Reading in 1st Series Review and Giveaway {Ended}

If you have a beginning reader, be sure to check out the Reading in 1st Series from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom.  She’s spent an incredible amount of time putting together printable booklets focusing on the 1st grade Dolch site words. 

Reading in 1st Cover Page (494x640)

In this creative series, you will find 20 unique printable books, using characters from stories such as Star Wars to Little Red Riding Hood to make learning more fun.  Each book states the site words of focus and contains paper tiles of the letters for each word to be cut and pasted into the corresponding blank word boxes.  Although my daughter isn’t a “gluey” kind of person, we switched up using the tiles and writing in the word boxes, with great success.

You’ll find a comprehension aspect to each book, for teacher-monitoring, as well as a bookmark of accomplishments for the reader’s self-monitoring.

While practicing with the books, you will have the chance to use word wall flashcards and practice words with a “Go Fish” game included in the file.

Recently we used the Life in the Arctic book (corresponding with our Polar Animals Unit) and the Ocean Animals book, which is our current unit of study (stay tuned for Wednesday’s post!). 

Reading in first

I especially like…

  • The diversity of the books. I can pull them out for holidays, science units, thematic studies, and even to go along-side literature we’re reading.
  • The repetition given for each site word.  When starting the Ocean Animals book, my daughter could read the word “know” but had a hard time spelling it.  By the end of the book she had both the reading and the writing of the word down pat.  Even coming back to the word  later, she remembered the spelling.
  • That my daughter has mixed practice with the words.  She gains experience in reading, writing, spelling (with pencil AND tiles), and verbalizing the words.
  • The graphics…yep, I’m a sucker for cute graphics! 
  • That my daughter can read the books pretty much independently (pictures help support difficult words), which gives her a boost of reading confidence.

My daughter said the  books were “fun” her eyes grew big with excitement when I informed her that we are reading the “How to Make Hot Chocolate” book this week as a supplement to her cooking class. 

Jill of Enchanted Homeschooling Mom has generously offered to give one of my readers the entire Reading in 1st Series.  I am excited for you to win because I think it’s a valuable and fun resource! 

How to Enter:

Leave a comment below telling me what you think you’d like best about these books and/or how you think you could use them with your beginning readers.

A winner will be chosen using Sunday evening, February 17th!  {Giveaway has ended}

If you can’t wait until then, you can access the Reading in 1st Series through the Enchanted Homeschooling Mom’s Member’s Only Website – an incredible resource of learning materials!

Feel free to check out my review of her Bernstein Bears Unit and at the same time learn about some other resources available on her Member’s Only Website!

Be sure to follow Enchanted Homeschooling Mom and No Doubt Learning to stay-tuned to see if you’ve won and discover other homeschooling resources! 

Disclosure: I was provided with the Reading in First Series at no cost by Enchanted Homeschooling Mom to help review her product and give my own personal opinion on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by Enchanted Homeschooling Mom or the free access provided.

Polar Animal Wrap-Up

To wrap up our Polar Animal studies, I’d like to share with you our free planning pages, in case you’d like to plan a polar animal unit for your own children. These pages are a working document, so you may find updates each time you access them. You’ll find a book list of both nonfiction and fiction books, as well as a variety of free activities for art, emergent readers, science, math and other subjects.  We even included links to live web cams, so you can check out polar animals out first-hand. Click the picture below to access this FREE Google document and enjoy having the work taken out of your planning!  Polar Animals Unit Resources

PS.  If you have any other Polar Animal freebies, let me know and I’d be happy to add them into the document. 

Thanks again to The Usual Mayhem, Journey 2 Excellence, Childhood Beckons, and Montessori Tidbits who joined in with our Polar Animal studies.  Be sure to check out their web sites for other learning ideas!

** Don’t forget to have your chance to win shark teeth and a $10 Amazon gift card.  The giveaway ends Friday evening! **

Science Wednesday: People of the Arctic Science Experiment

polar button

After learning about polar animals of the Arctic (here and here) and of the Antarctic, we went spent some time focusing on the people of the Arctic.  Over the past week, we’ve really enjoyed the Five in a Row book, “The Very Last First Time.”  This fictional story is based on the Inuit people who live in Ungava Bay in Northern Canada.  During the story, a little girl named Eva ventures off under the frozen top waters of the bay to collect mussels, while her mother waits for her on top of the ice.

My girls wanted to find out how Eva climbed under the ice, so we did a little science experiment to figure it out.

First, we filled 2 yogurt containers half way with water and placed them in the freezer for one hour (don’t forget to set the timer!).  When we took the containers out, they looked like this – completely frozen over…but we could see water jiggling underneath the ice.


