Category Archives: Preschool

Fundanoodle Review

Oh where does the time go?  I can’t believe my son is already preschool aged!  It seems like it was yesterday that he was a toddler.  He is growing so fast and he loves learning.  He is so proud to be a big boy and have his own school work.  He has been having so much fun using Fundanoodle products in our homeschool learning adventures.  

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He is using three of the ORANGE Level Fundanoodle products:  I can Cut;  I Can Do Math Level 1;  and Max and Alphies Adventures Level 1 .

I really like these activity books too, partly because my son likes them so much, and partly because they are produced on heavy quality paper, each book is spiral bound, and they all have a hardback. 


This makes them very user friendly for a preschooler.  They are portable too and we can use them at the table, on the floor, outside on the porch, or take them in the car if we want too.  We are using these activity books for 20 minutes every day, and my son loves them!  He loves them so much that he begs to do his school work!

I Can Cut

I Can Cut
Tablet and Safety Scissors: Level 1
Ages 3+/Preschool
Retails $7.99

My son is learning proper cutting skills as he snips and cuts his project pages.  The scissors work for both left and right handed kids.  My son is left handed and had no trouble. This activity book is full of different cutting exercises that help develop eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills.  He is also learning to cut along the boundaries and getting better at holding his paper still.  He is so proud of his skills and doing a good job.  I can see he is becoming more confident in this task, and this book makes it really fun for him.

I Can Do Math

I Can Do Math Level 1
Ages 3+/Preschool
Retails $5.99

He is so excited about math!  He is constantly telling me the new numbers he has counted.   In this book he is learning while he colors and counts and is having fun with math.  He is learning numbers (1-10), number words, shapes and lots of math skills for preschoolers.  I am so proud of his accomplishments!  And he is too!


Max & Alphie’s Adventures!

Max & Alphie’s Adventures! Activity Book 1 
Ages 3+/Preschool
Retails $5.99

Max (a monkey) and Alphie (a boy) are two friends that love learning adventures.  My son can really relate to Alphie.  This activity book is full of fun and I am sure your child will enjoy it just as my son has.  This activity book is designed to improve hand control and endurance, build confidence and develop fine motor skills. My son has had a lot of fun learning with this activity book.  He enjoys connecting the dots, navigating mazes, finding hidden objects and coloring.  He is learning to stay within visual boundaries too.


Preschool age children learn best by “doing”, and playing, and being active.  These products are great for building confidence, problem solving, following directions, and hands on skills with crayons, scissors, and learning skills such as counting, color recognition, number and letter recognition.   But just remember, preschoolers do not need to spend a lot of time doing activities at a table.  Use your own judgement, but I would limit preschool age coloring / writing / math / painting / etc. practice time (fine motor and writing) to 20 minutes maximum at the table, and then have them take a break.  Some ideas are to have them do something that involves movement such as: play games outside, play inside, jump, dance, catch or kick a ball, etc.

We think Fundanoodle is not just a funny word, but also a fun way to learn!  Be sure to follow Fundanoodle for great ideas using their products on their Blog,  Facebook, and Pinterest and check into their on-going contests.  Fundanoodle is so much fun!


Stop by to read what other homeschool families on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about Fundanoodle activity books and learning kits.

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Flowering Baby Curriculum Review

I recently learned about Flowering Baby, LLC , a hands on homeschool curriculum for children from birth to age five.  Flowering Baby was written by a homeschool mom, Martha Sanders, and co-written by her mom Carolyn Schulte who has 50 years of early childhood and special needs experience.  Be sure to read their About Us page on the website to learn more.
Flowering Baby truly is a “whole child” approach to learning.  This approach accomplishes so much in just 20 to 40 minutes of activities a day.  Each “year of curriculum” contains a monthly guide with twenty or more activities to do with your child each month.  From birth until age 3, each activity is age based.  But ages three, four, and five expand on age based skills and cover cross curricular subjects like math, music, art, science, language, and more. 

This curriculum is hands on and is a blend of Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Unit Studies approaches.  You don’t necessarily have to buy any additional supplies. The curriculum is very flexible and supportive of helping the parent, and it uses items the parent likely already has on hand.   From the website: “Our activities are designed to use household items, typical children’s toys and standard supplies. We recycle and use many household items and focus on educational value and fun, not expensive name brand items.”  There are suggested books, projects, activities, themes, and field trips too.

Where To Buy:

This product is available for purchase as a CD for your computer.  All five levels of Flowering Baby curriculum can be purchased at a huge discount as a bundle for $132.00   They can also be purchased separately:
                        Birth to One $30.00

                        One to Two $30.00

                        Two to Three $30.00

                        Three To Four $38.00

                        Four to Five $38.00

Our Experience

We reviewed Flowering Baby Vol. 5 : Four To Five Years Old. This was perfect for us because I have a 4 year old son, and a 5 year old daughter. For this age range, this product includes two parts: a monthly curriculum (daily program) guide for each month (102 pages), and a monthly theme guide for each month (82 pages). 


This product comes in a CD format for using on your computer (however, I received it in a download version for the purpose of the review).  I viewed and used this product from the computer for a few weeks, and then I decided I really wanted a hard copy.   My personal printer is not reliable for printing large documents, so I had the pdf printed and bound at the copy center.  


Now I can take the manual with me from room to room, or to the park, or where ever we go, and use it as a guide without having to always be at my computer, and I am so happy with my manual. 


The monthly curriculum guide gives a nice overall plan for moms / parents to follow.  In the front section of each month,  there is an overview with a list of supplies, suggested books, story connections, Spanish connection, suggested music, and monthly holidays.  Each month includes 10 to 13 days of planned out out lessons and activities that cover a wide range of subjects: ABC’s, Math, Shapes, Seasons, Human Body / Health, Science, Nutrition, Music, Colors, Language (English and Spanish), Read
ing, Holiday Celebrations, Arts and Crafts, and more.  At the end of the book is a learning assessment quiz, and summary question forms for some of the suggested books on the list.  It also includes recipes, and teaching helps. 

