Our Christmastime Learning 2018

This is the best thing that has ever happened to our homeschool…ever. It is now 11:55am and Lucy is napping, but Lilly Belle is still doing school. She has been working and playing since 6:30am…with no breaks except to take a 10-minute tidy break. She had a hard time even stopping to do that.

The magic…putting each of their Christmas learning activities in gift boxes! She is currently working on her 18th activity for the day. And the rule is that every time she grabs a box, she has to do and complete whatever is in that box. She has been doing crafts, reading, learning new math concepts, playing, doing some science…and best part, Lucy has gotten to participate in most of them with her!

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We have been listening to The Nutcracker and Christmas music on our Echo Dot all morning while they play and learn. My plan was to take them to Disney Springs after lunch and nap today but Lilly Belle doesn’t want to leave! I’ve read them a few stories.

Oh, AND…they did Morning Basket with me for a good 45 minutes before jumping into the Christmas Shelf activities.

This is how we are going to be doing school until mid-January when my in laws get here for a visit. Then we will take a break while they are here and after they leave, the shelf will be switched to winter learning for the rest of January, then love and Valentine’s theme and then Spring…and then a break for a bit when baby brother is born end of March. After that…we’ll see how it’s going 😉

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I have been doing stories on my Instagram this morning of all of our Christmas activities as the girls are doing them. I’ll be saving those as highlights so that you can always go back and see the girls doing the activities and how we played with each box.

What happens once the girls master an activity or a craft is complete?

So once Lilly Belle masters an activity, Lucy gets bored with an activity, or it is a craft that is completed, then I will be taking that activity out and replacing it with something new. Every weekend from now through mid-January when we are done, I will go through all the boxes and evaluate if they should stay, be changed in any way, or get the boot. There are always more Christmas crafts to be done, and a lot more learning ideas I have for them, so I’m not worried. I actually have a lot more Christmas activities I purchased on TPT or am making for Lilly Belle that need to still be added. I am also always thinking of new ways I want Lucy to learn and play, so I’ll be adding ones for her as well. She just turned 2 the 1st of this month and her attention span (is usually) only around 3-5 minutes long on an activity.

How did I decide what to add to the gift boxes?

I thought long and hard about what the girls are each working on and learning. Lilly Belle is soaring with her reading, so I wanted to be sure that at least a few of the boxes had reading activities and phonics in them. The majority of her reading learning right now is just from…reading books! But, I still want her working on phonics practice to really get those skills down. She also has just a few concepts she had to learn yet from the Moffatt Girls Kindergarten Math Made Fun before she moves on to the First Grade Math Made Fun in January, so I chose Christmas themed activities I found or created myself that would work on her really getting those skills down pat before moving her on to the next level curriculum. For Lucy, I know she loves fine motor activities and is good at them. They keep her interest as well, so I was sure to add that in for her. I also want to start working on counting to 5 with her because her speech is picking up, so I have a few counting activities ready for her. Other than that, she will get to listen to Christmas stories, play with her sister, and have quiet learning time with me when she wants to. We also let her play with us whenever I’m working on something that Lilly Belle can really only do. This morning we played a board game and just let Lucy have her own game piece and spin the spinner to feel like she was playing with us. She sat in my lap the whole time and loved it so much.

Where do you find all these resources?

My favorite “stores” in the world are Teachers Pay Teachers and our supply closet. I make a lot of the girl’s curriculum myself as that is what I do, but I also love finding things on Teachers Pay Teachers! And I always raid our supply closet first before purchasing ANYTHING. I save all of their activities from year to year so I already had 2 full bins ready to pull out this year from things I purchased this year. I sorted through those bins, pulled out anything that was age appropriate for them now and put away anything that was either now too easy for Lilly Belle or still too difficult for Lucy. The rest, I started adding to the boxes. Once I had done that, I went to Michaels and got all the gift boxes! And then I realized The Dollar Tree has them as well, so that is how I was able to get so many. I probably spent about $20 on the actual gift boxes themselves, but now we’ll have them every year to do this again! I’ll probably keep doing this until they graduate high school 😉 No but really…it’s so fun, you guys! Okay, so once I gathered what we had, made trips to Michaels and The Dollar Tree (and a bit from Target), then I headed online to Teachers Pay Teachers and would search like “Christmas Phonics Activities” or “First Grade Christmas Math Centers”. I picked out the ones I thought she would enjoy, bought those, printed, laminated and cut them out. And now…they’re set to go in the boxes.

What is in the boxes?!!! I will be blogging again every Monday so you can see what I have taken away, what they have finished, and what I have added in for the next week! So here it is, all of the current boxes the girls are working on this week. Today is Monday, and we’ll do this again on Tuesday/Wednesday. Thursday we go to Day School all day and I’ll be bringing a lot of them with me for my students to enjoy as well (I’m the Kindergarten/1st Grade teacher) and then we’ll play again on Friday. I’ll switch it all out and fix/change it over the weekend and we’ll start again on the following Monday.

