Mabel's Labels

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While we're still soaking up and soaking in the sweetness of Summer for just a few more weeks, I am starting to think ahead and get us organized for the new school year! My oldest officially starts kindergarten this year (cue the tears!) She is over the moon excited and I am so happy seeing her excitement! One of my favorite ways to get organized is with school supplies! This year we're using Mabels Labels to get each of the children's backpacks, water bottles, jackets, and more ready to take with us on Bible Study days, field trips, and more. 

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While we spend our days learning and playing at home there are a few outings we take each week where it's important that the children have backpacks, water bottles, etc. One of those being our Thursday morning Bible Study. Each of the children (even sweet baby Rutledge) have a class they attend while I'm off in my own small group before a larger lecture. It's one of the sweetest parts of our week!

The study we attend is full of families with small children! They require each family to clearly label all their belongs- which is very reasonably necessary! Over the years I've tried different labels that just didn't stick. Last year I resorted to sharpie on all the things. I worked but didn't look as lovely as you could imagine. 

This year we're set! Mabel's Labels has the perfect solution with personalized, adorable labels that are both durable and informative! They're washing machine and dishwasher safe! 

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As if I wasn't already sold on the personalized name stickers the custom shoe stickers sent me to the moon! I absolutely LOVE how cute these are but even better I LOVE that my cute crew can finally put their shoes on the right feet! Haha! Anyone else have this struggle?! 

Bonus: When Sadie goes to class and takes her shoes and sweater off (must be a 3 year old thing?) her teachers will know who they belong to!

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So while you're stocking up on supplies and gearing up for the new year be sure to check out Mabels Label's! They have everything from iron-on clothes labels to bag tags and everything in between! AND their shipping is free in the US!

I love them so much I want to give you a chance to try them out too! This week I'm giving one happy mama a personalized set of Mabels Label's sent straight to her mailbox! Check out my instagram to find out more! 

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Happy Labeling! 

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All About Apples

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A month packed full of apple fun! 50+ pages of literacy to numeracy to STEM and everything in between! You’ll explore apples inside and out with your little! Perfect for preschool, kindergarten prep, and kindergarten too! One fun filled, inspiring activity everyday. Not too much to overwhelm you and just enough to make the time together something really special. Minimal to no prep required on most activities. Includes a suggested book list and bonus printables + a FREE art print! Read More about this unit on the blog!

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All About Apples

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I am over the moon excited to share our first preschool play and learn calendar of the year! We plan to start (pre)school in September but I'm gearing up and getting us all ready so these last few weeks before starting can be full of Summer fun! I see mamas out there gathering materials, going school supply shopping, ordering books, etc! So, if you like to plan ahead I've got you covered with this soft release! In two weeks I'll have a full release of all 3 units in the first term (All About Apples, Playful Pumpkins, & Happy Helpers) 150+ pages of learning and playing fun!

Instead of being themed by the month I've chosen special themes in three separate terms throughout the year. This first term starts off with a calendar "All About Apples."

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There are activities in this calendar to spark the imagination, learn about culture and history, you'll explore with STEM projects, and review basic literacy and numeracy. However what I love the MOST about this play and learn calendar is the heart behind it. We all know preschoolers are sponges constantly absorbing and learning but how they learn is so important. What better way to learn than beside mama. These activities are simple but fun while keeping the busy mama in mind. 

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Time together with your little ones is invaluable! As their mama it is such a joy to get to introduce them to lifelong learning. So many sweet memories made around the kitchen table or back porch as you teach your little to love learning! The pressure and anxiety a mama feels when it comes to teaching your littles is real. We all wonder, "am I doing a good enough job?" or "am I messing them up!?" I wish I could come put an arm around you and tell you what a wonderful job your doing. Loving those little ones, investing in them, spending time together will reap dividends of good. Every book read together and afternoon of pretend play is growing their mind and imagination. Take heart that preschool doesn't have to be a burden or stress- have fun, review letters and numbers, and soak in these sweet, sweet little years! 

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Here's a sneak peek at some of the printable activities you'll find in the calendar:

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Including this sweet hand lettered printable intended for you, mama. Just as much as you love your precious little one(s) so your Heavenly Father loves you even more! Rest in His goodness. He is faithful to lead you in the way you should go and provide every step along the way. If keeping your littles at home is what He has called you to the you can rest assured that His grace will be all-sufficient and abounding! You are the apple of His eye! 

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Little Ones in the Word

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Teaching my littles is something I'm clearly passionate about. We have the best time playing and learning in our home. From finger painting letters to review their sounds to counting jumps in hopscotch to introduce number sense and everything in between. I believe education is invaluable and so very important but above any academic skill is something so much bigger, so much more important, and of eternal value. 

Teaching my littles about Jesus, who loves them the very most, is my greatest joy. I'm no super mama and I fail every single day but I take heart in knowing He doesn't call us to perfection but to faithfulness. Today I wanted to share with you a couple of resources I've been using lately.

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Deuteronomy 6:7-9 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

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The first thing is something really special our church created for children called a "Word and Witness Journal." It's divided into 4 seasonal sections with passages throughout the Bible. Each passage has activities and though provoking questions. After reading the passage for the week we talk through what we read and what that means about God. She's not old enough to journal but I love when she gets her little pencil out and scribbles her "journal entries."

