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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Great Gifts for Christmas - Three Year Olds

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Black Friday is just a little over a week away! How crazy is that?! Whether you've begun Christmas shopping or not there's no denying the holidays are upon us! Isn't it wonderful?! I love this time of year. I'm not sure the world could ever have enough twinkle lights. :)  If you're feeling bogged down with to-do lists or wish lists I'm here to help make your life a little bit easier. Today I'm sharing our favorite gifts for 3 year olds. 6 different ideas to inspire your littles to be creative, imagine new things, exercise skills, and grow their minds. 

First up is a classic game- Memory! There isn't anything specifically special about this one it's just the one we have and my littles have enjoyed. Memory is an early introduction for your little to logic, deduction, and memorization. This particular game boasts a more sturdy construction with cards made from heavier cardboard. The images are bright, colorful, and engaging. Cost: $9 [but I have seen it for less at TJ Maxx and Home Goods too]

Memory Game

Imaginations are really starting to spark for 3 year olds and dress ups are a great way to play pretend. Dress ups aren't just for girls. One of my favorite children's product lines is Melissa and Doug. They have awesome dress ups for little girls and little boys alike- everything from airline pilot to princess to veterinarian and construction worker. Dress ups are pretty easy to find right now too. After Halloween most consignment shops drop prices on dress ups and you'll see more coming in. Not to mention you can always find a slew of dress ups on Amazon. Cost: $18-$25

Dress Up Clothes

If you've followed along with our preschool fun this year you already know how much we love a good set of Do - A - Dot markers. :)  They're bright and fun and most importantly washable! They're a marker and a paint all in one. They're great for developing hand-eye coordination and color recognition skills. As a mama I love how quickly the ink/paint dries.  [Shameless plug: We have weekly Do - A - Dot letter activities in my newsletter.] 

Do - A - Dot Markers

So the catch with this one is that it's from IKEA (read: not available on PRIME) but it's worth the deal if you live near one. It's less than half the cost of other art easels, reasonably close in quality of construction, and perfect for little creative minds. It's double sided with a chalkboard and whiteboard. It folds flat for easy storage and has a helpful shelf to hold markers, chalk or other accessories. This one is a steal at $20.

MALA Easel

This is easily one of my favorite toys. It's just so cool! The take apart truck completely disassembles, comes with oversized parts and fasteners, and comes with a battery operated drill to fit all the pieces back together again. The Take Apart Truck is sure to be a hit for the little builder/problem solver in your family. This toy is great for developing hand-eye coordination, visualization, matching skills, and logical thinking. The price tag isn't too bad either at around $20. Added bonus, the maker guarantees your little one will love it or it's free! 

Take Apart Truck

I know Play-Doh isn't for everyone so this one may be a hit or miss for different families. If you can tolerate the mess and mixing of colors this set will definitely keep your littles happy, engaged, and creative for a good period of time. I'm a big fan of Play-Doh for it's endless possibilities, it's open ended nature, and it's encouragement of fine motor skills. Almost all of our Play-Doh is mixed together but that doesn't seem to matter to the girls. Every now and then I'll swap out the old mixed up doh for a new container because they're less that $1 at Walmart. This whole set; six containers of Play-Doh, various tools and a press cost around $10.

Play-Doh

Hopefully these ideas have inspired and encouraged you. I'd love to hear your favorite gifts for 3 year olds! Any ideas you'd love to share? Comment below with what your 3 year old is loving lately! Merry Christmas, friends! 

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Unit Six: Fall & Thanksgiving
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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! 

Add To Cart

Great Gifts for Christmas - Two Year Olds

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Last week I started a series of post on gifts for our little loves. It's the most wonderful time of year again and to help make this holiday season just a little easier for you I've collected ideas on great gifts for babies up through preschool age. So many of the gifts I shared last week would suit well for a younger two year old as well. In this post I'm sharing just 6 ideas for toys that help develop creativity, spark imagination, and are just plain fun for the terrific two year old in your life! 

