Tag: sensory bin

Preschool: Baking and the Letter Y

Friday night is homemade-pizza-and-a-movie night at our house and we look forward to it every week.  When the letter Y rolled around I thought it appropriate to do Y for yeast and throw in some other baking elements.  

Sometimes it seems I spend most of the time in the kitchen, and since I often have the kiddos help me they’re no strangers to cooking and baking.  And they love their play kitchen and pretend food!  They get used almost every day in some form or another. 

I always try to start our day off with the Bible lesson, so this usually gets done at the breakfast table or shortly thereafter.  We’re still using 100 Bible Stories 100 Bible Songs; it’s very kid-friendly since the stories are short and easily understood but as Gwen gets older I find it slightly lacking.  I’ll be on the lookout for some other biblical resources! 

Anticipating the upcoming holiday, our story for the week was about Jesus riding the donkey on Palm Sunday.  We made Hosanna palms with construction paper and ribbon, waving them and singing “Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest!”  Gwen colored a picture and we recited the memory verse, 1 John 3:16 – Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!       


The grass in our Easter garden is flourishing.  Phil and I joke that we can’t grow grass in our yard but we can grow it in the Easter garden!  I finally got around to making three twig crosses, though Josiah relocated one of them and I finally found it in a box somewhere. 


A while ago I started making some felt cookies to go along with the baking theme for the week.  I bought two different colors of felt for different “flavors” and proceeded to cut circles, intending to sew two circles per cookie, then stuff it with fiberfill.  Well, first I sewed colorful felt pieces on top for “icing,” ambitiously topping every single circle before I realized I had no more pieces for the bottoms. *sigh*  So I had to get more felt and ended up with a whole slew of pretend cookies… and I didn’t even finish them!  Sewing the bead sprinkles took a while and I just finished the ones that were almost done by that point.  Side note: I got some oatmeal-colored felt intending to add in some other goodies, which of course I didn’t get around to, so instead I may use it to make pretend whole wheat pasta!   

I found so many cute ideas for felt cookie sets!  If I had more time it would have been fun to make a cookie jar set with some sort of bag or container but I worked with what I had.  At an after-Christmas clearance I got some kitchen ornaments on sale, and along with some pastry erasers, the felt cookies and some other kitchen items I put together a baking-themed sensory bin.

What’s inside:

dyed pasta (just a fun, colorful, scoop- and pourable filler)
muffin tin with silicone liners
measuring cups & spoons
whisk, spatula & colander ornaments
tart tins
shaker with sequins for “sprinkles”
toy pot and potholder with pastry erasers
toy wooden spoons
kitchen towel
pretend dough & cookies


The kids had so much fun with this!  I will admit, however, to regretting my decision to put the dry pasta inside as my kids cannot follow directions to keep it in the bin or at least within the boundaries of the blanket on which I put the bin.  Pretty soon the pasta was strewn all over the house and I angrily vacuumed it up.  I relegated the baking items to a basket, which was prettier anyway. 

One of the books in our basket is a counting pastry book, so with each page I had Gwen count out pretend cookies.   

She had fun serving us treats and telling us what flavors they were.  Josiah is all about the scooping and pouring.


Our Little Monkeys has a cute Little Bakers Tot Pack and we used some of the printables during the week.


Both Gwen and Josiah enjoyed these build-your-own-cupcake printables that I laminated with my last three sheets!  They’re so sweet and whimsical, I enjoyed them too!  I didn’t want to put them in a plain ol’ plastic baggie so I stored the pieces in one of the linen snack bags I made.  They had to follow the little “recipe” card and put the pieces together in order.    


During Josiah’s naptime one day, Gwen helped me make Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon-Marshmallow Frosting.  It’s a pretty good recipe as-is, but I healthify it even more and put less frosting on top.  She helps me put the ingredients in the bowl, pestering me the whole time for a taste and making faces at her reflection in the bowl.  I let her lick the beater when we’re done, of course.  That’s a favorite childhood memory of mine; who am I to deprive her?   


Since Friday is pizza night I saved Living Life Intentionally’s Pizza Learning Pack and related items for that day.  The kiddos did shadow-matching, Gwen clapped out syllables and they topped their pretend pizza. 