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Another tool we use is the verse cards from Daily Grace Company. Macie Jane got these from her grandparents for her birthday and we have loved how sweet they are! We just used a rolled up piece of painters tape to hang them all through out the house. So many precious promises and reminders to see, read, and repeat throughout the day. 

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Of course we have always loved our Jesus Storybook Bible and last month my best friend introduced me to Hero Tales. I absolutely love this collection of true life stories. It's the abridged biographies of Christian heroes along with a pairing of vignettes from their lives. I love how each section ends with thought provoking questions and a passage of scripture to think on as it relates to the story. My children are still so small that it serves best as a read aloud but will be a great independent read as they age. 

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Ok, and the last thing I'm sharing today is one I'm so excited about! As important as it is to read and teach my children truth I want them to walk in it as well. Practically speaking we're using the cutest cards called, Tiny Tells as a means to encourage others. Christi over at Tiny Tells has developed a whole line of miniature cards perfect for handing out, tucking into, or attaching to gifts, lunchboxes or mailboxes.  

Our Favorite Do-A-Dot Activities + an everyone-wins-GIVEAWAY!

Our Favorite Do-A-Dot Activities + an everyone-wins-GIVEAWAY!

Our favorite Do - A - Dot Marker activities plus a GIVEAWAY for everyone! :) Read on to find out how you can get your own personalized dot marker activity pages! GIVEAWAY runs Tuesday, July 17 - Friday, July 20, 2018 at midnight EST

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Kindergarten Q & A

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I was so excited to hear how excited y'all are for Kindergarten too! It sounds like there's a good group of us headed to K together this year! :) In response to a handful of emails and DM's I decided to write one big blog post with our FAQS. If you're wondering something and I missed it feel free to email me at hello@alittlelearner.com 

When do you plan to start?

We will start the first week in September. I know technically that's "late" and it coincides with Labor Day so we will be flexible with expectations. Our calendar for the year will look different so starting in September will suit fine since we'll do school year round as opposed to a traditional calendar.

Why did you choose to do year round? Don't you want Summer off?

The calendar we're using this year starts in September runs for three months through November and we have the whole month of December off. We'll pick back up in January and run through March- take April off. Then will finish out the year starting in May going through July. Combined with a couple educational weekend trips we'll get in the full 180 days. We'll have time and space throughout the year to enjoy (Christmas in December) and to relax/build up new creativity (April and August.) 

What curriculum are you using?

We aren't using a specific curriculum this year. I'm sure I'll pick a curriculum in future grades but for Kindergarten I wanted to focus on making learning engaging and developing her heart to love exploring through education. I'm using the Common Core standards to guide what we will do and mapped out a basic plan for our year. (You can read about that here)  I'll plan lessons each week from the curriculum map with the goal of learning each of those objectives/subjects by the end of the year. 

What planner are you using?

I LOVE the planner I'm using! It's simple and easy to modify and adjust for teaching at home. I include our family plans and meal plans along with lessons all in one planner.  You can find it at Target or on Amazon here

Do you have a school supply list?

I have a few basics we always get: primary journal, crayons (lots), glue (even more), construction paper, safety scissors (if you don't have some already), regular pencils, watercolors, dry erase markers, and a plastic folder. 

How are you going to teach kindergarten to your oldest with your other two around? 

Flexibility is the key and mini lessons make all the difference. It's not reasonable to ask her to sit and directly teach for 6 hours. They don't even do that in "real" school. ;) We will do a lot of activities all together- read aloud, hands on activities, etc. I'll do a daily mini lesson (5-8 minutes) in literacy, math, and social studies or science. In addition we'll organically sprinkle in activities like picture study, composer study, French and Poetry. Singing together is another fun way we can all learn together too. (Basically we'll learn French in song form)  I plan to try a morning basket routine to easily keep those subjects in the loop. 

What is a Morning Basket?

There are a number of different takes on a Morning Basket. Here's what I'm planning to start off with: A small basket with our Children's Bible, Gospel ABC set, a picture for our picture study, a couple stories within that month's theme, and any flashcards we'll go over (alphabet, sight words, etc.) This is how we'll start the day. After breakfast we'll comfortably settle in with our morning basket, read, sing, and review what we're learning. From there we'll break out into hands on activities with manipulatives or arts and crafts, etc. 

Will you be using your preschool curriculum?

Sadie (3) is going to do preschool this year so she'll have some activities specially tailored to her skills. I'll pull some from the preschool curriculum and modify the things I do with Macie Jane to prepare lessons for her. 

Will you be sharing your kindergarten activities and plans? 

I plan to share the things we do as we do them on my website and mostly through instagram. I'll also prepare monthly themed packets to supplement teaching and post them on my resource page. However, what I'm most excited to share is our Little Learner Through the Year Notebook. It's still in production and I'm working out the details but I hope to share more VERY soon! 

Any other questions? Always feel free to email me hello@alittlelearner.com or comment below! I hope you'll enjoy following along with our new adventure! 

Mapping Our New Adventure

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This is it, we're really doing it. Macie Jane goes to Kindergarten this year and she won't have to travel too far. In fact we'll be doing kindergarten together here at home! I am SO excited! The teacher heart in me swells thinking about getting to teach my own baby while the mama heart in me gets so sentimental that this day is coming- she's ready for school. (Wasn't she born a few months ago?!) 

