Blueberries for Sal {B4FI♥AR}

~Boaz is 4 years, 8 months~ 

Blueberries for Sal is a sweet, old fashioned story about little Sal and her mother, little bear and her mother, and how they get mixed up on blueberry hill.

I am teaching a little learners class at a local homeschool co-op this quarter. My focus is literature based studies and slated first was Blueberries for Sal. My Tuesday class theme is pretend or imaginary play (not my specialty, but there was a need for a teacher that hour) so I planned to make pretend blueberry muffins. I made Berry Koolaid playdough for the blueberry dough and vanilla scented playdough for the batter (using the same recipe but omitting the Koolaid and adding vanilla and a drop of lemon essential oil). The kids really loved it and had a great time measuring, mixing, and rolling and shaping blueberries for their "muffins." And I made tissue paper chef hats for the kids. I snapped this picture of Bo when he came to show me his muffins. :)

The sound of the blueberries hitting the bottom of the metal pail is an example of onomatopoeia, so I taught my little Bo and his friends how to kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk. I used three different sized tin cans to drop the berries in to make the kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk sound - I thought it was a pretty neat discovery! :)

Then we went blueberry picking with homemade tin can pails and blue pony beads in my Friday class.

I saved tin cans from the recycle bin - lids removed with a safety can opener (affiliate) that leaves a smooth edge, drilled two holes for the handle and smoothed the metal with a grinder (at least I think that it what it is called) on the outside, and used a Dremmel tool to smooth the inside where I drilled so little hands can play safe. Then I attached a pipe cleaner handle. 

Then we planted hundreds of pony bead blueberries for the children to find.

I think it was a lot of fun. This was week one of co-op and Bo and I rowed this book at home the next week. At co-op, our theme was apples the 2nd week, so this tied in well with our lessons. (I read The Apple Pie Tree and made felt apple pies for pretend play and I read How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World and did an apple taste test in my Friday class).

Health & Nutrition

We used worksheets from Super Teacher Worksheets (link to my review).

Food Groups

Healthy/Not Healthy

Fruits & Veggie Collage

Make a Fruit Salad

Bo counted 141 blueberries:

I started filming in the nineties. He got stuck at 109, but once past 110 he made it to 141 on his own. He sometimes skipped a number and I think it's because he dropped two in the bowl at one time.  Super good job counting Bo!

Jam Fun

One berry, two berry, pick me a blueberry... 
Jamberry, Bread and Jam for Francis, Peanut Butter & Jelly (affiliate) - all fun books
What I am... is tired of jam. ~Francis
I kind of was too. I did think I would make freezer jam, but didn't feel like it in the end.

Safety & Bears

Lesson from the manual (p. 29)

In the Path of Great Bear was a really great book about bear safety that I found at our library. 


Bo drew the bear on a notebook page on hibernation and we read the bear book.

McCloskey, Maine & Then & Now

We read One Morning in Maine (a Sonlight P 3/4 selection) and...

Then and Now In the kitchen (also a Sonlight P 4/5 selection) to compare an old fashioned kitchen to a modern kitchen.

We also read First Thousand Words - Food, The Store,The Kitchen to compare kitchens, and maybe The Zoo for the bear.

More blueberry fun:

Blueberries for Sal with Mali and Elli
Blueberries for Sal Tot School activities {when Bo was 29 months old}

Blueberries for Sal is a Before Five in a Row selection. There are a lot of Fun Things to do with B4FIAR, but the most important thing is to cultivate a love for learning. ♥

The Before FI♥AR Link-Up is currently closed, 
but you are welcome to visit to see what others did with Blueberries for Sal.
Thank you to those who have linked up over the years!


Middlebury Interactive Languages

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
For the past 6 weeks, I have been reviewing Middlebury Interactive Languages, a digital online foreign language program, with Malachi, my 5th grader. He was very interested in taking one of the French Courses, so I selected Elementary French 1, Grades 3-5 as my first choice. This is a one semester course, and we received a 6 month access.

Content of the course includes:

  • Welcome 
  • Unit 1: Greetings 
  • Unit 2: Numbers 
  • Unit 3: Family 
  • Unit 4: Body 
  • Unit 5: Animals 
  • Unit 6: Colors 
  • Unit 7: Days of the Week 
  • Unit 8: Review 
  • Unit 9: Calendar 
  • Unit 10: Weather 
  • Unit 11: Clothes Unit 12: Food 
  • Unit 13: Home 
  • Unit 14: School/Classroom 
  • Unit 15: Professions 
  • Unit 16: Review  

The Welcome unit consists of a welcome video, tutorials on how to drag and drop, highlight, work in steps, and record audio clips, as well as authentic stories, course vocabulary, songs, and translations. The stories, songs, and translations open up in a PDF file for easy printing.

The 16 units each contain 6 lessons. The lessons contain a unit introduction, objectives, a watch and listen story, a song, practice exercises, speaking labs, review, culture and conversations explorations, summaries, quizzes, and tests all in fun, interactive, and colorful animated lessons.

Middlebury teaches an immersion approach to learning a foreign language through the songs and stories and exercises, but the instructions are in English and the translations are available to guide the student.

