Johnny Appleseed Day

30 09 2013

It has been a few years since I have been in the classroom and when special days come around through out the year I really do miss all the fun things we did. Luckily I help out with a local Stay at Home Moms Group where I can plan these fun activities for our group to do. It helps channel all my teacher energy into something.

September 26th is Johnny Appleseed’s Birthday and a great way to celebrate him as well as start celebrating the beginning of Fall. We celebrated it by doing some apple painting, making a cute apple out of a paper plate and making some really cute Apple sun catchers. The kids all had a lot of fun and the great thing is that all of these activities are great for kids of all ages. We had little 14 month olds all the way up to preschool aged. My daughter who is 6 even had a blast at home doing the crafts.


To make the apple sun catcher I found a template online here and then printed that on cardstock to make my master.

I then traced it onto black construction paper and cut out all the apples. If you have older children have them cut out their own apples. It is great practice using scissors.

I then cut out pieces of clear contact paper (you can find this at your local Wal-Mart or hardware store on the aisle that has the kitchen organization) large enough to fit the apple. The kids then placed their black apple onto the contact paper and filled in the inside with small pieces of tissue paper. Once they were done we placed another sheet of contact paper over the top and cut out the apple. Then you can tape it to a window in your house and you have a cute apple sun catcher.


We also made apples out of paper plates. Just cut away the sides so that it looks like the apple has been eaten and those become the leaves. The kids sponge painted red on the large cut out and green on the 2 smaller cut outs. We then made the seeds out of black paint and their cute little fingers. Once dried staple the leaves to the top. Easy and super cute.

Hope this gives you some great ideas for Johnny Appleseed day or just fall crafts in general.

Writing Boxes

30 01 2013

When my daughter started Kindergarten at the beginning of the year we were asked to provide a writing box for our child. A box that had crayons, pencils, tape, paper, markers, stickers, and any other craft thing we wanted to put in it. They used it at school during free time and almost every day my daughter would come home so excited about all the cool things that she did with her writing box that day.


When we moved of course we got to take the box home with us and it became one of the coolest boxes that my kids play with almost on a daily basis. Since my daughter brought hers home I had to of course come up with one for my son so that they would each have their own box with their own special creations in them. Both of them have scissors which has been great for my 3 year old son to learn how to cut. My daughter has glitter glue and stamps which my son does not because who knows where he would use those at.


Defiantly a great way to keep your kids entertained while allowing them to be creative. Plus most of the items I picked up on sale or in the dollar isle of Target. Don’t forget to think about things that come in your junk mail like pads of paper, stickers, address labels, or anything else. My kids had a blast cutting up a catalog and that lasted a whole weekend! The possibilities are endless. One side note, I would stay away from paint because that can make a big mess inside the box. Also pick things that are age appropriate for you child and that you don’t mind them using or cleaning up.


Some Great Ideas for your writing boxes:

~ markers

~ crayons

~ colored pencils

~ stickers, don’t forget about the address ones you get in the mail

~ pads of paper, mini pads of paper, construction paper, scrapbook paper

~ scissors, regular and craft

~ scotch tape (you won’t believe how much fun this is)

~ stencils

~ stamps

~ glitter glue depending on the age

~ foam stickers

~ fun little notebooks

~ folders

~ post it notes

The sky is the limit and your kids will have so much fun!

Homemade Play Dough

24 04 2012

My kids love play dough as much as any other kid but I have two problems with it besides the mess it can make. First it can be a bit pricey and after 5 minutes they have just mixed all the colors together to form gray so the money isn’t well spent in my eyes. Second I get a bit worried when it makes it to their mouth when they are pretend eating their pizza. Pretend eating to my 2 year old is actually eating it, go figure.


Because of these two things I prefer to make my own play dough. It uses cheap things that I have in my house and because I know what goes into it I don’t worry as much about them eating it. Not to mention the kids can help me make it which is always a lot of fun.


Homemade Play Dough

~ 2 1/2 cups flour

~ 1/2 cup salt

~ 1 Tsp. alum

~ 2 cups boiling water

~ 2 Tsp. vegetable oil

~ food coloring

Boil the water, vegetable oil and food coloring. Stir in the dry ingredients with the moist. Kneed. Refrigerate in an airtight container to store.

Click Below to Print Recipe

Homemade Play Dough

Behavior Clip Chart

16 04 2012

I don’t know about anybody else who has kids but my daughter is now 4 1/2 and I am still waiting for the terrible two’s to end. In fact over the last month things have been the worst that they have every been. So in a hunt to try something new to hopefully wipe my child out of this funk I decided to enact the Clip Chart in my house.


The idea came from my daughters preschool class. They have the same system in class and she loves it. She comes home every day and can’t wait to tell us where she ended her day and if she got “bling”. So I went searching and found this cute chart over at Little Miss Glamour Goes to Kindergarten.


I modified it a bit to fit our house only using superstar, rockin’, fabulous, good, warning, and cool down. I didn’t think that parent contact or go to the office would work no matter how much I wished it would.

