Stay Connected To Family & Friends During Lockdown

5 Ways To Stay Connected As A Family During Social Distancing And Lockdown

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COVID-19, social distancing measures and lockdown have put restrictions on families and friends, stopping them from visiting one another and gathering in close groups. For elderly relatives, or those living alone, this can be a very isolating time, so it is important for families to come together and to stay connected-somehow. If you’re missing your family gatherings and have relatives who are confined to their homes alone, then here are 5 ways you can stay connected safely. 

Write to everyone 

There’s something very special about receiving a handwritten letter in the mail. We just got letters and “specials” from some friends that we are used to seeing often. The kids were so excited to each receive their own mail and of course, they felt connected to the family that sent them.

Why not have an arts and crafts day and create some beautiful cards to send to your loved ones. Let the little ones go wild with dot paints, crayons and any available latest free online dating sites. If you want to add an extra special touch then you could even use an embossing folder to create a 3D effect.

The lovingly created designs will brighten anyone’s day.

Host a family quiz

Who doesn’t love a quiz? Get your family together online through a platform such as Zoom or Skype and host your own weekly family quiz.

Name your teams, answer the questions, have a laugh and enjoy each other’s virtual company. To keep the questions varied and to ensure that no one person has to always put in the work, let the winner of the quiz choose someone to host it the following week. If you really want to go all out, get all the different families that will join on Zoom the same game (we love Trivial Pursuit) and play together virtually.

Have a cook-along

Missing Granny’s pot roast? Then have a cook along and recreate her dish using her recipe. Circulate a list of ingredients that everyone needs to get ahead of time and then arrange a time and day to come together via a video link. Whoever is leading the cook-along is in charge of this cooking show, so simply follow their lead and in no time everyone should be eating a perfect replica of the family favorite. You could even set the table and sit down altogether from behind your screen to enjoy it.  

Video chat 

Although a cook-along or quiz may be fun, sometimes all you need is a good, long video chat. Set up your video link, get comfortable with a cup of tea or coffee, and simply catch up on the activities you have been doing and how you are all feeling. Isolation and lockdown can be very trying on our mental health, so offer a sympathetic ear to those in need and have a laugh to make you all feel better. Be there for those that get especially down during isolation, or who have fears during this time.

Throw a Netflix party

Finally, if you’re looking for a way to relax together while staying apart then throw a Netflix Party.

Netflix Party allows you to synchronize the playing of your favorite shows and also has a built-in group chat so you can discuss the plot and keep the conversation flowing. What’s more, Netflix Party is completely free to use for Netflix members and with more than a million shows to choose from, you won’t be running out of things to watch any time soon. 

 

Surviving social distancing as a close-knit family may be hard, but together we’ll get through it, and be stronger, more appreciative, and have better habits when it is all done!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Perfect Hobbies for Kids

When young children adopt new hobbies, they discover all sorts of new skills and learn some important life lessons. Through hobbies, children can find what lights them up and excites them at a young age, as opposed to doing it later on when they feel it’s ‘too late’ to do anything about it.

My husband and I are both huge hobby lovers- crafting, journaling, sewing, embroidery, painting, woodworking, gardening, leather work, and animal husbandry … the list goes on! We have enjoy distilling a love for handicrafts and hobbies in our children, and watching them grow in their skills.

Here are just a few hobbies children of all ages could test out!

hobbies for kids

Pexels – CC0 License

Reading And Writing

Reading to children is essential for language social, emotional, and cognitive development.  Reading aloud to children will improve their listening and speaking skills, and they might even become good writers themselves, as it can help them to develop their own imagination. Once children have learned to read on their own, cultivating a love for reading is one of out biggest jobs! A child that loves to read loves to learn, and from there they will grow into unstoppable, teachable, curious adults. Loving to write often comes when a child enjoys reading, because they are driven to write their own stories.

