Friday, September 30, 2011

Rummage Sale Finds

I was so excited to go a rummage sale with a friend from church last weekend. I didn't get a chance to go to many garage sales this summer, so I was super excited for this sale. Here are all my "tot school" finds:

* Pattern blocks with 24 pattern cards
* US Map Floor Puzzle
* Melissa & Doug Teaching Clock
* Mighty Mind Game
* 2 Build-a-Word phonics puzzles. One is three letter words and one is four letter words.

Grand total... $5.00!

I hope to hit a consignment sale in a couple weeks, so hopefully I'll find some more fun things.

Anyways just wanted to share my excitement! Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reading Our Library: Clare Beaton

Clare Beaton is a children's book author and illustrator. Her primary medium is fabric collage and- let me tell you- her work is breathtaking! If you like quilting and sewing, you will love Clare Beaton!

She has three anthologies that I highly recommend!

Mother Goose Remembers

This is a beautifully illustrated selection of Mother Goose rhymes. Beaton illustrates 46 different nursery rhymes- both familiar and unfamiliar ones. A little feather from Mother Goose can be found on each page. It's quite charming and we really enjoyed reading this aloud together!

Playtime Rhymes for Little People

This is a collection of action rhymes, each illustrated in Beaton's beautiful fabric collages. As in the first book, some rhymes are familiar and some are more obscure. Each rhyme has a brief description of the actions involved.  I would do a few at a time with Grace and they were sure to bring out giggles! This is a great resource for parents of toddlers!

Mrs. Moon: Lullabies for Bedtime

And finally, Clare Beaton published a collection of softly illustrated bedtime rhymes and lullabies. It is a beautiful book that is perfect for cuddling with your little one. The included CD makes a wonderful addition to your lullaby collection.

There are also abridged board book editions of a few of books, but I heartily recommend the full editions!

Clare Beaton's Nursery Rhymes
Clare Beaton's Action Rhymes

I'm linking up to these lovely book bloggers...

Hope is the Word
Footprints in the Butter
Little Sprout Books
Mouse Learns, Moues Grows
Smiling Like Sunshine

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kids in the Word: Gideon

Last week we learned about Gideon, and Jonathan was equally enthralled with this story as he was with Joshua. I suppose there's something about boys and soldiers!


Jonathan's toddler Bible only covered a small portion of the story of Gideon. Therefore we used some books to help supplement and tell the story better. These two books were the basis of our lesson this week:

Gideon: Soldier of God by Carine MacKenzie

This is another book from the Bible Time series that we recently discovered. It covers all aspects of the story of Gideon: Gideon's call, Gideon's fleece, reducing the size of Israel's army, and God giving Israel the victory. We divided the book up into three readings and this seemed to work well for Jonathan.

Hurray for the Lord's Army! by Mary Manz Simon

This was Jonathan's favorite. This book covers the story of Gideon, but leaves out Gideon's wanting a sign from God. It's an easy reader story, but full of action. Jonathan loved pretending to blow a trumpet and shouting "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!". He was so cute! Jonathan requested this book several times throughout the week.


We learned the song "I'm in the Lord's Army!" along with the actions. Jonathan even taught this song to his Sunday school class on Sunday!


I looked and looked for a toddler-friendly Gideon craft, but I couldn't really find one. So, thankfully God gave me an idea. Jonathan loved shouting "The Sword of the LORD and of Gideon!"-- so I used that to make a craft:

I cut out the base of a sword from black paper and the base of a torch from brown paper. Then I had Jonathan glue them down onto his paper. For the torch, we ripped yellow, orange, and red tissue paper and glued them onto the base to make "fire". For the sword, we used aluminum foil to make a blade. This really helped Jonathan remember our lesson and he was so proud to show his artwork to daddy!

Now we're moving on to Ruth... we're just zipping through the Old Testament! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pinterest Tuesday: Bloggy Love

It's Pinterest Tuesday over at Our Country Road-- so I thought I would share some blogs I've been enjoying lately!

