About Me

I'm a teacher turned stay at home mama. I love finding things to make and do!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back to School!

Okay, we are back.  Things have been a bit hectic around here.  My husband asked me to put a few toys away in the garage, and I ended up going through every last box we had in there.  We had A LOT.  I got rid of a bunch of my teaching materials I'd been hanging on to and it felt great to let them go.  The garage purging had me move into our lower level and I'm now working on the upper level of our house.  My. oh. my.

The weather has also been really nice, so we've been able to spend more time outside.  So we've had a few weeks off from school, but A is oh so excited to get back to it!  I'm thinking we may end up taking our school boxes outside from now on!

This week:  Goodnight Moon 
(please forgive the poor images!)

Stars Game (print yours free from
Playing House in Maryland)
I made a giant foam die (from The Dollar Tree) into a color die.  We will toss the die, pick the corresponding color star and put it on the correct color circle.

Color the Balloon Book (print yours free from Homeschool Share
and use these instructions)

Bunny Bingo Dot Page (print yours free from Making Learning Fun)

The Three Bears Retelling Activity Cards (print yours free from Homeschool Share)
These are intended for a matching game, but we will use them to retell the story of The Three Bears.  I had to find an image for Goldilocks on my own.

Same or Different? Shape cards (found on the web, but can't find where!)

Clock game (print yours free from Homeschool Share)
I plan to pick a number (from one of A's number puzzles) and see if A can point the arrow to the corresponding number on the clock.

Counting with Bears (print yours free from Confessions of a Homeschooler--choose number sticker sheet)

Happy short week, everyone!

Tot School

Monday, May 30, 2011

HOW TO: Tot school and Before Five in a Row

I mentioned a while back that a friend and I sat down together and came up with a tot school curriculum for our kiddos.  The way we did this was to take ideas from a curriculum called "Before Five in a Row" and put them together with "tot tray/school" ideas to make it our own. 
The idea behind Before Five in a Row is that you take one book and read it everyday for the entire week.  You use that book to base the rest of your learning for the week.  You can really go anywhere with this and my friend and I loved how open ended it was.
For example, if you choose the book, "If you Give a Moose a Muffin," you could learn about moose, their habitat, what they eat, what other animals live where they live, etc.  You could make puppets, bake muffins, teach about cleaning up, the list goes on.
We looked through the Before Five in a Row list of books and also made a list of our own.  We added in curriculum from two Sunday School books:
Toddlerific Fun Faith Builders  and
Instant Bible Lessons for Toddlers: Growing up for God
We sat down with a calendar and just plugged in themes for each month.  We have 2-3 weeks per month planned. 
This is very casual and we aren't always doing school every week.  This is why we only penciled in two to three weeks per month, to give us the flexibility to follow our childrens' lead and to allow for us to take things slowly.  We plan to do field trips together as they tie in with our "school".

For more information on tot trays/tot school, visit these blogs:
What is Tot School?/Where to Begin?


http://playinghouseinmaryland.blogspot.com/  (great photos of what she does each week!)

Please keep in mind that if you plan to do anything like this with your little one, only do so if it is fun for both of you and your child is interested.  I follow A's lead.  If she doesn't want to do an activity, we skip it.  If we have a week where the weather is too nice, we take school outside or skip it.  No pressure.  I enjoy it because I know that there is a set time every day that I spend one on one with A.  The point isn't to drill academic facts into their little heads, it is to spend quality time with them and expose them to all types of learning. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Soothing those gums!

Okay, so this is a strange photo, yes...but it serves a purpose.  When A was teething, I would freeze bananas for her to eat.  She wouldn' eat them unfrozen, but enjoyed them straight from the freezer.  The pacifier is in the photo to show the size of the banana chunks.  

Here is what you do:
-Peel a banana and carefully run your thumb/finger down one of the long indents of the banana.  This will split the banana lengthwise into three long banana pieces (this is how they prepare bananas for banana splits!)
- cut banana into three sections (you'll end up with 9 pieces)  Don't just take a banana and slice it; frozen banana slices (round ones) are a choking hazard.
-put some cereal into a plastic baggie and crush it with a rolling pin
-put the banana pieces a couple at a time into the baggie and shake to cover.
-freeze the banana slices on a cookie sheet until frozen
-store in a plastic freezer bag

Then cereal is added so the bananas aren't too slippery to handle when your child is munching on it. It's very soothing to those baby gums when they are teething!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bringing the inside out.

