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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pixar Cars Puzzles

These puzzles are Cars-themed because my kids love everything with wheels and especially the Cars movies.  They can be used as either a busy bag activity (cut out the playing pieces and the boards) or as a folder game (leave the puzzle boards uncut and only cut out the playing pieces).

Obviously, I don't own the Cars images.  The pictures came from Disney Wiki.  As always, I'm offering the printable for free.  To download it, click here.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

In Depth Adoption Theme- Flintstones


As I've been working on Tadpole's adoption party, I got a bit carried away with an adoption theme I don't plan on using.  The theme is "Bamm Bamm was Adopted Too" or "We're Wild About This One."  I love the theme, but it doesn't fit our family as well as I had hoped.  So that I don't waste all that Pinteresting, I'll share some of my favorite ideas with you.  As always, please pin at the original source.
from FamilyShoppingBag.com
THIS website has free Flintstones' party printables.
from Etsy.com
THIS adorable Bamm Bamm costume is only $15 for a toddler size.  So fun!
from raisingcajuns.com
THIS mom made a really neat cave out of a box for her kids and then let them do cave paintings.  I think it would be so neat to decorate with family cave paintings *Krood* style.
from kellygenelife.wordpress.com
THIS idea comes from a puppy party, but I think the bone meat and cheese platter would be "dog-gone" cute as dinosaur bones.
I really like the look of THIS jungle party.  The handmade felt leaf garland is just the best.
The mini party hats on THESE dinosaurs are very cute.  Of course, my party plans were going to include lots of dinosaurs.

Well, that's it.  I hope it inspires you!

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Foster-to-Adopt Party Theme Ideas

Foster-to-Adopt Party Theme Ideas from In Our Pond
Update:  FREE Finding Nemo Party Printables

It seems like its hard to find ideas for adoption party themes, especially if you're adopting from foster care.  I've been planning Tadpole's adoption party and looking at all my old Pinterest ideas.  Here are some to consider if you're working on your own foster-to-adopt party.

*I know that every idea isn't going to fit every person, personality, and circumstance- these are just suggestions.  Use or dismiss at will*

Pun Party Themes

- "Luke was Adopted Too" (Star Wars)

- "Welcome to Our Zoo" (zoo)

- "We're Wild About This One" (jungle)

- "Wanted: Asleep or Awake" (cowboy)

- "Bee-ing Loved" or "Sweet as Honey" (bees)

- "We Found the Missing Piece" (puzzles)

- "Showers of Blessings" (rain/umbrella/rainbows)

- "You are My/Our Sunshine" (sunflowers/yellow)

- "You Color Our World" (paint/color/art)

- "Superman was Adopted Too" (superhero)

- "Our Family was Built by Adoption" (construction)

- "This is My Circus- These are My Clowns" (circus)

- "Love Changes Everything" (metamorphosis)

- "Stole My Heart" (outlaw/bandit)

- "We Want S'More" (camping)

- "Caught Ya" (bugs)

- "Bamm Bamm was Adopted Too" (Flintstones/dinosaurs)

- "Some People are Worth Melting For" (Frozen/luau/beach)

- "No Longer a Lost Boy" (Peter Pan)

- "Sweet as Sugar Candy" (candyland/ lollipops)

- "Bloom Where Your Planted" (garden/flowers)

- "Sew Cute" (sewing/buttons)

- "All American" (USA)

- "Home Grown" (farm/tractors)

- "Building Our Family Brick by Brick" (legos)

Foster-to-Adopt Party Theme Ideas from In Our Pond
Our most recent adoption party (Feb 2014)

Movie-Based Party Themes

- Martian Child (aliens/space)

- Free Willy (whales/ocean)

- Angels in the Outfield (baseball)

- Anne of Green Gables (tea party/garden)

- Elf (candy/Christmas)

- Despicable Me (minions!)

- Meet the Robinsons (robots/science)

- The Blind Side (football)

- Cinderella/Tangled (princess)

- Kung Fu Panda (China/pandas)

- Up (balloons, outdoors)

- Lilo and Stitch (Hawaii/luau)

- The Book Thief (bookworm)

Foster-to-Adopt Party Theme Ideas from In Our Pond

Themes We've Done

- Girly Girl (pink, black, and white paisley)

- "We Found Nemo" or "O-fish-ally Adopted" (nemo/coral reef)

- "This Family was Built by Adoption" (construction)

Foster-to-Adopt Party Theme Ideas from In Our Pond
I had so much fun with this theme!