Box #1: I picked up the Find It Fast Game in the Target Dollar Spot and the Crazy Eights game at The Dollar Tree. Lilly Belle, Lucy and I sat and played these for over a half hour today. They will be staying on our shelf again next week for sure.

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The Good and The Beautiful Safety Science Unit: This will be on our shelf the entire month as well. We have noticed that Lilly Belle is testing her independence more and more lately and we want to allow her to grow and do that, but want to be sure she is safe while doing so. This unit is from The Good and The Beautiful and will be super helpful for her and also a lot of fun!

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Box #2: I love searching Teachers Pay Teachers for learning goodies. For this shelf I searched “Christmas Math Activities” and one of my finds was from an adorable shop, Amanda’s Little Learners.

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Box #3: This box is filled with play dough toys! I am making some Christmas play dough for the girls tonight so they’ll be excited when this box gets pulled out next. Today, Lilly Belle used the cookie cutters as a tracing activity.

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I talked about our December Morning Basket all in our last blog post, but I wanted to share what I have included in the little tins here. One is pencils (and my scissors – not in this photo), one filled with colored pencils, one with crayons, and one with odds and ends: kid scissors, tape, glue sticks, and pencil sharpeners.

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I have these plastic cups here for the girls to use for a number of different activities. This week they are using them to stack “Christmas trees”. I grabbed these at our local Dollar Tree.

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Box #4: This box kept both of the girls entertained today for the entire time I took a shower. That’s a win in my book! Neither of the girls ever really super love Dot a Dot markers lately, but they got into this activity for a while making cute little wreaths.

Dot a Dot Markers

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Box #5: The girls did not get to this activity today, but we will play tomorrow. I had a bunch of these wooden discs from Michaels and bought a couple packs of these alphabet stickers from The Dollar Spot at Target. I have a pair for each letter in this tin.

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Box #6: This was one of the girl’s favorite boxes today. I made it for Lucy, but Lilly Belle (5) ended up having just as much fun. They were cracking up and being silly. I gave them each a magnet wand and they tried to get as many jingle bells onto their magnet wand as they could by swishing it around the box. Then they would slide them all off at one and laugh and laugh.

Magnet Wands

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Box #7: This ended up being something we all loved making. Lucy loved that she could do this by herself. Lilly Belle was having fun making the biggest mess she could and I had fun getting to be creative for a bit. This was a 12-pack of foam snowflakes from Michaels and we just covered them in designs with glitter glue.

Crayola Glitter Glue

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Box #8: This one was fun for Lilly Belle to do on her own today. She didn’t finish it today and I’m glad! She will be able to finish it tomorrow and we can hang it up somewhere in her room so she can take the chains off each day until Christmas. I got this little paper chain pack for her from Michaels.

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Box #9: Another fun activity from Amanda’s Little Learners. This is the Winter Sentence Matching activity and she did every single one. She was super proud to show me how she could read them all. She had to read each sentence and then find the matching picture.

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Box #10: Another matching activity. I actually didn’t mean to make this one. I was sitting with Lucy going through our Christmas bins. I looked over and she had found this pack of stickers (from last year’s Christmas card envelopes) and another pack of the wooden discs. She had seen me making the alphabet set the day before and was now sticking the stickers on them herself. So, we sat together and made this set. She was so proud of herself! Lilly Belle and I played this one today and Lucy loved collecting each of our pairs once we found them and putting them back into the Santa bag.

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Box #11: Bitty Beginnings is one our favorite shops! Lilly Belle loved this activity for preschool and I thought Lucy would be ready so I got it all set up for her. I figured she would put the pom poms on and I would count out loud, but…she didn’t quite have enough patience for it yet. I think it would be great starting around age 2 1/2 with a parent. She’ll for sure love this a ton next year! SO…what we are going to do instead tomorrow is have Lilly Belle do some addition with the pages by adding all the trees on each page together.

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Box #12: Another hit and the easiest one to put together. I gave Lilly Belle a pen and Lucy some crayons and they made Christmas cards. Lilly Belle wrote a card for her music teacher and Lucy colored in a card for “dada”. I found these cards at The Dollar Tree.

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The Target Dollar Spot is always one of my favorite places, but especially during the holidays! I found this puzzle for Lilly Belle 2 years ago. She still isn’t into puzzles because she just automatically assumes it will be hard so she doesn’t choose it, but a few days ago she did it on her own. I put it on her shelf because I want her to start challenging herself.

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Box #13: By far the biggest hit of the day! I added plastic ornaments, craft poms and sequins to the box. I got all the supplies at Michaels. The girls and I each filled an ornament and then went and hung it on the tree. I’m excited to have these added to our tree each year now. They turned out so cute!