As much as my heart is in denial I can't deny how ready she is. She is eager to learn about anything and everything. She's bouncing up and down at the thought of reading and will gladly join in any opportunity to do what she calls, "mommy school." (oh my soul, isn't she the sweetest?!) 

So here's our plan. Technically in South Carolina you can opt out of Kindergarten so technically that's what we're doing. But in reality I'm doing Kindergarten with her but using this year as the guinea pig year. (first born probs) I'll use the state standards to loosely guide me along with LOTS of wisdom and support from homeschooling mamas walking beside and ahead of me. 

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I've spent hours and days researching homeschool strategies and curriculums. I've talked to countless homeschooling families. My sweet husband (who was homeschooled through high school- my mama-in-love is amazing) helps keep my grounded. And so far I've decided for this year we'll take a very basic Charlotte Mason approach to Kindergarten. We'll read living stories, study artists and composers, memorize scripture and poetry along with learning basic number sense and how to read. We'll sprinkle in a little French and do a couple science experiments too! Because it's important to my husband she'll develop her digital literacy skills with him in the evenings or on the weekend. 

I'm not committing to a specific curriculum because I'm admittedly naive and want to plan out activities on my own that match the map I've written out for the year. Maybe I'll regret it. :) I'll let you know how it goes. A couple things I know I'll use are Coffey Design's Gospel Alphabet, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Evan Moor's Everyday Literacy: Math to supplement activities, and a super special project I have in development. :) Here's a sneak peek: 

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Curious to see what that map looks like? You're in luck! Click the button below to find where I linked up our Kindergarten Learning Map. It's not finished quite yet but I'll update it as we go along. There's a blank download for you to use too if you want. :) 

Anyone else new to homeschool? I'd love to hear your thoughts and plans! Oh, and if you're a fellow Charlotte Mason fan I would LOVE to hear any and all the advice and wisdom you have!!

Birthday Partying

This weekend my baby turned 2. I could hardly believe we were sending out invitations to celebrate! We've evolved a fair amount since starting the birthday party planning gig with Macie Jane's first birthday. It was basically a wedding reception for a baby who will never remember it- but I will ;) 

The Pinterest loving soul inside of me can hardly stand it. An occasion to design, cut out, inflate, and arrange decorations sounds like a dream! If I'm being honest the party planning is 75% for me and 25% for them. Sure, I choose a theme I know they'll enjoy but do they care about the cupcake toppers I carefully cut out or the balloon arrangement I order? ...probably not. 

After the first few years my sweet (and always supportive) husband suggested approaching birthdays a little differently. Instead of going over the top (as I'm inclined to do) maybe we could alternate big party one year, low key party the next. It's actually turned out to be a really good thing. Starting out I had 3, 3 and under. One birthday falls the week before Christmas and another comes just 6 weeks after the new year. Suffice it to say my brain was on overload. Giving myself freedom to do the basics and enjoy the day for what it is has been a game changer. Birthdays are very special in our family but I'm learning that doesn't have to mean months of planning and a financial investment. We can have just as sweet a time with a sweet cake, simple decorations, and being surrounded by everyone we love.

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Rutledge had a shark themed pool party because what better place to celebrate on a hot Summer day? I ordered a large, inflatable shark  for the pool and it was a hit. My sweet, little fella loved splashing and growling at that thing and all the little girls (all his cousins are girls in addition to his two sisters) loved it too! I ordered a round cake from  our local Publix which I absolutely loved! If you don't know what I'm talking about consider chatting with the bakery for your next celebration. I went in person to talk with the cake decorator. She was so gracious and willing to create exactly what I was looking for! The cake was not only delicious and adorable but super affordable too! win-win-win! I picked up a couple table covers and party accessories from Walmart and had a dozen or so balloons inflated. I couldn't forget the iconic number balloon from Hobby Lobby and the decorations were set! It was a sweet evening celebrating our big guy around the pool with family. 

It wasn't the social event of the season but Rutledge was so loved and fully enjoyed the celebration! And because I wasn't wrapped up in everything being "perfect" I think I really enjoyed it more too. Maybe this party was more like 100% for both of us?

Sensory & Sounds Dinosaur Dig

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One of our most favorite activities in the Dinosaur unit is definitely the letter sound sensory  play activity! This activity will need a little extra prep (cutting, getting small sensory bin set up) but the reward is well worth it. Here's what you'll need if you want to play! 

  • small sensory bin- this can be anything from a plastic shoe box to a sheet pan, although you'll want the sides of the bin to be high enough to keep the sensory items inside while still being low enough for your little to reach in. We're using the container from a melissa and doug stamp set. :) 
  • small sensory material- dry rice (or rainbow rice) dry beans, or if you're super brave maybe sand? 
  • picture circles
  • dinosaur cards
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Macie Jane has been working on letters and their sounds for about a year now so she could probably do all 26 cards at one time but in an effort to protect her from frustration or from the activity extending longer than the novelty lasts I only had her find and match half the letters. 

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She would hunt through the tray of dry beans to find little picture circles. She would identify the picture and it's initial sound. Then she would search through the cards to find the letter for that initial sound. It helps to lay out all the cards to see all the possible letters (some can be tricky.)