 

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First up is the Fisher Price Medical Kit. Pretend and Role play begins around 2 years old. This adorable set is perfect to take real life experience and pair it with fun. Everyone visits the doctor for their well check ups. Sometimes those visits come with a negative stigma. Why not help encourage the heart of your little with a medical bag of fun? Our Sadie had a number of doctor/specialist visits early in her life and continues to today. One way we helped alleviate her fears was to play check up at home. From checking her sister's temperature to listening to little brother's heartbeat the doctor kit was a big hit. (We even brought it with us on a check up once to help ease her nervousness!) In addition it, "helps little ones develop healthy habits and sharing skills while giving imagination a big boost." Whether your little loves the doctors office or not this 7 piece set is sure to be a whole lot of fun! Cost: a little over $12

Fisher Price Medical Kit

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This one needs little explanation. What two year old doesn't love a little messy fun!? Paint that you can do with your hands- why not? This kit comes with three tubes of washable color (red, yellow, and blue) and 10 sheets of large sized paper specifically designed to work with finger paint. Read: paint doesn't seep through! :) Washability is always a big factor when I choose paint for the children to play with here as I imagine it is for you. I'm happy to report we have never had a problem washing out any of Crayola's washable paints. It's easily removed from fingers, nail beds, clothes, workspaces, etc. Cost: $9

In addition to this set, I highly recommend IKEA's roll of white paper if you happen to live near one you can hop over to. 

Crayola My First Finger Paints

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Mega Bloks are probably one of the very best ways to support developing creativity and make for perfect open ended play. Dream up, build, or take apart any creation you can think of! Little developing fingers and hands get great practice with hand-eye coordination using Mega Bloks. This is another toy to grow with your child. He/she will enjoy it for years to come as their maturity and creativity grows. For less than $15 you get 80 large sized, easily to build with blocks. The packaging is durable for reusability too! Hello after Christmas organization! Mega bloks are all interchangeable within the brand so should you decide to get more they will all work together! Cost: $14.92

Classic Mega Bloks

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Board books are really perfect for any age but I especially love them for two year olds because they can survive the crib. :) Around 2 we start leaving a board book or two in bed with our children to look through and enjoy should they wake early or as they are preparing to nap. Board books stand up to the test of little fingers tearing, toss, or banging on them. They also play a role in developing that love for reading and learning we all desire for in our children.  [I have, however, lost a few to the washing machine R.I.P. so you definitely want to grab them out of the crib sheet before tossing it into the machine and save yourself the disappointment.] Cost: $7-$15

Little Blue Truck Board Book

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This one I have to say has been a HUGE hit in our house! Even for Rutledge (1) and Macie Jane (4) but especially  Sadie (2). There are plenty of times where she pretends the pot is for coffee and she enjoys her morning "coffee" (AKA an empty cup) with me. The cake comes in 4 pieces for practicing stacking. The teapot has three different levels of play and sings 7 different songs. But most importantly for Mom and Dad- it has an off switch and volume control. One of the kids' favorite feature is it's real pouring sounds when they tilt the teapot! A great gift for the tea party animal in your life. Cost: $20

Fisher Price Laugh and Learn

Smart Stages Tea Set

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I saved my very most favorite for last! You really can't go wrong with anything from Melissa & Doug, but this one takes the cake in our family this year! It's 6 pieces of pretend play- from sweeping to dusting or moping your little is sure to have fun while "helping" around the house. Again, role/pretend play begins at this stage of development and how many times do we hear our little loves ask, "I help?" Wouldn't it be great to say "Yes!" I also love how this toy is made of durable wood and comes with it's own storage rack for easy access and clean up. :) The price really isn't too bad either considering the type of sturdy construction this toy is made with. Cost: $25

Melissa & Doug Let's Play House

There you have it! My favorite toys for two year olds! What does your two year old love? Anything I missed? Sharing is caring- let me know your thoughts! :) 

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Great Gifts for Christmas - One Year Olds

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It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's hard to believe Christmas is right around the corner already. I honestly feel like I blink in October and, POOF! it's January. This year I'm determined not to get behind so I'm starting early and in case you are too, I'm sharing a few gift ideas over the next week or so to help shop for those little loves in your life- whether it's your child, niece, nephew, neighbor, or best friend's family these toy are sure to be a hit! I'm starting with the youngest first. These are 1 year old approved, tried, and tested true. I included (non-affiliate) links for your convenience. :) 

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Bath toys have always been a hit in our house. Our little ones take A LOT of baths. (Anyone else's children love to run sticky fingers through their hair?!) These foam letters/numbers were all three of our crew's favorite. They stick to the tub/shower walls when wet AND they stick to little tummy too- lots of laughs there! :) They wipe off and are easy to keep clean. Additionally they come a a great price! 36 pieces for less than $6. These would also make a great stocking stuffer. 

