Free Unit Study: India

It’s been awhile, but I’ve been busy being a mom, keeping house, and finishing up Scooter’s kindergarten year. (I will post soon about how we handled promotion including video from our ceremony).

Since we school year-round, I’ve also been busy preparing for next year. Our family thrives on structure which is our primary reason for starting the new school year days after the old one has been completed – but Scooter is also eager to start first grade before all of his friends. (Can’t argue with a child who wants to learn, right?) So our school year begins on June 1!

This year, we will be using Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times as our spine for not only social studies, but literature and fine arts. I do use a separate curriculum for math and science, but will look for those connections as well.

We began using Story of the World Volume 1 (SOTW) in February, but did not get very far. It is a meaty book and Scooter got very wrapped up in Egyptology and mummies. (Pun not intended, but I’m going to leave it just because.)

Now, we are ready to begin learning about Ancient India, and that is the inspiration for this free India Unit Printable.

For this unit, I’ve pulled ideas from  just about everywhere: classical homeschooling, Charlotte Mason, unit study, lap-booking and Five in a Row-inspired methods. We don’t use any single method around here. I’ve also tried to hit as many of the subject areas as possible, tying them all into the theme at least once. In this unit, there is one day with mathematics and one day with science.

You will need the SOTW  Volume 1 text and activity book and The Monkey and the Crocodile by Paul Galdone.

The Monkey and the Crocodile Cover ImageIf you use SOTW already, you know that it is recommended you find one non-fiction book and one fiction book for each chapter. Scooter has had a life-long fascination with crocodilians and I discovered this delightful folk-tale at our local library years ago. The story is fun and the illustrations are outstanding (duh, it’s Paul Galdone) – and it is a great springboard for learning about Indian animals and making mango smoothies! Yum!

I am using three non-fiction texts to supplement SOTW. I chose A Faith Like Mine, Spotlight on India and Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story. I had A Faith Like Mine already and chose the others from what was available at our local libraries. You may choose others. There are many free online videos for yoga practices with children. We are a book family and loved the illustrations in Good Night Yoga. It is also in a story format, which makes the sequence and poses easy to remember. A bonus: it prepares little ones for a restful sleep! Yeehaw!

Spotlight on India Cover ImageA Faith Like Mine cover artActivities  in this Goodnight Yoga coverunit include: map work, reading/listening, narration, making various lap-book components, listening to Indian music, coloring/illustrating, acting out an Indian folktale, a yoga practice, cooking, copy work, and writing.

If you are unfamiliar with lap-booking, I recommend checking out In the Hands of a Child. When we first began after-schooling Scooter, this site was a life-saver. Though we are secular homeschoolers, we have managed to find numerous materials here that suit our needs and interests. In addition to providing downloadable lap-books and other products, they have a great section explaining all things lap-book. I have not included detailed instructions in my unit for the lap-book components since you can find information and inspiration so handily at their site. (I am not affiliated with In the Hands of a Child and receive nothing should you purchase from their site – I just think they are an excellent resource!)

As always, you should pick and choose what works for you. We will be skipping the SOTW story about the disappearing city since that hits a little too close to home here in flood-stricken Texas. So, if you don’t want to play tag like monkeys and crocodiles or don’t want to do yoga with your kids – then don’t!

Please let me know if you use this with your children. I’d especially love to see some pictures of your monkeys and crocodiles! Have fun!

(This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase through one of these links, I get pocket change to buy more mangoes for Cheech and Scooter.)


Lena Dunham v. Josh Duggar

Warning. This is a snit. This isn’t a nice little post about homeschooling or a funny parody of a kids’ movie song. I’m going to use awful, unpleasant words that no one likes. Not swears, but truly awful, squirm-worthy words. In the words of the Lorax, “You have been warned!”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely heard about Josh Duggar and the Duggar family’s fall from grace. If you haven’t, go look at the Interwebz. I’ll wait. And if you’ve been following the news and social media , you’ve probably also heard the Right railing against “the media” and “liberals” and “progressives” for the backlash against all things Duggar. Many of these hand-wringing justifications include mention of Lena Dunham, billed as a “liberal darling” who also molested her sister, Grace. Again, if you haven’t seen these articles, go look at the Interwebz. I have all day.

