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!

Christmas Morning Basket 2018

I say this every month, but every month it is true…I’m so excited about this Morning Basket! We are going to be doing school a lot more relaxed through the end of the year. In the morning I will be lighting a candle, turning on the Christmas lights and music and we’ll snuggle up on the couch and living room rug for Morning Basket. We rearranged our furniture and got a new coffee table. It’s going to make Morning Basket time so much more cozy. And I love cozy at Christmas time! I’m now 22 weeks pregnant and by the end of the year I’ll be 27 weeks and probably getting a bit uncomfortable. So, bring on the cozy and relaxed! We’ll be drawing a lot, reading the Bible a lot, working on some sticker books, playing games and I’ll be doing some serious reading aloud with the girls each morning.

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Here we go! Christmas Morning Basket 2018 – Girls ages: Lilly Belle about 5 years 4 months, Lucy about 2 years 1 month.

Bible:

Lilly Belle really wanted to start this back up again, so I got out her Write the Word for Kids book. I also got her the Adventure Bible to start reading with her Write the Word for Kids. She loves to journal and do copy work writing so this is right up her alley. I also found the girls a copy of The Very First Christmas from The Beginner’s Bible. We will read this story together often throughout the holiday. The girls will also be working in their Nativity Usborne First Sticker Books! They both love these and I love that for this one it has a really nice story along with it on each page. Lilly Belle will most likely fly though this because she could sit for hours filling them up. Lucy will do a few here and there over the course of the next month.

Poetry / Music:

For our usual poetry time this month, we will be learning and studying Christmas Carols with the Squilt Christmas Carols Volume One. I purchased this for the girls last year and Lilly Belle was a bit too young so we just touched on it, but this year we are going to get to dive in a lot more. Lilly Belle takes private voice and piano lessons as well as a Musical Theater and Group Voice class each week, so many of these music theory concepts will be things she knows already so I’m not worried now about it being overwhelming.

We will also be doing The Nutcracker Holiday Unit Study from Squilt Music! Lilly Belle will be doing this one as a research project. She is Obsessed (with a capital O) with the Nutcracker. She can audition when she is 7 and she is on a serious mission to be ready. As a dance teacher, this will be a lot of fun for me as well. I think we will really dive in deep with this and make it into a big thing. I may try to teach her some dances along with her learning the story more and lots of vocabulary and little projects to go along with this.

We will also be working on learning to play some Christmas songs on the piano together. For some handwriting practice this month, Lilly Belle will be using our Let’s Play School Christmas Songs Copy Work and Tracing pack.

Fairy Tales / Stories:

This one is going to make Lucy super happy! I picked up a copy of the 5 Minute Christmas Stories Disney. Each morning we will read a new story together from this book. Once we have read them all, we just start over. There are 12 stories included in this book and we usually do Morning Basket 4 days a week. This month we will most likely be doing Morning Basket on Sundays as well as a way to spend time together and remember to slow down and just enjoy each other. And again…because I’m pregnant and super tired lately.

Art:

I bought this Learn to Draw…Christmas! book for Lilly Belle last year and she loved it so much. I was excited to get it out again for her. There are 50 Christmas pictures included with some step by step drawing instruction for each. I also added in a few of the Target Dollar Spot blank books for her that I had left over from last Christmas. She can choose to draw while I read aloud or she can do this activity once Morning Basket is coming to an end or during Lucy’s nap time.

I also have a set of the Usborne Magic Painting Christmas Cards included in here for her. It includes 10 cards with envelopes and also a brush. She paints over the pictures with water and then once dry, she can write in that card the next day and we can send them out to family and friends. She eats this stuff up! Anything with making things for people, she’s all about it.

For Lucy I have included a copy of the Usborne Little First Stickers Christmas. There are over 300 reusable stickers she can play with. She likes to peel and stick stickers on lately so this will be fun to play with her while Lilly Belle is working on drawing or painting her Christmas cards.

Read Aloud Books:

Nutcracked – We’re pretty excited about this book! I will read them a few chapters every morning and play The Nutcracker orchestra music in the background. During this time they will be allowed to use anything from the Morning Basket and they may also go and grab a box from our Christmas Learning Shelf (I will link once I have it posted here).

A Boy Called Christmas – This story sounds so cute! It is the story of how Santa became Santa. There are pictures and I think this will be a fun and quick read aloud for the girls. We read aloud during Morning Basket, lunch, bath and bed time so between all of that, I know we will for sure read through both of these plus many, many more this month.