I was quite pleased that many of the suggested books in the monthly curriculum guide are ones we have on our bookshelf.  If you don’t have these books at home, they are likely available at your local library.  Some are also available online and in downloadable format too.  You can also find several of these books read out loud on to enhance the learning process with your kids.

Here is a small list of suggested books for each month that go along with the story connection forms at the back of the curriculum.  But the are way more book suggestions in each month and theme than this small list. 
        Are You My Mother?
        Blueberries For Sal
        Bread and Jam for Frances
        Brown Bear, Brown Bear
        Caps For Sale
        Charlotte’s Web
        Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs
        Frog and Toad Are Friends
        Goodnight Moon
        Harold And The Purple Crayon
        If You Give A Mouse A Cookie
        The Mitten
        The Snowman
        The Snowy Day
        Winnie The Pooh

The monthly theme guide includes 26 themes.  It is suggested to pick two themes each month.  Each theme includes six days worth of activities (and each day contains 3 to 5 activities per day).  So 26 themes x 6 days of activities = 156 planned days of themed activities for you to choose from.  There is also a list of suggested books to read, and field trips to take that go along with each theme.  Here is a list of the fun themes:
        Aquarium & Arctic Life
        Bodies of Water
        Bugs & Birds 
        Farm Animals
        Fish & Frogs
        Forest Animals
        Music and Musical Instruments
        My Birthday
        My Body
        Pilgrims & Thanksgiving
        Rocks & Minerals
        Self Image
        Spring & Easter
        Zoo Animals

We completed the monthly curriculum for the month of January, and are currently working on February.  We also chose to review Aquariums & Arctic, and Zoo Animals as our monthly themes in January; and Bodies Of Water (lakes, rivers, and streams), and My Body in February.  

In January we read books, read web sites on the computer, practiced our abc’s and counting, sang songs, colored pictures, worked with the triangle shape and the color blue, learned new vocabulary words, observed the weather, learned about dressing for the cold weather, listened to music, practiced our phone number, practiced a few Spanish words, visited a lake, visited a zoo and an aquarium, made crafts, and more.  There is way to much stuff we did to tell you about in this story, but below are just of few of our fun adventures with this curriculum.

We looked up where the Arctic is on the globe. 

We learned about arctic animals and their habitat. We colored pages about arctic animals and practiced writing the first letter of the animals name.


We sorted our animal toys into aquatic and arctic animals vs other types of animals and built a habitat for them.


We made a sensory Sea Bottle and a sensory Winter Snow Bottle. We played in our sandbox outside on a nice afternoon, though the sandbox had filled with water from all the rain we have had.  We played in our Snow Sensory Bin,  Winter Sensory Bin, Winter Story Bin, and Ocean Sensory Bin that we made a while back.   Playing with sensory bottles and sensory bins are a lot of hands on learning fun. 

We also learned about starfish.  We read about several kinds of starfish and looked up pictures of them on the computer.

We made a starfish craft.


We learned about the winter weather, learned how to check the forecast, and dress for different temperatures.  We learned how i
t is a lot colder in the Arctic and we would have to dress with a lot more winter clothing if we lived there.  Our weather has been mostly in the “cool” temperature range here in this part of North Carolina.  We discussed snow (though we have not had much in our local area), cold wind, and rain this month.  Below is a picture of the kids checking out our front yard in January after a flash flood rain storm that hit our local area.  My kids love to check out the weather and especially the rain.  Here is a story about Summer Rain and Dancing In The Rain.  These sensory experiences bring learning about the weather together in a fun way.

I also made a video of the kids standing on the sidewalk during strong winds in January, as they observed the effects of wind blowing leaves on bushes and branches on trees, and on their clothes and hair.  They thought it was very funny to watch their hair blow straight out from their head.  Though they could not see the wind, they could feel it, and see things move because of the power of the wind.  They learned that the wind is a powerful force that can cause things to happen.

We took a field trip last week to the zoo at Columbia SC.  The Riverbanks Zoo has a nice aquarium building with lots of water life displays.  We were able to observe large life size aquariums and smaller aquariums too.

We saw animals, fish, and various sea life that live in salt water in the oceans including sharks, stingrays, sea anemones, angle fish, clown fish, sea turtles, and many, many more.


We saw several tanks with different types of starfish too.  The kids were able to locate at least 5 different starfish species.  This was exciting to the children because we had been reading about starfish as suggested in the curriculum and made a starfish craft a few days earlier.  This was a great way to tie everything together.

As part of our February theme, we also learned about animals and fish that live in fresh water streams, rivers, and lakes.  We were able to see dozens of different large and small aquariums with hundreds of different species.  We saw salamanders, crawfish, fresh water sting rays, alligator snapping turtles, catfish, sunfish, piranha, crocodiles, alligators, anaconda snakes, and more.  Here my 4 year old son is looking at a large pacu from the Amazon river.

Some displays were really exciting like this bubble tunnel in the shark tank.  Here my son is watching a small shark swimming all around him as it comes in and out of an ocean cave.

We played in an Arctic Penguin interactive display at the zoo.  The kids observed two different kinds of penguins.  The penguins had rock cliffs to sit on and a large swimming area.  The swimming area had its own tide that went up and down and over the speakers you could hear the sounds of the ocean. 

They had so much fun watching the penguins clean their feathers, walk along the rock cliffs with their webbed feet, swim, and interact with each other while listening to the sounds of the ocean as the water rose up and went back down on the rock cliffs. 

