Little Log Cottage School

An Educational Blog to Inspire Creativity, Character, Grit, and the Love of Learning

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Lesson Planning By The Seat Of My Pants

When the school day has ended, our tummies are full, and the dryer is humming away I sit in a semi-quiet house and I begin to plan.  Not of glorious summer days on the beach, or of date nights with the hubs, but for the next school day.

Yes, friends.

You heard me correctly.

I plan out my lessons the day before.

Lesson plans on the fly

If this makes you cringe, pop over to Confession of A Homeschooler.  She shows you how to plan out the entire year at once.  That can be a beautiful thing.  But it’s not for me.  It’s not how my brain works.  I don’t use a curriculum because I find joy in creating my own.  I couldn’t sit and write out a whole year of lessons because I don’t know if my children will need more focus in one area, if they need less focus, or if they love the topic so much that they want to spend another week studying about it.  I don’t know what kind of homeschooler that makes me.

I spend my afternoons planning for the next day when I could be doing housework, reading a juicy novel, or watching some of my favorite old movies, but I really like to plan.  It’s a creative outlet for me and it’s actually a great stress reliever.  It’s fun to sit down and reflect on how the day went, how I can connect what was learned today with lessons for tomorrow, or how I can teach a lesson a different way so my children can grasp the concept.

Tomorrow is the last day of the month, so I will be getting my themes planned out for March.  I do know we will be studying about Dr. Seuss, poetry, and cooking.

We’ve had two days of school off because I came down with a nasty head cold and wanted to do nothing but sleep.  Here is a look at what I have to get done tomorrow.

Find library books (for Dr. Seuss theme)

write out a plural noun anchor chart (for my second graders)

print and put together activity for plural nouns (for second graders)

find some writing lessons for my kindergarteners (bless their hearts)

clean up my guest room (my friend from high school is coming to visit next week!)

go grocery shopping (because we have nothing to eat)

make pizza (for pizza movie night)

go to rehearsal (no movie night)

Happy Friday!

If you’ve missed some of my other posts about lesson planning, you can find them here:

Thematic Lesson Plans

Math Tubs

Morning Work









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A+ Interactive Math {Review}

This post may contain affiliate or advertising links

A+ Interactive Math is a comprehensive math program for first grade through Algebra 1 that uses an insightful computer-adaptive assessment strategy to identify a child’s skill level.  The intent of this program is to assess and to provide intervention lessons for your child.

We had the opportunity to review A+ Interactive Math {$29.99 for 3-months} a program that provides multi-grade testing, progress reports, individualized multi-media lesson plans, and practice to reinforce math concepts.




As a homeschooling teacher, I think I tend to hover over my children more than a classroom teacher.  I’m always available to provide instruction and offer help when my children need it.  When I loaded my second grader’s placement assessments, I walked away from the computer and let her take the assessments on her own.   I honestly thought she would whiz through all of the unit assessments, but this program really proved to me that I was probably being too big of a crutch for her.  I was able to see what she REALLY knew about each math skill.  The test analysis has been unbelievably helpful as I can see what area we need to focus our time.

Although she does not enjoy taking the tests, she doesn’t mind spending a few minutes in front of the computer listening to and practicing with the reteaching lessons.  I like the fact that someone else is teaching for a few minutes out of the day!  The lessons are designed  just for her weak areas and walk her through video lessons, review, practice problems, and a post test.

This program can be used anytime of the year with any kind of curriculum.  It’s sold in 3- month subscriptions with price breaks for multiple children.


Are you ready for this?  A+ Interactive Math wants to offer  FREEBIES to all of my readers!
FREE Math Placement Test – Most comprehensive program with multi-grade level “adaptive” testing to identify student’s current skill level. It then creates an “individualized” lesson plan to target problem areas with everything included. Individualized lesson plan available for small fee.

1-Month Family Math Package Online – Comprehensive math program with access to ALL grade levels (K1-Algebra 1). Option for 1-10 Students. A+ Family Packages are the most flexible, comprehensive program on the market – allowing you to change grade levels as needed. This is excellent for those needing to review previous grade levels or move ahead. A+ interactive Math online is accessible from anywhere with high speed internet access. A+ Math Teaches, Grades, Measures, Reviews and Tracks automatically.