Sight Words Practice:

I have included two of our Let’s Play School Christmas Sight Words activities here in Morning Basket and I want to play both with her each morning. She is so close to knowing all of the Dolch Primer Sight Words now and just has a few she is stuck on. I added in the tracing activity as well as the Journey to the North Pole board game.

Extra for Lucy:

Christmastime Is Here! is an adorable Little People book. Both of our girls absolutely love these books as toddlers and early preschoolers. Lilly Belle read them all-the-time when she was little and now Lucy is loving them a ton. I like to have the holiday ones and we also have a few Disney ones. Lucy will just sit and lift all the flaps while I am reading or while Lilly Belle is working on something. Sometimes she wants me to read it to her, but mostly, both of the girls like/d to just sit quietly and look at these independently.

Phonics Practice:

I love adding in our Let’s Play School Kindergarten Bingo games for Morning Basket time. Lilly Belle always loves playing bingo, and these games have been helping her a lot of reading skills she is working on.

That does it! That’s our Christmas Morning Basket 2018!

 

 

 

November Morning Basket 2018

I am excited to post this for you before it’s actually November so that you can add any of these things if you’d like for your own Morning Basket. Putting our basket together each month is one of my favorite things to do. I love gathering everything and thinking about how much fun we’ll have together each morning learning and playing.

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I filled this basket a ton this month because we are now staying home more and more the more pregnant I am. We are going to spend our early mornings at home with Morning Basket, get ready, and then bring school out to the park each day. Our weather here is finally cooling down and my favorite thing to do is to bring a blanket to the park and do school while they can play at the same time. I’ll have Lilly Belle do a few things, and then go play, do a few things, and then go play. It helps us both so much and we get a lot more done. It also helps because Lucy can run around and she isn’t frustrated with us doing school.

I am going to be prepping snacks ahead of time for the month as well in a special basket in our pantry. That way, the night before I can pack our diaper bag and school bag and we’ll be set to go for hours at the playground every day. It’s going to be a really fun month together!

I will also do be doing a post sharing everything Lilly Belle and Lucy will be learning this month, I have a full month planned for the girls. Lilly Belle is going to be learning a lot of history this month and Lucy is going to do another unit from our My First School curriculum that you can find in our shop. I also have quite a few read aloud books I want us to get through together this month. Lilly Belle took October off from a few of her dance classes, but she’ll be jumping back in with a full 8 classes a week this month. So, the more playground time in the morning and early afternoon, the better.

November Morning Basket

As always, we do our main 3 that we do every single morning: Bible, poetry and fairy tale.

Bible: We are continuing with the Jesus Storybook Bible this month. The girls love it and we are now on our 3rd time reading through it together. I have also prepped some of the activities from The Little’s and Me Story Alive Bible Study that the girls and I will do together this month in the mornings.

Poetry: We are going to be working on some of the poems that Lilly Belle has to memorize for her school Thanksgiving lunch and performance. All of my students will be learning these poems during class and at home with their families and then the week before Thanksgiving we will be having a class Thanksgiving celebration with all the parents and siblings. It’s going to include a performance and pot luck. We are not learning all of these poems, as some of them we are cutting out, but there are 3 in here she will work on.

Thanksgiving Poems, Chants and Performance

Fairy Tale: Fairy tale use to always mean an actual fairy tale, but it has evolved into just favorite stories I read to them. I chose Lucy’s recent favorite since it is her birthday month. She loves the Little Golden Book Mommy Stories. The book, Baby Dear, was my favorite book when I was a little girl and now it is her favorite too. The girls have my doll and my actual book from when I was little but then I found this copy that includes 3 of those stories and Lucy has been loving it! She asks for me to read them to her all the time. For Christmas the girls already have asked that they get baby dolls and baby doll furniture and accessories. Perfect before their baby brother is born in March!

Read Aloud: I am going to be reading Dear America The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple Journey to a New World to the girls this month. Lucy most likely will be running around us while I read, but Lilly Belle will sit at the table and work on her cursive or finish her breakfast. I loved this book when I was little and it’s perfect for November.

Science for Both: The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature was one of the things I bought the girls at the FPEA Homeschool Convention in May specifically for Morning Basket, and we haven’t read through it at all yet. Both of the girls love The Berenstain Bears and this book is packed full of information. We’ll be outside a lot more now that the weather is changing so this is great timing to get it out!

