Friday, November 17, 2017

Up Close Look at the Play Farm

E has been obsessed with farm animals for quite some time now, and this project has definitely taken time to evolve into what it is now.  It will also probably continue to evolve as she grows. 

Watch the video for a quick tour around the farm:

A few things I would like to note:  

The items shown below are from a mixture of places and brands.  The animals and structures are definitely not to scale! It bothers me a little, but E has so much fun playing with this set up, and the cost effectiveness (ie. most of this was thrifted, gifted, or on sale) of all the pieces being different has outweighed any concerns that I have.

The animals come from a mixture of Safari Toob animals, diorama animals from Hobby Lobby, and PlayMobil (I think the collection was Country Farm Life?)

Here is the over view shot, it's everything that is used for the farm play set.  It is set under a large green felt piece that I purchased from Joann Fabrics.

The main structure of the farm is the barn.  I had purchased this for E for her first Christmas, although now  I wish I would have sprung for the wooden Terra barn at Target but oh well!  It's a Fisher Price barn for those interested.  

Here is a picture of the garden.  The plastic garden with sunflowers is a PlayMobil toy.  Some of the vegetables and fruit (the strawberries, carrot, peppers, etc.) are buttons that I purchased from Joann Fabrics.  The garden is on a mat of brown felt.  I haven't sewn or glued any pieces down as I like that if offers open play for E.  She doesn't put things in her mouth, so I'm not really worried about them being a choking hazard, but if that's a concern for anyone, the buttons would be very easy to sew to the felt.

Here is the horse stable, with various horse keeping supplies.  There is also a black mama cat and baby kitten.

Apple tree with some white flowers growing around the base (the flowers are also buttons from Joann Fabrics).

Pig pen.  The gate is from a Lego Duplos set.

Duck and goose pond cut from a piece of blue felt.  Again, not tacked down as E like to change up the layout of her farm frequently.  Also, the dog and goat are ALWAYS together 😂

And last, the chicken coop with a rooster on top.  

I hope you enjoyed the tour of E's play farm, and I hope it gives you inspiration to create your own! E loves it, and setting it up is probably her favorite part (although, for the purpose of this blog post, I set it up today).  

I would probably like to make this into a Montessori inspired grammar farm one day, but since E isn't reading yet, I haven't gotten around to tackling that project.  For now, it's just a super fun pretend play set.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Calendar Board

I have mentioned that I want to do a post about our morning routine - and I will! But, one of the biggest aspects of our morning routine is our calendar board and I figured it deserved it's own post.

About two months or so ago, I filmed a video showcasing our calendar board which you should definitely check out:

Now, I finally am getting around to writing a blog post about it, and actually it's probably good that I waited as now I can tell you what has changed and how it's been working for us. 

First of all, we use a homemade calendar board made from a 3' by 2' bulletin board that I bought at Walmart.  This ended up being the perfect size as it fits our calendar and has room on the side and at the bottom for our other daily items.

It currently sits in our living room on top of a shelving unit, the top is also used for our nature/holiday/seasonal table.  This is all stuff that I allow E to move around freely and decorate as she wishes.  It did hold leaves and pine cones from our nature walk but has since all been tossed out.  Now it just has our pumpkins and harvest decorations until it's time to decorate for Christmas.  (I'll probably Instagram post the change in a few weeks).  

The main component of our calendar board is obviously, our calendar!  I picked this up at a local teaching supply store, it came with the calendar backing (the bit with the squares and days of the week), the date cards, and monthly cards, as well as a few holiday cards.  I used velcro sticky dots on the top frame and the back of the monthly cards to adhere them to the bulletin board for easy switching.  (Watch my video to see what that looks like).

We are currently using this cute little butterfly jewelry charm attached to a key ring to mark the date.  It's very easy for E to move the key ring over every day.

Below our calendar I created some pockets out of colored construction paper and attached written labels for the days of the week.  For the current day we stick a popsicle stick labeled 'today' in the daily pocket.  I would eventually like to add sticks for 'yesterday' and 'tomorrow'.

