Author Archives: Sallie

2015 Reader Survey

2015 Reader Survey

2015 Reader Survey

Last September I offered a reader survey for (I think) the first time. The results were very interesting! I learned a lot about my readers and some of it surprised me. Another year has passed and I know my audience has changed in that time. For one thing, it has grown a great deal! I’m very thankful for all of the new readers who have joined me over the past year.

I’ve included a variety of questions. Please answer as many as possible as each one helps me understand who is here and why you come here. There are a number of open-ended questions as well. Thank you for taking the time if you choose to participate!

Taking a Walk on the Lighter Side

Taking a Walk on the Lighter Side

Taking a Walk on the Lighter SideThis week I had planned to do a series on Homeschooling with a Chronic Illness as part of the iHomeschool Network blog hop. But when the time came to write the posts, I realized that I was tired of living mentally in the hard areas.

For example, last spring I got half way through a series on Overcoming Homeschooling Stress and realized I just didn’t want to continue to write about heavy topics. I didn’t complete the six posts I still had planned. Last October when I did the 31 Day Challenge I tackled 31 Days of Learning Differently. Many of those topics were emotionally taxing to write about. I also did a series on Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith. That was an emotionally draining series to write. I also wrote the 5 Days of Saying “No” series last year. That dealt with some heavy topics.

I realized it’s time to take a long walk on the lighter side.

Life on the Lighter Side

I’ve been working a lot on my website. It’s been so much fun to do a little bit of redesign, especially in the comments section. That’s one area we’ve always kind of neglected when designing my blogs/websites so it was fun to make it colorful and fun.

I’ve been making new products for my learning shop. I’m enjoying the Thursday second grade blogger team each week and the challenge of coming up with an activity or printable each week for that.

I’m putting together a fun 31 days series for October. This is a collection of posts I’ve wanted to do for a long time and doing the research for them is enjoyable.

I’m planning a bunch of picture book posts. I adore picture books and look forward to writing more about those.

I have more product and curriculum features that will hopefully help keep you up-to-date on positive learning options for your children.

It’s time to take a long, long walk on the lighter side.

Our Homeschool Year So Far

We started our fifth week of homeschooling yesterday and so far it has been a very good year. Honestly, our best year ever so far. Now that we’ve addressed the dysgraphia and handwriting issues, it’s all so much easier for both Caroline and me.

So that’s a bit of an update from our home. If you feel like things have changed here in terms of what I’m writing about and the types of posts I’m putting up, that’s because it has been intentional. I hope you enjoy the change and enjoy taking a walk on the lighter side with me in the months ahead.

Apple Writing Prompts and Papers

Apple Writing Prompts and Papers

Apple Writing Prompts and Papers

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. Colorful leaves, a crackling fire, a cool breeze… Is there anything much better than fall? I especially enjoy creating products that have fall themes whether it is leaves, pumpkins, apples, harvest, scarecrows… They are all so cozy and fun! This is a new little free product I put together for all of my subscribers! It is Apple Writing Prompts and Papers.

This set includes six writing prompts and twenty-four coordinating papers. It is perfect for using at home for something different instead of your regular writing curriculum. It will also work well in a classroom writing center.

Apple Writing Prompts and Papers Cards

The six writing prompts are colorful and fun. The papers come in color as well as black/white. I included papers with primary lines and standard lines. It will work with many different ages.

Apple Writing Prompts and Papers

You can download Apple Writing Prompts and Papers for free in my learning shop! Don’t miss all of the other fun apple-themed products I have as well.

And be sure to check out this week’s collection of journal-themed ideas for second grade. The second grade blogging team has put together a bunch of fun ideas!

Roll It and Write! Journal Activity for Kids from School Time Snippets

Cursive Handwriting Journal from Sugar Aunts

Heart to Heart Journals from Still Playing School

Digital Journalling with Kids from Rainy Day Mum

Fall Themed Reading Journal from Look! We’re Learning!

30 Free Journal Prompts for September from Life Over C’s

Connecting Science and Writing from Planet Smarty Pants


Happiness Happens in Our House!


A few weeks ago I was contacted by Shari’s Berries regarding their Happiness Happens promotion. They offered to send me a free product to spark a post about happiness. I loved the sound of it, but because of my Eosinophilic Esophagitis there is literally not one thing on their website I could safely eat.


I realized what would make me truly happy was picking out something David and Caroline would enjoy and surprising them with it. Folks, they have been through so much with me the past five years. If anyone deserves a little bit of happiness put into their day, it is my husband and daughter.

As I looked through the different offerings on their website, I knew which one they would both like the most… Chocolate Covered OREO Cookies!

