Easy Hot Glued Felt Book

This was a whole lot of fun! Caleb has been really into matching dice with numbers, spelling his name, and working on letters. The one problem is how much paper we were going through on activities like the ones below, so I wanted to create something more permanent that could be done over and over with him instead.

I had seen felt books many times, but here’s a little secret… I can NOT sew. At all. I have tried, but it’s just not one of my skills. Give me a hot glue gun though, and I’ll do my best! So I ordered a pack of small felt squares off of amazon (it was something like 40 squares for $10, but I would buy two packs in the future because I ran though most of it entirely too fast, especially big colors like red and yellow), bought some velcro and hot glue from my local hardware store, and went at it. 1

I really liked the idea of him starting at the beginning of the book by spelling his name and dressing himself up. I used a cookie cutter to get the pieces of the body and clothing. A little velcro on each piece, a sharpie face, and he was good to go.2

This was Caleb’s favorite page! He loved counting the dots to match with the numbers. Caleb is currently (haha, yeah it’s been at least a year) obsessed with dice, so this one was a big win. 3

Puzzles! Caleb’s been super into puzzles, and he loves trains, so I figured this would be a great activity for him. It’s also interesting with the circles to help him with spatial reasoning. Learning the difference between big, medium, and small works really well with shapes that are the same. 4

And finally, the alphabet. Caleb loves letters. He really wants to read, and he knows all of his letters, and we’re working on letter sounds. But, for some reason, he just has a real love for the individual letters. So I made him a matching game so he could match lower case to upper case letters. He loves it, and we can play with it by taking turns as well.

 

I hope you guys get ideas from this, and if you make anything like this or have ideas that I could make for Caleb (or Baby Jace!) please send them my way!

Thank you for reading… YOU ARE LOVED!

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Toddler Science: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Best. Thing. Ever.

A plate of baking soda (I used about a quarter box) and four little containers of vinegar mixed with food dye. I gave Caleb an eye dropper, and he went crazy. He mixed colors, watched the reactions, saw how the parts that had already reacted didn’t react again, and then at the end, I let him dump it on our (messy) table and play in it. Not only did he enjoy the science part of it, and seeing what would happen (as well as talking about the colors and testing his own questions/hypothesis), but the feeling was almost like a sandy mud so tactile wise it was a great sensory activity. I don’t have a lot more to say, but I hope you guys try this super easy activity and enjoy how clean this mixture will also make whichever surface you use this on!

YOU ARE LOVED

Allergy Free Gingerbread House

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Caleb is SO excited for Christmas. SO EXCITED. All he talks about is Santa, Christmas, Snow, and everything that goes along with it all. Today I thought I’d love to make a Gingerbread House with him. He’s been very into houses (He saw the American Girl’s new doll house and now wants every house he sees), and I figured it would be a good way to combine his interests.

However, I had a list of reasons we couldn’t actually make a gingerbread house today. We don’t have any gingerbread on hand/a kit (nor the money to buy one). Now, we could always make our own… but gosh I hate the feeling of ginger bread dough. I love baking, I love making things from scratch, but I hate the feeling of that dough so much. I just can’t bring myself to make it from scratch anymore. Plus, Caleb and I have both been dealing with a lot of allergies and I didn’t want to jinx our progress by putting some sugar (or corn syrup, aka the thing I think we’ve been reacting to) into our bodies.

So I had to get creative. I looked up and saw a bag hanging from our window. Yeah, I know that’s weird, but it’s up there to be out of reach. The bag contained pompoms, and this idea popped into my head. I grabbed some cardboard and cut out a house pattern. Hot glued it together, and called Caleb in. He was so excited to make a house. I had him pick each pompom and where it would go, then I hot glued it. He asked for a door, and boom we had a “gingerbread” house that he could actually play with.

Once he got it down and was playing with it, he kept saying, “I’m so excited!” It’s been an hour now and he is STILL playing with the house. Nothing better than DIYing a toy your kid really likes/wanted.

Happy Holidays!
You are Loved!

Moonday! (This year in homeschool preschool…)

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Last school year I was a little obsessed with educating my child. I felt like I needed to spend every moment of his life educating him, but not always on the important things. I was working so hard to “make” him learn his letters, colors, etc… Yeah, I was terrible. Totally not age appropriate first of all, and planning things for him to learn truly bored him. He’d be interested in something else, so the things I wanted to teach him… well he couldn’t stay focused, and got very frustrated with me, which makes total sense. This year, I wiped that crazy board clean and decided to 100% follow his lead.

