Category: Bible

Muffin Tin Meals & More

I love using the kiddos’ divided plates for mealtimes, making sure I find something to fill each spot.  Whenever I leave one “blank,” Gwen has to point out that it’s empty.  Sorry, some days I’m more creative than others! 

I got this nifty idea from Counting Coconuts to make muffin tin meals.  It’s amazing how the kids get excited when you mix things up a bit, do things somewhat differently.  They were excited with the presentation, and had fun eating from each compartment.

Next week we start preschool (!!!), and since we begin with the story of creation, I think it would be a neat idea to have a creation-themed lunch using the tins.  All the ideas I got from googling call for sugary treats (like Oreo cookies for separating the light from the dark), so I’m trying to come up with a healthy version.  The goldfish crackers will most likely pop up again in that meal!

I’m a little nervous assuming the role as “teacher” for Gwen; I know it’s something I do all the time anyway, but setting aside specific time for “school” puts me in a bit of a spotlight.  This is what I see happening:

“So… this is the letter ‘A’… which is for apple… moving on!”

I’m afraid all this planning will be for naught, and I’ll have wasted my time on busy nothings.  But if nothing else, we’ll have a bit of fun along the way…

A peek inside the creation-themed sensory bin I’ve put together:

What’s inside:
Day 1: white rice for light/day & black beans for dark/night    
Day 2: blue tissue paper & cotton balls for the sky
Day 3: brown cup & earth ball for land/earth; blue streamers for water; Easter grass, Lego trees, foam fruit and flowers stickers, flower pin & a plastic flowers for trees & flowers.
Day 4: medium yellow pom-pom for sun, marble for moon, small yellow sparkly pom-poms for stars.
Day 5: plastic fish toys, fish puppet & wooden birds for fish & birds.
Day 6: plastic animals & two toy people for animals & man.
Day 7: dollhouse bed for day of rest.
*I also added some small shiny star stickers to find, a plastic star tray/scoop,  and letter magnets to spell out “creation.”

Gwen has been getting excited about starting school with Mommy, and though I’ve gotten quite a few resources already, I thought it would be a neat idea to get her a special school gift – like a backpack (she could take her school stuff when we run errands or go camping), a pencil case, whatever.  I love turning an event into a special occasion!  Nothing has really caught my eye, though… except for a brand new copy of Angelina Ballerina that I nabbed for sixty-nine cents at a thrift store!  She’s a favorite character and I’ve had that book on Gwen’s wish list for a while.  AND Angelina begins with the letter “A,” so it all goes together quite nicely.

Since we have a limited book collection at home, I’ve been requesting all sorts of library books for our first week on the letter A, the number zero, and the four seasons.  Gosh, I’m starting to sound like Sesame Street.  Here are a few of the titles that will be in our book basket.  W ish me luck! 

Curriculum Craziness

I bet you’ve never gotten sidetracked googling something, have you?  One simple little search, and you’re in front of the computer way past your bedtime, clicking on way too many results, eyes aching from staring at the screen.  

Despite the fact that I’ve been adding to the ever-expanding list of favorite links for homeschool ideas and activities, I’ve been able to decide on a basic preschool curriculum outline for Gwen.  It feels weird to be doing this, since I never really wanted to do anything official for the kiddos, but it’s kind of exciting at the same time.  My organizing, list-making genes are going haywire!

One of the things that I keep telling Phil and my mom (who homeschooled me and my sibs for a number of years), is that I can’t believe how much work and preparation is going into a simple preschool plan – which isn’t even official school!  How will I survive the coming years, when the content gets meatier?  Someone please tell me it gets easier!  Maybe this is the practice round, getting my feet wet.

Since incorporating Biblical concepts is important to me, I decided to go with the ABC Jesus Loves Me 3-year-curriculum, using the supporting concepts that appeal to me.  I’m scrapping their outline, but I got the idea for having a theme and vocab word for each week from Brightly Beaming Resources’ Letter of the Week program.  I love that I was able to find these resources and tweak them to fit my preferences. 

