About Me

I'm a mom, a teacher, a student, a wife, and a scout leader. I am actually an education major currently working on my practicum in a 2nd grade classroom. I also home school my two children. I'm also a cub scout leader, a girl scout leader, and at church I'm the children's music leader. ;) I tend to stay a little busy. My state requires homeschoolers to keep a portfolio. I am going to use this blog as my portfolio.

What am I?

Friday, August 28, 2015

Author Spotlight - Susannah McFarlane

Susannah McFarlane is a successful children’s book author who, after many years working as a publisher, now spends her time writing and creating stories that kids love to read.
She is the creator and writer of the awarding-winning EJ12 Girl Hero. Susannah understands kids and loves creating stories they enjoy to read. Her understanding and belief in the need for age-appropriate but fun content for kids comes from over twenty years experience as a children’s book publisher and from having worked with some of the world’s leading brands and writers. Susannah actually counts Thomas the Tank Engine, Winnie the Pooh, Tintin, and Enid Blyton as friends, not just former colleagues!
Susannah is also a speaker on children’s publishing for the RMIT Editing and Publishing course. She was previously the managing director of Egmont Books UK; the vice-president of the Egmont Group; the co‐owner, managing director and publisher of Hardie Grant Egmont; a contributor to the UK trade journal Publishing News; and the Convenor of the Children’s Publishing Committee and Board Director of the Australian Publishers’ Association.

Q & A – Kids Ask Susannah

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I first wanted to be a cowboy and then, for a long time, a vet. It wasn’t until late in high school that I wanted to work with books. I began working in publishing when I finished university.
Where do you live?
I live in Melbourne, Australia.
What books do you write?
As well as the EJ12 Girl Hero series, I write a series of picture books called Little Mates for younger children. I also co-write a series for boys called Boy vs Beast, but we use the name Mac Park for these – the Mac is me, and the Park is my co-writer Louise Park!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? And what inspired you to become a writer?
For a long time I didn’t want to be a writer at all. I loved working in publishing – with authors as a publicist, in marketing, and then as a publisher – and I enjoyed writing for fun, but I didn’t think of myself as a writer. But then my daughter inspired me to write my own story: I wanted to write a story that showed her she – and all girls – could do anything!
Are you inspired by any particular books or authors? What’s on your bookshelf?
Lots of them, normally the last one I read. I love reading one particular author, but then also discovering a new one. Our bookshelves take over our living room – it’s fantastic to see all your friends up there.
How do you come up with new stories?
I like to wonder ‘What if …?’ What if the school toilets hid a secret tunnel to a spy agency? What if a 10 year-old girl could solve hard missions but still find mean girls tricky? Or, for Boy vs Beast, what if snow wasn’t really snow but the attacks of an ice beast? Then I try to write the answers.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become an author?
Write as much as you can, and enjoy re-writing – it takes lots and lots of drafts to get a story ready, and practice makes perfect! Also, read a lot.
What was your favorite book or author when you were a kid?
I loved The Magic Faraway Tree and the Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton, and then a bit later, the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I liked stories about girls doing things even then! One of my favourite picture books – which I still have – was Ferdinand the Bull, about a bull in Spain who just wanted to sit and smell the flowers and not be part of bull fighting until one day …
If you had to describe yourself to someone but you could only use 3 words what would they be?
Wow. That’s really hard – I’m going to ask other people that! Maybe energetic, optimistic, but a little unsure? Perhaps that’s where Emma from the EJ12 series gets it from?
Do you have any pets? If so, what are they?
We have two dogs: Bill a Jack Russell cross who thinks he is a person, and Bella who is an insane cavoodle. My daughter has two budgies as well, which are very noisy! When I was growing up we had – all at one time – one dog, five cats, four budgies, six mice, two terrapins and, for a little while, two lambs!
What is your favorite word and why?
Discombobulate (to throw into a state confusion) – it is almost onomatopoeic, like whoosh, which I also like a lot.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like cooking and eating (luckily I also like exercise!). And I love laughing so I enjoy going to comedy shows, and listening to funny friends and family. My family tells me my jokes are not so funny though.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

National Aviation Day!


  • Celebrate this day by reading Usborne's PLANES.
  • Planes is a part of an exciting series of books for children who are beginning to read on their own. The easy-to-read text has been specially written with the help of a reading expert.
  • Vivid, full color illustrations and photographs on every page, accompanied by short, informative text.
  • Carefully selected internet links to exciting websites to find out more. The is an Accelerated Reader title.
  • Great reading practice for children who prefer fact to fiction.

To see more fun days to celebrate in the month of August, check out this calendar: http://www.usbornebooksandmore.com/ecommerce/Calendar.asp?c=l4426

Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Spotlight: Pencil and Paper Games

  • Amidst endless apps and computer games, there is still an important place for simple yet engaging games, played with just a piece of paper and a pencil. Whether your battery's flat, you're suffering from 'screen fatigue', or you just prefer traditional games, this write-in, tear-off pad is for you, featuring over one hundred games to play.
  • Each game has clear instructions and several colourful pages with grids and game outlines already in place for children to write on.
  • Eliminates the need for lots of spare paper, making it ideal for long journeys and holidays.

Download a page from this activity book so you can try it out with your own kids. 

Want more games? You can purchase this book here: http://l4426.myubam.com/p/5040/pencil-paper-games

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Can I Be a Good Teacher to My Children?