The learning pack goes along with the book Pizza at Sally’s, and after reading the story we talked about what natural sources the toppings come from and the stages of making a pizza.  We also discovered that pizza is the perfect food, having something from almost every food group!


Later the kids helped me roll out the pizza dough and finish it off with toppings.  My homemade pizza dough is very similar to this Whole Wheat Rosemary Pizza Dough, except my amounts are slightly different.  I pour 1 1/4c warm water in a bread machine along with 1-2T olive oil (I don’t measure), 3 1/2c white wheat flour (sometimes I use 3c ww flour and 1/2c cornmeal or ground oats), 2t yeast, a generous sprinkle of sea salt and/or Jane’s Krazy, and a sprinkling of dried rosemary and put it through the dough cycle.  In a pinch I use jarred sauce (without sugar), but I like to use a homemade sauce like this one.


We’re so close to the end of the alphabet!  And this was a fun week, since I love baking and the kids love both real and pretend food!  Gwen did her letter Y Do-A-Dot page, letter hunt and some workbook pages I earmarked for her. 


Phil and I helped the kiddos do yarn Ys by tracing block letters onto construction paper and having them fill it in with glue and pieces of yarn. 


Gwen methodically outlined her Y with tiny pieces of yarn while Josiah poured gobs of glue and dropped big strips of yarn.  Their differences crack me up! 

Gwen did the counting clip cards from the tot pack along with the cupcake file folder game we’ve had for a while now.  She’s big on giving colors flavors now; yellow is always lemon meringue. 

The kiddos did some lacing shapes and there just so happened to be a slice-of-pizza triangle in there. 


Our shape of the week was a parallelogram, which I’m pretty sure went over her head, but I pointed out how it looks like a squished rectangle.  I had her decorate her parallelogram picture like a pizza with toppings. 

“Parallelogram pizza,” makes it easier to remember, I think.

Bulletin Board
Book Basket
Walter the Baker
Fannie in the Kitchen
Pizza at Sally’s
Apple Pie ABC
Curious George and the Pizza
 The Little Red Hen
The Cow Loves Cookies
The Great Doughnut Parade
Scooby-Doo! Disappearing Donuts

Fancy Nancy
The Fairies’ Alphabet Book
A Year Full of Holidays
Glitterby Baby
Extra Yarn
So Sleepy Story

The Baker’s Dozen
What’s Cookin’?  A Happy Birthday Counting Book

Pete’s A Pizza… and more great kid stories!


Preschool: U is for Unicorn

Unicorns and mermaids and fairy tales – oh my!  I knew we would have fun with this theme, but almost decided to switch it with the following week – V is for Valentine – since I figured it might be more fun during the actual week of Valentine’s Day.  But I had already printed out some worksheets and made my library run for the week.  And who says you can’t have hearts two weeks in a row? 

We read about Zaccheus, sang the song about the wee man in the tree, and Gwen got a kick out of trying to find him in the lift-the-flap coloring page

Our Bible verse went along nicely with Valentine’s Day (and our shape for the week) – Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

It was somewhat of a challenge, attempting to narrow down a fairy tale theme.  In the end, I approached it by discussing what makes a fairy tale using this cute “what is a fairy tale?” printable.  Then we listed some of our favorites; Gwen says hers is “Beauty and the Beast” because she likes the magic flower and glittery dress.  *chuckle*  Usually “The Little Mermaid” is at the top of her list because she and Ariel both have red hair; or “Cinderella,” because it’s her aunt’s favorite.    

We both had fun with the Fill-Them-In Fairy Tale to create our own story, though it was interesting trying to ask Gwen to give me a verb or an adjective.  Talk about learning your parts of speech!  I wanted to fill all the words in before we read the story so I just gave her hints to direct her towards an appropriate word.  I now present our fairy tale in its entirety (Gwen’s words are in purple):

Once upon a time, there weas a lovely princess named lollipop.  She lived in a castle with her pet tiger, Scooter.  One day while she was walking Scooter, a pink dragon appeared!  The princess and Scooter were so scared – when the dragon opened his mouth, they though they would be consumed in flames!  However, no flames came out, only a gush of breath that smelled like carrotsThe foul-smelling breath madethem play dress up, but the dragon, who was named Cinderella, was so sweet, he and the princess and Scooter soon became fast friends.