On the side of the board at the top I have created a bunch of nursery rhymes typed and mounted to colored construction paper for us to practice memorizing (I'm trying to incorporate the Charlotte Mason memorization idea into our routine, and figured nursery rhymes are a good place to start). I switch it out when we get bored, or need a change.  Below that I have a typed list of the months of the year, this it to help E switch out the monthly headers for our calendar.  

Next to that is a pocket with a few Brain Quest cards (I cut them all off the rivet they are attached to and include about 2-3 of them in the pocket), I will ask E the questions and keep the cards in the pocket until she knows all the answers, then I switch them out for new ones.  It works great as I don't have to come up with my own questions, they are fun and colorful, and there is a good mix of ones she knows the answers to already and ones she doesn't.

Below that I have a typed up card that says "the season is..." and below that are seasonal cards that I printed for free from From ABCs to ACTS.  

Next to that is a card I typed up that says 'the weather today is...' with cards that I printed for free from Easy Peasy Learners.

If you watch the video, you'll notice I changed a few things in the months since we started incorporating calendar time into our daily routine.  First off, I added the nursery rhyme and took off the letter of the week card.  This was mostly because I find ways to display the letter of the week in other ways.  E REALLY enjoys the music/dance/rhymes part of our calendar time so I think it's working out better.  I'm also really trying to get her to work on remembering/memorizing simple things.

I also had originally started out using velcro dots on our daily numbers and just adding a new one each day, but I found with the larger numbers E didn't know which way they went, and she also had trouble sticking them to the board (she has to align the dots on the back of the card correctly for it to stick, and because the cards are solid it was hard to know where the dots were) and this ended up just frustrating her. So I ended up trying pushpins and so far it has been working out fine.  At the beginning of the month I have her hand me the numbers in order (as high as she can count) and then I push them onto the calendar.  So far she hasn't tried to pull them out so it hasn't been an issue.

Anyway, I hope this post has been helpful to anyone who wants a relatively inexpensive way to incorporate a calendar board to their routine.  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Preschool: Letter E Unit

Hi everyone, it's been awhile!  I truly hope to start updating my blog and YouTube channel more frequently.  We have been in the swing of things for a few weeks now and while pregnancy is definitely taking a toll on me, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! I feel pretty good this week and decided I should do an easy unit to get going on the blog.  You can also watch the video here:

I always try to include a few letter activities, this week we did a capital E is for Elephant craft and lower case e is for egg craft:
I saw the idea on Pinterest and just created the cutouts myself.  Below shows them assembled:
You can also see in the above picture that we have also done our do-a-dot E is for Elephant page from and our E collage page from the preschool curriculum we are following:  We decided to use some of our Easter stamps that we got from the Dollar Tree back in the spring, and used the egg stamps on our E collage page.

Also from the Peaceful Preschool we have our glitter glue flash cards (when I took this picture we hadn't finished them yet.)  E is too young to be able to do this herself, so we do hand over hand and I feel comfortable that she is getting used to holding a pen correctly, and also learning to trace/follow the lines.

Part of our weekly routine is to go over our 3-part cards.  These are from  I have started to actually cut off the word parts so E can start correctly matching them (I say matching, as she is too young to be able to actually read them.)

Also, as part of our weekly routine, we do a letter review for the letters we have already covered.  As you can see in the picture above, this includes matching uppercase sandpaper letters to the lowercase and correctly matching our Melissa and Doug letter puzzles.  For the puzzles, I ask her to match the letter to the first letter under the picture object. 

I plan on doing a separate post sometime about our morning basket/morning routine but for now I figured I would show you some of the different elements I added this week.  These are to go along with E is for ear (and therefore hearing and sound).  I added our Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? book because it's the one that has the sound buttons on the side.  Then I added in the animals for the book, E knows the animals and sounds but this added a bit more dimension to an already beloved book.

Our two other morning basket interactive stories included Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? because it's another fun sound book.  I did much the same as above, I included animals/objects to match the sounds in the book.  This is also a great way for kids to get their sillies/crazies out because E had a lot of fun running around making the noises!  