We are looking forward to completing more fun adventures for February like learning about our body, our five senses, our eyes, more about snow, make homemade snow with crushed ice cubes, Valentine’s Day, George Washington, President’s Day, Fire Stations, Firefighters, Fire Safety Skills, nursery rhymes, counting in Spanish, counting in English, learning about Country music, playing board games, physical education challenges, and so much more.  Our monthly theme in February is Bodies Of Water (lakes, rivers, and streams), and My Body.  We are taking a field trip to Lake James, and we also viewed life in fresh water streams, lakes and rivers at the Zoo.

This curriculum has lots of great ideas to use with young children.  But older children enjoy many of the suggested activities too.   We did many of the learning activities, and all of the field trips as a whole family.  The curriculum is helpful to the parent as it helps to tie everything together in a flexible but efficient way.  

I am planning to use the Ages One To Two from Flowering Baby with my baby soon. Then progress with him into the Ages Two to Three after that.   I think this curriculum will give us lots of opportunities to add some one on one fun with skill development.  He is 15 months old.  We get lots of cuddle time, and he still nurses, so he definitely has the majority of mommy’s time and attention.  But it will be fun to include some purposeful learning activities with him too.  He often watches the older kids from the sidelines during school time.  It will be interesting to do school with him.  I truly enjoyed when his brother was about 2 years old (who is now age 4) and we started doing some tot school activities with him.  This curriculum will help focus all of that into a well organized plan for our activities.

If you would like to see what a month of this curriculum looks like, or try before you buy, then check out the link and download your own one month 
free sample from this curriculum.   Flowering Baby, LLC is a
lso offering a special 10% off discount for our readers when orders are placed using the discount code “Blog10” at checkout.

To learn more, read what other Crew members at The Old Schoolhouse had to say about Flowering Baby, LLC curriculum for various ages from birth to five


Disclaimer:  I received a free downloadable copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  I paid to have my copy of the product printed at a local printing store.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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Activity Bags

Do you want a learning activity that is quick and easy to do with your kids? I am a busy homeschool mom with 6 kids, and I am frequently looking for a quick project the kids can do. I don’t know where the time (or my energy) goes, but there are days we need a fun project that is already prepared and easy to implement.

Roll and Color Activity Bags

Do you want something for kids to do that is portable? Do you need a quiet and busy activity for the younger, or older kids? Do you want a fun project that is easily adaptable to do with various ages, and with both small or large groups? Need a fun activity to do with your coop, church group, club, birthday party, or neighbor kids? Do you want to give homemade gifts that kids will love?

I have found a great solution to fill all of these needs:

Activity Bags Logo

Activity Bags are simple project bags you create. Yes, YOU build them! I love projects that my children and I can build ourselves. I don’t like complicated projects. I need easy, fast projects that we can build together and projects that include the oldest down to the youngest and we all benefit from. Activity Bags definitely meets my needs.

Activity Bags We Made

The method to build the bags, and all printouts are provided for you in an eBook (pdf) downloadable form. Every step is simple and easy to follow and projects are designed to cost about $1 +/- by using a few low cost items and household supplies.

Activity Bags, LLC was created by two busy homeschool moms, check out their ABOUT page. They know the needs of moms with kids of various ages. Sometimes you need a busy activity for the toddlers. Sometimes you need an independent activity for the older kids. These moms got creative and turned their activity ideas into a business to help moms everywhere provide fun, educational, and inexpensive activities to their own children.

Below is a list of the current Activity Bags eBooks available. If you click on the PRODUCTS link, there will be a link for an explanation of each eBook. On each product page there is another link to view free samples if you would like to see what’s included and try it out for free before you buy. There is also a free Coordinator’s Handbook if you plan to use your activity bags in a swap. Also there is a free download sample eBook sent to you in exchange for filling out a short survey and signing up for the email newsletter.

Preschool Activities In A Bag eBook 1

Preschool Activities In A Bag eBook 2

Preschool Activities In A Bag eBook 3

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 1

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 2

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 3

Reading Games In A Bag eBook

Travel Activities In A Binder eBook

Math Games In A Bag eBook

Daily Activity Journal eBook 1

Daily Activity Journal eBook 2

Coordinators Handbook eBook FREE

Be sure to watch for more subjects in the Activity Bags product line. We heard there was a Crafts In A Bag eBook coming soon. I can’t wait to try it. I also want to try the Preschool In A Bag and the Reading In A Bag. Oh who am I kidding? I want to try ALL of the ” …… In A Bag” Activity Bags! They all look great and I know my kids would have fun learning with all of them.


I am currently reviewing the Science eBooks 1, 2, and 3. Each Science eBook costs $15 and includes 25 activities. Discounts are available when you combine purchases and order several eBooks at a time. Check the website for full discount details. Printables included for each experiment include a supplies list (with supplies calculated for 1, 10, 15, and 20 bags), a project label, an experiment project sheet with step by step instructions to do the experiment, a scientific method observations sheet with questions about the project, a warning or disclosure statement to remind parents about safety.

Science 1

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 1 is 164 pages and includes 25 activities that focus on biology, nature, and general science. For grades K-8th.

Science 2

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 2 is 153 pages and includes 25 activities that focus on chemistry, human body, and general science. For grades K-8th.

Science 3

Science Experiments In A Bag eBook 3 is 151 pages and includes 25 activities that focus on chemistry. For grades K-8th.


We are also reviewing Math Games In A Bag eBook 1. This is a great hands on resource for math practice.

Math Games

Math Games In A Bag includes 33 activities. It contains 201 pages complete with instructions and printouts. For elementary grades, though I think it is great review for older students too.



These Activity Bags are fun! They work great for busy homeschool moms. I have used a similar idea to take projects on the go with me to keep my toddlers busy when I had an appointment, and when my older children had music lessons. I have also taken my own version of these on trips to keep everyone busy. I have lots of times each day when I need a busy activity for the toddlers so I can help the older children with their school work. To be honest, I have had times with toddlers when busy activities didn’t keep their attention, and the only option was to go outside and release their energy with play.

