I shared on Instagram yesterday that I had two different posts scheduled for this week but I realized today I want to create a resource that will truly serve rather than just entertain. So here we are- it’s 9:44, the kids are in bed and I’m going to get to work on pulling together everything from homeschool curriculum and favorite kids toys for self entertainment to paleo and meat-free recipes, smoothies and Bible resources for kids. It’s gonna be big. It’s gonna be wonderful. It’s gonna be a late night. Let’s dive in.
Homeschool Resources: We always homeschool on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the kids go to preschool Tuesday and Thursday but for the next few weeks we’ll obviously be doing all five days at home. The curriculum is very, very ‘read aloud’ heavy which I highly recommend. If you don’t have a complete curriculum to follow, maybe try choosing a subject your kids are passionate about and work from there. Think Outer Space, Underwater, Weather, Animals… then set aside time for phonics and writing and include some time in the Word and allow for lots of play. Don’t overwhelm yourself and have so much grace and patience for both your kiddos and yourself as you all adjust.
I highly suggest a good meal followed by some form of physical activity (even if it’s just a dance party!) before starting school. Our school day always begins with a few read-alouds where I let the kids play with play-doh as they listen. I talk all about the kids Homeschool curriculum in this post (scroll down to the ‘curriculum’ section.) I also share everything we have in our homeschool area if you’re looking for ways to organize your new influx of books, papers and workbooks.
We absolutely love Brain Quest and have the workbooks for both kids as well as the question packs. If you’re looking to help your child learn to read in this time, we’re using these Bob Books with Oshiolema and his reading blows me away.
Our rules for school-both homeschool and the days they are at preschool- are this:
DO your best
OBEY your teacher/the adult
TAKE CARE of your classmates/siblings
I’d take some time out this week to explain you know this is new for everyone and what your expectations are. If you want them to be wild and free and the chaos is totally fine with you, you can skip this step. I personally find that reminding them what I expect makes it much more of a non-issue and everything goes more smoothly for all of us. First time obedience is a big one for us.
Toys and Games for Self Entertainment: While this certainly is the exception and not the rule in the grand scheme of things, endless screen time doesn’t make anyone feel their best. I like having other options to entertain the kids rather than only being able to rely on turning Phineas and Ferb on for an hour. We’ll stick to screen time only on the weekends aside from the occasional movie night or two during the week when the day just plain calls for it. If you’re looking to add in entertainment and activity in the open slots of your kids days at home where they’d otherwise be at school or activities, I’ve got you covered. This post is the gold mine for all the tricks I use to keep Keogena (3) entertained while Oshiolema (5) does his schoolwork. I homeschool her as well but on a much lighter, looser scale and she is done with her work far before Oshiolema. We do all reading aloud together but there are times she just needs something entertaining and educational to do. I’ve listed every single idea I have in that post.
I also got each of the kids a boogie board for our road trip and they are such a hit. I love that it saves us from going through 1,000 pieces of construction paper when Keogena has a creative burst.
These magnetic kits provide so much fun and entertainment. They’re a road trip staple for us but I’ll be taking them out much more in the next coming weeks. Each kit comes with cards to recreate or they can just use their imagination. We have a few and they never tire of doing the same ones over and over.
If your kids have loved their magnatiles, maybe consider upgrading to this 100 piece set like we did before the school year. We’ve loved having more to play with and their creations just keep getting better! Now would be a great time to try these out if you haven’t experienced their magic yet.
And lastly, the sensory bin. If you haven’t jumped into the world of sensory bins with both feet yet, now is the time. I love using water beads for sensory play and adding in cups, pitchers and funnels of different sizes. Bam. Entertainment forever.
Favorite Games and Activities to do as a Family:
Bible Resources for Kids: We have family Bible time every morning at breakfast where we read the word and memorize scripture which we will continue as usual. More about that here. Our Church, The Village, has two incredible children’s resources we’ve loved incorporating in our days. First, the podcast ‘God’s Big Story’ that comes out weekly that we listen to as a family (the seven quiz questions at the end are a favorite) as well as their CD called ‘God’s True Word‘ (found on spotify, iTunes and Apple Music) to help kids memorize key scriptures. My kids already have the majority of these memorized because they’re so catchy and will sing them all throughout the house unprompted. I highly recommend these along with the ‘Rain for Roots’ CD as well as ‘Slugs and Bugs’ and everything from ‘The Verses Project.’ Might I suggest starting with Joshua 1:9 as a family verse to listen to and memorize together during this time? It’s a favorite of ours along with the Fighter Verses App which has tons of verses set to song. Also, there are tons of full episodes of Veggie Tales on YouTube. Just sayin’.
