Kindergarten Home Letter W, X, Reading, Math, amp More

I am teaching young children again! Not my own children this time, but the children of a very good friend. See our original post about this adventure here. Each week I plan to share our plans, which I did for Letter W here and Letter X here, and I also plan to share after our week is done so you can see my students in action!

Looking for Past Weeks?

I am excited to share all about our twenty-third and fourth week together, with a focus on the LETTER W and X! In addition to a letter focus each week we do several other things, which I will also share with you. Since I only have my students two days a week {3 hours each day}, we cram a lot into a short time! I also provide their parents with activities to do at home.

Affiliate links are used in this post.

All About Reading Level 1

My students used All About Reading Pre-reading during the first half of the year and after using the placement test from AAR in December, I could see that they were ready to begin Level 1! Over these 2 weeks, we worked on reviewing CVC words!


Letter W & X Fun

We enjoyed several different activities, most from my site! I will link everything we used below!

The letter activities shown below are included with our Ultimate PreK/Kindergarten @ Home Membership – which is the best way to get your hands on everything we offer, see the cost savings here!

Below you can see AK and Ki doing the following activities:

Raising Lil Rock Stars Letter W & X

While the kids color I tell them the story and we review the items on the display board {shapes, colors, numbers}. They also do tracing at home for homework!


Letter  Toys & Puzzles

I love setting up fun letter displays and playing with the items. See more ideas here!

Letter Books

We read tons of books featuring the Letter W and X! See all of our Letter W book ideas here and Letter X book ideas here.

You Can Read Word Family OP

We are using You Can Read Word Families in addition to our reading lessons. Word families are a great way to build confidence in reading CVC words. It also helps us review rhyming, and focus on word patterns. We are taking 2 weeks for each word family,  we worked the _op family.

Mouse’s First Spring Literature Unit

We finished up a really fun spring theme unit using our Kindergarten Literature Unit and our Spring Kindergarten Printables! These are the plans I share with their parents {and also use myself to keep on track}:

Easter Theme

During our Letter X week, we enjoyed some Easter learning fun since it was around the time of Easter, find the free printables here! These are the plans I share with their parents {and also use myself to keep on track}:

Morning Message

We recently began a morning message notebook. I write them a message before they come to my house. They sit down with a highlighter and highlight any words they can read on their own. Then we read the message together. I always include a “prompt” of some sort. Below you can see Ki Writing some beginning sounds.

Calendar Notebook

They work on their monthly calendar notebooks at home and also with me on the days they are at my house.

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Letter X Printables, Books, and Ideas

I am teaching young children again! Not my own children this time, but the children of a very good friend. See our original post about this adventure here. One of the ways I plan to share with the parents of the kids I am teaching is through the use of Google Slides. I am creating slides to show what we are using so they can see and also so they can easily share with friends. In addition to sharing with them, I will be sharing with you!


Looking for previous letter posts?


Letter X Plans

You can see our plans for LETTER X here! You’ll find direct links to things we are using, and other links to help plan a Letter X unit! I decided to use Google Slides so I can update them easily in the future if needed! Click here or on the image below to see all of the activities we used, our lesson plans, and links to everything!

Letter X Books

I am also creating book collections for each letter so I remember to pull out certain books each week! Planning like this in advance really helps me remember all of my ideas! As I get older, the ideas vanish at times!

Here is a link to our Letter X Books! I will be using books we own as well as books from the library when able.


Why are we doing a letter-of-the-week approach?

Honestly, to keep my brain in order. Going from A to Z and focusing on a letter at a time helps me stay organized. Now, we won’t ONLY be focusing on that letter. This is just a simple way to have fun with letters and sounds through printable activities, hands-on items, and books!

What grade/age is this appropriate for?

I am not big on labeling kids between the ages of 3-6 because they are all so different! Tot School, Preschool, Pre-K, and Kindergarten have what I call “blurry lines” and a child doesn’t always fit into a specific grade. The plans I am sharing are appropriate for kids who are learning letters, and basic early childhood skills {rhyming, opposites, basic K math skills, colors, shapes, patterns, etc.}. When you follow along with us, you’ll see how I am working with my students at their own pace, rather than identifying a specific grade level. It is a mix of Pre-K and Kindergarten and will progress as needed. Much of what I create is labeled “Kindergarten” but is appropriate for many younger and even older kids. Use our assessment to guide your choices. Feel free to adjust and choose activities based on where YOUR child is at rather than what GRADE they should be in! That’s the beauty of homeschool!

