Author Archives: GranolaMom

About GranolaMom

My passion is natural living, cleaning, teaching, being. I hope you'll join me as I discover new things and pursue the best in whatever life throws at me. Most of what I post will be homeschool related as that is my focus now and in the years to come, but I have posted and will probably post more about cloth diapering, natural foods, and clean living as well. Enjoy and I hope you find something useful here. :)

An Honest & Thorough Review: “The Good & the Beautiful” Homeschool Curriculum

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An Honest & Thorough Review: “The Good & the Beautiful” Homeschool Curriculum

After a busy summer settling into our new property, chopping wood, planning gardens, and exploring our new 5 acres, we are now almost two months into our school year!  We have a 9 year old, a 7 year old, a 6 year old, and an almost 5 year old.  Of course, like any homeschool mom, I labored long and hard over the curriculum decision… wanting the absolute best for my kids.  However, being on a tight budget, “the best” seemed a far off dream.

Enter, The Good & the Beautiful! (Important note: These are my honest to goodness thoughts about this curriculum, I am not being compensated for this review, and we purchased the curriculum ourselves for use this year).

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A friend introduced me to The Good & the Beautiful just weeks before I planned to start our school year.  I spent hours reading reviews, exploring the freebies, and learning about the mission of this company.  I tear up just writing this post!  As I read Jenny’s mission, her values, and what she wanted to accomplish in creating this curriculum, my heart swelled inside me and I KNEW beyond a shadow of a doubt that THIS is what we were looking for!  I talked with my husband that night, showed him what I’d been learning, and he knew as well.  We ordered the levels we needed and waited in anticipation for them to arrive!

I am not one to skimp on academics so I also want a curriculum that covers all the bases.  The Good & the Beautiful goes above and beyond in that it includes an emphasis on good character and values in every lesson and reading!  This emphasis really spoke to me on a deep level because even above academics, I value character development… Jenny’s curriculum weaves character and values into every lesson.  It is a faith-based curriculum, but it doesn’t delve into doctrine or the deeper concepts of denominational differences.  She keeps it basic and focused on creation rather than evolution, and beauty rather than doctrine, allowing you as the parent, to incorporate doctrine and specific beliefs in according to your particular bent.

My motivation to “do school” swelled ten-fold as I prepared with new energy and excitement… I’m emotional again just now remembering that HOPE for a beautiful year of exploration and discovery guided by something I couldn’t create on my own. Below you can see the evolution of beauty in our homeschool space – this isn’t a post about our space… but as I anticipated with excitement the beauty of this curriculum, I was inspired to create… I hadn’t even received all the printed materials yet and I was already inspired just by browsing the pdf files I’d downloaded!  Jenny’s dream and passion is truly contagious!

Fast forward two months … We are fully in the throws of homeschooling… and honestly – loving it more than any other year!  Allow me to walk you through the products we are using and tell you what we love about them.

But first… take a look at these excited kids!

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LANGUAGE ARTS

Look at these photos of our struggling reader/speller… he has seriously grown so much just in these couple months of working with The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts Curriculum.  Look at those words he can READ and SPELL!  The repetition built into the program is fantastic but not tedious or boring.  It’s woven in artfully throughout the program in different ways so as not to become mundane.  The Mini-books (readers) that come with each Language Arts level are beautiful as well. The illustrations are quality, the stories are entertaining – often evoking peals of laughter from my children!

The Good and the Beautiful Curriculum is in an “Open and Go” Style.  This means there is little to NO prep work for teacher (do you hear that, Mom? No Prep!).  In the Language Arts programs, it is literally open and go, NO PREP!  Some of the history and science lessons do require some prep, but it isn’t extensive nor is it expensive – Thank you Jenny!

Jenny, being a homeschool mom herself, obviously KNOWS what we homeschool mom’s need… Look at this excerpt from one of the language arts books!  Do you see the lovely check boxes!  This “open  & go” style of workbook with it’s handy check boxes make it SOOO easy to keep track of what’s been completed and where we need to start next time!  Being a teacher of multiple children and grade levels at one time I find this feature to be a HUGE help in keeping me on track.