Most homeschooling parents I now are constantly questioning if they can be a good teacher to their kids. I know I do. That's why I'm in school for education, so I can be a better teacher for my children. So, how can a parent be an effective teacher?
  1. Know the subject matter: Q: What do you need to know to teach a horse? A. More than the horse.
    While this may just seem like a cheesy joke, it's really very true. To be a good teacher to our children, we have to know the subject. Luckily, we live in a time where there are resources EVERYWHERE!!!
    Some resources I love are Khan Academy, Usborne World History Encyclopedia, and Usborne Science Encyclopedia
  2. Pedagogy: We can't just know more than our children and telling it to them. We also need to know effective teaching strategies.We need to effectively build on the information. This is stuff like, tell the students how something is done, demonstrate it, do it with them, and then allow them to do it on their own. This is done through graphic organizers, cooperative learning, lectures, demonstrations, discussions, games...etc. There are so many examples.
  3. Know the student: This one is great for parents, because parents probably know their students better than teachers do. If you know the student then you can better decided with pedagogy you want to use with them. I have one child who is very logical and prefers to learn on paper. So, adding... he was find just looking at the pictures and adding them up by counting. When his sister got to adding, she didn't want to count the pictures, instead she did 3 jumping jacks plus 2 burpees equals five. And, yes, she actually did these things. So, one of my children prefers more demonstration while the other prefers more games and hands on learning. Knowing this, helps me know how to teach my children different things. Following the lesson plan isn't always perfect for all children. 
  4. Intentional Teaching: Intentional teachers are people who think about what they want - what will the end result be?  Everything done through the day is planned ahead of time with the desired outcome in mind. This ties in with knowing the student and pedagogy.
  5. Believe in your student: Some teachers believe certain students are not capable of learning - this belief could be based on genetics, home environment or many other factors. A teacher should believe their student has the ability to learn. Believe in that student and that student will believe in him/herself. 
I hope this was helpful. What are some other things you believe are vital to being a good teacher!!! :) 

Tips to get your child to write

Writing can be such a big deal to students sometimes. In my house, it often ends in tears. However, through research, occupational therapy, and trial and error I have learned a few tips along the way. My son is a kid who HATES writing. Yes, he has dysgraphia, but he is capable of it through lots of encouragement. So, here are some things I've learned.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Getting Ready for School with Usborne

Getting ready for school is no exception to the thought put forth by Henry Ford. Many families are doing just that – school supply shopping, purchasing a new backpack, starting to set the alarm earlier so that they are ‘ready’ for school to begin.
Are books and reading on your “To Do” list as you prepare for school this fall? If not, they definitely should be. From the youngest of children to those packing to leave for college, Usborne Books & More has books that will match the needs of all students (and even the not-yet-students).
Toddlers will enjoy learning about colors and languages with our new Big Book of Colors and the My First Word Book available in both French and Spanish. Big Book of Colors is a large, sturdy board book introducing all the colors of the rainbow and their many variations, including lots of color vocabulary such as turquoise, magenta and vermilion, and color descriptions such as navy, lime and rose. The acetate page shows how colors mix and change when combined with others.
Learning to write? Wipe-Clean Beginning Pen Control and Wipe-Clean Pen Control will keep the children in your life entertained for hours as they make their way through these fun books teaching pre-writing skills.
Encourage creative writing with My First Story Writing Book and Write Your Own Adventure Stories.
Delve into the wide world of science with fun facts and interesting tidbits made available in 100 Things to Know About Science. Science is a huge topic.  This is a friendly book that breaks it down into bite-sized chunks, making it an accessible introduction for anyone who wants to find out about this fascinating subject. Highly illustrated, in a pictorial, 'infographics' style, with snippets of information about all aspects of science from particle physics to genes and DNA.
Whether you love them “hugely like a whale,” or “shyly like a quail,” Animally, this adverb adventure through the animal kingdom, is perfect to share with all the birdily, bugily, animally loved people in your life.
Math and art, as different as night and day, right? Wrong! This is Not a Math Book shows how math can be beautiful and art can be numerical. Amazing patterns with a mathematical basis will be revealed as you follow the simple activity instructions.
Don’t forget about finishing up that Summer Reading project! Does your child still need to read a few more chapter books to complete his/her reading list before school begins? Check out our brand new fiction series:
EJ12: Girl Hero – As EJ12, our heroine finds the courage to take on the evil Shadow Agency, leaping through jungles and snow-boarding in the South Pole. But as school girl Emma Jacks, she worries that she’ll fall in the state gym contest and doesn’t know how to stand up to the school ice-queen, Nema, when she teases Emma’s friends. With these two personas, EJ12: Girl Hero, is the perfect blend of real-life dilemma and fast-paced spy adventure, with Emma cracking codes – and life’s problems.
Wheelnuts! – Eccentric billionaire Warren “Wheelie” Wheelnut has decided to mount the biggest, most off-the-scale competition ever! He has created extreme race tracks: including one in a desert and one set in a haunted town.
All this and more are available to help you get ready for the school year. I can’t wait to help you find everything you need.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Usborne Books and More

I did something crazy! I use Usborne books so much in homeschool that I decided I needed to join the company as a consultant. I had no idea they had more than non-fiction. They have everything from infant to young adult books. I actually just read one of Collin's books I ordered for him from Usborne.