Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Have y'all heard of this stuff? I had never played with it before and it was certainly new to Ellie. A sweet lady from church gifted to her, knowing that we are getting lots of presents for the new baby and that she might need a special present of her own. Some people are so thoughtful!

Anyway, I've been letting her play with it at the end of our school time. It doesn't crumble into tiny pieces and I can store it all in one large gallon size ziploc bag. Of course she had to make a castle for her princesses :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Preschool Journal

As I was putting together my post for last week's preschool activities, I realized that I haven't shared Ellie's journal with y'all. It is nothing fancy - just a composition notebook that I decorated with her name. I glued some cardstock to the front and then applied Mod Podge to the entire cover (a couple coats, drying in between).

Most all educators and early childhood specialists agree that the most important teaching tool for children is reading. We can do pre-writing practice and learn about numbers but it is critical that we read, read, read! Ellie loves to be read to and to keep it exciting, I look for books at the library that I think she will enjoy and circulate them into our reading schedule with some of our "regulars" like Where, Oh Where is Huggle Buggle Bear? and Corre Perro, Corre!

Journaling is a great way to expand on reading and introduce toddlers to writing. One of the first books we read after I introduced Ellie's journal was Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. After reading the story, I had Ellie draw something she remembered from the story. I try to date each entry and put the book or theme that corresponds with her picture.

Since beginning the journal, Ellie has learned how to write most of her letters. We will start incorporating some letter practice in here too but, obviously, a journal can be adapted to any age.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Letter F

In my last post, I shared one day of our letter F week about Fish. I'm finally getting around to sharing the other activities from last week.

All of the themes I used (except fish) came from Preschool Alphabet.

Fingers and Feel:

  • We read Piggies by Audrey and Don Wood. 
  • Preschool Alphabet suggested painting a handprint but apartment life has been a little too chaotic for that (I'll spare you the details). Instead, I traced Ellie's hands and let her add pink fingerprints to the tip of each finger to look like the piggies from the story. Then, she used a pink crayon to draw faces and ears on all the pigs. 

  • Instead of making a touch and feel book, we just made a single picture with a few items I was able to scramble to find around the house. Not very impressive, I know! But it was fun to see how Ellie described the different items and record her response. It also made me aware that she isn't familiar with a lot of adjectives to describe how objects feel and that is something I will focus more on in this fall. 

Fire Safety:
  • We were fortunate to go to our local Public Safety Expo several weeks ago. We spent the entire week talking about safety (primarily related to cars and traffic). At the expo, we got all kinds of great freebies that I filed away for different lessons and review on safety. I pulled out the fire safety diagrams and coloring books for Ellie to work on this day. 
  • After discussing fire safety, I made sure to ask Ellie important questions to ensure she understands what to do in a fire emergency. We practiced "Stop, drop, (cover your face) and roll!" several times. Of course when I was reviewing with her and asked, "What should you do if your clothes are on fire?" She responded, "I say, 'Excuse me ma'am, my dress is on fire!" Sigh. At least she remembers her manners. 

  • We talked about the different sounds animals make and tried to guess the animals on this farm animals quiz. Hannah Rose thought this part was so funny! Then we read farm related books. 
  • After the story, I asked Ellie questions to help her make connections to our farm theme i.e. self, family, community and the world. We talked about how we recently visited a farm for a friend's birthday party. Ellie actually got to milk a cow! I explained how that milk can then be sold at our grocery store and the same with the chicken's eggs. 
  • We colored some pictures of farm animals. I had also wanted to make a grass collage but we didn't have time.
  • To review shapes, I got out some yarn and explained how the yarn we buy at the store comes from sheep's wool all around the world (another connection). I had her feel it and then cut off about a yard long piece and tied the ends together. We laid it out on the floor and made different shapes with it. It was fun to show her how a circle can be stretched into an oval and, similarly, a square to a rectangle. 
I had also planned to use "Fall" as a theme this week but it was rainy and the leaves haven't changed colors. I think we'll save that for a little later this year so that we can incorporate more science application as we compare the leaves and their colors. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rainbow Fish

Does anyone else remember the book The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister? I have always loved that story! I know I have been posting a lot of letter of the week summaries and I am just about caught up. This past week we worked on the letter F and I was so excited to implement "F is for fish" as one of our themes for the sole purpose of reading this book! I love The Rainbow Fish and was rather sentimental to have the opportunity to share it with Ellie.

