Welcome Friends!

Welcome to Harbor Lights! We are so excited you have stopped by. Please let us know if you have any questions.

T is for Truman’s Aunt Farm – ABC Blogging

ABC Blogging Winding Down

Hard to believe we are starting to wind down with this round of ABC Blogging.  We have made it to the letter T and one of my favorite stories this week.

Join the ABC Blogging Fun

It is never too late to join in with comments here or on the social media links.  Also, even if you haven’t linked up before you can follow the graphic link at the bottom of this blog to find out how to add your own post.

T is for Truman’s Aunt Farm

#abcblogging #books #aunts #ants This week brings us the book Truman’s Aunt Farm by Jama Kim Rattigan.  This is a great story that is as much fun for the parent to read as it is for children to listen too.  Truman has a crazy aunt who sends some unpredictable gifts.  And this time boy do things get crazy.  Truman is expecting an ant farm but what he gets is a delivery of aunts.  With some creative thinking Truman cares for his Aunts and ends up finding them all new homes.

You can raise your ant farm and talk about the difference of caring for insects and people but you can also cover the basics that both would need.  We had our ant farm when we read this story.  Depending on the age of your child you can talk about homophones as well and the mistakes that can happen if you mix them up.  This book is also another one of the Five in a Row book.  Pinterest has some ideas.  The author’s website has a list of ideas to go along with the story.  Delightful Learning has lots of pictures to show off their activities including a very interesting gel filed ant farm.  Finally, The Home School Mom has some links for additional study.

ABC Blogging Link

Click on the graphic to find the posts for ABC Blogging.

Ben and Me
Share Button

S is for Snowflake Bently – ABC Blogging

Continuing with ABC Blogging

Well we are moving forward with another week of ABC Blogging.  I am continuing to bring you some of my favorite children’s books.

Join in the ABC Blogging Fun

Make sure to join the fun by commenting here or on the social media links.  Also, you can add your own post for the Letter S by using the link at the bottom of this page.

S is for Snowflake Bently and Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

#abcblogging #books #snow Right now in Florida it has been in the 90’s lately and the hit doesn’t seem to be letting up and of course it never gets cold enough to snow.  So I decided to cool off with snowy thoughts this week with two S books that both deal with snow.  We used both of these books several years ago to prepare for our trip to Norway in the winter.  They are also Five in a Row books.

The first book is Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.  Wilson Bentley was developed an interest in snow as a young child and was always looking for better ways of studying them.  When he got a camera he found ways to capture the fleeting beauty of these natural wonders.  The book is based on the true story of his life.  There are really two levels to the story with the general story and then more details facts on each page.  One of the fun facts is that Wilson Bentley was homeschooled.  The official website has lots of information on the man and his work.  Pinterest  also has some great learning ideas.  Keep Em Thinking has created a literature study set.  This set does come with a charge but it looks like it would make a great enhancement if you were using this book for school.  Books in the Classroom has learning activities and other related books listed on their website.

The second book is an illustrated copy of Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.  Our version is illustrated by Susan Jeffers.  This book always makes me think about stopping and taking time to really reflect on what is around me.  Teachers.net has some study ideas to go along with the poem.  While it is labeled for ESL students I think the discussion ideas that would work for any student.  And of course Pinterest has ideas as well. This was brought up on a general search so make sure you preview before sharing with your children.

Linking Up to ABC Blogging


Ben and Me
Share Button

R is for The Rag Coat – ABC Blogging

ABC Blogging the Fun Continues

We continue with another week of the ABC Blogging Challenge.  I love the fact that I have to keep working at to make the challenge each week.  It has given me a good reason to keep the blogging going each week.

Join in with ABC Blogging

Want to join in, take a moment to leave a comment here or in one of the other social media platforms.  We are almost done with this alphabet but you are welcome to use the link at the bottom of the page to add your own contribution.

R is for The Rag Coat

#abcblogging #books #ragcoat R is for The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills.  I was introduced to this book when my children were rowing along with Five in a Row.  It is a heartwarming story of a young girl in a rural mining community.  Her father dreams of her going to school.  When he dies it seems as if it won’t happen.  She gets to start school but with no winter coat she may no longer be able to continue. The woman of her the community quilting circle come up with a colorful solution.  But the other children aren’t kind at first.  But she learns to stand up with pride.

When we first read this book it immediately brought to mind the Dolly Parton song Coat of Many Colors.  We made sure to listen to the song.  I had the older ones write a comparison between the song and the book.  You can also use it as a jump off point of the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors.

