August 19, 2011

Simple Scissor Practice

I bought this alphabet bulletin board border at Dollar Tree about a year ago.  They probably still have it or something similar in the teacher/school section though.  S likes to cut the letters apart.  It makes for a great tray activity and when he is finished, he has fun using the letters to build words. 

July 28, 2011

Modifying Activities

Good teachers modify their instruction to meet the individual needs of the students in their class. I realized the other day, I can start doing this more at home with the boys as well.

When S was about 18 months, I had made him this disk insert activity. I got it out for M to begin exploring and realized I could easily update it so that S could still learn from it as well. I simply added numbers to each disk so that they needed to be inserted in order.  Now both boys can benefit from the same activity! 

Themes are also a great way to organize your activities so that children of multiple ages can benefit. 

July 15, 2011

Paper Clip Math




July 13, 2011

Sticker Word Matching

Here's a new tray activity that both S and I love...

Step 1:  Get a sheet of stickers (I cut this one in half because it repeated the same animals).
Step 2:  Write the words for the sticker pictures on a sheet of paper (I used the back side of recycled fliers to save paper).
Step 3:  Let your child match the sticker with the word.

I like this because it's so fast and easy, but it also develops good literacy skills because S has to use a variety of strategies to determine sticker placement (beginning letter sound, final letter sound, decoding, pictorial context clues, elimination, guessing).

I think this would also be easy to prepare several in advance for a flight or road trip.

June 10, 2011

Product Rave: Letter Learning Educational Greeting Cards

Every so often you run across a product and think," Why didn't I think of that?"  This is one of those for me...I received several of these educational greeting cards for free from Letter Learning after partaking in this deal.  I didn't expect much since I was A. receiving them for free and B. afraid the company would be swamped with "free orders", but was so pleasantly surprised by my order that I felt the need to write a post.

Here's what I loved:
  • Arrived quickly (despite the overwhelming number of free orders I am sure they were bombarded with)
  • Arrived in a cute cellophane bag, sealed with company sticker and tied with a bow.  So cute that a set would make a wonderful gift!
  • Wonderful paper quality and vibrant ink colors.
  • They also offer downloadable versions to print at home for only $0.99.
  • I love it when former teachers have great ideas!  
S is not quite ready to a trace small letters (still on these big ones), but I am excited for him to use the ones we have and would happily order more in the future!

June 9, 2011

Focus Word: Dog

Now that summer is here and S is home more, I am in the process of getting more organized with home learning activities.  S's baby brother, M (Has he even been mentioned here yet?  Poor second born!)  is now 8 months old and so I have been wanting to include him in our activities.  A great way to teach multi-age kids is to use themes.  

While I have always used themes to organize our activities in the past and probably will return to them when school begins, I decided to try something different during the summer because I felt like it might be a good fit for both boys at this point.  We are going to have a "focus word" each week. 

This week's word is DOG.  M is playing with dog toys (ones meant for children, not dogs), is seeing lots of photographs and illustrations of dogs from books, and is learning the sign for dog

S on the other hand has shown lots of interest in reading lately ("How do you spell ______?" "What does __-__-__ spell?").  Since he loves identifying initial letter sounds and is so interested in learning how to read, I am going with it even though he's still very young. This could be a passing phase and my plan is abandoned mid-summer, but so far it's working well and S is loving "learning to read."

Since our focus word is dog, we have been doing activities using the -og word family:

We have also been reading lots of books about dogs and frogs and finding the word dog and frog in them:
Other focus words I plan to use this summer (though they may change) are fan, hat, dad, pig, hot, bug, nap, and car.  I chose these because they are good baby signs and also lend themselves to CVC word family words.  I also like this site for word family printable books and this site for nursery rhymes, but didn't use them this week as there is no -og.  

We also used our old dog carrier to set up a vet center for S (and M) to pretend with. I also plan to do some math activities later in the week using little dog counters, and still need to come up with a dog craft. 

June 7, 2011

Summer Reading!

To keep track of all of our forms, I taped them to the outsides and insides of a file folder. 

Just a reminder to check your local library, new and used bookstores, grocery stores and Pottery Barn Kids for Summer Reading Programs.  Your child is typically rewarded with a free book.  I have very fond childhood memories of Summer Reading Programs! 

I hope to post what we've been doing this week and our summer plan soon.  It's a long one...

June 5, 2011

Go Fish

S has finally fallen in love with games and I love to play them with  him.  "Go Fish" is a favorite.  We have this version and I like it because it reinforces upper and lower case match-ups for him and it also teaches the names of baby animals, but it got me thinking that there's nothing special about this deck that makes it "Go Fish".  You could also use any deck of flashcards that has pairs in it (colors, shapes, letters, numbers, etc.) or you could buy two of the same deck of flashcards to create an educational "Go Fish" game.  Dollar Tree usually has a selection of simple flashcards. 

