Monday, May 30, 2011

We are still alive and learning!

Sorry for all the silence from our end on the world! We are still alive and learning! Just been taking it slow and I have been amazed at how much my Crawfish Pie has learned just through living our everyday lives. Our time off has not been wasted though, there have been plenty of park days and I learned how to successfully coupon so our family can save money. We have met many new people on this adventure and our lives have been enriched greatly by participating more in the community. Beginning in August, we will switch to a set curriculum as established by our local school board. . . wish us luck!!! I am terrified of a set curriculum :( We will still incorporate plenty of games and activities and I know we will still have fun, but the change is kind of scary.  And of course, I will continue to list all of the free websites we love :) More of those will be on here soon, I promise.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Giveaway: Limited Edition Spring I Spy Bags

These little bags are such a neat idea that I just had to share this giveaway with someone! There have been plenty of times when Crawfish Pie and I have been stuck in a waiting room far longer than flash cards, coloring books, and even the Leapster2 could keep her occupied. While trying to find ways to keep her quietly occupied (and in one seat), we have found the I Spy game to work wonders! Old magazines, pictures on the wall, and other peoples accessories all work well for the game. Then I cringe when I see some mucus encrusted kid playing with the other magazines and I suddenly find myself wondering about what cooties my daughter has come into contact with. And lets be honest, no human being likes to be stared at in a waiting room or unknowingly used for entertainment. Now that you have the details, you can fully appreciate my excitement for the giveaway I found at Little Wife Power House. It's I Spy in an ever so clever bag!

The I Spy Bags are also available in a green fabric that can be for a boy or gender neutral, obviously I am partial to the pink one. You can buy them here if you aren't lucky enough to win the giveaway. Kids will be occupied, cooties avoided, and no awkward eye contact or staring. Yay! Good luck to you all!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Free Reading Resources

To follow up the free Language Arts material of a previous post, I thought I would share a few sites with free reading resources. Whether you are looking to read books online, listen to books online, or download books to go, there is something here for almost everyone.

We Give Books 
     We Give Books donates a book to the charitable organization of your choice every time you read a book. Simply sign up, pick your charity, and read some books.  Reading the books is similar to checking out the sales papers for your favorite store. You have to turn pages, zoom, and scroll around to see the whole page. It is worth it when you get to the end of the book and click on the "give book" link, it makes your heart smile just a little bit.

Books Should Be Free
     Download free audio books in mp3, iPod, or iTunes format. Choose from several categories, with over 100 children's books, or do a general search to find exactly what you are looking for. I have only listened to one children's book, so I can't speak for the recorded quality of all books.

     Watch animated audio books geared for a younger crowd. This site provides a sorting feature at the top of the page that lets you select fables, fairytales, holiday books, etc. It also has several books that feature the character Arthur, which seems to be a hit with the kiddos.

     This site offers an audio book collection for children and tweens. Their official mascot is Bertie the frog prince who longs for Princess Beatrice to kiss him so he can be a prince again. How cute is that? Storynory offers classics, fairytales, original stories, and an educational section. Listen to their audio books online, or load up your mp3 player from their free podcasts or iTunes feed. Follow them on Facebook for up to date announcements.

Light Up Your Brain
      With about twenty stories currently offered, it will not be your one stop shop when it comes to audio books. This site does offer several of the children's classics available for download as an mp3 file or you can read the text online. My favorite is the non-Disney version of The Little Mermaid.

Open Culture
     Self described as "the best free cultural and educational media on the web", this site features TONS of downloads. With categories in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry you are sure to find something useful on this site. Open Culture also has audio files and podcasts that cover a variety of topics such as music, science, technology, and culture. They even have a section of free courses, and about 340 classic movies and indie films.

The Story Home
     "The Story Home believes that the imagination of a child is a priceless resource and must be given time, encouragement, and education." Don't you love this site already? The Story Home was created by Alan Scofield as a way for him to share his original stories with friends and family. It soon blossomed into an all out audio book extravaganza full of classic stories for children and the original works of Alan and his wife Sharon. With a princess castle theme, this place is like an online fairytale all its own. I know some boys will not be caught alive looking at a website with princess castles and sparkly stars, but there are plenty of animal and sports stories for them to enjoy too. Maybe you could just turn the screen off.

