Category Archives: Toddler-Tot School

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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Gravity Play

My very active toddler (age 3) and pre-kinder (age 4) learned about gravity, force, and motion today with big brother who is in first grade (age 7).

This was accomplished with some pieces of track, a small ball, and a drop shoot (we used a toy with a hole to drop the ball through).

We have had this Fisher Price toy around for 11 years and it has always been a favorite toy at our house. The original ball looked like a rock, and we lost that years ago. It was supposed to land in a small truck that backed up to the toy.  But we have found lots of other uses with other objects over the years, including cars, dominos, marbles, small animals, other objects, and various balls.

There are three drop holes and each is a little different. One causes the ball to zig zag back and forth as it drops lower on a ramp. One has a bucket flapper that slows it down before it drops into a holding bin below, and one has a tunnel slide and shoots the ball out front of the toy.

Guided Learning

Generating a hypothesis:
What do you think would happen if you drop the ball through the hole?
What do you think would happen if you push the ball up through the bottom hole?
What would happen if you dropped a domino through the hole?

Our Experiment:
The kids repeated this over and over.  They placed the track under the opening to catch the dropped ball and guide its direction as the force of gravity propelled it. Eventually the ball rolls with its own momentum and finally comes to a stop.  It rolls because it is round. The round shape allows it the ball to make very little surface contact when it touches the track, and this reduces friction. The force of friction and the pull of gravity toward the ground is what eventually causes the ball to stop.

Why does the ball fall down?
Why does the ball roll?
How far does the ball roll?
Why did the ball roll down the track?
Did the ball keep going or did it stop?
Why does the ball eventually come to a stop?
Why didn’t the domino roll down the track?
What is gravity?
What is friction?

Further the Learning:
Learn about gravity, mass, and weight.

Falling Gravity Lesson Plans

Gravity Lesson Plans

Gravity Word Search

Isaac Newton Gravity Coloring Page

Jack and Jill Fall Down The Hill Coloring Page

Online Gravity Game at Primary Games

Gravity Guy Game at Primary Games

The kids can do this activity as free play, or as a guided science experiment. They can change their track to make a curve, or build additional height drops for the track. We put the toy up on a box, then put a track to the toy, then angled it down to another track. This incline angle causes the ball to roll faster down the track. There are lots of other creative variations you can use. Instead of using a toy as a shoot, try using a paper towel tube, a plastic cup with a hole, or a box with a hole cut in it instead.  It is also fun to put a cup, bell, or a bulls eye, at the end of the track.

In addition to children learning about science, engineering, and physics with this play, they also practice problem solving, eye hand coordination, gross and fine motor skills, and relationship skills by working together.

I love watching the children learn through play!

This post will be linked up with
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Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Sharing Time
Raising Homemakers

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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.

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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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ABC and 123
Play Academy
Raising Homemakers

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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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Play Academy
ABC and 123

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Top Posts From 2011

Hope you all had a wonderful CHRISTmas with family and friends and a special holiday celebration as you ring in the New Year 2012. 

Our family had a super special holiday week from CHRISTmas to New Years, as my husband had a week off work to spend with us and we have a new baby to celebrate.  God has surely blessed us. 

I want to thank everyone for joining in our learning journey and reading this website, our pinterest boards, google friends, twitter, subscribers, and more.  We have grown to nearly 10,000 unique monthly viewers this year.  Your support during 2011 has been such an encouragement, and has made this website a great place to share our journey with you. 

Our Top Fifteen Posts For 2011

Christmas Cashew Chocolate Truffles

Volcano Unit Study and Volcano Lapbook

Ocean Unit Study and Lapbook

Garden Bugs Unit Study

How To Create A Unit Study

Christmas 2009 and All Things Robot

Valentine Cookie Exchange

Field Trip To Cochran Dairy

Garden Challenge

Valentine Goodie  Bags

Pumpkin Science

Green Sensory Bin

Snow Sensory Bin

Valentine Discovery Bin

Raw Milk Is Real Milk

I am looking forward to a wonderful year ahead in 2012.

From our family to yours,


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ABC and 123
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Sharing and Story Time.

Books are always better when read in special places and with special friends.

This really blesses my heart to see these two sitting together and sharing books.  My daughter will turn 4 this coming week and my son is 2 1/2.  They are so close in age (only 18 months apart), they end up doing a lot of things together. 

Last year, my husband got these camping chairs to go fishing with the children.  This past week, my daughter “discovered” them in the garage and brought them in the house.  These two have sat in them every day since.

Today they thought it was great fun to put them up on a coffee table and read books.  So funny.  So precious.

Our books have served us well over the years.  The book my son is holding was bought for his older brother eight years ago.  It is titled: It’s My Turn Smudge!

It is about sharing and taking turns.  An animal friend, named Smudge, has a net and is exploring in a creek.  His animal friends want a turn with the net so they can catch interesting things to look at too.  But Smudge doesn’t want to share his net.  He wants the others to watch him use it and ooh and ahh at his discoveries, but he doesn’t want to take turns.  When his friends get frustrated, they go off to play with someone who is more sharing.   Smudge eventually realizes he is alone, and goes to see what fun the others are having together.  He wants to join them and realizes he needs to share.  Finally he offers to share his net with them.   Through this experience, Smudge learns the value of sharing with his friends and being a friend.  

It is so funny that this would be the book he was looking at today, while sharing this special reading spot in these special chairs with his sister.

What do your children like to share?  What don’t they like to share?  Leave us a comment, thanks.

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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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Garden Nuggets

It has been one week since we planted our garden and flower beds.  You can read about planting the garden here.  

Each day I catch the two toddlers watering their beloved flowers. 

It has happened the same way each day.  “Mom, can we go out to play?”  “Yes, but I want you stay right in the yard where I can see you.” 

But each time they went out to play this past week, I could hear the outside water turned on and off.  I peeked outside to see this sight:

They are lovingly giving their plants a drink of water.

They genuinely care about the well being of their plants.  Because of this, I have been hesitant to say anything to discourage them.    I have been a little worried they may give the plants to much water.  But they assure me they are only giving each flower one drink.  They fill their little container one time for each flower.

Who knew a two year old and a three year old would take such pride in their garden?  They genuinely want to see their flowers happily blooming and “know” they will become thirsty and need a drink of water to stay healthy. 

They know this because they also become thirsty while playing outside, and they come in frequently for a drink of water.  So this “knowing” about thirst, comes from their own personal experience.  They feel for their plants who are outside in the sun, and know they too will get thirsty.

I often see nuggets of truth about life and about my relationship with my heavenly Father, through observing my children playing. 

Our heavenly Father knows us.  He created us.  He knows what we need, even before we ask.  He genuinely wants to care for our needs, and see us be healthy and happily blooming where he has planted us. 

Matthew 7:11
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Luke 12:56
“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

John 15:18
 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

Jesus said to come, all who are thirsty in their life, and drink freely from his well, and you will be satisfied.

Matthew 5:6
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

John 6:35
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Revelation 21:6
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

Revelation 22:17
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

What nuggets of truth do you learn from observing your children play?  Leave us a comment.  Thank you.

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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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inked up with
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