Lilly Belle’s Basket Goodies

Sight Words: We are working through each of the Let’s Play School Sight Word Packs each month. Lilly Belle loves the games and it has been helping her a ton to learn her sight words. We add the cards to her door when she learns them and it’s fun to see how many she learns each month. Since all the games are seasonal or holiday themed, I have them going down her door and we can see when she learned the words: apples, halloween and this month with some turkeys and thanksgiving games! She is now working through the Dolch Primer words and probably knows close the 3/4 of them now because of these packs!

Phonics Bingo: We play these Let’s Play School Bingo games every morning to reinforce phonics skills she is working on. I add a new set to the shop each month just like the sight words. It has helped with her reading a ton and she loves to play bingo!

Handwriting: Lilly Belle loves to practice cursive. I haven’t officially taught it to her yet, but she likes to work in cursive tracing books. I got this little book at the FPEA Homeschool Convention in May and it will be great for her to work in while I am reading to her. You can find the same on at Miller Pads and Paper (one of my favorite homeschool stores to go to each year at the homeschool convention!)

Language Arts/Math: Lilly Belle loves the No Prep Packs from The Moffatt Girls. I have the November Kindergarten No Prep Pack all set to go in a binder for her and she will work on these pages while I am playing with Lucy and doing Lucy’s morning activities with her and also while we work on Lucy’s speech. Most of these pages Lilly Belle can now look at and do independently. I have all the supplies in the basket that she needs to complete these pages and she learns a ton from them.

Readers: I am going to have Lilly Belle read these to us each morning. She will pick one every day. Right now we are working on her confidence and fluency as she reads, so having just three to work on will help her a lot with some new words and things she is working on. This month I have Ladybug Girl Do You Like These Boots?, Little Bear, and Bake, Mice, Bake! included for her.

Lucy’s Basket Goodies

Alphabet Art: I am going to help Lucy to decorate an alphabet letter or two each morning. I love the alphabet curriculum from Bitty Beginnings. We will use it with Lucy while she is two. Once she is three and talking more we will be using the alphabet curriculum from Moffatt Girls as well. She will do these alongside the Let’s Play School curriculums. Once she has them all decorated, I am going to make a banner out of all the letters to put in her room. Or maybe add them to a large board. I haven’t decided yet. She’ll get to use paint, markers or crayons to color, do a dot markers, stickers or Kwix Stix.

Fine Motor: I have covered her oatmeal container we use for fine motor (it has holes drilled in the top) in brown construction paper and I used one of the turkeys from our Sight Words Pack. She will stick tons of popsicle sticks in the holes as “feathers” to keep her busy while I am reading the bible, poetry and fairy tale to the girls. Just something to keep her hands busy and she loves to play with this! She has used it for over a year now and it’s one of her favorite toys.

Book: I will be reading the Usborne Very First Book of Things to Spot with her. She loves these books and they have been really great for her with speech!

That does it for November. I’m really excited for this month’s basket!

 

What We’re Reading: Thanksgiving Books 2018

I love teaching the girls through stories. At their ages, I feel this is the absolute best way to teach history to them. All. The. Books! We read a lot together every morning during Morning Basket and I read them at least 3 books each night during bath, then more for bedtime and most days we read some throughout the day as well. Always reading.

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Here are my picks for the girls for Thanksgiving this year. These are books we already have and also a new book I just purchased for Lilly Belle today because I remember reading it in first grade and loving it, Dear America: A Journey to the New World. I remember reading it independently and keeping the Dear America books in my desk and choosing to skip recess to read them.

Lilly Belle loves the Who Was and What Was books. For November we will read What Was the First Thanksgiving. These books give the perfect amount of information for her age.

I got the book, What is Thanksgiving, with Lucy in mind. This book is actually wonderful for both the girls. It talks about how yes, all the food and football and family and parades are fun, but we are all so thankful for God who gave us those things.

We have been using the Passport to Adventure curriculum which focuses on each of the Magic Tree House books. We will be skipping ahead for the first week of November, and reading Thanksgiving on Thursday which is book #27. These books are so much fun and at the same time packed full of fun information and history! Perfect for a kindergarten / first grader.

Our girls love The Berenstain Bears so we have two Thanksgiving books with them; Thanksgiving All Around and The Berenstain Bears Give Thanks. I feel like these books are always teaching great morals and lessons to the girls. They are a bit long for Lucy (about to turn 2) but she will play and listen along while I read them to Lilly Belle.

