Top Ten Games For Preschoolers

top 10 games

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, crafting supplies or kits, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

Here are 10 of my favorite games for preschoolers. Some of these games the kids in my preschool classroom enjoyed playing, some my own kids play, and some I have received for review in the past years.

 Memory 

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Elefun Snackin’ Safari

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Candy Land

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Garanimals Paw Print Game

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Fruitominoes

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Raccoon Rumpus

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Don’t Break The Ice

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Go Fish

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Cluck N’ Chuck

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The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

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Here are more favorite games and puzzles from other bloggers:

Our Favorite Games & Puzzles {Top Ten Holiday Lists} from Something 2 Offer

Top 10 Games & Puzzles for 2-3 Year Olds from Stir the Wonder

Top 10 Lists: Puzzles for under 3 year olds from Powerful Mothering

Games Recommendations for Brainy Kids from Afterschool for Smarty Paints

Top 10 Games and Puzzles on Our Shelf from Creative World of Varya

Top 10 Board Games and Puzzles for Preschoolers from P is for Preschooler

Top 10 Preschool Board Games from Little Bins for Little Hands

Top 10 Games for Preschoolers from Makeovers & Motherhood

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Top 10 Books For Preschoolers

books for preschoolers

I’m  excited to be joining in with a great group of bloggers for a special Top Ten Holiday Gift Ideas series over the next 6 weeks. Please join us as we share our favorite books, games, building toys, pretend play toys, crafting supplies or kits, and stocking stuffers! Each participating blog will create their own unique list each week for each of the categories so be sure to stop by each of the links at the bottom of this post.

This week we are talking books. Having taught preschool I have hundreds of preschool books and I’m sharing my favorites with you all! These are good for the older 4s.

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Here are favorite book lists from other bloggers:

Thaleia Maher from Something 2 Offer: Books for all Ages

 Nicolette Roux from Powerful Mothering: Books for under 3 year olds

Sarah McClelland from Little Bins for Little Hands: Picture Books

Emma Craig from P is for Preschooler: Books for Preschoolers

Samantha Soper-Caetano from Stir the Wonder: Books for Toddler Boys

 Natalie Figge from Afterschool for Smarty Pants: Books for Advanced Bookworms

Alisha Carlson from Makeovers & Motherhood: Holiday Books

Varya Sanina-Garmroud from Creative World of Varya: Books for Non-English Speakers

What are your favorite books for children? I’d love to check them out!

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10 Fall Sensory Tables For Kids

fall sensory tables

I love sensory tables. It could be the preschool teacher in me or the fact that my children, who have sensory processing issues, enjoy playing in the table for long periods of time. I’m already thinking of Autumn themed tables so I wanted to share mine with you and 9 others I found online:

After this picture was taken I also added pinecones, fake apples, and cups/scoops

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Check out this corn cob filled table from Reggio Inspired

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Trigger the sense of smell in your sensory bin by using the scents of Fall like Fantastic Fun & Learning did.

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I love this Fall farm themed table from No Time for Flash Cards

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Mom To 2 Posh Lil Divas added straw to her Fall sensory table

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Have apple picking on the brain? This apple themed sensory box by Pink and Green Mama is so cute!

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Kids Activities Blog shares 10 natural items you can put in your Fall sensory tub. Great way to connect with nature!

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Cloud dough is fun, especially when it’s a nice scent like this pumpkin scented cloud dough from Growing a Jeweled Rose.

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Instead of dry pasta in your sensory bin, try cooked pasta. This completely different texture adds to the sensory experience. Visit 123 Homeschool 4 Me to learn more.

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I like the scraps of materials and papers that Sugar Aunts put in their Fall sensory bin.

(Linked up at: Upside Down Homeschooling)

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Learn, Motivate & Reward With ArtSkills Products From Dollar General

artskills 1

Back in my preschool teaching years I loved shopping for bulletin board items, incentives, stickers, and all the fun goodies I could find for my classroom. Now, as a mom, I get to continue using them with my young children. ArtSkills sent me their whole line of products that they sell in Dollar General and I was impressed with the quality and variety of what they have. Check out all the items below!

