crafting a meaningful little project at a time

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 31: National Craft Month Ends...

Day 31: National Craft Month Ends...

As National Crafting Month draws to a close, ask yourself: what are you doing each
day to CRAFT a meaningful life for you and your loved ones?

How are you spending the time you are given each day?

Are the choices you are making each day making you and your loved ones happy?

If not…what are you going to do about it?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 30: Resurrection Eggs

Day 30: Resurrection Eggs
Whether you purchase a premade set, like these, or make your own (several online
tutorials on how to do this), I think they’re worthwhile. If you’ve never heard
of Resurrection Eggs, they are a set of twelve plastic Easter eggs which each
hold a small item related to the events in the Easter story. If you buy the FamilyLife
set from the store (I got mine on sale and with a coupon that made it about
$10), you also get a little story book to help teach the story to children. You
can also make your own set fairly easily, and there are variations on the items
included in the eggs, but it all boils down to the same story…the most
important story you’ll ever hear to tell!
After “playing” them several times over the last week, here is what I heard being explained
from the four-year-old to the three-year-old in the back seat on our car trip today:
1. “This is the donkey Jesus rode on.” (donkey)
2. “These are the coins for the bad guys that killed Jesus.” (three silver coins)
3. “This is the cup for when Jesus said, ‘This is my Blood, now drink it.’” (silver chalice)
4. “This is the hands for when we pray.” (praying hands)
5. “This is the whip that the bad guys used to hurt Jesus with.” (strip of leather)
6. “This is the crown with points on it that the bad guys put on Jesus to hurt him.” (crown of thorns)
7. “This is the cross that Jesus died on.” (two nails in the form of a cross)
8. “This is the dice the bad guys played when Jesus died.” (die)
9. “This is the spear they poked Jesus with.” (spear)
10. “This is the blanket they covered Jesus with when He died.” (piece of fabric)
11. “This is the rock for the front of the tomb.” (rock)
12. “And THIS is the best one, Buddy- this is the EMPTY EGG because Jesus wasn’t in the tomb anymore- He went up to heaven!”
She held each item up, telling him about the meaning of each item. She was pretty much spot on, and I thought that was pretty much great.
PreKinders has a little snippet on their site and a good picture of a set like the one we
Practically At Home has directions on how to make your own similar set, which includes
slightly different objects:
There is also a book to go along these lines, which I have not read- but here’s the
info: it’s called Benjamin’s Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs by
Melody Carlson

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 29: YOUR Easter: Is It About the Bunny or the Lamb?

Day 29: YOUR Easter: Is It About the Bunny or the Lamb?
I ran across this question on a blog a few weeks ago, and it has been running through my head ever since as I have been gathering Easter-teaching materials and Easter-celebrating materials. I don’t want to get rid of the bunny, and I don’t
want to commercialize and cheapen the Lamb…so where is the happy medium?
We started talking about Easter bunnies, and the fact that they leave gifts to
help us celebrate the good news of the risen Christ…but that seems to be a flimsy
connection…obviously anything that involves finding presents in a basket sounds
great to a kid, but what’s the point of it all, really?
We started off the conversation: how can YOU be like the Easter bunny and share
the good news of Easter? At this point, I have mostly just focused on the idea
of sharing happiness in celebration of Easter, and how WE can do that too, by
telling friends about the Easter story and sharing treats to celebrate.
We pasted our faces on a bunny color page I found online through Yahoo images, and will move on from that to look at the “Real Eater Bunny” picture idea shown on the Happy Home Fairy’s blog (below).
I would love to hear about YOUR ideas for teaching and celebrating a meaningful Easter with your children!

Real Easter Bunnies from Happy Home Fairy
Great ideas for teaching the real meaning of Easter from Impress Your Kids:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 28: Easter Books

Day 28: Easter Books
Looking for some books to use with your little ones to teach the real meaning of
Easter? Here are a few!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 27: Growing an Artist