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Overall, I LOVE The Good & the Beautiful Language Arts Curriculum!  We have been using the Level K & Level 2 curriculum this year.  Our 6 year old will graduate to Level 1 probably about half-way through the year and our 4, almost 5 year old, will probably graduate INTO Level K.  Our 8 year old, 9 this week, is working through the Level 2 book and will probably finish it before the year is up as she is highly academic and independent.  She LOVES the geography that is so beautifully incorporated into the curriculum, and is truly learning to understand and appreciate art!  I love all the beautiful pieces and the brief history of the piece as it is mentioned in the lessons.

Frugal Mom Tip:  I would highly recommend purchasing the PRINTED curriculum for at least one child.  I purchased the printed book and the PDF downloads.  I printed the whole download in black and white for each child, and then, when we come to a page with artwork or something else better viewed in color, I pull out the printed book.  In this way I am able to use the printed book for more than one child.  If you can afford to purchase the printed book for each child, I also encourage you to do that just to support this amazing company!

SCIENCE

Oh how we are loving science!  We are working on the Arthropod (Bugs) unit this year!  As I was creating our homeschool space the kids were inspired and motivated to prepare for their bug study – energy and inspiration is contagious – The Good and the Beautiful got us ALL excited for the school year!  They scrambled with the small amount of summer we had left to collect various bugs for their bug board!  They accumulated quite a collection!  Here is a sampling!

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Check out the variety of Science Units The Good and the Beautiful offers!  None of these sets is over $22 for the PRINTED COPY and all are full color on high quality glossy paper.  We ordered the Meteorology unit for our next unit as we will be finished with Arthropods by the beginning of 2018.  And there are more units planned for the coming years, so keep checking back!

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TYPING

I cannot begin to express how thrilled I am with this course!  My 8 year old is fast becoming an accomplished typist!  She types quickly and accurately without looking at the keyboard, and all without the “video game” style distraction of most modern programs!

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NOTEBOOKS

We have been using the Nature Notebook this year but I also ordered the Creative Writing Notebook.  The Nature Notebook is wonderful for exploring the seasons.  Once a week is enough to accomplish each season’s activities during that season.  The Creative Writing Notebook is beautifully designed and we can’t wait to use it next year.

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HANDWRITING

The Handwriting courses are wonderful independent work for the kids!  As you can see below, my son’s handwriting has improved visibly in just the past several weeks!

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Each page includes handwriting practice and art!  Sometimes just asking to draw or color a picture, sometimes giving more direction like, “Draw a picture of a mountain or a rainbow”.  I love that the kids can work independently on their practice as the numbers and arrows are there for their instruction. 45

 

HISTORY

Can I just say, this History Curriculum is GORGEOUS and FUN!  We’ve been learning about Creation and Ancient Egypt so far.  The activities are not only educational, they are fun as well!  Dressing up like Egyptians, making a representative timeline on the floor demonstrating how LONG the period of Ancient Egypt was as compared to how long the US has been a nation!  I’M learning along with the kids!  The Big Book of History Stories is high quality, full color, and engaging writing!  We love when we get to pull that book out with a lesson!

IMG_4506We adore the audio dramatizations that accompany the curriculum as well!  I really feel they enhance the experience.  Also, even though our children are young, we’ve been enjoying the Keys of History Board Game.  I, as the teacher, appreciate the sneaky repetition this board game accomplishes!  Seriously, all those facts I labored over in public and private school – all here, in cooperative game fashion (we work as a team to “beat the clock”), studied from a young age.  These kids will actually REMEMBER these facts when they are adults… and they won’t even know they worked to memorize them!