If You Sailed on The Mayflower in 1620 is another great history book for littles. This book does not focus solely on Thanksgiving, but more on the Pilgrims and how they got here and then it does have quite a bit of pages about Thanksgiving and how it was celebrated for the very first time.

Ever since I was little, my absolute favorite Thanksgiving tradition is that we woke up bright and early to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while my mom started cooking and cleaning before family arrived. Every year my mom would move our kitchen chairs into the living room so she could scrub the floors. My brother and I would make a train out of the chairs and pretend we were on the floats. We did it every year. Now with our girls we continue watching the parade except we do not have family here in town so there is no cleaning involved. We make cranberry strands to hang for Christmas and Matt makes a huge breakfast skillet while we watch. I love it so much! When I found this book on Amazon I was so excited! We were going to go to New York for Thanksgiving this year so I could take Lilly Belle to the Christmas Spectacular, but I’ll be a bit over 20 weeks pregnant and we weren’t expecting me to be walking. This book makes me so happy! We’ll be reading it all month long!

I’d love to hear what your favorite books are about Thanksgiving…!

October Morning Basket – Toddler (23 months) and Kindergarten

Hooray! It’s my favorite month of the year…tied with December of course. Our October Morning Basket is once again my favorite one. We love Halloween and this basket is always so silly and fun for the girls. Anytime I can theme our baskets for holidays is so much more exciting.

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We are keeping our usual first important 3: Bible, Fairy Tale and Poetry.

Bible: We are still reading the Jesus Storybook Bible because both of the girls love it. Last month was a rough month for Morning Basket because I’m pregnant and exhausted and we’ve had a lot of doctor appointments (I’ve had a lot of doctor appointments). Lilly Belle said to me in the car the other day, “Mom. I really miss the Bible. I miss you reading it to me every morning in our Morning Basket.” It made me realize what an impact our Morning Basket time really has on our girls and our routine and our lives. It’s huge!

Poetry: This month’s poetry is more cute nursery rhymes instead of poems. I found this adorable pack on Teachers Pay Teachers last year and I’m so glad that I printed it, laminated it and put it on a binder ring. It’s in just as good shape for this year and will stay in our October Morning Baskets for years to come, especially now that Baby Brother is on his way. Maybe next year Lilly Belle will be the one reading these fun songs to her siblings at the breakfast table!

Fairy Tale: We are not reading a fairy tale this month, we are instead reading a fiction chapter book. I chose Roald Dahl’s book, The Witches. It felt so funny to be reading this to the girls right after I read them the Bible. But, they loved it and I loved it and we love witches and all things Halloween so in it stays!

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LUCY’S BASKET GOODIES

5 Little Pumpkins: In our Fall Preschool Pack in our shop we have a cute little 5 Little Pumpkins tracing set that also includes pumpkins to cut out and place on popsicle sticks. We sing the song to her and she holds the little pumpkin sticks up. It’s a huge hit!

If You’re Spooky and You Know It Board Book: Lucy loves this book and Lilly Belle loved it even more as a baby/toddler. The words are silly and the actions are so much fun. Perfect to keep Lucy’s attention. We like to do these little activities in between reading the Bible, Poetry and Fairy Tale. It keeps her at at the table a little longer. Today she lasted a whole 15 minutes with us 😉

Fine Motor: I got a little pencil cup and some neon colored rubber bands at the Dollar Tree. My goal was for her to be able to wrap the rubber bands around the cup but she can’t quite figure it out so we worked on color sorting and she just loves dumping them and shoving them all back into the cup as long as she can. This kept her busy while I was reading this morning.

Stickers and Blank Books: I have gathered a large assortment of Halloween stickers and put them all in the basket along with some blank books I got from the Dollar Spot at Target. She likes just peeling the stickers off and putting them on the pages in the book.

Movement Cards: We haven’t tried these with Lucy yet but Lilly Belle loves these so I though it would be fun to add again! The movement cards are from our Halloween Preschool Pack in our shop.