Also, we started working on rhyming words.  This is something I haven't tried before with E so she's definitely new to the concept.  But, we read Hop on Pop, where I focused on the words that rhymes.  In the container I have board game pieces from our Goodnight Moon board game, I added the matching pairs and we have gone through them together, matching up the words that rhyme (ie. kitten & mitten, clock & sock, etc)

Of course, I knew I had to do something with E's name because it starts with the letter E!  So awhile ago I found an idea on Pinterest for learning your name, so I went ahead and recreated it myself.  It's hard to see in the photo, but the top part says "I can spell it" with red dots under each letter.  We say each letter in her name as we touch each red dot.  Next is "I can trace it with my finger" I used glitter glue to line the letters so they are slightly textured.  Next is "I can spell it"  these are little tiles with the letters in her name that she has to place correctly in the squares.  It is shaded grey underneath the tiles so she knows where each letter goes.  Finally, is the "I can write it" portion which we are not doing yet, but when she is ready she can practice writing her name with dry erase marker on the lined paper.

This is a math activity I have set up so that E can better learn to recognize her numbers.  The point is to match up all the numbers as it is in the picture above.  The top numbers are from the Target dollar spot, the flash cards are part of the Peaceful Preschool curriculum, and the bottom are felt eggs that I created for last Easter with numbers 1-10 on them.

It's hard to see but there are two different matching 'games' here.  Again, these are left over from last Easter, and E whizzes through these as they are too easy for her now.  But the top eggs are felt stickers from the Dollar Tree, and the bottom larger eggs I cut from scrapbook paper in the shape of eggs, the object of the game was to find the matches.

This was a math and science activity to go along with E is for Eggs this week.  Half of the plastic eggs have magnets in them, and half do not, I gave E a magnetic wand to find the magnetic ones.  She loves playing with magnets so of course this captured her attention for awhile.

I wrote numbers 1-12 in the egg carton so the little puffy eggs and tweezers are for counting and correctly placing that many eggs in the corresponding slot of the egg container.  It's good work for math and fine motor skills.

Not pictured (but is included in the video):

A gross motor game that E has been loving.  We balance a plastic egg on a wooden spoon and try to walk/run as quickly down our hallway without dropping it as we can.  She laughs so much when it falls, that it has definitely become a favorite game around here.

An E is for elephant do-a-dot picture from (E loves do-a-dot pictures and it's helping her with her hand-eye coordination.

Be sure to check out the video above with all the exciting footage! And follow me on Instagram for any other projects that we do spur of the moment this week:

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Prepping for Preschool: Introduction

Hey guys!  After some much needed time off (morning sickness got the best of me, and then summer happened) I am starting to prepare for the fall and a new year of school to start!  In our area, kids start preschool around 2.5-3 so I am going to follow suit, although at much less structured pace.

I have a bunch of fun videos and blog posts coming up in this series that I am calling "Prepping for Preschool". I'll be doing a curriculum post, hauls, a look at my homeschool planner, and a detailed post on our schedule/routine.

Then, after Labor Day, I'll start sharing our biweekly unit studies with you all!  So excited to start this new journey, and I hope you follow along with us. =)

Watch my new video below for a chatty introduction to the new series:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Weather Unit Activities

Wow are we having some crazy weather here!  I definitely picked a good time for us to do a weather unit.  Watch the video below to see all the projects we hope to accomplish for this unit. 

I have the video and this post up a bit differently than I have in the past.  I am going to list everything we are going to work on rather than do separate posts for shelf work, art, science, etc.  Hopefully this format will save me more time and be more beneficial to you guys!

First up is our shelf work for this unit.  On the shelf we have:

Rainbow Do-a-Dot Sheet
I have been enjoying adding these to our shelf, E seems to get better with this each week, even if it’s just for working on her fine motor skills.

Origami Windmill
This was just an origami windmill that I created to add visual interest to the shelf. E has fun twirling it around with her fingers.

Raindrop Counting
I cut out cloud shapes from card stock and wrote the numbers 1-10 on them.  Then I used blue glass vase filler for the ‘raindrops’.  The idea is to count out as many rain drops as there are listed on the cloud.  We are mostly working on numbers from 1-5.