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BOOK LIST

This Book List has been a FOUNDATIONAL part of our homeschool plan this year!  The books included on the list are ALL wonderful books you can truly trust to be safe for your children!  We have very much enjoyed reading books aloud off The Good & the Beautiful Book List, as well as reading alone during Quiet Reading Time.  Our favorite so far is a book we would have never found had it not been for this list… A Tree For Peter… What a beautiful inspiring read!  The Good and the Beautiful team puts out an ANNUAL update to this list, continually adding to the amount of beautiful books you can feel confident about!

Jenny is graciously offering a FREE book list download to my followers,
valid only from 11/8/17-11/11/17 … Check out the sample page below.
There are over 500 books listed and thoroughly reviewed on this book list!
Click on the image below to find the Book List!

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TIME

Of course, there is also the question of time!  How much TIME does it take to get through the lessons, and school as a whole for the day.  That is another thing I love so much about The Good and the Beautiful !  It’s open and go so I’m not scurrying about during school hours wasting precious time gathering supplies, or printing a forgotten worksheet.  I’m homeschooling four children Level 2 and under, so all of our lessons in the Language Arts book and for History and Science are done with me there.  We start school at 8am, and we’re done between 11-12!  That’s 3-4 hours TOTAL!  I’m not even kidding!  And I spend at least 30-40 minutes with each child INDIVIDUALLY and then we do History together twice a week and Science and Nature together once a week.  I have the family lessons sprinkled throughout the week on different days so it’s not all clumped into one day.  Not only does this 3-4 hours include The Good and the Beautiful Language Arts, History, Science, and Nature… I’m also doing Math with all the kids and one is doing The Good and the Beautiful Typing!  We are ALWAYS done before lunch!  Isn’t that incredible!

 

COST

As a homeschool mom on a very tight budget, I SOOO appreciate Jenny’s commitment to making The Good and the Beautiful AFFORDABLE!  Not only are the printed materials SUPER reasonably priced, there are also many FREE downloads if you just can’t scrap together the money to buy the printed version!  She STRIVES to make it possible for every homeschool family to have access to QUALITY curriculum!  This mission and purpose is something I can stand behind and support WHOLEHEARTEDLY!

Look here at a couple of the science units for an example.  You can print the Arthropods Unit at home for only $8.99!  Or you can buy it and have it shipped to you for only $16!  The Meteorology unit is the most expensive unit and still only costs $12.99 for the PDF or $22 for the printed + PDF!  These units are WELL worth that amount of money!

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Also, look at the Language Arts Level 1 Course set.  You can get the whole thing for FREE if you just access the PDF download (look at the color portions on a Tablet or computer or print it in color at home or an office supply store).  Or, you can order the physical course set for only $58!  How many curriculum’s can you name where an entire year of Literature, Spelling, Phonics & Reading, Grammar & Punctuation, Art Appreciation & Writing (& Geography as well in Level 2 and up) are included for only $58!  Or, save yourself a couple bucks and print the phonics cards at home and spend only $51 for the physical course set!  This is AFFORDABLE!

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Don’t want to buy the whole set… maybe you’ve bought it already and just need the coursebook again for another child?  Buy pieces separately.

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That Level K Reader is so cute and fun to read.  Forget other primary readers and their repetitive “blah” style and unimaginative stories.  This reader is wonderfully written to inspire and teach!

OTHER REVIEWS

If you’re still not convinced, to supplement your research, here are a few other reviews on this amazing curriculum:

 

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Well, I think that about covers it!  I think you can tell that we LOVE The Good and the Beautiful!  Please hop on over to the website and explore the curriculum for yourself!  Download one or more of the FREE Language Arts courses and read the whole thing!  Take the guesswork out of ordering the printed copy by previewing the entire course for FREE!

Don’t forget to take advantage of that FREE Book List Download as well!

 

 

Have you tried any of The Good and the Beautiful Curriculum in your homeschool?
Comment below and let me know your thoughts as well!

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Safe Kids & Moral Dilemmas

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All of us want to keep our kids safe… all of us know in the back of our minds the potential threats to children in our world… but do all of us know how to prepare our kids to stay safe in this world?