LILLY BELLE’S GOODIES

Halloween Reading Bingo: I have created this set for Lilly Belle specifically and added them to our shop because I was so excited about how they turned out. I based each set off of lessons she has worked on with The Good and The Beautiful Kindergarten LA curriculum. The set includes b and d bingo, “ay” words bingo, short words with long vowels bingo, and cvc words bingo. I feel like she learns things so quickly while playing bingo, and she loved this when we played this morning! I will continue making new sets each month that will always be holiday or seasonally themed: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Winter, Valentine’s Day, St Patricks Day, Spring, etc…

Zoom Cards: We got these last year and use them often! They’re in our Morning Basket almost every month. I have her use the mini erasers from the Target Dollar Spot to cover as she reads.

Find it Fast Game: I got this last year in the Target Dollar Spot and she loves playing this game as a brain break!

Frankenstien Subtraction: These little puzzles are going to reinforce the math facts we are working on this month as our math unit for the month is subtraction! We love everything from the shop From the Pond on Teachers Pay Teachers. Her artwork is beautiful and she’s so creative with her games and activities!

Subtraction Flip Cards: Lilly Belle used the mini erasers from Target again to solve the math facts. She will do one card/morning. We have done the addition flip cards and she was excited to see a new set in the basket today!

Witches Brew Sight Words: This game is from our Halloween Sight Words pack in our shop. Last night Lucy and I went around the house before bed and Lucy told me where to tape the sight words up and hide them. Then today when Lilly Belle was done with Morning Basket, she got to go around the house and find all the potions and read off the words and then add them to the witches cauldron. She LOVED this!

Bat Puzzle Sight Words: These are again from our Halloween Sight Words pack. We will alternate each day which sight word game she plays. These two were both easy to add as part of our Morning Basket routine and I think she will love these bat puzzles when I get them out tomorrow.

Spider Web Sight Words: Again, from our Halloween Sight Words pack! Lilly Belle learns things really well when she writes it down. This morning I just had her do one page, we will continue to do that each morning. She will copy a new page each morning and then start the cycle over. She already learned 2 new words from this activity today!

It’s a full basket this month and this morning the girls did almost every single thing in it! We now do Morning Basket on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. I think I may start doing it with the girls on Sunday mornings as well. It’s such a productive and fun way to start each day together.

I hope you’ve found something in this basket that your little ones will enjoy! Happy October!!

 

September 2018 Morning Basket (Kinder and Tot School)

We have been doing Morning Basket with the girls now for a year and a half! That is a year and a half of beautiful mornings together. I’m not trying to be cheesy. Let’s be real. The rest of our day is just as nuts as anyone else’s. But mornings, with our Morning Basket, are 95% of the time peaceful. We now do Morning Basket 4 days a week; Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The only reason we do not do it on Thursdays is because now Lilly Belle and I are at her day school all day and leave by 7:45/8am to get there by 9am.

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Lucy has had Morning Basket as a part of her life since she was just 6 months old! That is how old she was when we started, and she has always sat with us. For her, it is all she knows. I love that.

July and August were rough for Morning Basket and were the first months since starting where we skipped days. Lilly Belle was in 6 summer camps, we were in Seattle for 3 weeks and…I’ve been pregnant and not feeling well in the morning. Once we got home from Seattle I was about 7 weeks pregnant and we tried something new. We brought our basket down to the living room rug. From there I mostly just read to them. If there was a morning where I didn’t feel sick, we still did our normal routine of sitting at the table with breakfast together.

I am excited for September because I am now about 10 1/2 weeks and feeling a little better and getting closer and closer to feeling like myself. Getting closer to that 2nd trimester energy boost. We are started to get into the fall spirit around here and the girls are going to be so excited to see the new autumn themed activities I am including for them. We are getting to my absolute favorite time of the year here in Florida! Knowing that we are now getting closer and closer to cooler weather. Weather where we can play outside in the afternoon and spend as much time as we want at Disney surrounded by all the holiday goodness!

I’ve included a bit more for Lucy now as well because she is starting to really want to do school with us. She is 22 months old now.

I always include three main items into our Morning Basket: Bible, Poetry and Fairytales. This month we are continuing with our Jesus Storybook Bible per Lilly Belle’s request, but we are switching our poetry and fairytale selection.

Bible: Jesus Storybook Bible – this is by far my favorite children’s bible. Both of the girls love listening to the stories. Each story is the perfect length for the girls to sit through and explains things in a way that is easy for them to understand.

Poetry: Poetry Teatime Companion – Julie Bogart has been a huge inspiration for me in our homeschool. I love her podcast! This will be our first month using this book for our poetry time together and I think Lilly Belle will really enjoy that they aren’t “baby poems”. One of the girls in our class comes in to day school each week with a new poem that she has written and memorized to recite to us. Lilly Belle is now on a mission to be able to do the same.