It's been a little chilly around here lately, but A really loves going outside.  The other day, I brought a few of her inside toys out with us.  We ended up playing with her play dough for half of the time (best recipe found here.)
It's amazing what just a simple change of scenery can do for kids.  Try it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Freezing fruit

Another no-brainer.  We got a great deal on raspberries a few days ago, but there were too many to eat before going bad.  A used to eat these ONLY if they were frozen.  This may not be the "proper" way to freeze fruit, but it works for us.
I just lay a piece of parchment paper on a pan, lay out the fruit, put in the freezer until they are frozen and then put the frozen fruit into a baggie.  I have no idea how long the fruit lasts because it gets eaten up so quickly!  This is good to preserve sliced strawberries for smoothies too.  We also cut up grapes and freeze blueberries whole.  Frozen fruit=yummy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Snack holder

Okay, so this may seem like a no-brainer, but I had to post it.  On most afternoons, A gets to choose a dvd to watch while I prepare supper.  She sits on the couch with her special blanket, cuddles up and watches. 

I've found that A tends to graze, rather than eat big meals. We try sitting down to a meal, but she just eats more if it is left out for her.  For now, I'm okay with that, as long as she's eating.  I also found that she will usually eat a snack while she watches a dvd if I put it in front of  her. 

Her snacks kept tipping over and then I realized I could just use a little plastic container to hold her treats in.  This one is from Target, and it used to hold markers for my kindergarteners.  It's perfect to hold a couple snacks and her cup.  So easy...why didn't I think of it sooner?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Storm clouds

I have been a bit absent from the blog in the past week.  We've been building a room upstairs and going through every last box in the garage and spare bedroom.  Every.  last.  box.  I guess when I get started on one thing, I just keep going.  Anyway, we've still got more to do, but I'm hoping to get back on track here. 

We've had a few storms and tornadoes where I live this weekend and this is a photo I took (from the passsenger seat) on our way home from dinner a few days ago.  That cloud was above our house as we were driving toward it.  Everyone here is fine and we just had storms and hail.  Our thoughts go to those who weren't as lucky.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A different art medium

I got A a package of Crayola Window Markers  and we tried them out the other day.  They were really fun and A enjoyed using them.  She even asked for more.  The only thing is that the markers stay wet on the glass for a bit, so the drawings are easy to smudge and can get on your hands or clothes so I would recommend using a smock.  Once they are dry, you can touch them and the marker stays on the glass.

Crayola also has a set of Window Crayons, but I haven't tried those out.

(I have no affiliation with Crayola...just passing along the information of the products we use.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two things

If you are a coffee drinker, do yourself a favor and go buy this creamer.  Yum.

THEN...head on over to Our Best Bites
and make their Chocolate Zucchini Bread.  It makes two loaves.  I froze one and we ate the other.  Even A ate it, but that may have been more to do with the fact that I called it chocolate cake.
(photo from ourbestbites.com)
Happy Snacking!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Kinderglo pt. 2

Last week we only got to tot school twice, so we are going to stick with the boxes from last week and I might add a few different ones midweek.
For now, here is the moose nightlight that replaced our owl.  Look at how huge he is!  Kinderglo shipped it out to me, no charge...not even for shipping. A really likes her moose and I couldn't be happier. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

She LOVES nature

We've been able to get outside and play lately and A loves it.  Her new favorite thing is to hug and greet each individual bush, saying, "Hi bush!" or "hug bush"
She has such a tender heart.  It makes me smile.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Painting

When A was 15 months old, she painted for the first time.  We used the Crayola Beginnings Paintbrushes.  They worked just fine.  I would have liked something a bit easier for her to handle, but it worked.  We framed her first painting in our living room.

Ever since I read this blog post from Sew Liberated, I knew I wanted to have A paint on canvas.  I don't know why, but I thought I'd save it for her second birthday.  We almost forgot to do it, and I don't have any photos of her painting, but we did it and I LOVE it.

