No Guts, No Glory

With only a couple weeks left of our summer break, I wanted to get a couple more thematic learning opportunities in at home to break up the monotony of our endless tech saturated days. A couple of very cool interactive books were added to my son’s bookshelf from various birthday and/or Christmas gifts, so we used that as a focus and spent today learning a bit about the human body.

There are so many wonky and amazing facts to learn about how our bodies work that we could easily spend several days on this topic! For example, today we learned that the hair we can visibly see is actually dead and only under the skin is it alive. Besides the weird and gross stuff we found in one of my son’s favorite books, we skimmed through the basics of the muscular, skeletal and digestive systems. As described in one of the books, we timed our resting heart rate and then raced around the living room for one minute before checking our pulses again. Luckily, I have a bizarre double-jointed situation with one of my elbows that enhanced the discussion on our bones and we did a touch of yoga to point out how our muscles are strengthened. Lastly, I’ve been holding on to last month’s Kiwi Co. box because I knew it would go perfectly with this theme and it was a hit!

I would highly recommend checking out this layered book that gives such an amazing view of how the body is put together. It’s very sturdy and loaded with cool information.

In my most recent Usborne book order we received this more advanced Lift-The-Flap book on Biology that I thought would intrigue my son. He was semi-forced to read a handful of facts to us as we finished our lunch, but that’s when we learned that we share 99.9% of our genes with every other human and only the last 0.1% is what makes each of us US.

Our Kiwi Co. box allowed us to make a stethoscope that really works! We also stuffed and laced up cute little felt organs, and using glow-in-the-dark paper with bone stickers, we created an x-ray and huddled in the closet to see it glow. It also came with a really cool life-sized poster. Although we weren’t in love with a couple of the other Kiwi Co. boxes, this one knocked it out of the park!

Dr. Brady checking on his patient’s heart.

The last activity that my son really got into was using this Squishy Human Body. His little sister had gotten into this box very quickly after receiving it as a Christmas gift and scattered all the squishy guts around the living room, so this was his first attempt at putting the body back together. Success!

We’re in the process of selling our home and moving soon, so almost all of my Usborne Books are packed up, so we missed a chance to peruse several of the cool human body books that are normally on our shelf. Here’s a direct link to all of UBAM’s human body books.

Now we’re off to check the cat’s heartbeat and then have plans for a rousing family game of Operation that we borrowed from the neighbors! Move that body and drink your water, folks!


We carved out designated tech-free time this morning to play dress up magnets with R and a game of chess with B. I’d forgotten which direction my pieces could move and pulled out this book from my Usborne collection. I hadn’t looked into it yet, but it’s quite cool! It’s interactive with stickers and would be excellent for older kids to really understand strategy and the ins and outs of the game. Although we got off track with vacations and whatnot, I’ve challenged my son to work through it this summer (although that means he’s going to kick my butt even faster than he did today 😳)

Pairing this book and an inexpensive chess set would be a really great gift! B learned to play about age 9 and I’ve been surprised by how much he took to it and he even added a session of it for summer camp a couple of years ago! If you have a master chess player in your crowd, take a look at the Usborne Books & More website for a couple more fun options, so you don’t end up in a stalemate. 🙂

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Sticker Book Magic

With my daughter Rachel’s age and personality, for some time now, we have been heavily into sticker books. I’ve tried them all! The silly faces from Wal-Mart, Melissa & Doug from TJMaxx, Disney and other varieties, etc. I’d say one of the top reasons I sell Usborne Books & More is for their stinking sticker books! They are like none other. Melissa & Doug has some really great ones and they’re creative, but Usborne’s are amazing; educational, excellent quality of both pages and stickers, & exquisite pictures. I’ve included some pictures below to give a sample (mostly girly ones, of course). If you want to see more, there’s a gazillion on the website.

These sticker books are top notch. Great quality, beautiful illustrations and lots of variety in themes from monsters to unicorns. The picture below shows my little one working through the pixie sticker book. Not only were we getting the chance to practice numbers with matching the stickers to the pages, but we’re learning about fun adjectives like “dart” “leap” and “flutter”.