Instructions for activity bags

But having someone lay it all out for me in an eBook is such a blessing. I don’t even have to think about it. All the thinking and planning has been done. I just print out my pages, locate the items listed in the eBook for each activity, and place it in the bags. These are easy to make ahead activities. You can choose what you want to do for the week ahead and make them up and place in your students workboxes for a hassle free project for the kids to do.


I teach homeschool learning programs in the park, workshops, and a science and engineering 4-H club, and I think some of the projects in these science activity bags will work great for these classes. And these bags are such a great way to organize my teaching materials and have everything ready to go. I found several experiments in the Science Experiments In A Bag eBooks that will work great to add to our learning programs for both of the group programs, as well as at home for our homeschool.


I would love to make up a batch of these bags for birthday parties. You could choose a party theme around a science theme, then choose which science activities to fit the party theme. You could have the kids work on an activity bag during the party. They could also be used as party “take home” favors for the kids. I am always looking for party favor ideas that are more than just candy and stickers. I love giving kids something educational as well as fun at the same time. Activity Bags say they are “fun and education fit together in the same bag”. It works for me!

057 - Copy

Some science / birthday party examples might be: a pirate party (why some things float, salt water salination and desalination, study the ocean, preserving with vit C, wind power, weaponry with cata
pults and combustion); a “mad science” lab party (fun experiments with chemistry); a doctor party (human body experiments); a detective party (fingerprints, secret codes experiments); a summer pool party (water experiments); a garden party (learn about soils, compost, worms, trees, filtration, plant and insect science); a construction party (make geometric shapes, learn about soils, trees, architecture); space party (learn about air, rockets, solar power, make a sun dial); etc.

Another thought I had was to make up several bags to fit into shoe boxes or the USPS postal boxes, and send to kids who may not have access to learning projects such as these. What a wonderful gift these would make! A child would enjoy receiving a bag in their Christmas box like a learning project or math game with dice and everything he or she needed to practice and play with a friend or sibling.


Instead of a “cookie swap” with your friends, how about an Activity Bag Swap? Moms can use these bags in their own homes, or give them as gifts. It is a very easy process to do. One person (the coordinator) buys the eBook and organizes the swap. The coordinator sends out the printouts and materials list to each participant. Each person makes enough activities to exchange with their group.

For example, 10 moms could each make 10 exact copies of 1 activity bag, then get together with the other moms for a swap. Each mom would leave the swap with 10 different activity bags for her kids (a larger group of 25 moms would leave the swap with 25 different activities, etc).

A swap would be a great way to use up identical supplies that you otherwise might not need again. For example, I found dice for math games 10 pairs for $1, enough to make 10 math games using pairs of dice or 20 math games using a single die. I also bought wooden skewers 24 for $1, surgical gloves 10 for $1, 10 balloons for $1, etc. If I am only going to need one set of these items to make an activity bag project, I could use the extra sets of supplies for a swap. Instead of buying supplies for every experiment, I can buy bulk supplies of one experiment and let someone else buy the other supplies for other experiments, and we can both reap the benefits.

How to store your activity bags?

Basically any designated box, bin, or container will work for storing the bags. The thinner bags, such as the bags for math, reading, and travel eBook activities will store neatly in a binder, magazine holders, or files. You can 3 hole punch the bags to fit right into a large binder to easily take them “on the go”.

I store my bags in an inexpensive hanging file folder box, like we use for our workboxes. When I was a kid, we called them milk crates.

Activity Bags in Workboxes

These boxes retail for about $5 at the local Walmart, but I found some on clearance for $2.50 there during the “off season” too. These boxes will hold lots of file folders filled with bags, but some of the science experiments are too bulky to sit nicely in a file folder. Instead, I can stack my bags in the box laying on the bottom, or stand them up. In the picture above, I have seven bags prepared, and as I filled the workbox with more and more projects, it was easier to stand them up. I wrote the name of the project in the bag at the top of the bags so I could easily read it when they are standing up in the workbox. These workboxes hold way more than I can count of the thin activity bags in hanging file folders, and about 25 or 30 bulky science bags. That is enough activities to keep the kids busy for a long time! These boxes stack nicely on top of each other, take up little space, and are a handy storage storage option with or without using hanging file folders.

Costs To Make Activity Bags

There was very little expense involved in making the actual activity bags. I purchased a box of gallon size zip close bags (20 for $2 = .10 cents each), sandwich size bags (40 for $2 = .05 cents each), and a few supplies at Walmart and the dollar store. The supplies I bought actually had 10+ more items to a package for $1 (10 for $1 = .10 cents each).

Each Activity Bags project is designed to cost you around $1 +/- to put together using some supplies and materials you might already have on hand, and maybe a few things you will need to purchase. We were able to make up several bags with very little expense.

