Crafts and Projects · Writing Appearances

Simple Sunflower Craft for Kids

The snow has melted, the grass is green, and the flowers are growing!

My daughters and I had fun earlier this year creating our own spring pipe cleaner flower craft, which you can check out on Hands On As We Grow if you would like (here).

The idea for this craft came to me while I was organizing some of our art supply bins. The sunflower seeds were just a fun addition to use up some pickle-flavored sunflower seeds I had at home.

Ever since publishing Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, finding pickle-flavored items has been kind of a joke in my family. So when I saw these pickle-flavored sunflower seeds at Dollar Tree, I decided to purchase them.

pickle flavored sunflower seeds

Interestingly, even though my book is titled Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles, I don’t think I have ever actually liked the flavor of any pickle-flavored food I have tried. I like bread and butter pickles, but not pickle-flavored sunflower seeds. And since the rest of my family didn’t plan to eat the rest of the seeds, we decided to use them for our flower craft.

I thought the flowers turned out really cute with their pickle-flavored sunflower seed addition.

What do you think?

Check out these posts for some books to go along with the flower theme:

14 Children’s Books about Flowers

14 Children’s Books about Seeds, Plants, and Gardening

Ramblings · Writing Appearances

Free End-Of-Year School Survey Available

Our homeschool year is coming to an end at our house, which means it is time for our annual end-of-year school survey.

Read all about my family’s end-of-year school surveys in this post I wrote for Homeschool Iowa.

In the post, I discuss…

  • the reasons an end-of-year school survey is beneficial
  • different ways end-of-year school surveys can be done
  • possible questions to include on the surveys
  • how I examine the surveys
  • how the surveys help me plan for the upcoming school year

My end-of-year school surveys are always very basic. This year the survey we did was two pages long.

Here is page one of our 2020 end-of-year school survey.

And here is page two of our 2020 end-of-year school survey.

You are welcome to download your own copy of this end-of-year survey if you would like by clicking the download button below.

Please check out this post on Homeschool Iowa for additional information about our end-of-year homeschool surveys.

Do you do an end-of-year school survey? If so, I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below!

Free fun activities to check out in case you missed them:

70+ Free Virtual Field Trip Opportunities

Fun Extras (coloring pages, activities, and teacher’s guides)

Free Teacher’s Guide and Printables Now Available for Aah! Blown Away, Crash!

Free Shadow Puppet Printable for Aah! Blown Away, Crash! Now Available!

Ramblings · Writing Appearances

Writing Courses for Young Writers

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thank you!)

Have you heard of It offers over 400 self-paced courses and many resources for families from preschool all the way to adults for one low price. Membership includes access to all of the courses, World Book Online resources, RightNow Media videos, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and much more.

If you have read some of my previous posts, you may know that I have created three courses for over the past year. Foods and Food Production and Who are Community Helpers? were published on last year. And earlier this year, the Weekly Writing Challenge course was published.

Last year was the first year I became a member of, and I am so grateful for all of the resources they offer. There are so many course options available for children to choose from to accommodate their own unique interests.

My 12- year-old daughter who did all of the illustrations for Aah! Blown Away, Crash! An Alphabet Misadventure is interested in writing and graphic design, so she chose to take courses this past year that reflected those interests.

(As a side note, I am very proud of her for what she was able to accomplish with the illustrations in Aah! Blown Away, Crash! It’s amazing how quickly she learned how to use Affinity Designer to create all of them. Definitely not a skill I have!)

Aah! Blown Away, Crash! Cover

Anyways, as I was saying, she chose to take courses on aimed at writing and graphic design. So, here are the courses she took along with a description in her own words of each of them.

Writing and Graphic Design Courses

Creating Dynamic Characters Course on Schoolhouse Teachers

Creating Dynamic Characters

This course is a good choice for those who aren’t sure how to form their characters and want to make them a dynamic aspect of their stories. This course, which is a section of the book Release the Novel in You: The Go to Fiction Writing Book for Teen Authors also by Gina Conroy, is split into three individual lessons with three days each. Use this course to create your own dynamic characters!

Exploring Creative Writing Course on Schoolhouse Teachers

Exploring Creative Writing

This course is great for kids who want to learn more writing techniques and find inspiration. It kept me motivated to write, and encouraged me to keep up the good work every day. In this course, students will read about adjectives, showing instead of telling, alliteration, assonance, consonance, personification, anthropomorphism, metaphor, simile, emphasis, exaggeration, hyperbole, repetition, and contrast. My overall rating: I really liked this course!

