Our Latest Educational Tools and Resources from Carson-Dellosa

Can you believe that Christmas is next week? The time is just breezing by! We've been keeping our usual schedule this month, knowing that the holiday week will be more relaxed than typical school weeks.

A few weeks ago, we also received some fantastic homeschool resources from Carson-Dellosa to help supplement our most recent lessons. This time around, we got a little bit of everything, including some handy math, phonics, and reading materials, as well as a few fun holiday themed items and even some teacher treats!

Teacher Goodies

I love anything that will help keep me organized. Anyone who knows me really well will tell you that I thrive on organization, and that I always have a spot for everything (or at least almost everything). I'm also a habitual list maker. I usually have a good memory for things, but still like making lists for pretty much everything, to-dos, grocery shopping, gift giving, you name it. It just a way to keep things structured for me, especially during the busier moments of my life. Needless to say, I was excited to see a notepad and pack of file folders included in our latest shipment.

The Hipster Notepad adds a little bit of style to my notetaking adventures (yes, sometimes they are adventures). I love the little banner area that allows me to name my lists, which is a handy feature. The lines on the pages allow me to keep my notes nice and neat. Lately, I have been using this notepad for my daily and weekly to-dos. The size of the pad is nice and compact, yet still wide enough to include a good amount of information.

Being a homeschooling mother, I accumulate my fair share of paperwork. Everything goes into an appropriate folder. I can never say no to more file folders, and this pack of Celebrate Learning File Folders is super cute with inspirational words such as "Strong," "Brave," and "Smart" displayed in bright, bold colors on the outside of each folder. The inside portion of every folder is also color coded with handy tabs available for label placement. There are six folders in the pack, two of each variety. They are high-quality, and have more of a sturdier, heavy weight feel to them than standard manila file folders. I'm using these to help organize some of our current lessons. The positive affirmations on each folder help begin our school day on just the right note!

Holiday Learning Fun

'Tis the season to be jolly, so we never forget to add in some fun holiday-themed learning activities during the month of December. My son loves stickers and this set of Christmas Motivational Stickers is just the thing to add some holiday cheer to the mix. There are a total of 120 stickers in the pack with about ten different designs, some with text and illustrations and others with just illustrations. We added a few into the Christmas cards that we sent out this year. I've also been adding them to my son's completed quizzes and assignments after he's received a perfect score.

These Christmas themed mini cut-outs have a ton of different uses! You can add them as festive decor to any learning area. You could also use them for a phonics game where you write letters or words on them, and then have children pick out the matching cards. One of my preferred uses for these cut-outs is to use them in our math learning games. They've worked out great for helping me teach my son some basic addition facts. Since there are multiple varieties and some matching designs, we also like to use them for his pattern activities. The various designs and patterns are really festive, so they're a fun educational manipulative to include in our learning activities during the holiday season.

Early Reading

Building a Snowman (Ready Reader) by Carolyn Kisloski
Turtles (Ready Reader) by Darla Duhaime

My son had recently started a wonderful reading curriculum a few months ago, and has been really accelerating in his reading skills. When we received these Ready Readers, we couldn't wait to get some extra reading practice in. The Ready Readers series is wonderful for both pre-readers and emergent readers. Each book outlines target skills that are meant to be achieved.

Building a Snowman is a nice beginner picture book, because it uses simple words and sentences to tell the story of two children having fun as they think of inventive ways to complete their new snowman creation. The beginning of the book offers a learning page that highlights the topic and subtopic of the story, along with tips for both parents and children. The back of the book includes several pages of questions and illustrations about what was just read. This is a fun way to quiz my son on his listening skills to see if he remembers what he had just read. 

I used to have a few pet turtles growing up, so I've developed quite a fondness for them, which has actually rubbed off on my son a little. Needless to say, I was quite excited for him to receive this new Turtles picture book. This is a reader that also offers a little science lesson. As my son practices his reading, he's also learning all about turtles and some general information about reptiles. I love that it includes full-color photography, so that my son can see all of the different aspects and features of a turtle. The book offers a table of contents to highlight the main topics of discussion. There is also a page of before and after suggestions that helps children build up on their reading comprehension skills. I also appreciate that the back of the book offers several web links with additional learning resources to further expand our study on turtles.