Pinterest again has some ideas for learning with The Rag Coat.  The Home School Mom website also has links and ideas to go along with The Rag Coat.  There are lots of ideas that can be used from this book including quilting, coal, disease, poverty, helping those to need, bullying, and standing tall.

This is a beautiful book and I hope you have a chance to check it out.

ABC Blogging Link Up


Ben and Me
Share Button

Essential Skills Advantage – Online Learning Review

Essential Skills Advantage Review
Essential Skills Advantage – Online Learning 

Essential Skills Advantage is an online learning site that provides lots of fun ways for children to learn reading and language arts skills from beginning readers through the sixth grade.  There are lots of interactive activities designed to take full advantage of the e-learning format.  Once you sign up for membership you have the opportunity to access all levels of the program so that you can find the best fit for your child and can continue to challenge your child.

Essential Skills Advantage Review

How We Used ESA  for Online Learning

When we started Essential Skills Advantage (ESA) Premium Plan during the summer break so I had Hannah start with the fifth grade level and usually log in 3 or more days per week.  We started our school year last week and although she has just started seventh grade I am looking at this program as online learning enrichment so she will continue to work through the fifth and then the sixth grade material.  She is now doing ESA every school day.  She spends about 30 minutes per day using different areas.


Using Essential Skills Advantage 

Once the account is set up you are given a special link.  From there the child can log into any of the areas available.  Here are some of the areas that available for the student to log in.

#onlinelearning #esa #essentialskillsadvantage #languagearts #reading


Once Hannah chooses a subject area she wants to work with she gets the sign in screen and adds her unique user name and pass word.

#onlinelearning #esa #essentialskillsadvantage #languagearts #reading

Each study area has several topics or levels.  Each topic has several activities that help the student master the topic.  Activities including word searches, matching, typing the answer, multiple choice, just to name a few.

#onlinelearning #esa #essentialskillsadvantage #languagearts #reading

Hannah has been working through the following study areas:

  • Reading Comprehension 5 – This includes a passage to read and then several activities that help reinforce comprehension including multiple choices, word meaning, and comprehension.
  • Vocabulary Builder 5 – The topics in this level include Homophones, Antonyms, Homographs, Compound Words, Figurative Language, Easily Confused Words, Prefixes, and Suffixes.
  • Spelling Master 5 – Which covers Long Vowel Patterns, Tricky Pairs, Silent Letters, R Vowels, Spelling Rules, and Homonyms.
  • Grammar 3-5 – Covers Plurals, Sentences, Adjectives, Pronouns, Verbs, Adverbs, Capitalization, and Punctuation.

There is also a Spelling Stumpers area for 1st – 5th grade or 5th-9th grade that is set up in levels instead of topics.  Hannah hasn’t tried any of these out yet.

Parent Use of Essential Skills Advantage

As a working parent I love the idea of online learning.  It is especially helpful when I can easily check in to see that learning happened and how well it went each day.  You can log into the parent area where you can view your students and the activities they have completed.

#onlinelearning #esa #essentialskillsadvantage #languagearts #reading


When you click on the marks area it will list the areas the student has worked on and the last day that they have completed any activity in that area.

#onlinelearning #esa #essentialskillsadvantage #languagearts #reading

You can then click-through to get more details of which activities they’ve completed in each topic and how well they did in each area.  I use this area to get Hannah’s grade for the day.

#onlinelearning #esa #essentialskillsadvantage #languagearts #reading

Thoughts on ESA

#onlinelearning #esa #essentialskillsadvantage #languagearts #reading As a working homeschooling having something online that provides all the information Hannah needs to work through the program and be successful means a lot to me.  I love how easy it is for me to go back and check that she has worked each day and how well she is doing.  If there is an area that she has trouble with then we can address that area.  I think the graphics and activities are bright and encourage the a child to come back daily.  When they are excited about what they are doing and use the program willingly I know that there will also be learning taking place.

Hannah said she likes Essential Skills Advantage because you don’t have to write anything.  She also like that the each activity is short so she doesn’t get frustrated with it.

We continue to use Essential Skills Advantage until she has completed all the available levels.

Essential Skills Advantage – Facts About Online Learning

We reviewed the Premium Plan which cost $9.99 a month.  This plan offers additional features from the basic plan.  To sign up for the Premium Plan use this LINK.

They are also now offering a Basic Edition that will include sponsored ads and fewer features.  This program is free and will allow families access to many of the learning activities.  You can learn more about enrolling in the Basic Sponsor Program at this LINK.

Review Crew Link Up

While the Review Crew all used the same Premium Plan we all used it with different ages and levels so take a minute to check out the other reviews.


Click to read Crew Reviews
#disclaimer #reviewcrew

Share Button