20 of the best picture books from 2015

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20 of the best picture books from 2015
Written by Jamie Martin of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

Can you believe we’re creeping slowly toward the end of another year?

One thing I love about the holiday season for us as homeschoolers, is that we quiet our “school” day a bit and make extra time for other pursuits: plenty of time in the kitchen and, of course, lots and lots of books!

I thought it might be helpful if I compiled a selection for all of us to choose from, which turned into this post!

Some of these books are silly; some are sweet. Some will make your kids snort with laughter; some will bring tears to eyes. Some have received official accolades and book awards; some are personal favorites. Some you may want to check out from the library; some you may want to put on your holiday wish lists!

One note: Because of the way book awards are handled by Caldecott and the American Library Association, some of these titles officially launched in 2014, though they are considered 2015 award winners.

Picture books are generally assumed to be for ages 4-8, but many of these could go younger or older, depending on the child! You’ll be able to tell what’s best for your little people.

20 of the best picture books from 2015

Here they are, alongside excerpts from reviews they’ve been given:
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60 TV shows recommended for ages 8-12 (with a printable chart)

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60 TV shows for ages 8-12
Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom

After a decade of use and about a year of saving, Steve and I finally entered the 21st century a few weeks ago when we purchased a new widescreen television and got rid of our old tube model–the one my nana bought for us right after Jonathan (now 10) was born!

This purchase was both exciting and overwhelming. We knew we could stream our Netflix membership and Amazon Prime account to the set, but with Apple TV we can also stream other channels–many of which we would not normally watch. (This is even without having cable!)

Our kids, who generally choose one show each on Saturdays and Sundays, were clamoring at their newfound options. And I knew I needed to undertake a tv research project to sort it all out and make sure we use our new screen intentionally.

I asked on my Facebook page about your favorite shows for the 8-12 age range, then went through the responses one by one. After two weeks I’ve finally finished this undertaking for our family, and I hope you’ll find it helpful for yours, too.

In the list below I’ve included shows that can be found on Amazon Prime Streaming, Discovery Education Streaming, Netflix Streaming, and Netflix DVD.
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5 minutes to a more satisfying homeschool day

Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins

When I was a little girl, there was one question that came up every day.

The actual days were all different. I would go to school, and then I might have soccer practice or dance lessons or scouts or choir, but at the end of it all, my mom would always ask, “What did you do today?”

I would say the same thing every day, the same thing you probably said every day, the same thing most kids say most days. “What did you do today?”


I did nothing. We all did nothing.

That can’t have been true for all of us, every day, year after year. I hope.

Now I’m at home with my own kids all day every day. I know for sure that they did not do “nothing.” They have never spent a day doing nothing in their entire lives. But when their dad walks in the door after work and asks what they did today, guess what they say?

Unless we took a field trip or were visited by aliens, he usually hears: “Oh, nothing.”

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Learning from the natural world this summer


Written by Rachel Turiel of 6512 and Growing

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

In the summer we take our school outside. We jump into this fleeting season where every living thing seems to sing its own resounding song. We camp, hike, garden, frolic in the yard, and turn the kids loose in the mountains to explore the ancient relationship between a columbine flower and swallowtail butterfly.

I trust that in the natural world there is an education for all.

Not an education to strive for or manage, but to sink into, to allow. We shelve the workbooks and trust in the collaborative learning tools found at the river: water, sand, sticks, rocks, innovative minds and busy hands.

How our family benefits from unstructured time outside:

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Slowing down and making summer memories


Written by Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

I‘ve read a lot – and even written a lot – on the internet over the last few weeks about summer activities, summer reading lists, summer bucket lists, and so on.

I’m all for summer activities. I signed up for Kids Bowl Free a month ago. I’ve got a copy of the cheap summer movie line-up on my phone. My kids are away at church camp even as I type this and there is plenty on their to-do list for when they get back home.

I can’t help think, though, that we need to be sure to take time to slow down and savor the summer. We, as a society, are busy. All. The. Time.

I think it’s important for families to slow down, be lazy, and put “make memories” at the top of those summer bucket lists – and not the go-go-go sort of memories either, but the kind that are often born of an empty schedule and time together. [Read more…]