Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"Little Pea" Book Preschool Activities (Free Printable)



Cupcake loves the book "Little Pea" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, an adorable story about a little pea who doesn't want to eat his candy for dinner. So, I used this as one of our book studies for preschool last year. Cupcake was about two and a half when we did these activities.


Pea Pick the Sound Phonics (Free Printable)
We were reviewing the sounds for letters a,s,m,e,t, and c. I would make the letter sound and Cupcake placed a frozen pea on the letter it corresponded with. 


As you can see, it started out well...but Cupcake, being two and a half, decided to turn it into a sensory activity of frozen peas galore!


Because she is so young, I let her go with it. Toddlers learn best through play!

You can download my Pick the Sound Sheet Here!

Pea Counting
I had Cupcake count frozen peas for our counting practice. She loves the counting bears, though, so she wanted to include them. I asked her, "How many bears came to the pea party?" and we counted them as well as the peas.

 I use the party thing a lot...she probably thinks bears just party all day.

Snack
For snack, we ate sugar snap peas and snap pea chips (found at Target) with hummus. They were a hit!

Candy Color Sorting
Cupcake sorted colorful hard candy into a muffin pan. I bought the hard candy from The Dollar Tree. 

  
Pea Launching
In the book, Little Pea loves when Papa Pea comes home from work and launches him into the air off a spoon. So, we HAD to do this ourselves. I guess it would count as fine motor skill practice? Or Science? 

Pea Sensory
I let Cupcake play with the frozen peas for awhile as a sensory activity. She felt them in her hands, stirred them with a spoon, dumped them on the floor, scooped them out with the spoon, etc.

  
Play-doh Peas
Cupcake formed her own little pea, Mama Pea, and Papa Pea with green Play-doh,


Candy Necklace
We made candy necklaces,for fine motor skills and art, using Fruit Loops and Peach Rings.


Cupcake's didn't last long!

I highly recommend this book-it's one of my personal favorite picture books. We had a blast with this book unit!
 
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Sunday, July 26, 2015

DIY Beach Vacation Memory Ornament

Once a week this month, I am celebrating Christmas in July by posting a Christmas project. 


Last year, my family spent a week in Panama City Beach, Florida so I collected some sand and a tiny shell from the beach and used it to make this Christmas ornament to commemorate our trip.


We have a tradition of buying or making an ornament when we take a family trip, as I mentioned in a recent post. I love filling our tree with memories.

This is actually made with a tiny glass bottle-here it is n my hand for perspective. It's about 2.5 inches tall.


This ornament is pretty simple to make. Here's what you need:
  • Sand and a tiny shell
  • Small glass bottle (Mine came from the Tim Holtz Corked Vials pack, which can be found in the scrapbooking section of most craft stores)
  • Vellum paper
  • Printer
  • Jewlery Eye Pin
  • Ribbon or Twine
  • Hot Glue
To print the picture, I sized it in Microsoft Publisher to the dimensions of the bottle and printed it onto vellum paper. It's ok if it is slightly bigger than the width because you will have to fold the sides in to put it in, but you do not want it to be too much wider or else it won't display correctly. 

It's key to use vellum paper because your image will not only show up inside the glass, but the mirror image will also show up on the outside, making the photo easy to see no matter how the ornament lies. (Below is the image of the outside of the ornament with the mirror image).

 To insert the vellum, cut the picture to size and fold the sides in slightly-only enough to fit the paper tightly into the bottle. If the sides roll in too much, you can stick a small tool, like a pencil, into the bottle to help straighten it out.

After I placed the photo inside, I put a little sand on the bottom and then put the tiny shell on top. To make the hook, I stuck the eye pin through the cork and then used jewelry tweezers to fold the bottom back up into the cork to keep it in place. Then, I put a little hot glue around the bottom of the cork and placed it in the bottle. That will keep the ornament from popping open. Last, I tied a simple piece of twine for hanging.

I also made a tiny label with the date and place we visited and glued it to the bottom of the bottle.


 
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Preschool Year 2 Curriculum (Age 3-4)



I started Pre-school at home last year when Cupcake was two and a half. It's a little early, but she was ready and eager to learn. We were super laid back and my main goal was play, play, play! Toddlers learn best through play and exploring their world. Last year, we did a Letter a Week theme with lowercase letters. You can find the overview in this post. I was not good about blogging about what we did for each letter. :-) I'll try to be better this year!

For year two, I've decided to do three letters a week and each week has a theme. I've also added a calendar time to introduce her to the calendar and some other skills. When we get through all the lowercase letters again, I will start introducing capitol letters too.