Guest Book Ideas

- jenga blocks

- fingerprint tree

- puzzle pieces

- wood hearts shadow box

- picture frame mat

- video wishes

- new family name initial

- message in a bottle


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Saturday, June 27, 2015

"To the Edge" VBS Daily Log


Space Commander Daily Log, Day 1, Entry 1:  I wish our VBS launch schedule hadn't collided with the family reunion last weekend.  All I can think about is sleep.  My brain is foggy.  My kids are grumpy.  How are we going to get through the day?

Space Commander Daily Log, Day 1, Entry 2:  Kids too tired and excited to nap.  Mom needs sleep!  Send reinforcements.

Space Commander Daily Log, Day 2, Entry 1:  Kids sneaked a bottle of soap into their room last night and painted themselves and their room with it.  Baths first thing this morning,  One of the kids was starting to smell like a space chimp so the bath isn't necessarily bad.  When am I going to get the energy to clean up their room?

Space Commander Daily Log, Day 3, Entry 1:  I hit a wall and no longer care if my kids have shoes to wear to church.  They're happier barefoot so we're going "just as you are" today.

Space Commander Daily Log, Day 3, Entry 2:  We're running low on provisions.  Huston, send help.

Space Commander Daily Log, Day 4, Entry 1:  It's a bit of a thrill to get in the shower and wonder what you'll find when you come back out.  Will the kids have torn apart the house like space monkeys?  Will there be bananas smashed everywhere?  Will they have gone on a space walk without telling me?  Or will the stay in front of the movie that I put on?

Space Commander Daily Log, Day 4, Entry 2:  The hardest part of my day is trying to keep the kids awake while I drive home.  I must succeed!  Or risk an incomplete cycle of hyper sleep.  I really can't do any more nights of kids bouncing on the bed late into the night.

Space Commander Daily Log, Day 5, Entry 1:  Well, we didn't find the Edge of the Universe, God sure pushed me to the edge this week.  I did the 2 Ways 2 Live Gospel presentation, and had three children decide to take the crown off of their own heads, lay it at Jesus' feet, and acknowledge that Jesus is King.  It was pretty neat.  I had never been the main teacher before and was pretty intimidated about it.  But, I'm glad I go to lead them and teach them this week.  I know I'll never be the same.



Friday, June 26, 2015

Transportation on Antarctica

I used a Google search to find the pictures for this printable.  It has 12 pictures of transportation that people use on Antarctica.  Also included in the packet is a "control of error" card with all the "answers" and three sorting labels.

These cards can be used for a sorting game, a matching game, spelling practice, or 3-part cards.  I plan on using them with my "p is for penguin" unit; although they would work well for a continent box as well.

To download them for free, click here.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Step-by-Step Montessori Series (DIY School Supplies)

I was feeling a little antsy, I realized what my problem was- I hadn't crafted in over a week!  Straight to the craft supplies bins I went and out came the glue gun.  In very little time, I had whipped out these Montessori-inspired DIY's for our homeschooling.


These silly things are quick and easy tongs.  I hot glued two flat sticks (craft store) to a spring clothespin.  I'm hoping the kids will be able to use them for transferring work.  And, that they'll be easy to replace when they break.  I was inspired by a pin I saw, similar to this one.


One of the themes that I keep running into in Montessori education is sorting objects by whether they go on the land, the water, or the air.  Many times, the kids are also given a 3-D representation of the 3 elements (like this).  My version is made from very toddler-friendly plastic bottles (dollar store).  One bottle (not pictured) is empty to represent air, one is filled with dirt from our yard to show land, and one has glittery water.  I know the glitter probably isn't very "Montessori" but I couldn't resist after making the dull air and dirt bottles.


Quilt Pieces Game

Free logic games (rainbow and black and white).  I'm going to be using them with my Q is for Quilt unit.  To download, click here.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Our Third Family Road Trip (ocean)

Last weekend was our third west coast road trip five months.  Every time, I feel like I learn a bit more about what works for our family, and the kids get more "settled" about what a road trip means.  I now feel like we're ready for a trip to the east coast (several days vs one day of driving).
One of the highlights of this trip was our "playground tours."  On the day we went to the coast, we stopped at a really nice "dinosaur" playground about halfway through our journey.  Then, when we got to the hotel, they got to play again on the equipment the hotel owned.  The next day, our kids played at two playgrounds near the bay and got to visit the ocean for the first time.  On our return trip, they played at a new park, rode a ferry, and visited the dinosaur playground again.  For my country kids, all that park time was a big treat.