How it works is every day both of my kids clips start out on good. As I see them playing nicely, using good manners, following directions, or any other good behavior I instruct them to go move their clip up to the next level. If there is bad behavior I usually give a warning first and let them know that if it happens again then their clip will get moved down. The exception to this is if there is hitting then the clip gets moved down automatically. At the end of the day if their clip is on red then my kids receive a treat. However you could reward them with a sticker or “bling” on their clip (sticker rhinestones). If they end up on Cool down at any point of the day then they get 30 minutes by themselves in their room to cool down.


This has been in our house for almost two weeks and so far it is working great. My 2 1/2 year old son loves it. He gets so excited to move his clip up and as the day is coming to an end he gets super excited when he knows that he is on red. I choose to not use red for cool down because I feel that so many times red is negative and I really wanted mine to just mimic the rainbow and not have any negative connotation to behavior.

I hope this helps you in your house with discipline, let me know what you use to help with discipline in your house.

Click here to Download Clip Chart Graphics

(I printed two per page so that my clip chart wasn’t super big)

Quite Boxes

21 02 2012

Have I told you I am totally addicted to Pinterest? Well I am, and I am not afraid to admit it. I have found some great ideas on there and this one is no different. I saw this pin about quite time bins over on the blog The View From 5’5”.

Immediately my mind started working and I couldn’t believe that we did not have this in our house. My kids still take naps most days but in the evening about 30 minutes before bed we have quite time where they get a chance to wind down from the day and mom and dad also get a chance to just sit in quietness to recover from the day (mainly mom). The problem had become that my youngest would just sit and whine, call for you, or ask for things. My daughter would sit in her door way and torment her brother. All of this led to loud time instead of quite time.

So out I went and built my own quite boxes.


I went to the local dollar store on the hunt for boxes and things to fill them with. I was lucky and found these small boxes that open at the top. What I love about them is that they don’t have a lid that is removable and both my kids can open and close them on their own. Which means we are always able to close them at the end of the night without a hunt for the lid.


Then I found the cutest days of the week labels over at Lesson Plan SOS. I printed these off, cut them out, ran them through my sticker machine, and placed then on each box. I made a set for my 2 year old and my 4 year old, since they are both developmental in different places. I then tried to pick out not just toys but things that they could do that would work on some of their fine motor skills, reading, writing, and other skills that I would like them to work on.

I also tried to only include 2-3 things per box so that they were not overwhelmed by the possibilities. They only play with them for 20-30 minutes and then all the things go back in the box till next week. These are not things that they play with every day because I don’t want them to lose interest in them quickly. I plan on changing the items in the boxes as they grow or if the items are not holding their interest any more. These can also be great for kids that don’t take naps but need the down time in their day.


Here is an example of one of the boxes for my son. It has a small board book that I got in a 2 pack at the dollar store and a bunch of foam blocks. The foam blocks I found on the craft aisle. He enjoyed stacking them and sorting them by color.


This box is also for my son and it had another small board book, a set of cards that have different objects on them, and some interlocking shapes. Both of my kids love cards. They could play with them for hours so these are a big hit as well.


The interlocking shapes I found on the party aisle and are a ton of fun to link into chains. I got a set for both of my kids because I knew they would be a huge hit for both of them.


Both of my kids got beads and pipe cleaners in a bin. These are great for my son because it is working on his fine motor skills. My daughter loves to make patters right now and so these are also great for her. What I love about the pipe cleaners is that the beads don’t slide off of the other side like string does.


I found this great dry erase board book for my daughter. It is working on numbers. There is room to trace and write all the numbers up to 30. It also has pages in which you count the item and write the number. There is also a page for basic addition and subtraction which she is not to yet but will be good practice in the future. I included a dry erase marker and a rag for her to wipe the book clean when she is done. Old socks or socks that are missing a partner also work great.

I also gave my 4 year old daughter a 100 piece puzzle, an activity book and crayons, as well as a set of stencils and a pad of paper in some of her other boxes.


A couple of great tips for these bins:

~ Things that make a lot of noise might not be a good choice. I tried to stay away from electronics and other toys that make a lot of noise.

~ Make sure you place things that your child can do with out assistance.

~ Try not to include toys they play with every day. You want this to be a special treat so that it holds their interest longer.

~ Look for items you already have in your house to get your bins started. You can add to them as you find things.

~ Remember to keep it fun! Don’t force your child to play with them, you want this to be a fun thing for them.

Here are some great ideas for your quite time bins:

~ Magnetic Dolls

~ Lacing Boards

~ Lincoln Logs

~ Tinkertoys

~ Cars

~ Tangrams

~ Mini Etch-A-Sketch

~ crayons and coloring or activity book

~ small puzzles

~ counting items

~ Clothespins or clips for them to clip on the edge of the box or to playing cards

The possibilities are endless so be creative, we all know that sometimes the things kids have the most fun with are the most unconventional!

Rainbow Rice

8 02 2012

I have been wanting to give my kids a fun activity to do inside since it has been a bit cold outside. They are starting to get a bit bored with the same old same old and so I thought I would change it up a bit with Rainbow Rice that I found over at Share and Remember.


It was super simple to make and you can even have the kids help measure out the rice and mix it up with the color as well. The hardest thing was getting my daughter to wait for it to dry in the sun before she could play with it.


