August 30, 2012

Preschool at Home: Plan & Details

LM just started school and LL is still just a wee one and naps a lot.
So LB and I have some one-on-one time which we've never had before! :) 
He will be 3 soon, and I wanted to come up with a simple plan for doing Preschool at Home with him this year. Here's what I've come up with:

1. Weekly Preschool Theme - I decided to have a different theme each week as we do our activities and crafts. There are tons of fun themes (check out THIS huge list!) -- and here are the ones I'm planning to use over the course of the year (**subject to change, of course!**)  Click on the Themes we've done so far to see what activities we did, and maybe even a few others we've done in the past with that theme!

September - Space,  Bugs,  Football,  Trains 

October - Fall,  Pumpkins,  Monsters,  

November - Turkeys, Family Unity,

December - PresentsCandy Canes,

January (2013) - Penguins, Mittens , AlphabetWinter

February -  Valentine's Day, 

March - Rainbows, St. Patrick's DayEggsBunnies,                        .                   Easter

April - Spring, Kites

May - Mother's Day

June - Father's Day, 4th of July 

July - Faith, Miscellaneous....

August - School, Dinosaurs, Fruits & Vegetables, Planets

2. Appx. 3-5 Activities/Week - I'm realistically shooting for 3-5 activities/week to go along with the weekly theme. Some weeks I may have more time and energy and do more. And sometimes life gets busy and crazy and we might not get very many activities done.....but 3-5 is my realistic goal. Not too overwhelming, but enough to feel good about. :)

I love thinking up new and fun ideas, so I'll be brainstorming ideas for the upcoming themes throughout the week and write my ideas down in my Home Organization Binder, on a new sheet I made that looks like this (which is now included in the Organization Files for Sale!):

I'll plan a variety of activities each week that will be fun for LB. Among them will be crafts, games, fun foods, & learning activities focusing on colors, numbers, letters, shapes and other preschool concepts. 

3. Preparation - After I brainstorm several ideas, I'll narrow it down to the top 3-5 ideas for that theme (focusing on which ones will be the easiest to do, and the most fun for LB!) 

I'm much more likely to actually do these activities with LB if I get things ready before we sit down together. So, my plan is to spend a little time on Mondays getting everything ready. I'm going do all the prep-work, and get all the odds and ends together and put them in a gallon-size Ziploc bag so it's all ready to go! (the picture below shows all the activities I've prepared for our Space-Theme next week! Stay tuned........... !!)

4. When? -  9:00am is a good Preschool time for us. LM is at school, LL is sweetly napping, and I am done reading my scriptures by then. As for what days---I guess it depends on the week. Some weeks LB and I might sit down and do an activity each day--and other weeks we might squeeze them all into 1 or 2 days--I'm not going to tie myself to a specific schedule since I know life can be unpredictable and I need to be flexible or I'll be stressed out. And a stressed out Mommy ain't no fun for nobody! :)


So that's the plan! If you think something like this would work for you too, then give it a try! If you want, you can even do the same themes and activities that I post about and save yourself oodles of time in planning it all out! You could see what I post about one week, then get everything ready and do that same theme the next week. And if you miss an activity or week here or there, no biggie. Just do what you can and enjoy having fun with your kids! :)

August 28, 2012

118 Ways to Make a Chore Chart!

I've been researching different ideas for Chore Charts and have found some incredibly creative and ingenious ideas! There are so many fun and cute ways you can get your kids excited about chores.

(Our Current Chore Chart):

And here are links to a bunch more ideas that I found.

(And when I say a bunch....I ain't just whistlin' Dixie.)
Prepare to be amazed, my friends........

Chore Punch Cards:

Family Chore Wheel:

Dry-Erase Clip-Boards:

Chore Ring:

Job Envelopes:

Build-a-Burger Chore Chart:

Clothespin Chore Ribbon:

Chore Buckets:

Chore Pockets:

Color-Coded Chore Jar & Sticks:

Family Chore Board:

Responsibility Station:

Princess Chore Chart:

Dry-Erase Chore Board:

Chore Ping-pong Balls:

Fun Chore Pockets:

Vintage Time Card Holder - Chore Chart:

Chore Sticks in Pockets:

Metal Chore Boards:

Star Chart:

Allowance Money Jars:

Big Chore Board:

Chore Door:

Zoo Chore Chart:

Vertical Chore Chart:

Chore Train:

Digital Scrapbooking Chart:

Veggie Chore Chart:

Nickel Chore System:

Wooden Star Chore Chart:

Scratch-off Surprise Chores:

Hanging Tags Family Chore Chart:

Chore Punch Cards:

Magnetic Cookie-Sheet Chart:

Chore Tags:

3 Chore Dice:

Cookie Sheet Chore Chart:

Ice Cream Cone Chore Chart:

Ribbon in Frame Chart:

Chore & Allowance System

Paper Pockets Chart:

Origami Chore Stars:

Chore & Allowance Clipboard:

Clothespin Chore Board:

Picture Chore Chart:

Chore Squares:

Job Photo Chart:

Picture Envelopes:

Chore Door Hanger:

Routine Cards:

Chore Picture Magnets:

Flower Pots Chore Chart:

That's a bunch, eh?
And so many AWESOME ideas.
Hope one of them works for you!