While playing fairies in the woods one day, the happy trio came upon a prince, who was under a spell.  He had been frozen in a bowl of fruit for many years.  The fearsome threesome tried everything to break the spell.  First, they created a potion out of the eye of a bumblebee, some salsa, and cheerios – which they held under the prince’s bum, while chanting.  Nothing happened.  So, the three of them drove to the castle, grabbed “The Book of Reverse Singing Spells,” and together started playing the song, “Free the Frozen Prince.”  Still nothing.  All of a sudden, the dragon sneezed, and his windy breath, which smelled like squash went all over the prince!  Poof!  The prince was magically released from the spell and started to dance.  The happy princess, Scooter, the dragon, and the nice prince became a fabulous foursome and lived happily ever after!

I hastily threw together a hodge podge of shiny fairy tale-y stuff since the kids like exploring the sensory bins I put together.  In the mix was a bunch of irridescent Easter grass, a small purple playsilk, wooden blocks (to build a castle, of course), and a variety of mythical creatures (including  a mermaid and unicorn).  Some other unicorns and ponies came to visit.


I almost always leave the sensory bins out for the entire week and it’s fun to watch the kiddos go back to them again and again when the mood strikes.

For breakfast one morning the kiddos were delighted to be served fairy bread.  I lightly toasted some whole grain bread, spread it with whipped butter, sprinkled on some cinnamon, and lastly some rainbow sprinkles and edible glitter.  I figured it was glorified cinnamon sugar toast!       

Some fairies visited one evening and surprised them with fairy wands to take to their Meme’s for a play day; good thing, because Mommy was tired from staying up to visit with the fairies. *sigh*  Gwen said the wands are really pretzels.  I… er, the fairies… dipped multigrain pretzel sticks in melted dark chocolate and decorated them with sprinkles.  Let them harden on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper in the fridge and you’re good to go.

Besides reading all sorts of fairy tales from our book basket and watching a few movies, Gwen dressed up and enacted her own imaginary stories and played with her magnetic dress-up princess.  She already has a mermaid paper doll, and I printed out a Belle paper doll on cardstock – which she discovered right away and immediately began to play with.  We also played a round of Tinker Bell’s Pardon My Pixie Dust Game, which is actually kinda fun!  It’s especially fun watching Gwen get excited when she wins a game piece. 


I didn’t find very many educational printables with a fairy tale theme, but I did break out some of the princess-themed printables from our K is for King week on royalty.  And tracing is always more fun if it’s a picture of a castle.


We did all sorts of unicorn-themed activities – like a coloring page and maze.


We also did a few umbrella-themed things.  One of Gwen’s Kumon tracing pages was in the shape of an umbrella and her letter hunt was about an umbrella.


A couple times during the week we read stories under an umbrella just for fun – it’s amazing what simple things will delight the kiddos – and they decorated umbrella cutouts with paper raindrops.


The cutouts were a last-minute idea and if I had planned it more carefully I would have done something more rigid since the kiddos were disappointed they couldn’t hold them up like real umbrellas.  This hanging umbrella craft seems cute, or you could use paper plates.  

As the numbers have gotten higher – we’re in the twenties now – I’ve given up focusing on a specific number unless I can find a story or resource directly related.  Instead, we do number-related activities, like dot-to-dot pages or counting things throughout the day.  I’m a big believer in learning through practical, every day things – like counting the produce we pick at the store or turning an episode of playing with blocks into how many we can find of each color. 

We used some valentine activities courtesy of Homeschool Creation’s Valentine’s Day Printable Pack and Over the Big Moon’s Valentine’s Day Pre-K Pack, including clip cards and a color-by-number.


I also broke out the Cupcake Count file folder game – one of the first ones I made!  Gwen’s a pro at it now. *sniff sniff* 

The heart shape was well reinforced throughout the week!  Our Valentine’s Day morning began with the kiddos walking paper heart trails and ended with heart handprints.  I reserved all the valentine printables for the 14th, including a tracer page, word tracing page (you can see we’re working on compound words!), word matching, letter clip cards and a cutting practice page.