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The Little Artist Work Frames will be great for all the pieces of art Lucas creates on a daily basis. I think both my boys will love playing with the “I Spy” Spinner and it’s color coded so they can use it by themselves even though they can’t read. We will use the Incentive Charts with the stickers to reward good behavior, helping out around the house, and sharing. The puzzles and lace & learn cards are small enough to be portable so we will be taking them on vacation with us to keep the children busy in the hotel room.

What is your favorite item above?

(Disclosure: As stated, I received the line of items to review but all thoughts are my own.)

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20 Fine Motor Activities For Preschoolers

fine motor skills

It’s been shown that children lose skills over the summer so I wanted to share 20 activities you can have your preschooler do to help them practice their fine motor skills. Most of these work for other seasons as well so this list can be used year-round.

1) Have them blow bubbles and pop them with their pointer finger or clapping with two hands.

2) Have them use sidewalk chalk to draw pictures or practice writing their name

3) Let them help you pull weeds using their pincer grasp.

4) Play finger soccer with cotton balls

5) “Paint” with water on the sidewalk

6) Make a rain stick out of toothpicks, beads, and pebbles and a paper towel tube. Let them poke the holes in the tube with the toothpicks.

7) Have a toy wash. Have them squeeze the water out of the sponge while washing the toys and press the nozzle on the hose to rinse the toys off.

8) Make cookies together. Have your preschooler help stir the thick batter.

9) Have your child make a paper chain to count down to a vacation or fun summer event. Have them cut out strips of paper and then loop together and glue the ends to make a chain.

10) Squirt shaving cream onto a clean table and let your child draw pictures in it. (Watch that they don’t put it in their mouth)

11) Have a picnic in the backyard or at a local park and let your child open the containers and baggies.

12) Get the playdough out and have your child make faces with the playdough. Roll the playdough into a long piece for the mouth, roll into balls for the eyes, etc.

13) Make necklaces. Have your child paint pasta noodles and then, once dry, put them on a string.

14) Celebrate friendship. Color a picture for a friend.

15) Have a lemonade stand! Let your child stir the lemonade.

16) Sponge paint flower pots together and then plant something in them.

17) Head to the beach or a sandbox and have your child practice writing their name in the sand.

18) Make a marshmallow sculpture with your child. Poke toothpicks into marshmallows and build a sculpture.

19) Read books together. Let your child turn the pages themselves.

20) Have your child sort pom poms or other small items into ice cube trays. You can have your child do the sorting by shape or color.

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Dear Social Worker At My Son’s Preschool

Dear Social Worker at my son’s school,

Jacob is my first-born child. I loved and cherished him as a little one in my womb while mourning the loss of his twin. I walked around for months with cankles and spent half my pregnancy with my head in a toilet. I gave birth and attempted breastfeeding. I joined mommy and me groups so I could make friends with other moms and he’d have playmates. I listened to everything I could about how to be a “good mom” and tried to do it all. I read book after book at my child’s request, cleaned up mess after mess, and changed diaper after diaper.

A few years into his young life, after I swallowed my pride, I took him to the Doctor and shared some concerns I had. When my son’s Doctor dismissed me, I pushed because I knew, I knew, something was not right. I had him tested and, with delays found in multiple areas, he was put in Early Intervention. After learning he had some difficulty processing his senses I researched everything I could on Sensory Processing Disorder. I sat through endless hours of therapies to help him catch up to his peers and then he was tested for preschool and he qualified for services in the public school district. Fast forward to the end of his second year of Preschool and today’s IEP meeting where I sat, outnumbered, in a room  listening to how worried the school staff was about my son.

This wasn’t the first meeting that I’ve endured but somehow this seemed to be the most important that I’d ever have since this was the meeting where we’d start discussing placement for Kindergarten. This is a heavy decision for any parent, including myself, because it’s the one that would probably determine the rest of his school career. I knew once he was in a track at school, be it special education or children labeled with “behavior problems” or regular education, he would most likely be in that category for years to come and I’d have to fight to change it if I ever felt like the placement needed to change. I’ve heard horror stories of parents trying to change services or add things in and I knew my journey would be a long one. I wanted to make the right choices now and it was a lot of stress knowing that I was making such a big decision in the coming months.