There are many wonderful homeschooling blogs out there, and it's hard to narrow down which ones to share. These particular ladies have been a source of personal enocouragement to me either through answering questions, leaving encouraging comments, or praying. I consider them my first "bloggy friends". So here are some lovely blogs to check out!

This  first one doesn't have a bloggy button but Jess at The Preschool Experiment went through the alphabet with her little ones last year as well as Bible stories. Jess is full of great ideas and I enjoy seeing what she comes up with each week. (I love seeing moms whose kids are a little older than my own to see what they are doing!)

Shonda at Milk N' Honey Learn and Grow writes about a wide variety of things: early learning ideas, kid-friendly recipes, book reviews, prayer. I got to know her through the recent Warrior Prayers challenge and have just been super encouraged by her and her blog.

Jackie over at Ready. Set. Read is a former reading specialist turned SAHM. She writes a lot about early literacy ideas and shares some book reviews. Her little ones are around the same age as mine so I love seeing what they are up to! I've gotten a lot of great ideas from her!

And finally, The Princess and the Tot was so helpful in answering my questions about sensory bins. She has some wonderful Montessori-inspired tot trays that she features each week. They are currently going through the alphabet and I can't wait to see when they are finished!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Montessori Monday: the Silence Game

This month Jonathan and I have focused on the character trait of being attentive-- listening with your ears, eyes and heart. To help reinforce the habit of being attentive to mommy's voice, we played The Silence Game.

Dr. Maria Montessori invented this game while working with children who were partially deaf. She would stand at the back of the classroom and the children would be sitting facing the front of the classroom. Dr. Montessori would quietly call the name of one child at a time. The children were expected to quietly come over to Dr. Montessori when they heard their name called.  You can read more information about the Silence Game at Living Montessori Now.

We modified this game a little bit to focus on the habit of attentiveness. I moved to a spot of the room where Jonathan couldn't see me and then I would whisper his name. His job was to listen and if he heard his name, he was to respond "Yes, Mama?"  If he correctly heard me say his name, he got a chocolate chip! If I had not said his name, I got the chocolate chip. At first, he was saying "Yes, Mama?" a lot- whether or not I said his name. But as we continued to play, he started to understand the importance of listening and being attentive to Mama's voice.

This has been a great tool to help reinforce and develop a good habit. If Jonathan is able to be attentive to his parents' voices, we hope that this will teach him to be attentive to the voice of God.

I'm linking this post up to Montessori Monday over at Living Montessori Now and One Hook Wonder. Head on over there to see more Montessori ideas. And don't forget to enter our giveaways which end this Saturday!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tot School: k is for kitten and kite (32 months)

Tot School
32 months

This week Jonathan and I didn't accomplish as much as I hoped. Saturday night he came down with croup and we took him in to the ER. The rest of the week he wasn't croupy, but still had a rough cold. 

Bible & Character 

We focused on Gideon this week during our Bible time. Jonathan was so cute. He had fun pretending to blow a trumpet and say "for the sword of the LORD and for Gideon!" I'll share a little more on Weds.

We continued also focusing on the character trait of attentiveness. We talked about paying attention vs. being distracted. And we played a fun listening game... more on that on Monday. :)

Books, Nursery Rhymes, and Read Alouds 

The heart of our week is the books we read. This week we read lots of books about kittens and kites. What else is there to do when you're sick besides books and movies?

  • The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown
  • If You See a Kitten by John Butler
  • The Little Kitten by Judy Dunn
  • Three Little Kittens by Paul Galdone
  • Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
  • The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter
  • The Berenstain Bears: We Like Kites by Stan Berenstain
  • Kite Flying by Grace Lin
  • Let's Fly a Kite by Stuart J. Murphy
  • The Kite by Mary Packard
  • Curious George Flies a Kite by Margaret Rey

Gross Motor 

We played with our cardboard blocks and built tunnels:

And we also tried to fly a kite on a windy day, but we don't have pictures of our kite attempts (none were successful!)