To begin, we worked on the fish counting printable from Confessions of a Homeschooler. Next, I asked her some of the pre-reading discussion questions found in this devotional. After reading the story, we discussed the devotional post-reading questions and read the Bible account from Mark 9:33-35 about Jesus' disciples arguing about who was the greatest. There are two devotionals in that link and we used the second for our Family Bible Time later that evening. It was fun to read the book again and discuss another valuable lesson about true happiness and sharing.

For her craft project, I had Ellie paint a picture using the colors of Rainbow fish (blue, green and purple). After her picture dried, I cut out a fish pattern and had her glue on the last remaining shimmering scale that Rainbow Fish had (aluminum foil). I think we might hang him in her room. I got this idea from A to Z Teacher Stuff - they have several great ideas for this book.

Step 1

Step 2

After nap, I took the girls on a surprise trip to Walmart and we bought two goldfish to bring home! Ellie is loving the goldfish...possibly a little too much. I'm still having to explain to her that she cannot touch them and play with their water. She loves feeding them and watching them swim around. She named one Rainbow Fish and the other Nemo.

I also was going to buy her a small bag of Goldfish crackers as a special snack but she wanted mini M&M's instead. How is a pregnant lady who is craving chocolate supposed to argue with that? M&M's it is.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

E is for Ellie

The highlight of our letter E week was our "E is for Ellie" day.

  • We worked on spelling Ellie's name on a white erase board.
  • Created our own alphabet magnet puzzle 
  • For the craft, I taped off a capital E and let Ellie paint a picture. When it dried, I removed the tape to display her E painting. Our watercolors were a little weak but you can see a better example over at Blissfully Domestic
  • For our story, I read one of Ellie's favorite books Where, Oh Where is Huggle Buggle Bear? by Katherine Sully. I picked this one not only because it is one of her favorites (and mine too!) but also because one of the characters in the story is an elephant named Ellie Nellie. I had her identify the name Ellie on the pages it was written. 
  • For our Spanish activity, we practiced introductions using "Me llamo _____."  To allow for lots of repetitions, I got out her toy princesses for us to play with in Spanish. I role played a few dialogues with the prince and princesses and soon Ellie was ready to join in!
Here is an example of the simple dialogue:
Prince: Hola. Me llamo Prince Charming. Como te llamas?Princess: Me llamo ____. (Ariel, Snow White, get the idea!)Prince: Mucho gusto. 
Ellie was hesitant to respond in Spanish and I didn't force her to. It is very normal for early language learners to respond in their first language even when being questioned in a different language. It is a natural part of language acquisition and I have to remind myself of that. It sure is funny that I know what all the research on language development says from past research I have done, but yet I still find myself expecting my own child to instantly be fluent. Language learning can be a slow process and the only way to "speed it up" is to incorporate more of the target language. Ellie could be immersed more in Spanish if we only used Spanish in our daily conversations, music, stories, etc. Is anyone else out there trying to teach their toddler a second language? How is it going? How do you consistently use the second language with him or her?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Letter D

As this pregnancy comes to an end, our school time is getting a little less extensive. Translation: This should be a short post.
  • I went through Preschool Alphabet's archives for the letter D to decide which themes and activities to use, like "D is for Dog.
  • I also used the prewriting practice and other dinosaur printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler
  • I love this Five Little Ducks printable from PickleBums. We also listened to this bilingual song.
  • Ellie decorated her letter D with dots from a paint chip card. (I have seen paint chip cards used for all kinds of fun crafts on Pinterest. However, I do not approve of going to a paint store and snagging paint chip samples for crafts - it abuses a great service that paint suppliers provide. Anyway, my point is use what you have on hand. I happened to keep all my paint chip samples from our house building process and figured I might as well put them to use.) 

Playdough Fun!

Playdough is not only a fun activity for toddlers but it also beneficial in developing their motor skills. I made several colors of play dough for Ellie using this recipe from Art Nest. I may just be out of the loop but I only recently discovered playdough mats. I found an entire packet that you can download over at Planet of the Apels. Eventually I need to have them laminated but for now I just stuck them in plastic page protectors.