Here are a few pictures of the logistics of traveling with three toddlers:
I always pack a tiny bit of dish soap, a dish cloth, dish towel, paper towels, and bleach wipes when we travel.  We three toddlers, you never know what you'll need and when you'll need it.  During our stay, we went through more clothes than we had planned on, so I did some laundry in the sink.  I made soapy water with the dish soap, hand washed the clothes, and then line-dried them in the bathroom.  Also during the weekend, we had a potty accident, so I was glad I had paper towels and bleach wipes to clean it up.  And, of course, I always have lots of grocery sacks packed in different places for wet clothes, etc.
I packed one tote with our snacks, treats, and meals (although we also ate out for at least one meal).  My kids love hotel dinner on the floor.  I spread out a baby blanket for their picnic, which helped to contain any spills.  The room had a microwave, so it was easy to cook up some Easy Mac.  I had a bag of disposable spoons in our food tote and everything went in the garbage when we were done eating.  We also had a small cooler with drinks, sandwiches, and fruit.  Frozen water bottles kept everything cold.

We actually did three days of driving because we spend a day getting to the coast, a day driving around the peninsula to the ocean, and a day driving home.  Dragonfly was entertained the most by her I-spy picture book that I made for her.  She rejected a lot of the other activities that I packed for her and spent a lot of time talking, asking questions, singing, and explaining things to her brothers.  Skimmer entertained himself almost exclusively with cars.  He loved most his John Deere tractor and big motorcycle, but also kept a pile of other cars around him at all times.  Tadpole had the hardest time and was happiest with a lollipop in his mouth (teething).  He also spent a lot of time playing with the obnoxious camera that I picked up at the dollar store.

We just got back, but I'm itching to plan another trip.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Adoption Songs

Sometime this summer, we're supposed to adopt Tadpole.  He's been living in our home as a foster child since he was two days old.  In many ways, he feels like he's already "ours."  As part of my preparations for the "big day," I've been looking for the perfect adoption song.  Here are a few samples:

This is Home by Switchfoot
"This is home.
Now I'm finally where I belong
Where I belong
Yeah, this is home
I've been searching for a place of my own
Now I've found it
Maybe this is home
This is home"

Take Good Care of My Baby by Carole King
"Once upon a time that little girl was mine
If I'd been true, I know she'd never be with you
So, take good care of my baby
Be just as kind as you can be
And if you should discover that you don't really love her
Just send my baby back home to me"

Child of My Heart by Becky Wright
"One day you might ask me, what was my first mommy like?
Did my parents love me?  And do I have my daddy's eyes?
But all the reasons and explanations may not satisfy
So I'll hold you close and pray you feel the love I have inside
Your the child of my heart, child of my love
Specially chosen, no accident, sent from God above."

You are Mine by the Go Fish Guys
"You are mine, I will never leave you
I will see you through the night and be here in the morning
Close your eyes and have a good time dreaming
Knowing you will never be alone
Cause you are mine"

Dragonfly's special song is "Call Me Loved" by Becky Wright (Youtube)

Skimmer's song is "A Mother's Prayer" by Rachel Aldous (Youtube)

Now, what shall be Tadpole's song?

Updated with More Songs- June 24, 2015

Someone is Waiting for You by Stephen Sondheim
"Be brave little one
Make a wish for each sad little tear
Hold your head up through no one is near
Someone is waiting for you"

Safe and Sound by Matthew West
"Can't believe you're here now
Tiny dream come true
The answer to a prayer now
I'm so in love with you"

All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman
"All I really want (for Christmas)
Is someone who'll be there
To sing me happy birthday
For the next 100 years
And its ok that they're not perfect
And, even if they're a little broken
That's alright- cause so am I"

Mine to Love by Dave Barnes
"You're mine to love
We've all been waitin' on you
Your mine to love
Come into these open arms
It took some time to wait it out
But I see it now
You're worth all the dreaming
You're mine to love"

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pirate Bingo/Matching

Arrg!  We've been spending time at the ocean and that's made me think about pirates.  Here be a pirate printable for you.

Click here to download.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Circus Bingo/Matching Game

I'm on vacation, but I can't stop making preschool printables!  This one is a bingo board with four levels of cards for matching.  The cartoon circus objects can be paired with either an identical object card, a shadow card, a beginning sounds uppercase letter card, or a lowercase beginning sounds card.  As always, the game is free.

To download, click here.