We didn't get to do much besides coloring and tracing this week, as Jonathan was sick and wasn't up for being crafty. Here's one craft I wanted to do, in conjunction with the nursery rhyme Three Little Kittens:


We made kites using our beginner pattern blocks. One of our kite books talked about symmetry, so this was a helpful extension:

These are way too easy for him at this point, but he still has fun. He decided to do every one:

So that was our short week this week. Be sure to check out our current giveaways

We are linking up to these lovely blog parties! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tot School: 13.5 Months- k is for kitten

Tot School
Grace is 13.5 Months Old

I'm very thankful that Grace hasn't seemed to be affected too much by Jonathan's croupy cold. She has a bit of a cough and we're running a humidifier in her room, but that's about it. So we were able to do a few things together. She's been more the focus this week, since Jonathan was feeling sick and out of sorts.


This week Jonathan and I talked about kittens and kites and read several related books aloud. Grace almost always listens in, as we do a lot of reading at the lunch table. But I try to pick out a theme-related book for Grace. This week we read:

That's Not My Kitten... (Ubsorne Touch Feely) by Fiona Watt

Grace just loves touchy-feely books, and this popular Usborne series has plenty of wonderful books for infants and young toddlers. Grace enjoyed patting the kittens on each page and I think she even tries to say "kitty" now. It's a short enough book to allow you and your baby good snuggly time and to get them used to sitting and reading with you. Grace likes turning the pages back and forth and she's starting to grasp the idea that one reads a book from left to right, which is an important pre-reading skill!

Motor Skills 

Grace still loves push toys. She isn't walking independently, but she keeps trying out different push toys and even has figured out how to move our ottoman around! We had some nice Fall days this week and she had a lot of fun pushing the wagon outside:

She's so proud of herself-- she can be interested in this for quite some time! She's also started trying to let go and stand-- only for about ten seconds at a time, but much longer than last week!

She also really liked her Crawl Along Snail this week and would clap her hands and dance along with the music:

Early Learning Fun

We also played with our early lacing beads. She wasn't able to lace them yet, but she had fun putting them in a muffin tray: I talked about what colors and shapes they were as she played with each one:

We also played with our LeapFrog magnets. I put them on a cookie tray and let her move them around: I talked about the letters and the sounds they make.

And she had fun putting them on and off our French doors. She figured out that they don't stick to the glass:

So that was Grace's week!

Weekly Wrap Up

This week was a tad rougher than last week. Jonathan came down with croup late Saturday night and so he was a bit off this week. He only napped two out of  five weekdays, which combined with feeling sick made him much less likely to listen and cooperate with Momma. The late afternoons/evenings were the roughest, but the past few days he seems to be feeling better and has had much smoother days.

In praying this week, I must confess that I got behind. But I did pray that he would develop more of the fruit of the Spirit in his life (peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control). I was also very convicted that I need to be praying these things for myself! By the evenings this week I was out of patience and struggling in many of these other areas. It was exhausting.

But, we're persevering and trying to cultivate good habits of attentiveness and obedience. It's a delicate balance of knowing he's a boy, and therefore will be very energetic and loud at times, but still drawing boundaries where appropriate. All the more I need prayers for wisdom as new challenges arise each day.

I've been very blessed by going through this book and meeting a couple ladies who also have a heart for their little boys. Thank you for facilitating Shonda!

Homemakers Challenge

And then there's the Homemaker's Challenge... I had a pretty productive week, although I am definitely behind in the book. 

I was particularly blessed by Tauna's post: Willing Hands. I'm a perfectionist. I want to do everything perfectly. I stress out about failing.  And  overall, I'm so inspired by looking at other blogs and seeing what other mothers are doing-- it's been a way of mentoring for me as I'm learning how to maintain my home and teach and disciple my children. Yet at the same time, I compare myself and judge myself for falling short. I need a new ideal. I don't know what that looks like yet, but I'm praying through it. 