Will we use the same activities each week, for each letter?

No! If I find my students don’t like a particular activity, I will probably choose something else {unless it is something I feel is absolutely necessary}. There are SO many options, many I have created myself, but they don’t need to do every single letter X printable out there. That’s silly. I will choose several based on what I think they will enjoy and will meet them at their level. It may change from week to week and you’ll be able to see what we use in our Google Slides for each letter, which I plan to post about as we move along!

Is this all we are doing?

No! Our themes will be based on our Kindergarten Literature Units.  We will also be doing a few other things, which you can see in the Google Slides! In addition to sharing our plans {like this post}, I am also writing posts after each week is complete. Stay tuned for Letter X in action!

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Summer Nature Study Observations Printable for Kids

Summer Nature Study Observations Printable for Kids Post Preview: Nature studies are a terrific activity year-round, and there is so much in nature to observe during the active summer months! Kids can use this summer nature observation page to record plants, animals, and other things they see outside. Summertime is time that many of us … Read More about Summer Nature Study Observations Printable for Kids

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Daily Learning Notebook and Calendar Printables for Catholic Kids

Right in time for planning for the 2021 – 2022 school year, I have updated the 81-page Daily Learning Notebook and Calendar Printables Packet for Catholic Kids to change the dated items for the 2021 – 2022 school year. As before, the packet still includes undated pages for every dated page it contains as well. … Read More about Daily Learning Notebook and Calendar Printables for Catholic Kids

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Ivy Kids vs. Kiwi Crate Which one is best

Disclosure: I received a sample from Ivy Kids in exchange for this review.  


If you have ever been interested in a subscription activity box for your child, one name has surely come up time and again due to their broad marketing reach.  We have both purchased and been gifted Kiwi Crate subscription boxes and have done MANY reviews on Ivy Kids subscription boxes as well.  Let’s compare Ivy Kids vs. Kiwi Crate:  I’ll share my honest thoughts on which we prefer and why.


If your child is a preschooler or at an early elementary-age, you simply cannot beat Ivy Kids.  Each Ivy Kids box is literature-based and comes with a BOOK (a high-quality piece of children’s literature, not just some random cheap book) as well as ALL the materials you need for around TWELVE activities all revolving around the theme of that book.  Within those 12 activities included, you will find a wide variety of concepts and modalities addressed.


Number of Activities and Parent-Participation

Our experience with Kiwi Crate for this age has been relatively frustrating.  Each subscription box comes with one “main” activity and then maybe 2 other simple activities (as opposed to the ~12 in Ivy Kids).  In our experience, the Kiwi Crate activities are not independent and basically require full parent participation.  Ivy Kids also requires some parent participation, especially as you set up each individual activity, but once you get them started, many activities can then be done independently.


Quality of Materials

Both kits incorporate high-quality materials.  I have been impressed with this on both sides.  However, Ivy Kids has SO many more activities that it includes so many more materials, including an amazing book you can add to your home library long after the other activities have been completed!  Every time we receive an Ivy Kids box, I am always amazed how so much can fit into such a small box!  From the quality of the paper



Small Business vs. Large Company

Ivy Kids was started by Taseea Cruz, a mother of three and early childhood educator turned stay at home mom.  Her company was born out of her desire and passion for spending intentional time with her children and creating meaningful, educational activities for them (which resonates with me as this is why I created this website as well).  I love that purchasing an Ivy Kids subscription box means supporting a small business and family rather than a large company!


Domains of Development

Kiwi Crate usually comes with one activity that has a “wow” factor along with maybe 1-2 other “supporting actor” activities.  But once those activities have been created, the kit is pretty much finished until the next month.  Each Kiwi Crate might hit on one domain of early childhood development whereas Ivy Kids kits typically incorporate an activity in at least 4 areas of early childhood development, which are:

  • Gross Motor Development
  • Fine Motor Development
  • Language Development
  • Cognitive Development
  • Social/Emotional Development
  • Self-Help or Adaptive Development



In conclusion, I will continue to proclaim Ivy Kids as THE BEST subscription kit out there for preschool and early-elementary aged kiddos!  Once children get a little bit older, Kiwi Crate is a good option that tailors to an older audience.