My daughters used chopsticks to carefully poke a hole in the ice, just as Eva and her mother used tools to cut a hole in the ice of the bay.025Then they poured the water from under the ice out of the hole.  This represented the tide going out in the story.


Carefully, as to not disturb the ice, the girls placed Squinkies and goldfish crackers under the ice, to represent Eva and the tide pools under the bay.



  We followed the activity with writing poetry using a picture prompt (old calendar picture).  My kindergartener dictated while I did the writing.


Have you checked out The Usual Mayhem, Journey 2 Excellence, Childhood Beckons, and Montessori Tidbits yet?  They are also posting on Polar Animals this week and it concludes our studies of this region. Next week we’ll have a document for you to download some free Polar Animal lesson ideas and resources for your own learning adventures.  See you back here on Wednesday!

Linking to:

parents as teachers Teach Beside MeScience SundayNo Time For Flash Cards

This post contains an affiliate link.

Science Wednesday: Animals of Antarctica

polar buttonHappy Wednesday!  Last week I posted about the Arctic here and here…and here you will find my outline for the unit.  Now it’s time for teaching a little about the life on mysterious Antarctica!  Animals are the only inhabitants of the South Pole and there’s such a variety!

Much of what we did came from lapbooking sites.  HomeschoolShare offers polar lapbooking resources and there’s free penguin lapbook resources and killer whale lapbook resources at  They have some great lapbook templates to use. 



Much to my surprise, the Albatross captured the fascination of my girls.  Aside from our library books, we read facts from National Geographic where we could even listen to Albatross calls!  We compared the Albatross wingspan of 11 feet to areas in our house so we could see how ginormous they were.  Yes, their wingspan is even longer than Daddy is tall!!  RSPB Wildlife Explorers had some great information and and you can even make your own paper albatross, but we chose to make the Albatross Puppets from the National Wildlife Federation.  These were a HUGE hit and have been flying around the house for the past few days!


Penguins were such a fascinating topic.  My girls were impressed to find out that Emperor Penguins can grow as big as a 6-year-old!  My daughter is 6, so this was quite impressive!  National Geographic Kids had a great selection of penguin videos and pictures, among other facts.

There were several resources from that we used, including the Life Cycle of a Penguin and an easy reader using thumbprints to form penguins.  My daughter also read a free Penguin Party reader that we downloaded from Preschool Powol Packets.  The little readers we find help boost her reading confidence!


We tried walking like penguin males, holding the bean bag “egg” on our feet.  Boy, was it hard!!  Those penguins are really talented!001

I think our favorite penguin activity though, was getting our feet a little messy for our penguin footprints.



Krill were mentioned in a lot of our readings for this week.  To learn about krill, we used the small booklet from to record the facts we learned from both the video Antarctic Krill on and  National Geographic Kids, where you can see red swarms of krill on top of the water.  It’s amazing that these one to two-inch creatures are the basis of many food chains.  In fact, they are just a few steps below us!  For example, if you eat tuna or salmon, those animals eat krill.  They are an extremely important building block!

Blue-eyed Shag

Aren’t Blue-eyed Shag colorful?  At first look, these birds look a lot like penguins, but they are in fact birds that fly!  They are a form of cormorant that have an orange-colored growth that appears during mating season and strategically hunt for fish, floating on the water in what appears to be a raft-like cluster.  It’s interesting that these birds like to stay out of the ice and their babies are born without down to keep them warm.  Take a look at this video where you can see Rockhoppers, Blue-eyed Shag, and Black browed Albatross.  See if you can pick out the Blue-eyed Shag!  For the Blue-eyed Shag, we printed out a picture from online and wrote facts on a 3×5 card to glue into our lapbooks.


Just like the wolverine,  Enchanted Learning had an online coloring picture that both kids enjoyed coloring.  Aside from our library books, the National Geographic site had some additional facts and and it was so neat to listen to the audio (look on the site’s right menu) of what seals sound like!!  You can also check out Weddell Seals on, which are one of the largest species of seals.  My girls really enjoyed being able to see the animals in action.

While studying seals, we used straws to blow watercolors across a sheet of paper.  Doing this, created some interesting creations!  I fell in love with the kids art on Pinterest


A while ago, I fell in love with this post I saw on Pinterest and had to try out the seal art.  I simply cut around the girls watercolor creations and ended up with some adorable seals (which even led to a discussion on animal training).



We read numerous books about whales.  Aside from books, you can check out National Geographic Kids, offering information on the Blue Whale and the National Wildlife Federation explaining that the Blue whale are not only the  biggest, but loudest creatures on Earth.  If you are studying whiles after learning about krill, you might be interested in this short BBC video clip of whales hunting krill in Antarctica.