I’ve found myself enjoying the sticker books much like the adult coloring books are found to be soothing. In addition to Usborne, another more advanced sticker book that I really enjoy are the Paint by Sticker that I’ve found on Amazon. They have itty bitty pieces that won’t be ideal for very little fingers, but certainly a calming activity to try for older kids. I recently purchased a more advanced one (but by no means truly “advanced”; it remains low stress) was one called Masterpieces that end up creating a sticker version of beautiful, well-known works of art.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Each summer we travel to North Carolina to visit family and escape the heat of Florida. With each visit over the last several years and as our children have gotten older, we’ve tried to explore more of the mountains and surrounding areas. This year we were able to purchase a travel trailer and took a trip that looked a little different with not having to be tied to a hotel room. While packing for the trip, I gathered up a handful of outdoor themed books and easy activities that I found on Pinterest in my never-ending attempt to weave learning and reading into our summer. It’s a struggle and sometimes like pulling teeth for my kids, but every once in a while, I get a smile of interest or excitement over something we’ve learned. Because we were stopping at campsites and had nature at our fingertips, I brought along the Usborne’s 1,000 Things in Nature and tried to find critters and natural items that we discovered in the creek or ground coverings. We also used The Usborne Outdoor Book to guide us on our adventures.

Using Pinterest’s wonderful suggestions, we used glass jars to magnify some of our treasures and also learned about photosynthesis in such a beautiful and simple way!


While the big kids were river rafting, my daughter and I had a wonderful time lifting rocks to find critters, looking for creatively shaped stones, and shuffling along until our feet were numb from the refreshingly cold creek water. Here’s a sampling of some of the treasures we found:

Although I forgot to take a picture of them, we used some of the findings to create the most beautiful “nature ladies” using leaves, pebbles, paper and glue sticks. Here’s where I found the inspiration.

Because we spent a lot of time in the travel trailer and I love a good theme, I used the National Parks as my inspiration for decorating the trailer and trying to make it feel like home. As a part of that, I gathered books from home and created a book nook behind the seating area:

Although summer is coming to and end, I hope we can fit one more weekend in for a trip in our travel trailer. With the Florida heat at this time of year, hopefully that will involve a trip to a crisp and chilly spring!

Happy Summer and Happy Reading to you!

Finding Nemo

Due to technical difficulties and a wonky life schedule, I’ve not been keeping up with posting, but I’ll be slowly catching up and hopefully, sharing ideas that may be helpful and also encouraging those of you trying to share the love of learning and reading, but hitting a few (or a lot) of bumps along the road. With little tidbits of time, I have been updating my sweet website, learning about converting HEICs to JPGs (huh?), and navigating the ins and outs of expanding my book business, blog, and the social media that goes along with it. It’s nothing fancy and will never be, but for now, it brings me joy and allows me an outlet to share what suits MY fancy 🙂

As we moved further into the summer schedule, I tried to weave in summer learning with more themes. I rapidly found out that it was more difficult to do without the structure of the homeschool day. It turns out it’s much harder to do anything “learning” related when you don’t have to 😉 The first theme I tackled was oceans/underwater. Because of learning curves on how to incorporate activities that intrigue both a 12-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl that are used to copious amounts of technology, it was a slooooww process. I had grand plans in my mind that were filled with curiosity sparks and lightbulb moments. Nah. Not much of that. Plus, there was some Mom barking and a wheelbarrow of whining and grumbling. I didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this idea of adding a touch of learning to our summer, especially considering the strange Covid season and need for a bit of structure. Sometimes kids need a little nudge and that’s just what I did! I’ll link what I can below, but some of the underwater fun we had involved:

We looked through these themed books I already had on my kids’ bookshelves:

Who knew puzzles could be such fun? We diligently finished a cool Usborne puzzle and enjoyed the beautiful book that came along with it.…/under-the-sea-book-jigsaw-puzz…

My oldest built models of sea animals from an interactive book I found at Costco.

We watched very cool YouTube videos about the ocean zones and sharks and played mellow calming jellyfish videos on Youtube for a few hours! highly recommend!

We created a ocean zones in a jar science experiment (they really liked making this!)

Last but not least, we made a very poor ocean diorama where the kids slapped some blue paint inside boxes and we tossed some plastic sea creatures in there and called it a day (won’t do that again).

As a reward for all of us, we made reservations online, threw on our masks and visited the Florida Aquarium for what I might consider my favorite visit ever simply because of the smaller crowd sizes. It was such a treat to casually chat with my kids as we strolled through and actually made connections to things we’d previously learned (yahoo!)

Hopefully they won’t remember that bit about the sharks when we have our beach week vacation in a couple weeks 😬