Day 27: Growing an Artist
Diverting from the Easter studies a bit today…one of the littles had one of THOSE moments today: you know the ones…you take a different path….something little happens when you least expect it…it makes the kind of impression you can see on their face…and you just know that this could change everything, forever?
We’re taking the long way back to the room for more pool supplies, and Little Lady
spots a man sitting by the pool amidst sketchpads and a pile of art supplies,
sketching with watercolor pencils. She is intrigued; she wants to see what he
is drawing. I was in a hurry- my initial reaction was to hurry her along, but I
went with it…
We walk over and ask if he would mind if we take a peek at his picture. He happily
turns his pad to show her a colorful drawing of the waterfall behind the pool:
she is amazed. He went on to tell us of his life: how he and his wife were
traveling here from England, how they have traveled the world, how he sells oil
paintings for a living, how we paints what he sees in his travels using watercolors,
how he has a granddaughter of his own who he shares his art with. He shows her
his drawings of Lancaster, England, of the Eiffel Tower, of scenic beauty in
Spain, of oriental buildings and foliage in Japan. Little Lady pipes in,
“Well I’m an artist too. I do crafts and paint and make art with my mommy every day.”
The Englishman is pleased; “That is wonderful,” he says.
He closes his watercolor pencils in their thin metal case, and hands them to her.
“I want you to have these, and I want you to keep making art. I think you just may be an artist one day.”
Stunned into silence, Little Lady thanks him, eyes huge. She is amazed, I am humbled. We part ways with our new friend. As soon as we get to the room, she tosses her pool toys in the corner, forgotten, and throws herself on the bed with her new watercolor pencils. She flips open her sketchpad and starts in with a flourish, jabbering away about her plans for this picture, pencil flying across the page, making shapes and colors and lines. She says,
“Mommy, I’m making art, and it is important, and it makes me feel happy in my heart.”

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 26: "New Life" Coffee Filter Butterflies

Day 26: “New Life” Coffee Filter Butterflies
Butterflies are a popular theme when it comes to introducing the concept of the
resurrection to children: starting as a caterpillar, undergoing a transformation, beginning a new chapter of life as a butterfly…sound familiar? :)

To illustrate this concept and its connection to scripture, we painted our clothespins and made caterpillars, and used water colors to paint the coffee
filters, which were set aside to dry. We read and traced 2 Corinthians 5: 17,
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” and discussed how Jesus’s death
and resurrection offers us new life too. Little Lady asked how we would make
their cocoons to let the caterpillars turn into butterflies…

I had just planned to make the butterflies and be done with it, but this was a much
better idea! I asked her how she thought we should go about building the
chrysalis, and she came up with wrapping the caterpillars in Kleenex and
placing them under a mixing bowl so it was “nice and dark and warm.”

When they went to bed, I attached the coffee filter wings and wrapped them back up in their places. I set the tracing sheets nearby as a reminder of why we were
doing this too.

In the morning, Little Lady ran over to the bowl, lifted it, and slumped shoulders:
“Mommy,it didn’t work- the caterpillars didn’t turn into butterflies- they look the

“Really? Take a closer look.”
She unwrapped the caterpillar, and only then saw that it DID have beautiful folded
wings: it HAD been changed after all!
Interesting how sometimes we see what we expect to see in things…and in people…hmmm…

If you’d like to try this at home, here are a couple links that I used to drive
this activity:
One way to make a coffee filter butterfly:
New Life Tracing Verse from Christian Preschool Printables:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 25: Bedroom Crosses

Day 25: Bedroom Crosses
Little Lady says, “Why don’t I have any Jesus stuff in my room?”
“What is ‘Jesus stuff’?”
“You know, like a cross on my wall and pictures and stuff.”
“Would you like some of those things in your room? (nods) Why?”
“To help learn about Jesus and God and to remember to pray.”
“Let’s get to it then!”
Thus, the decorative cross craft. I found these wooden wall crosses on sale in the
Easter section of Jo Ann’s for 50 cents apiece. The children selected from the craft area their supplies to embellish their crosses: they picked the paints, glitter glue, sequins, and jewels.
They sat down and got to work. My part in this endeavor was the supplier of supplies and the squeezer of glue: the rest was all them.
So pretty- and what makes them all the more beautiful is the fact that the idea
and direction was kid-driven. I can’t wait to hang these in their rooms! Watch
out: woman with a hammer, on a mission, coming through…