Munchkin Letters and Numbers Bath Toys

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This one my aunt and uncle actually have and my cute crew go crazy over it! This adorable and hilarious dino bounces balls from it's wiggly belly and back. All three laugh so much trying to catch the bouncing balls and put them back in the dino before they bounce right out again. This toy is so great for one year olds as they continue to develop grasping skills, hand-eye coordination, and problem solving. It's durable and battery operated. 

Double Poppin' Dino

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Baby's first Dolly! Plush baby dolls are great gifts for one year olds! They help encourage that nurturing spirit with in your little one and a great for mimicking or role playing if your family happens to be expanding in the future. Added bonus, plush dolls are machine washable! So when your little love is so attached to her baby that she can't imagine going to lunch without it and subsequently gets covered in Chick Fil A sauce, you can easily toss the dolly into the washing machine and she comes out good as gold! #momwin

Snuggle Up Doll

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This one is a gender neutral hit! Boy or girl the little love in your life will have a ball pressing and chasing this colorful bug! What a fun way to learn cause and effect too! Your little love learns when you press him he goes and goes and goes! If you have a newer one year old in your life the press and go worm encourages crawling and walking as your little tries to catch/find the worm! It works by spring action so no batteries are needed. [Macie Jane got this as a one year old and now Rutledge enjoys it 4 years later!]

Press N Go Inchworm

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What is it about cars that kids just love them so much?! Both girls liked cars but my Rutledge especially loves them! Maybe there's something in the DNA of a boy that a love of cars is ingrained? Either way, little ones are sure to love this classic toy! There are over 400 reviews of this toy on Amazon and the biggest stand out was durability. Someone even used the word "indestructible." If you have a busy boy you know what value an indestructible toy has. It's great for little hands to grasp and roll along the floor or an outdoor area. 

Kid O Go Car Early Learning Push and Pull Toy

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This one, unquestionably, is my most favorite- probably mostly because of nostalgia. How many of us had a shape sorter toy as a child. You don't need a whole lot of explanation on how educational this toy is and how much your little will enjoy it. This is another toy that makes for great practice problem solving. Additionally, this toy will grow with your child providing opportunity for conversations on color and shape recognition. Also, this toy is it's own container! Play with and store the components all in one place! Added Bonus: This toy is great on the Christmas budget at less than $8! 

Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks

What are your favorite toys for one year olds? Anything on your list that I missed?! We're always on the hunt for great gifts too! Check back in a few days for a new post on Great Gifts for Christmas- Two Year Olds!  Merry Merry! 

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Building Relationships: Room Sharing

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Last week I began a series on helping build sibling relationships in our children. First and probably foremost we have to be examples to our littles. They watch everything we do and make connections between the relationships we have with the relationships they are developing. Read more about being an example in my last post

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Another way to build cooperative skills is to create opportunities for skill building. This idea might be met with initial hesitation but trust me it's not as difficult a process as it seems. A great way for little ones to spend time together is through room sharing. There's no question, small children have no concept of personal space which suits great when you want to put them together in a bedroom. They'll likely take a few days to adjust and then from there you may be surprised how well they do sleeping together without waking each other up. Our girls began sharing a room when Sadie was 9 months old. Macie Jane was just over 2 1/2. I think I held my breath for the first two weeks but I'm telling you, honestly, it really wasn't bad. Now they have the sweetest little conversations at night after we put them to bed. Our rule is they must stay on their own beds but we leave a small lamp on for them to read or talk until they fall asleep. (After falling asleep we go in an turn the light off.) I firmly believe this is a sacred place of childhood memories. There are times when they have conflict but room sharing provides the perfect opportunity for them work through it. Sometimes they need a little support from us but for the most part they can work through things on their own even at 2 and 4. 

