The Bedtime Book

Hey friends. Are you familiar with Mary Engelbreit? She’s a beloved New York Times bestselling illustrator. I’ve loved her art for ages so I was thrilled when Zonderkidz sent me a free copy of  The Bedtime Book by Mary Engelbreit to review.

The Bedtime Book by Mary Engelbreit - sweet stories and poems with lovely whimsical illustrations | Review of free copy by Running With Spears

This precious book is the perfect choice for a short and sweet bedtime story for my little ones. These pint-sized stories, poems, and prayers are all quite darling in and of themselves, but what really makes this book shine are the charming, whimsical illustrations. This is the type of book to treasure and hand down to future generations. 🙂

I absolutely love this sweet book and definitely recommend it to friends with young children.

Kindergarten Reading Curriculum

We love the Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook from The Crafty Classroom- A Kindergarten language arts curriculum for Beginning Readers | Review by Running With Spears #CraftyClassroom #LearntoRead #HomeschoolCurriculumHello friends. 🙂

Last month I received a free copy of the Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook and the R.E.A.D. Review Pack from The Crafty Classroom to review. This language arts program is designed to be a fun, hands-on curriculum perfect for children who have just finished learning their letters and letter sounds.

I’ve actually been using it with my first grader, Boo, because reading has been quite the challenge for her. I only recently realized that was she needs in order for reading related lessons to stick is fun hands-on  material. I imagine the Alphabet Curriculum Notebook or Bible ABC Curriculum Notebook that are also from The Crafty Classroom would have been great for her to use in preschool. In fact, I will very likely buy one of those to begin using with my three year old soon.

The Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook has been the perfect  next step for Boo’s learning-to-read journey.

We love the Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook and the R.E.A.D. Review Pack from The Crafty Classroom- A Kindergarten language arts curriculum for Beginning Readers with lots of hands-on instruction for Phonics and Word Families | Review by Running With Spears #CraftyClassroom #LearntoRead #HomeschoolCurriculumThe Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook is a 36-week Curriculum that’s intended to be used four days a week. We’ve actually been moving at a slighter faster pace because Boo will often beg to do two or three days at a time (which is a good thing, since she also spent a week at camp, and half a week at her grandparents house).

Each day, Boo begins with a warm-up that we slipped inside the plastic cover of her notebook so she can use a dry-erase marker. The warm up includes activities like drawing hands on a clock to show what time it is, and determining what the weather is that day. We rarely do ALL the warm up activities, but it’s a great way for her to go ahead and get started with her school while I grab myself a cup of joe.

The downloadable PDF for the Learn to R.E.A.D. Curriculum Notebook includes 785 pages of activities. The curriculum begins by introducing one simple word family like words that end in am  then at  the next week, followed by atEach week so far has also introduced a few new sight words.  In each of the first four weeks we also worked one part of speech each week, nouns, pronouns, verbs, and so on. Each week, we go through a set of activities that are different each day, but repeat every week, with the new words we’re working on. Every day includes multiple fun activities that Boo loves to do, such as a word search, connect the dots, a maze, making a paper crown, or phonics bingo. In week five we hopped over to the R.E.A.D. Review Pack and worked on letter blends for a week, with some fresh, new fun activities.

We love the the R.E.A.D. Review Pack from The Crafty Classroom- Printable Early Readers with great Phonics and Word Families review | Review by Running With Spears #CraftyClassroom #LearntoRead #HomeschoolCurriculumThe R.E.A.D. Review Pack is a set of twenty-eight early reader booklets. We spend a week going through four booklets (one a day). Each of these corresponds to word families and sight words that we worked on in the previous weeks. After the time we’d spent learning these, Boo was able to read the booklets confidently, which she was super excited about.

All in all, I feel like this is an excellent program for young kids! 😀

I asked Boo her thoughts and she said, “I love it. It’s actually  fun.” When asked her favorite part she replied, “Reading the words. I love that I can read them.” Which seriously gave me all the feels…even if there’s about a 97.2% chance she just said that because she thought it’s what I wanted to hear, especially because she gets super excited every time she gets to do a maze or connect the dots page.

Be sure to hop over to the Homeschool Review Crew link-up to see what other reviewers have to say about this curriculum as well as other products from The Crafty Classroom.


Books I Love – Stardust

Hello friends. What have you been reading this summer? I’ve managed to read a bit more since I’m not doing as much school with my girls right now. At the end of June I read Stardust by Neil Gaiman. It’s a fun, quick-paced, short read. Great for a trip to the beach. I mean not for me, there’s no way I could read while keeping an eye on all my kids at the beach, but you get the idea.  It’s a fantasy story about a young man who sets off to find a falling star and bring it to the girl he loves — but the star turns out to be a beautiful lady. The quest takes place in the land of Fairie, which is filled with all sorts of magical creatures, including talking animals, witches, and a unicorn.

My husband actually bought this book because he’d watched the movie and liked it. After about the first chapter he talked me into reading it, too. I enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s writing style. It’s obvious that he’s a master storyteller. I actually feel like he could have made the book twice as long, as there were portions of this story and the world it takes place in that I would have loved to get to experience more fully. I wouldn’t necessarily call the characters incredibly compelling. It really reads to me a lot like a fairy tale. This isn’t the type of book to give you a book hangover because you just can’t believe that you’ve finished the story of the characters who have become your friends and moving on is nearly impossible. But sometimes that’s good. Sometimes I’m not ready for another epic series with all the feels and I just want to read a nice story that’s interesting and well written that I can enjoy for a little white. There are a couple romantic scenes that make this not really appropriate for younger YA audiences, but they’re not super descriptive like some books can be, and are a very minor portion of the story. This was my first book of Neil Gaiman’s to read, and it definitely left me wanting to read more. 🙂

Books I Love – An Ember in the Ashes

I recently read An Ember in the Ashes  by Sabaa Tahir  and it’s soooo good! It’s the first book in an epic YA Fantasy series about a guy and a girl who oppose the harsh, Martial Empire inspired by Ancient Rome.

An Ember in the Ashes is an intense read that kept me reading into the wee hours of the morning. The stakes are high, the characters are gripping, and the writing is beautiful. I highly recommend it.

Favorite Homeschool Supplemental Materials

I’ve been sharing a few of my favorite homeschool resources with you this month, and today I want to tell you about my favorite printables –  

I first reviewed this about a year ago, and I still use it frequently. Check out my initial post here.

My girls love having me print pages for whatever they’re currently interested in so they can create notebooks on the subject. For Boo and Smiles, I also often just print pages here and there from the alphabet or animal pages so they can color them and be busy while I’m working with Evergreen on something else. 🙂

There are tons of pages you can print free, and you can use the code discount5 to save $5 on any purchase $10 or more from 🙂

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