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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Knit Farm Play Mat

We have yet another birthday this month.  Skimmer turns 2.  Continuing my current trend of giving handmade gifts, I've decided to knit him a play mat to go with our Schleich farm animals.

I'm more of a process knitter than a pattern knitter, so this play mat pattern is more of a "suggestion" than a recipe.  You can, of course, knit these sections in any order that you'd like or follow my layout, which I've included below.  Also, if you really like color work, you can knit the entire thing as one piece.  I've chosen to knit the big pieces in strips first and then to add the "road" strips to connect it all together.

My play mat is made of cheap yarn and stuff I had around the house.  Because of the choice to use what was easy, my play mat looks a bit like a coloring book page.  Most of the playscapes that I linked below chose much milder, earthy colors.  It's up to you.  I used:
- I Love This Wool Cocoa
- Simply Soft Kelly Green
- Red Heart Delft Blue
- Red Heart Grey Heather
- Red Heart Spring Green
- Red Heart Cornmeal
- Red Heart Shaded Greens


Hay Field: Cast on 42 stitches.
            Row 1: Knit
            Row 2: *K7, P7* end K7
            Row 3: *P7, K7* end P7
            Row 4-7: repeat rows 1 and 2
            Row 8: Knit across
            Row 9: *P7, K7* end P7
            Row 10: *K7, P7* end K7
            Row 11-14: repeat rows 9 and 10
Continue pattern until the field is roughly a square or whatever size you desire.

Pasture:  Cast on even number of stitches.
            Row 1: *K1, P1* to the end
            Row 2: *P1, K1* to the end
Repeat pattern until the pasture is roughly a square or whatever size you want.  This is where I have chosen to place my stream and pond.  The water was knit in stocking stitch.  Placement of the water pieces is up to you.

Road:  Cast on any number of stitches.
            Knit in stocking stitch.  My roads are about 2.5" wide.

Plowed Field:  Cast on any number of stitches.
            Row 1: Knit across
            Row 2: Purl across
            Row 3: K
            Row 4: P
            Row 5: K
            Row 6: K
            Row 7: P
Repeat pattern until field is the size you want.

Meadow:  Cast on an odd number of stitches (although you can adapt it to even stitches)
            Row 1 (and all odd rows): Knit across
            Row 2: *K1, K1b* end K1
            Row 3: Knit
            Row 4: *K1b, K1* end K1b

            *K1b means to "knit 1 below."  See description and original pattern here.

Pig Pen:  Cast on an even number of stitches.
            Row 1: *K2, P2*
            Row 2: *P2, K2*
            Row 3: *P2, K2*
            Row 4: *K2, P2*
The other feature of my pig pen is the pockets for the pigs to frolic.  These are made by casting off a certain number of stitches and then casting them back on.  Unfortunately, you have to cut the yarn for each cast on, which leaves you a lot of extra tails to tuck in.  You can put in as many or as few pockets as you wish.

Duck Pond:  Cast on any number of stitches.
            The pond section is knit like the pasture section above.  I have also chosen to add pockets in  the pond for the ducks.  The exact pattern of the piece is something you're going to have to make up for yourself.

Green Fields:  Cast on any number of stitches.
            Row 1: *K1, P1* to the end
            Row 2: Knit across
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until the piece is the size that you want.  The neat thing about this pattern is that it looks like two different patterns from either size.  If you knit the "K1, P1" row on the fabrics right side, you get one look.  If you knit the "knit across" row on the front, then the pattern looks totally different.

Connecting Roads:  Cast on any number of stitches
              Work in stocking stitch, picking up stitches from your worked pieces of fabric to connect all three of the parts together.  Take care to line everything up and not to twist stitches.  It may be helpful to pin the two worked fabrics together to aid with the matching up.

Finishing:  Sew all the pieces together and tuck in the tails (I think I had about 50).  I chose to back my mat with felt.  It made it thick for sewing it all together but it also gave the mat some weight and helps it not to stretch too much.