Visiting Places of Interest

Traveling to visit a historical site, a history or pop up museum, a well loved author’s home, and other sites of interest can be a brilliant hobby for a child. As well as having fun and exploring, they will learn plenty from immersing themselves in culture. It gives them a base to build plenty of other hobbies on – writing, crafts, and reading, for example. Anything you can study in science, history, art and literature can be turned into a field trip, or family road trip. There is so much to experience no matter what your child loves to learn about-get out there and explore!

Building and Engineering

Children love to build- what they can build and create with blocks, legos, and Magnatiles is endless. From model bridges and giant towers, to cars and boats, they can have an incredible amount of fun building just about anything that takes their fancy.  Expand their possibilities by providing a child-friendly tool kit which allows them to build whatever they like-a small hammer, screw drivers, age appropriate nails, nuts, bolts, washers, screws, zip-ties, etc can be kept in an old tool box near some scrap wood, so kids can easily create!

Painting

Painting is an excellent way for children to learn to express themselves. Open ended art-meaning, no defined assignment, no rules- allows for the most creativity. If they paint the sky green, let them have a green sky. This again goes back to helping them develop their imaginations and having confidence in their abilities. You never know – you may have the next Picasso in your family! =)

Gardening

Gardening not only helps children develop an interest in nature and stay active, but it also strengthens their immune systems. Why not give them their small plot of garden to play with and grow things? You could let them grow things inside the house if space is at a premium. A plot of land, or a potted plant, either way we are cultivating a sense of responsibility and nurturing in our kids!

Cooking & Handicrafts

Cooking is an essential skill for anybody to learn – after all, everybody needs to eat! Let them cook with you from a young age, and maybe start letting them use cooking kits when they are old enough. Children of all ages can help in the kitchen-prepping oatmeal, mixing, stirring, browning meat, poor liquids, measuring ingredients. Get them involved and enjoy your time together!

hobbies for kids

Handicrafts are anything children can do with their hands- sewing, knitting, crocheting, whittling, calligraphy, cross stitching, dyeing yard, quilting, bead work, wood working, pottery, mosaics the list goes on and on and on. We do handicrafts while listening to audiobooks, while I read aloud, or while watching an art video.

Let your children find a hobby that they enjoy and you’ll notice a vast difference in their confidence. Starting them off while they are young gives kids the chance to know what excites them and can help them find their passion in life later! Most any hobby requires a skill, and those skills can mean enjoyable work later in life.

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Glow in the Dark Easter Eggs: Egglo Eggs {a review}

This post was written 5 years ago, and still these eggs are a joyous tradition in our home! While you can no longer find these specific eggs for Resurrection Sunday, you can purchase the scrolls to go inside any glow in the dark egg HERE.
Egglo Review
In our home, we have never done Easter egg hunts, or Easter baskets.  In the spring, the kids get a spring basket, that is completely separate from Easter itself.

For the Resurrection, we read scripture leading up to that Sunday, learn about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, and have a nice family dinner.  We avoid Easter bunnies and chocolate- Everything is pretty low key.

I had the chance to review Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs and the book, The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure by Egglo Entertainment.

About The Program

Egglo Eggs are different; they aren’t just another egg you stuff full of candy for your children to hunt on Easter morning.  This program is based on John 1:5, “The Light shines in the dark and the darkness has not overcome it.”  This entire set encourages your children to learn, love, and truly enjoy the real meaning of Easter. Though it is designed for children ages 4-13, it can be adapted for all ages.  I used it with my three year old and 18 month old.

Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs and The Great Easter Adventure book are fun and Christ centered.  The eggs either have a beautiful cross on them or are plain.  There are 12 in a box, consisting of four colors- blue, green, yellow, and pink.

What I received

  • A box (12 eggs) Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs  ($11.99)
  • The book The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure ($12.99)
  • The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure audio download ($2.99)
  • Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls ($4.29)
  • The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide ($14.99)

How we use the Program

Lexie and Max are both obsessed with eggs in general- Max likes to eat them, Lexie likes to crack them when we bake.  We have one little play egg, I am not even sure where it came from, but they both obsessively play with it.  Now that we have the entire set of glow in the dark Egglo Eggs, they like to go in the closet and watch them glow; we charge them several times a day!  haha

I overheard big sister telling the tot, “Now, this light is just like the light Jesus.”