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Sadie (young 3) had fun jumping in to play with the beans and look for pictures. This activity could easily be adapted for speech and language practice with different picture cards to support articulation skills of various sounds (phonemes.)

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Unit 11: Transportation Recap

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We began the first week as we always do with a little letter fun! This week we pulled out the paint and play cars and didn't waste any time! The girls painted the letter W with the Wheels of toy cars! Tire tracks make great decorations! :) 

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Donald Crews is an author we've read a lot of books from this year. Freight Train didn't disappoint. It was a perfect book to read/look through with all three of my children (ages 5, 3, and 1.) While Sadie (3) continued to explore the book and we talked about colors, Macie Jane used number train cars to practice ordering numbers. 

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This activity helped her review number order but was also a good practice in left to right progression. 

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When it was all finished I hung it up over our calendar area for a reference anchor. Isn't it adorable?

Next up was a sorting activity. Macie Jane and Sadie looked at several different forms of transportation and had to determine where they traveled- land, water, or sky. Macie Jane practiced scissor skills cutting out the forms of transportation and had fun gluing them where they belonged in the sorting chart. 

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The torn paper traffic light was a hit! For some strange reason preschoolers LOVE shredding up paper. I gave the girls 3 sheets of paper- red, yellow, and green. They happily tore the paper into tiny pieces and sorted them into three piles according to their color. Then using the printable as a guide they filled in the three traffic light circles with the correct colors. 

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There were several more activities in the unit including a great speech/pronoun practice activity. If you want to see more you can find the full unit along with a book and resource list by clicking the button below. 

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I helped Sadie review and practice using pronouns like he, she, and they. Sadie has a tendency to use the pronoun "them" when she should use "they" and doesn't use he/she pronouns frequently or correctly. Technically this is still developmentally appropriate and nothing to be concerned over, however, I don't believe it's a bad thing to practice correct pronoun use either. We had fun with the activity, I reinforce it in conversation, and we'll just watch her speech skills develop. :)

We wrapped up the unit with lots of giggles and fun! We got a wooden board and a few toy cars, made predictions on how fast those car would go at various heights, and tested out those predictions. Cars raced across the den and the girls had fun seeing how fast they could get the cars to go. :) 

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Great Picture Books About Transportation

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Typically when we start a unit I'll grab a Gail Gibbons book along the same lines of what we are studying? She's a great non-fiction storybook author. Her books are perfect for curious little eyes to explore pages full of information even before they are ready to read. This one is no exception covering every form of transportation from cars to cruise liners. 

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Freight Train by Donald Crews is a good one for younger preschoolers with few words but colorful pictures. It names the various cars on a train and uses fun imagery to show the speed of a train racing down different tracks. Short and sweet! 

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Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen is another great preschool book! Full color pages with lots of action and describing words. Seeing play different forms of transportation zoom around different scenes is so much fun! From traffic to trolleys and choppers this adorable book is definitely a great one for the lover of everything that goes! 

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If your littles are like mine you know that it's not just the forms of transportation that captivates them its their sounds too! Zoom Zoom by Robert Burleigh is a perfect solution to meeting both those desires! His rhythmic and rhyming story tells of a city full of sound! From sun up to sun down and everything in between this cute book is a thrilling ride! 

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Y is for Yacht. The letter we are studying during this unit is the letter Y which inspired reading this book. It is one of those awesome, interactive preschool books. Your little will love reading all about the many different kinds of boats (there are SO many! ) This board book format has pages that open up into huge pages with giant illustrations of ferries, and sailboats, and tugboats and more! Great for the nautical loving little in your life! 

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The pigeon, need I say more? We love this silly, sometimes emotional, little fella! Mo Willems has a fantastic sense of you humor and littles pick up on the silliness right away! This one will have you in stitches. Bless that pigeon's heart, all he wants to do is DRIVE THAT BUS!!! (Also, the pigeon is part of a larger series of books all of which are adorably funny! Definite favorites around here.)

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To the typical family travel is not the most fun part of vacation, aparently that's not the story for these bunnies. They take 12 different modes of transportation to arrive at their destination- home. Your little is sure to love the adventurous traveling these bunnies do and the fun pictures accompanying them. 

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Last, but not least Delievery was a sweet book to read and comes perfect right after our valentine celebrations last week! "Aaron Meshon's playful, tender and almost wordless story, a grandmother sends love to the moon and back to get a very special delivery to a very special boy!" This book was written with so much love and you can certainly feel it! 

Transportation Play- numeracy & sorting skills

Today we read Donald Crew's picture book, Freight Train. It's a perfect book for preschoolers of different ages and stages. Sadie loved the bright colorful train cars and Macie Jane really liked learning about the different types of train cars. We used the book as inspiration for our numeracy play today.

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We used a printable in the transportation unit along with a sentence strip but a long piece of construction paper would suit just as well. I cut the train cars out for this activity because I wanted Macie Jane focus more counting than cutting (although it wouldn't be bad for her to do both- we were limited on time too.) I glued the engine car at the end of the sentence strip and reviewed left to right progression. (We count/write from left to right.) Then I let her independently order the cars. She got most of them in order but had a few mixed up. We reviewed number order together and she glued the cars on to the sentence strip. 

This activity serves as a great anchor. I put it up over our calendar area and I'll plan to use it as a reference for future activities as well as for daily review. 