See our past Ivy Kids kit reviews here:



Summer Reading BINGO for Older Kids with a gigantic book list


In an effort to get my boys (ages 13 and 11) to branch out of their literary ruts, I created this Summer Reading BINGO for Older Kids that includes several different genres to choose from.  I have one child who only wants to read sports biographies during his independent reading time and another child who just reads the same book over and over.  We normally do some type of summer reading incentive so I am excited to force them out of their comfort zones this year!  Our local library gives out a similar BINGO for adults during the summer but I thought it would be fun for tweens and teens as well.


I also feel like categorizing the type of book  a child is reading is helpful in many ways, as it helps create a framework that is beneficial for comprehension.


>>>>  Download the Summer Reading BINGO board here!  <<<<


Psst- if you are looking for summer reading suggestions for younger kids, be sure to check out these summer reading printables.


Summer Reading BINGO Book Suggestions

Genres in order from left to right, top to bottom on the BINGO board (links are affiliate links).

**denotes our family favorites


Picture Book Biographies

Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwanda and Bryan Mealer

The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barb Rosenstock

Florence Nightingale by Demi

The Oldest Student:  How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Through the Wardrobe:  How C.S. Lewis Created Narnia by Lina Maslo




**On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (and subsequent books in The Wingfeather Saga) by Andrew Peterson

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

The Scourge by Jennifer Nielsen

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Redwall by Brian Jacques



Book Based on a Video Game

Trapped in a Video Game series by Dustin Brady

Diary of a Minecraft Zombie by Zack Zombie



Science Fiction

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Shadow Cipher (York series) by Laura Ruby



Audio Book

**By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan



Graphic Novels

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The Drawing Lesson by Mark Crilley

**The Faithful Spy by John Hendrix

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table by Marcia Williams

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale



Books of Poetry

**Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood

Swimming Upstream:  Middle School Poems by Kristine O’Connell George



Adventure Novels

**The Bark of the Bog Owl by Jonathan Rogers

**The False Prince (and subsequent books in the Accendance series) by Jennifer Nielsen

Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner

Peak by Roland Smith

Jasper and the Riddle of Riley’s Mine by Caroline Starr Rose


Books of the Bible

Any book of the Bible will be great and although your child might choose the shortest (here’s looking at you, III John), here are a few that might be good places to start for tweens and teens:

Genesis, Luke, Acts, or Ephesians



Dystopian Novels

The obvious books that come to mind first are  The Hunger Games or Divergent.  However, these books can be pretty intense so if you aren’t ready for your child to read those books yet, here are some other options:

**The Giver by Lois Lowry

Sylo by D.J. Machale

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Dry by Near Shusterman (this is YA, not middle grade – there is some language and violence in this book so only appropriate for 13+, in my opinion)

The Gifting by K.E. Ganshert



Book About Science

How We Got to the Moon by John Rocco



Picture Books

Even big kids can learn something from a good picture book!

**Redcoats and Petticoats by Katherine Kirkpatrick

Dandelions by Eve Bunting

**Ronnie Wilson’s Gift by Francis Chan

**Go and Do Likewise  by John Hendrix


Sports Biographies/Fiction

I originally only had intended to have biographies but there are some fun historical fiction books about various baseball players that I think kids would really enjoy as well!

Epic Athletes: Patrick Mahomes by Dan Wetzel

The Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffee

Jackie and Me by Dan Gutman

Babe and Me by Dan Gutman

The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson



Realistic Fiction Novel

**The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

**Restart by Gordon Korman

Unplugged by Gordon Korman



Classic Literature

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Call of the Wild by Jack London



Chapter Book Biography

Who Was?  books on historical figures

The Story of All-Star Athlete Jim Thorpe by Joseph Bruchac

*End of the Spear by Steve Saint (please note:  this book includes several accounts of violence, only approrpriate for 13+)

Christian Heroes then and Now books



Historical Fiction Novel

**The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

**A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

**A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen

**Refugee by Alan Gratz

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry



Comic Book





**The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands



How-to Guide

Beginner’s Step-by-Step Coding Course by DK

How to Speak Chicken by Melissa Caughey




Nonfiction Historical Time Period or Event

Boys in the Boat by Gregory Mone

History:  From the Dawn of Civilization to the Present Day by Smithsonian Institute

**God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew

**Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong



e**The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank


Travel Book

National Geographic:  Destinations of a Lifetime 

The Bucket List:  1000 Adventures Big and Small by Kath Stathers

Atlas Obscura:  An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders


Exploration Education Advanced Physical Science Review

Exploration Education is a blog sponsor and we received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. All opinions expressed are my personal, honest opinions. You can read my full disclosure policy for more details. 

