence when we return home in the evening.
Schedules are made to be broken in our home. Therefore, we invite spontaneity. We are known for taking impromptu trips out of town, fellowshipping with friends until the wee hours of the morning, and hopping in the car to attend that local event we just learned about an hour ago. It’s no big deal if we ditch the schedule for things we find more enriching to our lives.
Why do we have so much screen time during summers?
Summer screen time is a treat because my boys are only allowed screen time on weekends during the school year. Screen time basically consists of anything from watching tutorials, to coding and playing video games. While the allotted time is from noon to four in the afternoon, I admit some days our boys are probably watching screens much longer than that.
My husband and I have no qualms about children and screens, but we do see the value in controlling the amount of time our boys spend watching screens in order to help them develop other interests. Likewise, we’ve recognized that eliminating screen time on school days helped increase their concentration and work ethic, as they no longer tried to “hurry up and finish” school work in order to get to their video games.
There are many scholarly articles that make a case for why screen time is or isn’t good for children. I say, it all boils down to what’s best for your family. I know parents who can’t do any screen time whatsoever due to their child/ren having sensory processing disorders. Our boys can handle limited screen time, but we do heavily restrict what they’re allowed to consume (i.e. no violent or inappropriate games or shows).
I hope you enjoyed me sharing a glimpse of what our summer is looking like this year. I decided to write this post because some of you liked the summer schedule I posted on Instagram and I wanted a way to provide an editable copy for you. I also love sharing what works for me in hope that it may work for you, too.
If you’re looking for activities to do with your children this summer, I highly suggest connecting with your local library, homeschool group, or recreation center and check out their schedules. You’d be surprised how many free and low-cost activities these resources have to offer.
I want to hear from you: What are your summer plans? Let me know in the comments!
Welcome to Totschool Tuesday! If you’re new to this series, join me every Tuesday this month as I share what types of activities I do to prepare my three-year-old for the next phase in his education. Last week, I shared my “Number Matching” preschool busy box. This week, I want to share my “Preschool Math Facts” busy box.
What is a “busy box?” You may have heard of “busy bags”—that is, bags full of educational goodies designed to engage busy tots.My busy boxes are the same concept with a different storage solution. These 5×12 boxes are stored with activities that encourage fluency practice for everything from counting to phonics.
Last week, I shared that these boxes full of goodies make my preschooler feel like he’s receiving a gift each morning. And he is! The gift of learning, that is (*wink). However, another pro to these boxes is that they don’t have to be used for formal learning, per se. You can store them with loads of fun and interesting objects that encourage creative learning.
So, what’s on the agenda for this week? Adding! We’ve reviewed counting, number recognition and matching, sequencing, and now it’s time to dabble with a little addition. We’ve reviewed addition many times before, but of course with young children, repetition is key to mastery.
This week’s busy box includes a Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, pony beads, fuzzy sticks, popsicle sticks, drawing paper, and three markers. All items can be purchased at Walmart or Dollar Tree. If you’re wondering why I only offer three markers at a time, it’s because my three-year-old is learning to place the caps back onto them. We’ve had one too many dried-out markers!
As always, we like to complete our worksheet first. I include worksheets in these boxes because I can save and keep records of them to track my three-year-old’s progress. This week, I’m offering these simple, yet fun, Preschool Addition Facts worksheets for FREE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom. Head on over to take advantage!
Next, we have a little “adding” fun with our pony beads and fuzzy sticks. Using the worksheet as my guide, I prepared seven fuzzy sticks by adding the exact number of beads to match the number of crayons on the left side of the worksheet. My preschooler then adds more beads to the fuzzy sticks, matching the number of crayons on the right side of the worksheet. This illustration ensures he internalizes the concept that adding two numbers together means the total sum is “more.”
We take the same concept of our pony beads illustration and apply it to the popsicle sticks. Using different manipulatives helps a child internalize that the sum of one set of numbers will be the same regardless of the objects used. Therefore, 3 popsicle sticks plus 2 popsicle sticks will equal 5 popsicle sticks, just as 3 beads plus 2 beads will equal 5 beads.
Lastly, I must include markers and drawing paper for some freestyling fun. To make the most of this busy box, your preschooler can try categorizing the pony beads by color, count how many beads each color group has, and then determine which group has the greatest and least number of beads. Or, he can make a popsicle stick masterpiece (if you include Elmer’s glue in the box), make their own bracelets with the pony beads and fuzzy sticks, or simply decorate the popsicle sticks using markers.
Download your FREE Preschool Addition Facts worksheet, here!
Don’t forget to grab these latest FREEBIES at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!