May 20, 2011

I Spy Something Red

A great way to take advantage of free photo book deals is to make personalized books for your children. I have made an ABC book and Feelings book in the past and S loves both. They will also remain keepsakes in our house. So when I saw this idea, I knew I wanted to make them into a photo book. We have only completed red so far, but plan to do a new color every few days.

I was going to get all the pictures taken so that we were ready when a free photo book deal came around, but then while couponing at Target yesterday, I was given two different free photo book codes from Shutterfly (one with my free 20 print order and the other with my store receipt). I guess we better hurry.

May 16, 2011

Alphabet Boxes

Our current ongoing project is finding items to fill our new alphabet boxes.  I used plastic babyfood containers with alphabet stickers on the lid.  We are keeping an eye out around the house, in stores, and in nature for tiny objects that begin with that letter.  S loves opening, closing and resorting these little treasure boxes. 

Thanks, I Can Teach My Child!

April 27, 2011

Our New Church "Busy Bag"

I know some readers may disagree with children working on activities during church services, but in our family S is allowed to work on quiet religious activities (though that doesn't always keep him quiet).  Here's our new church bag...

Decorated canvas bag with Crayola Fabric Markers (I bought ours at Hobby Lobby for $5.)  I LOVE that S is now drawing our family!  Daddy is holding a heart :)

Lacing cards made from craft foam and shoelaces (Noah's Ark and a cross)

Simple puzzle printed on cardstock and cut (or you could use religious greeting cards)

Coloring books, a small children's bible, religious stickers (Dollar Tree and Christian bookstores) 

I plan to swap some things out and add some vinyl cling, felt, or magnetic biblical scenes...can't decide. 

April 13, 2011

Activity Sheets with Emergent Writers

I do not rely on activity books to teach S, nor do I give him many, but for me they still serve a supplemental purpose because S enjoys them.  Here are two ways a toddler/young preschooler can still answer "worksheet" questions:

1.  Use dot markers for selecting choices.  It's hard to see in the pic, but S used an orange dot marker to choose the matching pictures instead of circling the answer (this was completed when he was about 24 months, but he started using dot markers around 18 months).

2.  Write answers on small sticky notes and let your toddler or preschooler match the sticky note with the correct answer on the page.  This is a favorite of S's because he loves stickers.  You can also cut large sticky notes to make small ones or cut up white mailing labels to make your own "stickers". 

March 25, 2011

Our New Responsibility Chart

The start of the day

The middle of the day

The end of the day

March 18, 2011

Cutting Skills

S has had a fascination with scissors for quite a long time now.  We began learning with strips of construction paper and straws so that he could get the hang of one snip.  He has just gotten the hang of cutting across a page independently, so I am introducing some more structured cutting practice.  I plan to begin with straight lines, then zig zags, then wavy lines. After S has mastered cutting this way across a page, I will move onto cutting out a square, triangle, circle...

There are many books on the market that have cutting practice pages inside them.  We don't own any, but I know the Kumon ones are popular. 

A less expensive idea would be to use some of the many free printables offered on the internet for cutting practice.  Here are just a few I came across with a quick internet search:
Of course an even cheaper option (no printer ink used) would be to draw your own lines on paper.  Workbook pages, printables, or DIY versions would make a great independent activity for trays

A fun Easter craft to do would be to have your child cut strips of contruction paper and then cut the strip into little pieces to glue on a cross or egg shape to make a collage.  I plan for us to make an egg with a few different colors.  Directions and templates can be found at DLTK.

March 3, 2011

It's Dinnertime!

Those of you who know me in "real life" know that my wonderful husband does all of our cooking, but I was recently introduced to a great cookbook by a friend of mine.  I have never wanted to own a particular cookbook in all my life, but there was something about this one.  I checked it out at the library and loved it so much that I bought a copy of my very own (for only $10 using my Barnes and Noble Groupon stacked with a 15% off code!).  The Family Dinner made me realize that I wanted my boys to see me in the kitchen as well as my husband.  I was also pushed in there by the fact that S started calling the oven "Daddy's oven". 

Aside from the simple recipes, the book also has lots of ideas for families to connect at the dinner table and ways to make dinnertime special.  So tonight I made my first dinner (a simple soup) and we started a new dinnertime ritual.  I put a little bowl at the center of the table with some questions in it.  S draws a question and we all take a turn answering it.  This was a nice break from the regular, "Tell us about school." or my husband and I finding ourselves talking to each other and telling S to not interrupt.  I will add more, but a few to start with were:
  • What is something you would like to learn?
  • What is something you are proud of?
  • What animal would you like to be?
  • What is something that you like about yourself?
  • What is something that you are good at?
Please leave a comment if you have more question suggestions (that a 2.5 year old can answer).