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 24: The Bunny Service Jar

Day 24: The Bunny Service Jar
A routine stop at Target: grab a cart from its lonely spot in the parking lot, start transferring kids from van to cart, when:
“Mommy LOOK! There’s a brand new chocolate bunny in this cart! Is this for us?”
“What do you think?”
“No…but can we keep it?”
“Do you think that’s a good idea?”
“How do you think that bunny ended up in this cart in the middle of the parking lot?”
“Maybe a kid left it there on accident!”
“And she’s probably sad! Mommy we have to go find her and give her her bunny back?”
“Well, she’s probably already gone, honey. What else might we do?”
“Give it to the lady!”
So we march on in, stand in the looong line at customer service, until Little Lady
has her turn: I push her up, and she says to the young cashier:
“Here- we found this in our new cart- some little girl left it and now she’s sad and she’s going to come back to find it someday so here it is!”
Young cashier takes the bunny- her words say “Thank you,” but her face and demeanor says, “How weird- I totally would have kept that bunny…”
Ah- the perfect opportunity to introduce the Bunny Service Jar, found here:
In short, this is a jar to hold “bunny tails” (cotton balls), one added for each
act of kindness. When the jar is full, we will go do something special- the
kids selected “go to the candy office”…after some questioning, I am pretty sure
this is a made-up place, but that its glory is based on vague memories of a
small sweets shop we visited a few months ago. We will go there and get treats
when the jar is full, but we’ll also use it as a time to share back out in some
way as well…we’ll see…

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 23: The Easter Tree

Day 23: The Easter Tree

We’ve always had an egg tree at Easter time…why is that?

Because I had one when I was growing up.

Why is that?

Is the tree just for pretties, or should there be more to it than that?

In seeking to answer this question and to give more meaning to the Easter egg tree
tradition in my own family, I first decided to replace the plastic eggs and d├ęcor
with handmade embellished chicken eggs. I made a few for the kids based on
their interests and personal family themes, one featuring Jesus on the cross,
and I’m working on completing one decoupage egg for each of our Easters

But I wanted to tell the REAL story of Easter on the tree…

I came across the idea of a “Jesus Tree” on the blog, A Holy Experience. Here is the link, but I will warn you that the author is a writer- the post is quite
lengthy, and the part about the Jesus Tree comes at the end of this post about
her interpretation of the personal meaning of Lent:

To make the Jesus Tree discussed here, you need Ann Voskamp’s free Easter devotional, Trail to the Tree- it’s a 17-Day , aimed at preparing the family for the good news of Easter, gives a scripture-based account of the significant events in the life of Jesus. Each day includes scripture, a selected verse to pray over and reflect on together, an “action plan” for the day, and a piece of art (which can be printed and made into ornaments for your tree). It is designed to be shared with the whole family, though it seems geared toward a slightly older audience than my own two. To access the devotional, you need to sign up to follow the blog- which you won’t regret!- and you will find the link to the devotional at the bottom of the
email in the RSS feed.

I read the devotional and adapted the tree idea: I printed the pictures at the end,
cut them out, and adhered them to clear acrylic tags by Tim Holtz. I then
recorded the related verses on the back of each ornament, along with a phrase
or sentence that spoke to me from that day’s devotion.

I hung these on our Easter tree while the kids were sleeping, and I plan to answer
their questions about the pictures as they come. I have a bin of Easter books
and age-appropriate resources I will use as reference pieces if they need them.

I can tell I will need a larger tree next year…

Day 22: YOU!

What are YOU crafting right now?

Using your hands to make something?

Speaking- using your words to make a change?

Cooking something yummy you'd like to share the recipe on?






How are you using your gifts TODAY to craft a meaningful life?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 21: Sharing Easter Through Snail Mail

Day 21: Sharing Easter Through Snail Mail
If you’re on our mailing list, your children can expect to find a short, cylindrical package sharing the joy of Easter in your mailbox early next week!
Inside, the littles will find:
· “New Creation” butterfly craft
· Egg candy pack
· 2 rolls of Smartees
Here are the links for the materials I used to make the craft and the candy pack:
I am doing this butterfly craft with my kids as well, and we are using it as a spring board to learn God’s promise of new life through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), if you’re interested.
How are YOU sharing the good news of Easter?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 20: Easter Kickoff, Making a Resurrection Set

Day 20: Easter Kickoff, Making a Resurrection Set

We started our daily Easter activities yesterday by painting and coloring a few decorations for the window, but hit it in earnest starting today!

We started by assembling mini-books (link at end of post) which tell the Easter story in age-appropriate terms and length. The littles are familiar with the story, as we made a resurrection set with toilet paper rolls for putting on puppet shows a couple weeks ago (link below).

We made the books, read the story, and started to get out materials for painting a resurrection printable. Little Lady was looking for glue sticks in the odds and ends craft drawer, and ran across some raw wooden peg people I was saving for “something special”…she purposed them immediately! Running over to the craft boxes, she pulled out her resurrection set and paper dolls box…

“Hey- look- we can make Jesus and all the guys (characters) for Easter!”