August 26, 2012

960 Saturdays

I recently read this little fact from THIS book:

With everyone's busy schedules, sometimes Saturdays are the only days where we get to do fun things all together as a family. Seeing that finite number attached to these days makes me want to cherish them even more!

August 22, 2012

Square Monkey Puppets

I made 5 Monkey finger-puppets a couple weeks ago for some AMAZING friends of ours, and their 5 little monkeys! :)
These square puppets are similar to the Square Farm Animals I made a couple years ago 
(but these ones are puppets, not stuffed. AND these are actually easier to make since I used fabric glue instead of stitching them by hand.)

These could be fun to use when you tell the story, "10 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed." (....or one for each member of your family!)  :) Or just let your kids play and come up with their own crazy stories and adventures. 

They are also light and space-efficient, so you could pack them along in your bag for the car, church, dr. office, or anywhere you need instant entertainment!

  • Felt (brown, tan, white, black, & any colors for bows)
  • Scissors
  • Fabric Glue

Here's how to make them:
  • Cut out brown squares from the felt. Mine are about 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" and they fit on 1-2 fingers. (but you can make these however big or small you want!)  :)
  • Using the other colors of felt, cut out the Monkeys' facial features:
    • 2 ears (brown and tan)
    • nose (black)
    • mouth (black)
    • around the nose & mouth (tan)
    • bows (any color) if you want any of your monkeys to be girls. :)
    • eyes (white & black). (I made a lot of eyes. I'm planning to use the rest for something else.....stay tuned!!!) :)

  • So, after you cut everything, glue it all on using fabric glue!

  • After you glue the ears on, then get another brown square and put glue around the top and sides. Then place the monkey face square on top. 

  • You should have an opening like this for the fingers to go in:

  • And if you want your monkey to be a girl, glue a bow on the corner of her head. :)

 All done!!

August 17, 2012

Paper Pencil Goodie-Bag

So, before I made the felt Pencil Pouches to put surprises in for the kids, I made this pencil out of construction paper to fill with goodies. 

(And all of these Back-to-School "pencil" traditions to go along with the Pencil Cake I posted about yesterday)

Anyways, making the paper pencil was really easy, and you could easily fill it with goodies or notes or anything. :) 

Here's how to make one:
  • Roll up a piece of yellow construction paper and tape it together. (I just used scotch tape)
  • Cut out a pink strip of paper and roll it around the end of the pencil and tape it together. 
  • Cut out a white (or any color) small strip of paper and tape it around the pencil next to the eraser.
  • For the tip of the pencil:
    • cut out a circle with white paper (a circle bigger than the size of the pencil)
    • draw a big black circle in the center of the circle with marker or crayon (this is the lead)
    • Cut a slit into the circle from the outside just to the middle of the circle
    • Roll it together to make a cone shape and tape it together
    • Then tape the cone onto the yellow paper.
  • Put whatever you want inside the pencil: candy, snacks, supplies, notes, puzzle pieces, etc.
  • Cut out a pink circle the same size as the pencil and tape it on the end of the eraser to seal the surprises inside.

Since I knew I was going to use the Pencil Pouches as goodie bags, I decided to use this paper pencil as part of our Family Home Evening lesson.

With the start of the new school year we decided to talk about being happy and smiling. I looked in a couple magazines and cut out a bunch of pictures of kids smiling. I taped them (double stick tape) to construction paper and placed them inside the paper pencil. 

So after we sang our song and said our prayer we had our lesson:

We talked about what makes us smile.
We talked about how smiling can help us and those around us to feel good.
We talked about how thinking about the good things we have can help us to smile and be happy.
We talked about why Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and what He has blessed us with so we can smile.
We also talked about how sometimes we are sad and don't want to smile.
But that when we help others, and think about all the wonderful things about our lives, we can be happy again.

August 16, 2012

Back to School Pencil Cake

I've been thinking lately about the fun of family traditions. With school starting, I wanted to find some fun traditions that we could do each year at the beginning of school, just like the one I posted about yesterday. :) (Pencil Pouches on School-year's Eve

I saw an amazingly CUTE idea of making a Back-to-School Pencil Cake on Food Network's website. (Go there for the Tutorial.)  I found it several weeks ago and have been SO excited to make it and start a fun tradition of making it at the beginning of school each year.

