Math Supplements & Fun Alternatives to Flashcards

Once upon a time I never thought I would be able to teach math, and while I’m still glad for a few curriculums we use Math Lessons For A Living Education and Life of Fred. I’ve discovered that I am not so helpless in teaching math in a very fun and gentle (on all of us) way.

Currently my seven and five year old are not doing any formal math. We are simply reading books, playing games, developing a sense of the mathematical world and having fun until its time to learn more. While my ten year old, math kid, is using all of the above and most of the Upper Elementary List below.

What is not added in these lists is all the living math picture books, educational shows, card games, board games and what we like to call “math me”. That game is simply me asking them random math related questions as they come up in life. It’s name came from “Mom, its not math time and you just mathed me!”

If you have a little one struggling math or happen to have a math kid these lists are great for both camps.

This post does contain affiliate links, but as always only to things I love. As for the Usborne books listed, its a party (look for my name Krystal Branom) and let me know if you want to have your own party and earn free books.

Lower Elementary Math or “supplements” and fun alternatives to flashcards in order I would use them.

Upper Elementary Math “supplements” and fun alternative to flashcards in order I would use them.

Quick Links To Some of My Favorite Things I’ve Shared on IG

Once upon a time I worked retail and I loved it. Not because of commission checks (that all were reinvested into the store I worked at anyway) but because on my very first day of work my boss said to me “Go play!”. And that is what I did, I spent 90% of my shift playing dress up with new friends. I didn’t look at price tags or care if the item I was finding for them was just put on the shelf or had been on clearance so long we might as well have given it away. All I wanted to do was find the best thing for each one of them. I have never stopped doing that, you should see me “work” at stores I don’t even work at!

Well with the wonderful world of Instagram, Facebook and blogging  y’all kind of do get to see me at work. Some links I share are affiliate links (these are at no extra cost to you) and other are links that give me nothing but the pleasure of sharing. But as always, I’m only sharing things I like.

Please feel free to poke around on my minimalist blog for reviews and musings or onto my Instagram account if your more of a quick look and see kind of person.

Enjoy the growing list.






Bella Learning For Me

There as some things that I’ve wanted to learn how to do or about for almost 20 years now. Things that since my hands are full with teaching my own children I thought I wouldn’t have time to study till they were at least teenagers.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve woven some of what I want to learn into our daily lessons, nature study and most things history are favorites of mine along with social studies and geography. But there is more that I’ve wanted to learn and especially in the early years and sleepless nights of babies I all but gave up. But since we have discovered fun-schooling I’ve been taking a little more time for my own lessons.

It’s amazing how much more my own children want to sit and work on learning when they see mama doing it. When they hear me passionate about a new subject and narrating to them or drawing doodles about the subject. All those things they are getting to do in their journals.

This post does contain affiliate links at no extra cost to you and only to things I enjoy.

I’d like to say we have been doing this for a while, but really I didn’t get somewhat serious about my mom-school time until I sat down to do Dyslexia Games with them. And then today, yes just today a lazy Saturday morning with no place to go and nothing to do and no fun fiction to read I dug into one of the other books on my shelf.

This is a book that begs for me to take notes, to do copy work, to look up how to say phrases and study history and cook food. This book asks for its very own “unit study” of delight directed learning… for ME. What is the name of this magical book that is inspiring me to put together a basket just for me? La Bella Lingua and while I would love to give you a full review, I’m only a few pages into the second chapter so I cannot yet.

So now I am looking at what I can put in my Bella Basket, besides the book and google. Today I asked google “how do you say ‘fart’ in Italian” because I have a 10 year old boy and he wanted in on my searching for Italian words.

  • This isn’t a mom journal so if your teenager is all things Italian like I am, this could be a good one for them too. I really like the Steampunk cover because it reminds me of Leonardo De Vinci. High School Journal with Steampunk cover. PDF or this one would be nice too, I really like how the spelling pages are set up. I can imagine writing the Italian word on one side and the translation on the other.
  • Under the Tuscan Sun. Do not be fooled by the movie, the book is wonderful and just wonderful! But don’t blame me if you want to eat all the Pine Nuts after reading it too.
  • The about book has plenty of recipes to keep me busy in the kitchen but I wouldn’t mind adding a book by Giada to my collection. (My daughter loves watcher her food network show as much as I do.)
  • The Poetry of Michelangelo an Annotated Translation. I bought this book in my early 20’s, it’s still a favorite of mine!
  • Renaissance Coloring Book. Generally I’m all about the impressionists but as I delve into more things Italian I cannot help but be drawn to the artists of the Renaissance
  • Kids Animated History with Pipo. My husband and I actually have been watching this via Amazon Prime.
  • YouTube Learn Italian. This gal is really fast, but so far I enjoy her the most.
  • I’m always on the hunt for more games to play, and card games happen to be a favorite. I’m excited to try this one.
  • And of course, movies like this one to inspire you to keep you wanting to study till you can buy the tickets to travel. This one with English subtitles is a favorite as well, when the main actor received his Oscar I cried for joy with him. To this day its the only Oscars I’ve enjoyed and I’m so happy its one that I watched.