I wasn’t really sure if they would be into hunting the eggs, but I laid them on the counter and let them “charge” under the light so they would glow really well.  The directions say to let them charge for about 30 minutes in direct sunlight, or 45 minutes under in-home lights.

So, we looked through the book (which in many ways was over Lexie’s 3 year old head, but was valuable non the less.  Then I hid the eggs in her room (we have blackout shades in there so it was nice and dark) while they waited in the hall.

*I cannot tell you how much fun they had hunting for these glow-in-the-dark eggs!*  But then, Lexie also understood the lesson of the glowing eggs, what they represent, and how they tie into Easter.  It was a win-win for us all!

hunting egglo glow in the dark easter eggs

(it was dark in her room, but the flash on my camera is on)

We may have hidden and found the eggs a dozen times the first day.   Quite possibly more.  She has asked to do them once a day ever since.  They are such a joy and I feel good about using them in our home.

After we tired out from the excitement of hunting the eggs, the kids enjoyed coloring some of the pages from The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure Program Guide.  There was something in there for both the kids to enjoy.  The program guide includes lots of valuable activities, fun snack recipes, and items to print to add to your Egglo Eggs.  It is also set up for both schools/churches and families.  I highly recommend purchasing it to accompany your eggs.

As part of my review, I received the scripture scrolls as well- we love these!  They take the eggs to a whole new level.  We put the scrolls inside our eggs before hiding them, and then after the kids found all the eggs, we opened each one.  Lexie thought it would be fun to choose a few scriptures as our memory verses for the coming weeks.  Max just liked to shake them inside the eggs and make music.  =)

Egglo Scripture Scrolls for Easter Eggs

Overall Experience

Our experience with the Glow In The Dark Egglo Eggs and The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure has been a positive one.  It was a great way to add a little more fun into our Easter celebration, and keep Christ in the center of it all.  Lexie understands the real meaning of Easter, and the little Mister is on his way to understanding too.  That is what this program is about- and that is why I can gladly suggest this program to anyone interested in doing an Easter egg hunt or celebration with their children.

Connect with Egglo Entertainment

 Egglo Review

 

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My Favorite Things: August

This month I want to try to begin a series of posts about my favorite “things,” that help me in my family life, and thus homeschool life (because homeschool is our lifestyle, right?).

  1. The Read Aloud Revival Premium Membership– I have heard Sarah discuss it on her podcast for ages. I’ve been a loyal listener for a few years, and never really thought the Membership applied to me. Our whole family life revolves around books, after all. Boy was I wrong! After a very hard summer (emotionally physically, mentally) for our family, I needed to simplify, set new goals for our homeschool, and get started FRESH. And I needed to do this without the drudgery of “too many things” on our to do’s. Just because it is good, beautiful, and wonderful doesn’t mean we have to cram it in right now. We have SO many days, so many weeks, so many month, and years to add in the many wonderful homeschool resources. They don’t all have to fit RIGHT NOW. (remind me of this in 3 months haha)
  2. The Read Aloud Revival Book Bag– Nope, I am not being paid to tell you how much I love RAR. I just really do. And her book bag is no exception; beautiful, perfect for library trips, easy to load, strong, wide straps, lined with a zippered pocket … I could go on but I won’t. These make great gifts (I think each child will get one for Christmas because I love mine) and you get a discounted rate when you are a RAR Premium Members!
  3. Thriftbooks– I love books. I love cheap books. I love cheap books that come in the mail.
  4. Little Jewel Books– I wasn’t so sure what to expect with these, but I ordered 2 I thought we would like for our family. These are beautiful little books … really they aren’t so little. I have found them to be perfect for my almost 4 year old 3rd born who needs a little “help” remembering right from wrong. The covers are enticing, and the pages are really lovely. I can’t wait to order many more!
Rain = happy ducks