All the school personnel on Jacob’s team shared about their experiences with Jacob, both what he was doing well and what their concerns were. Then it was your turn. Seeing that a mother was hurting, worried, and anxious it would have been best to assure me that we would figure this out as a team and that, in the end, everything would be okay. Instead you decided to use many of your words to bring me down and attack my child.

You told me how your team couldn’t be expected to change my child’s behavior that he’d spent the past four and a half years learning {assuming, I guess, that I had not spent the past four years trying to raise him correctly}. You told me how the school personnel was ultimately the one who’d decide placement for my child and basically told me that in the end it wasn’t up to me and I could make suggestions but they wouldn’t really make much of a difference. Then, and this really, really hurt, you implied that I would do anything other than what was in my child’s best interest when all I was doing was trying to understand the different options that were available.

What hurt most of all though, and what made me meltdown once I was safely in the hallway away from you, was that you spent the majority of your time criticizing my child. You used the results of a survey his current teacher and his old teacher had taken and pointed out everything that was “wrong” with my son. Not once did you point out one of the great things about him. Not once.

But that’s probably because you don’t know him. You’ve spent, what? 15 minutes with him?

He isn’t perfect by any means and when you brought up attention problems and ADHD I believe you probably aren’t too far off. All those other things you listed? Yep, those are issues I’m aware of and we are working on.

You seemed to have missed a few things though. His smile. His belief in right vs. wrong. His willingness to help. His laugh. His ability to remember the smallest detail. His inquisitive nature. His joy for life. His love for others. His excitement. His concern for friends who aren’t on the bus or at school.

Any of these qualities you could have pointed out among the other things but you didn’t. Instead, you chose to look at a chart full of dots that represented all his “problems” and completely missed the child behind the chart.

I’m begging you, next time you are in an IEP meeting, think about the parent sitting on the other side of the table and at least one positive thing you can say about their child. Of course, to do that you may actually have to get to know the child you are talking about. They are more than just a list of behaviors, dots on a chart or a diagnosis. They are special regardless of what problems brought their parents into that meeting with you.

Signed,

Jacob’s mom

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Pot O’ Gold Craft {For Preschoolers}

st pattys craft pot o gold

Love, love, love this Pot O’ Gold craft that Jacob made! It’s so easy to make and a great way for children to practice their cutting skills.

You’ll need:

3 pieces of construction paper (green, black, yellow)

Tissue paper in rainbow colors (cut into small squares)

Glue Stick

Scissors

Shamrock shaped stickers or foam pieces (optional)

Directions:

1) Adult should draw a large pot shape on black paper and coin sized circles on yellow paper

2) Help child cut out the shapes and glue them on the green paper

3) Talk about colors of the rainbow as child glues one of each colored tissue paper squares on the paper.

4) Add shamrocks shapes if desired

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Reusing Items For Learning Fun

learning fun recycled

I talked last month about Unilever and their commitment to donating meals to those in need. I found out that this was just a part of their sustainable living plan. They are also working on improving health and well-being, enhancing livelihoods, and reducing environmental impact. They are working towards a goal of 100% renewable energy. I think that the work this company is doing is amazing and it makes me want to work harder at reducing my own environmental impact. Wondering which of your favorite brands are made by Unilever? Take a look below!

I went shopping and bought some Bertolli meals and some Lipton Iced Tea. I love the Bertolli meals because they are easy to make and taste delicious. Here was last night’s dinner:

Jacob is not a huge potato fan but he loved the potatoes in this meal because of the sauce they were in. After dinner I wanted to find a use for the Lipton Iced Tea bottles. We recycle some items into a recycling bin but lately I’ve been trying to create more with “trash” and save what I can to reuse. My favorite way to do this is by incorporating them into learning for my preschoolers.

When I taught preschool I had some “sensory bottles” in my classroom. They were fun to shake and look at for the children and I wanted to make them with my own kids.