This post was inspired by the following blog posts
- Doting on Deirdre (specifically the idea of mounting the mat on fabric)
- The Five of Us (love all the textures)
- Fun at Home with Kids (this is felt but this inspired the pockets)
- Left-Over Knits (veggie garden)
- Handwork Homeschool (texture)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Curves and Sticks Letter Building

My oldest preschooler is only three years old, so I'm not planning on focusing too much on handfwriting.  However, I do want to begin introducing to her the concept of how letters are formed.  Amazingly all the letters of the alphabet can be made with a combination of curves and sticks.  To make the process more interesting, I've made a series of curves and sticks in fun patterns.  I'm planning on printing and laminating them, but you could make them magnetic or with felt backing depending on your preference.

Here are the sets I've working on (click to download):

Radical Purple (pictured)

Plain Black

Harvest Orange


Jungle Green

Ocean Blue

Night Sky

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cattle Drive Game

To go with our D is for (the American) Desert, I made this roll and count game.  The children are instructed to take turns rolling the die and counting out spaces to see who can be the first to get their "cattle" from the deserts of Texas to the Markets in Illinois.  Watch out for dangers along the trail- if a player lands on one, s/he loses a turn.  This game would also be a great introduction to a Western Expansion unit.

To download the game, click on the link below:

American West Cattle Drive Game

Christian Montessori Network

Friday, August 15, 2014

Yarn Worksheet (same)

These are pretty easy to figure out.  Worksheets to go with our "Y is for yarn" unit.

To download, click on the link below:

Yarn Worksheets

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Seed Matching

I've been working on this project since I first started planning for Mommy School, way back in April.  The activity has two parts and the prep for it is a bit complicated.  First print, cut, and laminate the jar labels (circles).  Next, begin gathering your seeds.  I chose to store my seeds in these cosmetic pots, but you can store them in anything you wish.  You can either slip the two "game boards" into page protectors or cut the rectangular cards out and laminate them.

The children can then match the seeds to the plants or explore the seeds on their own.  They can also sort the seeds by size or type.

To download the file, click on the link below:

Seed Matching

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Resurrection Opposites

This busy bag is probably not strictly for younger kids.  The kids can match the cards with their opposite or sort the cards between "good and bad" or "before and after."  You could also print two copies of them and make 3-part cards where the child had to match the Bible verse to the card.

To download the cards, click on the link below:

Resurrection Opposites

Monday, August 11, 2014

Color Gradient Folder Game

This is a simple folder game of matching colors along a gradient.  It features four main colors and four shades of each color.  There are also four pages of playing boards, two with the colors and two with blank spots.

To download, click on the link below:

Color Gradient Folder Game

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rain Writing Practice

To go with our "r is for rain" week, I made some rainbow and storm writing practice sheets.  There are 3 pages of words to trace.

To print the worksheets, click on the link below:

Rain Writing Practice

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Monster Word Sorting

This folder game is a bit tricky.  The kids are supposed to match the baby monsters with their mommy just by the "sound" they make.  Some monsters make "eak" sounds and others make "eek" sounds.  This is meant to help children in recognizing the different ways words can be spelled and to force them to focus on letter details as they read.

To download the folder game, click on the link below:

Monster Word Sorting

Friday, August 8, 2014

Monster Size Sorting

This is a pretty simple, straight-forward folder game.  There are two pages to paste in a folder or to slide into page protectors and two pages of monsters to cut out and laminate.  The child can then sort the monsters by small, medium, and large.

To download this free game, click on the link below.

Monster Size Sorting

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rainbow Colors Spelling

All the colors of the rainbow are named in this game.  The kids are asked to practice spelling them by matching the colored letters with their spot on the game board.  Later, you can challenge the kids to spell the words without the game board.

To download the color game, click on the link below:

Rainbow Colors Spelling

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Knit Swaddle Blanket

Dragonfly turned 3 recently, so I've been knitting wildly to make gift for her.  She got a newborn-size baby doll from a relative, so I thought I'd knit her a swaddle blanket.  I don't write a lot of knitting patterns and I tend to be a "process" knitter so hopefully you can follow along with these directions.

Using 1 skein of yarn, cast on 13 stitches on an appropriately sized set of needles (I chose Caron's Simply Soft and size 8 needles).  Begin an increasing pattern as follows:

Row 1: K across
Row 2: PK into the first stitch (increase 1) K5, P1, K6
Row 3: PK into the first stitch, K remaining stitches across
Row 4: PK into the first stitch, K5, P3, K5
Row 5: PK into the first stitch, K remaining stitches across

Continue pattern until piece measures the width of the dolls body plus about one inch.  For me, that was 40 stitches.