Into the Elements Course from Shoolhouse Teachers

Into the Elements

This is a great course for writers and writers-to-be. It was supposed to be four weeks long with three days per week; however, I watched each video in at least two separate days. One important thing to mention is that the course is a recorded writers’ conference with Donald Miller, and the videos are only on RightNow Media (which you can access with a free account through a subscription). The course expanded on the conference with a downloadable and printable worksheet with answers. After the worksheet and a session in the conference, there was a writing exercise. Over all, this was probably one of my favorite writing courses.

My note: I thought it was funny that she added how RightNow Media is available through in her description.

Paint with Your Words Course on Schoolhouse Teachers

Paint With Your Words

P.A.I.N.T. With Your Words teaches young writers what passive and active writing are, how to use your five senses when writing, why you should choose descriptive nouns, verbs, and adjectives to liven up your stories, and how to use figurative language all in eight lessons, each divided into three days. This course is all about writing in more descriptive and colorful ways.

Writing Advertising Copy Course on Schoolhouse Teachers

Writing Advertising Copy

This course is divided into three lessons with three days for each lesson. The class teaches what anthropomorphism is, how to compare and contrast, and some things about adjectives, adverbs, and advertising. It is a good course for people who want to be in the advertising business.

Introduction to Graphic Design Course on Schoolhouse Teachers

Introduction to Graphic Design

This is a wonderful course if you don’t know a lot about graphic design but are hungry to learn more. Spread out over seventeen lessons with two days per week, this course teaches what graphic design is, some copyright laws, what the elements of design are, how to properly use or understand fonts, colors, your audience, the message you want to covey, and some basic technique to use when designing on Canva, PicMoneky, and GIMP. From there, start designing logos, flyers, postcards, ads, brochures, t-shirts, book covers, product labels, and posters. Finally, design a brand for a made-up Christian dog food company. This course does require a lot of ink if you wish to print all of your new designs, but it is well worth it.

More Courses offers courses for additional subjects such as math, science, and English, but my daughter did not do any of those this year. Instead, she used Algebra: A Teaching Textbook for math and BJU Writing & Grammar for English.

Together with my other daughter, we have completed Apologia: Exploring Creation with Physical Science textbook and Apologia: Exploring Creation with Physical Science notebook for science and Route 66: Travel Through the Bible workbook along with the teacher’s edition (on CD) for Bible. We’ve also been reading through the Who Was book series. You can see all of the books we have read together from the series on my Pinterest board here. (The library is a great resource for the majority of these books!)

I intend to publish a post with all of the courses my other daughter took this past year on with the description of each of them in her own words. In the meantime, you can check out all of the courses we have completed using on my Pinterest board here if you would like.

Do any of these courses sound interesting to you?

Ramblings · Writing Appearances

10 Books for Young Writers

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thank you!)

Last year, I had the opportunity to have two courses I created published on offers over 400 different courses for preschool through high school along with many other resources all for one low price for the entire family.

My daughters have really enjoyed taking some of the courses available on over the past year, which I have been sharing on a Pinterest board I have labeled as Completed Courses.

One of my daughters has been keeping busy with some of the writing courses available on

So far, she has completed Paint with Your Words, Writing Advertising Copy, Into the Elements, Exploring Creative Writing, and Creating Dynamic Characters. I hope to have her give me a summary of each of the courses in her own words when she is done with school for the year.

Last month, added seven new courses to their website, which included a writing course I created called Weekly Writing Challenge.

The Weekly Writing Challenge discusses the importance of writing, choosing a place to write, points of view, brainstorming, characters, settings, problems and challenges, finding solutions, dialogue, beginnings, endings, details, synonyms, verb tenses, nouns and verbs, showing instead of telling, genres, different writing examples, and revising and rewriting with a total of 34 writing challenges.

If you have a child interested in writing or learning more about what authors (and illustrators) do but don’t have a account, then you may want to check out these books about writing, authors, and illustrators.

Books about Writing

Look at my Book: How Kids Can Write and Illustrate Terrific Books by Loreen Leedy

Look at My Book goes through the process a young boy, girl, and even a dog go through to create their own books. It discusses how to get ideas, brainstorming, genres, research, characters, setting, rough drafts, rough sketches, titles, and more in a fun (and busy) format. After reading this book (intended for ages 4-7/ preschool-3rd grade), children may be eager to create their own fun stories to share with others.

Pick a Picture, Write a Story! by Kristen McCurry

Pick a Picture, Write a Story! is a fun book to get some creative juices flowing for story writing. Throughout the book, pictures are presented with questions to create some story ideas. The book also discusses what stories are, the parts of a story, points of view, characters, plots, challenges, settings, dialogue, kinds of stories, action, brainstorming, and putting it all together. It is recommended for children ages 4-8/ preschool-2nd grade; however, this is a great book for anyone stuck with writer’s block.