I used the Lipton Tea bottles that were empty and instead of throwing them away I reused them for this fun activity. First, I rinsed them clean and let them dry. Once that was done I called the boys to the kitchen table and we got to work. I had decided we would make two different types of bottles. The first we made was a “find and seek” bottle.

I filled a bottle halfway with rice and put some letter beads out on the table. I then called out letters and the boys would have to find that letter and put it in the bottle. They thought this was a lot of fun and they liked helping mommy.

After all the beads were in we added more rice. We filled up the bottle but left a little empty space at the top so that the rice and letters inside could move around. A little tacky glue in the cap to ensure we wouldn’t have a huge mess on our hands if one of them got it open and we were done with our first bottle. The boys liked shaking it up to find all of the letters in their names.

Next, we made some water filled sensory bottles. You can fill these with anything you’d like but we chose sequins and glitter and then added a few drops of food coloring in the water.

I let the boys put their own sequins in their bottles {warning: little hands putting little pieces into little bottles makes a huge mess}. They worked at this diligently for a while since they could only get a few pieces in at a time. I then helped them sprinkle glitter into their bottles and we filled them with water. I let them pick out the color they wanted to make their water and squeezed the food coloring in. I added a bit too much to Jacob’s and his turned a very dark shade of green. Lucas wanted red so I just added a few drops in his. I also added a little dish soap to put some bubbles in it.

The last one we made I decided to do half oil and half water. I put in some vegetable oil, a little glitter, and some drops of food coloring. The boys watched as the food coloring didn’t spread, like it had in the water, but instead created tiny beads of color. I think a full bottle of vegetable oil would have been a lot of fun. I added water and the colors bled together though it was still fun to watch the water and oil separate.

The boys enjoyed putting these sensory bottles together and then playing with them. I’m looking forward to creating more crafts with them using recycled materials. Someone suggested making a planter out of a Country Crock tub and I think the boys and I might do that as the weather gets warmer.

How do you reuse items for learning fun?

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Unilever  #cbias #SocialFabric )

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First Days Of School {Wordless Wednesday}

luke1stdaypreschool2012

Luke’s 1st Day of Preschool

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Jake’s 1st Day of Preschool

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Preschool 2011 {Wordless Wednesday}

preschool2011

The boys start school this week! I thought I’d share a picture of the first day of school last year when just Jacob was headed off to school. Next week I will share a picture of both boys because Jacob and Lucas are both headed to preschool in the next couple of days!

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1st Day Of School Ideas

1stday2

Here are some of my favorite ideas for the 1st Day of School:

Cute Smarties gift idea from It Is What It Is

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Read a special book like The Kissing Hand

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Snack idea from There’s A”1st” For Everthing

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Make a cake for the 1st day of school like Mama’s A Mess! does

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Take a picture of your child on their first day of school.

They can hold a sign saying their grade.

We like to take a picture by the front door every year

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Pack an awesome lunch like this one from This Lunch Rox

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Make a list of your child’s favorites of the moment.

If you do this every year you can see how they change over time.

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10 Teacher Gifts For The First Day Of School

teacher gift ideas

Here are 10 of my favorite gift ideas for teachers I’ve found online:

1) A loaf of homemade bread w/ a special note

“May this preschool year be like this loaf of bread….

so very delicious you barely notice the crummy parts.”

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2) Lotions with labels that say:

“I hope your school year goes smoothly”

{Find the printable labels at Oops, I Craft My Pants}

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3) Packs on pencils with a tag that says:

“You are the “write” teacher for me”

{Find the printable tags at Itsy Bitsy Paper}

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4) Calculator with a cute note that says:

“According to my calculations this is going to be a great year!”