Rainbow Puzzle
All of our printables this week are from here. This puzzle is broken up into 10 strips, that when put together in the correct order, form a rainbow.  This is still too difficult for E, but she likes handing me the pieces and seeing where they go.  It’s good practice to reinforce our counting.

Button Sun
Idea for this came from here. It’s basically just a circle cut out of orange felt with buttons sewn around the edges, then strips of ribbon with slits in them act as the ‘rays’ and the child practices buttoning the ribbons on and off.

Coloring Pages
I think coloring pages are going to be more a staple on our shelf from now on.  This is an easy activity for E to grab and do by herself.  I am trying to limit the amount of crayons, markers, etc that she can use with this though so it keeps this activity short and less messy.

Tracing Sheets
Of course we are still working on our prewriting. E still seems to enjoy these tracing pages, and the ‘which one is different’ is good focus work.

3-Part Cards
Printable can be found here. Some of these words are going to be difficult as they don’t really apply to where we live (such as hurricane) so we are focusing more on the weather words that do apply to our location.

Snowball Letter Matching
I didn’t want to do too many snow themed activities because I do plan on having a winter theme later this year, but of course snow is a very important weather concept (especially where we live) so I knew I had to include at least one activity.  E is practicing to learn her alphabet, but we are taking it slow, so I only used letters A B and C for this activity.  The idea is for her to place to correct ‘snowball’ on the target.

Our hands on activities for the week will include:

Cloud Sponge Painting
Printable from here.  Cut the clouds out to make a stencil.

We used a sponge and white paint on a small plate for our clouds.

E really enjoyed using the sponge this time around.  We had practiced with sponge painting a few months ago, and she was less than impressed.  But this time it worked way better than a paintbrush usually does.

Rain in a Jar
So I really wanted to do the ever popular ‘shaving cream rain experiment’ but I KNOW my two year old would just make a huge mess of the shaving cream.  So we will wait to do this project later when she has a bit more restraint.  Until then, this is a much cleaner version.  Put a sponge on top of a jar or clear cup, using a squeeze bottle (I’m using clean condiment squeeze bottles as I couldn’t find clear ones) and squeeze water of blue tinted water, onto the sponge.  When the sponge reaches is maximum absorbency, it will start to drip water into the jar.  (I used plain water, it would be easier to see with tinted water).

Rain in a Bottle
I dyed some rice blue with liquid watercolors. I really love the ombre effect it had, I wasn't too particular about making all the rice a single shade.  E has had fun just digging in and playing with the rice, but we did use it for our project too:

First, E has to fill a bottle with cotton balls (I recommend a large bottle like a Gatorade bottle if you think your child will want to do this activity multiple times because it’s easier to get the cotton balls out). Then, using a funnel and some measuring spoons, she fills the bottle with rice.  When she’s done, we put the cap on and turn it upside down to watch the rice ‘rain’ down from the ‘clouds’.  It also makes a fun rain stick/shaker.

Sun Printing
If it gets sunny enough this week (which I doubt at the moment), we are going to make a design out of pennies on construction paper (probably black, red or purple as they are the darkest colors we have) then let the paper sit out all day in the sun.  The sun will fade the color of the construction paper, but not the areas covered by the pennies, leaving behind the design at the end of the day.

Rain in a bag
Using a ziplock bag filled with a little water tinted blue, we are going to tape this to our deck door and watch the water go through the water cycle.

So there you have it, those are the ideas we will be using for our weather unit. 

Some other fun ideas to consider are:

Tornado in a jar (I don’t trust E with glass, but other children might be okay with this)

Painting with cooked spaghetti (our main book this unit is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)

Creating faux snow like this for sensory fun (we will be using this when we get to our winter unit in December or January).

Make a rain gauge out of a 2 liter bottle like this.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Little Rabbit - Easter/Spring Shelf Work

This is our first unit with a major holiday mixed in, so our shelves represent two themes.  The first week we are working on our Easter activities, and the second week we will work on Spring activities.  In the video they are mixed together, because that’s how I have them on the shelf (I tend to put things on the highest shelf that I might not want E to grab on her own). 

