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

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 Word Book

10 06 2011

So know that my daughter has her alphabet down we have been working on being able to hear what letter a word begins with. This can be easier said than done. Even simple words have a lot of sounds to them and that makes it hard to hear what the sound the word starts with. Not only that be as we all know most letters make more than one sound which really makes things tricky.

A great resource for all things preschool is Fishing For Ideas For Preschoolers. That is where I found the printable Alphabet Word Book.


This book has every letter of the alphabet and 2 words per letter that start with that letter. You are supposed to cut out all the letters and then have your preschooler glue them onto the correct page.


I wanted something that we could reuse so that we could have lots of practice as well as learn some new words other than the sight words we have been practicing. So what I did was cut them all out and then laminate them with contact paper. I then placed Velcro onto the words as well as the letter page. This way they can be put onto the page and then taken off so that we can reuse this activity. To keep it all together I made a book out of it by punching a hole in the top and placing them all on a book ring.


So now we have a great way to learn some new words and try to figure out what letter they start with. A fun way to learn some beginning letter sounds.

Alphabet Word Book in Color

Alphabet Word Book in Black & White

Kids Music

2 06 2011

Most parents learn really quickly how much their children love music to dance and sing to. Once they buy a few kids CD’s they also learn how annoying they can be when there are played over and over again. I always tell my husband that I feel like I am in an insane asylum because the kids music is making me crazy. However after a few bad buys I have found a few CD’s that I would recommend to other parents.


The first is a a set of 3 CD’s that I used all the time while I was teaching. The songs help with character building and are a part of Something Good Inc. What I like about them is that they sound like songs you would hear on the radio but the lyrics talk about things like staying away from strangers. My daughter has become very fond of them, her favorite is “Buckle Up” and she sings it all the time in the car. I taught 4th grade and these were always a hit in my classroom. The kids loved to sing along while doing a project and I also love to sing along as well since they are so catchy.


The other CD’s that we fell in love with are by Fisher Price Little People. You can usually find them in the baby section of the store. They have many different CD’s, we have “Sing Along Favorites” and “Let’s Go to the Zoo”. We liked that they weren’t that expensive to buy and they had many songs that my husband and I remember from when we were kids. They are sung by kid sounding voices that aren’t to annoying. “Lets Go to the Zoo” takes familiar songs and changes them just a bit to fit an animal. Our daughter loves them both and has listened to them for hours.

One thing I would do so that you don’t lose your mind with kids CD’s is make sure your have a variety. We have them on our computer so that in an hour I don’t have to listen to the same set of songs 5 times. This helps you keep some sanity! What CD’s are your families favorite? What do you do so that you don’t feel like you are losing your mind to kids songs?


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