{Find the printable at eighteen25}

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5) Adorable oreo pops in a pencil vase

{Find the tutorial at Amanda’s Parties To Go}

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6) Starbucks Via Coffee Packs with notes that say:

“Something to get you back into the grind”

{Find this at Jacolyn Murphy}

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7) Container of Andes mints with a note that says:

“You were ‘mint’ to be my teacher”

{Find this and other foodie gifts at Brown Paper Packages}

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8) First Day Of School Survival Kit

{Find all the details at Bee In Our Bonnet}

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9) Bin full of teacher must-haves

{Details at Corner House Blog}

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10) School Supply Cake

{A Pumpkin & A Princess has a fabulous one!}

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How To Make A Rainy Day Box

RAINY DAY BOX COLLAGE

When I taught preschool I had a box in my classroom closet known as the “rainy day” box. This box only came out on days that we were stuck inside due to rain or extreme heat. Now that I am a mom I wanted to make a rainy day box for my children and since today is supposed to be about 100 degrees I thought the timing couldn’t have been better.

Jacob helping me shop

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I think Walmart is starting to get ready for Back to School Season…. lol

I headed to Walmart with my children to get all the supplies I needed. I debated between a cardboard box and a large clear bin to keep everything in. I thought the box would be easier to decorate but the bin would be sturdier so in the end I chose to put the items in a clear bin. See more pictures of my shopping trip in my Google+ story. Once home I gathered all of the supplies I needed to decorate our rainy day box.

The supplies I gathered

Supplies Needed:

Clear Bin (Or Medium Sized Cardboard Box)

Small Letter Cutouts

Elmer’s Dot Runner

X-ACTO Basic Shape Templates

Painters Opaque Paint Markers

Re-positionable Designer Masking Tape

How To Recreate My Box:

Use the Designer Masking Tape around the edge of the bin lid and also around the lower half of the clear bottom bin.

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Punch out the letters that you will be using. Flip each letter over and run the Elmer’s Dot Runner along the back of each letter. Then stick the letters on to the lid in the locations you’d like them to be. I chose to put the words “Rainy Day Box” in the middle of my lid.

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Next, it’s time to use the Painters Markers. These need to be shaken well and the tip of the marker pressed down and held down until the paint starts flowing.

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Take out the X-ACTO shape templates and use your Painters Paint Marker to outline a circle.

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I chose to do one color at a time, wiping off the template in between colors.

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The lid all finished. I was tempted to add more spots to it but didn’t.

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Once the bin was finished it was time to fill it up.

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The bin is ready!

You can put anything in your bin that you think your children would enjoy. I added toys and craft supplies that would only come out on these rainy or hot days. I also added in a box of Macaroni & Cheese and {nutritious} cookies so that even lunch would be fun!

What would you put in your rainy day box?

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Connect with Elmer’s:

Elmer’s on Twitter

Glue N’ Glitter on Twitter

Elmer’s on Facebook

Elmer’s Craft It on Facebook

Glue N’ Glitter on Facebook

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Elmer’s #CBias #SocialFabric)

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Happy 3rd Birthday, Lucas!

luke bday

Lucas on the way out the door to his first day of preschool

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100+ Fun Things To Do This Summer {Our Summer Bucket List}

summer bucket list

Summer is my favorite season. I love the sunny, warm weather and all the time spent cooling off with water related activities. If one were to have been with my family last summer though, you would have thought I despised summer since we spent too much of it indoors and I spent a lot of it working. I have vowed that this summer will be different and that my kids will enjoy this summer to the fullest, despite the fact that I work from home. To help ensure that I’d give them all the great memories of summertime that I had as a child, I created a Summer bucket list for our family with over 100 ideas for summer fun. The list is geared towards preschoolers.

Outdoor Fun:

*Have a picnic lunch

*Plant flowers

*Host a backyard playdate

*Make smores

*Get ice cream from the ice cream truck

*Make a mud pie

*Paint with colored ice cubes

*Play in the sprinkler

*Make a nature collage

*Blow bubbles

*Host a family party

*Build a sandcastle

*Play in the rain

*Go on a nature scavenger hunt

*Go fishing

*Paint with water

*Wash the family car together

*Draw with chalk on the sidewalk

*Paint rocks

*Play soccer in the backyard

*Eat juicy watermelon

*Create a car racetrack on the sidewalk

*Make {and eat!} ice cream sundaes

*Read books outside in the shade of a tree

*Fly a kite

*Have a water balloon fight

*Freeze toys in a block of ice and then try to get them out

*Teach the boys how to ride their tricycles

*Catch fireflies

*Slide on a slip n’ slide

*Decorate t-shirts

*Go for a wagon ride

*Roll down a hill

*Pick flowers and make a bouquet

*Play catch in the backyard

Indoor Fun:

*Make homemade pizza

*Have a pajama day

*Make a musical instrument

*Compete to see who can build the tallest block tower

*Have a sleepover

*Board game day

*Bake cookies together

*Play playdough

*Make {and eat} “dirt cups”

*Read through a children’s Bible together

*Make a fort

*Cook dinner together

*Dance to songs from a children’s CD

*Dress up in costumes

*Have a family movie night with popcorn

*Pretend to be in a marching band

*Make homemade popsicles

*Play “I Spy”

*Make a fruit salad

*Fingerpaint in the bathtub

*Make {and play} a memory game

*Serve lunch in an ice cube tray

*Make a craft for every letter of the alphabet

*Make a suncatcher

On The Go:

*Go somewhere fun for Jake’s birthday

*Go somewhere fun for Luke’s birthday

*Go to an amusement park

*Visit a children’s museum

*Walk around a children’s garden

*Play in a splash pad

*Go to a carnival

*Attend an outdoor concert

*Go to the aquarium

*Eat at a train themed restaurant

*Go to the Indiana Dunes

*Walk along the lakefront

*Go to Starved Rock

*Visit a waterpark

*Go to a farmer’s market

*Go see a movie at the theater

*Visit daddy at work

*Go to the Museum of Science and Industry

*Take GiGi to lunch

*Go to Navy Pier

*Visit a pet store and buy a fish

*Go to a children’s concert

*Eat at a restaurant and sit on the patio

*Take a train ride

*Go garage-saling

*Feed ducks

*Go berry picking

*Watch a fireworks show

*Go on a picnic

*Go for a family walk

*Go swimming

*Go to Chuck-E-Cheese

*Attend a workshop at Home Depot or Lowe’s

*Go on a nature walk

*Try out 5 different playgrounds in town (went to 1)

*Listen to stories at library storytime

*Go to a parade

*Go bowling

*Go to a children’s farm

*Go downtown Chicago

*Attend a Vacation Bible School

*Play mini-golf

*Do the summer reading challenge at the library (signed up)

*Take a 2 day vacation somewhere within driving distance

*Jump in a bounce house

*Go out for ice cream

*Swim lessons

*Go to Day Out With Thomas

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What’s on your summer bucket list?

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Jacob’s School Picture- Spring 2012 {Wordless Wednesday}

Picture by Lifetouch

Picture by Lifetouch

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Jacob’s Valentines This Year

Making Heart Shaped Crayons

This is Jacob’s first year of school which means it’s his first time exchanging valentines with classmates. He is in Preschool so I wanted to make something fun that the children in his class could enjoy. He wanted to do Valentines with candy but edible items aren’t allowed. I had a bunch of ideas I had found when putting together my 10 DIY Valentines post so I chose to make the heart shaped crayons. I wanted to do something a little different so I got little notepads at the store and Jacob decorated each one with stickers. We got all of the stickers out and he decided what each of his classmates would like the most so each little notebook was personalized. I then printed out handwriting sheets and had him practice writing his name 15 times and used those for the “from”. I think they turned out really cute.

Making Heart Shaped Crayons

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Jacob's Mailbox To Receive Valentines

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Ready for the Valentines Exchange

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Valentine’s Day Sensory Table

Valentine's Day Themed Sensory Table

My children have sensory processing issues that make sensory table a must have item in our home but I think sensory activities are a great activity for all young children. I like to create themed ones around Holidays or certain things that interest my children. Our latest table is Valentine’s themed.

 

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A close up of the items that are in the table

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Items in the table:

-mini themed erasers

-mini spiked balls

-clear decorative stones

-red heart shaped stones

-white feathers

-white pom poms

-red,white, pink shaped heart beads

-white yarn tied in bows

-pieces of white ball garland cut into smaller strands

-small heart shaped containers with lids

-heart shaped bowls

-Valentine’s themed cups

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Christmas Sensory Table

Christmas Sensory Table

Items Included:

-Garland (cut into 6 inch pieces)

-Jingle Bells

-Holly Berries

-Mini Ornaments

-Mini Present

-Small stockings

-Bows

-Red cups

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Did you make a Christmas themed sensory table or bin for your children?