I went with it, pushing aside the activity I had planned, and let her lead. I had work to do today, which I did off and on while facilitating and supervising her project, using about 25% of the table- the other 75% was all bits and bobbles and creating.
BEST idea: I am not exaggerating when I say that she spent the WHOLE DAY on this: she started at about 10 a.m. and we glued the last bean on the tomb at about 5 p.m. Of course she took breaks for bathroom, to color in another book, to ride a tractor toy around, to watch an episode of Dragon Tales, etc., but she would come right back and pick up where she left off.
I have to emphasize that this was “little-led:” I asked questions, helped with the grown up things, and redirected at times, but this is all based on her ideas…which makes it a million times more meaningful than if I would have proposed the idea and led her through it myself. Example:
Me: “What should we do with the first peg person?”
Her: “Make it Jesus when He rose again, when he went up to Heaven.”
Me: “What do we do first?”
Her: “He needs clothes- hold on…(she pulls out an Easter book, finds a picture of the Risen Christ, and points at it) look, He has a blue robe and a purple thing (sash). Here…(she rifles around in the paper dolls box, coming up with a piece of blue felt and a purple ribbon bit). Here they are!”
Me: “Now what? (I let her fumble around with the scissors to cut out an appropriately sized & shaped felt piece for the robe- she glued it on with a glue stick, which didn’t work very well. She asked for a different kind of glue, which I supplied. I helped glue the sash). What’s next while Jesus’s clothes dry?”
Her: “Now we make the Marys. I need the paints to paint their dresses.”
You get the idea…I helped her select materials only after she asked for them- didn’t push, didn’t prod- let her sift through things to find appropriate materials. I did explain that gluing real grass on the tomb area wouldn’t work very well, which went over like a ton of bricks. I offered my idea that I didn’t think Jesus needed a crown, but when she rolled her eyes and patiently told me that He was “THE KING” and didn’t I know that kings wear crowns, we went with that too. We also couldn’t find anything suitable for the rock to close the tomb, so we are still on the hunt for a large rock…but this is what we came up with for now, which I think is pretty cool.
Also impressive, to me at least: when she showed it to almost-three-year-old Little Man, I asked if he knew who each of the characters was, he immediately pointed at each, calling them: “Jesus, two angels, two soldiers, and the two ladies.” He also identified the tomb as “the tomb.” Neat, Little Mister.
It’s such a happy little feeling in my heart to watch them go about the business of learning about God in a way that seems so natural, engaging, exciting, meaningful, and fun: lots of store bought toys sat around un-played-with, lots of TV droned on un-watched at my house today…yay!
Resurrection Story Mini-book from Bible Story Printables at

Resurrection Set with toilet paper rolls from Catholic Icing (even though we are Lutheran)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 19: Tornados, Revisited

Day 19: Tornados, Revisited
The littles happened across our tornado resources box this morning, so we went with it- here’s a quick recap:
· read a few books about tornados
· used a diagram and body motions to act out warm air swirling up and cold air swirling down
· drew tornado pictures
· assembled our storm safety kit to store in the bathroom (our safe spot during storms)
· built a model tornado in a peanut butter jar…which blew their minds!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 18: The Lesson of the Broken Cross

Day 18: The Lesson of the Broken Cross
Little Lady wanted to hold the Easter cross ornament in the store today. After fumbling around with it and being told SEVERAL times that she needed to hold it carefully or it could break, she dropped it…and it shattered into four pieces.
She of course cried and had a fit…and then tried to hide it on a low shelf and walk away!
Halt! Not ok on so many levels!
Forget the rest of the schedule: sit down in the aisle and work this out.

“How did the cross get broken?”
“It fell.”
“No, it was dropped…by who? Yes, you. Why?”
“Because I didn’t do what my Mommy told me. I made a bad choice Waaaaaaaaah…”
“How can we fix this mistake?”
“Put it back on the shelf for the lady.”
“What lady?”
“The lady who fixes things.”
“Nope- try again.”
“Take it home- I can fix it. I am good at fixing things. I can use tape and glue.”
“Will it be the same as it was when we found it?”
“No…but it will be ok. I will still love it because it’s Jesus’s cross, and He forgives us when we make mistakes.”
SO glad I took the time to sort this out instead of just getting angry and moving on with a bad attitude on both of us all afternoon. Little Lady carried the broken pieces all the way through the rest of the shopping trip, apologized to the cashier, and handed her the dollars to pay for it.
Next on the agenda: working through how to handle it when Little Lady asks the cashier to pray with her about the broken cross, and the cashier looks at her like she’s from Mars…hmmm…perhaps something for a future post…
Question to think on: what do our responses to bad choices teach the little ones about love, patience, punishment, and forgiveness?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 17: Host a St. Patrick's Day Toddler Party

Day 17: Host a St. Patrick’s Day Toddler Party!

