I have two new books coming out this spring! They are both chapter books for kids in 1st-3rd grade.
The first is called Toby: The (Mostly) True Story of a Former Bad Dog. This silly book is great for kids just starting to read chapter books by themselves.
Toby might have accidentally put a ham under his owner’s pillow. And caused a small revolution at the vet. Then there was that whole dog-napping incident. But he can explain. It’s all the cat’s fault.
The second book is called The Day the Librarian Saved the Galaxy. It’s a fast, fun read written at about a second-grade reading level.
Two elementary students and an elderly librarian must save the galaxy when smelly aliens from Planet Wart invade Orchard Grove Elementary School with plans to steal mysterious goo from the cafeteria and use it to spaghettify the Milky Way.
Both books are illustrated by Godze Eyce. Be on the lookout for updates with pre-sale links.
Free E-Book and Activity Guide
I know that this is a really trying time for a lot of families. There’s not a lot we can do for one another while social distancing during the Covid-19 outbreak. But I do feel that books are very healing, especially for kids. What I can offer won’t make this horrible period in history end any sooner, but it might keep some kids happy any distracted. I hope it helps.
The ebook for Nellie Nova Takes Flight will be free from 3/17-3/21. It’s both fun and educational. I’ve also created an activity guide full of fun, educational activities about Amelia Earhart and flight. I really hope that families suddenly homeschooling can use these.
You can download it here.
And the activity guide below:
Nellie Nova’s Guide Amelia Earhart (1)
Stay safe. Stay home. Stay well.
Keeping Kids Busy While Practicing Social Distancing
Parenting During the Coronavirus Outbreak
However you choose to educate your kids, the isolation caused by the looming Covid-19 crisis will be tough with small kids in the home. Though I homeschool my three kids, we’re intentionally stepping back from activities that aren’t high priority. Within a week or two, I suspect that all activities we participate in outside of the home will be cancelled or postponed. Most of the school districts in our area are closing as well. I won’t lie. The idea of my kids unable to attend classes with homeschool friends, band classes, dance, tumbling, and occupational therapy kind of scares me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. But they do best when they’re busy. We take classes with other homeschoolers two full days a week. They do so many activities it’s hard to keep them all straight. They thrive on activity. But as more and more schools close and events are cancelled, I know we will soon face a reality where we don’t have these options.
I want to be clear, public safety comes before boredom. I understand and appreciate the closings. As new recommendations come out for my area, I will follow them. Even if my own family should be fine, I don’t want to contribute to spreading the virus to someone who won’t be okay if they get Coronavirus.
All three of my kids love art. Art activities can keep them busy for hours, which is a good thing right now.
Artventure is a subscription-based service, but the prices are really reasonable. The business is based in Australia. A three month subscription comes out to about $20 USD. The lessons are aimed at elementary aged kids, but my middle schoolers enjoy the more complex lessons as well. They are meant to be child-driven and use common materials. They can also be done as basic drawings if you run out of basic art supplies like watercolor paints.
I love Art for Kids Hub! The lessons are usually done in Sharpie and colored pencil or crayon. There are tons of familiar, pop-culture or holiday related options, such as this adorable Baby Yoda and this super cute Easter Bunny. Most lessons are free, but there is a subscription option.
I’ve often written about my love of audiobooks. A lot of public libraries use apps like LIBBY to electronically lend audiobooks as well as e-books. This means you get all the benefits of the library without having to step inside a possibly germ-infested and possibly soon-to-be-closed building.
AUDIBLE is another great option. And one that will soon have Grace’s Ghosts as an option to download!
My kids are seven, ten, and twelve, but I can usually find a middle-grade audiobook all three will love. We often listen to them in the car, but also listen to them inside, gathered around the kitchen table while the kids doodle. They buy me hours and hours of peace while exposing my kids to some great literature. All three of my kiddos score high on vocabulary sections of standardized tests and I totally credit the audiobooks for this.
For real. It’s a great time to read. If your home library is lacking, take a run to your local indie bookstore or library before things get too crazy. Or Barnes and Noble. Did you know B&N offers its educator discount to homeschoolers?
If you need some ideas for great books for kids, check out Goodreads.
I know so many parents fear science, but I love it. Science projects can be fun, messy, and engaging. Exactly what you’ll need to distract your kids while they can’t see their friends during the Covid-19 outbreak.
HANDS ON AS WE GROW has a great list of science experiments you can do with supplies you probably have in your home.
STEVE SPANGLER SCIENCE is another amazing science resource. We’ve used it often over the years.
There are tons of great science-related shows on Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube. My kids are obsessed with MYTHBUSTERS and COYOTE PETERSON.
While we’re being cautioned not to gather in large groups, hiking and exploring your own backyard are still a great idea. Find a trail near you and escape to the great outdoors.