When a friend posted recently that her kids had potentially been “tagged” at a Costco by potential abductors my “Mama Bear” instincts started causing stomach upset and emotional distress for days.  I talked to some trusted people about it, and was reminded of the idea to”role play” or imagine scenarios with our kids.  One even said, “Make it a game.”

So… being the “non-spontaneous” type, I knew I would struggle to come up with scenarios off the cuff.  So, I took her literally… and made a game!  It’s not all “Stranger Danger” scenarios, and it’s not all serious either, so as not to cause fear.  There are 48 unique cards in the deck including stranger danger topics, manners, kindness, obedience, and some thrown in just to lighten the mood.

Simply print the pdf (found here) on card stock and cut out the cards.

I hope you enjoy and benefit!  Here are some sample cards from the game.

 

I Miss Writing & A Word Families Free Printable

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I Miss Writing & A Word Families Free Printable

Wow… it’s been a long time since I’ve written.  I do miss it, but we’ve gone through a move, are facing more moves in the near future, had a litter of puppies, and have been teaching a 7 year old, 5 1/2 year old, and a 4 year old to read at the same time!  Isn’t it incredible how different kids are “ready” at different times?  I was intending to teach the two older kids but the little guy just jumped right in and started learning by observation, surprising me one day by sounding out three letter words!  So, I added him to the syllabus!

I did want to hop on and post these printables I created that we have found totally useful and great addition to any reading curriculum.  I currently use Phonics Pathways for teaching reading, but I am known to supplement, go off curriculum and just wing it based on how my kid responds to the “norm”.  This is one of the things I developed to supplement and enrich the program 🙂  I hope you find it useful as well.  Please feel free to download each set & use in your own homeschool or school classroom.

Download 1 – Word Family Pages (Download Here: Word Families Binder Pages)

This set is 71 Pages total and is designed to fit in a binder for use in daily reading drills.  I have my children read as much as they are able … one child does half a full page, the other usually does the whole page.  They are in alphabetical order in the pdf, but I ordered them based on how I thought the child would best learn.  Feel free to order them to your particular style.

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Download 2 – Word Family Highlighting Worksheets

This set is all the word family pages condensed into 67 pages for the whole sheet style, and 34 pages for the half sheet style.  Every once in awhile I will have my kids take a sheet and highlight the word family part of the word.  This helps their brain begin to understand parts of words better the more practice they get.  I like to print it in the half sheet style to save paper.  I have included both styles for you to choose from.

(Download Whole Sheet version here: Word Families Highlighting Worksheets – Whole Page)

(Download Half-Sheet version here: Word Families Highlighting Worksheets – Half Page)

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I hope you enjoy these printables and find them useful in your school 🙂  I also have sight words and word families flash cards if there is interest.  Please comment if you’d like me to throw those up here sooner rather than later 😛

Thanks for stopping by.

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Letter Roads Free Preschool Printable

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Letter roads

I developed these little Letter Roads to help my preschooler with fine motor skills & letter recognition.  She loved following the “roads” to help the characters get to their destinations.  Please feel free to use this free printable, for personal use only, in your homeschool classroom! 🙂

Download Free PDF Printable Here: One Line Letters

Making Jam – First Harvest

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On the hunt for Jam Recipes lately!  I need a way to use all that rhubarb that is coming up! 🙂  I love these adorable jelly jars!  Wouldn’t they make cute gifts?!

So, I tried three recipes yesterday.  The first is this reduced sugar recipe from Local Kitchen which is quite yummy, though I think I would decrease the lemon next time and add pectin.  It did not set up at all for me.  Maybe I can’t make jam, who knows!

Reduced Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

The second recipe I tried was this one from Rhubarb Central.  Rhubarb Conserves with Orange, Walnuts & Raisins.  It was AMAZINGLY delicious, but also needs pectin.