Here are my costs (no cost figured for supplies I had on hand) for just 3 of the science experiment bags we made:

Where's The Water? Bag

“Where’s The Water?” science project cost .20 cents:
.10 for the gallon bag
.10 for the surgical gloves
.00 for the paper cup saved from a hotel room stay. ( .02 cents if I had to buy one)
.00 for the left over diaper kids outgrew before using it. (.50 cents if I had to buy one)
.00 water

Instructions for activity bags

“Balloon Skewer” science project cost .50 cents:
.10 for the gallon bag
.30 for 3 balloons (we actually used more balloons to repeat the 3 experiments in this project because it is so much fun)
.10 for wooden skewers
.00 for a stick pen we had on hand (.01 cent if had to buy, a box of 100 of them for $1)
.00 for a small drop of vaseline we had on hand (could buy a container for lots of needs for $1)
.00 for a small piece of tape we had on hand (could buy a roll of tape for .50 cents)


“Marbleous” science project cost .50 cents:
.10 gallon bag
.10 sandwich bag
.10 chalk
.20 for 4 clear plastic cups
.00 plastic spoon we had on hand (could by 24 for $1)
.00 paper we had on hand (could buy a pack of paper for $1)
.00 paper towel we had on hand (could buy a roll for .50 cents or less in bulk)

So you can see how inexpensive making these hands on learning activities can be. You can also see where a swap could benefit you if you are getting a bulk package that contains enough supplies of one specific item. You could do the project several times to use up the extra supplies. But even better, you can use up the “extra” by swapping out the projects with friends. I think realistically you might be able to make exact replicas of a project to swap with 10 friends for a $5 to $10 investment, 25 friends for a $15 to $20 +/- investment, and not have supplies left over taking up space in your already space deprived storage closet.

There was some additional expense in printing out the materials. You can print them at home, or send them over to your local office supply / copy store for printing. You can also choose to print on regular paper, or on card stock, and to laminate, or not. It all depends on how much you want to spend.


I chose to print the activity bag projects on fast draft mode (saves on ink), at home (saves on labor and gas to go to town), and on white copy paper (cheap purchased in bulk). The kids and I cut out what needed separated (flash cards, number tiles, labels, coloring pages, etc.) and the kids had lots of fun helping me fill the bags with our printed materials and supplies.

However, if you really wanted to save money and not print them the eBooks, and you were not doing these bags as part of a swap or gifts for others (definitely print them for gifts and swaps), you could just write the number of the experiment on the bag, and refer back to the pdf on the computer for instructions when needed. This would be a very viable option for folks who don’t have a printer, or don’t want to spend the money on ink and paper. I personally like having a printed copy of everything in front of me. I don’t know if it is just my generation, or what, but I do much better if I have actual printed items in my hands instead of having to read everything on a computer screen. That might change someday if I get a handy gadget like a kindle or ipad etc,( hint, hint…. Birthday? Christmas? Husband I hope you are reading this!) and doesn’t require me to sit any longer than I have to at the computer. Until then, I’ll keep printing!

Activity Bags are a great addition to our homeschool!

Check out what others on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about Activity Bags.


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Winter Story Bin

I found a new use for our WINTER SENSORY BIN.  We are using it to retell the stories we read in books, and recreate the scenes.  We have lots of books with a winter theme.

Today we read Snow Is Falling, by Franklyn M Branley.  It is a fun story about different things you can see and do when it snows.  It has lots of descriptive words to describe snow too.  This is a fun book to read and it is easy to recreate the various aspects of the story with props such as this Winter Story Bin.

In addition to retelling the stories in books, you can create your own stories too.
Here is one of the scenes from our own story the kids played out: 


The snowman has a house for his “people” guests to stay overnight.  He has lots of snowman friends, an ice skating pond, small, medium, large, and giant snowflakes and snowballs, and letters to spell snow, ice, snowman, and cold.


The kids are having lots of fun re-creating their stories with this bin.  This is a great way to review what they have learning in the book, and further extend their learning while playing. 

I’ll write more posts about the “winter theme” books we read, and story scenes we made with our bin.  I will post the links below.



         Animal Tracks


Check out more of our winter theme activities at the bottom of the Winter Sensory Bin post. 

What fun indoor winter themes have you done with your kids? 
Please leave a comment.  Thank you.

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
ABC and 123
Play Academy
Raising Homemakers

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Winter Sensory Bin

                                How to make a Winter Sensory Bin

This is a very easy sensory/discovery bin to make, and you just might have everything you need already on hand.  For our bin, I searched the house for items that were blue and white, and anything with a winter theme.

I came up with way more than I realized I had.

Recycled lids of different sizes, recycled snowman candy holders, lacing beads and string, craft beads, chunky letters of the alphabet, snap cubes, glass rocks, snow flakes, ceramic snowman, foam snowman, penguin, decorative boxes, dominos,  cotton balls, vanilla extract (you can also use a vanilla bean pod) ……..

And various trays, tongs, scoops, and containers for sorting items onto or into.

This bin turned into a fun project.  There are so many different objects to feel and explore.  The cotton is fluffy and the glass rocks are cool to the touch.  The glass rocks also make a fun sound when they touch other glass rocks.  The glitter covered foam snowmen feel like sandpaper.  The snowman candy holders have lids and are fun to open and close.  They are also fun to fill with beads and shake them to make rhythm sounds.  The snap cubes snap together and make a popping sound when pulled apart.  The dominos are cool to the touch, and have an indention where the colored dots are located so they feel both smooth and bumpy.  The smell of vanilla adds an extra sensory element to this bin.

Besides free play in the bin, the kids easily put the items to good use in practicing lots of learning skills.   They used tongs, scoops, and fingers to pickup, transfer, and sort various things. They had fun as they used gross and fine motor skills.

They used lots of different objects for counting, sorting, stacking,

putting small things inside containers, opening and closing,

making patterns with different objects, lacing,

grouping and matching, spellings simple words with letters (snow, cold, ice, snowman), and so much more.  

More of our winter theme learning adventures:

Snow Sensory Bin
Snowman Craft
Christmas Day
Winter Walk
Winter Story Bin
Snow Day
Snow Science
Christmas Matchup Game

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Kitchen Sensory Bin

Do your kids enjoy helping you in the kitchen?  Mine sure do.  We love to work together making yummy foods for our family.  Check out some of our Kids In The Kitchen stories and you will see some of the kitchen fun we have.  But more than just having fun, we are building relationships and learning practical life skills.