Add some fun scoops, shovels, rakes, buckets and gloves and you have hours of fun for your kids. I just let mine sit on the kitchen floor and they played for hours. When they were done I just vacuumed up the rice that didn’t stay in the bin put the lid on and stored it away for another day. I figured that once it got a bit low on the rice I could just make up a few more colors to add in.


Rainbow Rice

~ 4 cups rice

~ 1tsp. food coloring

~ 3 Tbsp. rubbing alcohol

Place 4 cups of rice in a Ziploc bag and add in the food coloring and rubbing alcohol. Mix the rice and food coloring up to spread the color. Place on pans to dry in the sun. It should only take about an hour in the sun to dry.

Click Below to Print Recipe

Rainbow Rice

Alphabet Flash Cards

1 02 2012

Like many of you out there with preschoolers one of the first things that your kids learn is the alphabet. I am sure that many of you already know that just because they learn it, if they don’t use it they will forget it pretty quickly. We are finding that out with our daughter. She knew all her ABC’s but hasn’t used some of them since preschool has started and so she is a bit rusty on them.


I was super excited when I found these alphabet flash cards because they have not just the letters but also a word that starts with the letter and a picture as well as both the upper and lower case letters. This is great for preschoolers to start seeing and hopefully recognizing words and it could be great for English Language learners because if they need help figuring out what the word is the picture then becomes a clue. So many fun uses for these and they of course were a really big hit in my house.


I of course laminated my cards so they would stand up to my 2 little kids. Enjoy your Alphabet flash cards!

ABC Bingo

17 01 2012

So as most of you parents of preschoolers have learned there are two things that preschoolers start off learning right away, numbers and letters. My daughter has mastered her letters pretty well and now we are starting to think about my son. While my daughter knows her letters she still does need to keep practicing them because she can lose them so fast. A found this cute game of ABC Bingo over at Sassy Sanctuary. This blog has some great freebies so if you have some time check it out.


After I printed the ABC Bingo cards I cut them out and glued them on cardstock. One of the things I did when I was a teacher was place things on cardstock and laminate everything because we all know how hard kids are on things. I wanted to try and get as much use out of my handmade games and manipulative as I could since they took some work. Doing these two things will help out a lot!


Now I am sure most of you out there are saying yeah right laminate, that machine has to be expensive. Wrong, I was walking through Costco and found this one by Purple Cows for $20 and it came with 100 laminating sheets. It is really simple to use and did a great job. I found the same one I got on Amazon so check it out if you are in the market to get one.


Back to ABC Bingo, we took turns calling letters which was great for my daughter to recall the letters out of order. Once someone got a Bingo they had to read the letters that made that Bingo back. Again recalling the letters as well as recognizing them printed as well. My son isn’t quite there yet but he had a fun time helping call the letters as well.

The other great thing about this game is that it not only has the uppercase letters but the lowercase ones as well. That was a big problem for my daughter in the beginning, she was confused that there was more than one way to represent the letter. Below are the links to the ABC Bingo cards. I hope your family has as much fun as ours did playing ABC Bingo.

ABC Bingo card 1

ABC Bingo card 2

ABC Bingo card 3

ABC Bingo card 4

ABC Bingo card 5

ABC Bingo card 6

ABC Bingo card 7

ABC Bingo card 8

ABC Bingo Letters

Fish Number Puzzle

20 06 2011

So while we are working on our letters and the sounds they make we are also working on learning our numbers. My preschooler can count pretty well but we are working on recognizing what the numbers look like when written or represented by dots or objects.


I found these cute fish number cards on Ideas For Preschoolers, a great resource. These cards had all the numbers up to 20 but I just printed 0 to 10 to start off slow. I figured once we mastered those I could print off the rest and add them in. The cards are to be used as matching cards. However I figured that there were many other games you could play with this. Memory, go fish, or just use them as flash cards. To make mine more durable and so they would last longer I laminated them with clear contact paper. A fun way to learn your numbers.

Fish Numbers in Color

Fish Numbers in Black & White

Leaf Numbers in Color

Leaf Numbers in Black & White

Bird Numbers in Color

Bird Numbers in Black & White

Counting Book

15 06 2011

One of the things that I noticed with my preschooler was that she could count almost to 20 and could recognize her numbers to 10 but when I would ask her how many of something she would get all mixed up wouldn’t be able to tell me. Sometimes it was because she would double count something other times she would count them correctly but when asked how many she would give me another answer. So of course I headed to Ideas for Preschoolers to see what they had to help. I found a great counting book called How many spiders do you See?


This book had a different number on spiders on each page and your child has to count them up and then place the correct number on that page.


I of course wanted to be able to use it over and over so I laminated it with clear contact paper and then placed Velcro on the page as well as the back of the numbers. Punched a hole in the top and placed them all on a book ring.


Now I have a great counting book that we can use over and over. For right now I have the pages all in numerical order but in the future I plan on mixing them up so that I can make sure my preschooler has a real understanding of her numbers. It is easy to know your numbers in order it is harder to be able to recognize them out of order.

How Many Spiders Do You See in color

How Many Spiders Do You See in Black and white

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