 In this post I’ll split the activities up.

First, Easter!

Invitation to Play with Playdoh

This first activity uses a veggie tray with various slots that I have used for spring/Easter cookie cutters, big googly eyes, white pipe cleaners (I don’t have pink, boo!), different shapes and colors of buttons, and some pouch caps.  We will probably recycle this after Easter for a spring playdoh tray.

Easter Egg Shakers
I used plastic eggs and filled them rice, and wrapped washi tape around to secure (still watch tots with this, E keeps trying to open them to find a prize!).  I found some cute rhymes and songs for Easter that I printed so I can sing them while E shakes her eggs.  This is something I hope to incorporate more into our totschooling adventure, rhymes and songs.

Easter Eraser Sorting
Using a 6 cup muffin tin, I have E sort these erasers (there are 12 total; 2 pairs of 6) she is to put a matching pair in each cup.  The erasers came from the Dollar Tree.

Pattern Egg Sorting
We haven’t done any sorting by patterns (that I can think of anyway) so I cut some egg shapes out of scrapbook paper in pairs of two.  The idea is to match up the eggs by their pattern mate.

Egg Sorting by Color
These little puffy eggs were an impulse by in the Target dollar spot.  E is going to sort them by color.

Easter Egg Do-a-Dot
Printable from here.  I printed out two copies of the eggs. The first one we are going to use our pomp om magnets (so E can repeat this activity as she pleases), the second we will use our do-a-dot markers.

Easter Egg Surprise
I filled these plastic Easter eggs with matching colored pom poms, this is giving E fine motor practice in opening the eggs and color matching to put the correct pom pom back in the egg.  She is trying to work on closing the egg, but still has a hard time with that (honestly, I sometimes do too, these eggs are so flimsy!).

Bunny Tail Match
This printable is from here.  Laminate the printable, add Velcro tabs to the bunny’s behinds, and matching color mini pom poms, and ta-da!  E loves Velcro! 

Counting Eggs
Got the idea from here.  Stitched up 10 eggs, and wrote numbers using fabric paint on them.  Hoping to work on putting the numbers in order, and using plastic Easter eggs to count out how many correlate to the felt eggs.  These are seriously so cute, I wish I could use them year round (and I might!).

Spring (second week activities):

Felt Flower Buttons
I got the idea for this from here.  I hot glued large buttons onto popsicle sticks then cut matching ‘flower’ shapes out of felt for threading onto the button.  It is a bit hard to maneuver because the bottons are glued down at the bottom, but I really just want to get E to practice her buttoning so this seemed a more fun way than using a shirt.  =)

Flower vs Animal Sorting
All of the Little Rabbit printables came from here.  The idea for this activity is to sort the small cards into animal or flower categories.  E is pretty good at this activity.

Common Bird Cards
Printable from here (you have to subscribe). I printed out the control cards for a few of the more abundant birds in our area.  We are going to use them when we look at our Backyard Birds book, as well as when we go on a nature walk.  Right now, E mostly calls all birds ‘birds’.  There are exceptions (ie. Owls, geese, ducks, etc.) but I am hoping she will learn a few names such as robin, cardinal, sparrow, etc. from this exercise.

Pipcleaner Worm Transfer
I made these little ‘worms’ out of pipecleaners (this is the closest worm color I had), and bent them a little so they’d look wiggly.  With tweezers E is going to practice transferring the worms out of the basket, she has also had fun ‘feeding’ the worms to our little shelf robin.

3-Part Cards
I know rhubarb is going to give E a hard time, and maybe hutch.  Hopefully she will be able to add these words to her vocabulary this week.

Kite Counting Activity
I made kite shapes out of scrapbook paper, and wrote the numbers 1-5 on them.  I then attached yarn as the kite strings.  We are going to use pony beads to string the same number of beads on the kite as are written.  E hasn’t been fond of stringing beads thus far, so hopefully she is able to master it this time around.

Little Rabbit Card Matching
I think these are for a traditional memory game, but we are just working on matching the correct pictures to each other.