The first thing I decided to do was set up a “classroom” so that he would have a place to go to focus, and we could still do normal preschool activities like go over the calendar, read books, sit for puzzles, and go over our letters and numbers. These aren’t going to be forced things, but they are available, and if he chooses to do them himself, great! He often does. He loves puzzles, he loves matching games, and he is actually really interested in putting letters together and finding different letters out of a set. Part of the problem last year was that our schedule was always set, I would force him through the activities, and we would be in the living room or kitchen which was set up for other things as well. This year he will have a learning sanctuary that is his choice. It’s also a good way to keep all of his craft supplies, sensory buckets, and blocks in one place.

Now the next thing I did was realize that he had to already be interested in what I wanted to teach, so I decided that every Saturday we’d talk about the things he likes. Trees, weather, space, the ocean, firemen… whatever it may be, is what we will focus. Which leads me to…

Moonday! Last week Caleb let me know that he thought the moon was really awesome. I turned that into a whole week of learning about the solar system, but all he really wanted to learn about/play about was the moon and stars, which is completely understandable since he can actually see and somewhat understand them. At the daycare I work at, I did Moonday (Monday) with all of them, and want to share how it went with you all.

We started when I got there learning about gravity and the difference between gravity on Earth and the moon. We did this in a very simple way. I brought a bunch of Styrofoam balls and asked the kids to each grab a regular rock. We talked about how those rocks, Earth rocks, were heavy. Then I explained that on the Moon they would feel more like the Styrofoam balls and be very light. We played “moon rock toss” and tried to get the balls into a bucket.

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Next was snack time! Let me just add, this was delicious, and it’s my new favorite snack… We started with a rice cake base, smeared with cream cheese, layered with banana pennies and some little pieces of kix. One of our kiddos couldn’t have the cheese, so we used sun butter on her’s instead of the cream cheese, but it still looked really great.

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Then, I had each of the kiddos make their own telescope. I had prepped this activity so that the kids would each have a different color telescope, and wouldn’t have to spend the time painting. Instead they just each got a sticker sheet of stars to decorate the way they would like to.

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From there we went over to the rug and had a blast with this sensory bucket I set up for them. First of all, the bucket itself has a spot for each of the kids to set their wrist so they aren’t fighting for a spot or pushing one another, which I thought was great and a super bonus. Then I stuck on some star stickers, poured two bags of black beans in, added some of the white beans, about 15 glow in the dark stars, clear stones (because space is cold and full of ice!), and these awesome astronaut, ufo, spaceships, and jet erasers that I got at the Dollar Tree. Each child was assigned a different thing to find, and then they were able to just explore freely. They were so wonderfully focused on this bucket, it was a great time to call them over one by one for the big craft of the day…

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These were so much fun, and showed the personality of all of the kiddos. Just looking at them the other teacher and I knew exactly who made what. First each kiddo painted the back ground with their chosen combo of blue and purple. One little girl’s favorite color is blue, and only used blue. Caleb loved mixing colors, so used more purple than the others, because he likes swirling the two paints together. Then they each picked a glitter to sprinkle over the paint before it dried. After it all was dry, they got to glue on five of the glow in the dark stars and a cardboard moon however they wanted. I had painted the moons in an attempt to save time. We have such a limited amount of time the kids can stay sitting, that sometimes we just can’t let them do every part of a craft alone, sadly. Lastly I trimmed up to edges, and these lovely crafts were finished!

Along with these activities we used the sunlight to show how the moon rotates to make different phases, goes around the sun, and the size with little models of the Earth and moon I painted. We sang songs, pretended to be astronauts, and learned the sign for moon and stars. It was an excellent day of learning, play, and creativity, and it was all influenced by Caleb’s love for the moon and stars.

Trust your kids. They will learn if we follow their lead. I’m so incredibly sure of that. You can learn the alphabet during fun activities, you can help them learn their name using sensory boards, themed puzzles, and songs… Children learn through play. When you take the play away is when the learning stops. Trust your kids.

You Are Loved!

Caleb’s Imagination

Caleb Paw Patrol Name

^^^ Graphic I Made for Caleb to Print and Pin to His Bedroom Door^^^

Imagination is an incredible thing. One of my greatest joys is watching Caleb play pretend. Our living room is over run by a play house, tool bench, and wonderful wooden kitchen. I wanted to be sure that he could explore those interests in full. He’ll make us lots of play food, build things on his fancy tool bench, and he “goes home” to his play house many times a day. I adore watching this, and playing along when he wants me to.