Lit 2 Go
     I think I might have hit the motherload with this one :) Created by the University of South Florida as part of the Educational Technology Clearinghouse, this site has nearly got it all. You can download the mp3 file, download directly into iTunes, download the online text version, or download a printable PDF. The majority of the books come with downloadable "support material" that vary intensely depending on the reading level and nature of the story. You can search by author, title of the work, reading level, or subject matter. This site has you covered no matter grade/reading level your child is on.

Book Adventure
     This site, created by Sylvan Learning, provides the motivation to get kids reading. Geared towards elementary and middle school aged children, Book Adventure allows a student to create their own booklists from about 7,000 titles and encourages them to keep reading through games, quizzes, and prizes. This site does not provide the reading material, but you already know you can find it for free. There is also a Parent Zone to help you monitor quiz scores and approve prize selections. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Stumbled for the First Time Today

 I am not talking about cleverly catching your self just before your face plants on the floor. Or mixing your words together because your incredibly productive brain works way faster than your mouth does. Stumbling is now something you do online. Isn't that great?! No one can see you do it, and you won't get made fun of for the rest of the day. Just kidding. Stumble Upon is a website that I have been seeing a lot of in blogs recently and so I decided to stumble with the masses. You simply sign up (for free) and you are given a huge checklist. Select all of the stuff that seems interesting to you and hit the stumble button. This site will pull stuff from all over the web that match the criteria you selected. If you like the page that you "stumbled upon", then give it a thumbs up and it will be kept in your favorites. Ready to move on to another site? Just hit the "stumble" button. It is a great way to find new sites that fit your interests, and can entertain you for quite awhile. Here are a couple of sites that I "stumbled upon" today.

This chick makes math seem AWESOME!  Vi Hart's personal blog about how cool math really is, with videos to prove it

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity This is a presentation on TED Talks, those are always addicting. This one is about 20 minutes of insight into how important the arts are to education.

And now I want to make one of these A trash to treasure, DIY project that is perfect for anyone who has a little girl.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Did You Know the Space Station Was THAT Big?

The space station has been in the news lately for it's recent appearance in the night sky. I distinctly remember learning about the Space Station in middle school. As a day dreamer I marveled at it's endless possibilities. Over the years, several news stories had caught my attention about all the goings-on up there. There seems to always be a special mission to make repairs, run experiments, or replenish supplies. Even with all the news coverage about the space station, my mental image always stayed the same. That little mental image seems crazy to me now, as I know nothing ever stays the same. Just in case your mental image of the space station is still as it was years ago, here is a link to update that little picture in your brain.

USA Today : International Space Station

The sight also provides a time line of all the additions, and you can click on specific parts for more info on the purpose and other details. Interesting info for a nerd like me :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Mardi Gras!


Free Language Arts Resources

Sorry that the posting has been sporadic lately. We are still alive and very much enjoying the BEAUTIFUL spring weather here in Louisiana. We have been keeping ourselves busy outside and have a few upcoming family events that may be time consuming, so I apologize in advance for the delay of the next post. But know in your hearts that I am still thinking about my wonderful readers, and I promise that I have plenty of free resources for every subject so this little blog must live on to finish out it's destiny. (Yes, I am cheesy. All this sunshine must be frying my brain)

On to the awesome FREE stuff! As usual, the following are my own opinions and I am not being compensated in any way. Also, the resources cover a variety of content for a variety of ages groups/grades, but they are all centered around the Art that is Language. I hope you find something wonderful for your home school family!

Spelling City 
     Spelling City has tons to offer. You can opt for the free registration as a home school family, and have access to parent, teacher, and student resources on their site. This site is mostly geared towards younger kids, perhaps through middle school years, but it does have SAT spelling lists if you need practice for the older students in the class. You can create your own spelling lists and have the site teach the student, test the student, or create games that include the words you chose. This customizable feature makes it a perfect online addition to whatever curriculum you are already using. Spelling City has about 42,000 spelling words and customizable sentences for you to take advantage of, and has a real person to say and spell the words or read the sentences to your child. The site also offers free printables, including handwriting worksheets. Spelling City isn't limited to spelling though, it offers resources for improving reading, writing, and grammar skills mostly through games and skills lessons. First time users can get good use out of video tutorials and support from the site to help you get the most out of the site and incorporate these materials into your home school.