We recorded our facts on the back of construction paper whales.  After tracing a template from an image search, the girls “dressed” them up with bows.  It was good practice in tying bows for my kindergartener!


My girls are really into coloring right now, so we also printed off this Blue Whale coloring page to add into our lapbooks.



Sharks are almost everywhere, except….the waters of Antarctica!  The waters are much too cold for sharks to inhabit the area.  So on our study of the South Pole we crossed out sharks and added this symbol to our lapbook!

Next week I’ll be posting some general ideas for the polar regions, as well as some learning we’ve done about the people of the Arctic and scientists of the Antarctic.  Hope to see you back here next week!

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out The Usual Mayhem, Journey 2 Excellence, Childhood Beckons, and Montessori Tidbits who each have posted about Polar Animals this week. We’d love to have you follow along with each of us!

Linking to:

parents as teachers Teach Beside MeScience SundayNo Time For Flash Cards

This post contains affiliate links.

Science: Arctic Animals {Part 2}

I hope you caught a glimpse of my first Arctic Animal post last Wednesday.  Here’s a follow up offering even more animal activities to do with your young ones at home!

polar button

Arctic Hare

Who doesn’t love learning about bunnies?  With all of our focus on the large animals, it was nice to take a step back to the smaller ones.  The library book to the left was a great introduction to the animal.  The arctic hare has shorter ears than a regular rabbit and has an amazing ability to change fur color from brown in the summer months to white during the winter months.  By doing so, the hare is camouflaged so predators don’t attack.  Unfortunately, many of the animals we learned about were predators!  As an art project to our learning, we potato-stamped some rabbit art based on the rabbits from Nurture Store



Did you know that reindeer have a large reign?  The new vocabulary helped us understand that reindeer are amazing travellers!  Among many resources, the pictures in our library book (left) were amazing and helped us see reindeer as the true creatures they were – not just as a connection to Santa.  It was so much fun for the girls to see on a map that the Caribou live right above the United State in Canada! One of the activities we did was a picture-story.  I had an old calendar that had a picture of a Caribou and my kindergartener dictated a story to me.  The funny thing was that it included many characters from our house meeting up with the Caribou!


We also really enjoyed the free unit provided by The Teachers’ Cauldron.  We didn’t use all of the activities, but we organized our research, labeled reindeer parts (with little sister coloring the reindeer in), practiced our measuring, and wrote another story (although this one didn’t have ANYTHING to do with reindeer – I’ll take it – it’s writing!!)!  If you’re working on reindeer, I’d go check it out!


Snowy Owl

Snowy Owls don’t make nests in trees or cliffs – they make a hollow area in the ground to lay their eggs and nest.  We thought this was fascinating, given than the Arctic Foxes and other land animals were predators.  But, maybe it helps that the Arctic Owl is one of the biggest owls in the world!  Using the foldable provided by Homeschool Share, we recorded our research and my daughter made a thumbprint owl scene.  We’ve been very much enjoying Ed Emberley’s thumbprint art books lately, so it was a perfect tie in.


Not only that, but we also learned form our Arctic Memory game that many birds in the arctic have feathers down their legs to keep them warm in the chilly weather!

We played this game at the kindergarten level by laying out the cards picture-side-up.  I would show a picture and my girls would each look for that card.  As they were searching, I would read the facts about that animal or painting.  We then split the deck in half and were able to play 2 different games of memory.  It was great bringing a form of professional art into the lessons!

Arctic Fox

The Arctic Fox is similar to the Arctic Hare in that its fur changes color from summer to winter to blend in with the arctic conditions.  One of the most interesting fact we learned about the Arctic Fox was its relationship with the Polar Bear.  Arctic Foxes stay their distance from Polar Bears, but once a Polar Bear is done with its meal, the Arctic Fox is quick to finish up the leftovers. Another great lesson we learned was the difference between foxes and wolves.  My girls could pick up on the differences in pictures almost immediately, whereas I had a little more trouble!!

Again, we filed all of our pictures, notes, and interesting facts into our lapbook pockets. 


Other Arctic Activities

I wanted to take the time to also highlight a few other activities we’ve enjoyed with the Arctic portion of our Polar Unit. 

  • Check out Ana Capurro at Ingles 360, who has a some polar play dough mats and coloring sheets to identify Arctic items for free in her Facebook group.

072  073  082

  • The girls have also been free-playing with the little creatures from our Actic Toob.  At first we used them in our sensory tub, but they have been roaming the house ever since.  It’s so much fun to listen to their imagination as they entwine what they’ve learned with what they are playing.  Amazing how the food chain even comes into play!