Each of the two curriculums has different outlines and covers different materials for a different amount of time; it took a bit of time to put it into a schedule that seems doable for us.  And who knows – I may change it as I go!  I decided to put the material into a 3-days-a-week framework so we don’t get overwhelmed, but if Gwen wants to do some school activities on “off” days that’s just gravy.  It’s not like I have a shortage of resources!    

Basically, each week will have a Bible story and verse, theme, vocabulary word, letter, number, and shape or color.  Any supporting materials – crafts, activities, stories or songs – will revolve around these elements.

Thank goodness for free resources on the internet – I’ve found a host of wonderful offerings!  Here and there I’ve been plugging in activities and ideas for each week as I come across them.  I absolutely love the idea for Montessori-inspired Tot Trays and my Mom picked up some trays at Lakeshore Learning.  The kiddos took to them right away, and I love having their projects contained.  I think they would be content to sit at them for most of the day as long as I rotate their activities and provide snacks every now and then. :)

Totally Tots and its sister site 1+1+1=1, the inspiration for Tot Trays, has proved to be an excellent stomping ground for all sorts of ideas.  I’ve linked them to the right under some of my favorite homeschooling resources.  In addition to the excellent content, I love that it was designed for and by Christian moms who choose to homeschool.  Some of my favorite ideas: Tools 4 Tots (I like the Hide n Seek Bowls, Mix & Match game – which I already made! – Ocean Waves Bottle, and Paper Clip Colors, to name a few), sensory binsTot Books, and alphabet memory verse cards.

Here are some of my favorite resources (so far, and in no particular order) for coloring pages, worksheets, and other printables:
Homeschool Creations
Christian Preschool Printables
Preschool Coloring Book
Twisty Noodle (customizable pages)
First-School Preschool Activities & Crafts
Coloring Castle
Activity Village
Nature Detectives
Making Learning Fun

My mom teaches Sunday School, buys loads of things for the grandkids, and sponsors children with Compassion International, so even though she no longer has littles of her own she still gets all sorts of kid-related stuff and puts together arts and crafts.  She started putting together lapbooks for her Compassion kids, and it got me interested in the concept.  I decided to try my hand at simple file folder games first, and created a few for the kiddos.

File Folder Fun has some cute ideas, and I made a few of their games, laminating the playing pieces and glueing envelopes on the back to hold them: Beautiful Bees color matching (a 2-color combination), Dinos color matching (a simple 1-color match for Josiah), and Cupcake Counting.  I haven’t used any yet, but Bible Story Printables also has some file folder games.

I finally decided to make a couple lapbooks to go along with our first preschool lesson, starting the end of August.  You can customize them any way you want, make them as simple or as complicated as you want.  There’s the basic lapbook, pocketbook, tot book, double lapbook… arrrgh, pick one!  The theme for the week will be the four seasons, and the Bible story is about Creation.  I did a seasons lapbook first. 



Most of the materials were printed from the season unit study at Lawteedah, and I also found some mini books for each season from DLTK’s database.  I had fun putting it together with all sorts of activity pages, a puzzle, matching and sorting games, and stickers.  I decided to do one on creation as well. 

At first I just printed out a couple activity pages that I found on Lapbook Lessons, but I ended up using some of their other creation printables to fill the lapbook. 

I find them labor-intensive since I’m putting them together myself, but as Gwen gets older she’ll be able to do more of it herself.  And I hope when she does the coloring and activities that it will have the stamp of her personality on it.  It might be neat to do a lapbook on the letters we learn each week, too.

Trying not to get too far ahead of myself, especially if Gwen doesn’t take to the idea – I don’t want to push it.  I tend to get ambitious then get disappointed when my ideas don’t go over well. *sigh*  At least I can be sure that the creation snack (a healthier version, anyway) will be a bit hit.