Malachi has completed 4 units for a total of 24 lessons in the past 6 weeks so he has averaged 4 lessons per week, but he has doubled up to get in few extra lessons. Malachi likes that Middlebury is interactive, colorful, and animated, and says it is fun for kids. He says it’s not hard, but not too easy. The stories and songs are a fun way to learn French. The translations are a must have to understand the stories and songs. Malachi’s favorite story was The Two Brothers. His favorite song was Bonjour ma cousine then The Farmer in his Field.

The lessons are easy to navigate once you get started; although, it would be nice to have the application open up to where he left off. To navigate to his current lesson, we click on a calendar and look for the last lesson completed and then click on the next lesson on the calendar. Because we received access to the semester unit after the semester started, we have not been able to catch up to the current date on the calendar. Also, the lessons this past week are not being checked off as completed, even though they have been up to that point, so it is becoming increasingly harder to find where we left off. We have to remember what unit and lesson we are on to find the next lesson. This is the only downside to the program.

In the Gradebook, I can view each assignment and Malachi’s answers. We do not have a teacher with our subscription, and I have not figured out how to manually grade Malachi's speaking tests, but all other quizzes and assignments are automatically graded. His grade report in the Gradebook is currently a 93%. He bombed his first quiz with a 20% as he didn’t fully understand what to do, but he’s on a streak of 100% since getting the hang of it.

Middlebury is a high quality, fun, engaging, and interactive program that my son looks forward to during school hours. The songs are catchy and I find myself singing them at times. I love that the program immerses my student in the language and the culture of the French though authentic stories and songs. I would have loved to see authentic French people and images, but the animated characters are appealing to a child and I think the older grades use authentic images. I love that it starts in English and weaves the French in as it goes. I also love that it is offered as a self-paced independent study ($119) or with a teacher ($119 plus an additional $175).

Middlebury could meet all your foreign language needs through high school. Malachi took Elementary French 1, Grades 3-5 so his next course would be Elementary French 2, Grades 3-5. There is also an Elementary French 1, Grades K-2, Middle School French 1 & 2, Grades 6-8, High School French I, II, & III, Grades 9-12, High School French Fluency I & II, Grades 9-12, and AP French, Grades 11-12. Middlebury also offers courses in Spanish, Chinese, and German.

We love Middlebury. I would absolutely continue this for as long as Malachi is interested (and he is very interested), so when I ventured over to the main site to check out the price, I was honestly surprised at the price for one semester. I don’t often look at the cost of a product I am reviewing because price is very subjective, but in this case the price is more than I am willing to pay for a non-core class for one semester, especially because it is a consumable product that cannot be used again by another student. I do consider it to be a high quality program worth the cost, but it is not in our current budget to afford. If Malachi was serious about learning French, I would consider adding it to our budget next year if I could not find another high quality program that we love, but I’m hoping for a more suitable program for a large homeschool family.

Please click below to visit my Crew mates reviews to see what they reviewed.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Crew Disclaimer
I personally love that Malachi chose French. According to the site, French is the second most commonly taught language worldwide. My husband and three older boys all chose Spanish as their second language, and learning Spanish makes more sense in the U.S., but I took French in highschool and was delighted to see Malachi choose French. It’s been fun recalling some of the things I learned, and I hope that Malachi will continue to desire to learn French. If I can’t find another high quality program, I will consider Middlebury in the future for sure. After reading my review to my husband, he asked if it was possible to audit the course with a second child (this is possible with our online history program), but this is not possible with Middlebury. The videos and learning activities can be watched again for review, but most of the exercises, quizzes, and tests cannot be repeated. 


Ask Mr. Bear {B4FI♥AR}

~Bo is 4 years, 8 months~

Ask Mr. Bear, written in 1932, is about a little boy named Danny who is trying to find the perfect birthday present for his mother. He asks the hen who offers eggs, the goose who offers feathers, the goat who offers milk, the cow who offers milk and cream, and so on. But his mother already has those things. Then the cow suggests he go ask Mr. Bear who whispers in his ear what Danny can give his mother. Can you guess what it is?

We rowed this our first week of school and also the week of my birthday.

I wasn't really ready to start school, and didn't have anything special planned for our first day, so a fun row was in order, and I had Bo help me plan a birthday-back-to-school party for the end of the week.

Here Elli is reading the story to Bo, and he is putting the story sequence strips in order (from Homeschool Creations).

Then he did the "Where's the Egg" book and he placed the eggs correctly. 

I cut it out and stapled it just in time for him to read it to his dad at lunch. He loved this. 

"What is in the box" shape recognition. 

What's funny is I was planning to focus on Eliana and Malachi this morning, but Bo asked where his school was. Love that and I was thankful I had printed these while I was planning. 

Then we moved on to All About Reading Pre-reading. Bo started this program on the young side, but we took it slow and just worked on capital letters and the pre-reading skills in the first 26 lessons during his 1st preschool year. This year, for his 2nd preschool year, we will do lower case and maybe sounds, depending on how well he grasps those pre-reading skills. He knows all of his letters and sounds, but All About Reading is much more than that and I don't want to rush it like I did with Eliana

We did lowercase b today. (We did lowercase a with our last row, but I must not have photographed it). We couldn't find Ziggy, so Bo had a great idea to use his Lovey. 

