Story Time: Can’t You Sleep, Little Bear?

Can't You Sleep little Bear

This book is so cute and sweet and makes a great bedtime story, but if your littles like it as much as mine did, they will want to read it any hour of the day.  It’s also a great way for littles to examine their fear of the dark and to see that it is nothing to be afraid of.  Barbara Firth’s illustrations are soft and lovely, with all the wondrous personifications a little likes to see in his story time animals.  Big Bear’s patience with Little Bear’s fears is gentle and soothing, and a bit of a reminder to us mamas who are dead on our feet at then end of a long mama-ing day to take our littles’ feelings seriously and address them without frustration. Win.

But if you’re going to read this book at a time other than bedtime, you’re going to need some activities to go with it, now aren’t you?  And you know how I love to provide them!  So let’s get to it.


Because the personification of this book is such a wonderful feature, take some time to talk to your little about how storytellers use it to help us relate to our own feelings and to animals and other objects in our world.  This free personification worksheet is in my subscriber freebies.

personification-can't sleep little bearScience

Want a fun way to make your littles less scared of the dark!  Teach them to make shadow puppets!  You can have a conversation about how without dark the light wouldn’t be so cool.  Blifaloo has a great pictorial to give you some ideas.

shadow puppets

Have your littles move their light closer to their hands and farther away so they can see the difference proximity makes in the shadow.  Explain to them that their hands interrupt the light, causing the shadow to appear on the wall, the same as their whole-body shadows on a sunny day.  The dark is easier to understand when you realize it’s caused by an object being between you and the light.  And knowledge trumps fear.  There’s a really great lesson plan on ARTSEDGE if you want to study shadows more deeply.  It’s for 6-8 grade, but I think you could easily tweak it for any age.  You got this.


Big Bear brings bigger and bigger lanterns to Little Bear’s bedside to chase the shadows away.  Your little can make his own lantern night light with a few simple supplies.

finished lanterns

What you need:

lantern supplies

  • 8 1/2 x 11 paper (I cut down some pretty scrapbooking paper with my handy dandy paper cutter)
  • Double-sided tape (or you could use a stapler, but the tape gives a cleaner finish)
  • Flameless tealight candle
  • Scissors

What you do:

  • Easy peasy.  If you’re paper is not already 8 1/2 x 11, cut it down.  Either way, you need to cut a 1-inch strip from it first thing (it doesn’t matter from which side) for the handle.

fold paper


  • Fold the paper in half longways

mark lines

  • Mark a 1-inch strip along the unfolded edge.  This is the part you won’t cut.
  • Mark 1-inch strips off from the folded edge to your original mark


  • Cut those strips


  • Unfold paper
  • Put a strip of double-sided tape along the front of one short edge


  • Roll the paper so that the two short edges meet up
  • Press down onto tape (or if you’re using a stapler, staple the top and bottom and somewhere near the middle)


  • Put a piece of tape on the front edge of each end of your 1-inch strip.  Attach to either side of the lantern from the inside
  • (or staple it)

Finished lantern - Copy

  • Turn on your flameless candle and put the lantern over it.

I told you this was easy.


Bears and honey, duh.

Peanut Butter Honey Balls

Peanut Butter Honey BallsThis healthy snack is so simple your littles can make it themselves.  Middle learned it years ago from a beloved homeschooling family who live nearby, and he has been making it ever since.

I’m telling you.  Easy.  And Healthy.  Not making this up.

What you need:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

What you do:

  • Dump all that in a bowl
  • Stir it around
  • When it’s all mixed together, grease your hands
  • Roll into 1-inch balls

Told you I wasn’t making it up.  Now, you can add chocolate chips or dried fruit or whatever else tickles your fancy (about 1/2 cup will do), but this basic recipe is delicious and good for your littles.  Also, you can refrigerate them for an hour or so to harden them a bit, but if your littles are like mine, they aren’t going to want to wait.  And that’s okay.  Their pretty good while still slightly gooey.

Next time your little can’t sleep or is feeling afraid of the dark, pull out this bag of tricks and teach him something.  Yeah yeah, my friends.  That’s the stuff.

Love wins,



Feed Them Well

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We’ve lived on our beautiful farm for about 10 years.  We grow our own veggies and I spend most of mid-summer through fall canning and freezing fresh, delicious, hormone- and pesticide-free food for our long winters.  We raise our own chickens for eggs and meat, because no chicken should have breasts as huge as those they sell in grocery stores.  I mean, I know they’re raised for purposeful slaughter (which is bad enough for them), but how on earth could a chicken with two breasts the size of a grown man’s hand stay upright?