What are your thoughts on room sharing? I'd love to hear your successes or adventures in teaching your littles to share! :) 

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Introducing Scissors

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Fine motor skills and tiny fingers can easily cause frustration. Giving our littles plenty of opportunity to use and move their hands in projects is a good thing! Play-doh, using writing utensils, sensory bins, etc. I've held off on scissor skills for Sadie so far because she's just two and I'm not sure she's ready. However, she lets me know just how much she wants a chance to try using them every time she sees Macie Jane using them. It really depends on the child when you want to start letting him/her use scissors and there are lots of great scissor options out there for novice cutters. For today's activity I had Sadie use a pair of zig-zag scissors. I wanted her to be able to learn the correct grip and practice opening and closing her hand, however, how much she actually cut wasn't of importance today. (Although, she did find a way to cut.)

Teaching Proper Technique

Cutting with scissors requires the skill of hand separation, which is the ability to use the thumb, index, and middle finger separately from the little and ring finger. The wrist should be vertical. It's the vertical wrist that gives little ones a tough time. To help the girls remember I draw a small smiley face on their thumb nail to remind them to keep the smiley looking up. It really works ...except now they keep asking for smileys on all their fingers all the time. :) 

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Here are a few of my favorite training scissors:

These are great because the wide hand opening encourages tiny hands to give them a try. No tears crying, "mommy, my hand doesn't fit!" They also have a spring to help the safety blades pop back open for little ones still learning about the open/close motion. These boast the added benefit of cutting only paper so you can rest a little easy knowing no one is going to be giving themselves and unwanted hair cut or that the furniture is safe. :) 

These are the pair of scissors that Macie Jane used. They're safety scissors as well. The blunt tip makes me feel better about letting my 4 year old use them. They do not have the spring to open the blades back up so these would be for a little one with more developed fine motor skills. 

Here's my shameless IKEA plug (you'd think I'd get a kick back from them. haha!) We love this set from IKEA. Those zig zag scissors are the ones Sadie used today. They are simple, safe to cut only paper, and the set is only $4 for both. 

Building Relationships: Being the Example

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Having three very small children in our home requires us to slow down a good bit. One thing we slow down for lately has been to take time and talk through relationship struggles- the girls sharing, understanding their baby brother, working through differences in opinion, etc. It's not always convenient but we want to help them cultivate relationships with one another. The majority of children aren't innately inclined to share, speak kindly, and help one another. If we want to cultivate these traits in our children we can help them by being strategic, making a plan, and teaching them. I wouldn't say these ideas are foolproof nor that they'll absolutely work in every family, but they are ideas to think about. 

The first and arguably most important step might be the most challenging. We have to be an example. Even when we're tired, frustrated, and at times selfish (speaking to myself here) we have to lay our desires down and choose to be kind, to share, or offer help. We've all heard it a zillion times, "more is caught than taught." They watch us and mimic us so much more than we realize. If I speak sharply I shouldn't be the least bit surprised to hear my 2 year old snap at her sister. When I refuse to share that snack I'm hiding in the pantry to eat they notice and observe that although Mommy says to share, sharing only applies in certain situations. You get the idea.

Obviously there's a balance between adult and child behavior/privileges but one thing that continues to come to mind is that a lot of what we are working on with the children, I personally am working on too. Maybe Macie Jane struggles with self control when she's feeling tired- I am the exact same way. If I'm 31 still struggling how much more difficult must it be for a 4 year old? This is where grace brings such freedom to the mama's heart! When I mess up and I'm not the example I want to be for our children I can admit it. We sit down and talk about it and what a great reminder it is that we need the gospel so very much. Jesus would never have needed to come if people could be perfect. Jesus came because we are not perfect and we need Him so deeply. 

Reflect:

Consider the character traits you desire to see in your children and evaluate yourself. Do you exemplify the same things you're calling them to do?  I'm not insinuating that mama has to be perfect to get it together. I am saying holding yourself to a similar standard you hold your children to is important. You'll gain respect and the love of your children more than you realize in this one seemingly small act. Pray and ask the Lord to help you see ways to encourage the great things your littles are already doing and areas y'all can work on together. 