Download FREE “Time” Software ($21.95) Value - Use Coupon Code: Time4Aplus. This Time Teaching Software (valued at $21.95) introduces your students to Time. It teaches them about days, weeks, months and year, seconds, minutes and hours, telling time using analog and digital clocks, duration of time, converting units of time, and about finding and adding elapsed time.

Does this sound like something you would like for your homeschool?  A+ Interactive Math would also like to GIVEAWAY a subscription!!!

Ready to win???

Mandatory Entry:
• Leave a comment below with your email address.
Additional Entries: (leave a separate comment on this post for each additional entry)
• Like A+ Interactive Math on Facebook and let them know Christa sent you!
• Subscribe via email to Little Log Cottage School
• Follow Little Log Cottage School on Facebook
• Tweet about this giveaway

• Giveaway ends March 4th at Midnight CST. Winner will be announced March 6th.
• No purchase necessary to win
• You must be at least 18 to enter
• If winner does not claim prize, prize will be re-rewarded at my discretion
• Void prohibited by law
• Giveaway is offered to US citizens only
• Odds of winning are based on the number of enteries
• This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook
• In order to win you MUST leave a comment on THIS POST!
• You must write an additional comment for each entry.

Disclosure: A+ Interactive Math provided me with a complimentary subscription to review for my readers. The opinions are mine and not influenced by the company or free materials provided.




5 Books That Have Hooked My Kids

This post may include affiliate links.

Sometimes things happen that make you wonder if your child is really yours.  Today I’m talking about reading.  I’m an avid reader.  I can’t stand to be without a good book.  I’m in three different book clubs and used to devote the whole summer to reading before I had kids.  So how in the world do I have a child who doesn’t like to read?  I had researched just about every blog I know to find chapter books to hook my second grader into reading.  It was such a challenge to find chapter books she could read on her own.  She’s not a confident reader and if a chapter book looked like it had too many words she would automatically become anxious and not want to read the book. I knew one of the best ways to become a better reader was by lots of practice, but finding a book that she enjoyed was just so hard!

I even tried reading my favorite chapter books as a kid to her: Little House on the Prairie, Ramona, The Boxcar Children.  It just wasn’t working.  She hated our nightly read a-louds and quickly got bored with the books.  I was so discouraged!  Luckily, I found a post from Step Into Second Grade about doing lessons with the Henry and Mudge series.  Thank goodness not only could she read the books, but she liked them!


I was so ecstatic to find these little gems!  The Henry and Mudge series really helps build confidence in beginning readers.  They are easy to read books about a boy and his dog who go on many adventures.  We can use these books for our reading lessons during the day, or Princess can read these during her quiet reading time in the afternoons.  These are perfect beginner books.

I’m so thankful our local library had a shelf for high- interest level books.  This is where she found her favorite books right now, Tom and Ricky Mystery series.  These books are engaging mysteries with plots but with controlled vocabulary so she can feel confident to read the books on her own.

She loves these books so much that if she doesn’t have one to read she is begging to go to the library to get a new one.  Sometimes I’ll find her curled up in the sitting room reading one of these books, and then she’ll excitedly tell me about what was happening in the book.  She’ll also read a chapter before her writing lessons so she’ll get some ideas for her next mystery story.

Any Trixie Belden lovers out there?  These are my absolute favorite series of all time.  In fact, if my house was on fire, these books would be the first thing I would grab after I made sure I had my family and dog out of the house.  Since Princess wasn’t loving any of my favorite read alouds, I pulled out the big guns and introduced her to Trixie Belden.


And yes, she’s hooked.  It’s been thrilling to see her so excited about these beloved books as I am.  Some days she’ll follow me around the house and beg me to read them to her.  It doesn’t take much arm pulling to get me to sit down and jump into the world of Trixie with her.  We finished book 1 last week and have just started the second book.  There are 34 books in the series so I’m hoping she’ll be able to read these on her own before we are through with them.

Books I’m reading with Pixie (6)

There are a few books I’m reading with my 6 year old to help her become a confident reader.  I began reading the Dick and Jane books with Princess when she was little, and even though the plot lines are a little silly, the repetition of the words have helped Pixie feel like she is a true reader!


One thing Pixie always points out in these stories are the way the kids are dressed and the differences in their toys.  This brings up conversations about life back in the 1930’s.  This little sight word reader has been a joy to read at night with her.