  • Royal Baloo has a free downloadable kindergarten Arctic pack.  We used the math and Sudoku game from the pack.  It was our first experience with Sudoku and it was a success!!016
  • Probably the biggest learning experience for us though was to visit the snow this past weekend.  The girls really learned what it felt like to live in the Arctic.  Well, maybe not the “real” Arctic, but they had a whole new view of snow, ice in their boots, and managing around the slippery stuff.  Ah-ha!  That’s why many of the Arctic animals have wide paws, or grips on the pads of their feet!!

snow play 052 

Stay tuned for Wednesday post, when we share ideas from the South Pole.  It’s onto Antarctica!

This post contains affiliate links.

Science Wednesday: Arctic Animals {Part 1}

polar button

Did you grab a copy of my Polar Passport last week?  If you did, you’re all set to go!  This week we spent learning about Arctic Animals and you’ll find some teaching resources below while focusing on your own children! 

We decided to lap book this unit, so we put both world maps and polar maps on the front, with “fact file” pockets on the inside.  My kindergartener cut sealed envelopes in half, affixed polar stickers, and wrote the names of the arctic animals on the outside.  Next, we taped the pockets in pairs at the bottom, so they flip down (and all 8 are able to fit in one file).  Inside each “fact file” the girls included pictures the new facts they learned, online pictures, words, and maps of each of the animals living areas. (Note: We found lots of maps at, where we entered as a “”kid” and searched for the animal we were learning about).  We also included copies of the digital pictures of projects they made throughout the unit.  (The pictures of the lap book are as they are today, we still have several weeks of Polar learning ahead, so I’ll update them in future posts.)

110 146 145


136We love the Magic School Bus series, so the YouTube video was a great springboard into the lesson earlier this week.  It was a great reminder of the blubber science experiment we did during our hibernation unit.  It was great for the kids to realize that polar animals also use blubber to stay warm in the icy weather and water! 

The video created a second springboard of the kids wanting to create their own “Magic School Car” that would take them into the polar regions.  The car comes equipped with a door, headlights, wheels, and plenty of seating for all of their friends to tag along (although I have been told, they are not done with their creation!).  I’m sure it will be worked on for several more days.

Sensory Tub

Using a variety of arctic animals from the dollar store and toys around the house, I created a sensory tub to introduce many of the animals and objects we’ll be discussing.  To do this, you can use a dishpan, lots of cotton balls for snow, rice, a small shovel or scooper, lots of animals, and I threw in all the ice cubes from the Don’t Break the Ice Game.  The activity didn’t stay in the tub long.  Rather, the animals ended up in the doll house and bathtub, but the animals were an instant draw.  While they were in the tub, it gave us a chance to talk about camouflage.  It was so much harder to find the white colored animals in the cotton balls, just as it is with many polar animals in the snow.  In fact, challenge your children to find all the animals in 10 seconds and you may find that the white animals are the ones that are left behind before time expires!

Animals of the Arctic


Did you know that the wolverine has back teeth rotated 90 degrees to chomp it’s food…or that it can spray a scent similar to a skunk?  We read several articles about wolverines and learned that even though they look like bears in many ways, they are actually the largest species of the weasel family.  My kids were focused on the nickname “Skunk Bear,” so we grabbed a bottle of air freshener (too bad I didn’t have anything stinky) and did a quick experiment with gasses.  We first talked about how the wolverine  uses it’s scent to scare off predators and that led into a discussion about how the air is made of particles that move.  From across the room, I sprayed the air freshener and had my daughters tell me when they could smell it.  After a bit of a pause, they excitedly told me they could smell it.  The connection was made: Wolverines warn others to stay away from them with their smell…a smell that animals can be made aware of from a distance.

In addition, the girls each had their turn coloring a wolverine online, which was filed into the fact file, along with pictures we had drawn of the interesting facts we learned.


Narwhal whales have always been a favorite of mine, so I was glad to find this book at the library last week.  It has great facts for the kindergarten level including a life cycle diagram, which we were able to compare to our worm life cycles, and lots of great photos.  Among other things, we learned that Narwhal do not live near Alaska, but in other parts of the Arctic, the tusks are only grown by the males, and killer whales are one of their predators. There’s also a great photo inside of the Narwhal lined up at the edge of the ice during the summer.  We learned that whales are mammals and nurse their young, which was interesting to my kids because they live under water. Not only that, but the Narwhal sometimes float belly-up, so it looks like they are dead, which is how it has the nickname “corpse whale.”  Got to introduce some new vocabulary there!