Next week's post in the Building Relationships series: Room Sharing.

Homemade Puffy Paint

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Homemade puffy paint sounds a lot more messy than it really is. Actually, it's completely dry when you're done so the mess potential significantly declines with that alone. :) Here's what you'll need to make your own puffy paint- and personally I think the more colors the better! :) This recipe will make enough for one person so you may desire to double it for additional children or maybe do another batch for a different color? 

  • 1 tablespoon self-rising flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 drops of food coloring
  • just a little water to make a loose paste
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For this activity we found that using a spoon to drop the puffy paint on the letter D (for drop, drip, or drizzle) worked best. Here’s a look at it before and after going in the microwave:

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You’ll want to stay close by the microwave to monitor it and be careful taking it out because the flour mixture can get hot! 

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We took a simple approach with the activity today but this is one that could be super fun with lots of colors and creativity! I’d love to see your creations be sure to tag them with #littlelearner. Happy puffy painting, friends! 

Practicing Patterns

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Patterns can be tricky for little ones. Today's introduction to patterns is abstract and can be difficult for some learners while easy for others. It's helpful to try a variety of different methods for teaching in all subject areas- especially math. Here are a few of the ways we practiced patterning today! 

CLAP!

Our first method we're trying is clapping. I sat together with the girls on the floor clapped out different patterns. We'd do something like hand clap, pat my legs, hand clap, pat my legs, etc. I'd have them follow my lead. Then I'd ask them to watch and show me what comes next. Pat, clap, pat, clap.... and they would follow by patting their legs. We added other patterns with things like patting the floor, clapping above our heads, etc. 

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Blocks

Another great way to teach patterns in a more concrete way is to use blogs. Legos, mega blocks, wooden blocks, whatever you have will work. I began by stacking the blocks making a simple AB pattern. The girls liked seeing how tall we could make it ...until we ran out of blocks. :) 

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Beads

This one was hands down Macie Jane's favorite. That sweet girl loves beads! She was over the moon when I pulled them out! :) I had her add beads to a pipe cleaner to make an AB pattern. Admittedly, she enjoyed creating her own design more but she did great practicing AB patterns first and then went on to make her own creation. :) 

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Dot Page

This was Sadie's favorite. We used a left over dot page from a former week and I sat beside her going back and forth between different dot markers to create the AB pattern. Sadie is 2 and my expectations for her are minimal. I want her to be involved because she wants to be a part but realistically most 2 year olds will not conceptualize the idea of patterning- but some do, so yay if it clicks for your little! :)

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Again, patterns can be tricky. Don't let your little feel discouraged if it didn't click today. I have lots more fun plans for us this week and next. Stay tuned!  

Little Pea Play-Doh Mat

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Little Pea has to be one of our favorite books yet! It's just so cute! That precious little fella hates eating candy and is over the moon to be served spinach for dessert, how hilarious is that? Pretty funny if you ask my girls. :) 

Our math themed activity was inspired by the story and had the girls moving and creating all kinds of fun! To start out I grabbed a green container of Play-doh last time we were out at Walmart (only $0.50.) Then, I printed this simple but fun play-doh mat page. I slipped it into page protectors (only $1.00 from Target) and let the girls create and play. 

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To begin we practiced rolling a piece of Play-doh into a ball. This is easy for Macie Jane (4) but something that Sadie (2) is still working on. Play-doh is a great fine motor skill builder for littles. 

Next we placed that ball on the "little pea" at the top of the page and I had the girls smoosh it flat and talked about how a ball/sphere turns into a circle when flattened. 

Then I had the girls make three different sized balls and sort them into the correlating bowl- a big ball for the big bowl, a medium ball for the medium bowl, and a small ball for the small bowl. They made lots of little "peas" and filled up the bowls. They had a great time smooshing the balls into flat circles and then eventually the activity digressed to open ended play- not a bad thing. :) 

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Keep in mind that attention spans for 2-5 year olds can vary greatly but no matter which age that span isn't very long. Try to aim for 3-5 minutes of good intentional conversation/instruction and let them enjoy and have fun. More important than skills right now is creating safe and inviting environment for learning. You want your little to want to learn- make it fun and you'll be amazed at how much they pick up even if it's just 3-5 minutes! Children are incredibly smart and soak up more than we know! 