I’d love to see what you included if you did! :)

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Linked up at: The Sunday Showcase, Sharing Time, Weekend Wrap Up Party, and Link & Learn

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Jacob’s First School Picture {Wordless Wednesday}

Jacob's Preschool Portrait

Jacob's Preschool Portrait

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Fall Sensory Table

SAMSUNG

Our Fall Sensory Table: beans, leaves, and gourdes

The boys were also given spoons and nesting cups.

After this picture was taken I added other items:

Acorn Bells

Pretend apples and small pinecones

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More ideas of what you can put in your Fall sensory bins can be found on the following blogs:

1+1+1=1

Counting Coconuts

I Can Teach My Child

No Time For Flashcards

Our Cup Of Tea

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Linked up to: The Sunday Showcase and Link & Learn

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Teacher Welcome Gift #MurphyUSA

murphy collage 2

Jacob started preschool a couple weeks ago and his main teacher went on maternity leave so he has a new teacher. I wanted to create a welcome to the class gift since I figured she is a substitute and probably doesn’t get many gifts around the Holidays and at other times throughout the year from students.

I headed to Murphy USA, the gas station and convenience store, to get some snacks and drinks to make a goodie bag for her (and also the assistants in the classroom). I know when I was a pre-k teacher I got hungry throughout the day so I thought this would be a great surprise for them.

I found a great variety of snacks, candy, and drinks at Murphy USA. Included in my goodie bag of treats were Vitamin Water ,Monster Java and Hershey’s Chocolate Bars. To find out more about my shopping trip and what went into the bag you can view my ThisMoment story.

I found a Hershey’s bag I had gotten as “swag” at a blogging conference and never used so I thought it would be perfect for this teacher welcome gift since I didn’t have a basket. Everything fit into it and the bag can be reused.

I look forward to giving this back to school bag of treats to the teachers on curriculum night!

(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All thoughts are my own.)

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First Day Of Preschool

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Jacob had his first day of preschool on Friday so I wanted to share about it :)

We started a “night before school” tradition where the kids get to pick the restaurant they want to go to. Jacob chose pizza so we headed to a local pizza place. After dinner we came home and the boys had baths and we read some books about going to school for the first time.

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The next morning I woke up earlier than everyone else and started getting ready for the day. Daddy had taken the morning off work too so he could watch his oldest son go to his first day of school. He helped get the kids ready. Outfits had been picked out the night before which helped save time in the morning. Sinisa made the boys a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs and nutella on toast which they enjoyed. The backpack was filled with school supplies and ready to go. Before we left the house I took a picture of Jacob standing by the front door, something I remember doing every single year growing up on the first day of school.

We drove to Jacob’s school and got there pretty early. We aren’t allowed to bring the kids in to the school which I was kind of bummed about. Teacher assistants come get them and bring them inside to sit outside of their classrooms until school starts at 8am. When the teacher came and opened his door, Jacob seemed leery about going with someone he didn’t know and he didn’t want to wear his backpack but after a minute or so he let the teacher lead him away from the car.

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When we came back two and a half hours later we waited in a long line as we watched children come out of the building and get into their parent’s cars. We spotted Jacob before he saw us and I tried to get another picture of him but couldn’t because other cars were in the way. When we finally got closer he saw our car and his face lit up.

As soon as he got in the car I was wanting to know about his day. He said he played with playdough and read books. He seems very excited to return so we shall see how drop off goes today!

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Has your child started school yet? How did the first day go?

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Organizing For A New School Year

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Jacob starts preschool next week so I am busy preparing our family and our household for everything that this new season of our life will bring. I thought I’d share 10 things I’m doing to get ready for the start of the school year and hope that you will share some of your tips with me (especially if you have done this whole school thing before!)