You Can Write an Amazing Journal by Jennifer Fandel

You Can Write an Amazing Journal is intended for a younger audience. It talks about finding a place to write, materials needed to journal, “rules” to journaling, and finding the time to journal. It provides multiple exercises to get kids to use their senses, find facts, and get them thinking about writing.

So, You Want to be a Writer?: How to Write, Get Published, and Maybe Even Make it Big! by Vicki Hambleton & Cathleen Greenwood

So, You Want to be a Writer? is intended for ages 8-12 according to the page for it on Amazon. It discusses what it is like to be a writer, things needed to be a writer, genres, topics, writing exercises to overcome writer’s block, writing and rewriting, getting published, information about choosing writing as a career, and resources for writers.

Spilling Ink: A Young Writer’s Handbook by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Spilling Ink is intended for tweens, teens, and even adults. It discusses first drafts, where to find inspiration, characters, story ideas, plot, voices, setting, suspense, dialogue, descriptions, revising, journaling, keeping the story interesting, writer’s block, how to approach criticism, and how to develop a writing habit.

Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine

Writer to Writer is intended for grades 3-6 according to Amazon’s listing, but I think an older audience would appreciate it possibly even more. It discusses advice for writers, character development, plot information, parts of a story, word tenses, and poetry.

Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write by Victoria Hanley

Seize the Story is intended for tweens, teens, and maybe even adults who want to write novels. The chapters include: freeing your imagination, creating characters, beginnings, setting, the heart of a writer, writing dialogue, showing and telling, plotting and scheming, conflicts, middles and ends, polishing your writing, point of view, into the future, interviews with authors, and questions and answers. My daughters both really liked this one. They said it really made them want to write!

Books about Authors

What Do Authors and Illustrators Do? (2 Books in One) by Eileen Christelow

What Do Authors and Illustrators Do? really is “2 Books in One” as the cover says. It has combined the books What Do Authors Do? and What Do Illustrators Do? into one easy to read book. There is simple text on each page along with illustrations similar to a comic strip that include two authors, a talking dog, and a talking cat. Although this book is rated for ages 4-7/ preschool-3rd grade, there is a lot of useful information for older kids (and maybe even adults) to learn.

What Do Authors Do? goes through the process authors experience as they publish a book. It shows how two authors may have the same idea but end up with different stories, how difficult writing is at times, how authors may gather information, how long it may take for a story to be finished (more than what a lot of people may think), how authors persist even after receiving rejection letters, how authors edit their work (again!), and more.

What Do Illustrators Do? goes through the illustrator’s process. It shows how two illustrators who are illustrating a similar book may end up with much different illustrations due to their techniques and imaginations. Through the story, children learn about creating a dummy, sizes and shapes of books, sketches, point of view, using models, styles of drawing, designing books, lines, textures, artist tools, cool colors vs warm colors, and more.

The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection Edited by Colby Sharp

The Creativity Project is compiled of writing prompts some authors and illustrators had written, drawn, or photographed and the responses from other authors and illustrators they swapped the prompts with. Some of the writing prompts and responses are rather funny and creative!

Our Story Begins: Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally: Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids Edited by Elissa Brent Weissman

Our Story Begins includes pictures, stories, and snippets from the childhood of multiple authors and illustrators including Gordon Korman, Gail Carson Levine, Candace Fleming, Kwame Alexander, and more.

Journals for Writers

Adventure Writing Prompt Journal 

Of course, in order to be a writer, one must actually write. This writing prompt journal has 52 pictures along with writing prompts to spark the imagination and get writers writing.

Reading Journal 

Writers should read, too! These reading journals include a personalized table of contents, space to record a total of 100 books, and more. The cat cover shown in the picture above is actually one of multiple cover options available. (Click here to see all of the available cover options in one location.)

Do you have any book recommendations about writing?

Writing Appearances

Easter Projects for Kids

Easter is already next Sunday! Will you be doing anything special to celebrate?

Last year, I shared an eggsperiment my daughters and I tried that causes eggs to rise in water. I thought it was a great Easter project because it reminded me of Jesus rising from the dead. Great Bible lesson and science lesson rolled into one!

Simple Eggsperiment to try this Easter

My daughters and I also enjoyed making these beautiful paintings and decorated eggs.

Easter Project with Painted Eggs and Paper

We also created these tape resist crosses while we had the paints out.

Recently, we created watercolor crayon resist Easter art projects, which I talked about on Hands On As We Grow.

My daughters uncovered crosses, eggs, and even a bunny.

Check out the post on Hands On As We Grow here to learn how we did these crayon resist Easter projects.

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

(New Living Translation, Romans 10:9)