I actually started early with her because Baby Boy is due in September and we will take a month or two off, so if you're scratching your head wondering why Christmas is in week 12-that is why! Here are the themes we are doing (I will post about them in detail as we do them).

1-Bugs (letters a,s,m)
2-Birds (letters e,t,c)
3-Summer (letters o,p,u)
4-Pond Life (letters d,f,j)
5-Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld (review letters)
6-Ocean (letters g,l,b)
7-Pets (letters i,n,w)
8-Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes (review letters)
9-Farm (letters r,h,y)
10-Dinosaurs (letters q,z)
11-Favorite TV Shows (Review letters)
12-Christmas (letters k,v,x)
13-If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff (Review Letters)
14-Polar Animals (Letters Aa, Ss)
15-Transportation (Letters Mm, Ee)
16-Winter (Letters Tt, Cc)
17-The Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson (review Letters)
18-Seasons/Old Bear by Kevin Henkes (Letters Oo, Pp)
19- Chinese New year (Letters Uu, Dd)
20- Valentine's (Letters Ff, Jj)
21- The Mitten by Jan Brett (Review letters)
22- Community Helpers (Letters Gg, Ll)
23-The Beach (Letters Bb, Ii) (The beach is this week because we will probably be at the beach for our ministry)
24- Spring/St. Patrick's Day (Letters Nn, Ww)
25- Easter (Review Letters)
26- Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox (Review letters)
27- The Forest (Letters Rr, Hh)
28-Zoo Animals (Review letters)
29-Pigeon Books by Mo Willems (Review letters)
30-Arbor Day/Apples (Letters Yy, Qq)
31- Garden (Letters Zz, Vv)
32-Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin (Review Letters)
33-The World (Review Letters)
34-Space (Letters Vv,Xx)
35-Make Believe (Review Letters)
36-The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Review Letters)

This year, we are doing school four days a week for an hour and a half each day. We start the day with Calendar time. I made a magnetic calendar board to make it interactive and fun for Cupcake.


The subjects we're covering are:
  • Phonics: We use Montessori sandpaper letters, an alphabet box, and phonics games. This year I've added do-a-dot marker sheets for pre-writing practice and plan to introduce a salt tray for tracing. I've also added a daily name recognition activity.
  • Bible: We are using the Year 3 Curriculum from ABC Jesus Loves Me as the main guide. I use The Jesus Storybook Bible, a felt board, and scripture verses put to song for memory.
  • Cognitive Skills: This includes sorting colors, shapes, and objects, sizing, counting, and number recognition. This year I've also added pattern recognition and making, directional words, shape making, shape finding, and color shade sorting (because she has her colors down and is bored sorting them).
  • Gross Motor: I wanted to make time for this to make sure Cupcake is getting outdoors and also because she was born with low muscle tone. Although she's caught up now through physical therapy, she needs extra exercise to strengthen her muscles. 
  •  Fine Motor: We're working on skills such as cutting, tracing lines,lacing cards and beads, picking things up with tongues, etc.
  • Art: We do art that allows Cupcake to be free and creative or work on fine motor skills.
  • Social/Emotional: This involves recognizing emotions, playing pretend, and social skills such as taking turns and sharing.
  • Music: Music and rhymes-sometimes we use instruments!
  • Story Time: Pretty Self Explanatory
  •  Sensory: I try to include a sensory activity each week either at home or going on a "field trip."
Depending on Cupcake's mood, we sometimes spend 10 minutes on a subject and sometimes a half an hour. I try not to force her because I don't want her to grow to hate school when she actually HAS to do it. I plan for about 20 minutes per subject, though.

Also, if she gravitates toward another playful activity, I just let her go with it because toddlers learn through playing. For example, one time I drew letters with sidewalk chalk and had her spray them when I made the sound, It lasted about two minutes...she wanted to spray all the plants and grass instead, so I just let her go!

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Super Easy Frozen Treats

Please forgive the poor quality photos today, which were taken on my phone in bad lighting. I literally put these treats together in two minutes and snapped photos. Why? Because I am too busy/tired to make intricate frozen treats I pinned from Pinterest and I figured some of you may be to. So, here are my hacks to three simple frozen treats.



My three year old LOVES Greek yogurt, which makes me happy because it's supposedly healthier than the normal kid yogurt. Did you know Chobani now makes tubes for kids?! I was so excited when I recently found these at the grocery store. 

I've been wanting to try to make yogurt bites for Cupcake, so when I found the tubes, I thought, "Aha! Now I can make this easy snack even easier!!" No filling zipper bags with cups of yogurt- now, all you have to do is snip the top off the tube and squeeze little dots onto a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and freeze.