Phonics and Writing

Since my son is beginning to read, these Spectrum Sight Words Flash Cards are just the thing to help him achieve proficiency in reading. The pack comes with 156 cards in total. I really like the quality– they're not only sturdy, but are printed in color on both front and back. One of my favorite features is that they don't just include sight words for kindergarten, but also for first grade. The creators thought of everything when they made these cards. There are two handy lists that break down both the kindergarten and first grade sight words. These words are also color coded, blue for kindergarten and black for first grade. The color coding matches the actual word cards, which helps me differentiate between the kindergarten and first grade level words.

There are a few extras in this pack, including twenty additional cards with illustrations that highlight several less frequently used words, along with twenty sight word sentence cards. We've been putting those sentence cards to some good use. The words used to make up each sentence are words that can also be found on the separate word cards. The sentences are even color coded, so that we can spot the kindergarten and first grade levels. My son has a lot of fun reading the sentences, and then finding the matching word cards to recreate the sentences on his own. He also enjoys taking the cards and matching them up with words written in his reading books.

Writing practice is something that occurs on a daily basis in our homeschool, so I like to have a nice stocked arsenal of handwriting tools and resources to help with that. The My Take-Along Tablet: ABCs Activity Pad is really neat, because it reminds me of the traditional handwriting practice workbooks that my son already uses, but only shrunken down into a compact size. This makes it small enough to throw in my purse and take on the go. If we're waiting somewhere or visiting family, I will just pull this out and my son can get in a little extra writing practice. Since handwriting can become monotonous for younger children, it's nice to see that this book also includes miscellaneous activities such as games, critical thinking problems, and even coloring pages. My son can work on some of the extra activities in between the letter writing pages, which is a nice little break for him. 

Playtime with a Little Bit of Science

This is such a neat version of Go Fish, since it puts a new twist on the game. Playing on the title of the traditional game, each card has a colorful, glossy illustration of a different fish species. There are a total of fifty-four cards in the deck, with four cards per fish. There are also quick facts and information about each fish species included on the cards. For instance, after reading the four Pencilfish cards, we had learned that this species is long and thing (like a pencil), resides in the lower Amazon region, swims with their heads higher than their tales, and are typically hardy and peaceful. I thought this was a nice addition to help expand our knowledge of each creature.

The cards are quite durable and larger in size than a standard deck of playing cards. Both of these attributes are especially nice for younger children who are playing. There are also many uses for these cards, besides playing Go Fish. We actually like to play a memory match game with them, where we have the cards laid out without the pictures showing and my son has to locate the matching pairs of fish.

Kindergarten Mathematics

Math 4 Today, Grade K is a workbook that we've actually started using a few months ago, and one that I've grown to appreciate more and more as we work through it. It has plenty of activities to complement our regular math lessons and provides my child with extra practice in between lessons. The pages are reproducible and can be easily torn out of the book for copying, thanks to the already included perforated lines. Practice problems touch up on counting and cardinal numbers, operations and algebraic thinking, measurement and data, and geometry. The activities are short and sweet, since this is not a typical workbook where students are meant to do pages upon pages of writing work in one sitting. Instead, each page of problems represents one week. There are four quick problems, one for each day, followed by a weekly assessment to reinforce the skills that were worked on for that week. The book contains a total of forty weeks worth of work, and is a nice supplement to our math lessons throughout the school year.

I was first introduced to notebooking only a few years ago. Fast forward today, and it has become a tremendously helpful method of learning in our homeschool. One of my very favorite resources from Carson-Dellosa (and there are quite a few) is this kindergarten level Interactive Notebooks: Math Resource Book. My son is a kinesthetic and tactile learner who loves putting together projects and assignments using paper and glue. Resource books such as this, help put a whole new twist on notetaking, allowing my son to have fun doing what he enjoys–at the same time, he's learning fundamental math concepts. This book is also great for visual learners, because a lot of the items include diagrams, charts, and other imagery to help children learn. 

There are many ways to put together an interactive notebook, and this workbook also offers plenty of tips and tricks in case you're new to it. We put ours together in a simple black and white composition notebook, so that the pages will stay intact when my son regularly flips through it. I shared several photos of some of the most recent pages that he's put together from this workbook. The workbook pages are reproducible, so they can be used with multiple students. Each page is also perforated, so it can be torn out for easy copying. Every project offers an instructional page with ideas and tips for putting everything together. There are also additional blank templates in the back of the book, so that we can come up with our own math pages. Some of these extra templates include accordion, tab, envelope, and pocket pages.

I have to say, I absolutely love this book and it has become a fantastic resource for my son's math lessons. I'm already looking into getting more books from Carson-Dellosa's Interactive Notebooks series, because this one has been a huge hit in our homeschool!

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