Tuesday, August 30, 2011

5-Minute Activity: Goldfish Color Sort

I turned our afternoon snack into a simple learning activity!

Rainbow Goldfish

1)  Give a handful of Goldfish to each child and allow them to sort the colors into small bowls.  Count up the Goldfish in each color.  Then, have the children figure out how to divide them so each child gets the same amount (I ate the "remainders")!

You can extend this activity by creating a graph or making patterns.  There are several printable activities over at PreKinders, too!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

FREE Wannabe Unit Pack ($35 Value)

Although these are for a little bit older than preschool, you could adapt them -- or use them with your elementary-aged children!

For just a short while longer, you can get 10 eBooks in the Wannabe Pack:  When I Grow Up I Want To Be… for FREE over at The Old Schoolhouse!  Use the code FBWANNABE at check-out to bring the price down from $35 to $0!!  

This code is only valid through today (August 27, 2011).


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Preschool Basics: Play-Doh Name Puzzle

I first saw this idea over at Ready.  Set.  Read!  It is such a wonderful, tactile activity for learning names!


1)  Roll out the dough.  Spell your child's name with cookie cutters. 

2)  Cut out the letters.  Carefully remove them.

3)  Put the letters back to complete the "puzzle".


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Kissing Hand: A Simple Idea After Reading the Book

If your child is heading off to school, The Kissing Hand is a wonderful book to share with them.  I remember reading this sweet story to my kindergarteners. 

There are so many wonderful activities to do with this book, but my favorite happens to be the simplest!  Read this book to your child before she goes to school (or to any kind of new activity), kiss her little hand and draw a heart on her palm to remind her you love her.  She can look at it and remember you'll be back together soon!

If you'd like another activity, you can make Kissing Hand Cookies.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Basket: My Great Aunt Arizona

Just so you know what's coming up (since I'm not starting the new posting schedule until September), I'll be sharing two of my favorite back-to-school books, a simple name activity, and a Saturday Savings post this week!

My Great-Aunt Arizona

I recently picked up the book My Great Aunt Arizona because of a recommendation in Sarah Clarkson's Read for the Heart, and I have to tell you, I adore this book.

It is a beautifully-written and illustrated story about a tiny girl named Arizona and her life journey.  She loves books and dreams of adventure and traveling the world, but life doesn't allow her the opportunity.  Instead, she becomes a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse and spends 57 years of her life inspiring her young pupils to love learning and dream big.  I still haven't been able to read to the end without crying (my daughter has to read the last pages, because I get so choked up)!

This book would make a wonderful gift for a teacher, but it's also a delightful book to read to your child and explore the themes of passion, sacrifice, and love. 


Friday, August 19, 2011

Preschool Basics: Name on a Notecard Activity

For the next few weeks, we're focusing on name activities.  I'm really working with my youngest daughter on identifying her name, so here's one of the ways we are doing that!


1)  Write your child's name on two notecards.  Begin with just the first name.  Later, you can add the middle and last name!

2)  Cut each letter of the name apart.  Use a straight line if your child is already pretty familiar with the spelling of his name.  Use a crooked or wavy line if not.

3)  Mix up the letters and have your child put her name back together.  If your child needs more help, allow them to look at the notecard with the name on it.  Also, instead of cutting the name apart with straight lines, use curvy or wavy lines to make it more like a puzzle.

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Gabby Moms Review: Godly Womanhood: The 5 R's for Homeschool Moms - Part 2

It's interesting how quickly I've forgotten some of the lessons I learned a few months ago from my 30-Day Clear-the-Clutter Challenge(I guess I can't really say I mastered them at this point!)

I was reminded of so many of these as I listened and read about the third "R" of Lorrie Flem's Five R's Bundle as part of this month's review for The Gabby Moms program.  Entitled Refine, this audio message and PDF file shared so many tips and ideas for improving my homemaking and managing skills.

One of the things that really stuck with me was the section on attitude.  Because, yes, sometimes I don't have the best one -- especially when it comes to cleaning! 

It was a gentle reminder that my attitude sets the tone for our household and it's "contagious -- whether it's healthy or filled with germs of grumbling."

Beyond the attitude check, there were also practical ideas on how to improve in our homemaking skills.  Managing chores, ways to clear out clutter, and menu-planning are just a few of the other topics.

The fourth R stands for Rejuvenate.  This was also a timely message!  It really honed in on the basics of discipline with children.  My greatest takeaway from this audio was the importantance of being consistent -- and the basic discipline "procedure" is going to be so helpful.

In all honesty, I didn't get to the 5th R!  There was so much in the other messages, I haven't taken time to listen to it yet -- but I do know it's about rest.  And I do know I need to listen to it, because my soul is in need of rest!