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Our next activity was a sorting activity. These are so fun for both girls in their respective stages of development in preschool. 

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Macie Jane is getting really good at using scissors while Sadie still just has a great time cutting everything into bits- nothing wrong with that. :) After the various forms of transportation were cut out in one piece I let the girls sort them according to where they travel, land water, or in the sky. It was a hit and the gluing portion was equally engaging as the cutting part was! :)    

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Want to see more of our fun? Keep up with us on Instagram and Facebook! Stay tuned for more transportation fun this week and next! 

Unit 10: Valentines Recap

 February is one of my favorite times of year! We LOVE celebrating love day! It was a no brainer that we'd include the holiday in our learning! We read some real great valentine books and had a blast incorporating all our learning goals with valentine fun! 

February is one of my favorite times of year! We LOVE celebrating love day! It was a no brainer that we'd include the holiday in our learning! We read some real great valentine books and had a blast incorporating all our learning goals with valentine fun! 

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Here are a few of the titles we read. You can be sure to find a book by Gail Gibbons in almost every unit we've studied. She's one of our favorite non-fiction picture book authors! Are you a Gail Gibbons fan too? The Day It Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond was another favorite but I think our most favorite was Valentine Express by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace (not pictured.) It's a precious story of an adorable duo creating and delivering the most thoughtful valentines. 

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At this point in the preschool school year we're working on identifying number words. Macie Jane isn't sounding them out to read them but rather memorizing what they look like and "reading" them that way. We used our number cards in the unit along this activity to reinforce this skill. 

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Our following directions activity really had me laughing. Oh my, what an adventure it is juggling both girls with two very different personalities and trying to complete this activity. Sadie, who is 3, had an entirely different outcome than Macie Jane (just turned 5.) It was a perfect example of those exposure type activities I talk about. Macie Jane followed every direction and Sadie.... well... Sadie had an adventure of her own. I will say she did try to follow some of the directions before scribbling over the front and back of the page. :) 

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Any activity involving a toss able cube is a win in our books. Both girls loved this activity although it was geared a bit more for Macie Jane's age range. Sadie used it to practice number recognition and Macie Jane used it to practice transferring, counting, and left to right progression. This is another one of those great activities that seems small but packs so many skills in! 

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Ok, now, y'all know there is NO question here. When preschool includes candy we are SOLD! This activity was perfect for both girls. Sorting and counting for Sadie and those skills along with comparing amounts for Macie Jane. We all had a great time and good sugar rush after this activity!

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One of our more messy activities was the Valentine invitation to play. I provided the girls with materials and invited them to make and create however their hearts desired. We went through several rolls of washing tape, lots of stamps (some on paper some on skin), and made many memorable valentines. Invitations to play typically capture the girls attention for a good amount of time and are great opportunities for them to develop creativity and imagination. There was no end product in mind just independent, open-ended play with age appropriate materials. 

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STEM activities are beginning to rival the girls love for crafts. The fizzy hearts activity had them mesmerized. I didn't shy away from talking technical with them. We talked about acids and bases and identified which vinegar and baking soda were. We made guesses about what would happen when the two combined and didn't waste anytime exploring the experiment. The classic fizzy explosion experiment never gets old. We had a great time and they thought it was just the most awesome experiment! (Can you see the heart in MJ's pan?)

Want to grab the valentine unit to use with our littles? Click the link below or join us for our newest unit available on my resource page! We'd love to play and learn with you! 

Olympic Fun for Your Preschooler

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O is for Olympics

I love this cute and super creative idea! Colorful fruit loops work perfect with this printable to make a colorful fun Olympic ring! 

 https://www.icanteachmychild.com/o-is-for-olympics-craft/#comment-241685

https://www.icanteachmychild.com/o-is-for-olympics-craft/#comment-241685

Natural Olympic Rings

How fun is this activity?! What a fun way to take our learning outside! This time of year might be difficult to find each of the colors but that won't stop us from trying! :) 

Torn Paper Torch

Simple and still so creative! My little paper tearing creatives would love this craft! All you need is a little construction paper and imagination! :) 

Olympic Ring Toss

Who doesn't love a toss game? Especially if you're a preschooler! :) This colorful and fun toss looks like a blast! I know my girls are going to flip over it! You'll just need a stapler, construction paper, and a couple colorful buttons. 

You know I couldn't write a post without including a picture book. :) I discovered an alphabet book perfect for different age ranges. Younger learners could enjoy the pictures and a short paragraph while older readers could enjoy reading more detailed information about the olympics.

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I saw these salt dough medals and thought they were too cute! Just your regular salt dough recipe, a little gold paint, and fun ribbon. How fun! 

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I hope these ideas inspire a little Olympic fun for you and your littles! Want this Trace and Color activity page? Click the link below for an instant download! Happy Olympic celebrating! 

Unit 9 Winter Recap

Unit 9 Winter Recap

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We loved our big pile of winter and snow themed books! Especially because these last few weeks in South Carolina have truly felt like winter! So chilly and perfect for snuggling up with books! :) One of our first activities was to practice counting with marshmallows and a cocoa counting page. Unfortunately, I dropped the ball and completely forgot to grab mini marshmallows at ALDI and we improvised. All the marshmallows from the box of Lucky Charms suited just as well. I might say Macie Jane enjoyed the activity all the more for that reason. :) 

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That same day we also did a receptive listening activity. The was something new and I was excited to try it with both girls! The activity uses a set of cards with different images printed on them. Each card has a written direction that I read aloud and the girls would follow. Phrases like, "touch the mitten by the mug with a snowflake" or "before you touch the mug touch the pink mitten." Some were more tricky than others but I think they really enjoyed the activity. Both girls asked to play it again! 