You might have noticed in the “Magic School Car” above the porthole.  Well, of course, our car can go under water, so we made a porthole to look at all the Narwhal (all of which happen to be male and a little more colorful than they are in real life, with a few tropical fish stickers thrown in, so they didn’t starve!).  We placed our colored Narwhal and fish on the inside of a blue paper plate and cut a circle in a second plate.  I punched holes around the two plates together, and the girls laced them up.  It happened to fit perfectly in a hole they had already cut into their car.


Polar Bear

Polar bears are HUGE and are ruthless animals that will eat anything form walrus to Killer Whales.  We enjoyed several polar bear books, as well as several YouTube snippets showing polar bears coming out of their den and trucking across the snow.  Just to get an idea of how what keen hunters polar bears are, we tried several experiments with senses: sight, smell, and hearing.  For sight, I hid several types of prey (stuffed animals) in the dark and closed the windows and turned out the light.  The girls used a flashlight to “hone-in” on their prey as quickly as they could.  For the sense of smell, I placed several vegetables in plastic sandwich bags, put a blindfold over their eyes and they had to guess the food. And, for the sense of smell, we used shakers created out of prescription bottles and different objects to see if the girls could guess the contents.  From this, the girls were able to create a better understanding of the senses the Polar Bear uses while hunting.  Feel free to check out some other experiments we’ve done with the 5 Senses.

We finished up Polar Bears with an art project using cotton balls (from our sensory tub) to paint Polar Bear faces and talked a little about it was pointillism on a much larger scale.  Boy, was it hard not to paint with the cotton ball!!  The basics for this project:  a traced paper plate for the head and half circles for ears, cotton balls stamping the paint, two googly eyes and a construction paper nose, followed by a game of Don’t Break the Ice.




Walruses are huge too!  Did you know the babies alone weight 100 pounds??  They are whiskery guys and gals, but they are actually a very caring species.  Walruses travel in herds for protection from those Polar Bears above!  Aside from book, National Geographic for Kids is a great resource.  Our fact files included a diagram of their body, a picture of a Mama and baby, a map, and a picture of a sunshine.  The sunshine represents how walruses sun themselves.  When they do this, the blood of a Walrus rises to its skin, making them a pinkish color.  We experimented with the girls feeling the warmth underneath a lamp.  During the summer it would be a great activity to take a cold bath, then sit in the sun for a few minutes.  It’s much too cold for that this time of year!  

My girls are obsessed with rocks, so we put together a rock Walrus after reading about how big they are!  The girls scouted “just right” rocks and we used the glue-gun to put on eyes, pipe cleaner tusks, and whiskers cut from

…and There’s MORE!

We still have four more arctic animals to explore.  Meet me here on Monday to get some ideas for the Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare, Caribou, and Snowy Owl!  Then it’s on to the lower region of the world: Antarctica, a week from today!

Don’t forget to check out The Usual Mayhem, Journey 2 Excellence, Childhood Beckons, and Montessori Tidbits who each have posted about Polar Animals this week. We’d love to have you follow along with each of us!


Linking to:


parents as teachers Teach Beside MeScience SundayNo Time For Flash Cards

This post contains affiliate links.

Science Wednesday: Introducing our Polar Animals Unit

Anyone can be a scientist! All it takes is some dedication to learning about an area of interest.  After the holidays, my kids are super interested in learning about the North and South Poles and the animals that live there (including reindeer and penguins).  Therefore, we’re embarking on a tour of the Polar Regions with passports in hand! 

If you’re considering teaching a polar animals, consider following along for some teaching ideas.  Also check out The Usual MayhemJourney 2 ExcellenceChildhood Beckons, and Montessori Tidbits who will be posting along with me for the next few Wednesdays.  (this week, The Usual Mayhem and I have initial posts).  We’d love to have you follow along with us!

Are you ready for your own passport?  This passport includes the animals we are learning about in the Arctic, as well as those in Antarctica.  Additionally, you will find areas to stamp for learning about the people of both regions.  Click the passport picture below to print out the one page pdf.  To assemble, fold short side to short side, then top to bottom.  Your final product will have a top fold. Graphics are provided by Clip Art by Carrie @ C&C Teach First.


Polar Passport Pic

Here are the posts you’ll be seeing over the next 4 weeks on my site:

-Animals of the Arctic (Part 1) (Part 2)

-Animals of Antarctica

-People of the Arctic

- Google Document with planning ideas

Any time you see the following graphic, clicking it will take you back to this outline post.  The post topics above will be linked weekly for your reference.  Enjoy!

polar button

Linking to:


parents as teachers Freebie FridaysFreebieliciousTeach Beside MeScience SundayNo Time For Flash Cards