Anyway.  Side rant.  lol

We also hunt deer in order to have lean, red, hormone-free red meat in our freezer for the year.  We fish in ponds we know aren’t contaminated.  We do all these things so we know what’s going into our children’s bodies.  Even when it says organic at the store, the FDA has some pretty relaxed laws about what makes a food organic, so I’d rather trust my own garden.

But what do we do about fruit?  Well, in the past we have relied on our friends and neighbors to provide us with fresh, farm-grown fruit.  My uncle has plum trees he lets me raid, my mama has blueberry bushes (thank goodness because we have tried many times and can never get our soil right for growing them), and several friends and neighbors have apple or pear trees they share.  We have a persimmon grove that produces way too much for us every year, so our neighbors and family come to us for persimmons.

But do we want to rely on other people for our fruit?  Why no, no we don’t.  Although it is fun to trade things out with the neighbors and a good way to relate to the Littles how general stores worked in the past, we want fruit of our own.  And yes, we did plant fruit trees, all along our drive and throughout the yard.  It’s just that it takes several years for fruit trees to… well… fruit.  Our grapes and blackberries and raspberries have been providing for a couple years now, but we want apples and pears and peaches, oh my.

Guess what this year is?  The year of the fruit.  And my Littles are so happy.

Here’s what we have going:



Our grapes have been made into jelly for a couple years now, but here’s proof that these plants are Thriving!  And our adorable miniature donkey in the background.  He’s like another dog.  Definite pet.



Our pear tree has had 2-6 fruits on it in the last 2 years, but this year she is Loaded.  Yeah yeah.  I can’t wait.


Our 8 apple trees are covered in fruit–I see pie filling, apple butter, and maybe even some cider in my future!



Peaches!  This is the first year this tree has fruited period, and there are plenty of peaches for cobbler and compote.



Now, I have to admit, the birds have already eaten more than half of my baby cranberries.  I need to get some netting.  But I love birds, and they get hungry, too.

The farm provides so many learning opportunities for the Littles, and a fruit year will give us many more.  I wonder if the Littles will sit outside all day starting in August and scare the crows away from the trees.  Hmm.  Probably not.  So they’ll have to learn along with me the best way to make the animals leave us some of this amazing stuff to harvest for ourselves.

Mostly, though, I’m excited to let the boys eat fruit we grew ourselves from baby trees.  Knowing there is nothing dangerous in it pleases Mama, but I’m betting crunching into that first fresh pear will be their favorite part.

Win win.

Love wins,


Need Novel Studies for Your Homeschool or Classroom?

My friends, I have had a full week.  And not necessarily in a good way.  But a couple of hours with my bestest friend last night eased it all for me, and I am ready to face the coming days.  Isn’t it nice to have someone you can count on to just listen when you’re feeling low?  Whoever that person is for you, thank him or her today.  Because I have even more full days coming up and thanks to my Abby I can focus now and get all this work done.

What work? you may ask.

If you have been reading my blog for very long, then you know I started this thing with the goal of selling novel studies to other homeschoolers that were thorough and affordable while being high-quality.

May I have your attention, please?
May I have your attention, please?

This week I got 3 finished.  It has been a long road for me, mostly because schooling my Littles is my first priority and doing all the blog work involved in being successful–posting, networking, contacting affiliates and companies for reviews and…  if you blog, you get me–is time-consuming.  I’ve had a little trouble finding the time to get enough novel studies perfected to make me feel comfortable opening a shop.

I feel like there should be a drumroll here, but the spin cycle on the washer will have to do (I swear, it’s thumping away right now.  I should go balance that load).

I am announcing today that next Wednesday, May 25, will be the Grand Opening of my eshop, where I will sell my Lit Looking Glass Novel Studies and larger unit studies.  I will have 3 novel studies and 1 unit study available on Wednesday, and I will be adding to that number as I get more completed.  If you’re considering any of these books for summer reading or next school year, these novel studies have 3 sections for each chapter.

  1. Vocabulary–I’ve pulled words from each chapter that kids might struggle with and put them into a worksheet where littles can match them with the definition.  This can be used before the chapter, during the chapter, or after the chapter, however you wish.
  2. Study Questions–For each chapter there is a list of questions for your Little to answer.  Reading comprehension, who-what-where-when, and critical thinking questions are included.
  3. Activities–For each chapter, there are 1-3 activities to help your littles remember what they’ve read.  These can be crafts, experiments, food, writing activities… really, just about anything fun and related to the chapter

And never fear, mama, there are answer keys. 🙂

Lit Looking Glass Novel Studies are kind of like my Story Times on steroids.  I try to write them so they can be used by all ages–one of the reasons I had this idea to begin with was that I got aggravated that all of the Oliver Twist studies I could find were either waaay expensive or aimed at college students.  We read it when the Littles were in 4th & 6th ‘grades,’ and I needed a study they could relate to.  (Also, do not worry… I did write that novel study, and it will be available to you for cheap and for your littles in the near future.)