Scissor skill actives always hit a warm spot in Macie Jane's heart. I'm not sure I've met a little person who loves to chop paper into itty bitty bits as much as she does. :) I let her go town chopping up the paper to her heart's content after practicing following the lines. It's great hand strengthening and she's having fun so, why not?! 

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The Snowman invitation activity was a little surprising to me as far as who really took to it. I supplied the girls with a ball of orange Play-doh, tiny sticks, beads, crayons, and snow man templates. It was Sadie who really stuck with the activity long after Macie Jane lost interest. She made a whole snowman family and decorated them to the nines with beads and scribbles. Invitation to play activities are completely open ended. I give the materials and offer no directions or suggestions. I let their imagination lead the way. Typically these activities captivate both girls. (They do usually end up creating a sizable mess but nothing a little teamwork to tidy up can't fix.)

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We jumped back into journaling. The girls both have Primary Composition notebooks. They have blank space at the top of the page for coloring and wide guidelines for writing. We glue projects into the notebooks (rightwards, letter of the week, etc) but mostly we use them to draw a picture of our Bible story, unit theme, or anything they imagine. We accompany they pictures with dictated sentences. I'll ask them about what they colored and write it down. In the next month or so I'll start letting Macie Jane title her picture. I'll dot out the title and she'll just trace the letters.

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We got good counting and number reading practice in too! Both snowman popsicle stick and the muffin tin counting activities required Macie Jane to read number words and comprehend their meaning. Bonus: The popsicle stick snowmen were just TOO cute!

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We wrapped the week up with a FAVORITE activity! Back from last year by popular demand, I recreated the hot cocoa sensory bin. A bag or two of pinto beans, cottonballs, toy mugs, and a ladle. Y'all, I can't tell you how long they played "Hot Cocoa Shop" (...also can't tell you how many pinto beans I keep finding everywhere- haha!) They LOVED this! They came back to it throughout the weekend before I put it up for my sanity sake, but I think I'll be pulling it out again this week for sure. They're just too cute playing together. 

It was a really sweet and super fun week learning about winter, playing and learning with the winter theme, reading number words, practicing fine/larger motor skills, speech, STEM, and more! Now we're excited to hop into all things Valentine's! We'd love to have you join us! Find our newest unit and a list of all you'll need to follow along on the resource page or click the link below! 

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Click to get your February Play & Learn Calendar! 

How I Organize

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I recently read Emily Ley's book Simplified Life. I loved it! She is like minded to me. Y'all, less really is MORE! 

A common question I get is about how to organize all the preschool things. First of all I want you to know you don't need lots of stuff to do preschool well! Household items work just as well as the tools you'd find in the school supply section or in a traditional classroom. Counting bears are GREAT! (I love them!) but rotelle noodles work just as well! ...and you can dye them too! ;)

Here's my basic break down of everything preschool related in our house:

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Binder: All lessons, printouts, artifacts (I have a post coming next week all about the artifacts we keep and the projects we toss)

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Baskets: one for paper materials (construction paper, sentence strips, cardstock) one for randoms (stickers, yarn, beads, buttons, popsicle sticks, extra glue) one for paint supplies (paints, paint cups, brushes, smocks) and one for Play-Doh and accessories. [For inquiring minds, the baskets are from IKEA and the piece of furniture, also from IKEA, is the Kallax.]

Books: We, admittedly, do have a lot of books around the house. We keep some on the same shelf with the supply baskets, some in a basket in the girls' room, and the books specific to the unit we're studying are on a shelf in our den. Pretty much all of the books we have are borrowed from the local library. I have a few classics from my classroom and we've gotten some books as gifts but for the most part we borrow lots and lots of books. I rotate them often and keep a steady flow of new material to read/look through. 

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Calendar: Simple $2 calendar from Target's One Spot and cute covers from my resource page

Pocket Chart: Anchors like alphabet cards, sight words, numbers, etc. 

Easel: Clips to display daily work (mostly so we remember to show Daddy when he gets home!)

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We keep some paper activities and art projects but not most. A lot of what we keep goes in the girls composition notebooks because they are (in my mind) the artifact that will last longest. :) My sentimental heart imagines going through them with my adolescent children and smiling at the beginning of their educational careers. :) 

As you sort through your school supplies and resources try to keep in mind, less is more! The beauty of using the Little Learner curriculum is that it's a digital file saved on your computer. Print as many pages as you desire and feel freedom as you toss activities as you complete them. Tuck a few into that composition notebook or frame an art project here or there but don't feel compelled to keep it all. Supply-wise, I'd keep a few staples on hand (construction paper, glue, yarn, play-doh, etc) but for the most part you don't need a lot of stuff. I'll continue to keep the curriculum simple and resources minimal! 