Apples 4 the Teacher
     This site offer resources for multiple subjects, but for right now I will focus on it's Language Arts section. This is a great resource for Pre-K through elementary school aged students.The main advantage of Apples 4 the Teacher is that it has tons of free printables. Coloring pages, crossword puzzles, alphabetizing lists, flash cards, printable games, sentence structure, letter recognition, word families, the list goes on. . . and on. If you need printables for your language arts lessons this site can definitely be a great asset. This site also offers resources by themes (such as a holiday or by season), so be sure to check back next time you are planning your language arts lessons.

Preschool Express
      All aboard the Preschool Express! Another site with resources for a variety of subjects, geared toward the Pre-K crowd. This site offers tons of ideas, lessons, activities, and printables that cover just about everything you need for your preschool lesson plans. I used the Alphabet Station alot to find activities for Crawfish Pie's  Alphabet Scrapbook. The creator of this site has lots of craft ideas, snack ideas, exercise ideas, etc to go along with the famous "letter of the week" (or day) lessons that so many home school families create for their little ones. If your family uses the letter of the week method, you will love this site! They also have the Skills Station which offers activities to build listening, thinking, and pre-reading skills along with many others that are related to other subject areas. Be sure to check out all of the "stations" along the Preschool Express railways :)

     Broken down into four easy to use levels based on your child's ability to read, Starfall offers colorful engaging activities to keep your kid interested while learning the skills needed to read and expand their vocabulary. This site is easy enough for my 5 year old to navigate on her own, or we can sit together and discuss the activities as she plays. And now the first level of learning, the "ABCs" section, is available as an application for iPods, iPhones and iPads.

McGraw Hill Workbooks
     Complete Language Arts and Grammar workbooks for grades 6-12. If you need an extra resource for your older students in the Language Arts area, consider these free downloads of complete workbooks published by McGraw Hill/Glencoe. No registration required, simply download the PDF file.These resources may vary by state, if you are looking for your state's materials you can check here. Just select, parent/student resources, the state you are in, and the subject material you are looking for. You can also check out what other states have if you are nosy like I am :) These are the workbooks that many public school systems are using, so this is a great tool if you wish to compare your lessons to the state's or to see if you child is "on target" with a state approved education.

Scott Foresman Workbooks
     Similar to the McGraw Hill workbooks, but for grades 1 through 6. These workbooks are a great resource for any classroom as the base of language arts curriculum, as a supplement, to see what area your child is struggling with, or to see how your child's understanding of the subject compares to kids in the state schools. These workbooks are also easy to navigate, with a complete and interactive Table of Contents that lets you skim areas of concentration and skip to what you specifically looking for within the document.

Adolescent Literacy
     Developed for the adolescent who struggles in reading, as well as the parents and teachers of students in grades 4 through 12. This site offers tips, advice, and methods to try when your adolescent has a tough time being in engaged when it comes to reading. offers short videos, podcasts, and pdf files to help you find a way to make reading exciting for your student.
     If your child doesn't struggle with reading, check out the Just for Fun section to find links for writing contests, free books, daily quizzes, and events that celebrate reading and literature.

Dr. Grammar
     Created by the University of Northern Iowa, Dr. Grammar is your one stop shop for information on all things related to grammar. Tricky grammar rules, commonly misused words, questions about plagiarism, and punctuation problems, are all covered in this easy to navigate site that tries to keep grammar simple to understand and interesting. I think everyone's grammar can benefit from checking out Dr. Grammar's Frequently Asked Questions. The information is useful for anyone who speaks or writes in our ever confusing English language, and they also provide a cute list of why English is so difficult to master as a language on their Potpourri page.

Agenda Web
     This site pulls resources from around the web, including, to bring you a comprehensive listing of games, worksheets, videos, and lessons. The site is first broken down into specific subject content, once you find the topic you are looking for the site gives you a set of links that are color coded by skill level. Some sections do not have names on the links, just a simple "exe" or "fla" description of what type of link it is. If you have spare time to go through the links, you can find some really useful resources to incorporate into your home school curriculum. Audio books, short stories with simple quizzes at the end, printable worksheets, vocabulary lessons, and other resources from the best the web has to offer are all located within this site. Though this site may not be super easy to use, by clicking the links offered in the topic of your choice you may find a few websites you never knew existed. I think the price tag is worth a little extra time, but this site may not be a good fit for everybody.