Knit the border and main body pattern for about 8 to 10 inches without increasing.  This makes the bottom flap for the wrap.

After the bottom flap is completed, begin the increase pattern again, bringing the number of stitches up to double the amount on the needles before (so mine was 80 stitches because I started out with 40).

Next, determine how wide you want you swaddle wraps to be (the side pieces) and cast on additional stitches at the beginning of each row.  I chose to add 20 stitches to one side and 30 to another.  Knit in garter stitch for 6 rows then continue border and main body pattern (garter stitch for 6 stitches in each end and stocking stitch on the main body).  Decide when to cast off and do it (mine is about 4" wide.  You can chose to add a buttonhole and button on the flaps or leave them plain.

Well, there you go.  Happy knitting.

Friday, August 1, 2014

What's the Plan (letter order)

This is the letter order plan from LessonsLearntJournal.com
My preschool plan is to use the same themes for a few years, roughly ages 3-6.  Therefore, not everything on my blog or in this list is strictly for "preschoolers."  In creating these themes, I wanted to have a lot of choice and diversity for different levels of learning.  You can also check out my Pinterest boards for more ideas.

Preschool Themes:

a- apples
          counting busy bag

m- milk (farm, cow, milk products)

t- trees (life cycle, fall, leaves)

s- seeds
          planting coloring page
          seed matching

i- ice cream
          patterning folder game

f- fire (fire safety, firemen)
          fire truck roll and cover

d- duck (pond)
           number line busy bag
          spelling folder game

e- eggs (metamorphosis, frog and butterfly life cycles)*
          folder games

r- rain (water cycle, rainbow, colors)
          color spelling
          writing practice

Oo- ocean
          Nemo folder game

g- groceries (food, shopping, recipes, measuring)
          food count and count 
          comparing worksheets
          group sizes worksheets

Uu- universe (space, planets)**

h- harvest (autumn, Thanksgiving)

Cc- cookies (Christmas baking)
          addition folder game

b- babies (nativity, baby animals, baby care)
          Bethlehem folder game

n- night (Night Before Christmas, Silent Night, opposites)
          matching folder game

Kk- king (princesses/kings/knights)
          counting folder game

Vv- vehicles (cars, trucks, planes)

l- laundry (folding, washing, clotheslines)
           size sorting folder game
           socks folder game 2
           number line busy bag

Ww- winter (snow, mittens, snowmen)
           marshmallow counting

j- jungle
         teen numbers folder game

Pp- penguins (ice)

Yy- yarn (sheep, colors, manufacturing)
          colors folder game
          yarn worksheets 1
          yarn worksheets 2

T-Rex- dinosaurs

L- lions and other cats (comparing, Africa)

M- monster (number sense, greater/less)
         differences worksheets
         pattern worksheets
         comparing worksheets
         roll and cover game
         math game
         size sorting
         word sorting

F- flowers (spring, life cycle)
          seed matching 

D- desert (Wild West, Oregon Trail, American desert/west)
          Safari Ltd busy bag
          Cattle Drive Game

I- Idaho (our state :-) camping, hiking, fishing, mountains, bears)
          bear folder game
          writing camping words
          comparing worksheets
          group sizes worksheets

N- nests (birds)

A- America (history, states, map work)
         inventions 3 part cards
         history 3 part cards

R- Resurrection (Easter, opposites)
         color gradient

E-  Earth (continents, ocean/land)

H- Homes and Habitats (human homes, animal homes, types of habitats)
          matching folder game

G- grasshopper (bugs)
          bee folder game
          bee folder game 2
          bee counting busy bag

B- body (systems, development)

x- X marks the spot (pirates)
          map folder game
          counting treasure

q- questions (anything the kids want to study, "qu" words and the wedding of Q and U)

z- zoo (more animals, habitats, A-Z animals)

J- juggle (circus)

Q- quilt (patterns)
          patterns busy bag

Bonus: Handwriting Cards 

*I switched the "l" and "e" to bring the "metamorphasis unit closer to the "pond" unit and introduce the letter "e" a little earlier.
** I also switched the "h" and "u" so that "h is for harvest" unit is on the week of Thanksgiving.

Last edited on Aug 11, 2014