Unit 8 Penguins Recap

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The last two weeks have been full of penguin fun! We started out 2018 with all kinds of arctic animal learning and playing! Macie Jane learned a new sight word, "it." I always love when the sight words are easy to sound out. I wonder if your little had as much fun sounding out the word "it" as we did? I hope so! That tell-tale I'm-so-proud smile is one of the best things! It thrilled my heart to see her beam with excitement reading a word! I know it did the same for yours! Sadie (3) isn't doing sight words yet but she had her moments beaming with pride this week too! I think the shape penguins were her most favorite! Feeling extra proud of her shape identification skills!  :) What were your little celebrations and victories in the penguin unit? Whether they're big, hard things you've been working through or tiny victories I think it's super important to really celebrate growth! Keep the learning positive and focus on the good! :) 

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As far as favorite activity goes the jury is still out. Both girls LOVED the letter snow tray and I loved that clean up was as simple as running the vacuum. :) I filled a shallow container with epsom salt and the girls used their fingers to draw letters (Macie Jane) or make shapes (Sadie) Aren't sensory activities so much fun!? The other favorite was easily the Roll-a-Shape activity! This one both girls really got in to. Sadie had fun recognizing shapes (and throwing the cube- haha!) while Macie Jane really enjoyed graphing out the information. They would take turns tossing the cube, recognize the shape on top, and then add a stamp the chart for each shape rolled. 

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The instinctively of a competitive nature is just so funny to me! Macie Jane exclaimed as we rolled and played which shapes were "winning" and which didn't have any stamps or had very few. :)  

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Shape penguins were a lot of fun too! I got a lot of really funny messages and emails from y'all about the directions on this one. :) I'm updating the unit with example pictures for all future uses. Drop me an email if you purchased the unit and want the updated version. :) hello@alittlelearner.com

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This afternoon we wrapped up the unit with a little shaving cream play and a really great STEM activity! We harvested ice from a bowl using salt and string! I'm not sure how much salt we have left in the house but the girls had so much fun trying to get the ice to stick to the string! 

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We read lots of both fiction and non-fiction stories in this unit and if the weather permits (it's been crazy cold here) we're planning to visit the zoo soon to see the penguins play! :) What was your favorite part of the unit? I always love hearing from you! I hope you'll join us next week as we jump into our next unit on Winter! Click the button below to see a preview of the unit and find a book list if you want to get some of the books on hold at your local library. :) 

Unit Nine: Winter
5.00

An interactive, fun-filled unit themed all about winter! Almost 30 full color pages focusing on skills such as literacy, numeracy, geometry, speech, rhyming, motor skills, STEM, and much more! Required resources are minimal. Accommodations for support or enrichment are included in the activity descriptions. This unit includes a BONUS activity to make your own- use it to review letters, numbers, shapes, colors or anything you can imagine! 

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Rhyme Time

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Rhyming skills help to build a good foundation for reading so we've been reading lots of rhyming stories and doing rhyming activities. In our Penguin unit we took our rhyming practice one step further. We used the image cards from an initial sound activity and paired them with this Rhyme Time activity. 

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To begin I set the image cards on the table. We identify each one together so I am sure she knows what word I'm looking for her to know.

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Then, I'll read the pretend word and real word. I'll pause and wait for her to add the rhyming word using the pictures to guide her response. Once she feels more comfortable we moved on to using other image cards to practice rhymes without the Rhyme Time activity page. For fun every now and then I'll call out some rhyming words and see if she can add one. Maybe while I'm fixing lunch I'll say "at, mat..." and wait to see if she can finish it with another -at rhyming word. Sometimes you do't even have to prepare for an activity just little tiny bits of practice throughout the day to slowly develop those foundational skills. :) 

Our previous 3 units (Fall, Christmas, and habitats have additional rhyme activities if you're looking for more! Click the button below to find them! 

Unit Eight: Penguins
5.00
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January Play & Learn Calendar

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Intentional time together- it's something I'm pretty passionate about. It's no secret that my love language is quality time and it thrills my soul that I get to spend my days with my little loves. Basically, my job is quality time, right?! :) My little girls and I make precious memories together around the table as we adventure through preschool. Rutledge, our baby, gets all the quality time he wants as he spends a fair share of the day in my arms-  I do NOT hate it. :) However, there are days that pass and I wonder, "was I intentional about my relationship with ____?" 

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To inspire us all to be a bit more intentional I created the Play & Learn calendar. Little activities that take five minutes or less but carry an impact that lasts much longer. There's no prep, nothing to shop for, or stress. Print the calendar and place it somewhere prominent- a refrigerator or door. Glance at the activity for the day and jump on it! There's no prize for completing every single day and no shame in doing only the days that suit your family most. 

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The calendar is perfect for including those little loves who aren't quite ready for a preschool program but you want to start them on the preschool track. Activities build skills in a variety of areas- literacy, math, motor skills, speech, problem solving, and more! 

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Why not kick off the new year with a new goal for intentional time together. Help your little build skills and have fun at the same time! Find the download below! Happy Learning & Playing! 

with love,

Carla 

12 Days of Christmas Memory Making

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There's no question at this time of year we all feel the crunch. Personally, I'm currently sitting beside a stack of 100 Christmas cards still needing to be stuffed, addressed, sealed, and mailed. We've decorated the tree but the first Christmas present has yet to be purchased! Well, actually I think we have one. :) All this to say we have A LOT still to do. 