My daughter, age 4, loves to help in the kitchen.  But she would like to do whatever she wants in the kitchen, whether I am available to help her or not.  She likes to be independent.  Some things are ok, but some are not.  Such as when she soaks the kitchen counter with dish water.

If only the counter was kid proof (water proof), it would be great.  But it is not kid proof and is showing signs of water damage, due to her, and her little brother’s, method of getting water everywhere.  I am constantly removing the chair she has pushed up to the counter, and trying to get her to understand she has to wait for help to do certain kitchen things, or wait for me to invite her to do a job in the kitchen along side me.  I wish I didn’t have to do this, but for her safety and for the sake of the kitchen counter, it is necessary.

We have a play kitchen that I got for my first child over 11 years ago.  It has served us well over the years.  All the kids have played with it almost daily, and though there are a few broken items on it, it still functions as a play kitchen.  We keep it in the bedroom with the other toys most of the time.  But sometimes we bring it to the kitchen or living room, and some nice afternoons we take it outside on the porch to play.

We also have a play water sink one of the kids got for a birthday.  This stays outside because of the sink’s water feature. 

But is a lot of fun to make grass foods, mud foods, and sand foods and use water in the yard on nice hot days.

Kitchen Sensory Bin

Wanting something more portable, indoors, and able to use independently, for her to play “kitchen” with, I decided to create a Kitchen Sensory Bin.  I was wanting her to explore, create, practice some skills, and enjoy being in her “kitchen”.  

We do our school work at the kitchen table, so we are all in the kitchen nearly everyday.   It can be a challenge to keep the younger kids busy with learning activities while schooling the bigger kids.  Hoping to reduce the amount of times my daughter pushes the chair up to the kitchen counter to run the sink when I am not right next to her, I created a Kitchen Sensory Bin she can use at the table or on the floor, for her and her little brother to explore and use as part of their school work.

We made this fun Kitchen Sensory Bin full of lots of play food, dishes, silverware, cooking stoves, sponge for cleaning, and more. The small stoves, table ware (plates, silverware, cups), and mini-foods came from a local dollar store toys. This project cost about $6. I added in some colored pompoms and beads for pretend play and practice with practical skills such as picking up with tongs & scoops and stirring with spoons, etc.

I also added a container of playdough, a rolling pin, and cookie cutters to further the sensory experiences. You can use store bought playdough or you can make homemade vanilla playdough, chocolate playdough, cinnamon playdough, pumpkin pie playdough, and more to make this lots of fun.

My daughter added in a few pony tail holders for fun. I plan to also add a table cloth, cloth napkins, and placemats so she can set her table with and she can roll these up and tie with a ribbon when not in use. add in some spices (or spice bottles with cotton soaked in the spice or extract) to enhance the sensory experience.

I already had the plastic bin on hand and just re-used it for this project.  But I soon traded it for a bigger bin (too much stuff in it). 

The bin also serves as a portable sink for her to wash her other kitchen props. If you don’t want to use real water in the sink, use blue felt (or blue construction paper) to make pretend water (grey felt looks like soapy water too).

If you want to make a portable stove, turn the bin upside down, and pretend to cook your food on top of it.  We made our stove by taping construction paper burners and knobs on the bottom, but you can also create this stove on the lid too.

We used the Kitchen Sensory Bin for free play and exploration, counting, making patterns, sorting colors, sorting food groups, sorting hot foods and cold foods, practicing setting the table, sweet foods vs. salty or savory foods, washing dishes (put some soapy water and a sponge or rag in the bin to wash their dishes), play restaurant, play house and feed thei
r baby dolls and teddy bears, etc.

Here my son is transferring and counting popcorn (white pompoms) he made on the stove.

Playdough Recipes

Basic Homemade Playdough

Chocolate Playdough

Chocolate Playdough Activity

Cinnamon Playdough Activity

Vanilla Playdough

Extension Activities

Dramatic / Role Play using the items in the bin.  Include hot pads, an apron or jacket for a chef’s coat, chef’s hat,  and an egg timer, for lots of role playing fun.  Set up a table / eating area with teddy bears and dolls.  Pretend you are cooking for your family, a party, or at a restaurant.

Here is a printable by PreKinders that you can print off and have the kids
sort healthy and unhealthy foods.

Here is a fun color sorting activity with some dishes and foods.

Here are some fun kitchen theme printables you can use to further your child’s learning and go along with their Kitchen Sensory Bin:

Cooking potatoes on the stove.

Baking Bread in the kitchen.

Cutting Board.

Baking Cupcakes.

Spanish Kitchen Coloring Page.


Here are some fun vocabulary words, some also have pictures.  Use these in pocket charts, or fun memory games, spelling games, etc.

Kitchen Vocabulary Picture Cards.

Kitchen Vocabulary Flash Cards.

Word List.

Spanish Kitchen Vocabulary Words.

French Kitchen Vocabulary Words.

Kitchen Objects.

Kitchen Vocabulary Bingo.

Here are some place setting props.


Table Setting Placemat Craft.

Place Setting Practice Cards.

Felt Foods are a nice addition to this bin, and don’t take up much space.

Felt Food from Counting Coconuts

Here are some tutorials for turning your plastic bin into a stove for play.

Dollar Store Crafts Play Stove

Play Stove Tutorial from Delicious Ambiguity

If you have some Melissa and Doug cutting board and velcro vegetables, cake, cupcakes, etc. would add a nice experience to this bin too, but the more items you add, the bigger the bin you will need to hold it all.

After playing and exploring in your Kitchen Sensory Bin, open the real kitchen cabinets and explore some too. What can your child hold and correlate with items in her sensory bin? What about items she doesn’t have? Let her hold the whisk, or strainer, and talk about how these are helpful in the kitchen. How about opening up the spice cabinet and smelling some of the spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, coffee, etc.

Save some time to explore together, and make something fun to eat or drink to further the learning experience and your relationship.