Another area of pretend play that he’s been working on lately involves his toys. It all started with Po the Polar Bear. He received him as a gift around Thanksgiving from a kind man that lives near his preschool. That bear is his best friend, and they have the most intricate conversations. Occasionally they will be in a  “fight” and Caleb won’t want to talk to or be around him. Then we have to mediate their fight. We’ll tell Po to apologize, and tell Caleb that Po still loves him, and then Caleb apologizes and they are back to being friends again.

Of course though, with his new obsession with Paw Patrol, he’s begun putting his Paw Patrol toys into situations, and it’s just too dang adorable. I wanted to share one exchange from him that had me totally in stitches last night.

Caleb had Marshall stuck inside of his boot calling for help, and his plush Chase was heading off to rescue him. Chase said, “Ryder need us!” He was loud, enthusiastic, and oh so cute. Chase finished saving him and he yelled, “We did it! Yay!!!” Then he walked off with them for another “rescue.” I love this child so dang much. His innocence is beautiful, and fills me with joy.

 

DIY Educational Book Shelf!

Quite a while ago I bought this book shelf for Caleb. It was a dingy white with partially ripped flowers all over it. I was so sure that I’d be able to get some paint and work my magic on it… six months later, it was still just sitting around in it’s original state. This morning specifically we were just using it as a foot rest in the living room.

I looked up at this super cute snowman hand print project we did yesterday, and it just came to me. I grabbed the book shelf and brought it out to the table for a scrub down. Once it was clean, I put a quick layer of yellow paint over the whole thing. Then I traced Caleb’s hand, and made two of each rainbow color. Next I painted another layer of yellow paint, and placed the hand cut outs where I wanted him.

A few hours later I went back to it with a sharpie. The top hands spell out Caleb’s name, and each finger (as well as the purple heart) have the alphabet on them, and then the side hands have their color written on them with 1-15 written on the fingers. I’m debating on adding more, like maybe some shapes on top? I’m quite pleased with how it came out so far though. The last step, once I’m totally sure, is to modge podge the whole thing so that Caleb can’t rip the hands off, because that’s totally something he would do.

Either way, this was a wicked easy project, and has a lot of uses! Alphabet, spelling his name, counting, practicing colors, and holding some of his wonderful books inside make it totally worth it! What do y’all think?

Respect Begets Respect

I strongly believe that the word respect has two very different meanings. Some people use the word in the context of treating others compassionately, or as they would like to be treated no matter what their sexual orientation, gender, race, or economic status is. The other definition, one that is truly cruel, is that some people deserve to be treated better than others, and if they aren’t treated that way, they will then in turn not treat others as even human.

I refuse to let my son grow up believing the second. How will I do that? By respecting him. I will show him what respect truly looks like, because I don’t want him growing up feeling like he is ever worth less than the next person.

In our home, respect is simple. Before anyone does anything, we think of how it will effect someone else. We show a little compassion, and with it comes respect. Manners also play a big part in how we treat one another. If Caleb says please, the chances of us doing something for him go up. We never had to teach him to say please, but instead from day one when we wanted something from him we would say please and thank you as well. His fourth word, was really two words, and was “thank you.” That says a lot.

We also respect his autonomy. He’s still working on that with us, but I have great faith that by us giving it to him, he will in turn give it to us. If he doesn’t want hugs or kisses, we don’t force them. He doesn’t need to sit next to us if he doesn’t want to. We ask, or in important and much needed cases explain why we have to, before diaper changes. Giving him that respect, we’re teaching him that he has control over his own body. In the future that can only aid him when it comes time for romance, or the unfortunate sexual attack. Teaching him to respect his own body as well as others starts from infancy.

Another area we work hard on to show respect is during discipline. We try as hard as possible not to yell, and we do not hit. You can’t teach a child not to do these things by turning around and doing them. Children learn by example. Instead, as we would with any adult, if Caleb has done something wrong we pull him to the side, remove him from the area he’s misbehaving in, and explain what he’s doing wrong. We do not shout, we do not hit, but instead we change the circumstance and ability to get into trouble. Occasionally there will be a tantrum. We pick him up and give him a hug until he’s able to calm himself down and talk about why he can’t do what he’s been doing. Sometimes he doesn’t want that talk, so we let him lay on the ground or sit in a chair until he calms himself. The beauty of it all, is that it works. He learns, not because he’s afraid of us, but because we took the time to explain. We don’t judge him as bad because he’s doing something we don’t like. Instead, we take the time to teach him what to do instead. These fits or moments in general are so rare, because of the mutual respect we have for each other.

Respect means that every person (big or small, black or white, poor or rich) deserves to be treated the same way we would like to be treated. Not only is it respectful, but the only way to be truly ethical.

Colors and Counting: Pompom Edition!