The Amazing Handwriting Worksheet Maker
     As the name implies, this website makes amazing handwriting worksheets. More commonly referred to as "tracer pages", you get to pick the font, the size, the color, and the words. You can pick a single word, a complete sentence, or a entire paragraph. The only downside to this website is that it is print only, you cannot save your tracer pages. No copy and paste, no ctrl P, no print screen. . . they have their bases covered. You do however get some of the best free customized tracer pages I have seen on the web.  A slightly less "pretty" site that prints customized tracer pages is Kid Zone. This site lets you pick the font and text you want to print, but there is a gap in the line between the letters and you never know how it is going to fit on the page when it is printed. I used to copy and paste to a word document, that way you can see how it fits on a real page and you can also save it if you choose.

     Just for fun :) This is the perfect site for the imaginative child. It is an online, interactive story building site that lets you collaborate with family and friends to create and illustrate stories. This is also a great site to encourage students to build story telling, grammar, and other language arts skills. Storybird would be a great addition to a lesson plan when learning about themes, plots, narration, characters, etc, and could also be used in poetry writing lessons. You can start with your own story and then find illustrations to add to it, or get inspired by artists already working with the site. There are no profiles to create, and no information is shared other than your story so it is completely safe for younger kids to use. You can view a simple tutorial here to get a better understanding of how the site works.

Glencoe Literature Library
     This is a very useful site centered around pieces of literature that are commonly read in public schools, such as "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" and "Hamlet". The Literature Library does not offer the text, but it does offer a study guide. These study guides offer insight into the literature, point out elements to focus on, details about the author or time period that may have affected their writing, and they also have thoughts to consider or additional resources that may be useful before you begin reading the actual text. The Literature Library is in alphabetical order, so it will be easy to see if they have the literature you planned on using in your curriculum. Simply click the title, scroll to the bottom of the page, and select Study Guide. Voila, a pdf file ready for you to add to your lesson plans.

Daily Writing Tips
     I am sure you already know what this site is about. Tips on using proper grammar in your writing, sent to you daily. Each day there is a short article on a grammar rule, how to use it properly and how to avoid using it improperly. You can go through the archives, see the most popular articles, or use their search engine to find specific articles. They also have short tests that they update each month. I had to check the test features out so I opted for the Grammar test. I failed miserably. Makes me wonder: are my writing skills really that bad? Perhaps I need to brush up on my grammar lessons.

     Is it possible that I am only person who thinks dictionaries are cool? It can't be so. But just in case it is, the folks at Merriam-Webster have created a few sites to encourage kids to love vocabulary. Word Central is an offspring of the dictionary site geared towards the much younger crowd. This site offers fun learning games that take place in some distant universe and feature characters like Robo-Bee and BIGbot. You can also create your own dictionary. Most young kids will make up their own words when they aren't sure how to express their thoughts completely, and this site gives them a fun forum to explore words and keep track of their own new ones. There is also a section for educator resources that can be a useful addition to vocabulary lesson plans or lessons about using the dictionary. Spell It! is a site co-created by the Scripp's National Spelling Bee that is mainly used by students wishing to compete in the spelling bee. This site has tons of words separated into categories based on language of origin, and it has "challenges" in each section that further your knowledge of how the language of origin affects words in our language. This site also has a list of Words You Need to Know that covers words frequently used in essay writing and commonly misspelled words.  Spelling Bee Hive is also commonly used for spelling bees. This site seems way more relaxed than the Spell It site and offers fun games, the word of the day, and daily spelling quizzes. There is also a short article on Noah Webster's Spelling Reform which shows how old Mr. Webster changed words to make them easier to pronounce and spell (thank you Mr. Webster!).

That's all of my free sites for Language Arts. If you have other free sites that you love and want to share, please leave me a comment. And since you are all here, what subject or lesson plan are you working on that could use some free upgrades?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Reviews: Keeping it all together :)

Here are more reviews of the awesome free sites that I have been digging through. These sites are focused on helping students, teachers, or (home school) groups keep it all together and organized. If you're an on the go family that needs a new way to keep track of life and schoolwork, these sites will definitely help
If you are looking for subject or curriculum based sites that are free, come back soon because I have plenty of those to share in the near future.