In a few hours, you have yummy little frozen yogurt bites you can just pop off the wax paper and serve or store in a bag.

Cupcake loves them and they are super easy for toddlers to eat.

OR you can just stick the yogurt tubes in the freezer and in a few hours, you have frozen yogurt pops! They are easy and fairly mess free for toddlers and kids-not to mention healthier than the ice pops made from sugar water (not gonna lie, though; I still love those myself!).


The third lazy way I made an easy frozen treat: I bought some pudding cups and simply stuck popsicle sticks into them, leaving the covering on.


In a few hours, we had some frozen pudding pops! All you do is peel the covering off over the stick and you may have to run a little water over the plastic cup to get the pop out.

 They are all yummy. I enjoy them along with my toddler.

 
*I was not asked to promote any products. These are just brands I personally like and use.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jesus Storybook Bible Magnetic Advent

Once a week this month, I am celebrating Christmas in July by posting a Christmas project.



The Jesus Storybook Bible is my favorite children's Bible and there are exactly 25 stories from beginning until the story of the birth of Jesus-perfect for Advent. 

I found these awesome JSB printables from Joyfully Weary to make an Advent calendar using stories from the Jesus Storybook Bible. It was a super quick project to make and my two year-old loved it. 

All you need is a $1 cookie sheet from the dollar store, washi tape, magnet paper, and a printer. First, I made a simple tree on the cookie sheet using washi tape.


Next, I downloaded the file from Joyfully Weary's blog, printed it on a sheet of magnet paper, and cut each story circle out.


Each day, starting on December 1, we read a story from the Jesus Storybook Bible and let Cupcake put the magnet from the story on the tree. 

We travel a lot at Christmas, so it was great for traveling too because it doesn't take up a lot of room. So, we could continue it while at family's houses. 


Happy Christmas in July!
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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Not Exactly a Fairy Tale ~ A True Love Story

I originally posted this a few years ago on my old blog that is no longer in existence. It is still one of my favorite posts, so I'm reposting it here! I've now been married for 5 and a half years and it still rings true.

 I've been convicted of two things lately: one, that I run from difficulty and two, I am incredibly selfish.

If you think about  it, it really all comes down to that I am incredibly selfish. I run from difficulty because I want to be comfortable. I want to be comfortable because I am selfish.

Amusingly, I thought I was a pretty selfless person...that is, until I got married. Oh how blind I was! But, God is using marriage to break me of my selfishness and make me more like Christ. It is painful, but also worth it!


Looking back on my singleness, I realize much of my desire to be married was selfish. Sure, I knew in my head that marriage isn't a cake walk, that I was called to serve my spouse, that it wouldn't cure my loneliness, etc. But in my heart I still believed that marriage would be great because it would cure my loneliness-at least mostly and I would always have a BFF and someone to talk to and hang out with and cuddle whom would protect me. Basically, I wanted to be coddled.

Don't get me wrong. Marriage is great and Jeff is my best friend and we enjoy many moments of cuddling, laughing, hanging out. But, marriage is great for different reasons than I thought- it's great because it is making me more like Christ. And though that is great, it is also painful. So, marriage isn't for the faint-hearted or for those who want to be coddled.

God is SO GOOD. Had I known this fully about marriage and had I known the depths of my selfishness, I probably would've ran the other way. I would have thought I wasn't ready. But, obviously, God thought I was ready because He made it very clear to me that I was supposed to marry Jeff. SO He is gracious to have kept me subconsciously and blissfully ignorant!

And He answered my prayer-not just my prayer to be married, but a different prayer. When I was about 23 years old, I heard a speaker talk about singleness. She challenged us to pray this prayer: "Lord, do not take the gift of singleness away from me until You have done all You can in and through me with my singleness."

It terrified me. But,what if God NEVER is done using my singleness? I had to come to terms with the truth that this reality would've been OK. I could be happy and content with singleness for the rest of my life. And no, that is not when God brought Jeff to me. (I HATE it when people say stuff like, "When I learned to be content, that is when I met my husband!" bleh.)

There was no "arriving" at any level. Every day I prayed that prayer. Some days, I truly meant it and some days God had to work in the depths of my heart to lay my desires to be married on the altar. I had seasons when I was content and joyful and LOVED being single- and seasons when I really struggled and just wanted to be married badly.

And then God brought Jeff to me-in the midst of the seasons. Even that took a while-a building of a friendship and some silly conflict-for both of us to love each other and see God's will for us to be married.