Rhubarb Orange Conserve

And the third, this one, also from Rhubarb Central.  Seriously an awesome site for all things rhubarb!  Again, didn’t set up for me.  Maybe I really can’t make jam.  Hmmm…

Rhubarb Orange Jam

I’m on a quest for jams with less sugar… any ideas?  The first one with all the lemon is decent on the sugar side, but the other two… yeah, too much sugar for me.  I know, it’s jam!  It’s supposed to have sugar, right!?  Well, I can’t have sugar but I still want Jam!!

All Recipe Nutrition Information calculated at CalorieCount!  Coolest thing ever!

If you have any links or recipe suggestions for reduced-sugar homemade jams, please do let me know!  I think for now I’ll be making the orangey ones with less sugar and added pectin.  We’ll see how that goes.  One reader suggested Pamona’s Universal Pectin found here… I have yet to try it.

Just another tip… I love these lids (wide mouth) or these (regular mouth) for my mason jars so I don’t have to mess with the rings when a jar is in use in the fridge.

Wheat Free Buckwheat & Oat Pancakes

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So, we recently found out my husband has to eat wheat free.  We’ve been on a 4 month journey to finding replacements for all our wheat-y foods!  Sheesh, it’s been a trip for sure.  But we’ve found some favorites… like this Buckwheat & oat pancake recipe my husband invented after getting so fed up with all the nastyness of Gluten-Free “bread” stuffs.  Seriously, rice flour!?  Eeew.  Besides, it’s not whole grain, and I wasn’t willing to start using white flours.  So… we invented this pancake recipe!  I hope you enjoy… we actually prefer it over the whole wheat pancakes we used to eat!

UPDATE : Feel free to use whatever combination of flours you want… Sometimes I don’t use the buckwheat at all and just do barley and oat, or just plain oat!

Buckwheat & Barley Pancakes

Also feel free to check out my pin boards for other Wheat Free Recipies!

Wheat Free Snacks/Sides

Wheat Free Breakfast

Wheat Free Desserts

Wheat Free Main Dishes/Sides

Wheat Free Buckwheat & Barley Pancakes or Waffle Recipie

DIY Unique Built-In Bunk Beds!

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DIY Unique Built-In Bunk Beds!

Pregnant with #4 in a three bedroom house, we find it’s time to start stacking kids!  So, this weekend, we built one of two bunks! 🙂  Here’s the process… not tutorial, sorry.  We had to jump through some pretty unique hoops to build these beds, but if you have a handy husband, maybe you can figure it out too!

The inspiration for this project came from Pinterest – where else!?! Here’s some photos.

Photo Credit

Photo Credit – not sure where the photo is on this site… it’s where Pinterst brought me.

For our “Blueprints” we used Microsoft Publisher.  Did you know that you can zoom waaaaay out in Publisher and create actual life-size to scale “blueprints” of sorts?  You’ll get all your measurements just the way you want them!

Here’s a shot of the empty closet.  I have the top section of a desk stuck up on the shelf for extra shelving.  It’s screwed to the wall.

The kids a re fairly excited for this project to begin!  We’ve been collecting supplies for quite a while & they are more than ready for their “bunk beds”!

Phase 1

Demolition.  The closet was 4 inches too short for the toddler mattresses, so we dug into the wall for the extra space.  On the other side of this wall is a tiny hall coat closet.  We (“we” being my husband with the power tools, and me behind the camera!)… we had to cut through the first layer of drywall, remove the studs, rebuild the wall’s structure, and build the bunks.  Thank God I have a handy husband!

The completed “hole in the wall”… now to remove the studs and rebuild the structure of the wall.

Phase 2:

Construction!  Here’s the bottom bunk frame… about 12″ off the floor to make room for some “drawers” and other storage underneath.

Measuring for the top frame

Installing the top bunk platform… about 30″ from the bottom one.

And then Gramma showed up for a visit and was more than excited to help!  Yeah!

Phase 3:

Shelving

We scavenged these headboard style shelves out of another shelf I’d found in the thrift store free pile!  This wasn’t in the original “plans” but I’m glad we added them!