So to celebrate the little successes this week...

 I managed to get dinner on the table 5 nights in a row! Yay! I struggle with menu planning a lot. I also washed my wood floors- something I've never done before. And I washed the insides of my windows. So, I'm happy with what I accomplished. I'm still learning to develop routines that work for me, so that's my goal right now. 

Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

k is for kangaroo and koala- books

We read several books last week as part of our "k is for kangaroo" and "k is for koala" week. I highlighted them in Sunday's Tot School post, but here's some more detailed reviews for other children's bibliophiles:

A Kangaroo's World by Emily Arnold
A Koala's World by Emily Arnold

These are part of a series on Australian animals. Each book traces the life of a baby kangaroo or koala during their its year. They spend a significant part of the year in their mother's pouches and then begin to explore the world on their own. These books are a little lengthy for toddlers- preschoolers and younger elementary students would get the most out of them. We did enjoy them, however. I read these books to Jonathan and Grace over lunchtime and sometimes, but not often, simplified the information on each page. Jonathan had particular fun pulling out the other animals in each story from his Land Down Under Toob.

Koala Lou by Mem Fox

This is a story about a little koala, Koala Lou, who is loved by everyone, especially her mommy. Her momma often tells her "Koala Lou, I DO love you!". But as their family grows, Koala Lou's mommy gets busier and Koala Lou longs to hear those words again. She trains for the Bush Olympics and plans to get her mother's attention and love (which she, of course, never lost in the first place). It's a sweet story that is ideal for children who have younger siblings at home. Jonathan enjoyed this one a lot.

Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? by John Butler

I'd heard of John Butler before on other blogs, but this was our first exposure to him. It's a sweet cuddly story meant for reading before bedtime. It asks children if they can imitate different actions that animals do- cuddle like a koala, leap like a frog, swing like a monkey. The soft illustrations are absolutely charming and it was a favorite that Jonathan requested repeated.

I Love You, Blue Kangaroo! by Emma Chichester Clark

This is the first in a series about a little girl who has a favorite lovie, "blue kangaroo". She brings blue kangaroo to bed with her every night and says "I Love You, Blue Kangaroo!" But as the girl grows up, she gets more stuffed animals and blue kangaroo starts to get worried that he'll be replaced. It explores familiar themes (jealousy, insecurity) for preschoolers. Lily isn't always the best example (such as in sharing) but overall the story is well worth reading and talking about with your little one. Jonathan keeps talking about "blue kangaroo" and we may have to check out more of this series!

K is for Kissing a Cool Kangaroo by Giles Andreae

This is a humorous alphabet book that leaves you and your little one with plenty to search and discover. Each page introduces the capital and lowercase letter and is accompanied by a detailed picture which includes animals and other items which begin with the featured letter. There are lots of things for your little one to discover in each picture and Jonathan had fun pointing out the items mentioned in each little tongue twister.

What do you do with a Kangaroo? by Mercer Mayer

This is a funny book about a spunky little girl who faces off with some bossy animals who want her things. It's fun and clever, but was a little bit lengthy for Jonathan. I'd recommend it for preschool and lower elementary. I think we'll retry when Jonathan is around that age.

We are sharing this post with these book blog carnivals.

Giveaway: Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches


Twice a year Homeschool Creations hosts a Curriculum Clean-Out event and we have a couple resources that we aren't currently using. Here is our second giveaway!

As a mom to 2 little ones, Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic is a refreshing book to read. Rachel Jankovic wrote this while a mother of three little ones and can certainly empathize with the daily struggles we moms have. This is a small collection (20 short chapters) of thoughts on mothering young children. Rachel is encouraging, but honest as she wrestles with the role of motherhood. I found this book incredible insightful and encouraging, and I would love to bless someone else with it. Check out the link above to peek inside the book and read all the glowing recommendations. You don't want to miss this one!