Fight world hunger while learning new vocabulary on FREE RICE. My oldest son loves this website. It’s free, and the better you do, the more rice gets donated to hungry people.
STARFALL is great for kids who are just learning to read. All of my kids learned to read on this platform. They have free and paid options.
SCRATCH and CODE.ORG are great for learning computer programming. All three of my kiddos love both websites.
Over 100 companies are offering FREE educational services during the Cornonavirus outbreak. Not all of the websites are available to individuals, but there are lots of amazing options.
Don’t hate me for this. But a little Minecraft or Fortnite isn’t going to wreck your kid and it might save your sanity. While video games aren’t my first choice to keep kids busy, they can save the day for cooped up kids. Both games have creative modes, so no fighting bad guys. And both have options for you to play without interacting with other players. Just turn off your headset for Fortnite and play on your own server for Minecraft.
My oldest has started to incorporate his homeschool lessons into his games. He’s build historical sites and scientific models, like a plant cell. Fun and educational!
While I know this time of social distancing won’t be easy, I am trying my best to relax and embrace the time together. I’m sure we will all be glad when it’s over, but for now, we’ll just make the best of it.
What are you and your kids doing to stay sane during this Coronavirus outbreak? Let me know in the comments!
Grace’s Ghosts Reviews
The reviews for my upcoming middle-grade fantasy novel, Grace’s Ghosts, are starting to come in! It’s so exciting to find out what people think of the book!
I received a 5-Star rating from Wishing Shelf Reviews! I’m so flattered! I’ve pasted the review below.
Grace’s Ghosts is the spooky story of a girl who can see ghosts. In fact, her cat, Midnight, is a ghost too. In this delightful book for 9 – 13 year olds, the hero must find a way of helping all the ghosts in her small town. To do it, she must find a way of shattering a witch’s curse; and so the adventure begins! There are many, MANY aspects to this story that I enjoyed.
Firstly, it is excellently plotted with plenty of spooky twists and turns to keep children happy. There’s never a lull in this exciting adventure; and there are plenty of comic moments and tiny cliffhangers that children will enjoy. In terms of the genre, it reminded me a little of Tiffany Sparrow, Spook Slayer by Billy Bob Buttons. And also Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson.
I also enjoyed meeting many of the ghostly characters. The author seems determined for her young readers to understand all her characters – even the secondary – and, I must say, she’s very talented at it. At the end of this book, I felt I knew Grace so well. She’s a wonderful character to fall in love with! I like cats too so, for me, Midnight was the best. But all of them jump (pardon the pun) off the page and add much to the story.
Finally, there’s the writing style. It’s light with a good balance of speech and plot-driven narrative. Written in the first person, you really get to know the girl and what she is facing; and, trust me, she is facing a lot. All in all, this is a well-constructed story full of interesting characters and, also, a dilemma for the hero to unravel and overcome. I would recommend it to children who enjoy adventure with a spooky element to it.
-A Wishing Shelf Review
The book will release on 4/28/2020. Be sure to add it to your “to read” section on Goodreads.
The End of an Era
For the past eleven years, I have spent nearly every day with my kids. They’ve never gone to school. I’ve not held a 9-5 job that required daycare. They’ve of course attended classes, camps, and spent time with family members or babysitters, but the majority of their time has been with me.
That all changes August 15th when they go to school for the first time.
My daughter asked to go to school several months ago. I applied for some charter schools in my area and all three kids got into a school with an amazing reputation. It’s everything I could ask for in a school- small class size, hands on learning, lots of field trips etc. All of the kids are excited.
In less than a month, my time as a homeschooling mom will end. We’ve known for a few months and I am still wrapping my brain around it. I have loved being there for my sweet kids as they learned how to read. I have loved watching them develop interests in academic areas. I have truly enjoyed field trips and messy projects with them. There have been tough moments, but homeschooling has been such a sweet part of our lives and I will miss it- and my kids.
This change will allow for me to focus more on my writing and my health. It will allow them to form new friendships. I would be lying if I tried to say I was not nervous. And sad. Back-to-school sales have left me misty eyed as I realized we did not need to get ready for another homeschool year.
But I am trying to look forward to what comes next. I can’t even imagine how much more writing I will be able to get done when I am not solely responsible for their education. My house will be cleaner. I can actually rest when my autoimmune disease flares up. I am sure that that they will enjoy their school days.
And I will always be here if they want to come home. Because that’s what moms are for.
Resources For Martin Luther King Day
Maybe you were like me and procrastinated putting something together to celebrate Dr. King. Procrastinate no more! I’ve gathered up some great resources to share with your kids.
“Nellie Nova Takes Flight” is Now Available!
I am happy to announce that “Nellie Nova Takes Flight” is now available for purchase! Check it out!