I made mine a little bit differently than Food Network shows.
I used a cake mix instead of buying the 2 angel food cakes.
And I cut the cake in half and put them side by side.

Everything else was pretty close to their tutorial. 

BUT I had some major problems with the following:
1.the cake -- the mix I bought was really gross actually. A huge disappointment. And the cake was crumbly and uneven...... :(
2. the frosting -- it was a little too runny. :( 
3. the chocolate -- it was SUPER runny when I went to write "Happy School year" on the cake....hence the creepy looking "H". haha 

So in the end, the cake wasn't as amazing as I'd been picturing it would be.
But oh well. The kids still LOVED it. 

I guess traditions don't have to be perfect to be fun. :)

August 15, 2012

Felt Pencil Pouches

I sure love felt. 
And since school has recently started, I decided to use my felt collection to make some pencil pouches for my family. 

A friend of mine recently had a "School-Year's Eve" party with her kids the night before school started (such a cute idea that I think I'm going to try next year since school has already started here.) I had the idea to maybe use these pencil pouches each year to put surprises in on the night before school starts--kind of like Christmas Stockings!!

So, here's how to make them:

First, cut out 2 rectangles out of orange or yellow felt. I cut mine appx. 11" x 4", but these can be any size you want!

Lay the 2 rectangles on top of each other and cut one end into the tip of the pencil. On the other end, round the corners for the eraser:

Next, get your fabric glue

Lift up the top piece and put glue around the outer edge of the rectangle (3 sides only. Don't glue the pouch shut!) :)

Cut 2 rectangles out of light pink felt, and round the corners on one side, so it looks like an eraser. Put glue on it and put it on the end of the pencil:

 Use whatever color you want and cut out 2 long strips. Put glue on it and put it on right next to the eraser:

 Next, cut out 2 rectangles using off-white felt. Put glue on the tip of the pencil and place one of the rectangles on:

Then glue on a piece of black felt on the tip:

Then trim the tip, and look at your awesome felt pencil! 
If you want, you can just glue stuff onto the front side, but I decided to do the back as well. 

The surprises I'm putting in the pouches for the boys are a little notebook, pencil, fruit snacks, and a car. 
LL gets a package of new pacifiers. :)

Stuff 'em in!

Or instead of using them for surprises, you could use it as an actual pencil case, or BOTH!!!

And here are all 3 that I made for the kiddos:

School has already started here (so early!!!) and so I'm going to maybe give these to the kids this weekend to celebrate the end of LM's first full week of school, and the beginning of me doing "preschool" with LB next week (more on that later), and LL just being so darn cute. :)

And I made a special big one for Daddy that I'm going to put some goodies in when he starts school in a couple weeks--to celebrate his LAST YEAR OF SCHOOL EVER!!!!!!!!!!! :):):) Yippee!

(PS. If you don't want to MAKE pencil pouches but want to do the fun tradition of filling something with goodies the first day of could just BUY some really cute pencil pouches! Easy and just as fun!!)

August 11, 2012

Tortilla Tip

Here's a little tip for anyone who loves Mexican food.
Maybe you already know about these (or something like these) little beauties, but we just discovered them a couple days ago and are in love ♥ so I just wanted to spread the love around like a dollop of guacamole.

They are UNCOOKED Flour Tortillas.
(Found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. I found these at Walmart.)

You just cook them in a pan for 30 seconds each side and use them like you would a normal flour tortilla......
the flavor and texture are 100 zillion times BETTER than the plan ol' flour tortillas you buy precooked!! (I can't believe what I've been missing all my life!)
They are heaven.

We cooked up a few and made tacos with this AMAZING bean concoction which we adapted from a Cafe Rio recipe from

Taco Beans:
2T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can white beans, rinsed & drained
1 can corn, drained
1 can tomato sauce
2T fresh chopped cilantro

Pour olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add garlic, cumin, and chili powder--cook for 2 mins. Add beans, corn, tomato sauce and heat through. Just before serving add cilantro.

On the cooked tortilla we added a scoop of the bean recipe, a scoop of rice, some grated cheese, and a bit of sour cream. Delicious. And easy. And inexpensive. And you have leftovers you can use for the next meal. Now that's what I'm talkin' about.

I can't wait to try these tortillas with other recipes!

August 8, 2012

Family Olympics: Medals

A Family Olympics wouldn't be complete without MEDALS for one and all!

So LM and I cut out some circles, drew on the Olympic Rings & USA, and taped some ribbon to the back!

After we did all the sports games, we each got our medals. 
Our Medal Ceremony was short and sweet (since it was blazin' hot!!), but the boys LOVED getting their medals and feeling like true Olympians!

This was the final part of our Family Olympics. To see all the fun stuff we did for our Family Olympics, click the picture below!