Phase 4:

Ladder & Railing

While I was at the store buying some “Hot Mud” (Fast drying drywall mud for all the dents in the wall from the demo part), Jesse built all this for the ladder & railing!

Finished Ladder & Railing

A view of the shelves

Phase 5:

Sanding.  Thankfully a neighbor had an electric sander we could borrow!

Phase 6:

Painting… Almost done!!!

Color #1 Finished

Color #2

Color #2 Done… That means the painting is done!!!!

Phase 7:

Toyboxes… we had two but they were too tall, so Jesse cut them down about 4 inches allowing them to be “drawers” under the bottom bed.

Phase 8:

Bedding and a final photo shoot… and two proud parents! 🙂  Yeah.

Here’s a view with the entertainment center turned play kitchen (which a friend of mine blogged about in case you’re interested).

BTW:  Test subject #1 says the beds turned out perfect!

We don’t yet have a toddler mattress or bedding set (I love this frog one and this train one!) for the bottom bunk (working on that), so I stole a patio chair cushion from the back yard.  It’ll do as a “reading nook” space until we get a mattress & move LaLa in here! 🙂

Sequencing File Folder Games: Button Sequencing & Number Sequencing

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Number Sequencing File Folder Game – FREE Printable

Object of the game: Place number tiles (use the printable ones or purchase these plastic ones here!) in numerical order on the numbered or blank playing boards.

FREE Printable Here: NumberSequencing :: TheyCallMeGranola :: File Folder Game :: FREE Printable

Button Lacing Sequencing File Folder Game – FREE Printable

Object of the game:  Lace buttons in the order shown on the file folder (purchase buttons & laces here!)… color & shape orders shown.

FREE Printable Here: ButtonSequencing :: TheyCallMeGranola :: File Folder Game :: FREE Printable

I find my plain manila file folders here and the fun colored ones here.

More File Folder Games: Owl Counting, Emotion Matching, Leaf Matching & Rainbow Shades

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Here are some more FREE Printable File Folder Games for Tots & Preschoolers!  Had so much fun making these!  Enjoy! 🙂

Owl Counting is a game that includes 12 Owls with numbers on them.

The Playing Board (inside the folder) has 12 tiles with flowers on them.

The Object is to place the Owls in number sequence on the game board either by counting the flowers on each tile or placing the numbers in order by memory.

Click Here for Free Printable:  OwlCounting.TheyCallMeGranola.FFG

Emotion Matching is a game of facial recognition.

The Playing Pieces are pictures of people making Sad, Happy, or Goofy Faces.

The playing board is divided into those three sections.

The object is to sort the faces onto the correct page.

Make this game even more fun by printing pictures of your own family members to include in the mix!

Click Here for Free Printable: Emotion Matching . FREE Printable . TheyCallMeGranola

Leaf Matching is a “Puzzle Game”.

The pieces are various types of colored leaves.

The game board consists of two pages of grayscale leaves.

The object is to place the colored leaves on the matching grayscale leaf.

Click Here for Free Printable:  Leaf Matching Printable.TheyCallMeGranola.FFG

Rainbow Shades is a color identification & matching game.  You’ll need to gather some supplies of your own for this one or purchase a set of small items like this  or this or go to your local Home Depot, Walmart or other paint supply store & collect free paint chips in the colors represented in the printable.

The game pieces are the paint chips or small colored items.

The playing board is a grid with select colors represented at the top.

The object of the game is to sort the various shades of items into the appropriate color column.

Click Here for Free Printable: Rainbow Shades (Paint Chips) – They Call Me Granola.FFG

I purchase my plain manila file folders here and my fun colored file folders here.

I hope you enjoy these printables.  If you would like me to keep creating these & uploading them to share, please encourage me by letting me know in the comments! 🙂  Thanks for hanging out! 🙂

Again, please respect the “freeness” of these printables by not using them for profit.  Print for personal use only!  Thanks.