If you don't have the {FREE} printable Play-doh mat click the download below and happy creating! 

Weekly Free Printables

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Did you know you can get 3 free, new printables delivered to your email every week? One aimed for preschoolers and another for littler, little learners, and a  letter of the week activity.  They correlate with our curriculum or can be used completely separately. 

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How do you get these great printables, you ask? Sign up for my weekly email below and check your inbox on Sunday afternoons. Consider it your weekly pep rally getting you set for the week ahead! I only send [one] email a week so, never fear, I won't be spamming your inbox. :) 

This week's free printables are a trace and color shape activity, a letter O do-a-dot activity, and a play doh mat page for our Little Pea activity on Wednesday! Sign up for the email this week and I'll send them to you and you'll get 3 more on Sunday! And don't forget Unit 3: Farm is LIVE on Saturday! Details on that coming soon! 

Symmetry and Science

Well, after today's activity I've learned it'll take a little time before my sweet girl understands symmetry BUT it was great exposure to the idea and I think another symmetry experience or two and she'll get it. :) As with any activity we do this year always understand your little may or may not completely grasp a concept on his/her first exposure. That's ok and totally normal. Most of us grown ups don't get things the first time we do them either. I'll be on the look out for symmetrical items around the house and as we're out and about and I'll point them out to MJ when we see them. 

[see our Instagram stories for step by step pictures/video of this activity- @little.learner]

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Next up this afternoon was our carrot science activity. We started by exploring the baby carrots. Macie Jane and Sadie looked at them, touched them, squeezed them, tried to break them, and finally tasted them. Then we got all our other materials ready: a sauce pan and water. 

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Together we filled the sauce pan with water and added the carrots. We have a cook top so I had Macie Jane notice how the eye was black before I turned it on and then turned red when we began to cook the carrots. We talked about the red meaning VERY hot and to never, never touch- a great opportunity to talk about kitchen safety. :) I also had her notice the water was still and not moving.

After several minutes we came back to observe the carrots in the pot. Now there were tiny bubbles moving around and steam coming from the top. 

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After removing the carrots from the pot and letting them cool for a minute I had the girls go through the same explorations we did at the beginning (look at, touch, squeeze, try to break, and taste.) Then I had Macie Jane dictate what we did and add an illustration to her Science Experiment write up. 

It's been a full day of fun and now we're looking forward to a sweet weekend of family time and praying for all those in the path of hurricane Irma! 

Washing Fruits and Veggies

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Our unit theme this food so today we read the perfect food book, Go, Go Grapes by April Pulley Sayre. It's  bright, colorful, and fun! We even learned about a few fruits we didn't know about before. :) 

As a hands on activity I gathered up washable fruits and veggies, filled a big bowl full of soapy water, and a few towels. We talked about where fruits and vegetables come from. My sweet husband grows a vegetable garden every Spring/Summer so the girls were already familiar with veggies being a little dirty when we pick them. We talked about washing fruits and veggies from the grocery store too. Then, they happily worked together splashing and sloshing the water to wash the food. 

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Once everything was clean and dry we sliced up a clean apple to eat for snack! Most kids LOVE water. Giving them the opportunity to help while playing in water is a great invitation to play! 

Fingerprints and Shapes

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Today's activities had both girls engaged and learning(...even if one woke up with a runny nose from allergies.. is it that time of year already?! ...poor babe) We started our day again with the calendar, reviewing our letter/shape/number of the week, we reviewed our memory verse, and read our Bible story. We started the Jesus Storybook Bible again this morning. Sadie wasn't feeling up to journal today but Macie Jane did. I've decide to have them journal about our Bible story each day and occasionally change it up with a prompt.

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After reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carla we did our first Hands-On activity, a fingerprint hungry caterpillar. I helped the girls stamp out enough caterpillar segments for each of the girls so they could spell their name under it. There's something about putting your fingers in the paint that makes littles so happy! Both girls couldn't wait to make their caterpillar. 