Fairytales: Usborne Picture Book Gift Set – This is new to us. I am an Usborne consultant and have been eyeing this set for the girls forever. I think it will be really fun and exciting for the girls to hear a new story each morning.

For the rest of our basket, I like to add things that are interests of the girls, seasonal, life skills we are working on (phone number, address, name, etc.), or something I feel they should be learning about.

Here are this month’s extra fun morning basket additions (some are the same as last month)…

Geography and Science: Atlas of Animal Adventures – This book is amazing. The girls loved it last month and I wish we had time last month to do it more. I kept it in for this month. We open it up, read all about that animal and then find the country they are from on our globe. Then we head over to YouTube and watch videos of what we learned about. We save this for last since once we head to YouTube I lose the girls interest in the rest of the basket.

Math: My First Math Book – Lilly Belle is obsessed with this book so I kept it in again per her request. She saw I was switching our basket and asked that I keep this in. We do 2-5 pages/morning. Some of the pages are extremely challenging for her and she loves that with math.

Sight Words: Fall Primer Sight Word Play & Learn Pack – Lilly Belle now knows all her PrePrimer Sight Words so I created this pack with her in mind. She’s ready to learn the Primer words and so we will be playing all of these fun games during our Morning Basket time together.

Additional Learning Fun: Preschool/Kindergarten Fall Learning Pack – This pack is so much fun and perfect for families who do not celebrate Halloween but love the fall! It is of course also perfect for families like ours who are obsessed with Halloween 😉 I did not include any “Halloween” activities in this pack, it is just all fall themed; pumpkins, leaves and apples. There are activities that Lucy can do with us too!

Reading: Ready 2 Read Level 2 – I purchased this for Lilly Belle a while ago. We have not been using it as it was meant to be used, but have been using it in bits and pieces and it’s helped her a lot. Currently we are using a chart that I printed from Level 2 on Blends and Digraphs. Right now I just want her to have these memorized to help her with her fluency while trying to sound out new words.

And now for Lucy. Lucy is really into sorting and colors right now so those are our main focus for her at this time.

Colors: Red Car, Green Car – This book is adorable and so simple. It really keeps her attention and she loves it.

Sorting: Bitty Beginnings Autumn Set – I have included an apple matching activity in our basket for her to use this month. This set will have her matching by size and color so I’m not sure if she will be able to do it or not, but she’s going to love trying and playing with this.

Matching: Bitty Beginnings Autumn Set – I have also included a matching activity for her. She has so far only sorted colors  so I’m interested to see if she can now match pictures. There was a time when she was around 16 months old where she was matching but then stopped for a while. I haven’t tried to get it out again but I’m excited to see what she does with this.

And that does it for September. I’m already excited for October’s basket…Halloween is our favorite holiday (Lilly Belle and I) so we always go big with this one. For October and December, we pretty much throw out all of our regular curriculum and dive full on to celebrate Halloween and in December the same for Christmas. Morning Basket becomes school and the rest of the day is filled with crafts and FUN!

 

Pre Kindergarten & Toddler Summer Morning Basket

Our summer is flying by. Before we know it, we will be having our first day of Kindergarten and first day of toddler preschool with the girls. Our first day of school will be August 13th. Before then, Lilly Belle has two more summer camps and we have 3 weeks with family in Washington. On top of that we just moved and book club has taken off, keeping us all extremely busy. This past month was the first month that we skipped days of Morning Basket, and just as I suspected…our days have felt off. They have felt messy and unorganized and chaotic. When we do Morning Basket, our day starts peacefully which sets the pace for the entire rest of the day. It really is amazing.

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So, I decided to switch our basket up one more time so that we are motivated to start back up amidst the chaos around us right now. I am so excited for the morning and to dive in to all of this with the girls.

For Both Girls

Poetry: Song Sticks – We are going to sing nursery rhymes to Lucy during this time instead of reading poems. Usually I have a poetry book I read from, but with all the craziness around here, I don’t have their attention for nearly as long as usual, so until things settle down around here, we will be singing some nursery rhymes to Lucy. We used the Song Sticks printable from Bitty Beginnings for these.