I got out a shape-matching puzzle and Gwen matched all the pieces; I was shocked when she got “hexagon” right away!  She won’t remember rectangle but she’ll remember hexagon. *shakes head* 

Along with the Cupcake Count game Gwen did the Patterns of Love Matching Game that I made around the same time.

I found a cute little rhyme for the week called Queen of Hearts.  It’s been fun sprinkling in some unfamiliar rhymes with the more traditional ones.

Bulletin Board
So… I know I took a picture but I think Josiah may have erased it from my camera.  He’s taken to turning my camera on and snapping away; who knows what other buttons he pushes.  Makes me wonder what other pictures he erased.

Book Basket
*Gwen’s favorites

The Usborne Book of Fairy Tales*
Jan Brett’s Beauty and the Beast
Glitterby Baby*
Whisper the Winged Unicorn*
Claire and the Unicorn happy ever after
Unicorn Dreams
The Midnight Unicorn*
The Ugly Duckling
The Princess and the Three Knights*
The Secret Life of Princesses*
Princess Hyacinth  – the Surprising Tale of a Girl who Floated*
The Classic Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales

Miss Hunnicut’s Hat*
My “u” book
Duck in the Truck
The Wonderful Thing About Hiccups
A Porcupine Named Fluffy
Lunch Bunnies*
The Fairies’ Alphabet Book

Valentine’s Day

My Little Pony: Twinkle Wish Adventure
Nico the Unicorn

Linking Up…

Tot School

Preschool: I is for Igloo

Starting our 11th week of preschool with Halloween was so much fun!  We’re not big on the day like some people, throwing parties or going all-out with decorations – nothing like Christmas or other holidays that have special meaning – but it’s a great excuse to have fun with the kiddos.  One of the things that I have always loved about Halloween – besides the candy and silly costumes –  is the fact that virtually everyone in the country opens their doors to others.  We should go door-to-door for treats on every holiday!

Before going downstairs to start putting dishes away and making breakfast, I put on a pair of fuzzy kitty ears to amuse the kiddos.  They loved it, and pretty soon they were begging to be cats, too.  I whipped them up some pom-pom ears, and the whole morning we walked around as cats, even going to the grocery store in our ears and makeup.  It was so much fun! 

Since we had to get them packed to bring to church on Sunday, our after-breakfast project was packing our Operation Christmas Child boxes.  Currently we just do two – one for a boy and one for a girl in the same age group as Gwen and Josiah – but I would like to eventually do more.  It’s so much fun picking the items and involving the kiddos in helping to make the holidays special for another child who is less-fortunate.  They each decorated a Christmas card and I asked them questions and filled in the blanks on an OCC coloring page that doubles as a letter to the recipients, then they decorated the boxes with stickers and helped me divide up the loot.



We also get the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog with items that can be purchased to support and minister to those around the world, and I’m thinking of picking a few of the smaller items with the kids.  A gift of $9 can feed a hungry baby for a week; $14 can supply baby chicks to a needy family. 

Daddy had the day off and he helped Gwen with her pumpkin observations and parts of a pumpkin worksheet, both from the Pumpkins unit at 2 Teaching Mommies.  


Then Gwen drew a face on her pumpkin and Daddy helped her carve it, remove the guts (Gwen didn’t want to touch them – she’s such a Diva), and put a candle inside.  While they were doing this I read the Pumpkin Prayer from Christian Preschool Printables.  It’s short and sweet and has a Biblical truth that goes along with each step of making a jack-o-lantern. 

We touched on the character of Joshua a bit during the last three weeks about Moses, and this week he was the star.  All week, we were singing “Joshua Fought The Battle Of Jericho,” which also happens to be one of the songs from our Cedarmont Kids Bible Songs DVD.  The kids built “walls” with blocks and had fun knocking them over.  We also reinforced the story with a movie I remember from my childhood: Joshua & The Battle of Jericho.  Our verse for the week was Hebrews 11:30, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.” 