Why I Pre-Read

I’m a lover of books and I remember that summer that found that love. I was 12 years old and my grandmother introduced me to historical fiction. I was hooked! I read every single book I could get my hand on in that genre.

Fast forward to the spring just before my 14th birthday, and no Christian bookstore in the town I was vacationing to help me with the fact that I read my entire vacation book on the place! I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I popped into a local bookstore and spent my vacation money on a book that didn’t have a smutty cover but looked like the genre I read.

This post does contain affiliate links, but only to things I enjoy and at no extra cost to you.

I received quite an education from that book, part of which has stayed with me to this day. Pre-read my kids books! Fortunately my kids are not as avid readers as I am, yet. So I have some time to review a wide variety now.

Most recent pre-read was Graceling.  My local library has this listed as a Young Adult book along with an advanced 5th level. Young adult YES, 5th level. Nope! I would rate this book as PG13 for sexual content, and I’m not exactly thrilled with the premarital sex or the anti marriage agenda. The book also alluded to sexual abuse as well. But beyond that, the story was a fun engaging story, well written and delightful. I’m more likely to suggest to my child that they read it in there early adult years or beyond. And yes, I am going to read the rest in the series because I’m not a 5th grade level and I want to know what happens next.

In the mean time Jenny Phillips has a very conservative reading list that will assist me while I work through other books that have been suggested, and I continue my own search for what is expectable for my family.


Review: Kathleen The Celtic Knot

It wasn’t till I finished the last page that I noticed that Kathleen The Celtic Knot was an American Girl book. It also happens to be the first American Girl book I have ever read and I am looking forward to reading more of this Girls of Many Lands Series.

I picked this little book up pre St Patrick’s day as part of my goal to pre-read more books for my kids. This is just the sort of book I would have loved as a 12 year old and while the library has it listed as a 5th Level Advanced Reader, because of maturity of some content I will wait until my little ones are 12+.

Reading this book, I felt transported to 1937 Ireland and could easily imagine my like was Kathleen’s. I learned much about the culture, history and even Gaelic. The book includes a glossary that I reference often after I discovered it and clarified some unknown words or terms; and it includes a brief history of “current” Ireland with some color photos.

I’m expecting that some Step Dancing and having embroidery kits on hand for Celtic Knots will take the simple pleasure of this book to the next level. Oh, and maybe a loaf of Irish Soda bread too.

A Living Geography That Takes Your Family Around The World

Seriously I have nothing but the best things to say about Around The World Stories. Yesterday (St Patrick’s Day) we listed to 3 stories from Ireland. Then today at lunch (left over baked potatoes) we listed to the last story, The Potato Fairy. You should have seen the extra happy faces when I pulled out the coloring pages that the folk at Around The World Stories included with the story.

Since we first started listing they have upped their game with their Make It Interactive section that is included with each story. It has everything I would want to take the story to the next level with the ease of clicking on a link. No Pinterest searching needed…but if I did want to take it further, well they have Pinterest Boards too.

These stories not only teach us about other countries and cultures, but they are full of moral choices and inspiring characters. Characters and stories my children ask to hear again and again.

Well, the one story was not going to cut it today and while they requested to listen to the Ireland stories all over again. We had nothing on the agenda so I suggested one of the new Asian Stories from China instead. China was met with more giggles, and requests for another. Since we were not focusing on “lessons” today I let them listen to a Denmark story as well that included a trip to Lego land. Not to shabby for a Sunday afternoon.

Fun- Schooling in Survival Mode

I’m not going to lie, I did not take my advice this past year and I spent most of it in survival mode. Hopefully, my suggestions will save others and myself future stress and drama and bring fun back into our days even when it feels like I’m drowning.

Keep it simple! No really, that is it…keep it simple! It’s not rocket science, it’s survival. What HAS to be done? For us that is Bible, Language Arts and Math. I know, some days it feel hard to do just those. Don’t try to add more than what your really NEED to do.

I have this great little 90 day book that helps me. Sarah’s Secret 90 Day Pocket Planner “The easiest way to live your dreams and get out of survival mode.”  It asks you, mama to look at 4 important things or 4 necessary things each day. For each of that it will be different and from day-to-day it will change too. Let’s remember that we are not only their teachers, we are their moms. Most likely we are also the cook, maid, consoler, driver, social director, wife, friend…and so much more.  But even while we DO IT ALL…we don’t have to do it all, all the time.

For Bible, it can be as little as YouVersion verse of the day and Amazon Music Hymns or Psalty’s. My oldest does copy work and we pray. We pray our praise and our needs and lift up others.