Our homeschool cirriculum is based on the Word and came with some wonderful books we read each morning as well. We pray throughout the day and will add in specific prayers for Covid-19 in the coming weeks.
And finally, since Oshiolema turned 5 O and I will tuck Keogena in after our bedtime books and prayers and go to Lema’s room to read one page of this devotional with him. He loves science so it’s like this book was made just for him and he looks forward to this sweet moment with just him, mom and dad every night.
Now, lets shift to food and vitamins.
Vegan Recipes to Add to the Mix: If you haven’t noticed, the meat sections of our grocery stores aren’t exactly overflowing these days. That coupled with the fact that it’s more sustainable for the planet and gives our body a break as we’re all working to keep our immune systems stronger than ever makes it the perfect time to incorporate vegan recipes into your weekly meal plan.
This post of our vegan favorites is still a gold mine I refer back to often.
Same with my 5 favorite grain-free plant based recipes here
This week feels like the right time to make vegan pot-pie, no?
Top those with the easiest, most delicious vegan biscuits ever. I can no longer eat these but they’re still O’s favorite.
These stuffed peppers are so delicious.
Don’t sleep on these black bean sweet potato quesadillas. They’re such a delicious update if you just want to make regular ol’ quesadillas for the kids and make yours next level.
This coconut rice is a favorite for my crew and O considers it the biggest treat on earth. It makes a great meal with a vegan sausage or just sweet potatoes and veggies. Add extra coconut sugar to make it even sweeter.
This vegan nacho cheese comes together in just minutes (I use boiled water to soak the cashews rather than soaking overnight) and is THE BEST. Truly. Add it to any taco night and your family will be absolutely thrilled. I tend to add more nutritional yeast.
Plus three bloggers that have every vegan recipe you could ever dream of:
Minimalist Baker (be sure to filter the recipes to Vegan via the ‘Special Diet’ tab on the right!)
Cookie and Kate
Favorite Paleo Resources: Here are some tried and true favorites to give a whirl in the next couple weeks. First, read my list of favorite cookbooks for clean, delicious recipes in this blog post for the tons of recipes that can’t be found online.
Then visit Downshiftology, The Defined Dish, Minimalist Baker, Against All Grain and Paleo Running Momma.
Paleo, Grain-Free, Refined Sugar-Free Baking: this isn’t the time to be stuffing our faces with processed sugary foods-even though it feels so right in these crazy times. We decided that once Spring Break was over we’d go back to a routine of not eating sweets throughout the week, baking together on Friday and indulging a bit more through the weekend. As you know, I’m fully paleo so I love clean baking and I have to say- if you haven’t picked up this cookbook despite me telling you to 764 times in the past three years, today is the day. Do it. Add it to your cart. Buy that bad boy TODAY and then thank me as we all hunker down for this pandemic.
This post has all my favorite paleo baking recipes and tips so stop there first.
This is the famous brownie recipe I can’t stop making (or linking.) I make a regular batch for the kids and I and a vegan batch for O by using this as an egg substitute. Do yourself a favor and make these asap. For real this time. They freeze perfectly if you’re doing desserts-on-the-weekend-only too.
If it’s chilly where you are like it is here in Dallas, consider whipping out this Keto Hot Chocolate. Yes, it’s March…but we’re also all self quarantined so it’s just a bit of a toss up, isn’t it? Save the leftover marshmallows to have some family s’more time this weekend. Also, consider tea time. Like a true, real life tea time.
Smoothies: You all know how much I love my smoothies. In times where none of us are rushing out to the grocery stores as frequently as we normally do, stocking the freezer is even more important. A great way to utilize our frozen foods as well as get the nutrients and vitamins we need on a daily basis to stay healthy is to make smoothies each day. This post has the recipe for the smoothie I make almost every day but I also love blending frozen spinach, frozen pineapple, frozen mango, a banana, tons of fresh ginger, almond milk, coconut water, chia seeds, collagen and tumeric as the most delicious immune booster you could imagine. Please make this and then tell me all about it. I have a full smoothie post full of recipes, ideas and favorites right here.
Some notes-I make extra and keep them in weck jars for the next day. Just give it a shake and it’s good to go. The kids love using the colorful silicone straws while i’m partial to a glass straw myself.
Lastly, I get asked what probiotic I take all the time but in the past week I’ve been shocked at the amount of times I see it in my DM’s. I take this probiotic which is pricey but very specific to my gut as a pregnant mama with Hashimoto’s who is in a constant state of gut healing.
I hope you find this helpful in the next few weeks of Social Distancing. Be sure to let me know what you pick up, when you try a recipe and if you find useful over the coming weeks! We’re all in this together.