I am still letting him work right in the book.

In our last lesson, Bo worked on finding the beginning sound of words that Ziggy left out. "Once I met a ferocious -iger." You mean tiger! What sound did Ziggy leave out? /t/ We continued this pattern for a cute short story and Bo learned to isolate the beginning sound of a word. 

Today, I read two sets of words and Bo had to tell which word is longer: box, beetle. We played this game with several words and it was a little hard for Bo, so we clapped a few of the words (learned in an earlier lesson). I really love this program. 


As I mentioned in my curriculum post, Bo is doing Sonlight P4/5 along with the last bit of Before Five in a Row for his 4K year, and he was so excited to get started on Developing the Early Learner. I pulled out Eliana's DEL books and Bo carried one around for a good week and worked in it on his own before I finally ordered them (from Rainbow Resource for a much better price, even with my Sonlight discount). 

We also completed the read-alouds from Week 1 of Sonlight P 4/5 this week - as reading before bedtime. I  this! I think reading aloud at bedtime is the perfect time, especially if I am diffusing essential oils. All three younger kids piled onto my bed to listen.  After reading Bo's books, I read a chapter to Malachi and Eliana while Bo drifted off to sleep. It's not always that easy, but if I give him a bedtime bath, brush teeth and jammy him up, which honestly is sometimes really hard by the end of the day, and then oil him up, it makes bedtime so much easier so worth the effort. 

Farm Animals

This was a perfect row for farm animal books and a field trip to a small local farm to visit friends. They had us over for a really wonderful dinner of marinated goat (my first time and it was so good), rice, roasted veggies, and fresh goats milk. So delicious and a wonderful time.

This is the same family we visited during my day in the life and my friend remembered the challah bread we brought last time, so when I asked what I could bring, the answer was my challah bread! I haven't baked it since I started Trim Healthy Mama, it was hot, and more than I could manage with a shopping trip at the beginning of the week to get the boys ready for school, so I brought three baguette loaves which were not very good (Costco bake at home), so when we row How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World, I will have to make challah and visit again.

These are all books that I found at our local library. Farm was my least favorite, all the others were great. 

Collecting eggs - an evening chore.

"Good evening Mrs. Goat," said Bo, "Can you give me something for my mother's birthday?" 

"Moo moo," said the Cow. "I can give you some milk and cream." 

Each time we walked to visit a new animal, Bo would disappear and I had to call him back. And each time he disappeared he was in with the chickens. He loves chickens! When I asked him why, he said because they are small and he can hold them.

For our community theme with Sonlight, we read:

Things People Do - The Farmer

Usborne's First Thousand Words - The Farm

Usborne's First Thousand Words - Special Days, The Party

We have some special holidays coming up - the Feast of Trumpets (which has now passed) and the Feast of Tabernacles so instead of a Feast chain like we do every year, we filled a bag with Hershey Kisses and get to eat one Kiss per day as a countdown to the Feast. 

And Bo practiced counting by 5s.

My Birthday

I asked Bo to help plan a birthday party and he thought we should have:

  • flowers
  • balloon
  • cake
  • bear hug ♥

Card from Elli. ♥

I made the best Big Chocolate Birthday Cake by the Pioneer Woman. It was 4 layers and heavenly! The frosting is not too sweet which made this cake perfect. Since starting Trim Healthy Mama, I don't indulge often in sweets, but this was fun and worth it, and I wasn't worse for the wear - at least not a week later. :)

Birthday Books

I loved all of these books and I think Bo did too. A Birthday for Bear was a about a persistent mouse who wants to bless Bear with a birthday party, but Bear does not like birthdays. Some Birthday! is by Patricia Polacco (author of Mrs. Katz and Tush). It is a fun book that kept the kids on the edge of their seat. The last book was a book of birthday poems - just fun to read. 

Of course, we talked about being a cheerful giver and when I read Ask Mr. Bear for the first time, Bo's eyes lit up and he gave me the biggest bear hug. 

Thinking Spot

We did the lesson from the manual on problem solving and I talked to Bo about how "plans fail for lack of counsel but with many advisors they succeed." (Proverbs 15:22)

When Bo is upset, he is in the habit of running outside. When he does this, I'm concerned for his safety, so I made a thinking spot for him, and I'm working with him to run to his thinking spot to think about his problems. He loved this! I still need to put up a curtain and make it comfy in there (our school closet that I tidied), and he doesn't always remember yet, but as soon as I can I'd like to get him a bean bag or big comfy pillow and hang a curtain over the doorway. Right now when he runs outside, I take his little hand and walk with him to his thinking spot and sit with him for a few minutes and talk.

Ask Mr. Bear is a Before Five in a Row selection. There are a lot of Fun Things to do with B4FIAR, but the most important thing is to cultivate a love for learning. ♥

The Before FI♥AR Link-Up is currently closed,
but you are welcome to visit to see what others did with Ask Mr. Bear.
Thank you to those who have linked up over the years!