Now I see how God really did answer my "Singleness Prayer." He was done using singleness in my life to make me more like Christ. It was time to use marriage.

It's not exactly a fairy tale, but it's my story that God is writing. I love it because I love the Author and because He is so good and perfect and knows exactly was is right for me. I am thankful for my time being single and I am thankful to be married to a man who loves God and is stumbling after Him with me, though both of us are far from perfect.

And I am thankful that I can be thankful and that my heart is in a place of gratefulness today. Now onto that selfishness...

Linking To

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ideas For Pointing Your Preschooler/Toddler to Jesus


Before I begin with my "List," let me say a few things. These are just ideas that have worked for my family and my toddler-I am in no way an expert Christian mom or anywhere near perfect. Teaching our kids about Christ is a precious responsibility we've been given and there is no "10 step" process. Give yourself grace-you're not perfect! 

Remember your child is a human being-a sinful one- who needs the grace and mercy of Christ just as much as the next person. God has not called us to create perfect little law-abiders, but instead has called us to "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4), which includes teaching them what it means to live the gospel of grace. It's not easy because I don't always live the gospel of grace myself! But, trusting God to help me teach it to my child has convicted and changed me far more than I imagined.

Also, remember your child is an individual. God is working in their life in His way and they are on their own journey to knowing Him-it's not about you and you're awesome parenting skills...or lack thereof as I often feel. :-) 

You may feel overwhelmed by this idea-maybe you don't feel qualified (none of us are-that's why we need to depend on Jesus!); maybe you are a new believer and not sure what to do; maybe you struggle comparing yourself to Mrs. Perfect Mother at your church whose children are always neatly dressed, sit quietly, and can quote the whole book of Isaiah. Those things don't matter. What matters is Jesus and He will give you the grace to do what He has called you to do as a parent.

I felt the need to say this because I would love to share these practical ideas that work for my family, but I never want it to leave anyone feeling like they don't measure up. There are practical steps we can take to help our children understand Jesus, but ultimately, it comes down to His work in their lives. It's hard as a mom to remember that balance-I know! There are days when I'm like, "Yeah! I am pretty good at this!" and then most days I think, "Am I even a Christian?"

I do not do these perfectly, but here are some things that I have learned and work for my family:

1. PRAY AND WALK WITH THE LORD
If you can do nothing else, pray for your child. God works in prayer and HE is the one who will change and work in your little sinners' hearts. :-) See above message for further explanation of my meaning!

Walking with the Lord ourselves is important if we want to pass it on to our children. When our children are little, it is really hard to take time to spend with the Lord. I know-I struggle with this EVERY DAY and honestly, am not the best at it. But, I feel that deep need to be filled by Him so I can pour out to my family and others. I am encouraging you to not be legalistic about it though-God still loves you when you don't pray and read the Bible! It took me a long time to get over legalism in my life and spend time with God out of a deep desire in my heart-so I encourage you to keep praying for this. I should probably write a separate post just about that!

2. SOUND CHILDREN'S BIBLES THAT POINT TO JESUS AND THE GOSPEL
Reading to our kids is important-reading to them children's Bibles with sound doctrine is especially important! What do I mean? They are are a myriad of children's Bibles out there and they are unfortunately not all great.

I was convicted when I was pregnant that God wanted me to teach my children the gospel-show them Jesus-and not treat the people of the Bible as heroes to be emulated. While, some of the people of the Bible do have characteristics we can teach as a positive example, all of them are flawed because humans are flawed. The Bible isn't about people we should emulate, but about a gracious God who uses and redeems horrible, broken people through Jesus.

Thankfully, there are wonderful children's Bibles out there with just that theme and approach. My very favorite is The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones.


   Each story takes an honest approach to the people of the Bible, but keeps it on a child's level and each story explains how it points to Jesus and the gospel. This children's Bible explains the Word of God as a big story all pointing to Jesus and Lloyd Jones is an amazing storyteller!
Another one I recommend is The Big Picture Story Bible. We don't use this one and I don't think it as good at bringing each story back to Jesus, but it does focus more on God and His work than on the people of the Bible. It's also a quick read and easy for little ones to understand and sit through.


We also use the Read and Learn Bible from the American Bible Society. I supplement The JSB with this one, as it has extra stories. This Bible doesn't point to Jesus in every story-it is less of a commentary than the JSB and more of a straight forward telling of the Bible stories. That's why I like this one too-it just straight forward tells what happens in the Bible at kids' level.


This post is about preschoolers and toddlers, but if you have older kids, I recommend the Gospel Story Bible.


