20 Best Tips
Teaching Textbooks

Busy Bags Kids Will Love

Preschool age is one of my favorite age groups to work with. First of all, they are curious, every little thing becomes a learning opportunity, and they LOVE pretty much everything. 

Keeping them occupied can be a predicament though. Because attention spans are short on those in the five and under crowd. Finding activities that keep kids learning, little hands busy, and make life easier for the parents – well, that’s a definite win in my book. 

My friend Sara, from Happy Brown House, recently wrote a book that does all three of those things. Busy Bags Kids Will Love is full of quiet boxes, bags, and bins (52 to be exact) that can be made ahead and brought along to play with in the van, at doctor’s visits, church – anywhere really! 

Why Busy Bags? 

The name ‘busy bags’ can be deceiving. Busy bags are more like educational activity kits that parents (or teachers) put together for children to play with either in moments a parent may need a little break (maybe you’re helping another child or trying to cook dinner) or when a quiet activity is needed. 

Busy bags also take on many different forms – from items in an actual bag, to bins full of fun, or even a box packed with learning supplies. In essence though, they are intended to keep the attention of little ones while providing something educational and fun

Creating Your Own Busy Bags

In her book Busy Bags Kids Will Love, Sara shares 52 activities that are easy to put together and focus on several specific learning areas:

  • math
  • fine motor skills
  • literacy
  • and just plain ol’ fun.

While we don’t have preschoolers in this house at the moment, we do have nieces and nephews that visit, so we’ll be making up some of these ideas and also sharing them with the grandparents. Between visiting kids and games our girls grab when babysitting, these are goldmines!

Each activity includes skills that are targeted, materials needed to create, and detailed directions to make the activity with full color pictures. She really makes it very simple! 

The bulk of the materials used are ones you can find in your own closet or inexpensively at the dollar store. There are some that require very little prep, while a few may need a little more time, BUT they are all easy enough for you to make. 

What I love most about these activities is the full intent for LEARNING that is packed into them. Yes, they will keep little hands occupied, but as they are busy, they will also be taking in and processing key information for this early stage: 1:1 counting, matching colors, identifying numbers, matching ABCs and so much more! 

In addition, Sara also shares 100 things children should know or be able to do before entering kindergarten. Sometimes it’s not all just about the alphabet and numbers. Overall, the book is truly a fabulous resource for any family with young children or those who work with them.

Grab a copy for your home or school from these sellers: 

Win a Copy!

To celebrate the release of her new book, Sara has generously offered to give a copy to one of my readers. Follow the directions in the Rafflecopter widget below. Giveaway is open to those with a US mailing address and ends on Sunday, June 25th at midnight. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Free Long Vowel Sounds Poster

Learning the various vowel sounds can be tough work for kiddos (trust me, I know!). Sometimes it helps to have a great visual for kids to refer to when reviewing or trying to remember the key patterns and sounds. 

All About Learning Press has a GREAT tool to help you out, especially with those pesky long vowel sounds – a FREE long vowel sounds poster to print off for reference. 

The chart colorfully illustrates the most common long vowel sounds (for visual kids this is a fabulous resource!). 

Homeschool and Life Happenings – The One Where My Oldest Drove on the Interstate

This last week has been quite the blur. Most days have been spent running back and forth into town for various doctor’s appointments, driving one kiddo to work, swim team stuff, and who knows what else. Really, I can’t remember it all. 

All I do remember is that on Wednesday I was ready to call uncle and just spend the day curled up with a book and not drive to one single solitary place. (That didn’t happen. But I wished it would.) Mind you that was after we almost missed an appointment and had to race out the door. 

Laurianna is still hopping around to see various specialists. At our last doctor’s appointment they discovered a heart murmur that hadn’t been there before, so they ordered an echocardiogram to check it out. Fortunately everything looks good on that end, but she was rather fascinated by the entire process and spent a lot of time talking to the technician about everything she was seeing. 

(sidenote: His name was Chandler and all I could think about was Friends from that point on. Don’t judge. It made me laugh in an otherwise semi-stressful moment. And now I’m thinking of Friends again.)

For now we are waiting on a few more specialist appointments to see what else is happening. 

On one of our many trips into town this week I picked up something I shouldn’t have from Costco: Coconut Almonds with Dark Chocolate. Please do not make the same mistake I did. Leave them on the shelf or the bag will be empty rather quickly and may require an intervention of sorts. 

