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

Read More

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.

cake.jpg

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?

Great Picture Books About Transportation

transportation books.jpg
transportation gail gibbons.jpg

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. 

freight train.jpg

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! 

red light, green light.jpg

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! 

zoom zoom.jpg

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! 

boat works.jpg

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! 

dont let the pigeon.jpg

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.)

bunnies on the go.jpg

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. 

delivery.jpg

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! 

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! 

valentine books.jpg

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. 

counting hearts.jpg

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. 

following directions.jpg

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. :) 

roll and count.jpg

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! 

sorting hearts.jpg

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!

invite to play valentines.jpg

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. 

fizzy heart in action.jpg

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! 

Great Gifts for Christmas - Two Year Olds

Great Gifts for Two Year Olds.jpg

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! 

 

doctor kit.jpg

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

fingerpaint.jpg

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

mega bloks.jpg

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

board book.jpg

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

tea set.jpg

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

cleaning set.jpg

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! :) 

Great Gifts for Two Year Olds.jpg

Freedom for the Preschooler's Mama

Freedom for the Preschooler's Mama

These first years at home together are for enjoying- whether you stay home or work or work from home- enjoy this season. If doing educational activities or crafts is enjoyable then do it! I've got lots of ideas I'd love to share with you ;) ...but if it's not then let yourself off the hook. You are teaching more than you realize. When you read a book to your child, talk with your child, color with sidewalk chalk together you are making little investments. All those activities and zillions more come together to create a schema from which your little will put together ideas throughout her/his educational career. 

The big idea I want to get across is FREEDOM. I'll plan out the year, give you directions, suggestions, and materials and you enjoy investing in your little. Don't stress about curriculums and assessments- have fun and let me lead the way for you! 

Read More