I let A choose one color at a time and I would squirt only that color on a separate piece of paper for her to dip and paint with.  Then we would move to the next color.  I did pick the colors out myself, but she chose the order and how she wanted to paint.  I held the canvas and the whole project took less than five minutes.  Now all we need to do is figure out where to display this masterpiece!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

rainbow cupcake

A had a little birthday play date over the weekend and I decided to make rainbow cupcakes.  Then I figured I would just choose three colors rather than six.  It's so super easy.  
-grab a white cake mix
-mix according to directions on the box
-separate into bowls
-add food coloring
-layer the colors on top of each other
-bake as directed

These are really cute with a dollop of whipped cream on top or a big swirl of frosting.  A isn't a fan, so we just had them plain.  But they were still cute.  
To see some great rainbow cakes and cupcakes do a Google search.  Some of them are pretty amazing!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tot school

This week we are looking at the book, "Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you see?" as well as working on the Unit, "God Wants me to be Obedient" in the book: Instant Bible Lessons for Toddlers--Growing Up for God.

Beginning Patterns 
-(I made these strips from a download I got from Lily and Oak

How Many Bears? Book   (FREE from The Virtual Vine)
-The book has pages that count the bears (One red bear, two yellow bears, etc.)
-A will color the bears and I will cut them out, put paste on them and then A will glue them to the pages
*note--this will take a week or more depending on her interest*
(the bears are from an AIMS activity page I had.  You can draw bears, use a bear punch or do a Google search to find your own.)

Match the animal to its fur (FREE from homeschoolshare.com)
This may be too difficult for A, so we will start with three different animals and go from there.  If she is too overwhelmed or not interested, we will scratch this activity and just do the animal silhouette match.

Animal Silhouette Match
(FREE zoo unit from 2 Teaching Mommies)

Number Line/Match  (FREE from The Virtual Vine)
 -I cut the numbers from the second number line and taped them to ice cubes.  They aren't a perfect fit, but will do the job

I Obey: Coloring pages and songs (from Instant Bible Lessons for Toddlers

Extra activity: Do a Dot bunny page (FREE from Making Learning Fun

Locking Flower Beads

Tot School

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Day!

Happy Birthday to my sweet girl!  
Here's a delicious chocolate cake recipe for everyone, thanks to my friend, Rebecca!  It's delicious!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Kinderglo rocks!

I must give this company a shout-out today.  Here is our story:

We purchased a Kinderglo night light for A for her birthday last year.  It was perfect.  She was able to turn it  on and off, it was non-toxic, safe and came with a charger.  However, after a few months, the charger stopped working and the owl would only glow two different colors rather than going through all of the colors.  I put it aside and did nothing.
Yesterday, for some reason, I decided to contact the company.  They emailed me right away and said they would send me another one for the cost of shipping.  I didn't have to find my receipt or send them our broken owl.  Easy. as. pie.

I really liked their product and have been blown away by their quick and friendly customer service.  If you are looking for something fun for your little one, please check out their night lights.  We can't wait to receive our new one!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A's new favorite shape

I've always been amazed at how quickly my kindergarten students learn and remember things.  I'm even more amazed now at how quickly my daughter (and other toddlers) do the same!
Yesterday we were working on this puzzle, so I pointed out the two shapes she didn't know (trapezoid and pentagon).  She picked up on it right away and surprised her daddy when he got home.  
This morning she went straight to her puzzle and exclaimed, "trap a oid!" and took the piece out.  She walked around with it saying, "trap a oid, trap a oid." She even asked me to sing the trapezoid song (eh, okay?)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tot School: Birthday Week!

We will celebrate A's 2nd birthday this week, so our theme for this week is birthdays!

Food and friends sort from1+1=1.

Cupcake craft:
  -match stickers to colored x's
-color cupcake

Stir stick color sort

Which one is different?
I made this activity with the clipart from the birthday unit over at
musings of me.

Candle drop 
 (idea from Stephanie over at
Playing House

Cupcake Memory Match 
 (also from Playing House.  She's got a cute tutorial

Elmo Play-Doh shape maker
A got this as a gift for her birthday and she'll LOVE having this for school time every day!

Tot School