Anywho, Zachary also needed a physical before he heads to Scout Camp in a few weeks. One would think I would have realized it was a yearly requirement for camp so we were scrambling to get it done. Lucky boy gets to go back for some immunizations. He is thrilled. Meanwhile, I already scheduled his physical for next year. I will not forget this time. Lesson learned. 

Around the house we are finally getting around to planting flowers and making the front porch pretty and have the garden produce something edible. 

Laurianna and I wrapped up the week by attending HEAV together in Richmond. She still needs some interstate driving time so she may have been rather thrilled to get behind the wheel for a very long time and log some hours. :) How exactly do I have a child that is almost old enough to drive on her own? (sigh)

We’re on the search for the few pieces of curriculum we need, but the main reason is to visit a whole lot of college tables and narrow down the field. The last few years HEAV has had an extended college fair of sorts where students can talk to reps from various colleges. Again – how exactly are we at this point??

Here’s hoping we find some great deals and get the last of the curriculum planning done! 

How has your week been? 

Preschool and Kindergarten Community – a Little Break…

Preschool and Kindergarten Community weekly linkup

Since 2008, the Preschool and Kindergarten Community has been a place for sharing early childhood learning ideas. It has been so fun to see what other families are doing in their homes – in big and little ways. 

For an indefinite amount of time, Preschool and Kindergarten Community is taking a break. I’m mulling some different ideas and have loved sharing weekly posts with you all (thanks to those of you who have been faithful over the years!). 

In the meantime – enjoy this time with your littles! Trust me – these kids grow up so fast, and every moment we have with them is precious! 

Be sure to stop by our PreK & Kindergarten Pinterest board to see ideas posted over the years!

20% Off Wondermaps Geography Tool (Limited Time Offer)

Until  Thursday, April 20th, receive 20% off the digital download of WonderMaps [single family use] when you use the code SPRINGMAPS at checkout.

The Only Map Resource You Will Ever Need

If you’ve ever spent a lot of time searching online for the perfect map to go along with your history, geography – or any lesson, you’ll want to check out WonderMaps right now. It’s a program you can use year after year with all of your children – with any curriculum (yay!). 

With WonderMaps’ easy to use interface, you can also create custom maps and print them out for your homeschool lessons. It may seem intimidating at first, but I promise – you will LOVE it! See how easy it is to use in the WonderMaps video tutorial from Bright Ideas Press. 

Our family has been using the program for at least four years now and it definitely makes finding the perfect map much easier! 

 

If you aren’t certain it will work for you, be sure to download a preview of the program from the Bright Ideas site – especially before the flash sale ends. 

Offer valid April 18-20, 2017, single family use only.
Use code SPRINGMAPS at checkout.

Living Life Together and Another Last “First”


As I read The Green Ember (we are now 8 chapters from the end!), both boys twist and turn their Rubic’s Cubes and lounge on the couch. Listening quietly and trying to figure out what is coming next.

The book wasn’t their favorite when we started, but now as we draw near the end of the book they certainly don’t mind the daily reading time and are really getting into the story – enough that we have already ordered the second book to read together

Me – I’m nursing a cup of coffee and also listening to the crazy washer spinning in the background. Meanwhile the rest of the house is a wee bit of a disaster. Dishes are on the counter and books strewn all over the living room. Random pieces of laundry litter the floor and someone hasn’t bothered to pick up their breakfast bowls from the table. 

But we are reading together and it’s a snapshot of what homeschooling is like: school woven in with our everyday life. The good, the messy, and well – LIFE. 

 

Later in the day, we have the last of the ‘firsts’ in our house and it’s honestly a little bittersweet. Our youngest, the one who still has stuck in his head that he isn’t a good reader, sits down and started reading The Boxcar Children out loud to me. The last child to read through this particular book for the first time – an honest-to-goodness chapter book where you can’t really get reading clues from the pictures in the story.

And he does wonderfully.

He doesn’t quite fit on my lap like he used to, but he snuggles in, lets me wrap my arms around him, and kiss him on the cheek as he reads down the page. Meanwhile the other kids are walking in and out of the room, working on math, or grinning as they recognize the accomplishment in their brother’s hard work.

These are those moments in our homeschool time that I love – where life overflows into the nuances of our day. When we get a chance to relax together. Celebrate together. Learn together. 

Living life together in all the little moments. ❤️

Weekly Wrap-Up