Hello, blog! How I’ve missed you! That new job and grad work really tried to drive a wedge between us, but I’m back, baby, and I love you still!
Speaking of love…
February is here, my dear: the perfect time of year to celebrate God’s GREAT BIG LOVE with the littles in your life while playing and learning together! Let’s talk about some ideas for celebrating God’s love for us and our love for one another as we learn and play together this month.
Below I listed the materials we’ve gathered for our February learning and play activities, which fall into five categories: Sensory Play, Learning Games, Crafting for a Cause, Love Scripture Advent Bags, and Love Books.
Sensory Play: For sensory play this month so far, I’ve noticed my almost-four-year-old Little Man choosing the rice, pasta, scoops, pom poms, and pipe cleaners every time. He uses the pipe cleaners and pom poms to make Truffala Trees (inspired by Seuss’s Lorax, of course), and lines the pasta up to make seats and roads. His sharks usually make an appearance here (because he “wuvs them!”) and he creates ocean floor scenes, scooping out valleys, sprinkling down rice-rain on the scenes, and having fun. My five-year-old Little Lady has been bringing her tea set and kitchen ware into the sensory zone: she’s been using the scoops and measuring spoons to carefully divide the rice amongst her tea party guests, adding the colored pasta and items to make “Valentine’s soup,” and narrating the whole way. I have a little idea of taking pictures of their process at the sensory table this month and making them into a board book based on their narrations…we’ll see… J
Learning Games: Breaking into my armoire of teaching supplies, I pulled out all of my math manipulatives that were red, pink, or white, along with anything else that fit the color scheme or had anything to do with love! The real joy here was printing off the free Valentine’s Day Printable Packs from Homeschool Creations (link below), cutting out the pieces, using my NEW home laminator to laminate, stuffing the tracing pages into page protectors, and assembling the games in a cute binder- yay!
Crafting for a Cause: We make crafts all the time, but I’ve tried to be more intentional about focusing our crafting gifts on helping others through service projects each month. This month we are making Valentine’s cards to donate to a local retirement home & care facility. We will do some of these on our own, and we will have a card-making party with our little friends to do a bunch assembly-line style. We are also collecting coins to support the Lutheran Malaria Initiative, which our church is focusing on this month as well. The kids will write a letter to their grandparents and family members asking for a donation of coins- the goal here is to stay small so the kids can get a sense of how many pennies make a dollar, what one dollar can do for malaria victims, what ten dollars can do, etc. (More info. below!)
Love Scripture Advent Bags: I found these great scripture cards offered FREE from Happy Home Fairy (link below); there are 14 cards, each with a different love verse from the Bible (NIV). She listed several ideas for their use on her blog. I chose to put together 14 numbered treat bags, each containing one of the scripture cards and a treat for each of the littles. Each morning they get to open a bag, read the scripture verse with me, and hang it on their bathroom mirror…and enjoy the treat, of course! We are displaying all the love verses on the mirror, and every time we’re in the bathroom (potty, brushing teeth, washing hands, taking baths, etc.) we pick one to read. We are also focusing on memorizing John 3:16 this month, which was our card for Day 1, so we are posted that one in the car to practice there too!
Love Books: I went through the kids’ room libraries and pulled any books related to love…and what do you know, the Bible was the first one in the basket! J We keep the themed book basket in the play area or on the sofa table: since this is the only book basket in the greater part of the house (the rest are in the kids’ rooms), these books provide our go-to reading material throughout the day. Snuggling and reading is wonderful, of course, but even greater are the conversations that come out while we read. Guiding the reading experience to be seen through the lens of teaching God’s love for us and for one another helps keep the focus where I want it, and leads to more life-applicable lessons, in my opinion!
· Red & pink colored rice
· Red & pink colored wagon wheel pasta
· Fuzzies- pom poms, pipe cleaners
· Things that are pink and red- dollar store trinkets, beads, Toob animals that are pink or red
· Heart shapes- felt & plush heart shapes, sparkly heart ornaments
· Snap cubes- sorting, patterns, building, adding/subtracting
· Color tiles- building, adding/subtracting
· Lacing cards- fine motor skills
· People & pawns- sorting, patterns, adding/subtracting, storytelling
· Building words- letter recognition, sight words, scripture verses
· Red bears- counting, sorting, storytelling, adding/subtracting
· Conversation hearts- sorting, counting, graphing, letter recognition, eating… J
· Printable Packs- Preschool and Kindergarten Printable Packs from Homeschool Creations (link below), include 20+ pages each of age-appropriate themed learning activities and associated scripture verse; tracing, letters, sight words, counting, matching, sorting, patterns, adding/subtracting, etc. Here is the link to all of their FREE printable packs: http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2012/10/printables-from-a-to-z-from-homeschool-creations/
Crafting for a Cause
· Valentine Cards for grandmas and grandpas at a local retirement home/care facility- Cardstock, felt, stickers, rhinestones, glitter glue, glitter, ribbon, patterned scissors, doilies, etc.
· Lutheran Malaria Initiative- paper maché boxes for kids to decorate with above supplies; they will use these to collect coins to donate to the LMI work in sub-Saharan Africa throughout the month, then sort and graph their coins, then decide what their coins can purchase ($1 can help a child with malaria receive medicine, $10 can provide one family with a treated mosquito net, $50 can pay for malaria prevention messages on African radio, etc. Learn more at www.lutheranmalaria.org
Love Scripture Advent Bags
· Numbered treat bag for each of the first 14 days of February
· Treats & trinkets for each child to put in each bag (candy, mini board books, small toys, etc.)
· Daily scripture cards, each featuring a bible verse based on love- printed FREE from the super awesome Happy Home Fairy blog at http://happyhomefairy.com/2012/01/24/a-valentines-day-countdown-free-printable/
· The Holy Bible J
· When You Were Just a Heartbeat by Laurel Molk
· The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
· National Geographic Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Valentine’s Day by Carolyn Otto
· The Five Senses of Love by Janet Parsons
· Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
· Strawberry Shortcake Be My Valentine by Megan E. Bryant
· The Berenstain Bears Love Their Neighbors by Jan & Mike Berenstain
· The Berenstain Bears God Love You! by Jan & Mike Berenstain
· I Love You Because You’re You by Liza Baker
· Daddy Kisses by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben
· How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
· Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman
· The Story of Valentine’s Day by Nancy Skarmeas
· Journey through Heartsongs by Mattie J.T. Stepanek
· Hope through Heartsongs by Mattie J.T. Stepanek
· Loving through Heartsongs by Mattie J.T. Stepanek
· Celebrate through Heartsongs by Mattie J.T. Stepanek ***Note- if you are not familiar with Mattie J.T. Stepanek, get familiar- he started writing poetry of peace and God’s love when he was three years old, suffered and succumbed to complications from Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy when he was a preteen…AMAZING story of a young person choosing JOY and impacting the world with his FAITH: http://www.mattieonline.com/?page_id=1762
Sending my love your way as you craft meaningful ways to celebrate LOVE with your littles this month!