 More for the student, than the teacher. The best way to describe Soshiku is to compare it to that day planner you lug around with you. You know the one: full of rescheduled assignments, course work, your daily schedule, sticky notes and paperclips hanging out all the over the place. It's your everyday life crammed into a book that you can't live without. Or maybe you do live without it, but you really need to get one :) This site is that day planner. It organizes your courses, manages assignments, keeps your notes, allows you to upload files, reminds you of due dates and upcoming tests, and lets you work with your science fair partner. The absolute best part: it can notify you of upcoming tests or assignment due dates via e-mail or TEXT MESSAGE! Where was this site when I was in college? I am so jealous! The site says it is for high school or college students, but it is simple enough to use for all ages. And because it's online, you can access your information anywhere there is an internet connection.

Similar to Soshiku, this site focuses on the student world of courses, assignments, and tests. A few things that separate this site from the others is that it allows you to keep track of exam grades and calculate averages. It currently does not offer any compatibility with your phone, but the site says those capabilities are coming soon. I think once it can text you with notifications, it will surpass Soshiku.

Donna Young's Free Homeschool Planner
If you prefer the good old fashion paper planning, this is the site for you. This site offers lots of free printable forms, and some that you can fill in before you print. It offers lots of neat stuff, helpful advice on planning a curriculum, and tips on using the printable forms. They offer calenders, daily planning sheets, weekly planning sheets, journal pages, and even an adorable kindergarten diploma. I would recommend this site to anyone who spends money on planners of any kind, and is a great way to have make your schedule and info more accessible in the home.

 This may be my inner child talking, but Stixy is so super cute! Stixy is like the family message board (schools and offices have them too). Some people prefer the cork boards, some people prefer the more updated magnetic/dry erase ones, some people still roll with the chalk boards of yester-year. Whichever fits your family style, Stixy will bring it online. Have you ever been on the road, at a meeting, or on the way to the grocery store and you needed something off of that board. You can picture the little sticky note that you need, or the magnet holding your grocery list in place. Now you can check your board from your cool new smartphone or anywhere there is an internet connection. And this board is way more interactive than the one you have the fridge at home. You can attach images, pdf files, word documents, calendars, to-do lists, assignments, important dates or appointments, the list can go on. You can change the color, style, and size of your font. You can make it as super cute or mundane as your heart desires. Those techy teenagers might actually remember to check the board. Stixy is also great for class notes, assignments, quizzes, storing and organizing research, sharing photos, and keeping connected with your local homeschool group.

Yep, it's a list. . . on the web. Weblist allows you create, store, organize, and share information on the web in what it calls a list. Your list can be anything, about anything. Your lists can contain websites, photos, videos, text documents, pdfs, and more. Have a long list of websites that you like to reference in your lesson plans? Create a weblist for each subject and never go on the hunt for that site with the really good worksheets again. This site is also great for research projects and reports that include various forms of info and digital media that you need to store in one place. Each list gets its own unique URL, so you can easily share your personalized list of great resources and info with whomever you choose instead of sending out massive files to download or multiple urls to websites. Perfect for a teacher to make all the course materials available to the students and parents at home. And a great way to keep track of files that a home school group may share.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Crawfish Pie!

Five years ago to the day, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. It's hard to believe that so much time has passed already, but I can't deny what stands before me. She is growing into such a wonderful person and I am so lucky to have her in my life. Her personality is huge, she plays hard and loves with all her heart. She is caring, smart, and funny. Crawfish Pie loves to play outside all day, she loves meeting new people, and she loves to learn new things.

Though we are homeschooling I am not sure who teaches who the most valuable lessons. ABC's and 123's seem to pale in comparison to everything she has given me, and there isn't a day that has gone by that she hasn't put a smile on my face. I have learned to have more patience, and she has taught me to see the grey areas in my previously black and white outlook on life.

She is definitely an "outside the box" thinker, and I enjoy trying to keep up with her brilliance. Her intelligent mind coupled with her amazing imagination never cease to amaze me. She can always finds a creative solution to a problem no matter how big or small, and she will take the long road because it gives her more time to play along the way.  She truly is an amazing person, and she inspires me to be the best Momma that I can be.

I hope that she will keep these qualities as she continues to grow.
And I hope her future is as full of love, energy, and passion as she is.

