Tag: 1st grade

Best Pumpkin Books for Kids

Best Pumpkin Books for Kids

October is a wonderful time to curl up on the couch and read the best pumpkin books with your children.

Head over to the library, and check out these titles!Best Pumpkin Books for Kids | read aloud, pumpkin picture books for children, recommended books, stories for kids

(Did you get your FREE pumpkin-themed invitations to play download?)

Before we kick off any unit of study, I always like to begin with a big stack of picture books. I place them all in a basket in the living room, near the couch. The girls browse through them often throughout the day, and make a list of activity ideas for later in the month.

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

Our all-time favorite pumpkin book is Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell. This classic book weaves a story about a boy named Tim and his jack o’lantern.  My girls love this book and talk about it all winter long.

Best Pumpkin Books: Fiction

One book we love is Pumpkin Day by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. The end pages show the pumpkin patch in all four seasons, and the book blends an adorable story about a mouse family with lots of additional resources like:

  • recipes
  • jokes
  • parts of a pumpkin
  • and the pumpkin life cycle

If you have a toddler, your family may enjoy Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yacccarino. This sturdy board book is a great introduction to counting to five and would be fun to act out with your little one. (Note: this book does feature “scary” Halloween characters, like a ghost and witch.)

We also love The Biggest Pumpkin Surprise Ever! by Steven Kroll. This book has lots of flaps to lift, pumpkins to count, and an incredible amount of conversation starters for 3, 4, and 5 year olds.

Finally, if your children can handle a longer story, you might want to check out Peter Rabbit and Pumpkin Patch based on the stories by Beatrix Potter. This book features beautiful illustrations and great vocabulary–a sweet addition to any family library.

Best Pumpkin Books for Kids | read aloud, pumpkin picture books for children, recommended books, stories for kids

Best Pumpkin Books: Non-Fiction 

While my girls love reading fiction, I think it’s important to include non-fiction text as well. Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson includes beautiful, real-life photographs from a pumpkin farm. Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie is another non-fiction book that features real-life photography from National Geographic. These books are perfect for families who can’t make it to a patch in real life.


Shop the Best Pumpkin Books for Kids:


As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, we like to store our unit books in an obvious, can’t-miss spot in the living room. Since we homeschool, we often use picture books instead of a textbook for science and history studies–but many of these books can also be enjoyed during family read-aloud time.

Check out 12 Ways to Incorporate Reading Into Your Day!

Did I miss any of the best pumpkin books? Share your recommendation below!

Best Pumpkin Books for Kids | read aloud, pumpkin picture books for children, recommended books, stories for kids

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Best Apple Books for Kids

Best Apple Books for Kids

September is here, and we are starting our family apple unit study!

Best Apple Books for Kids | picture book recommendations, apple books for toddlers, apple books preschool, apple unit study

I love this time of year. We are entering our sixth year of homeschooling, and every year we start with our apple activities. Now that we live in the Midwest, we even get to take a family field trip to the apple orchard later this month!

(Did you get your FREE apple-themed invitations to play download?)

Before we kick off any unit of study, I always like to begin with a big stack of picture books. I place them all in a basket in the living room, near the couch. The girls browse through them often throughout the day, and make a list of activity ideas for later in the month.

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.)

Our all-time favorite apple book is Secrets of the Apple Tree from Usborne Books and More. I love the interactive aspect of the book, as well as all the science information! The girls love using a flashlight to find all the hidden pictures. Secrets of the Apple Tree is definitely the BEST of the best apple books for kids. (Learn more about the book here in my UBAM store.)

Best Apple Books for Kids | picture book recommendations, apple books for toddlers, apple books preschool, apple unit study

Best Apple Books: Fiction

One book we love is Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace. The end pages feature illustrations of the apple tree in all four seasons. The book features a family of rabbits who go to the orchard. Throughout the book, there are lots of opportunities for discussion and learning, including:

  • a chart of different varieties of apples, their attributes, and uses
  • a diagram of the different parts of an apple
  • recipes
  • an art project
  • and even an apple song (with sheet music!)

Our friend Vicki at Babies to Bookworms recommended The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall. It tells the story of an apple tree throughout all four seasons through the eyes of two young children. (And the last page of the book includes more details about the pollination process and a recipe for apple pie!) Be sure to visit Vicki’s site for activity ideas for this great book.

With a first grader in the family this year, I also checked out Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore. Nancy’s class takes a trip to the apple orchard and learns a lesson about following directions and friendship. As always, this Fancy Nancy book introduces lots of excellent new vocabulary words!