Have you gotten your facts? I hope you read a few articles – not just from your favorite and preferred news sources, but some from the “other side” as well. I hope you looked at the 33-page police report filed in 2006. (And thank goodness there are so many screen shots of that circulating since the judge in Arkansas ordered it expunged and it no longer, technically anyway, exists. Funny that…) Go read the excerpt from Lena Dunham’s book and her sister’s response as well. Go find and read all of these for yourself. Extra credit for reading the ATI/Bill Gothard counseling flow chart for victims of sexual abuse most probably used by Jim Bob, Michelle and others in the Duggar sphere to counsel Josh’s victims.

I’m intentionally not linking them here. Go find them. Read them. For yourself. There needs to be more doing our own research using primary sources in the world. REALLY.

Good for you. Now you have your facts. You can quit reading now since I am sure you can form an educated and supportable opinion without my intervention.

But just in case you haven’t actually gone to the Interwebz and haven’t checked the facts for yourself and/or just in case you care about my opinion on the matter, I present this comparison of Lena Dunham and Josh Duggar.

1. Age of Perpetrator: Josh Duggar was 14-15 years old. Lena Dunham was 7. Edit: A reader mentioned that Lena Dunham had continued to abuse her sister to the age of 17. I did some digging and found reports that she did continue engaging in the weird and inappropriate until she was in her teen years. More below.

2. Age of Victims: Josh Duggar’s victims’ ages have been redacted from the police report, but if you read the report, it is obvious some of them were very young when he incestuously molested them. I have read articles by people who have done the math (and who can actually remember all of those “J” names), and his youngest victim (a sister) would have been around age 5 when she was violated. Grace Dunham was 4. Edit: She was 4 at the time of the most alarming incident where Lena explored her vagina. Others occurred later.

3. Difference in Age between Perpetrator and Victims: Josh Duggar was 9-10 years older than his youngest victim. Lena Dunham was 3 years older than Grace.

4. Relationship to Victim(s): Four of Josh Duggar’s victims were his sisters and one was a family friend. Lena Dunham touched her sister, Grace.

5. Number of Incidents: Josh Duggar – unknown, but at least five separate occasions. Lena Dunham – one. Edit: Lena also admitted to and described other incidents in detail in her memoir.

6. Circumstances surrounding Incidents: Josh Duggar usually snuck into his sisters’ rooms while they were sleeping (or in one case, snuck up on a sister sleeping on the couch). In at least one case, Josh Duggar forced inappropriate touch on one of his victims while she was fully awake. Lena Dunham and her sister were playing in the family driveway and her sister was fully awake. Edit: that was the first incident. At other times, Lena admits to bribing her younger sister for 5-second kisses on the lips, trying to get Grace to “relax” on her and she also admits to touching herself (not stimulating, but exploring herself) while her sister was asleep beside her in their shared bed.

7. Time Frame: Josh Duggar incestuously molested his sisters over a period of 9 months-1 year. Lena Dunham touched her sister once while playing in the family driveway. Edit: She also instigated other activities between them through her teen years.

8. Self-Reporting: Josh Duggar told his parents after several months of incestuously molesting his sisters because he felt guilt and shame. Lena Dunham told her mother immediately when she discovered that her sister had put a bunch of pebbles in her vagina. Edit: She wrote about the other things in her memoir – in detail. In fact, she landed in hot water because she wrote about them so candidly (some called it flippantly). But however one chooses to judge her self-reporting, she certainly left nothing to the imagination.

Summary: Josh Duggar was much older than his victims, abused them multiple times, took efforts to avoid being discovered and later (much later) confessed because he knew what he had done was wrong. Lena Dunham was also older than her victim, but offended once, and immediately told on herself because she was alarmed by the pebbles she saw. This last part speaks to Lena Dunham’s intent – curiosity. Curiosity inappropriately satisfied, certainly. Josh Duggar preyed on his victims for sexual gratification. And that is a crucial distinction. Edit: Lena Dunham also engaged in inappropriate activities more than once. The bribed kisses, the relaxing on, the touching herself while her sister slept – and the vagina incident. Still a the major difference remains: many reputable therapists do not consider Lena’s behavior abuse. Inappropriate, yes. Evidence that some discussion of boundaries was sorely needed, yes. But not abusive. So far, as of this edit, I have yet to read any credible therapist who says what Josh Duggar did was anything other than abusive. There is no “grey area” where a reasonably, trained person familiar with children, their development and sexual abuse has gone out on a limb to say that what he did was just youthful exploration and curiosity. Each and every time Josh Duggar acted, he fondled his victim’s genitals and often, their breasts as well.