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Our math activity today was inspired by our unit focus- geometry. This is a perfect activity for both big littles and little littles. It involves sorting, shape identification, and fine motor skills. It's a great cooperative activity too if you have more than one preschooler- perfect for practicing teamwork and accomplishing a common goal. :) 

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I hope your preschool days are off to a great start! If you have questions or if I can help with something always feel free to email me. hello@alittlelearner.com 

with love,

Carla 

Our First Day!

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We began our day with celebratory donuts. After getting dressed, brushing teeth, and making our beds we were ready to start the day! I set up a little calendar and pocket area in our playroom to begin the day. My thought was if  little (14 mo) Rutledge could walk around and play while the girls listen and learn we could get a lot done. As it turned out he just wanted to be part of the fun. :) We picked up and put back flashcards lots of times but all in all I think we covered exactly what we needed to. I just did the basics with them.  

  • read the month and the day of the week
  • added a calendar cover for the day
  • introduced our letter and it's sound
  • introduced our shape and color of the week
  • sang a song about the letter sound
  •  read our story from the book My ABC Bible Verses.

For littler little learners I wouldn't be concerned about doing a calendar quite yet. You could hang one and count the days but I wouldn't get hung up on months of the year/days of the week until closer to Pre-K4. Sadie follows along for exposure and if she grasps the ideas, great! But if not it's not concerning.

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After reading our story in the My ABC Bible Verse book the girls drew pictures of obeying on the back of their Bible verse cards. I'll laminate them and hole punch a corner for these to go on a ring. We'll do more with these as the year progresses. Stay tuned. :)  [Also they make the sweetest keepsake]

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After finishing the Bible verse cards Rutledge went down for his morning nap. The girl came with me downstairs to the kitchen table. Moving from place to place helps keep my antsy girls engaged and interested. 

As they got to the table they discovered their new journals were labeled with their names. How exciting for little ones to feel ownership and responsibility! They both drew pictures in the blank section about their first day of preschool. When they were finished I asked them to dictate their picture for me to record. 

Next, our hands on activity today was making a carrot letter C. We have several glue sticks but to enrich this activity I chose to just use one. This required the girls to practice cooperative skills, sharing, and kindness. Some days I'll give them each a glue stick (maybe when my patience and energy are in less abundance) and other days we'll use the one glue stick method to give a time and place to practice the kindness and consideration we're trying to teach the girls. 

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After that my Sadie but was done for the day! She got to hop down from the table and play with toys or books in the den. Macie Jane finished up her morning with a little handwriting practice and then she was done for now too! 

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We finished our last preschool activity  after lunch. Once Sadie and Rutledge were down to nap Macie Jane and I worked on her sight word activity. I was the most leery of this activity but I think it might have been one of her favorites. She loved the idea that she could read a word! I'm so proud of my BIG girls and all they will learn this year! 

I hope this encourages you and gets you excited for your first days too! Happy New Year! 

with love,

Carla 

Things We LOVE: Ok to Wake Clock

Things We LOVE: Ok to Wake Clock

Starting off a new year we want the mornings to be smooth!  Part of making our mornings smooth, particularly with a baby in the house, is starting our day at a reasonable hour. We all go through that awful phase when our toddler decides they want to wake up at an ungodly hour to begin their day- every single day- usually the same time as the baby begins teething. It's just tough and coffee, no matter how strong, doesn't seem to cut it. 

I'm starting a series I'll add to throughout the year on things we LOVE. Not an ad, just things that have helped me and I want to share them with you! The first thing I wrote about is our Ok to Wake Clock. ️

We bought our clock from Target after reading lots of reviews and spending many, many mornings trying to keep our girls in bed until at least the sun came up. It's not a quick fix and it requires training BUT once your little love connects the light with wake time I'm telling you life is SO good! :) Read more of my thoughts on the Ok to Wake Clock on the blog this morning. Any friends out there using the Ok to Wake Clock? What are your thoughts?  www.alittlelearner.com

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A Look into Our Day

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We have our supplies, you've downloaded the unit plans, we're set and ready with excitement. Now it's time to think through logistics. What will our days actually look like? 