ducks swimming in the flooded chicken run

  1. Rain- We have been in a pretty serious drought in our neck of the county since the winter. This month, however, mother nature has decided to bless us with something like 20 days of rain. I am *so thankful* for the rain! The pond my finally fill up this year, the grass and trees feel better, and the ducks are sure enjoying it!
  2. Playing games- In our efforts to take a step back in everything, we have found our afternoons and evening usually empty, meaning we have time to play games as a family, crochet, and water color. Mostly, I play UNO with my son and oldest girl while the other do crafts, art, etc. It has been so pleasant!
  3. Reading Aloud-We have finally found our groove for reading aloud again, and *it is perfect.* Even the 2 year old is getting better about being quiet so we can listen. Whew whooo!
  4. More Free Time- did I mention we all have more free time now? Everyone is picking up books more often, playing outside more often, loving on the goats, playing pretend, climbing new trees MORE. It makes my heart happy, and I can already see a big difference in the kids’ emotionally without the stress of everything we had on our plates before.

What have you enjoyed most this month?

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Homeschool Video-Based Art Curriculum {a review}

We have been using Art of the Ancients from ARTistic Pursuits Inc. This is a new edition book from their Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray series. Art is always a fun topic in our home; we have really enjoyed ARTistic Pursuits when we reviewed it in the past. This time was no different!

Homeschool Video Art Lessons K-3

K-3 Volume 2, Art of the Ancients

This beautiful, hardcover, 64 page book consists of 18 lesson, 6 of which are video based lessons focused on chalk pastels and clay sculpture. It comes with 2 discs: 1 DVD, and 1 Blue-ray Disc.

The lessons on ancient art are thorough, allow students to see creativity and life differently than they may in their own culture, and introduce new experiences in chalk pastels and clay. We already had chalks and sculpting clay on hand; we used these chalks, and this clay set. You can use any brand that you may have on hand-one lessons even suggests using sidewalk chalks outdoors!

Volume 2- Ancients {homeschool art video lessons}

There are prep notes found at the beginning of every lesson, allowing the parent or teacher to better prepare for teaching. Simple suggestions like how to set up before hand for a group (4 small children at home, anyone?), or moving the lesson outside, are just what I needed to help our lesson go smoothly.

Each lesson in Art of the Ancients gives the history of an ancient culture, and the art they used in every day life- from cave drawings and carved city walls, to more sophisticated statues and pillars, students get an intimate look at the beauty found in ancient history and it’s purpose. There are over 100 illustrations found in the course book!

After the history portion of the lesson, students will find an opportunity for a picture study- our favorite part! Here is a chance to practice some narration (for all your Charlotte Mason homeschoolers!) and pay close attention to details in art. I found that often times, my children are better at finding the details than I am! Simple prompts which ask what the children see (how many, what size, what kind/shape) or where something is hiding in the picture encourages young learners to look at details, while other questions encourage them to see the art as a whole piece.

Lastly, children create! The instructions for creating your own piece of art are easy to understand and implement. The supplies needed are listed in a box at the top of the page, followed by a brief description about the type of art, explanation of new vocabulary, and instructions of how to create.

What We Think

My children have been pleading to do art since we received our book in the mail. Each time we open the book we are glad we did! The simple history lessons are fun, meaningful, and help make history come alive. My 7.5 yo enjoys reading it for fun, and everyone loves the beautiful art found inside. Lessons are short enough to hold young children’s attention & make it easy to fit into an already full life. They are very easy on mama, not parent intensive at all, which is always nice!

My toddler watched the video lessons along with us, enjoying the clay and pinch pot-making. My 3 year old followed right along in her care free way, using chalks and clay independently, while her 2 older siblings were much more serious about their work. 😉

We have loved this program and will likely use more books from the Art Instruction Books with DVD and Blu-Ray series. Thank you ARTistic Pursuits!

 

Pinch Pot-making {homeschool art curriculum}

pinch pots {homeschool art}

 

Video Art Lessons

 

Chalk Pastel Art

Connect with ARTistic Pursuits

Read more reviews on this and other books from this series by clicking the banner below:

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Homeschool Weekly Wrap-Up {April 7th}

The last 2 weeks we’ve spent our days adjusting our routine. I think I’ve said it before … at least I’ve thought it-vaulted ceilings and hardwood floors make reading aloud SO. HARD. I feel like I am yelling over a toddler the entire time. At this stage everyone fusses over my lap, so we’ve moved our reading aloud to my room, on the big king sized bed where they can spread out and hear me better.