For everything else the Fun-Schooling Core Journals like this one that covers a whole year or my sons Minecraft Journal is perfect for when I am pushed to my limit. It covers ALL subjects he needs except for math. (And while in survival mode, Khan math and other apps work pretty great. Once he is reading more independently his normal math is perfect for self-directed learning as well.)

With my little two, we read books. They also play learning games on their kindle or have more story time with Epic.

Does that sound too basic or simple? It really isn’t. Now personally I believe, while in survival mode, it is important I would even say necessary for me to make positive connections with my kids. For me that is going to be lots of snuggling while reading books, watching shows and listing to audio stories.

Audio stories tend to be a favorite for all of us, because they like it when mama breaks out the treats and doodle or coloring or some other type of art pages and sits at the table with them and DO side by side while we listen. We have a collection of audio books that appeal to my oldest and I more than the younger too. But it’s the Around The World Stories that engage all of us the most. (I don’t let us binge listen to these, we have to wait at least till the next day or even a whole week. We treat them like an old fashion radio show and it really builds our relationship with the characters and what we are learning about. You can read more about our love of these stories here.)

Playing games is another fun way of learning and creating positive moments in the survival of the season. Hedbanz is one that we like playing during meal time and Bean Boozeled gets all the happy endorphins going. Hit the Habitat Trail covers all things science and Brain Quest Smart Game give us a bit of learning in all the subjects. And did you know that you can play a game instead of “doing a lesson” and you have still done “a lesson”?  Yep, that is fun-schooling!

Also getting outside with them! Even if all I do is sit and sip tea in the sun while that run about it makes a difference. Getting that Vitamin D naturally, or in a supplement (The kids and I LOVE this one) and other nutritional supplements is needed when in survival. I can’t begin to explain how LOW I was feeling this past year as I let my eating get out of control (sugar is NOT my friend) and didn’t have my vitamins. Proper nutrition, rest and movement make a difference when you are wanting to thrive not just survive.



Review: Unhurried Grace for a Moms Heart

Right away I knew that I was going to be blessed by this devotional. After all, it is written by one of my favorite authors who’s homeschooling book is on my MUST READ list. I’ve not been disappointed!

Unhurried Grace for a Mom’s Heart: 31 Days in God’s Word is the first devotional that I’ve read that I can honestly see the fruit of reading it over and over again, many times in a year or over the course of my motherhood journey. Durenda has a natural way of mentoring via the written word (or even via her podcast at that is brilliant. Combining this gifting with the Word of God, allows the Holy Spirit to speak new and fresh and to YOUR heart with each chapter.

Each chapter includes a section for you to write out your thoughts to God and a place to jot down what you hear Him saying back to you. I personally am using a blank journal for this part because I have a digital copy. Even if I didn’t using the journal allows me the room to write out the section of scripture that speaks to me, and write what I’m hearing that day. This will allow me to also come back to this devotional more than once and read it “new”. This journal is alive with the Word who is always speaking to us, it is a devotional that clearly can and should be revisited lots on this mom journey.

Also included at the end of each chapter are a few questions you can ask yourself, just ONE of the special ways God used Unhurried Grace for a Mom’s Heart: 31 Days in God’s Word to speak to me was in the chapter titled “God’s Wisdom or Mans?” and the question at the end. It was along the lines of “what does God want my day to look like”.

When reflecting on the question, it had me thinking about an issue that had been bothering me. We do not have a set schedule (road schooling family here) but I know what our days should include. I’ve studied and wrote on this before but that morning it was crystal clear what He was saying to me about my days.

  1. Study Gods Word & build a strong relationship with Him
  2. Independent work & helping hands (to cultivate work ethic)
  3. Family Learning with beautiful stories, exploration & games
  4. Independent exploration of gifting’s, talents & interests.
  5. One on one time & meaningful conversations

Too often I still get bogged down about all there is to do and keeping up with everyone else. But God created us each unique and that unigueness needs to transfer into our homeschool life as well. How we do school is not often going to look like anyone else that doesn’t make us better or worse, it simply means we are walking in OUR calling.

I’m not going to share with you all that God has been speaking to me as I’ve unhurried my way through this devotional but I will tell you that there has been growth. He had been comforting and ministering to me right were I am at in each page of this book.



Roadschooling with The Good & The Beautiful Language Arts

So my journey with language arts and reading has been a rollercoaster with my son but his Minimalist Learning Plan we set up for this past summer and this fall has been wonderful. As has the addition of The Good & The Beautiful Level 1 Language Arts & Literature, and I’ve not even printed it out! GASP

Since this isn’t the first curriculum I’ve tried to use with him I didn’t even want to invest our own paper in ink into it when I didn’t have to.  (After all I’m trying to watch our budget.) Jenny Phillips offers FREE PDF downloads of Levels 1-5 and I am so thankful for that. I have ours on our IPad. (It’s also downloaded on a kindle and my laptop but I find the iPad is working best for us.) I’m not so technical fancy to use a PDF writer on the screen so we use a good old spiral notebook. We call it “out Good & Beautiful Notebook”.