3. SONGS, SONGS, and MORE SONGS!
Most little ones love songs and they learn and memorize through songs-it is shocking what a toddler can memorize! I do scripture memory with my three year old and we do it through song. I will pick a simple verse, such as Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Then, I sing it to a tune she is familiar with-for that verse, I used "Where is Thumbkin?"
She loves it and it helps me remember verses too! 

We also really love the cds by Songs for Saplings. They have an ABC scripture memory songs cd as well as a 123 one for little ones.


Each CD is only 99 cents for a digital download and many times throughout the year, they will let you download them for free. They also have an awesome catechism program put to music for older kids.

I also really love Rain for Roots. It is not scripture memory, but biblical children's songs that will not drive you nuts.

4. DISCUSS WHAT THEY LEARN AT CHURCH.
This may take about 10 seconds because not all toddlers have great memories nor is their attention span very long. But, it is always good to ask your child what they learn when you pick them up from Sunday School, children's church, whatever.
Don't be dismayed if they can't remember. Like I said, their attention span is short. Also, some churches may not teach a lesson to younger kids. Our church starts lessons at age 2 and they usually give us a handout, so we can review with our kids. You may not have those resources, but if you do, take advantage of them!

I also do Bible Study Fellowship and bring my toddler. I love their children's program-it is so great at teaching kids about God and they do lessons even with the little babies while they rock them! I definitely recommend looking up the BSF in your city. The adult study is pretty intense, but doable.

5. MAKE LESSONS OF DISCIPLINE ABOUT THE GOSPEL, NOT JUST BEHAVIOR.
 Toddlers are little stinkers and they need lots of discipline and direction. At this stage, we are mostly teaching them right from wrong and how to listen, so deeper conversations will come later. But, I often still try to incorporate the gospel when I discipline my little one. She may not fully understand it, but my prayer is that it's being rooted in her heart.

What do I mean by make discipline about the gospel? My husband and I have decided that we don't just want to correct behavior and ignore the real heart issues of why our child is misbehaving. Children break rules, test, push boundaries because they are human-and little sinners like all humans! We DO discipline and carry out consequences, but we try to communicate three things to our child every time:
 1. She is receiving discipline because of HER choice of behavior.
2. We love her no matter what she does-she is not her behavior/actions.
3. She chose wrong, as all humans choose wrong, even mommy and daddy, because we are sinners who do things God does not want us to do. But, He loves us anyway and that is why He sent Jesus to die for us. This is why we need to  believe and trust in Jesus-to save us from the bad things in our heart.

Depending on the behavior, I might discuss with her why she chose wrong-this is a little harder with toddlers as they are not fully developed in understanding their emotions and communicating, but I hope to put this into practice more as she grows older.

Disclaimer: I have a very easy toddler,. If my next one is rambunctious and head strong, I can definitely see myself losing my patience more easily and yelling a lot. There will probably be lots of apologizing (see next point). If you're struggling with a headstrong child, take heart! That's why prayer is important, so God can help us have patience-also, it's OK to fail. There is grace. AND, that headstrong child will be a leader one day.

 6. APOLOGIZE
I really think it is important for us to admit wrong and apologize in front of our children and to our children. It is healthy for them to see that we are not perfect and we own up to our mistakes. They are incredibly observant, so we are not fooling them anyway! But, when we model what it looks like to have humility and apologize, we are teaching them to also be humble and apologize-not because it is the right thing to do, but because we mean it.

When I lose my patience with my little one and lash out, I try to apologize for my brashness and for not acting in love. I ask for her forgiveness. I must admit, this is a lot easier to practice with that sweet little face then my next point...

I also try to apologize to my husband in front of my toddler. There's been whole books written about this, so it's hard to be brief, but I hate conflict and struggle with feeling guilty if my husband and I fight or bicker in front of our child. (By fight, I mean emotionally charged disagreements with flared tempers and louder voices; not yelling and all out fighting). But, again, when children see healthy conflict-that is conflict being resolved, it is good and healthy for them. So, while I may feel guilty, it also convicts me to be quick to apologize and slow to anger with my husband and to make sure that if we argue in front of the toddler, we also resolve the conflict in front of her too.

I hope this was helpful and encouraging. Again, remember that none of us are perfect and by God's grace our children will grow up to love Him and walk with Him- remember, plenty of children of faithful parents have walked away from the Lord and plenty of children who were never taught about God are walking with the Lord today. Our job is to be faithful with what He has given us-our children make their own choices and we must entrust them to the Lord!
 
P.S. I am hoping to post soon on some prayer ideas for little ones-so stay tuned!

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