Best Apple Books for Kids | picture book recommendations, apple books for toddlers, apple books preschool, apple unit study

Best Apple Books: Non-Fiction 

While my girls love reading fiction, I think it’s important to include non-fiction text as well. Julie Murray’s Apples features a table of contents, a glossary, and an index. The pictures are bright and colorful, and the text is just right for 2nd and 3rd grade readers (and for family read-aloud time)!

How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro is a terrific overview of the pollination process for elementary students and preschoolers with a longer attention span. We will definitely use this one for our science lessons this year!

Gail Gibbons is one of our family’s favorites authors, so of course we grabbed her Apples book. This book includes a little of the history of apples in the United States, including a brief mention of Johnny Appleseed. (If you have elementary-age children, they might enjoy Who Was Johnny Appleseed?, a longer biography about John Chapman.)


Shop the Best Apple Books for Kids:


As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, we like to store our unit books in an obvious, can’t-miss spot in the living room. Since we homeschool, we often use picture books instead of a textbook for science and history studies–but many of these books can also be enjoyed during family read-aloud time.

Check out 12 Ways to Incorporate Reading Into Your Day!

Did I miss any of the best apple books? Share your recommendation below!

Best Apple Books for Kids | picture book recommendations, apple books for toddlers, apple books preschool, apple unit study

Flexible Family Schedule: Fall 2017

Flexible Family Schedule: Fall 2017


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Just last week, I posted on Instagram that we had hit our summer “sweet spot.” My two girls have been getting along, playing creatively…for long periods of time…with very little direction from me.

Now it’s time to switch gears and get back to school (home school, that is). Cooler weather is coming, and so are our family routines.

For the last month or so, I’ve been reading The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families for our online Mom’s Book Club. Thanks to Lindsay’s wisdom, I’ve been getting up an hour earlier to set the tone for the day.

Mornings are the key to it all.

Now that I’m awake earlier, we’re gradually moving toward our full fall school schedule, which will kick off officially the week of Labor Day. Addie is going into 4th grade this year, and Katie will be a 1st grader. For the first time in our six-year homeschooling career, we have TWO school-age students, and we’re so excited!


Related: My Biggest Mistake as a Mom


All summer long, we have done read-aloud time first in our day. For our fall semester, we decided to move read-aloud time (and other fun topics!) to after lunch. Since both girls will have a heavier workload this year, we’ve decided to do our core subjects immediately after breakfast, when we’re all feeling our best.

Here’s a peek at our fall homeschooling schedule:

  • Morning chores & breakfast
  • Classes will start at 9:00 a.m. (I’ll start with K’s first grade lessons while A completes her independent work. Once Katie has finished, Addie and I will do fourth grade math and grammar together.)
  • The girls will have lunch and outside time from noon until 1:30. I’ll use most of that time for lesson-planning and blog-writing.
  • At 1:30, we’ll come together for read-aloud time, music, art projects, and AWANA memory work.
  • From 2:30-3:30, the girls will have independent reading time, finish up any school work, and play quietly.
  • At 3:30, they’ll be officially “dismissed” until dinner time.

We have gym class on Wednesday mornings, so our schedule will be a little different one day a week.

Check out our homeschooling schedule for this fall! (4th grade and 1st grade) | flexible family schedule, homeschooling, design your day


A quick note:

We believe STRONGLY in learning through play for young children. (See here and here for more details.) As a not-quite-6-year old, our Katie will have LOTS of opportunities for free play throughout her day. I’ll also be using invitations to play to practice her skills while Addie and I are doing lessons together. Since K is an auditory learner, I know she will enjoy playing nearby.

Addie (9) is a visual learner and benefits from direct instruction and lots of repetition. We are working on building confidence and independence this year, as well as breathing through frustration and practicing positive self-talk. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that each of our girls can get a personalized education!

MotherStyles is one of our favorite parenting books!


Create a Flexible Family Schedule | family time, indoor activities, outdoor activities, back to school routines

We like to use our weekly calendar template to create our flexible family schedule!

The benefit of a flexible family schedule is that you can adjust your routines any time, regardless of the season. Some families prefer to have a full calendar, with lots of extracurricular activities…while some families prefer a more relaxed, spontaneous approach.

And then some families–or MOST families, I would imagine–are a mixture of both when it comes to their weekly schedule: some crazy busy and some that are totally light!

For that reason, I found that using a blank calendar template is best for our family. It allows me to see, at a glance, those open pockets of time where I can be a more intentional mother.

Fill in your information below, and I’ll send you a FREE copy of our calendar template, along with a menu of twenty, fun family activity ideas! This template is great for ALL families, not just homeschoolers.