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This is my favorite time of year. I love how LOVE filled this season is! So many fun things to do and memories to make. I created this 12 days of Christmas activity as a means to be intentional with family time. I'm certain I'm not alone when I say sometimes my littles just get caught in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. This morning all three bounced around our city from one stop to the next getting errands run. We got a lot accomplished and there were bits of intentional conversation from stop to stop and in the car but there wasn't any slow, one-on-one (or one-on-three) time. And that's ok. There will be days filled with all the fullness of Christmas stuff, but my heart was to give you a tool to help facilitate even just one small activity or memory together. Almost none of the activities require special preparation and there are a few extra activities sprinkled in so you can choose the 12 that suit your family best. 

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The activities range from things like looking at pictures of Christmas's past (thank you camera roll) to things like celebrating Jesus with a birthday party (hello, leftover birthday plates from someone's birthday this year!) These activities aren't meant to be elaborate, Pinterest worthy, or even something you'd post on social media. These activities are meant for you and your children. They're meant for memory making and quality time together. Maybe it's 5 minutes of intentional, heart cultivating time on the couch together or a morning of child-led decorating and preparation for a birthday party with pretend food or play-doh! Don't let this weigh you down or feel like one more thing. If your holidays are full than walk in freedom to say this isn't for you, BUT if you're looking for something simple, small, [and free] I would love to share this download with you! 

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The download includes 15 hand designed watercolor ornaments with 15 corresponding activities to give you flexibility in choosing what 12 activities your family will want to pursue. It's set up for easy double sided printing to save you another step too! (We're all about saving time in December, right?!) All you'll need to do is cut them out, add a little string, and enjoy! 

Merry Christmas with Love,

Carla 

Unit Seven: Christmas
5.00

Celebrate the season and holiday with preschool fun! Enjoy 20+ pages of activities, instructions, and resources for preschool learning fun! This unit's literacy focus is rhyming and the math focus is measurement and measurement tools. A new sight word is introduced in this unit with corresponding activity pages. Activities include hands on fun, a STEM experiment, process art, phonemic awareness practice and more! 

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Great Gifts for Christmas - Four Year Olds

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Happy Thanksgiving! My last post on great gifts is here in time for all the BIG sales tomorrow! Today I'm sharing some of my favorite gifts for four year olds. Some of these are on major sale tomorrow so I made sure to share links to the best sales! 

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A self contained, completely mess free coloring book- it doesn't get much better than Melissa & Doug's Water Wow books. The brush marker fills and easily refills with water for continued use. The coloring pages come to life in full color with the brush marker and the best part is after the water evaporates the coloring book is ready to be used again and again. We have loved these for waiting in restaurants, doctor offices, or in church. They're small enough to toss into a purse or backpack and a great for keeping little ones entertained and mess free. They're also inexpensive enough to make great stocking stuffers! :)  Cost: Under $5

Water Wow

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I love this one because it gets littles up and moving! We love activities that help get energy out and get little feet moving! [read: daily dance parties] The Musical Jump 'N Toss beetle spins to music at various speeds as your little hops over the poles. Alternatively this toy converts into a spinning ring toss. Both activities support developing large motor skills. The structure is sturdy and durable for long lasting play. Cost: $25

Musical Jump 'n Toss

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We first discovered these at our local library. Picasso tiles are so much fun and perfect for open ended fun. The possibilities are endless! These brightly colored, magnetic tiles attract to each other to build and design anything your little can dream up. This set is a good size making it great for sharing if you have more than one little builder. This is also another one of those great toys that grows with your child. He/She will enjoying building with them as they get older.  Cost: $40

PicassoTiles

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Who remembers this treasure from our childhood? Who didn't have a Magna Doodle? These toys are classic and so much fun for littles who love to draw and are beginning to write. Even better than a whiteboard, the Doodle Pro is perfect for little ones learning to write letters, their name, etc. The magnet stamps just add to the fun. Personally, I love that the pen is attached so it doesn't get lost and it's slim structure make it a perfect toy for longer car rides too. Save yourself a little sanity in the car ride home from the holidays with the Fisher Prices Doodle Pro! You can't beat the price too! Cost: $10

Doodle Pro

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Take the next step up from the classic peg puzzles and challenge the mind of your little with a larger puzzle. These wooden jigsaw puzzles are the best and need little explanation. Puzzles help develop problem solving skills and logical and spacial reasoning. This set is colorful, fun, and durable for long lasting fun! I found a bundled set of 2 puzzles for under $15 and linked it up below! Cost: $15

Melissa & Doug Puzzles

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This is a gift I'm most excited about. Macie Jane (4) is just old enough to start playing and really enjoying board games. These are perfect for spending good, quality one on one time together while the little two nap. Classic games like Candy Land and Hi Ho Cherry-O are timeless and so much fun! Giggle Wiggle is a newer game and I personally guarantee you can not play this game with your little love with a straight face. You and your littles will be rolling with laughter trying to race marbles to the top! Cost: $13- $15

Candy Land

Hi Ho Cherry-O

Giggle Wiggle

Happy Christmas shopping! I hope these ideas help! I'd love to hear about your holiday finds! What great educational or creativity inspiring treasures have you found? Is there something on your little's list that I missed? I'd love getting feedback from YOU! 

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