I. am. so. freaking. excited about this.  Here are the books the first few novel studies are for:

complete tales of winnie

Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne


tuck everlasting

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt



rabbit hill

Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson


china unit study pic

And don’t forget that a unit study for China will be available, too.  It includes geography, history, religion, and animal science with lots of activities to do to help your littles study that incredible country.

I hope you’re all as pumped about this as I am.  I’m so glad to finally feel like I’m at a point where I can offer them.  Spread the word, dear readers, if you will.  I promise you with all my heart my novel studies will be quality additions to any homeschool or classroom.

Celebrate with me?  And don’t forget to stop by next Wednesday and check out the shop!

Love wins,


YA Book Review: A Quarrel Called

I have a confession to make.  Last week I started 4 or 5 new books only to put them down for one reason or another.  Some of the writing was just plain bad, some just didn’t have a story line that gripped me, and some… I dunno, they just weren’t right.  I never used to do that–when I started a book I made myself finish it out of pure stubbornness.  But since I have upwards of 500 books right  now in my queue on Netgalley, I have become a little more discerning.  I want to tell you about books that you’ll want to read.  Because I can write negative reviews on Amazon and Goodreads where they might help, but why would you, my lovely readers, come to my blog to read about about a bad book?

A Quarrel Called

So there were lots of books that got chucked last week.  Then I happened on this gem.  And I fell hard.  In fact, when I finished it I wanted to cry in frustration.  Why?  This excellent book is the first in a series called Stewards of the Plane and–Ack!!–the second one isn’t available yet.  But let me tempt you into this one, because you will be hooked.

This is the story of 4 teenagers from northern Texas–their friendships and crushes and relationships and the magic they make when they’re together.  This is not a lightly-written book about New Age silliness, but a very well researched approach to magic as a science that we haven’t quite figured out yet.  Melody, who witnessed the aftermath of her brother’s murder, is trying to move on, but the Universe is not in the mood to let her.  Her friend, Tara, has a fascination with what Melody calls, “New Age mumbo-jumbo.”  Little does Melody know that she and Tara along with their best friend, Sam, are surrounded by the stuff and it is anything but mumbo-jumbo.  Sam crushes hard on Melody, and when the new waiter at their favorite restauratnt, G., enters the picture, Sam is afraid he and Melody will become a thing.  But G. is interested in Tara and, lucky for Sam, Tara returns the feeling.  But it’s not important.  Because when Melody throws a party to welcome G. to the neighborhood, Tara brings her spirit board.  And all hell breaks loose.

It turns out the four friends are a quarrel, a group of people who are stewards of the plane–‘guardians of our existence’ in layman’s terms.  And there’s a whole bunch of badness trying to stop them.  Then there’s the ghost of Melody’s brother who keeps trying to send them messages.  Add in Lily, the mysterious girl Sam meets at a record store who cannot possibly be what she seems on the surface, and you’ve got a harrowing journey set to cool music riding on whacked out visions and knowledge from the collective subconscious.  Um.  Yeah yeah, there’s all that in there.

This book is riveting.  The science behind it is thorough and the relationships and responses of the teens believable.  It’s a really intriguing look into the spirituality of people who believe in magic and an even cooler look at the science that could make it possible.  Our quarrel is tested at every turn, both individually and as a group.  The more they look for answers the more questions they have, and even by the time of the final battle, they are still mostly unprepared for what’s to come.  And somehow that makes it more real.  Because they’re really just average American teenagers, trying to muddle through and understand life…it’s just that their lives are a bit more complicated.

Part ghost story, part science project, part New Age crash course, all spooky, A Quarrel Called is spellbinding through and through.  Shannon Wendtland has the stuff.

My only caution here is that you might want to reserve this one for older teens (or yourself–that’s what I do!) because while there is no descriptive sex in it there are plenty of descriptive allusions to it.  It’s written in a language reserved for the cool kids, so there are some point-blank innuendos and curse words floating about.  Hey, I knew kids who talked like that in high school.  I might even one day admit to being one of them.  Wait for it.

The bad news is, it’s not out till next month, so you really will have to wait for it.  But you can pre-order it on Amazon right now, and it will magically show up on your Kindle on June 20.

Magic.  Just like the book.

Love wins,


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