Another one of our favorites is the Biscuit I Can Read Series.  Pixie and I love reading these books together at night.  We cuddle up together on the couch and this is the time when I can have one -on- one time with her.  She gets excited to find a Biscuit book that she hasn’t read at the library and eagerly checks it out with her library card.


She can’t read all of the words on her own, but she does get excited when she finds one of her sight words.  Princess also reads these with her when I’m busy with household chores and it’s an endearing sight to see them sitting close, reading together.  Those kind of moments makes this homeschooling gig worthwhile.

What are YOU reading with your kids? 



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Elsa Verses The Snow Queen: Fairy Tale Lessons That Stick

Come along with us as we enter into the frozen world of winter themed fairy tales.

the snow queen pic

This month the theme for the Adventure Story Book Club is Fairy Tales.   To accompany this theme I looked for lessons and activities to tie into Hans Christiansen Anderson’s “The Snow Queen. I chose this book because we’re still having winter weather, it’s a less familiar fairy tale to us, and it’s closely related to the story “Frozen.”  I knew my kids were going to enjoy the study!

The story of “The Snow Queen” is a little dark for my taste, but because we’ve already done a lot with the more popular fairy tales, I wanted a story that would challenge my kids a little more.  The story centers around two friends, Gerta and Kai.  One day an evil troll casts a spell on a mirror and shatters it into pieces and they scatter all over the world.  Pieces of the mirror fly into Kai’s eye and into his heart, turning it to ice.  He becomes bitter with hatred and is later captured by the Snow Queen who forces him to work for her.  Gerda goes on a search to find him and finally finds him in the Queen’s castle.  Her tears of love for him washes over his frozen heart and melts it.  He is then released from the Snow Queen’s power.

So, what lessons and activities did I do with my kids?

Sight Word Snowball Fight

snow ball fight

In the story the wind blows open the window and snow flies into the room.  To have a little sight word fun, I thought the kids would enjoy whirling snowballs at each other.  Paper snowballs that is!  On recycled paper I wrote  about 7 different sight words for each of my students. The second grader sight words were thrown by my Kindergartener, and the Kindergarten sight words were thrown by my Second Grade team.  After all of the snowballs were thrown, the kids ran around and tried to read their snowballs.  It was so fun!

sight word snowball

“The Snow Queen” and “Frozen” Story Comparison

On chart paper, we examined the story elements of each story and compared them.  It was exciting to see the kids recalling the events in both stories and seeing the connection between two.  Even my PreK kids got into this activity!

fairy tale comparisons


My Kindergartener wrote about her favorite part of the story…..

the snow queen writing

while my second grader used Becky’s Fairy Tale Pack to practice writing her own fairy tale.  We played the storytelling game, which was really fun, and then she completed the graphic organizer to prepare her story.

story telling game


We listened to pieces of Toblin’s ballet “The Snow Queen” and drew about how it made us feel.  You can download that printable here.  Listening Page 

snow queen music



We tried to obtain Elsa’s frozen powers with this science experiment.  Sadly, ours didn’t work, so we will have to be like any good scientist and try again!

Of course none of these activities held a candle to the fun we had out in our own Ice Palace!  The Lord blessed (should I say blessed?) us with an ice storm and snow this week which tied in perfectly with this week’s lessons.  I love it when He writes our lesson plans!

Let It Go

Thanks for taking the time to read about the fun time we had this week.  Be sure to head over to the other Adventure Story book participants to read about their Fairy Tale fun!

Andrea from Waldorf Salad & Cottage Fries 

Christina from Classroom to Homeroom Blog: Facebook

Jennifer from Faith & Good Works Blog: Facebook

Kersandra from Our Adventure Story

Do NOT forget to checkout Adventure Story Book Club on Facebook & Pinterest to share your ideas on books and activities.

And here are the themes for the rest of the year…


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Little Passports: I’ve Got My Eye On You!

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I love doing Geography Units.  We’ve studied about Ireland, Egypt, Russia, Mexico, and various places in the United States.  We always have a blast and learn so much from these units, but putting them together can be time consuming and a lot of work.

I’m about ready to let Little Passports do all of the work for me.  I’m very excited about trying this program out for many reasons.


  • It’s all done for us!  A kit will arrive in the mail with everything we need to get started!
  • Every month the kids will receive letters, souvenirs, activities and more to learn about a different country.  Who doesn’t like getting fun mail?
  • This promotes life-long learning.  My kids will have a blast learning all about other countries.
  • Online activities.  With a subscription we will be able to access many activities to go along with the study.