March 2, 2011


This past Christmas Santa gave S a small calendar in his stocking (I think he found it in the Target dollar bins).  We keep S's calendar on the fridge to give him a visual of the passage of time.  At the start of each month I mark weekends with happy face or star stickers and S knows that is when "Daddy is home" and I mark his school days with an apple or star sticker.  I also mark special holidays or events.  Then we X each day out as we go along.  I think it has really helped S see how time passes and patterns in our week.  He is also starting to learn some days of the week and months as well. 

March 1, 2011

FREE Reading Resource

You can download these early reading resources from All About Reading.  I am looking forward to trying the story sequencing with S from Safari Stories.

Thanks, 1+1+1=1!


I started something new a week ago with S and it has been a great way to get him to work independently on an activity or play with a toy.

Each evening before bed, I set out three trays with a toy he rarely chooses, a coloring page, an independent activity, a puzzle, playdough, dot marker page, etc. on each one.  He can work on these trays at any time during the day and when I notice he's bored I will remind him to go "pick out a tray."  I plan to add more trays as we go along.

This idea is adapted from 1+1+1=1.  Her system is more involved, educational and thought out.  Mine basically keeps S occupied while I unload the dishwasher ;)

FREE Personalized Elmo Songs

Use code MYELMO to download three free personalized Elmo songs.  S thought this was great!

Thanks, Saving with Shellie!

February 23, 2011


S likes stop signs, so we made one.  It has nothing to do with anything we're learning about right now, but he likes them and I thought of this after making our color wheel.

How to make an octagon:
1.  Using a straight edge, divide a paper plate into eight sections.
2.  Cut straight lines around the edge connecting each of the pencil lines you drew.
3.  You now have eight sides! 

We painted it red and used another paper plate to cut out our STOP letters.  This turned out to be a great simple activity because it involved painting, math skills (an octagon), letter recognition/reading the word "STOP", the color red, and he likes to put on his police hat and vest and "direct traffic" with it. 

February 22, 2011

Color Wheel

Here's an activity I did with S a long time ago and we repeated again this week since he was recently enjoying the below books so much. 

To make the color wheel, I just divided a paper plate into six sections and then we painted in the primary colors (red, yellow, blue), leaving an empty section between each one.  We then went back and mixed two colors to discover the secondary color (orange, green, purple) that was made and painted the section in between.

On a money saving/space saving note, I only buy bottles of red, yellow and blue paint since they can easily be mixed to make other colors.  

February 7, 2011

FREE Tag Junior or Tag Book

This is a deal that has been offered before, but I thought I'd pass it on because we now have both copies.  Leapfrog is offering a free Tag Junior (ABC Animal Orchestra) or Tag (Ozzie and Mack) book when you link your Leapfrog toy (You probably own one and you may not even know it!) on their Learning Path site.

Even if you do not own a Tag Junior or Tag, the books can still be read as regular books.  I haven't gotten a chance to read the Ozzie and Mack book, but I really like the Animal Orchestra book.  It makes a great alphabet board book even without the Tag Junior.

February 3, 2011

Mini Alphabet Books

S loves these printable mini alphabet books from DLTK.  They aren't very printer/paper/ink friendly, but he has really enjoyed them so I'll continue to print one each week.  There's so much more on this site you can check out as well!

February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog Day!


It's probably too late for you to try this now, but you may want to file away the idea for next year...we followed these directions to make a groundhog puppet.

You can sing the rhyme to I'm a Little Teapot, but I was too embarrassed to sing on the blog!

I see a little groundhog, furry and brown,
He's popping up to look around.
If he sees his shadow, down he'll go.
Six more weeks of winter - oh, no!

50 Free Prints (pay for shipping)

Snapfish and Fancy Feast are giving away 50 free prints to the first 200,000 people.  Enter your email address here and you will receive a special code.  It will then direct you to login to Snapfish and enter your code to add the credit to your account.  You can view your 50 free prints credit if you go to your "account" at the top.  Mine says they expire at the end of August. 

Thanks, Money Saving Mom!

January 29, 2011

Parenting Early Years ($3-$5 for 2 years)

Edited again to add:  Offer still good today!
Edited to add:  I should have mentioned earlier that if you are new to Eversave, you get a $2 credit, which makes the subscription only $3!

You can get two years of Parenting Early Years for $5 today only at Eversave.  Parenting Early Years has had the great Amazon diaper coupons in the past.

January 28, 2011

Amazon Workbooks 4 for $4.20

Not that I am a big advocate of workbooks, but I bought some of these for a trip we have coming up to keep S busy and thought I should let you know about this deal.  School Zone workbooks are only $1.40 right now at Amazon and they are also part of the Amazon 4 for 3 promotion.  If you scroll down to "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" you can see other $1.40 choices.  You can mix your 4 choices and get 4 of them for $4.20.  Here are the ones I ordered, but there are more choices:

Dollar Tree and dollar bins at Target also carry workbooks for (obviously) $1, but I think these may be a little higher quality.