I’m not going to rehash how the Duggar family handled (or rather, did not handle) the issue because I can’t say how Lena Dunham’s mother handled it other than removing the rocks and this is a comparison piece. I can’t compare information I don’t have. There isn’t any mention of sending Lena to help a family friend remodel a building owned by an associated religious organization as therapy. There is no mention that Lena received a talking to by another family friend in law enforcement (who would later be sentenced to 56 years in jail for child pornography crimes). We don’t know if Grace was told to sleep in her clothes or moved into a room with others in their family to keep it from happening again. (Perhaps she was banned from playing in the family driveway?) We don’t know if Lena’s family used Bill Gothard’s ATI flow-chart to counsel Grace. (Did they ask how Grace had “defrauded” Lena in some way, resulting in God allowing it to happen? Was her four-year-old’s dress too provocative, her panties too enticing, or was she sitting indecently in that driveway playing with blocks? Did they interview Grace to find out which family rule she had broken, thereby causing God to allow it to happen?) We will never know.

But one thing I do know, Lena Dunham and Josh Duggar are not the same. Comparing the two is comparing apples to orangutans. Comparing the two is a feeble attempt to make the Duggar family scandal about something other than incestuous molestation that was not dealt with appropriately, but shoved under the rug – a rug then covered with a shiny, “Family Values” empire. An empire used to accuse and malign and discriminate against entire groups of people based on the Duggar’s evaluation of their sexual purity.

And another thing I know – I’d let Lena Dunham babysit long before I’d let Josh Duggar. Edit: Long before…but how long before is exactly never? If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick Lena, but thankfully….I don’t have to make that choice.

Free Printable: Baking with Blends Game

This week, I’m sharing one of Scooter’s favorite games, Baking with Blends. Players traverse a baking-themed board and read words featuring blends – beginning, final, and beginning +  final.

For the uninitiated, a blend is two or more consonants whose sounds “blend” together to create one, smooth sound. The word “blend” has two blends: /bl/ and /nd/. Systematic study and practice with blends helps build fluency.

Please note that this game is neither complex nor particularly creative. It doesn’t even have anything to do with baking. But, it has been a very effective trick tool for getting Scooter to practice blends. Could I just use flash cards? Sure, but there would be a lot of crying involved. (Scooter and me.) Add some cutesy little pictures and tell him it’s a game? Scooter will practice blends all day long without any crying involved. (Except for me if we are going on round 6 or 7).

So, I hope you enjoy this printable. Let me know what you think!

Happy Limericks Day! Party Hard!!!

Well, now that Mother’s Day is over, was it as awesome as you dreamed?

No. Of course not. Because all the most awesome holidays are awesome because mothers do all the work.

But, do not despair! A truly awesome holiday that is awesome all on its own with very little assistance from moms is tomorrow! Yes, Tuesday, May 12, is Limericks Day. Woohoo! I know you’ve been waiting all year and planning a Pinterest-worthy party! I know I have been! (Not really.) But, I did think the day was worthy of a few original limericks. And if you feel inspired, comment with your own! I’d truly love to hear them.


A mom had a toddler of three
Who was trying to learn to go wee
On his own little seat
But he peed on his feet –
A wet little toddler was he.

The laundry is calling my name.
Ev’ryday, its shrill call is the same.
“Come, wash your clothes!
Folks are holding their nose!”
But Facebook will still win the game.

Oh, what should this mom make for lunch?
For my picky, yet gluttonous bunch?
Macaroni and cheese,
Or fish sticks and peas?
Who knows what the hell they will munch!

I took my foul car to be cleaned
And was so embarrassed I screamed –
Three meals’-worth of food
A diaper he’d pooed –
It was so much worse than I’d dreamed.

There once was a mom from Nantucket,
Who tired of her mop and her bucket.
Each time that she’d mop,
Someone would barf in a glop,
So she finally, said, “Oh, well! Forget it!” (See what I did there?)

Happy Limericks Day. Party responsibly.


Mother’s Day: Listen to Your Mother

In 2013, I was cast in Listen to Your Mother Show Austin. LTYM features curated, live readings by local writers on the topic of motherhood in celebration of Mother’s Day. As of this year, Listen to Your Mother shows are in 39 cities and Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now was released April 7 of this year, featuring a number of essays from past shows. Fellow 2013 LTYM Austin alumnae Ruth Pennebaker and Wendi Aarons (who also co-produced the 2013 LTYM Austin show with Elizabeth McGuire) both contributed to the book! (Cool, eh?)

Not all of the writers are mothers and not all of the writers are professional writers (Ahem. Me.) It was fairly intimidating and a lot surprising to find myself sitting around a table for our first read-through with all of these real-life pros. It was realizing you’re at the wrong wedding reception after you’ve already taken a piece of cake. What are you going to do? I sat there and ate the cake.