Our new routine involves mama tending to the farm chores before the kids wake, getting her workout in after breakfast ,and brain warm-ups for all the kids! Day light savings really threw me for a loop this year as far as waking early goes. I am finally getting used to it. I strive for my mornings to look like this:

  • 5:30/6am- mama wakes, breakfast for the hubs, pack his lunch, coffee with him before he leaves
  • tend to meat chicks & LGD pup outside
  • Jesus devotional & coffee with my Help Club for Moms book
  • Prep Breakfast
  • 7am Kids up, eat, morning basket
  • Kid chores and 7yo practice violin- dishwasher, waste baskets, laundry, pick up floors if not done night before
  • 8:15/8:30 Mama works out, kid brain warm-ups (videos on youtube for crossing midline)
  • 9:00 Begin read alouds in my room
  • 9:30/9:45 begin table work- each day includes Reading/LArts for each child, math, handwriting/copy work We do other activities on various days, looping them (Latin, Apologia Science we are reviewing, art, messy play, game school)
  • During that time, the tot (20 months) goes to independent play in her room, and after the 3yo has done school along with us for a while, she also goes to IP
  • 11:30 Lunch
  • 12:15 Tot’s nap, others play outside
  • 12:45 Preschooler’s nap
  • 1:30 5yo naps, 7yo rest time or time with mama
  • 3:00 everyone up from naps-play outside, nature study, handicrafts of their choice
  • 5:30 dinner
  • This time of year, depending on what daddy is doing outside after work and how everyone napped, we are outside after dinner then come in for baths and wind down. We’ve been spending several evenings a week at the table coloring, doing more learning time (science, or new spelling, writing letters, practicing cursive, etc). I LOVE this time because it brings Daddy into our homeschool setting for just a snippet, allowing the kids to tell him all about what they’re learning, show him new skills, inviting him into their world.

**Some evenings are spent folding laundry as a family while watching Create TV on PBS-Martha Bakes, This old House, Lydia, America’s Test Kitchen, etc. They are our favorites! We have pretty much written off all the mind numbingly ridiculous kids shows on Netflix & Amazon. They truly hurt my brain- We are already very picky about what our kids take in (supposedly targeted for kids … targeted being the key word here) but even the appropriate shows are just stupid. These days our shows consist of Mr. Rogers, Reading Rainbow, and sometimes the book adaptations of If You Give a Mouse, or The Snowy Day, or nature shows. Nothing else seems worth our time or brain cells. (If you have any suggestions for quality kid shows that aren’t “twaddle,” please share in the comments!) The amount of content out there that you really wouldn’t want your kids seeing really seems to be overwhelming these days but at least parents have access to more information than ever on how to combat this harmful material being consumed by their children.

Our studies this week have included:

  • David and Saul in the Bible
  • each day we read The Little Island– focusing on narration and seasons (3yo loooves this living book!)
  • read The Apple and The Arrow from our Sonlight Core A, and our missionary stories from The Good News Must Go Out
  • commas in a series, writing sentences, list making and narrating an item from that list (from The Good and The Beautiful LA), spelling from our new Memoria Press (for review), handwriting letter review (5yo),
  • naming and measuring line segments using linking cubes, writing numbers, skip counting (5yo)
  • handicrafts- my daughter is finishing a bag for her co-op sewing class, all of the kids are really into card making, and other paper crafts. We made crowns this week
  • All About Reading level 1-beginning and ending blends, read stories from reader (5yo)
  • the 3yo is learning her letter sounds, enjoys Starfall 1 day a week, and literally writes and draws all day long
  • Science right now is coming from Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Anatomy & Physiology We are loving this just as much as their Astronomy, and I will have a review on that very soon!

In between lessons we have planned special plants for our garden, played outside, studied the bees collecting pollen, taken nature walks in the woods, and observed the changes that come with SPRING! (though this morning we have played in SNOW, and made snow cream … Because winter just doesn’t want to leave us!)