Year One Review

The public schools are finishing up this week, so we decided to end our formal studies as well.  As I think about the past year, here are a few of my favorite things:

- free printables created by other people (especially Imagine Our Life and Every Star is Different)
- my laminator (available on Amazon here)
- Universal laminating sheets (here)
- big zipper pouches for binders (Staples)
- Safari Ltd Toobs (like these)
- the local library

Basically, our entire first year of homeschooling can be summed up with those six things.  Next year, I hope to add some more hands-on materials including more Toobs, life-cycle figurines, a globe, a felt world map, and lots more printed materials.  I'd like for us to continue introducing bits and pieces of the Montessori method.  Eventually, I hope to have "learning shelves" with trays of activities for them to chose from during school time.

With Dragonfly (who will be 4), I'd like to see her master numbers and their values (at least through 10), begin to identify letters, and continue to be excited about learning.  We will also be working on practical and "school-readiness" skills.  She's very science motivated (and is getting a microscope for her birthday), so many of our units will emphasize scientific content, vocabulary, and methods.  Perhaps she will be like my husband and be motivated to learn to read so that she can read reference materials.

Skimmer and Tadpole will join Dragonfly's studies are they are able.  I will also continue to work with them on practical skills (listening, obeying, dressing, toileting, etc).

I'm excited for next year and have already began to prepare for it.  Stay tuned!



Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer Themes- Universe

Montessori Tray Work- spooning
Next week is our Day Camp at church.  The theme is Space, so I thought we should spend this week studying the universe at bit.

I got a new camera recently, so I tried to focus on taking more pictures.

Theme: Universe

Sensory: space play dough
                space toob sensory bin

Activities: eat like an astronaut
                  planting flags
                  earth-sun model with cake pan
                  spooning marbles out of rice
                  spooning stars
                  counting stars
                  space dust writing
                  moon roll and cover
                  months of the year puzzle
               

Books: "On the Moon"
            "Roaring Rockets"
            "At the Same Moment, All Around the World"
            "Why is the Sun so Bright?"
            "Who Works in Space?"

Song: "The Earth Goes Around the Sun"

A View of Our Work:
This activity turned out to be very difficult for my kids' ages (3 and 2).  They had trouble pealing the stickers off and more trouble getting them onto the paper.  I'm not sure they even enjoyed the process.  It's one that I can see them wanting to do as they get a bit older.  I saw a neat idea on Pinterest where the kids used the stars to outline constellations.  Look for this visit to come back again.


Ok, so this isn't the kids' school work- it's mine.  I made the circle skirt for my "Science Girl."  She loves it.  The fabric came from Hobby Lobby.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Boys' Car Activity Bag

Yesterday, I posted about Dragonfly's activity bag.  Today, I'll show you the ones for the boys.
His bag contains:
- motorcycle (thrift store)
- various blue vehicles ($ store)
- altoid tin for pouring and dumping
- blue play dough balloon (DIY)
- pretend cell phone ($ store)

As you can see, it's all about cars, wheels, and things to spin in Skimmer's bag.  I'm sure he will also do some things from Dragonfly and Tadpole's bags, too.  I forgot to include the "something to spin" and i-spy activities that I posted about a few days ago (here).  'He also has a zipper bag in blue for snacks.

This is Tadpole's Bag:
- noisy camera toy (thrift store)
- marble maze (DIY)
- wood animal magnets (DIY)
- trucks ($ store)
- car track mat (DIY)



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

4 Year Old's Car Activity Bag

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Our road trip is coming up soon, so I thought I'd give you a peak at all the fun things I've put together for my kids.  First, the four year old girl (Dragonfly).

- clipboard with fuzzy pen attached ($ store)
- coloring book ($ store)
- Toy Story 3 Look and See book (thrift store)
- create a scene stickers ($ store)
- Toy Story Magnetic Game (DIY)
- play phone ($ store)
- pink play dough stress ball (DIY)
- necklace making kit (DIY)
- Leap Frog matching game (thrift store)
- Toy Story matching game (DIY)
- pink pouch for snacks (Wal-mart)
- colored pencils