I ate the cake, but I spent the rest of the party fairly disengaged. Which is a sacrilege since LTYM is profoundly moving and even transformative. But, it wasn’t like that for me. Which isn’t a statement about the show, my castmates or producers – it’s a statement about me and where I was in life.

In May 2013, Cheech was a six month old infant. No. Not an infant – a nursling with a lip-tie. He nursed all. the. time. So he came with me from Waco to Austin for the audition, rehearsals and the show. My husband cared for him in the green room until after I read, I cared for him until curtain call. Yeah. My husband didn’t even hear me read. And I didn’t hear anyone else read except for those rehearsals – the ones where I was caring for Cheech at the back of the auditorium. And forget about any after-parties or meet-ups. Those were just not happening with adorable Leech Cheech in tow.

I was present, but I wasn’t present. I was in the car. I was in the green room. I was hiding in hallways. I was in the ohmygodheneedstonurseagain frame of mind (and thankgoditsaustin as I flashed random strangers out of necessity frame of mind).  The moment I was experiencing just wasn’t the moment everyone else in the cast or audience was experiencing. I didn’t need tissues because I wasn’t crying – I was trying to keep my small human from crying. I was doing what so many of us do – missing out on things because babies don’t keep.

But moments like LTYM don’t keep, either. You don’t get a do-over. Once you’ve done it, you don’t get to do it again. People submit to this show year after year after year hoping to make the cut. And then they don’t. Or they do. And then, some of them end up on their local news and some of them end up in a book – and I am still a lot surprised that my submission, written on a whim as part of a New Year’s resolution – made the cut.

And I know, I know. I did the right thing, the only thing. Cheech needed me. But in honor of Mother’s Day, I get to say that doing the right thing stinks sometimes. I missed out on the full experience of LTYM. I missed out on what was a super big, once-in-a-lifetime deal for an amateur like me because mothering.

I ate the cake, but I don’t know what flavor it was.

So, here is a link to my LTYM video. Note the nursing-friendly, wrinkle-resistant outfit (which coordinated with my baby-wearing gear). I haven’t actually watched it myself – I hate watching myself on video/tv – so they could have dubbed in Vincent Price reading the classifieds for all I know, but I hope you enjoy it. I haven’t posted it before because of all the feelz I have about not really getting to enjoy my 6:52″ of fame. I was just too busy thinking about that hungry baby in the green room.

And maybe I’m okay with that now. Thanks for listening.

* This post includes affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I get small change to support my coffee habit.

Good Mothers Do: Self-Care for Moms #1

I posted last week about my friend who peed her pants in a pet store. She was just so busy attending to her children’s real and imagined needs, you know? (That poor friend. I think she’s doing better.)

She is the only parent I have heard of who peed her pants in a pet store, but she’s not the only mother I know so overwhelmed by parenthood that she neglects her own basic needs.

I am not talking about foregoing a spa day to put food on the table. I’m not talking about the occasional day (or three) with a greasy pony tail. Life gets messy. I’m talking about women who can’t remember doing basic things done regularly BC (Before Children) – showering daily, filing fingernails, or reading a grown-up book. It’s difficult, maybe impossible, because we are so busy taking care of everyone else.

But, that’s a lie. A bold-faced lie.

Here’s my truth: I do not have to be so busy taking care of everyone else.

Yes, children need meals, clean(ish) clothes and supervision. But children do not need every moment, every shred of dignity, or every speck of pixie dust glittering in our souls. They don’t need them – and mamas do.

It is a lie that I haven’t had time for my weekly mani/pedi or good haircuts every eight weeks or watching the nightly news. And it is a lie that good mothers don’t. “Good mothers don’t waste time on daily showers.” “Good mothers don’t care about raggedy nails.” “Good mothers don’t read magazines or novels – just picture books out loud in different voices for each character.”

But after my friend’s pee pee accident? My new truth is “Good mothers do.” Good mothers do take daily showers and file raggedy nails and read novels. Good mothers do make dates with friends and the significant other. Good mothers do prepare their favorite meals occasionally, even when those meals don’t cater to their toddler’s neurotic food preferences. Good mothers do engage in activities that make their hearts sing. Good mothers do care for themselves. 

And good mothers do teach their children they are not the center of the universe.

And good mothers do close the bathroom door. Yes, dear readers, they do.