Flexibility is the key. Some homes may thrive with a routine while others do best going day-by-day. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to fit into a mold. That is one of the most beautiful things about preschool at home- you can do activities around your schedule and when it suits your family best! 

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Today I'm sharing what our days look like. We are more of a routine oriented family so if that's not your cup of tea there's no shame in that. With that being said, we do have some flexibility throughout our weeks. We like to invite friends over to visit during the day (community is super important to the stay at home mama,) go to story time, and we are part of a weekly Bible study, etc. The following is the basic framework of what our days look like:

6:30- I wake up and spend time with Jesus and drink all the coffee I can while it's still hot

7:00- Children wake up/are allowed out of their rooms (We use the ok to wake clock.) make and eat breakfast together

Around 8:00 dress, brush teeth, make beds

Around 8:30 start preschool in our playroom. Rutledge (14 months) can walk around/play with toys/climb on all the things while the girls and I read our Bible story, practice our verse, and do flashcards. The convenience of the playroom allows me to close the door and keep my Rutter Butter baby contained.  You don't need a playroom to start your day. I'm just juggling 3, 4 and under. :) 

Around 9:00 Rutledge takes his morning nap. The girls and I read our story for the day, do the hands on activities and journal around the kitchen table. 

Around 10:00 we're done for the day. We still have plenty of time to do anything else our hearts desire (grocery shop, chores, visit the zoo, etc.) 

Sometimes if I can tell they're just not feeling it- maybe an activity is frustrating, they didn't get enough sleep, etc. I'll split the day and do one hands on activity in the morning and one after nap time. 

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Whether you're routine person or not it'll help you to think through what you want preschool play to look like before we begin. Maybe sit down one afternoon this week and process what you want things to look like for your family, pray, and give yourself heaps of grace. I guarantee every little investment you make in your little love is invaluable and we are sowing much more than we realize. I'm praying for you and rooting for you! Consider me your virtual cheerleader over here cheering, "You've got this! Go mama! Happy New Year!!" 

If you want extra tips and advice, sneak peeks on upcoming units, and a weekly freebie sign up for my new weekly newsletter. It's a once a week, pep-rally of sorts on Sunday nights to get you excited for the week ahead! Sign up below! 

Praying your family is enjoying this last week of Summer break! Soak it up, do something super fun with your kiddos and do something super fun for YOU! 

with love,

Carla

Unit Two- WEATHER

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You're probably wondering why I'm posting up UNIT 2 when we haven't even started Unit 1. Here's the deal, in order for this to work you'll need an adequate heads up on what's coming. I want to keep prep minimal (printable, using household items, etc) but one BIG thing you need time for Is books. I really, really, really encourage you to borrow the books we use from your local library. I don't want y'all stressed thinking you can't participate because you didn't get books in time. Hopefully by getting the list two weeks in advanced you can get those books on hold and have them at your house in time to start. 

Here's another thing about the books- one main idea behind our preschool play is exposure to LOTS of books. If for some reason the books I list aren't available at your library don't feel stuck! The lessons and activities are versatile enough that you can use any book in the wide range of our theme and it will suit just fine. Mamas have enough to stress about- don't let this unravel you. :) 

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This unit is also a little different because there's a small fee associated with it. My heart in creating preschool play and learn activities is to be helpful.  You are your little's first love and first teacher- soak that up and enjoy it. I'll plan and supply most of the materials that way you and your little can enjoy, grow, and learn together. To cover simple costs of creating the curriculum I added a charge. Each unit from now until May will be $5 during the month it's being taught. The $5 is a one time charge and you are free to print and use as much of the document as you please. This unit includes 22 full color pages, 13 printables, easy to read directions for 8 days of activities, organized planning to make your preschool playing and learning smooth and stress free and lots more!  :)  [Daycares and preschool programs please contact me for additional licenses for classroom use.] Once a unit is archived it'll be $10 but it will also include all write ups and extras from the blog. 

If you have questions or ever need support please always feel free to contact me at hello@alittlelearner.com or through the contact page. :) 

with love,

Carla