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Word Puzzles

What’s in the Tot Workbox today?  
                            Some really cool word puzzles.

I found this neat box of word puzzles for $7 at a local store.  

 It comes with 26 word puzzles, one for each letter of the alphabet.  It has both the upper and lower case letter side by side, and then a picture, and then a word in lower case letters at the bottom.

Today we started off with 6 of the puzzles, or one sheet.  They come in a sheet and you punch them out to get started.  No sense in mom having all the fun.  The tots wanted to punch out the puzzles themselves.

Then it was time to start matching.  Even though my three year old daughter doesn’t know how to read yet, she can match pictures very well. 

She made a drum, a baby, a frog, an earth, a violin, and a goat.

The word puzzles were short, and had from 4 to 6 letters, or pieces, to match.

These puzzles have bright colorful pictures, and it was easy to see what matched up.

Even my two year old played with the pieces, but he didn’t quite get the hang of it on his first try.  We will be practicing this “puzzle game” many more times in our workboxes, and it won’t be long before he picks up how to do it.  I will limit him to one puzzle at a time, and that will increase his success.  He loves puzzles, so I am sure he will master this one soon.

This word and matching puzzle will be great practice for several of my kids as they practice fine motor skills, cognitive skills, literacy and learning to read skills.

These puzzles remind me of the Word World program on PBS- Kids.  In the same concept as building a word and a picture at the same time.  I really think this is a beneficial way for children to begin to learn reading.

Oops, the big kids wanted to play too, and mixed the parts from all 26 puzzles together. 

Looks like I have some sorting to do before these go back into our tot workboxes. 

These puzzles are a lot of fun.

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Easter Sensory Bin

We built this Easter Sensory Bin for $12 with items found at the Mighty Dollar Store, Michaels, and a few items we already had on hand.  Many sensory bins I am able to build with little or no cost when we have items already on hand.

Here are some of the items that went into our Easter Sensory Bin:

Easter Erasers  Three sets each of six different erasers for counting, sorting, matching, patterns)
Chickens that lay candy eggs.
Mama and baby ducks
Plastic Easter eggs of various colors (for hiding objects in, color matching, sorting, counting)
Easter Tongs (for fine motor skills in grasping and transferring, eye hand coordination)
Easter grass (to help hide items in)
Colorful Jacks ( to count, sort, match, make patterns, spin like tops, and learn to play “Jacks” good for eye hand coordination)
Wooden Eggs
Wooden letter blocks (spelling, letter recognition, stacking, building, counting, color matching)
Egg tray (pictured further down, it was great for sorting, color matching, and counting)

Yellow lacing buttons
Yellow lace
Colored Clothes Pins (matching, counting, sorting, fine motor skills in clipping them on cards and ribbons)
Orange Ribbon (measuring, lacing)
Green Ribbon
Colored Pom Poms (counting, sorting, matching colors, making patterns)
Mini Dominoes (stacking, counting, building, matching)
Stacking Sorting Sizing Cups
Chop Stick Tongs
Spring cookie cutters
Easter Container (holds smaller objects for transferring, sorting, counting)
Stone Cross Necklace (to symbolize Jesus Christ’s death on the cross)
Rock (to symbolize the stone that was rolled away and his resurrection)

My three year old daughter built the sensory bin all by herself.  She is going through a phase of stubborn independence and doesn’t want help, most of the time.  So this is one of those times where it was great to let her show her independence and build her own sensory bin from the items.

She knew exactly to put her grass in first.  Though I did stop her at one bag.  This stuff just takes over.  We could have easily just used a half a bag, or even done with out it.  It actually gets in the way when the children go to use the tongs to discover hidden objects.  They got a handful of grass everytime with every scoop.  So this is something I may leave out next Easter.

She had so much fun creating this bin.  She took her time in placing each item just “so” as she went along.

As soon as she had it built, she was ready to dig in and play.  She immediately started with the bunny shaped tongs, colored eggs, and the colorful egg tray.  She knew just what she wanted to do with it.

She enjoyed touching and feeling everything.  She wanted each egg upside down so after picking it up with her tongs from the bin, she placed it into the tray with the tongs, picked it back up with her hands to turn it the “right” way, and set it back into position.


She enjoyed stacking these clothespins into the sorting cups and making rainbows with them.

She made pretty patterns with jacks and erasers.


She just had so much fun, and there were many more fun things she did with the sensory bin.  Here she is practicing picking up pom poms with her chop stick tongs, and placing them in the egg tray.  Sometimes she would drop one and have to chase it across the table to catch it with her tongs.

Little brother is two, and he had just as much fun with the sensory bin when he woke up from his nap.

He started off with unloading the bin.  First, he pulled out all the grass, and it was going everywhere until I offered him another bin to place it in.  He inspected everything in the sensory bin.  One of his favorites were the mini dominoes (he loves the larger dominoes to, but this time I found a mini set to include that he had not seen before), and the mini blocks.  He placed everything he could cram into the easter jar container and the lid did not want to go on it was so full.  But one thing he let me know for sure, he did not like Easter grass in his way.

A lacing activity with the large buttons quickly caught his eye.  He started lacing several buttons together and was very proud of himself.

He worked very carefully at putting the lace into the holes on the buttons.

Here he is saying “Look Mom, I did it!”

Building sensory activity bins with children is a lot of fun.   I love to set it out for them to play and find various items to experiment with.  It fosters the development of so many learning skills, including their imagination.

Children of various ages enjoy the bins too.  My older boys enjoy it almost as much as the younger children do.  I found them building with various items, having chicken and duck races, making nests for the eggs, spelling words with the letter blocks, spinning the jacks like tops, playing jacks, bouncing balls, playing dominoes, making patterns and designs, juggling eggs, and so on.