Happy Birthday Crawfish Pie!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Let the Reviews Begin: Google Apps for the Classroom

Google. . . an internet entity that is so powerful its name has become a verb. "Google it". Their search engine is one of the most widely used, but until recently I hadn't noticed all that they have to offer. Best of all, everything is free! With the tools and apps that Google has, your online world (including all your educational material) can be streamlined, organized, easy to access anywhere there is an internet connection, and stored on a Google server (freeing up space on your computer).
The following reviews are my own opinions based on my own personal experience that I have had with the featured site. There has been no contact between myself and the Google empire, and I am not being compensated in any way for featuring any of the sites.

Google Groups
This site offers a way to stay connected through group email lists and discussion boards. It is similar to Yahoo Groups, but is currently in the process of streamlining it features so it will no longer offer file storage. I wouldn't be too worried about that though, they have other free sites dedicated to file storage that you could easily access from the discussion board or the email feature. These groups are super easy to set up, share, and manage. Perfect for maintaining communication with home school families, groups, and students.

Google Docs
One simple word explains this site : everything. If you need somewhere to create and store all of your educational files, this site for you. Google Docs offers everything you need to create text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. It stores them on their server, so your computer is free of clutter, you can share your information with anyone, and you can access your information anywhere. There is no software to install, and of course it's free :) Google Docs allows more than one person to work on a document at the same time from different locations (peer reviews, group assignments) and once your document is complete you can publish the document as a web page with a unique Google url. You can also choose to upload your own files if you are partial to a software brand.

Google Page Creator
With Google Page Creator, you or your students can easily create and publish a webpage. This site has simple to use "drag and drop" features that allow to change the layout without knowing any codes. Set up a page for your class, your local group, your family, or the topic of a recent research assignment. There is no software to download, you can upload your own images, and add links to other websites.

Google's Picasa
This is a great tool to edit and publish pictures and photo albums. This site also offers Web Albums, which upload your photos to the web, saving space on your computer and allowing you to share with your friends and family. This software is available as a free download, and once installed will locate all of the pictures on you computer and place them into folders organized by the date taken. Picasa offers editing tools that are easy to use, and you can arrange the pictures in the folder in any order you want. Great for use with reports that require lots of pictures, photos of school events, family photos, and more. If you have photos, you will want Picasa.

Google SketchUp
Wow. This thing is amazing. The official description is "an easy-to-use program that lets you and your students create, modify, and share 3D models. From history to calculus, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to see your ideas in 3D. And when you're done, you can export an image, make a movie, or print out a view of what you made." I have watched a few tutorials on youTube, and it seems like this software would take some getting used to. The end results are astonishing though! You can use this software to make a 3D anything, using your own photos or start from scratch, and you can also work in conjunction with Google Earth to put 3D models of buildings on the map! As an educator you can create 3D models of geometric equations or have your students create models of chemical reactions. Google claims that you can incorporate their SketchUp software into any subject, at any grade level. If your students are visual learners, this will be a very useful tool to have in your arsenal.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

We're back! (I think)

 Holidays are always a good excuse to skip the dirty work. Throw a surgery in the mix and you can guarantee that nothing will be accomplished for a while. So, after much time off (from schooling and blogging) it is time we get back into the swing of things. We started the New Year off right, with a makeover for the classroom that included all the cool posters and supplies Crawfish Pie received for Christmas. She is so excited about school, and unbelievably excited about doing school work in her new classroom. All you other moms reading this know how contagious that excitement is! Although it is technically the middle of the school year, I have decided to make a few changes to our curriculum. That's one of the perks of being a home school family. Crawfish Pie has shown me that she is thirsty for more knowledge than ABC's and 123's. We are keeping our Alphabet Scrapbook, its our art project for the day and we both really enjoy it. We will be making good use of all the games Christmas brought to our house this year, which I never thought of as educational in my youth but somehow are very appealing as educational tools now that I have a kid of my own. Another big debut in the Stelly house is the Tag reading system that Aunt Erica gave to Crawfish Pie!!!!! I don't think the extra exclamation points are enough to express how truly excited we are about that thing!  I have also been searching the internet for more free educational activities that we can do together and may have found more free stuff than a girl can handle! Keep an eye out for upcoming reviews of the free websites, and don't worry, I will add them to the list of free stuff as I go through each site to make sure its content is fully appropriate (we all know how much spam can come from a free site).  Cheers to a whole new year of learning and loving it!