So I wrote back, explained the situation and the rep said, “Absolutely!”

So David and Caroline have been feasting on Chocolate Covered OREO Cookies this week! They both said they were fantastic. Caroline loved the colorful wrappers (naturally!). And it truly made me happy to do something nice for them that normally would not be an option in our home.


When I asked Caroline if there was anything specific she wanted me to say about the treat, she smacked her lips and said, “YUUUUMMMMMMM!” LOL!

So thank you to Shari’s Berries for adding a bit of happiness to all of our lives for the next couple of weeks!

Back to School Shopping Spree

Back to School Shopping Spree!


Back to School Shopping Spree

This is one of my favorite events of the year! The iHomeschool Network Back to Homeschool Gift Basket Giveaway! This event features a variety of prizes that are sure to be of interest to homeschoolers! There are 34 different giveaways so grab a cup of coffee and get ready to find some giveaways to enter!

I’m giving away a back to school shopping spree. I know that everyone can find things on Amazon so the winner will receive a $25 gift card to Amazon for stocking up on art supplies, books, apps, DVDs, office supplies, or whatever else your homeschool might need. The winner will also receive a $25 gift card to my Sallie Borrink Learning Shop! You’ll find all kinds of fun and interesting products to liven up your homeschooling adventure!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You will find links to all of the giveaways on this landing page. All of the giveaways are pictured below.



Apples Graphing Activity

Apples Graphing Activity

Apples Graphing Activity

It’s apple time! It’s also time to practicing graphing. This apples graphing activity combines both into a fun, hands-on activity. This set is filled with colorful little cards that show graphics of apple blossoms, a leaf, a jar of applesauce, apple seeds, a basket of apples, an apple core, an apple pie and even a cute green worm in an apple!

Graphing is an important skill that students use in math, science and even history. Bar graphs are a wonderful place to start when learning how to graph! This easy-to-use graph is also a great tool for launching a discussion focused on comparing and contrasting different results.

Your students will sort the various apple-themed cards according to picture. They will then create a bar graph of the correct number for each picture.

Apple Graphing Activity Pin

Simply click here to download this free Apples Graphing Activity in my shop! You can see all of my apple-themed products here.

Apples Graphing Activity

Don’t miss these other fun apple-themed learning activities for second graders!

How to use an apple to explain basic fractions from Crafty Kids at Home

Apple Array Practice for Second Grade from Look! We’re Learning!

Apples Graphing Activity from Sallie Borrink Learning

Free Number Order Printable Apples from Life Over C’s

Preserve an apple from getting brown from Planet Smarty Pants

Apple Descriptions {adjectives} from School Time Snippets

Nouns and Verbs – Apple Theme from 123 Homeschool 4 Me

Black and White Apple Prints: A Lesson in Contrast from Creative Family Fun

Apple Toothpick Tower Challenge from Preschool Powol Packets

Online Learning for Girls

Always Icecream Website for Girls

Online Learning for Girls

I received a one year subscription to in exchange for my review. All content and opinions are my own (except the video produced by Always Icecream).

Caroline loves to learn via technology and we have used many websites over the years as part of our homeschooling. So when another blogger mentioned Always Icecream for her daughters I thought I should check it out!  We’ve been using it for a few weeks and today I’m going to introduce you to Always Icecream. I’ll follow up with another post in a few months to give you an update on our experience. (If you have boys, the companion site for boys is Clever Dragons.)

Always Icecream

Always Icecream is a fun place for girls in K-8 to practice learning skills and explore different educational topics. It also is a safe place for girls to interact online through fun activities.

Always Ice Cream Home

Here’s a quick peek!

Learning Topics

Always Icecream covers many subjects with instructional videos, practice lessons and assessments. The learning topics include:

  • Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Geography and History
  • Music and Arts
  • Foreign Languages
  • Life Skills
  • Biblical Studies (Christian or Jewish)

Life Skills Map

Fun Activities

There are a number of fun activities on Always Icecream that include Challenges, My Friends and Community. There is a video section with carefully prescreened videos appropriate for girls. Caroline especially enjoys checking out the wide variety of videos available. She also likes adopting pets such as her turtle and dragon!

Always Ice Cream Video Page

Learning Community Features

The community feature gives girls the opportunity to interact online. This is a moderated area so everything is kept safe. No personal information can be given out in the community areas and it is not searchable by search engines.  It is truly a safe place for girls to have fun!

Caroline on Always Ice Cream

Earning Scoops

The girls can earn scoops as they complete different tasks online. One feature I like is the ability of the parent to reward scoops for various tasks around the house. There are preset ones or you can create your own. I like being able to use this as a way to thank Caroline for completing certain tasks with a good attitude!