How to Enter: Simply leave a comment telling me what you like about the little years-- we all could use an encouraging perspective! Please include your email address so I can contact the winner. 

Extra Entries for:

  1. Subscribing to this blog via email or a feed reader. 
  2. Following on Google Friend Connect
  3. Following on Facebook
  4. Sharing this giveaway on Twitter
  5. Sharing this giveaway on Facebook
Leave me a comment for each extra entry letting me know that you did one of these things. Please include your email address. 

This giveaway will close on Saturday October 1 at 11:59PM CST. Winner will be chosen on Oct 2nd using This giveaway is open to US Residents Only (sorry!). I will post and email the winner. 

Good luck! 

Head on over to Homeschool Creations to find more great giveaways! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Curriculum Clean-Out: Giveaway #1-- Treasured Time with Your Toddler


Twice a year Homeschool Creations hosts a Curriculum Clean-Out event and we have a couple resources that we aren't currently using. Here is our first Giveaway: 

Treasured Time with Your Toddler is a wonderful resource for those of you who want to plan intentional activities with your toddler or preschooler. Each month has a particular theme. Each week has a theme which relates to the monthly theme. Even though the book says its for toddlers, some of the activities are fairly advanced and I would say that the activities could be used with children 2-4 years old. 

Here's how it would work this week. September's Theme is "Colorful and Shapely Treasures". This week's theme would be "Colors- Part Two". There are literally hundreds of activities for you to do with your toddler or preschooler. For each week Jan Brennan offers:

  • books to read
  • nursery rhymes to say
  • songs to sing
  • games to play
  • crafts to make
  • foods to prepare
  • explorations to take together

How to Enter: Simply leave a comment telling me why/how you could use this book. Please include your email address so I can contact the winner. 

Extra Entries for:

  1. Subscribing to this blog via email or a feed reader. 
  2. Following on Google Friend Connect
  3. Following on Facebook
  4. Sharing this giveaway on Twitter
  5. Sharing this giveaway on Facebook
Leave me a comment for each extra entry letting me know that you did one of these things. Please include your email address. 

This giveaway will close on Saturday October 1 at 11:59PM CST. Winner will be chosen on Oct 2nd using This giveaway is open to US Residents Only (sorry!). I will post and email the winner. 

Good luck! 

Head on over to Homeschool Creations to find more great giveaways! 

Kids in the Word: Joshua

Last week, we moved on from Moses and learned about Joshua. Jonathan wasn't familiar with the story of Joshua before this week, but he really liked learning about this biblical hero.


We read the stories about Joshua from Jonathan's toddler Bible, the Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. The stories of Joshua were covered in about five different stories, so we did one a day at the breakfast table.

We focused on two stories from the Joshua narrative (1) Israel Crossing the Jordan River and (2) the Walls of Jericho

Joshua Crosses the Jordan by Crystal Bowman

This is another book from the Beginner's Bible I Can Read! series. It's a higher reading level than most of the books we've been reading. It focuses primarily on the selection of Joshua as Israel's new leader, and Joshua leading the people across the Jordan River. Jonathan loved this book and carried it with him around the house.

Joshua: the Brave Leader by Carine MacKenzie

This particular series (Bible time) is a new one for us. It's meant for reading aloud to age 3+. the stories are a little longer than the easy readers, so I divided the book into two days. This particular book focuses mostly on the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho. I like that it's very faithful to the biblical narrative, and it also ties in some application points without being too preachy. For example, after telling about the selection of Joshua as the new leader of Israel and the promises God gave to Joshua, the book says "God is the same today and he promises to be with those who trust him". It looks to be a great series for preschool aged children. Jonathan liked this book as well, but not as much as the first book. He still would pull the book off the shelf and flip through it. He liked the pictures especially.


We built the walls of Jericho with our cardboard blocks. We marched around the blocks and then knocked them all down! I don't have pictures- sorry! We were too busy marching.  Both Jonathan and Grace enjoyed building with the blocks this week.


We learned the song "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho" and sung this with daddy several times this week.