It’s getting colder around here – we’ve already had our first snow! – so talking about igloos and eskimos seemed fitting.  Inspired by this mama’s version, I finally cleared out a pile of rice from the container we use for our sensory bins and made an arctic-themed bin. 

What’s Inside:
cotton balls for snow
white pom poms for snow
styrofoam balls for snow
white legos for blocks of snow
small white blanket for snow drift
blue and grey pompoms for the Arctic Ocean
dish with clear crystal beads for ice
Eskimo doll
contents of the Safari Lmt Arctic Toob

The kiddos played with it for a few days.  They seemed to have the most fun with the pom poms and toy characters, and Gwen used some of the “ice” to make an igloo – she’s so creative! 


I don’t buy white sugar anymore, but for our igloo craft I bought a box of sugar cubes.  Behold, the sugar cube igloo

Another project that involved Daddy’s help; the craft called for white glue but we figured the glue gun would be faster, and a lesson in Gwen to be careful when placing the sugar cubes (!).


We read a number of books from the library, some of them very simple picture books with basic descriptions of igloos and their purpose for the eskimo (or Inuit people), so while doing our crafts we discussed how they were made and what they were for.

A couple more fun activities were the Arctic Animals and Shadow Statues (Inuksuk) file folder games, both from File Folder Fun.  We matched the clues for each animal and the animal names with the pictures for the artic animals, and Gwen matched the statues to their shadows.  The next day we made our own Inuksuk craft with rocks from the yard.  Gwen piled on her rocks and I told her they might not stick, but lo and behold, they stand fast.  I have it propped up on her windowsill for the time being. 


I didn’t end up using the elements from the eskimo lapbook I had bookmarked, but I did find a cute mini book called My Book About An Inuit Family.  It compares the Inuits with how they used to live and how they live today (eg igloo vs house, dogsled vs snowmobile).  I also found an eskimo boy paper doll that Gwen colored and I laminated, a sweet find since I discovered Gwen loves paper dolls.

Over the weekend we had to replace our washing machine – our front-loader kept dumping water all over the floor and not dispensing detergent, arrrgh! – and our visit to the department store afforded us another reinforcement of the theme; igloos are everywhere!

There were a limited number of words we could come up with for the letter I, and even with our index cards for writing down what was around the house and yard that started with the letter, I think all we came up with were “igloo toy” and “ice.”  Oh, and “insects”!  Gwen decorated her letter page with insect stickers.

We got back on track with the Now I Know My ABC crafts and did “i is for inchworm.”  I made it super-easy by having all the pieces already cut out for the kiddos, so really all they had to do was glue the pieces together.  I like to let them practice with scissors but sometimes they get frustrated.     


Gwen did her playdough mat while Josiah rolled his dough and mashed in some of the elements from the arctic bin to create “pizza” (or something).

Instead of using our usual Alphabet Cut & Paste sheets from Homeschool Creations, we just flipped through some magazine and clipped out pictures for the letter I.  Once again, not a whole lot to be found!  I found a picture along with a recipe for Indian pudding, and let her go with the eskimo picture since they’re the Inuit people.  If I can’t find any I-words, how can I expect my three-year-old to do much better? 

Gwen had some computer time, both on Starfall’s letter activity and Poisson Rouge for a little open-ended inspiration and exploration.

From the Pumpkins unit I printed out the seed counting (which I used in conjunction with number flash cards) and clip cards, both of which we used throughout the week.  Gwen has taken a shining to the clip cards, and I like how they reinforce not only the actual counting, but numeral recognition. 


Our shape of the week was the oval and we did a few workbook pages.  We talked about how ovals are squished circles – sort of round – and along with our activity pages read The Shape of the World – Ovals.  It’s a very simple book with all sorts of pictures of oval-type things in nature – eggs, grapes, insect bodies, etc. 

I picked “Humpty Dumpty” for the rhyme of the week.  Not only did it go along with the oval-shaped theme, but reinforced the wall concept from the story of Joshua.