10 kids, infant through age 4 + St. Patty’s Day Party at Miss Sarah’s house = most fun I’ve had in so long!

Green Snacks:
· Honeydew
· Grapes
· Green pepper
· Cucumber
· Broccoli
· Green ranch dip

Green Treats
· Shamrock sugar cookies
· Mini-mint 3 Musketeers bars
· Mint double-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
· Leprechaun gold chocolate coins

Green Drinks
· Green milk (from the green cows in Ireland)
· Sierra Mist Natural

Goodie Bags
· Shamrock blow up ball
· Green silly straw
· Leprechaun puppet kit
· Lucky Charms
· Candy
· Stickers

· Leprechaun foam craft
· Green snacks and treats
· Play and have fun with our friends!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 16: Best Ever Sugar Cookies

Day 16: Best Ever Sugar Cookies

All-time favorite sugar cookie recipe- would love to give someone credit for it, but I found it online years ago. Wanna try some? Here you go!

Sarah’s Favorite Sugar Cookies
· 1 cup softened butter
· 1 cup brown sugar, packed
· 2 ½ cups flour, sifted
· 1 ½ tsp. almond extract
· 1 tsp. vanilla
· ¼ tsp. salt
· 1 large egg

Mix butter, brown sugar, egg, almond extract & vanilla. Mix well with a hand mixer. Stir in salt and mix in flour. Mix until smooth. Place on wax paper and roll out gently. Use a cookie cutter to get cookies. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 9 minutes.
Once these are cool, I like to glaze them in powdered sugar icing and saturate them in sprinkles…
Powdered Sugar Icing
· 1 cup powdered sugar
· ¼ tsp. vanilla
· milk

Whisk in milk until you achieve the consistency of runny glue. (Technical, I know.) Stir in the vanilla and food coloring. Toss the cookies in the icing, face down. Swirl them around to cover the tops, shake off excess glaze, shake on sprinkles, set on wax paper to harden.

These cookies are a good choice to make with kids, though you may need to add in a little extra flour to make the dough sturdier. Roll out to between ¼ and ½ inch for the littles, and help them get the cookies up with a scraper. When they help, I let them use frosting from a can and their own sprinkles- the glaze is just too runny for them to manage.

Have fun- send me pictures and let me know what you think if you try this recipe!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 15: Baking Cupcakes Together

Day 15: Baking Cupcakes Together

Funfetti cupcakes! What a perfect way to get kids involved in the kitchen! The mix plus three ingredients- stir- bake- frost- sooooo easy and fun! (And it doesn’t hurt that these are my favorite guilty pleasure!) Everyone has a job, we take turns, we marvel over how the individual ingredients combine and transform into puffy little cakes right before our eyes, we experiment with food coloring, we always use sprinkles- we love making cupcakes together at our house.

What do YOU make together at your house?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 14: Teaching Prayers

Day 14: Teaching Prayers

Terrible picture, beautiful sight.

My daughter picked up this pocket devotional on our way out of church this evening, saying:

“What is this?”

“It’s a prayer book.”

“Well, I need to bring a prayer book home with me to help me pray to God tonight.”


Snapped this picture getting into the car, but I wish it would have been a video so you could hear what I heard as she “read” the book to herself:

“Dear God, this is for praising you, and I’m praying for my mommy and daddy and brother, and I love you, and thanking you for making the world, and please help me make good choices, amen.”


That pretty much sums it up, now doesn’t it? Moments like these show me that
all the louder-than-talking whispers in church, the doodling in the register
book, sliding under the pew and smiling at the people behind us while I pretend
not to notice, ground up cheerios in the carpet when we leave, little man
trying to give the pastor a high five at communion time…even through all that,
something right, and something true, and something IMPORTANT is soaking into
their little brains.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 13: Break!

Day 13: Break!