Taking a look back through our high school curriculum choices, there are very few programs that we have used consistently with all four of our children. There is one that definitely makes the cut though – every single time: Advanced Physical Science from Exploration Education.

We first heard of the program from a local friend and decided to use it in a small co-op setting for Laurianna’s physical science high school credit, way back in 2014. Since that time the company has made a few minor adjustments to the program, but the result is still an amazing, hands-on program that our children have loved and learned from! Next year our youngest will be starting his freshman year and we already have our box of material ready to go and plan to use it alongside a friend so our boys can enjoy the experiments and learning together.

About Exploration Education’s Advanced Physical Science

Featuring daily lessons broken down over thirty-six weeks, Exploration Education’s Advanced Physical Science class includes everything your family will need to earn a full high school credit. Rather than a dry curriculum, the program allows students to learn science concepts by using a hands-on and project-based approach: building, creating, and exploring through lab activities.

Each level of the program includes all the needed materials for the year (see a full list here).

  • Instructional Materials — student logbook, teacher’s manual, online access to the interactive student text.
  • Project Materials — motors, wood, solar panel, wire, bulbs, wheels, rubber bands, magnets, Alka-seltzer, etc.
  • Experiment Materials — nails, paper clips, sandpaper, pH paper, string, balloons, wire, steel wool, etc.
  • Templates and Sticker Pages — project templates, sticker pages, experiment supplements, etc.

Using the text and lab activities, students study forces, machines, motion, energy, electricity, magnetism, sound, light, density and buoyancy. Students will also study general chemistry concepts including the structure of matter, the periodic table, chemical bonds and reactions, mixtures and compounds and the chemistry of food and living systems. In addition, students will learn the fundamental physics concepts of the earth and solar system, thermodynamics, and fluid dynamics. Throughout this course, students discover the relationship between science and daily life. The students will gain a solid understanding of the scientific method and learn to write thorough and accurate lab write-ups.

course description of Advanced Physical Science

Watch a brief video overview here

Our Experiences with Advanced Physical Science

Advanced Physical Science from Exploration Education is the only science program we have consistently used in high school with our children, and I am so thankful to the mom who introduced us to the program so many years ago! Our three oldest have thoroughly enjoyed the program and projects, and we have so many fun memories over the years of the different labs we have worked on individually and with our friends.

A typical week using Advanced Physical Science involves daily lessons with the first three lessons covering the overall concept for the week and the final two lessons going a little deeper and focusing on lab write-ups. The student text is online and interactive (when you first receive your program, you will register online and students will work through the lessons online).

Students read the chapters on their computer and then answer questions on the computer and use their logbook to record their answers. Each of the 36 chapters are broken down into five lessons in the student logbooks (i.e. 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5) for students to complete and also use as review for quizzes and exams.

As a parent, I appreciate the variety the program offers: online and interactive text, the student workbooks to fill out, as well as the hands-on projects because it appeals to different learning styles, helping children remember and recall information by using these various methods. Our hands-on learners loved the building and creating, and lesson concepts were cemented into his mind because of this learning. The same child may have loved the steamboat project solely because it involved the use of matches.

With two of our children, we used the program as a part of a small co-op and it was a great fit. During the week we would study the lessons and work on experiments independently, and then once a week the co-op group would work on additional experiments and review the learning material together. Our co-op time was usually about an hour and a half or so – just enough to squeeze in a little more learning and review together if there were any experiments gone awry.

Personally, I love the way Advanced Physical Science incorporates so many different learning styles as it introduces science concepts. While some of the projects are more typical (completing a circuit, for example), the program includes a large amount of science projects and labs that you don’t typically see, such as the steamboat and the miniature house construction. These were some of our favorite projects because of that very fact.