Bible: Lilly Belle has been begging to start this. I had it on her Kindergarten Curriculum shelf to start in August, but she wants to start it now. I bought her a Bible of her own to use along side her brand new Write the Word for Kids! She will be doing copy work from the Bible each morning. I also have their Princess Prayers book in here and we read one a day.

Fairytales: We are going to use our Fairytale time this month to get Pippi Longstocking out again. I think we may reread this together every summer because it’s just too good to not get to read again and again. Lilly Belle was obsessed last summer and I’m really excited to read it again to the girls. We will read 1 chapter a day.

For Lucy (19 Months):

Letter Work: I kept this book in the basket for her because she LOVES it. Every time I have done reading practice with Lilly Belle this month, Lucy runs over to the shelf pointing up at the basket saying “Ah Ah Ah”, she learned the sound for the letter O and now loves to find O in the book. She loves to practice “reading” with her big sister. So we have been going through the book a few times a week with her just saying all the letter sounds as I point to them with her. Now that she has been sleeping she is making a lot more sounds and taking off quite a bit with her learning, so I am curious to see if she knows all her sounds once she does start talking.

My First 100 Words: We just got this book from Usborne and it’s been a hit. Lucy loves to look at books that I can just point at pictures to for her. Her attention span is not very long while being read to, but if I can have her in my lap and just point at different pictures with her and say the names and talk about different things on the page, she would sit forever. She does this on her own all day long as well. You can be sure to find her at one of our bookshelves anytime you notice she’s quiet…which is many times a day. It’s always been her favorite place.

For Lilly Belle (almost 5):

Star Wars Kindergarten Math Skills: She really enjoys these Star Wars books. Matt is going to be watching the movies with her this summer so I thought this would be a fun time to get this workbook back out. It is mostly numbers to 20, addition and subtraction and she’s been flying through it.

Picture Story Journal: Lilly Belle is obsessed with these. We had one last year and now we are starting a new one as she is almost 5. I like to see the progress of her stories and handwriting. She draws a picture on top and then narrates for me. I write it for her while she narrates. I write on every other line and then she does copyworb under my writing. With this new fresh book, I am going to be having her focus on writing lowercase and uppercase when appropriate and keeping the size of her letters the correct size.

Usborne Lift the Flap Adding and Subtracting: We will be doing the beginning half of this book as the end starts to get into really large numbers. She loves all of the Usborne Lift the Flap books and girlfriend is obsessed with math, so this will be a good fit for her. I am excited to be using this as a resource for Kindergarten.

My First Math Book: Another math book because it is what she loves and we are in a hard season right now where she wants nothing to do with school. So, math it is! This book is adorable. The illustrations are perfect. Each has big bold pictures with few details. The questions are all written in a way that is very easy for her to understand and that she will not get overwhelmed with. The questions all seem to be just challenging enough to make her work a bit, but also not overwhelm her. We are going to do one page a day unless she wants to keep doing more.

Usborne Very First Reading books: We are now on books 2 and 3. This is a set you can find in my Usborne shop that takes children from the very beginning stages of reading, all the way to reading full books fluently. It is a little pricey, but if you join our Let’s Play School Book Club and get the 25% off, this would be an amazing thing to get in your cart! She loves the stories and looks forward to reading practice with them. The stories are short and silly and all very different. They keep her attention. She is at a point where she does not to read right now so we are taking things slow (again) and letting her go at her own pace (which is the right thing to do especially with reading)…Give this girl math all day and she won’t complain a bit. Mention reading with her and she gets all anxious and fears “failing”. Our Let’s Keep Playing School positive affirmation curriculum is going to come in very handy with her…there is a reason I created it 😉

Roald Dahl’s Scrumdiddlyumptious Sticker Book: This book is adorable. We will do this book on the days when I know they aren’t going to stay at the table for anything past our main 3 (poetry, Bible, fairytale). We are going to be trying something new this month and go sit in Lucy’s room for Morning Basket once the girls are done eating. She has a desk in there and all her toys. We just got a new rug that is super cozy and the girls have been enjoying that space as it’s the only room in our home anything close to feeling like home. This book is filled with 3 short excerpts from Roald Dahl books and then there are stickers for each of the stories at the end.

I also have our Summer Reading cards from Bitty Beginnings in the basket so that we can write down our reading time together. I noticed tonight that there is a page that is almost completely filled with “Dear Zoo” as Lucy has been having us read it on repeat most everyday!

I am so excited about this basket and hope you found something here that you think your little ones will love too!