Have you tried using sensory bins with your children?  Be sure to leave us a comment and tell us about it.  Thank you.

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Skill Practice With Connect Four

                                                                Toddler Workbox

What’s in the workbox today?  A fun game to play.

Connect Four is a fun game that my whole family loves to play.  It is a game of strategy,  and is recommend for ages 6 and older.

But did you know you can help your toddler, and preschooler too, with many skills by allowing him (or her) to play Connect Four by himself?

Once you get over the fear of him loosing pieces to the game, set out a game in his workbox.  Just kidding, there is no need to be afraid of loosing pieces, as you can find this game at lots of garage sales and thrift stores and its a great idea to pick up a couple so you have spare parts, just in case.   This game comes in different sizes and a smaller size game fits nicely in a workbox.

Also in our family, more than two kids want to play at a time, so having a couple of these games on hand lets us all play, and even have tournaments and switch off players.

Free Play

Free play is my favorite.  Just let your toddler play on his own, placing the disks into the slots.  He will be thrilled at his accomplishment of getting them into the holder and watching them slide down the slots into position.  It helps him with awareness of his environment, as he sees his progress, and how his choices impact the colors, and patterns that appear.

Lots of eye hand coordination and fine motor skill is involved in picking up one disk from the pile, and putting it into the slots.

Recognition and thinking skill are involved in making patterns, designs, counting, and sorting.

You might even see some artistic flare in your tot as they come up with fun designs and great big smiles.

Guided Play
You can also work with guided play ideas.

You can try all of these ideas out on the same day, or use them on different days.  I prefer to use them on different days. 

Make patterns
Make a pattern on the table and have him repeat it on the game.  
Make a pattern on one collum of slots and have him repeat the pattern in the next collum. 
As their skills improve, you could draw out a page of patterns you want them to practice, and eventually they may be able to do it independently.

The game has wonderful bright colors to sort.  I love working with two colors at a time with my toddler.  Comparing the colors helps him remember them better.
Color sort into piles. 
Discuss the two colors. 
Try using only one color at a time to fill the slots.  
Call out the name of the color you want him to use. 
Alternate every other color, etc.

Practice counting to four or more. 
You could have the child place four of a color, then change and place four of the other color.  
This skill will help him get ready to play the real game of connect four. 
But they can also have fun counting to ten or twenty, whatever their skill level may be.

Two by two:
Have the child practice placing two disks, one in each hand, at the same time in the slots.   This helps them learn to coordinate their left and right sides.  This can be lots of fun.

Set out an hour glass timer like for one minute or three minute and have the child race the timer to see how many disks they can place into the slots before time runs out.

Heads or Tales:
Flip a coin.  If it lands on heads, you put in one color.  If it lands on tales, then you put in the other color.  In the end, did you have more head or tale tosses?  As your child gets older, they can learn to graph the results of their tosses.

Art Practice:
Besides practicing patterns and designs, draw a circle on a piece of paper and have the child lay the disks onto the circle.  They could just cover the line, or fill in the circle.  Try other shapes too.
Place the disks on a picture to make certain objects such as flowers, trees, animals, or spell their name.

The more ways you incorporate using the disks in your child’s hands, the more ways your child’s brain will process the skills. 

Eventually you can teach them the rules of the game, but until then, just have fun playing in various ways with the pieces.

Soon your child will be “connecting” all the fun learning you have been doing together, and they might even beat you at a real game of Connect Four!

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Puzzle Matching Quiet Time

The older two boys are taking guitar lessons and the younger three children and I sit in the back of the room and listen.  I needed something to keep them quiet, and in one place, for an hour, so that we don’t disturb the music instructor.  I decided to make a busy bag, and I will post a story about it here

One of the items in our busy bag are these foam puzzles from the Dollar Tree Store.  These were each $1.  I purchased a capital letter set, a lower case letter set, a number set, and a clock set. 

These puzzles have been a great activity for quiet busy work! I will also be using these in our workboxes at home.  We have successfully used them for 3 of these quiet one hour music lessons so far!  It takes the children about 20 to 30 minutes to work their way through all four puzzles.

First, my toddlers poked out the foam puzzle pieces.

This is a lot of fun to push out the pieces and gather them into a pile. 

Then the process of matching up the shape of each letter to its corresponding spot got under way. 

I was really impressed that even though they don’t know their letters, or the alphabetic order, they were more than able to match up the shapes of every single piece.  Who knew a toddler could do this? 

They are two and three years old, and I truly thought when I bought these puzzles, that I would be explaining each and every letter and where to place them.  And that learning experience will still come in a different setting.  But in this setting, where we were required to be quiet, I just let them play with the puzzles, somewhat expecting to have a mixed up mess on my hands when we were done.  But that is not what happened at all. 

The kids took their time, and worked quietly with each piece until they found the exact spot it belonged.  Wow!

When they were done with one puzzle, they rotated and got the next puzzle. 

They worked completely independently.  They worked quietly.  Wow!

Are you a mom who has rowdy toddlers, and you are afraid to take them into situations where they must be quiet? 

Give this experiment a try!  Build a busy bag with fun quiet activities, using items like these foam puzzles.
I think you might be amazed, as I was, just how quiet the children can be.

These puzzles are colorful, educational, and great skill builders.  During this quiet time the kids worked on eye hand coordination, sorting, matching, fine motor movements, sensory of touching the shapes of the letters and numbers, and strengthening.

If you don’t have to keep quiet, then you can also discuss the colors of the puzzle, match the capitals with the lower case, spell their name, match the pieces to a printable with letters, trace the letters, put them in alphabetical order, numerical order, and so much more. 

But we had to be quiet, and this worked out perfectly.

What activities do you do with toddlers to keep them quite?  Leave your comments and have a great time discovering what works for you.

Be Blessed!

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