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Box #14: Another super easy box to throw together and another hit for both the girls. This is one of Lucy’s favorite activities. She really enjoys fine motor activities like this. Lilly Belle made a bracelet for her music teacher. We were a bit late to her class today because I had a physical therapy appointment. She ran in and gave her teacher the bracelet and even though her teacher was in the middle of playing the piano for the class, she paused, put on the bracelet and kept going. Lilly Belle lit up. It was pretty adorable. I’m sure there will be many more bracelets made with this box! I got the beads and pipe cleaners at Michaels.

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Activity #15: We didn’t get a chance to play with this today either so it is one of the top on my list tomorrow. This is from our Let’s Play School Christmas Sight Words Pack.

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Box #16: Lilly Belle was pretty pumped when she opened this box up. I grabbed each of these crafts from Michaels and they’ll keep her busy for a while!

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Box #17: This was the last box Lilly Belle grabbed today. She had been doing the activities for 7 hours and I told her she could keep playing tomorrow. This is from our Let’s Play School Christmas Preschool Pack. It is meant to be a counting activity, but since Lilly Belle can already do that, she will be using this to show me different ways she can make each number (example: 5+5=10, 9+1=10, 8+2=10). She’ll use the different colored bows as well. The bows are from The Dollar Tree.

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Box #18: I played this with Lucy the other day and she enjoyed it. I made it with the hopes that it would keep her busy during Morning Basket time. The elves are from our Let’s Play School Christmas Preschool Pack and the buttons are from JoAnn Fabrics.

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I still want Lilly Belle to continue with her Explode the Code series because it has been helping her so much with her reading from Day 1. She has now done books A, B, C and 1. She’s about halfway through book 2 now and we do about 5 pages a day.

Explode the Code A | Explode the Code B | Explode the Code C | Explode the Code 1 | Explode the Code 2

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Another piece of our Kindergarten curriculum that I didn’t want to put away just yet. Lilly Belle is really enjoying this and I love that it’s helping her so much. I have also included our Let’s Play School Christmas Songs Copy Work set for us to do together. We play the songs and then trace and copy the lyrics as we listen.

Handwriting Without Tears : Letters and Numbers for Me

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We love everything from The Moffatt Girls. Lilly Belle is now doing the Kindergarten No Prep Pack for December as independent work. I am using the Kindergarten pack for her now as review. I also put in this activity from our Christmas Sight Words Pack.

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Box #19: One of the very first shops I found when Lilly Belle was 2 was Busy Little Bugs. She has a cute Etsy shop and is also on Teachers Pay Teachers. These two activities are from her Christmas Math Centers Pack.

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Box #20: We got asked about this one a lot today! Lilly Belle and Lucy both love playing with Pattern Blocks and this activity from You Clever Monkey was a hit last year and again today. Lucy is too little yet for it so she just plays with the blocks, but Lilly Belle loved this!

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I got both of these games from the Target Dollar Spot! We haven’t played the memory game yet but it looks adorable and Lilly Belle had so much fun learning how to play the Ski Lifts and Slopes game with me this morning!

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Box #21: I have cards mixed together in this tin from two separate sets. One from our Let’s Play School Christmas Preschool Pack and one from Bitty Beginnings Nativity Preschool Pack. Last year at this time we owned Bitty Beginnings for a while. During the time that I owned Bitty Beginnings we were trying to combine both shops so that the activities would blend and be as one big shop together for Let’s Play School. So some of the activities starting to be very similar and some even the same 🙂 I loved pulling this out and seeing these all mixed together when we got the Christmas activities out this year. Jen and I are still very good friends and I loved being apart of Bitty Beginnings for a while while she got to step back and just be mommy. She missed it a ton so we ended up selling it back so now we are separate again 🙂 We love Bitty Beginnings so much! Her shop is closed now for the holidays, but once it opens again – head on over and grab all you can. Our girls both love her activities!

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Box #22: Another math game from our Let’s Play School Christmas Preschool Pack. Today Lucy took over the Santa erasers, so Lilly Belle matched up the number cards with the number word cards.

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Box #23: The last of our boxes for this week. If you have not yet heard of Craft and Boogie, you need to head over and grab a box! Meghan has the cutest craft kits I’ve ever seen and she is one hard working mama!!! She is amazing with her children and amazing with her business. She’s kicking butt and I love supporting her shop! Lilly Belle freaks OUT when she sees the boxes arrive in the mail. This is from her Advent Kit. The girls and I made this one over the weekend and it turned out so cute!

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The last activity Lilly Belle worked on today is not shown here because I didn’t get a picture yet, but it is our tradition of her making beeswax candles. We did this last year and will continue to do it every year. I buy them for her over Thanksgiving weekend and she works on them all throughout the holiday to give as gifts for our family and her teachers. She loves it!

So that does it…Until next week!

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