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Chalk Painting over Latex Painted chairs

**PLEASE READ: There is an important step missing in this post. This was our first project and we didn’t have these chairs very long before purchasing new ones for a larger table my husband built, so I am unsure of how they turned out long term. I chose not to prime because the paint was dark, but that was still a mistake.

Please see my post: Why You Should Prime BEFORE Chalk Painting Wood

Chalk painting our dining room chairs has been pretty easy, and very enjoyable.

Supplies I’ve been using:

I still haven’t decided which color combo I prefer on the chairs, with my table and open floor plan. Because our cabinets will all be white, and hopefully there will be white bead board on the walls and chair-rail height, I am thinking I don’t want them all painted in white with red seats. It will just be *so* much white, and Im not in the white farmhouse camp.  However, this is the prettiest combo at first glance…

I do plan to repaint the white on the one white chair I’ve done; I do NOT like how it looks distressed. I will re-wipe with Krud Kutter, cover with chalk paint, and re polycrylic. It just didn’t turn out how I thought it would distressed.

The red chairs with stained wood seats turned out with a beautiful finish; still debating if I will paint the seats white, or leave them dark wood.

 

 

My process for the chairs has been:

  • clean with wet rag and grease cutting dish soap (Dawn) to remove any food, fingerprints, dust, etc. from tiny humans and dog
  • wipe well with Krud Kutter all over, wip to dry
  • **Let sit and dry for 30 minutes** The Krud Kutter instructions say you can begin painting sooner, but I have found 30 minutes helps prevent the paint from repelling on the chair
  • wipe to remove any dust
  • begin chalk painting with chalk paint brush-YES a chalk painting brush makes a difference in application. Trust me! I wish I’d had them for the fireplace and built in hutch.
  • polycryclic with foam brushes (2-3 coats, one after the other as soon as first has dried).

The latex paint was peeling in some places, so on those areas I did a quick sanding with my sanding sponge. Not every chair had peeling; the red chair took the chalk paint just beautifully! I am so pleased with how it turned out. Once I finished the bottom, I was able to turn the chair over and begin the top. By the time the top was done, I could start on the 2nd coat of chalk paint on the bottom.

Chalk paint dries SO fast, so finishing a chair doesn’t take long. Polycrylic also dries quickly.

I am not done with the entire project; I still have 2 chairs to complete, and the white one to redo with fresh paint. I think I am opting to NOT distress any of the chairs. I like the smooth, polished, matte finish. They will probably get plenty of distressing from years of use from my 4 children, anyway. haha

I will share pictures of the final product(s) when all the chairs are done. I will probably sit on them a while (pun totally intended!) before I decide to paint the seats white, or leave them.

Have you chalk painted? Do you enjoy it?

This is by far my favorite way to do projects! I’d like to try waxing on a nicer piece soon (something that doesn’t get abused, and wiped frequently!)

 

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

DIY No Cook Play Dough

This is the easiest DIY play dough recipe I have ever made, and it is so soft! The play dough only has 3 ingredients that you are sure to have on hand.

This winter has been so frigidly cold, we’re in need other ways to meet all the kids’ sensory needs, so I am being more intentional this winter about sensory and messy play with my 4 children. Usually, all 4 are in the dirt, mud, flower beds, mixing flowers and leaves in buckets, and running barefooted.

Play dough can double as a good heavy work activity for children that need help self regulating, as well.

Easy DIY Play Dough

 

We like adding essential oils to our play dough for an added calming affect. After they explore with just the dough for a while, I let them have their rolling pins, dough stamps, and other tools. I also like to have them divide the dough into 10 balls, set up like a ten frame, then we do some hands on math!

 

 

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

Top Educational Toys for Toddlers-PreK

*original post May 2013, updated*

I am a teacher by trade, and a mama by … everything else.  =)  My husband and I try to keep educational/classic toys and books in our home, avoiding twaddle, and “junk” toys.