In the spiral notebook Pumpkin writes his spelling words and does his spelling quizzes. I jot down creative writing exercises that are included in the books that he narrates to me or I have him do his own writing exercises. At the end of the notebook, I will take his creative writing work and type them into a separate notebook. Super easy and super cost effective!


Because Pumpkin is in this weird middle place I didn’t want to skip Level 1 but I didn’t think he was fully ready for Level 2, plus I didn’t want him to miss out on all the beautiful. (Shhh, I wanted to do the beautiful with him too and didn’t want to wait till it was Cupcakes turn.) This curriculum is like all curriculum in one way, it’s our tool not our master, we are making it work best for us.

Well, since he is in that weird middle place and we are already doing something else that is working for him in regard to phonics we are not doing ALL the lessons. Instead I took some time over a few days and on my own lined piece of paper wrote down the page numbers of what I wanted him to cover. Each time we complete one of MY scheduled lessons I write the date for my records. It’s not fancy and as open and go if we were using the whole book but it’s just right for us.

So how is it going and how does he like it? He is enjoying it and I’m not getting the dragging of feet that I had from other language arts programs that I used in the past. (Those were good too, but this is such a better fit.) I think starting off with a level that is sort of easy for him is helping with that. I expect him to be finished with Level 1 shortly after the first of the year (because we year round that is when we start the new school year) and plan to buy the printed version of Level 2.

This curriculum really is Good & Beautiful! The art selections are lovely, literature selections are wonderful and its open and go with still plenty of room for us to build onto the lessons if we want to. For example, we like to spend more time with the art and poetry.

This post does NOT contain any affiliate links,

but like always I only share things that we love.

It’s the open and go that I think will really appeal to a lot of parents, and easy to teach even for us parents who cannot remember half of any of this stuff we are teaching or never learned ourselves. Oh, and the price point for even the paid for printed options is super competitive.

If you are roadschooling or homeschooling in a small space like I am, here are a few pros that you will really like.

  • Open & Go, no teachers manual
  • Internet not required
  • Covers more then one subject
  • Doesn’t take a lot of room or have a lot of little parts

We also happen to have The Good & The Beautiful Booklist that is wonderful for quickly choosing books that are of quality and good moral character for my children. Right now, between 11/8/2017-11/11/2017 you can also get this list here for FREE!

Don’t forget to take a peek at the History and Handwriting while you are getting your free booklist and taking a look at the Language Arts. My husband was thrilled with what he has seen in the History and wants us to wait to do those lessons with him. What attracts me to the handwriting is the mix of right and left brain work in each of the lessons and it’s not filled with a bunch of random twaddle.

Review Alphabet Fun-Schooling Journal

So, let get down to the nitty gritty. We all know we can buy Alphabet books galore from the Dollar Tree and we have them! But this Alphabet Fun-Schooling Journal is so much more lovely and my Cupcake picks it 9 times out of 10.

Not only does Journal have lovely illustrations, but it also has prewriting practice before each letter and arrow instruction for each letter as well. And since I didn’t focus on correct penmanship of writing the letters with Pumpkin (most Dollar Tree books don’t include this) this is a feature very important to me.

This post does contain affiliate links, but as always only to things we love.

Cupcake is 6 and since we are not starting “formal” schooling with her till next year, I shared more about that here, I let her pick and choose what pages she wants to do in the journal. This relaxed approach is working quite well, especially since she wants to learn. I simply say “Its Alphabet journal time, what letter are you going to do?” and more often then not she will invite mama or little brother to color with her when she is done.

At the end of the journal are comic book style drawing and then writing pages. Cupcake loves drawing stories and then narrating them for me to jot them down. We are unintentionally very much a Brave Writer Family…I think story telling might be in their blood.

I’ve also decided to use this same Journal as a “Brother Book”! Like I mentioned above, Pumpkin didn’t learn all the proper formation of his letters. Don’t get me wrong, he draws them correctly but writing them correctly has been a struggle. And it’s “little kid work” to work on it again. So, the smart mama I am…

I picked up another one of these Alphabet Fun-Schooling Journals and since Macaroon isn’t ready to write yet he gets to do the coloring page and the pre-writing part of each “lesson” while Pumpkin teaches him the letter name, sound and how to write the letter they are working on, with those arrow instructions. When he is done with that part, Macaroon lets him help color too. (This is a great time for ME to get some one-on-one time in with Cupcake or work on my own Mom-School.)

Not so secret hope…I hope the folks at Thinking Tree make a variation of this same book with cursive as well!