I’ll be planning out our themes for the next couple of months, and it will be REALLY nice to have the Geography part planned for me.  It’s going to be fun to watch the kids race to the mail each month to see what their next country of study will be.  Who am I kidding?  It’s going to be fun for ME to see what country we will be studying!

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Valentine’s Lessons With a Lot of Heart!

Hi everyone!  I hope you all are having a great Valentine’s Week!  Today I want to share our Valentine lessons for the week.

Valentine Collage

We learned about our cells, blood vessels, and our heart.

We used a great resource, Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, to learn all about what goes on inside our body!  We also watched it on DVD since we own the whole series.  This series drives our science curriculum and the kids LOVE it!

The Second Graders read a book about our body from Reading A-Z.

We took a main idea and started writing three details about it.

My Kindergarteners did a lot of Valentine writing this week!

On Tuesday we wrote about our friends.

Valentine's lessons1


On Wednesday the Prek joined us by using Word Work cards to write about Valentine’s Day.

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On Thursday the Kindergarteners began the day by reading and coloring their sight words.

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We enjoyed reading Ruby Valentine Saves the Day.   This was a fun story about a girl who plans a Valentine’s party and then her friends can’t come because of a snow storm.  It has a beautiful message about friends. It worked out perfectly since we were getting ready to have a party and it started to snow!

We used the book to understand the use of quotation marks and to label which character was talking during the story.

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To prepare for our Valentine’s Party we made Cake Mix Valentine Cookies.

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Decorated Valentine bags.

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With 30 minutes to kill before the party began, I had the kids dump out their conversation hearts that Miss Francis, the Spanish teacher, gave them.  I instructed the PreK and Kindergarteners to draw their hands on a piece of paper.  Then I had them come up with addition and subtraction stories using their conversation hearts.

Valentine's lessons10 resize


Second graders lined up their hearts and measured by inches.

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Then of coarse it was time for our Valentine party!

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Here are the links that inspired some of these lessons:


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How Solving The Art Mess Has Saved My Life

Holding school in your home can sometimes be a problem.

It can be a problem when your children love to do art projects and your husband is a furniture builder and designer.

It’s great to have all of my furniture be beautiful pieces of art, but it’s not so great to have art projects taking place on top of them.  I’ve tried just about everything to keep my tables from getting splattered with paint, marked up with markers, and decorated with glitter glue.


This had been a very difficult task.  One in which I was not succeeding in very well.  Luckily, a little over a year ago I purchased a roll of Rosen butcher paper to do a Native American project.  I had so much left I began using it to cover the dining room table for our art projects.

Not only has the butcher paper solved our art mess problem, it has also proved to be extremely useful in many other ways.

1.  Gift Wrap

Out of wrapping paper?  No problem.  Wrap a gift in butcher paper and then let your kids use their own personal touch to decorate the paper.

2.  Early Finishers

A lot of times kids will get finished with their art projects before the other kids.  When that happens my early finishers will sit and doodle on the butcher paper until everyone finishes.

3. Easy Clean Up

Someone always spills their water or juice during art or snack time.  The great thing about the Rosen paper is that it doesn’t allow liquid to absorb into the table.  If you spill some paint it will easily dry and you can still use the paper the next day!

messy paint

4. Floor Drawings/Painting

This will easily keep kids occupied for hours.  We used it in our Native American unit to paint tepees.  It would also be fun to draw out a street and drive toy cars all around it.

buther paper2 resize

5. Instant Scratch Paper.

A lot of times my littles will need help writing a letter.  I can draw the letter on the butcher paper for them and then they can practice drawing it before writing it on their writing paper.  Today my second graders used it for scratch paper to solve their addition problems.

math problems

6. Doodle Paper

Some kids are just better listeners when they are doodling.  I can read a book to the class while my doodlers can sit and doodle on the butcher paper.


7.  Floor Paint Cover  

Need to paint a room?  Throw this down on the floor and you have instant floor protection.

8.  Project Paper

This roll is perfect for tracing the outline of your body.  Draw in the parts of the body to study about the nervous system, skeletal system, circulatory system, ect….

Okay, so now you see how giddy I am over my butcher paper.  My husband probably wouldn’t have killed me if we ruined one of his pieces of furniture, but it’s good to know that I don’t have to worry about it with my trusty butcher paper!



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