1) Establish a weekly schedule. Things won’t be exactly the same every week but for the most part our routine will not change that much from week to week. I suggest writing the schedule down and posting it so everyone in the family knows the routines. Consider adding in details such as when to leave the house if you are going to be having dad, grandma, or a sitter help with some of the routines. Make sure to also schedule time for yourself!

2) Pull out the calendar. Add all school meetings, days off, and events to your personal calendar.

3) Organizing clothes. First, start by catching up on laundry if you aren’t already. Go through all of the kid’s clothing you currently have out and put aside anything that doesn’t fit or is unwearable. Pull out the fall/winter clothes and put them away in the closets and drawers. It’s still going to be hot here for another month or so but this saves you from having to do this later on. I also am going to be putting out a week’s worth of outfits every Sunday night so I have one less thing to do in the mornings. If your child picks out their own outfits they can do this ahead of time, too.

4) Establish new routines. Every year something in your schedule is bound to be different. A week or two before the first day of school start practicing the routines. For me I need to see how long it will take me to get to Jacob’s school during rush hour so I make sure he’s not late on his first day of school. I also want to figure out where his soccer gymnasium is located so I’m not searching for it on his first day of soccer. I will also be practicing getting myself out of bed and ready before the boys need me so I can see how long our morning routine will take us and plan accordingly.

5) Cleaning. I will be making sure my house and car are clean so I can start the school year off right. I am also going to create a cleaning schedule for my family so I can {hopefully} stay on top of things.

6) Meal planning. I’ve tried menu planning in the past and not followed through with it because I often cook whatever sounds good in the moment but I am planning on trying a loose meal plan of just a few meals to make throughout the week. I also hope to get some freezer meals prepared ahead of time for nights that are really busy. This will save me from picking something up on the way home that isn’t very healthy.

7) Contain the paper piles. Establish a place in the home for school/extracurricular papers. For some families this might be a binder, folder, or shelf in a kitchen cabinet. Also, find a home for the mail so it doesn’t overtake your kitchen. For school papers I will be using a binder. For mail I use a basket that I stick mail in and then go through it once a week while I watch TV.

8) Put together an emergency bag for the car. This should contain an extra set of clothes and whatever else your child may need. This is good to have in your car for a last minute sleepover, an overnight at Grandma’s, or a muddy day on the playground.

9) Gather the school supplies. Look at what items you already have and what you need to purchase. Consider buying extra supplies while they are on sale so you  have them on hand if your child runs out during the school year.

10) Get yourself ready! Maybe that means scheduling a Doctor’s appointment for yourself, getting a haircut, or investing in a new planner. Whatever it is, make sure that in all the craziness of getting ready for a new school year you don’t forget about yourself.

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So those are my top 10 tips. What tips do you have for me? What have you found works to help you start the school year off right?

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Buying School Supplies #BagItForward

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Jacob is headed to preschool in a few weeks and with that comes buying school supplies! Jacob was very excited to do this so we headed to Walmart. While there we also bought items to give to a family in need. One of my friends told me about a family who had just lost their home and a young girl who could really use some new supplies so we wanted to pack a bag of school supplies for her, too. We got everything we needed at Walmart including many Elmer’s products like Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks and a school supply “must have”, Elmer’s School Glue. You can learn more about my shopping experience here.

School supplies we are donating :)

Supplies in a cute bag ready to be delivered and a special gift for the girl's mom.

Bag It Forward is a great program and I encourage you to join in if you are able to. Here is a little more information about it from the website:

“As students head back to school this fall, many will head out to shop for brand new, shiny school supplies. But some will not have the resources they need to be successful. That’s where you and Elmer’s come in. This year, let’s join together and Bag It Forward, by picking up an extra bag of school supplies and donating it locally in your community.”

You can find all the details on Elmer’s Bag It Forward website.

In addition to Bag It Forward, Elmer’s is donating items to the Kids in Need Foundation. From July 25th through September 1st, for each “like” on the Elmer’s Facebook page, the company will donate a product to the Foundation’s national network of free stores, where teachers from disadvantaged schools can “shop” for free for school supplies.

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(Disclosure: This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Elmer’s #BagItForward #CollectiveBias but all opinions are my own.)

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