Parent Section

There is a separate parent section with valuable tools for the homeschool mom. It took me some time to explore it and determine how to best use all the different options. I can easily select the grade levels for Caroline’s activities with a slider, making it easy to change them as we go. I can preview any learning activity and then assign it to her so the assignment shows up when she logs in. I’ve found this a really helpful assessment tool. I’ve been giving her assessments on different subjects and it helps me zero in on things we haven’t covered that I need to touch on with her. As relaxed homeschoolers, this is very helpful.

Always Icecream is not a comprehensive curriculum so you couldn’t choose to do Always Icecream and call it your entire curriculum for the year. But as a supplement, there are many helpful ways it can contribute to and enhance your homeschooling process.

Discount Codes for My Readers!

Always Icecream wants to reach parents like you! They are offering a discount code that will be valid until the end of 2015.

If you use code SALLIE15 you will receive 25% off an annual membership (bringing it down to $59.25) and 34% off a school-year parent premium membership (bringing it down to $58.74).

I hope you will check out Always Icecream for your daughter!

Number Ordering Activity 2

Number Ordering Activity 0-999

Number Ordering Activity 2

Number ordering is an important skill for young children to master. But it doesn’t have to be boring!

Practicing number ordering is extra fun with this colorful number ordering activity! This downloadable file includes five sets of cards and a recording sheet. The graphics are in a school supplies theme so it will work for back to school or any time of the year.

Your students will put the sets of six cards in the correct order. The numbers range from 0 to 999. The students then record the answers on their recording sheet. The sheet is provided in both color and black and white.


Number Ordering Activity

You can download this for free in my shop!

Number Ordering Math Activity 0-999

Check out more fun learning activities from the 2nd Grade Blogging Team! Each Thursday we’ll be posting activities and printables for you to use!

Melting Crayons Science Experiment from Creative Family Fun

Free Addition Facts Game from Life Over C’s

Interest Based Learning Project from Still Playing School

FREE Back to School Noun Practice from Look! We’re Learning!

What I Love About School Art Project from Planet Smarty Pants

All About Me Flag Project from School Time Snippets

{Free!} Getting to Know You Back to School Game from Preschool Powol Packets

FREE All About Me Worksheets (Lego style) from 123 Homeschool 4 Me

Me Llamo – Simple Spanish Game from Rainy Day Mum

Setting up a homework station from Crafty kids at home

When You’re a Neat Freak and Your Child Isn’t

When You’re a Neat Freak and Your Child Isn’t

When You’re a Neat Freak and Your Child Isn’t

A few months ago Jimmie wrote What My (Messy) Artist Daughter Has Taught Me. I totally got that post as I had been thinking about the idea of being a neat freak when your child isn’t. It sounds like my Caroline and Jimmie’s Emma are a lot alike. Creative, empathetic and funny describe Caroline for sure.

Jimmie wrote:

But Emma is not bothered by messes. In fact, she says she likes to have all of her possessions visible (on the desk or on the floor) so she can know where everything is.

That sound you hear? That’s my head exploding because I cannot relate to this way of thinking at all. But I see it in my home on a daily basis.

Motherhood Failure

Although “Neat Freak” is a bit too strong to describe me, quasi-obsessively orderly would not be. I am relentless about picking up each day. I cannot go to bed if there are messes in every room. I find it depressing to get up to things left undone from the day before. Motherhood, with its endless array of paraphernalia, has been a tough go for me in that respect.

One area where I failed time and again as a mother was voicing my frustration, displeasure and otherwise crankiness regarding Caroline’s messy room. She didn’t see it as messy, but it drove me nuts. Worse yet, I would be especially frustrated when it was time for her to go to bed and somehow we hadn’t gotten it picked up earlier in the evening. Far too many times **I** put a damper on bedtime because I was frustrated with the state of her room. Part of my frustration was felt toward myself for not getting on it earlier and part of it was directed at Caroline for not being naturally wired to be neat in the way I am.

At some point, I realized that this was my problem, not hers. This became especially true when she expressed the idea that I expected perfection in her room. I had never said that or even implied it. Even when her room was picked up, it never approached what I would consider anything close to perfection. But somehow that was the expectation she was carrying in her mind. What seems “normal” and “picked up” to me somehow became an expectation of “perfection” to her. This was especially grievous to me because I AM a recovering perfectionist. The last thing I want to do is burden her with those kinds of expectations whether they were accurate or not.

Safety Standards

My standard line now each evening is, “Would you please make sure no one will trip over anything in the night?” I’ve boiled it down to a safety issue and that’s it. There has been no pushback since then and she obligingly complies almost all of the time.