What Moms Need to Know

Having the entire curriculum packaged neatly in a box for you is definitely a huge plus to this program! Each of the activities is neatly packaged and labeled, ready to be pulled out and used with your children. Literally all you need is inside the box, so all you have to do is activate your online access to the interactive text and start learning.

Teacher’s Guide – Each program includes a teacher’s guide with detailed helps, including blank quarterly exams, answer keys, and a grading rubric. As with any program, I highly recommend reading through the manual prior to starting. There is also a short online overview for teachers to go through online with tips for users.

Time Required – 36 weeks/5 lessons per week. Each lesson takes and average of 45 minutes to one hour. Also includes 40 lab hours.

Grading/Assessment: The teacher’s manual includes an area to record your student’s grades and progress. Throughout the course there are quizzes (vocabulary and section reviews) as well as quarterly exams. Grades are calculated using an average of weekly activity, quizzes, and exams.

Parental involvement: varies based on child, but time each week may require more assistance depending on your child since some experiments/builds require more detail and focus. For parents of children who like to skip steps, your attention to detail may benefit your child greatly. For example, SAVE YOUR EXPERIMENT MATERIALS because some of them will be used in future lessons (just ask me how I know).

Worldview – Text is written from a neutral worldview.

High School Credit: one high school credit can be awarded for this class. Approximately 150 hours with 40 hours of labs.

Perfect for grades 7-10.

Something for ALL Age Levels

Exploration Education offers three levels of science programs: Elementary (K -3rd), Standard (4th – 6th), and Advanced (7th – 10th). Learn more about the different levels HERE.

You can purchase any of the programs from Exploration Education on their website. Additional logbooks or kits can be purchased for students if you are working on the program with multiple children.

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Its Been Awhile, Hasnt It

Around the blog this past year, I’ve been quiet for the most part with the exception of sharing a little life update back in August. Considering we’ve been home the majority of the time and life has completely slowed down (comparatively speaking), it would seem that the opposite would be true. That said, life with four teens at home is nothing short of full. 🙂

Keeping up with school has been, at times, challenging – mainly keeping motivation going for both the kids and myself. College options are going back and forth with McKenna and Laurianna, and life is moving along in general.

Rather than sharing an exhaustive list of all that is happening in our lives, how about a quick sum-up?

  • Laurianna returned home in October 2020 (FINALLY) from Mercy Ships where she had been serving since May 2019.
  • Swim competitions began opening up, slowly but surely. At the end of March we even traveled to Florida for two big swim meets for the boys (so thankful they will both be in the same age group meets next year!). Zachary even had a chance to meet a few Olympic swimmers including Caeleb Dressel (pictured above) and Ryan Lochte.
  • McKenna and Zachary both started working at the same restaurant and have been loving their jobs
  • Zachary is now an officially licensed driver, after so many delays thanks to slooooooow mail and other restrictions.
  • We’ve enjoyed continuing with a small weekly co-op for literature and chemistry with Zachary and a few other high school kids (all girls – poor Zachary).
  • We are prepping for McKenna’s high school graduation and contemplating what her fall will look like.

In March I also traveled to Nashville to speak at Teach Them Diligently, where I was able to spend some time with one of my best friends, Carisa. I am so thankful we were able to see each other and incredibly thankful to be able to spend a few days relaxing. The trip to Nashville was the first time since everything shut down last March that I was by myself – literally a year. (Hear me on this – I love my family, but it was nice to just be completely alone for a few days!!)

A few weeks ago, while Rick and I were sitting on the beach and the kids were playing around in the water together as the sun was setting, I was honestly overwhelmed (and started crying) as we were watching the kids together. Life is far from perfect in our household. There are lots of stories and things that happen behind the scenes that aren’t shared for all the world to know (you know, respecting privacy and all). But in that moment – seeing them all together laughing, talking, and just being together – it was just so amazingly wonderful.

I’m probably feeling overly sentimental these days again as we prepare to graduate McKenna from high school and in a few short months send Laurianna off to Minnesota to start college. McKenna is weighing her options for school this fall as well and will likely start off with community college for now.

That’s the teeny, tiny nutshell of happenings in our home for the time being and in no way exhaustive because life is moving along.

How has your year been going?

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