Bulletin Board

Book Basket   
The Inside Story – Igloo
Nutik, the Wolf Pup
Arctic Dreams

My Friend Isabelle
Ling & Ting
My “i” Book
Ice Cream Everwhere!
The Fairies’ Alphabet Book

Each Orange Had 8 Slices

The Shape of the World – Ovals

DK Eyewitness – Insect
The Greatest Adventure – Joshua and the Battle of Jericho
Cedarmont Kids
The Incredibles

Linking Up…    

Tot School

Gwen is 3 years old (47 months) and Josiah is 1 (23 months).

Preschool: the second week, unplugged

Sunday morning we lost power – thanks to Hurricane Irene. Since we have well-water, our faucets were dry too. What a way to kick off the second week of preschool! Thank goodness I prepare my lessons the previous week, otherwise I would have been floundering. Well, as much as one can flounder when teaching a 3-year-old the alphabet.

I started off Sunday on an artistic note… letting the kids paint, with no running water for washing up. Good call!  I had been saving our cardboard toilet paper tubes, figuring they would come in handy for a project, and dug up Look What You Can Make With Tubes to look for something relatively painless to make.  Yes, it was fun, and yes, it was messy – the picture of Josiah doesn’t do justice to the fact that he was covered in paint, sucking on his hand that he had smeared with paint. 

Gwen noticed the animal cage pages – handmade paper bars behind which were put cut-out animals that begin with each letter of the alphabet (these are ancient resources my mother-in-law used in her teaching days).  I had meant to take out the letter A cage the previous week, but we didn’t get around to it.  No matter, we had all the time in the world on Sunday, so we did letters A and B.  Gwen took her task very seriously.  

While the kids were napping in the afternoon, I excitedly put together a bird sensory bin for the week… 

What’s inside:
sunflower seeds
wooden bead “berries”
twigs from the yard
glass dish with blue fabric for bird bath
Scrabble tiles that spell bird and beak
real bird feathers
three pretend birds
a pile of pretend eggs…
…inside a real nest where we watched baby birds hatch

The second week of preschool has been brought to you by the letter B, the number 1, and the color brown.  The theme for the week was birds, and our word for the week was beak.  We continued with the creation story in the Bible, working on Genesis 1:1, the memory verse for weeks one and two.  My fingers were tightly crossed that we would get power by Monday… but no such luck.

Since we we stayed on the creation story, it gave Gwen a chance to memorize her verse: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  She can’t remember the days of creation, but she has since memorized her verse and our poem from the first week, “Seven Days.”  The latter is a great way to reinforce the week of creation, as well as to teach the days of the week – I use it all the time now when I ask her what day it is.  ABCJLM recommends it in their selection of nursery rhymes and poems, and it’s one of the ones I didn’t switch for something else.  It goes like this (put it to the tune of “Are You Sleeping?”):

“Seven Days, seven days
In a week, in a week
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Saturday, that’s a week.”

To help reinforce the days of creation, I got the idea to make a creation block using one of the small wooden blocks that my hubby made me from scrap wood.  I had her paint the sides, and mod podged scaled-down numbers for the days of creation that have pictures of what was made on that day.  When it was dry, we practiced rolling it, saying the day, and the appropriate creation.

In lieu of music CDs and DVDs, we sang “This is the Day” – which I sometimes sing instead of a prayer – and “Do You Know Who Made the World?” 

Luckily, it was sunny, so the house was relatively bright during the day. I was excited about using the craft feathers I bought to decorate “B for birds.”  Josiah offered moral support, and then wanted to glue feathers to his coloring page.  With no “B”s or birds on it. 

I made a quick bird lapbook using some of the elements in the bird theme preschool packs at 1+1+1=1Homeschool Creation, and KidSparkz.  In the past Gwen hasn’t had much patience for coloring, but she colored each bird the appropriate color and colored the birdhouses in warm and cool shades.     

She seems to be a fan of sticky stuff, so I velcro-d the matching pieces and included some birdies to cut-and-paste onto a tree.  Oh, and the sensory bin was a big hit – Gwen threaded beads onto the twigs, Josiah scooped seeds and transferred eggs to different containers, and the kids were especially delighted when I clipped the birds to their shoulders. 