Caroline’s combination of being artistic and not naturally wired to organize means her room can be, um, very busy. So once a week or so, David and I do a fifteen minute “room rescue” with her to keep it under control. We don’t make her pick everything up or put everything away. We respect he preferences. But we make sure any spots that are simply getting to be too much get dealt with.

Letting Her Be Herself

I’ve read other bloggers say that if your kids can’t keep their room picked up on their own each day that they have too much stuff and the answer is to give away or get rid of 75% of it. I don’t agree. We’re not going to give away all her toys or punish her for having a room that isn’t picked up all the time to my preference. It’s her room and she’s old enough to be allowed some say in what it looks like. If she wants the contents of her room on display so she can easily find them, then that’s really her choice. As long as it doesn’t pose a health or safety risk, I choose to let her be herself.


Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Sallie’s Miscellany (August 4)

Sallie's Miscellany Links for Better Living and Learning

Good Reads

The Joy of Doing Nothing – Mama PhD reflects on her decision to not send her children to camp and how that impacted their summer experience.

Homeschooling: Letting Go of the Vision – I think most homeschooling parents go through something similar to what Celi is discussing here. We remember the best parts of our schooling experience and wish those for our children we are homeschooling. The trade-off is our children will have experiences, freedoms and opportunities we never had.

Asynchronous Development in Gifted Children – Cait of My Little Poppies wrote this guest post on Colleen’s website. It’s an excellent overview of what asynchronous development looks like in real life and the realities faced by 2e kids.

The Decline of Play and Rise of Children’s Mental Disorders – “We would like to think of history as progress, but if progress is measured in the mental health and happiness of young people, then we have been going backward at least since the early 1950s.”

Weather Station with Oscar


I can’t begin to count how many “discussions” were avoided by our Wireless Forecast Station with Oscar Outlook. It pretty much eliminates the need for lengthy haggling over what kind of clothes, coats, etc. the child needs to wear. We just checked what Oscar had on and that was it. If Oscar had to wear a hat, coat, scarf, etc. then so did Caroline. LOL! This is seriously worth every penny for that factor alone. Highly recommended!

Save Money to Buy More Books!

180 day countdown

Free School Year Countdown Calendar Printable

180 day countdown

Caroline and I decided to make a countdown calendar printable that would help her keep track of how many days of school she’s completed. Each day she can cross off a number. I think this will be a great visual reminder of what we’ve accomplished and how much we still need to do. Even though we are relaxed homeschoolers who “do learning” every day, I’m trying to add a bit more structure to our homeschooling. I’m also trying to help remove the ambiguity of what a “school year” entails. I’m thinking a concrete visual will be a good tool for our family.

Caroline designed the countdown calendar printable with David. She chose the font, colors and design. We want to share it with you Feel free to download a PDF copy to use!

Why We Decided to Stop Eating Together as a Family

Why We Decided to Stop Eating Together as a Family

Why We Decided to Stop Eating Together as a Family

One of the oft-cited cardinal rules of having a strong family is eating together as a family. I agree with this in theory. I do think a lack of regular and meaningful family time is a significant problem in our culture. In our case, because we work from home and homeschool, we have the opportunity to basically eat three meals a day together, seven days a week. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it?

However, there’s also reality.

At one point, David and I realized that we would all be a lot happier if we dumped the idea of eating breakfast as a family.

David and I want to get up and get on with our day. We want to eat breakfast shortly after we get up.

Caroline gets up later, likes a slow morning and is not ready to eat as soon as she wakes up. She can be up for a couple of hours before she wants to eat breakfast. (I totally don’t relate to this!)

So David and I would delay our breakfast to accommodate Caroline so we could eat together. We had to prod her to get her to breakfast and it often made for a less than happy morning for all of us.

Now David and I eat when we are ready which is earlier than we were trying to eat as a family. Caroline has her breakfast a couple of hours after we do.

Because Caroline eats her breakfast later, she eats her lunch later. So David and I eat lunch without her, too. Caroline eats breakfast on her own (which she prefers). Usually one of us helps her get her lunch (if she wants assistance) and hangs out with her while she eats.

Part of me feels funny about this, but it’s what works for our family.

We do eat supper together as a family and that is a non-negotiable. (No TV dinners though.)

The plus side is that David and I get two meals together when we have time just for us. Honestly, this is something we’ve missed since having Caroline.

I’m a big believer in doing what works for your family. For example, we ditched morning homeschooling and switched to afternoon homeschooling. That has worked well for us. Getting rid of meal expectations at breakfast and lunch has totally changed our family for the better as well.