Preparing a cherry pie
Cooking eggs in a frying pan

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Strawberry Birthday Brunch

I'm finally getting around to sharing pictures from Hannah Rose's first birthday! I used a lot of leftover decorations from Ellie's Fairy Party. I did not have a clue what kind of theme I wanted to use for her party but when I found matching strawberry dresses for the girls at Target (for less than $4 each), I planned the party around them :) The dresses aren't a traditional red/green strawberry but are more pink and aqua - which worked out well since those were the two main colors I used for Ellie's party. I invited only a few guests that we consider our "family away from family." This was a Saturday morning affair so we made it a brunch - but more on the food shortly. First, here are the pictures!

Tablecloth tutorial here

Birthday Banner Tutorial here

The girls in their matching dresses. No one wanted to cooperate for a picture. Can you tell?

Daddy and the birthday girl

The birthday girl did not appreciate all the picture taking.
More decorations...

The weather cooperated so we were able to eat outside.
Straws and napkins were leftover from Ellie's party. You can order the straws here.
The napkins and caddy are from Target.

To display pictures, I covered an old cork board with fabric.
Then I took plain, plastic push pins (thumbtacks?) and spray painted them.
If you stick them in a piece of styrofoam or cardboard, it is very easy to paint them quickly!

A good friend supplied the flowers from her garden.  Love!

For brunch, I served two types of breakfast casseroles and Belgian waffles. To fit in with our strawberry theme, I included a homemade strawberry syrup as one of the many choices on our toppings bar.

For party favors, each family received a strawberry basket with a miniature strawberry plant and pink soap wrapped up in pink tissue paper and tied with my favorite cotton candy pink baker's twine. No picture can be found, sorry!

What kind of party are you hosting for your kids? I need some ideas for the coming year!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fishers of Men

This post is months overdue as the pictures were taken back in February after my blogging break began. I thought they were worth pulling out of the archives though.

While teaching the 2's and 3's class at church, I tried to incorporate some fun activities to keep them engaged and to help them make a connection to our lesson at hand. Our lesson this day was on being fishers of men.

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 
Matthew 4:18-20

Afterward, I gave them each a plate with goldfish and pretzel sticks (fishing rods) and cream cheese (a.k.a. bait). I saw this idea a couple years ago in my Parents magazine. The kids had so much fun dipping their fishing poles into the bait and then catching fish. Ellie was more than excited to eat her goldfish so I couldn't get a great picture of any of the fish she "caught." This would make a great activity for your Family Bible Time too.

If you do this for a Bible class, I would suggest portioning out the cream cheese beforehand to save time. I brought a plate with dollops of cream cheese ready to be placed on each child's plate. If I did this again, I would look for some blue paper plates to look more like water. Either way, the kids will enjoy it. To keep the parents involved, I snapped a picture of each child showing the fish they caught and texted/emailed it to their mom. I know I love pictures that give me a glimpse of what my child has been doing in class and it helps us discuss their Bible lesson more when we get home.

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Journal Accomplishment

I really enjoy journaling but I am really bad at it. By that I mean I never actually write in it. For instance, my January 1, 2011 entry is immediately followed by my January 1, 2012 entry (new year's resolutions and goals). But when I do write,  I enjoy it in a therapeutic kind of way. There is something so special about the written word. Unfortunately, my perfectionist tendencies have always kept me from writing anything on the first few pages of a journal. A first entry always feels cheesy to me and I just can't bear "messing up" my journal on the first page. Today, I combatted my fears and wrote on that first journal page and I'm okay with my handwriting being less than perfect and my spelling error too ;-)

Maybe you will be encouraged to write down your thoughts today. Recently,  Lil Blue Boo posted a journaling series on her blog. I haven't been taking part in it but it sure looks like a lot of fun if you are more consistent with your journaling ;-)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Letter C

Ellie is doing a letter of the week curriculum for preschool. I started earlier in the summer so that we would have a head start before baby brother arrives. Here are some of our activities from our letter C week. The themes and additional activities used can be found at Preschool Alphabet's blog. I did skip the "C is for Cheerio" theme because we are focusing on the hard "c" sound.

  • We talked about how clouds look and I made this shaving cream sensory bag. We imagined this must be what clouds feel like! (I also made one of these using blue hair gel, glitter and glass gems for Hannah Rose to play with. I think Ellie enjoyed the sensory bags even more than her sister.)
  • After reading Eric Carle's Little Cloud, Ellie used a white dry erase crayon on her black board to draw clouds. She also drew with a white crayon on white paper. I gave her blue paint and she painted over her clouds to make them appear. So much fun! 