A fellow homeschooling (and dear) friend, and a few other readers have asked me what we use for toys in our house (I think my reputation for a toy nazi must precede me?!).  So I thought I would make an easy list of educational and fun learning toys that we enjoy or wish we had to enjoy.

These have really been a blessing in our home and homeschool- I know that seems ridiculous to say about “toys,” things that are material.  But they have really helped Lexie learn so much, often times on her own, or through questioning me.  Many things were gifts or bought with gift money from family and friends.  We are very grateful for their love and support.

This is a list that excludes puzzles, books, baby dolls, and toy trucks, etc-the general toys kids have aren’t on here.  I will do another post on those recommendations.  But I don’t think you would generally find many of these items in most homes.

These are not in a particular order, except the first one.  All the others Lexie plays with equally as much or in conjunction with the Magna Tiles.  haha

1. Magna Tiles!  You probably saw my post.  They are an investment … I know; I was nervous clicking the checkout button.  BUT, they’re amazing learning fun!  Last time I talked about them on here (the light table post) I wasn’t kidding about grabbing them for $120 with free shipping and the free book promotion.  That is no longer available, two weeks later.  I scoped theses things out for weeks to get that deal; but it sells out quickly.
2. Sorting bears– she loves them.  And they are great for her to play with during independent play.  They are good for learning and imaginative play-this set comes in 3 different sizes.  We read the three bears and then I introduced them.  She plays with them several days a week (if you get them, be sure to get the set with 3 sizes like the one in the link)
3. These basic pattern blocks get used ALL the time, for all different things.  They also make the pattern block cards that go with them, to use for more instruction type learning/play.  My younger children love using the pattern block cards independently while I school with my olders.
4. Unifix Cubes, or some sort of snapping cube.  Unifix cubes are great for building, sorting, counting, and learning about number sense, etc.  They’re a great math manipulative!  I linked to the 500 count set because 100 isn’t really enough.  When you get into complicated math down the road (multiplication, division, fractions) you will need more than 100 to compare amounts, makes graphs, etc.  So I’d suggest the larger set if you are able  (Especially if you will have more than one child using them at a time)
5. This letter construction set is Ah-MAZING.  I think I paid $25 w shipping (we have amazon prime, it’s worth it just for the shipping on Christmas gifts for family, alone!)  The set is a little more now.  The set is very strong, the pieces are big and wide so they’re easy for little hands to manipulate, and it’s fun.
This wasn’t a toy Lexie just jumped into- I let her explore with them first, then when she asked, I showed her what they were really for.  Now, a few years later, all of my children enjoy this set.
6. The Thomas Wooden Railway.  She loves it and uses it all the time.  We got the wooden one, and the wooden trains to go with it (we only have a few, but she seems happy with that for now).  I thought she would get frustrated with it, because the tracks have to be put together a certain way, unless you have enough track pieces then it doesn’t matter.  But she doesn’t.  She just pretends, takes it apart, can almost get it back together correctly… but often she plays with the trains without the tracks. **All 4 children now enjoy this train set, playing with the train tracks, and the trains. One of the first sounds baby #4 learned was “choo choo”
7. this shape sorter wooden clock by Melissa and Doug.  I know- it looks simple but it has seriously been on her table in the living room for over a year, and she plays with it almost daily.  We have used it for numbers, colors, and shapes.
8. Lexie learned her letters and letter sounds with foam bath letters and numbers like these (they were a gift for her first bday, I have no clue what brand ours are.  But they are a nice thick foam made for the bath tub, though they’ve never been in the tub…)
She lines them up, sorts them by color, stands them up (that takes some time and focus!) She still plays with them regularly.  They are one of the toys I don’t really rotate out. Our set came with numbers as well.  This is also how she learned her numbers.  I would just point to the letter/number and tell her its name and the sound it made.  Sometimes the most simple things are so great for learning! She has done the same with her younger siblings, teaching them on her own.
9. A small dry erase board and dry erase markers– my mom brought one for the trip from Memphis to NE when we moved.  Bug really likes it, but it isn’t something I let her have all the time (we are learning not to bang the marker on the board….)  The board is a small 12 x 12 board, great for playing, and learning to write.  The one linked has both a lined side, and a blank side; so as children develop their writing skills they can use the lined side.  We enjoy ours so far!
10. Her doll house– it is the fisher price loving family dollhouse, I had when I was a kid.  She plays with it all the time, and we play with it together.
11. water beads– you may have seen my post.  Cheap and fun (and they come in colors, too)!  They aren’t something we do every day, or even every week.  But Lexie LOVES them!  I think we may cover them in shaving cream for some extra sensory fun in the next few days.
12. Magnets– So much fun, so much learning and exploring.