So you know those days when, as lovely and as wonderful and intriguing as your children are, you find your patience…well… waning?
We had a day like that today: coming off of a mini-vacation, a day full of driving- by dinner time the kids had to have been sick of me, and I was ready for a break to recharge!

Daddy + Hungry Hungry Hippos= Everyone’s Happy!

Break…breathe…sleep…On with crafting tomorrow!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 12: Exploring

Day 12: Exploring

Visiting with family, spent most of the day shopping till we dropped. Lots of cart-riding, a little crankiness, a good amount of tired-ness.

But after all that, took time to slow it down for the littles…

Keeping it simple: explore. Pause for a moment to take a kid’s-eye-view of the world. What is this? What does it do? How does it work? Why is it here? What will happen next?

Today we were fascinated by flowers poking up in the warmer spring weather. Why don’t these things look like the rest of the grass? Who planted them? What are they? What will they look like? Will birds eat them? What color will they be? Will they look different tomorrow?

Question. Answer. Ask, don’t tell. Explore and enjoy.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 11: Cards for Tornado Damage Victims

Day 11: Cards for Tornado Damage Victims

Get your kids involved in the relief efforts for the recent tornado damage in the Midwest!

One way to help kids feel as though they can make a tangible difference for someone in need is to create a card expressing their feelings of connection and encouragement. Our family’s current goal is to make 30 cards to send, using templates provided by K-LOVE Radio.

K-LOVE radio’s Encouraging Card templates are available here:
These cards are being collected for the next two months, so get the crayons out, kids!

This link also provides information to help you make monetary donations to help relief efforts in Indiana, and there is information available for food, clothing, and supply drives with pick up sites in the Indianapolis area- for example, Henryville, Indiana in particular is in need of school supplies, which could provide a meaningful way to get children involved in donating goods to other children in need.

Craft a caring child- help in a small way today!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 10: Sending Snail Mail

Day 10: Sending Snail Mail

Why do we view gift-giving as an obligation? The pressure to buy “more” and “bigger” kills the point of giving.

Wouldn’t it be nice to come home from a hard day and find a package in your mailbox, sent only with the intention of brightening your day?

From a child’s point of view, how exciting would it be to receive a small package in the mail, addressed to YOU, covered in stickers…inside you find a letter, a craft project, a small toy…something that says, “I thought of you today; I thought you might like this; I hope this brings you a smile; I value you; I love you.”

St. Patrick’s Day goodie mailer: simple leprechaun puppet kit (leprechaun image from, green bead necklace, novelty shamrock coins, small sticker sheet in a clear bag with a free printable gift bag topper from
Also included is a personalized pen pal-type letter from my children with some pictures taken in March: hello, what are you up to, here's what we're up to, we love you. Pack in a 6x9 inch envelope with leprechaun picture on the front. Boom.

Result: low cost, quick to assemble, inexpensive to ship…hopefully these little mailers bring their recipients a smile…I can say with 100% certainty that if my two received something like this in the mail, they would be ESTATIC. Heck, if my children received an envelope that included nothing more than a post-it note that said “I love you” they would probably sleep with
it under their pillow at night.

Take a minute. Send a snail-mail smile to someone who needs it today!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Day 9: Building St. Patrick's Day Words

Day 9: Building St. Patrick’s Day Words

Here’s the Little Miss working on word building. I made
snack-sized baggies containing the letter tiles necessary to build the
following St. Patrick’s Day-themed words:
· rainbow
· green
· lucky
· leprechaun
· Irish
· pot of gold

I had intended to use the resources on the PreKinders site
to print my own letter tile mats for this activity,,
but she happened across the baggies of letters and was excited about exploring
them, so we went with it.

I started by writing the word “rainbow” on a sheet of
construction paper. I dumped the letters and turned them over for her, saying,

“These are the letters you need to build the word ‘rainbow.’ Can you place these is the same order as the word ‘rainbow’- r-a-i-n-b-o-w?”

She immediately tried to line the letter tiles up below using one-to-one correspondence on the word, which didn’t work because of the size. She looked at me like, duh Mom, this won’t fit.

“Where are the empty squares to put the letters in?”

“We don’t have those today. What will you do?”

“Oh- I’ll just put them in the same order with no empty
squares.” (Crisis averted.)