Counting Color Pompoms

The Dollar Tree is this magical place where home-schoolers and parents go to buy ridiculous quantities of craft supplies, and educational aids. On one memorable trip I walked by bags of 80 pompoms. I may or may not have grabbed five bags… 400 pompoms seems reasonable right? Right?

Now the only question was what to do with these pompoms? Thus the colors, counting, and pompoms game was created! Super simple prep. I took six Styrofoam plates, drew bubble numbers with corresponding circles (aka 2 circles on the plate with the 2, 3 circles on the plate with the 3, etc…), and colored the circles on each plate with a color of pompom. I laid a platter with the pompoms in the middle of the living-room, surrounded by the plates, and Caleb jumped right in. Watching him use his fine motor skills to place the correct color of each pompom on its proper circle was so much fun. We named each color as he put it down, and talked about adding easy numbers.

I totally recommend this activity any time. You could put Velcro on the plates and pompoms so they don’t move around so much.Do as many plates as you want, multiple colors, and any size pompoms. There are so many great options and it’s a very low cost activity with lots of “educational areas” being covered. Enjoy!

Monkey See, Monkey Do/A Lesson on Trust

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I debated on the title of this for a while. My child is not a monkey, I am not a monkey, but the saying is fitting all the same. We went camping a few weekends ago and it was a great learning experience for Caleb and I. I kept catching him doing things I’d expect from a child a lot older than nineteen months old. These were things that if I trusted him less, if I was assuming he COULDN’T do it, wouldn’t have happened and would have been incredibly hypocritical. Children are smart and capable. Anything an adult can do, chances are pretty good that the child can as well. Now I’m not saying he can fix a bike on his own. I’m just saying, he can help and he can try. He can understand that tools go ‘here’ when things need fixing.

The night before, he saw people loading fire wood into the pit. The next morning, he went over, lifted all of those heavy logs, and placed them in the pit. I was ready to jump on it and take the wood away before his poor toes got squished. Instead I stood back and let him complete the task he was so determined to finish. After he dropped each log into the pit we would clap for him and he would absolutely beam.

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My uncle had another bike propped up on the table to fix it. He was tightening a bold and had Caleb’s complete attention. Caleb reached up onto the table, grabbed a couple of wrenches, and went to work on this other bike. He knew that was where the wrench went and it would make the bike, “All Better.” He learned about the idea of fixing things by watching an adult and took it upon himself to do the same.

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Before bed he spilled a little bit of water on the floor. Now, I kid you not. He grabbed the mop, as he’s seen his Mimi and I do again and again, and mopped up his mess. Now this was, at the time, a nineteen month old toddler. He knows that when something spills, it needs to be cleaned up. He knew that the way to clean the floor is with a mop because he’d seen us do it. He took the responsibility upon himself, of course without being asked, to mop the mess he made.

Be a good example for your children. Trust that they will follow it. If they see violence, they will be violent. If they see you fighting or yelling all the time, that’s what they will do. If they see you using gentle hands, that’s what they will reflect. Children are sponges. They pick up on everything they see. So, what do you want them to reflect?

Mixing Colors!

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When Caleb was 6 months I first posted about this edible finger paint I like to make for him. The other day we were feeling a bit creative (aka Caleb was trying to draw on everything in site) so I pulled out the paint, stripped him down (well, I threw this pair of boxers my nana gave him over his diaper so it wouldn’t get dirty), and plopped him into the high chair. I had some paperwork to fill out so while he was painting, I let him have at it so I could get my work done. He started out like any other day, pushing the paint around with his fingers and spoon. Then my curious little boy decided it would be so much more fun to toss the paper away and dump the paint right onto the tray to play in. This, was the first step to a great educational activity.

Mixing Colors

He started to mix the colors together so I put the paperwork aside and we talked. First we named the three main colors. Red, Blue, and Yellow. I asked him to mix together the blue and yellow. Once he saw the green, he shocked me by pointing out the fact that it was, indeed, green. He wouldn’t say the other colors but he would point to the correct one when asked. We mixed up orange and purple as well.

This simple activity, that didn’t take more than a few moments to transition into, was so much fun for the both of us. I could have just pointed to colors in a book or shown him a video. Instead though, he was able to see in front of his own eyes, using his own hands, how mixing two colors would create something completely new. I asked him today, totally to show off, not going to lie, what blue and yellow make. He said green. That’s so awesome to me.

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We made a little keepsake for this cool activity.

So now just because I can’t resist, here’s some of the paintings he ended up making after our little color mixing lesson. They were all created by him smacking (booming) the paint and then smacking the paper.

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