I confess spending the last six years doing my private business for an audience. Mayhem ensues when the audience is banished: screaming, banging, clawing under the door frame, and shouting pronouncements of eternal hatred.

But in the days BM (Before Motherhood), I would never have dreamed of relieving myself with the door open. It was just not done. But PM (Post Motherhood), it has become the norm in the name of assuaging my children’s anxiety and believing that chaos is preventable from the porcelain throne if only the door is open. Truthfully, I have never hobbled out, pants around my ankles, in time to prevent any chaos. Never. And so, I have begun to close the bathroom door every time and I even lock it.

This is my hard and fast rule. Putting away clean towels? Shut the door.Checking the bath tissue stockpile? Shut the door. Wiping down the mirror? Shut the door. Dropping the kids off at the pool? Yes, I do shut the door.

My children have not died. My SO has applauded. And I love the freedom that comes from that closed door. And now that I do it every single time – every single time – my children have learned that I shut the door and no police escort, supervision or judges panel is required. The bathroom is private. What mommy is doing in there is private.

And they have also learned that mommy comes out again. They have learned that mommy goes in, mommy shuts the door, mommy does fun and mysterious things without them (Is she taking a bubble bath? Is she using my very special dinosaur washcloth? Is she playing with my rubber ducky, the wench?) and then mommy comes out again. I am helping them develop object permanence and individuation, right?

But I can’t do this! you say. What if they get into something while I’m in there? Well, then, they get into something while you’re in there. You will handle it when you get out from the zen that is peeing alone.

You deserve privacy in the bathroom. Studies show[1] that most women spend four or fewer minutes in the bathroom for each trip. You deserve that four minutes of privacy as many times per day as Nature calls.  Start today. Commit to shutting the bathroom door.

Next week, I’ll post my second step in living out my new truth. I’ll report on how it went and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

[1] Ok. To my knowledge, there aren’t really any studies. But, time yourself. Seriously. I bet you’ll be surprised at how little time it takes you to do your thang and tidy up (unless you had the El Grande with extra chipotle sauce the night before). Close the dang door, okay?

Free Preschool Printable – Shapes, Colors, Counting

Today, I’m adding a new free preschool printable to  my downloads page. It is one that I created and have used with my own boys and I’m excited to share it with you today.

Our homeschooling journey began when Scooter was 3. He is a high-energy child who does well when he has structured activities that keep his brain abuzz. I was employed outside the home then, and he had lots of time for unstructured play, but I wanted to do more by supplementing at home. We continued doing educational activities at home even when he was enrolled in 3-day-per-week preschool. He liked doing things with me and his abilities and interests were beyond what was on offer during the school day. (This is what is called “after-schooling” though I didn’t know it at the time.) And this year, mid-way through kindergarten at a traditional school, we found ourselves still after-schooling for 45-minutes to an hour per day for all of the same reasons: he needed to keep his brain abuzz, he liked doing it and his abilities and interests were still outside the scope of school day offerings.

That makes over three years of schooling at home! (Should I throw a party?) One of the challenges is that Scooter is a hands-on learner – and as anyone who has browsed the aisles of teacher supply stores can testify, materials for the hands-on learner tend to be the most expensive! This means that over the past three years, I’ve benefited from others’ free printables online as well as created tons of hands-on materials (aka “manipulatives” in teacher speak) of my own.

I’ve already posted my School Day Schedule Cards to download for free. They can be used with the Learning Resources Tabletop Pocket Chart like we use, or on a bulletin board or just on the wall. Whatever works for you.

Ice Cream Colors and Counting ConesThis week’s freebie is Ice Cream Colors and Counting Cones, a hands-on activity that develops fine motor and math skills including shape identification, color identification, sorting, counting and basic addition and subtraction skills. (No, really! This little activity is a gem!) Both of my boys have loved playing with it.

You will need a color printer, heavy white card stock and a good pair of scissors. No felt, staple gun, embroidery floss, fabric glue or miter saw. Because what parent of a preschooler has time for any of that? (Unless it’s fixing your last semi-functional bra, right?)

I’ve included six different ways to use this activity for learners at different stages, as well. In the very first stage, your child can just enjoy making pictures with the shapes. By the final stage, you can use Ice Cream Colors & Counting Cones to learn addition and subtraction. (Pro Tip: If you want it to last long enough for all six stages, laminate the pieces!)

So whether you are homeschooling, after-schooling, or just wanting something fun to do with little ones, I hope you enjoy this free printable. Let me know what you think!

* This post includes affiliate links, which help me support my coffee addiction.