I bought her a car activity tray (Amazon), which I think will be a helpful addition.  I also have a stash for "hotel toys," a random bucket of toys that are always in the car, and a pile of glow sticks for night travel.
The Toy Story characters came from Spoonful (here).  I printed them, cut them out, laminated them, and cut them out.  Then, I stuck the characters to a magnetic sticker sheet (Wal-mart) and cut them out again.  The background was printed from a Google search and modge podged to the tin.  The black part is a magnetic sheet for additional storage.
Sorry that the picture is so bad- I think it's the modge podge mixed with florescent lights and camera flash.  Yuck!  Anyway, this is a Toy Story matching game.  I used the cupcake toppers found at Over the Big Blue Moon (here).  I modge podged them onto 1.5" wood disks that I bought on Etsy.  I also added velcro dots on the backside in the hopes that it would be more car friendly.  As an added bonus, the velcro sticks so well that it gives everyone who plays the game extra fine motor skills practice.
Another bad picture- ugh!  This is an experiment as I've never tried anything like this with Dragonfly before.  In my re-purposed altoid tin, I taped a piece of yarn, which has a large, dull, metal needle tied onto it.  Their are a few red pony beads and cut up paper straws for threading.  I'm hoping that the activity tray will keep the activity contained and that she'll get a lot of playtime from it.

I'll do the boys' travel bags another day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

DIY Road Trip Games

It's summer time, and we're getting ready for another family road trip.  In preparation, I've been making some activities.
I'm obsessed with the I-spy stuff- bottles, books, bags, whatever.  I've been wanting to make an i-spy rice bag for quite a while.  After I made Dragonfly's space skirt last week, I had some fabric left over.  The window is a reused bag like the kind that sheets come in.  The orange part is felt (so that I wouldn't have to hem around the window).  It ended up being pretty messy, but I'm hoping all those stitches will keep the rice inside.  I also plan on attaching a "contents" card to it.  In case your wondering what I found to put in it, here's the picture:
These are all buttons from my novelty button collection (I'm a bit obsessed).  I even found a sun, moon, Earth, Mars, and Saturn that I think were part of one set.  I thought they were perfect for this project.  Hopefully, this i-spy bag will buy us some time on a ferry on in a restaurant.
Skimmer loves to spin things.  He loves car and train wheels, airplane propellers, the pizza cutter, play dough roller, and DVD cases.  Normally, we discourage him from spinning DVDs, so I thought it would be a special treat for him to get to spin them in the car.  I modge podge the green paper onto some junk disks and added the numbers and letters for visual interest.  I also replaced the cover paper with some fun scrapbook paper to distinguish it from our other movies.
We'll also be taking some games that I made a long time ago- like this tic-tac-toe game.  Click here to read the original post.

These are my other posts on the subject:
I Felt Like It
Pixar Games
Road Trip DIYs
Mickey Color Matching Game
PBJ Game





Monday, June 15, 2015

Step by Step Montessori Series (our classroom)

I've been hesitant to post too much about our classroom area, because I don't think it's very "Pinterest-worthy."  It's also not a good example of Montessori, since my storage area is set up more for storage than child-driven activities.  Since I started this "Step by Step Montessori" series, I've gotten the courage to blog about our learning set-up.  Here's the breakdown:

1- craft supply storage area
2- theme binders
3- books
4- random storage
5- cookie cutters and sensory materials
6- our work trays
7- microwave and coffeemaker
8- school supplies
9- sewing machine/supplies

As you can see, my "classroom" storage shelves reflect the eclectic nature of our "apple room."  It's our eating place, our mud room, our storage area, our office, and our home school classroom.  This is another reason why I didn't want to show *anyone* this picture.





 The Safari Toobs are stored in the bin labeled "invitation to play" with each set in it's own Crystal Lite container.  The shoe box above the bin holds all the loose sensory materials.

The 3-drawer cart is my version of a Montessori shelf of activity trays.  Because of my kids' ages (still all under 4), I chose the kids' activities.  The kids always sit in their high chairs/booster seats for school time, but, eventually, I'd like to teach them to use "the rug."

 These are our themed binders.  Last year, I crammed everything into two binders, but this year I expanded to eight.  I'm preparing a separate post about the contents of these folders and how I set up all my printed materials.
The two bins next to the mixer are filled with more school supplies.  The one on the right is full of our "tools."  It has trays, bowls, ice cube trays, and kitchen implements.  The one of the left looks disorganized, but it has smaller containers inside it with our tiny counters, life cycle sets, and random other themed stuff.  Office-type school supplies are stored in a plastic shoe box in my bedroom.

This is the "teaching wall" of our classroom (sorry about the glare).
1- Days of the Week calendar with picture reminders
2- themed pictures to introduce our topics (this was during Space week)
3- build-a-letter representation of our letter of the week
3- sign language poster for the letter of the week
6- coat closet area for the kids' coats

We're linked up:
Christian Montessori Network