After each word, I pointed at each letter and we spelled the word aloud together. We will use this activity again in a couple days to build the words, and then to find them in our St. Patrick’s Day book on a word hunt. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Day 8: Sorting, Sorting, Sorting

Day 8: Sorting, Sorting, Sorting

Toddler Task: Sort Bears by Size

Little Man’s job was to sort the green bears by size: he
used the words “BIG,” “medium,” and “tiny” to label the groups. He lined the
bears up to compare sizes, talking to himself and the bears as he worked:

“Is this BIG bear? No, he’s tiny. You go tiny bears pile.”

“Are you BIG? Yup- go over there!”

(Me) “Tell me about your groups, Buddy.”

(Pointing) “All the BIG bears, all the medium bears, and all
the tiny bears. They’re a picnic- (pointing at all the groups) Daddy bears,
Mommy bears, and Baby bears- ALL a family bears.”

PreK Task: Sort Green Objects, Create Categories, Justify

Given a bag of green objects (toys, play food, cars,
feather, etc.), sort the items into groups. Don’t predetermine the groups- let
the PreK Kiddo examine the attributes of the items and create her own
categories. Discuss rationale.

“I’m done- here are my groups!”

“Tell me how you decided to put these things into these

“This group is things with wheels, this is a group of trees,
this is a group of egg stuff, this is a group of bad guys- wait! the stepsister
belongs with the bad guys! (regrouped) This is the dinosaur, he’s the only good guy, this
is a group of food, this group is eating stuff (utensil & plate), and the
feather and the lace go together because they are long.”

“The way you grouped these things makes sense to me, except
the egg stuff- talk to me about those choices.”

“Well, there are eggs and a cup to put the egg stuff in when
you crack the eggs and cook with them.”

“Ah- makes perfect sense!” :)

What’s the point?

In everyday terms, kids learn basic math skills, like
counting, sorting, comparing, grouping, categorizing, and problem solving
through these kinds of play activities. If you want to get fancy and connect
these activities to state standards that your child will be expected to master
in kindergarten, sorting activities such as these teach and promote early
algebra skills- see below.

Indiana State Standard for Mathematics in Kindergarten: Standard 3
Algebra and Functions
Students sort and classify objects.
K.3.1 Identify, sort, and classify
objects by size, number, and other attributes. Identify objects that do not belong to a particular group.
Example: Find the squares in a collection of shapes. Sort these squares into large ones
and small ones and explain how you decided which squares went in
each pile.

Find the complete set of Mathematics Standards for Kindergarten
from INDOE here:

Find more info for activities in Sorting, Comparing, and Classifying at

For more ideas on how to teach and promote early math
skills, see this awesome post by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed from
“Teach Preschool” at

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Day 7: Hunting and Gathering: Tornados for Toddlers

Day 7: Hunting and Gathering: Tornados for Toddlers

While the littles are away, the Momma will play…riiiight…using
this Mommy-time to gather materials on weather, and specifically, tornados.
Little Lady has had questions about tornados in relation to the recent
devastation in our part of the States. I briefly described what a tornado is
and the damage it can cause, but I kept our conversation pretty vague to start
off with: it was pre-bedtime, and Little Miss already has a fear of storms…without
handy teaching resources, I didn’t want to fuel any nightmares! Mommy says: let’s
stick a pin in tornados for tonight. She shifted gears almost immediately:

“What about the kids that the tornado took their toys and
everything away?”

“Well, how do you think they feel?”

(wide eyes) “Sad! and upset…and maybe mad.”

(I nod.)

“We should send them a card- that would make them smile! And
we can share some of our toys with them!”

(I smile.)

And so, here I am: hunting down materials to meet my three
goals in using this teachable moment:

Weather: Teach about tornados in a way that sparks interest,
shares facts, and doesn’t create irrational fear.

Safety: Teach life skills on Storm Safety at home: what to
do when sirens go off, how to stay safe, creating an emergency bag to help
little have a sense of security in storm situations.

Empathy: Seek opportunities to involve the children in
helping those suffering from the recent tornado damage: making cards,
collecting coins, donating toys/books/clothes, etc.

Materials gathered so far: pictures of tornados, toddler-friendly
diagram of a tornado forming, bookmarked videos on the lap top showing tornados
(not too scary), Craft Hope book (for ideas on things to make that could be
donated), weather books.

Now: after I get my “day job” work done, I’m off to the
library and the teacher store. Also following up on service opportunities with
a friend in the radio business. More to come…

Do YOU have resources or ideas to share on teaching toddlers
and preschoolers about weather, tornados, and storm safety? I’d love for you to