13. Lacing cards– we have a few different sets of these from friends and family.  My kids use them often, they are something fun to do together as well.  They pretend to sew, knit, and crochet like mama.  Great for fine motor, critical thinking, and hand eye coordination.

14. Melissa and Doug Buckets– we have a few different versions of these- they are all VERY well loved, and have held up so to much abuse play. Living on a farm, outside toys like buckets get used on an almost daily basis and these have no disappointed! This is one toy that we can’t really have too many of.

15. ABC Bean Bags– I cannot count the ways we use these bean bags! One way, is by throwing them into those buckets I posted above. These have been so much fun for all ages in our home (7 down to baby). We toss, stack, count, hide, and tote around these bean bags daily. We also like our shapes bean bags and I plan to get the number bean bags eventually.

So, there are my top toys for toddlers through PreK children.  Of course always supervise your young children with any toy.

*This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting my site!  I was not paid or compensated in anyway for these opinions; they are my own.

ESV Illuminated {art journaling edition} Bible

As I’ve been pouring over some new books this fall season, one that landed on my counter *ehum* desk, was the ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition– Oh. My. This Bible features a refined and eye catching cover, along with gold edged pages, and beautiful art work.

Win Your Copy! Illuminated Bible Art journaling Edition

This is probably one of the prettiest Bibles I have ever laid eyes on. On top of being just lovely and elegant, this Bible is a full ESV text, in 9 pt Lexicon font, spaced in single columns to allow room for note taking, journaling, art work, and any other praise you can put on paper.

There are over 500 hand lettered, gold inked illustrations by artist Dana Tanamachi; she has been featured world wide and is probably best known for starting the chalk-lettering trend that abounds. The Smyth-sewn binding fits the weight of this Bible perfectly, ensuring it will hold up to the years (and generations?) of use, art, and the love it will receive.

About 2 years ago I was introduced to Bible art journaling; it is a wonderful way to combine time with the Lord, worship, prayer, and any enjoyment for art/creativeness. Anyone can use this Bible but those that love to color, doodle, and relax through journaling, painting, and stamping, will especially enjoy combining one of the best translations (ESV), with their love for the Word. I hope to find time to create one journaling Bible for each of my children to have one day… I am working on the first for now. 😉

I’ve written in every Bible I have ever owned, because I like to make notes of new understandings, record how a verse or passage specifically affected and influenced my life at that time, and to document prayers. But most Bibles lack room for much prayer journaling or documenting. The ESV Illuminated Bible, art journaling edition, provides ample room for all of this and more!

(giveaway) Illuminated bible Art journaling Edition

Some of my favorite times in my Bible have been while I sketched out something that represented *to me* what a verse or passage was saying. Using different art mediums make it impactful, colorful, and memorable in a relaxing and a fun way.

If you are looking for a journaling, (or maybe you’ve filled one and are ready to move on to the next?), or a personal gift this Christmas season, the ESV Illuminated Bible is a breath taking Bible to use! In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, it features:

  • 2- color printing
  • 64 full page, book opener illustrations
  • 50 full page verse illustrations
  • 250+ hand lettered margin verses
  • 100+ other illustrations throughout (such as florals, scrolls, etc)
  • gold edges and detailing
  • arrives with a permanent slipcase, perfect for storing and gift giving

You can read about Dana Tanamachi HERE, and see even more details, including images and video, of the ESV Illuminated Bible HERE.

One lucky winner will get a copy of their own- enter below to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

 

 

 

 

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