When I put together their styrofoam bird plains, they were giddy with excitement that I was Allowing Them To Throw Something.  It’s a shame the birdies weren’t more durable, because they had loads of fun while they lasted. 

We traced the uppercase B while saying ABCJLM’s letter chant, “line, bubble, bubble,” traced the lowercase B and said “bat and ball.”  I have Gwen trace with her finger before using a pencil, crayon, whatever.  These letter chants seem to help reinforce the correct way to write the letters.  Oh, and a fun little tidbit – she’s a leftie, and it’s been fun trying to help her hold the pencil correctly.  My mom got me a few different pencil grips for her, and I think I’ll get a bunch of the Stetro gripsDoes anyone use pencil grips – speficially for a leftie – and have any recommendations?    

We’ve been using the dry erase center almost daily, and Confessions of a Homeschooler’s letter hunt pages from have been a big hit.  I’ve been carrying the idea over to other pages, like the “Little Bird” story/song that was initially part of the lapbook.  I had Gwen circle all the uppercase and lowercase “B”s. 

She attacked the Letter B Do-A-Dot page from Homeschool Creations with gusto, and proudly showed off her work. I’m definitely printing these off every week!

We took advantage of the nice weather to hunt for B words outside and compiled a long list; I added this to an index card holder along with the A words from the previous week.

I’ve continued using the trays I got for the kiddos and have been trying to utilize them in organizing specific projects and activities for the week.  I tend to change one or two of the trays, depending on what we’re going to cover the next day.  On a whim, I picked out a few of the spell-a-puzzles from their box and laid them out, and Gwen went to town, doing them over and over again. 

By the end of the week, Gwen just wanted to go outside – especially since Daddy came home from work – but I did get her and Josiah to do a Buttons & Blue Paper craft.  Such a cute project (see bulletin board photo at the end), and Josiah placed all the button on the glue himself, practicing that pincer grasp.  Afterwards Daddy helped her build a birdhouse; I found little kits for $1 at A. C. Moore (come to think of it, she still needs to decorate it).

“Straight down and then you’re done. That’s the way to make a one!” goes ABCJLM’s number rhyme for this week.  Gwen’s pretty good at counting to one, so we didn’t have any issues this week.  Along with the letter index cards, I got the idea from ABCJLM to create a number matching activity, making a separate index card for each number and putting the appropriate amount of stickers on another card (I’m putting both on one card and will cut them in half later).  Since zero would have been pretty boring, I saved both zero and one for this week.  This took all of two seconds, easy-peasy, and will come in handy when we review later.  To reinforce the number one, I asked questions like, “How old is Josiah?”, “How many brothers do you have?”  etc.  

Ah, good intentions… once again I had planned a snack to incorporate part of the week’s lesson, but with the fridge not working I didn’t go to the store till later in the week.  I have a recipe for bird’s nest cookies that are made with chow mein noodles, chocolate chips, peanut butter… but they aren’t the healthiest.  I saw this recipe for Birds’ Nests using healthier ingredients and was so looking forward to making them, but it didn’t happen.  I did incorporate the color by making chocolate pudding, with which the kids were thrilled.  I got out the file folder games, and Josiah did a great job matching the dinosaurs.

Gwen continues doing her chore chart every day – she’s gotten pretty good at making her bed and cleaning her room without asking.  We’ve been doing the Calendar Activity at Starfall most mornings, and we usually remember to do her weather watching jars in the evening.

Bulletin Board
By the end of the week this is what our bulletin board looked like:

Book Basket 
100 Bible Stories, 100 Bible Songs
In The Nest
The Best Beak in Boonaroo Bay
Unbeatable Beaks
My Beak, Your Beak
Big Red Barn
The Berenstains’ B Book
The Booklets’ Baking Boo-Boo
Burger Boy
Blueberries for Sal
My “b” Book
The Bears Upstairs
Angelina Ballerina
The Fairies’ Alphabet Book
Only One You
One Red Dot
My Number Book
Be Brown
Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?
Big Brown Bear’s Up and Down Day
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Beauty & the Beast  

Linking up…

Tot School

Gwen is 3 years old (44 months) and Josiah is 1 (20 months).

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!