  • Making Learning Fun has highway alphabet cards and I printed the letters A, B and C. Ellie enjoyed driving her race car over the letter streets. I also printed the various shape "streets" and we use them to practice and review shapes on the days I don't incorporate a workbook page practicing shapes. 
  • We read the Spanish version of Dr. Seuss' Go Dog, Go! (Corre Perro, Corre!). This is Ellie's favorite book to be read in Spanish. It is great for practicing command words and reviewing colors and sizes. We talked about how in Spanish, there are many words for car but two of them also start with the letter C - coche and carro. (This book only loosely      relates to the theme of cars because the dogs in the story are often  driving in their cars.) 
  • I described a drive-in movie to Ellie and then let her attend her own private drive-in. Her car was an old diaper box and the movie was most likely Rapunzel. You can find a tutorial for this activity here
  • After reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, we listened to author Laura Numeroff read it online at Barnes and Noble Storytime.
I would also recommend finding a good way to save your child's artwork. I keep a file folder with Ellie's projects but, obviously, I can't keep them all. Plus, some of them won't last long before the Fruit Loops come unglued...or sister eats them ;-) I'm using an iphone app called Artkive to save Ellie's work. Here is a screenshot to give you an idea of how it looks in case you are interested:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Letter B

Our second week of homeschool focused on the letter B. Most of our themes and activities came from Preschool Alphabet. We only added a few activities and mostly these were ways to incorporate Spanish into our lessons.


  • I reenacted the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears in Spanish using my flannelboard and the story characters that I already had on hand. Since it was in Spanish, I stopped along the way to ask questions to ensure comprehension. Her responses were in English unless I gave her specific choices like  ¿Es grande o pequeña? This was a great story for teaching the concepts and Spanish words for small, medium and large. After telling the story twice, per Ellie's request, I had her retell it using the flannelboard characters. She had so much fun - y'all, flannelboards are really under appreciated! Next we watched this Spanish video of the story

  • We read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle. Well, actually we read the Spanish version - Oso Pardo, Oso Pardo  ¿qué ves ahí?  The Spanish version has a great rhythm to it and I think it more catchy than the original. Ellie has enjoyed it since she was a little baby! I laminated pictures of all the different animals from the book and had her try to guess which one was next by repeating the name and color of the animal in Spanish. After the story, I placed laminated construction paper of various colors on the floor and had her hop from color to color as I named it in Spanish. She enjoyed this game so much that we played it multiple times over the week. I also made a clank can to go along with the story using the printable and tutorial over at Making Learning Fun. The girls got a lesson in sharing and taking turns since the clank can was so popular! Hannah Rose enjoyed the clanking noise and the coins (a.k.a. juice can lids!) were just the right size for her. Some of you may remember that I have been saving juice lids for awhile (see this post...which coincidentally also shows a pencil holder that has now evolved into the clank clan below. Ha!). I was able to make four different sets of clank coins for future stories with all that I have saved. 


  • Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle in Spanish (La Oruga Muy Hambrienta). I, again, used cut out pictures from the story and let Ellie help act out the story as we read. We have a clank clan for this story too! 
  • I pulled out my stash of miscellaneous buttons and had Ellie sort them in the egg carton color box I made after seeing this idea at Create Studio
  • Using a letter B printout, I let Ellie glue buttons in the shape of the letter B. 

  • Ellie started ballet over the summer and loves it. I knew this would make for a fun theme. We completed some of the prewriting practice and the graphing game available in the Ballerina Preschool Pack by 1+1+1=1. 
  • Read Angelina Ballerina and dressed up like Angelina. I made her ears from pink and brown felt and a stretchy headband. We were even able to get Hannah Rose to dress up...but she didn't cooperate for a picture :)
  • I printed an Angelina coloring page for Ellie but now I wish I would have also used this website - lots of interactive games and activities for any Angelina Ballerina fans. 
  • Each week I try to incorporate some time for Ellie to "practice" her ballet from class. I like to play this music and let her dance around the room. 

That sums up the letter B! On a side note, Ellie has insisted on wearing her panda bear ears ever since we read Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She refers to herself as "Baby Bear".