We made the walls of Jericho. I cut out sandpaper "bricks" from fine-grade sandpaper.. Jonathan and daddy glued them onto paper:


We watched the Veggie Tales classic "Josh and the Big Wall", which is available for steaming on Netflix. Jonathan really enjoyed this movie and laughed at the silliness of it.


Charlotte Mason emphasized the importance of instilling good habits during early childhood. We recently bought the book A Child's Book of Character Building (both volumes). We're focusing on attentiveness which is defined as "listening with your ears, eyes, and heart". The verse is Proverbs 4:20-21. We've done a few exercises pertaining to this, which I may share in a future post.

Next up... Gideon! Have a great week!

This post is linked up to these linky parties.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Montessori Monday: Fall Sensory Bin/Sensory Bin Activities

Jonathan has really been enjoying playing with the sensory bins I've made recently. For our most recent sensory bin, I made a fall themed bin:

In it I used:

- brown aquarium rocks (from Walmart)
- silk leaves (bought last year from Target $1 section)
- red pompoms
- fake acorns, pinecones, gourds, apples (from Target $1 section)

Here are some things we've done with it:

Practiced spooning and transferring the aquarium rocks from one container to another (Jonathan is quite proficient at this).

Practiced dry pouring the aquarium rocks (Jonathan was more interested in this activity, but made a bit of a mess with it!)

Practiced spooning the larger objects and putting them into muffin tins

Worked on ABAB patterns with the acorns, apples, gourds and pinecones.

Jonathan really just wanted to line things up:

Sorted the leaves into piles based on their colors

Sorted the various objects:

Not only does it provide some fun sensorial play, but it's also great for practicing both practical life skills and basic math skills!

I'm linking this up to these lovely blogs!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tot School: k is for kangaroo and koala

Tot School
Jonathan is 32 Months

This week has gone much more smoothly, so we were able to do a little more "Tot School". We turned our focus to the letter "Kk" and learned about two Australian animals: the kangaroo and koala!

Bible & Character 

We also learned about Joshua this week and read several stories about the biblical hero. We also started focusing on different character traits/godly habits.  We recently bought this book which focuses on 12 different habits and how they are lived out in different settings. My plan is to do one habit a month, and supplement with different activities. So look for upcoming posts about these topics!


The heart of all of our learning adventures is reading. I've really resonated with the Charlotte Mason philosophy of surrounding children with "living books". So, each week we try to read a lot of picture books about our subject. It's meant to be a fun way to get them interested in what we're learning about.

This week, we read (favorites are marked with a *)




We did a little mini-geography lesson about Australia. We recently got a Hugg a Planet globe pillow and talked about where Australia was on the map. Both Jonathan and Grace really enjoy our soft globe:

It's great for cuddling!

I live here! (kind of)

We also used some free three-part Australian animal cards and matched up animals from our Safari Land Down Under Toob. Jonathan loves to play with his animals. Every time one would be mentioned in a story, he'd find that animal (dingo, cockatoo, platypus, etc.).


We made a kangaroo:

and a koala:

I cut out the animals, but Jonathan did the gluing and placing "all by myself".

We also did some coloring with Grace this week, along with a page from our Kumon Let's Color! Workbook. Jonathan is understanding that he needs to color inside the lines, but doesn't always have the fine motor control to do so:

Fine Motor Skills 

Jonathan loves puzzles lately too. He's so proud to tell me when he does a puzzle "all by myself!". We did several puzzles lately:

Doing a 12-Piece Melissa & Doug puzzle

Doing his 24 pc transportation floor puzzle

Sensory Play/Math 

We played with our fall sensory bin and tried to make ABAB patterns, along with other sorting/counting activities (look for a Montessori Monday post tomorrow with more extension ideas).

Scooping apples

A Gourd/Pinecone Pattern

So those are the reading and learning adventures we did this week. We are linking up to these fantastic blogs. Have a great weekend- thanks for stopping by!
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