I'll add it to my to-do list -- and then go rest... :)

The Five R's Bundle is available from EternalEncouragement.com.

Disclosure:  This product was provided to me by The Gabby Moms program.  All opinions and thoughts are my own!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's coming...The Women of Faith Imagine Conference

I'm so excited....and nervous at the same time!  Tomorrow, I will be traveling to attend a Women of Faith conference in Indianopolis, Indiana! The generous folks over at Book Sneeze gave bloggers the opportunity to sign-up for the chance to go -- and I was picked!   

It's been a somewhat stressful summer and I feel a little overwhelmed by some recent events, so this came about at the perfect time.  I am just so grateful to be given this opportunity -- and I've been praying for it to be a wonderful time of refreshment and renewal.

I'll definitely be sharing more about the conference next week.  And if you have an opportunity to attend any of the Women of Faith conferences, I hope you'll go!  Maybe I'll even see some of you in Indianapolis!!  I'll be the one with a big box of Kleenex and tear-filled eyes...

(By the way, if you have a blog, you can sign up for the Book Sneeze program, too. I think it's too late to sign-up for the tickets, but you can receive books to review on your blog.)

*Disclosure: I received two free tickets from Book Sneeze to the Women of Faith conference, but all opinions are my own!


Monday, August 15, 2011

The Amazing Mess: Posting Schedule Revamped

Recently, I started brainstorming and planning what I wanted the upcoming year to look like for this blog.  I've been feeling slightly overwhelmed because I have three girls doing three different themes!  To make life a little easier, I'm going to incorporate the younger two into what I'm doing with my oldest.

Because of that, I'm going to focus less on thematic activities and more on basic preschool ideas.  Below is the monthly calendar I've planned out:

If you've been around here any length of time, you realize I don't always follow a schedule -- because sometimes inspiration hits and I just go with it!  But for my own sanity's sake, this is where we are headed!

Here's a quick look at each day:

Masterpiece Monday:  A book and activity about a specific artist.

Book Basket:  A look at some of our favorite books!

Musical Monday:  An easy musical activity.

Servant Heart:  A simple service project you can do together.

Learning Bag:  A self-directed learning activity you store in a bag!  I'll include directions for a new one each month.

Tasty Tuesday:  A simple cooking project for kids.

5-Minute Filler:  A quick activity to use when you have five minutes (or less).

Make-and-Do:  A retro craft from my favorite childhood activity book.

Preschool Basics:  One idea per month -- names, colors, letters, shapes, numbers, etc.

Saturday Savings:  One of the best deals I've seen during the week.

There will be days I have to do reviews or something comes up and I need to change, of course.  But hopefully, this will give you (and me) a little better idea about what to expect!

We are in the middle of the month, so you won't start seeing all the changes until September!  I hope you'll stick with me while I get it all worked out!!  Thanks for reading this blog...and always feel free to email me with your ideas.  If there is something you'd like to see, I'd be more than happy to consider how to make it happen! 

And don't forget, you can still find activities categorized by theme (just scroll down and look in the right sidebar) or search for a particular theme or activity!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Parent's Best Blog Award: I Have a Favor to Ask...

I have a favor to ask....

If you have enjoyed The Amazing Mess, would you take a minute and go vote for us over at the Parent's Best Blog Award (under Best Craft for Kids blog).  I know a few of you have voted already, so I'm very grateful for that!!

Thanks so much!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

FREE FlapJack Magnet Mat (How We're Using It)

Currclick is offering a free download of FlapJack's Crayon Color Magnet Mat this week. I thought this was a wonderful idea -- I've never thought about making a "magnet mat". 

Instead of laminating it, I adapted it like this:

I printed the pages.  Then, I used a two-pocket folder with fasteners and inserted four page protectors.  I glued the magnets to the paper "mat" and slipped the page into the protector! 

Next, I added a magnet to the crayon pieces (you can cover them with packing tape if you want to make them more durable).

I also put the other pages into the protectors, so we can use dry erase markers to practice handwriting and match the color name with the crayon!

The set also includes a book about colors, so my middle daughter cut it out and put it together.  We stored it with the crayon pieces in a page protector!

I thought the magnet mat idea was fabulous, and I just wanted to share how we changed it up to fit our needs (mainly because I didn't want to laminate anything)!  It makes a great independent learning activity.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

5-Minute Activity: Body Part Review

We often say things like "Point to your nose" or "Where's your hair", but this activity changes things up a little bit!

2 people

1)  Ask your child to touch his nose, ears, elbows, knees, back, etc. to yours (or a sibling)!

(She must've dressed herself!)

2)  Be prepared for lots of giggles!! :)

I ran across these photos while doing some computer clean-up and realized I never posted this little activity!!  Looking at the pictures makes me realize how much these little ones have grown in the past year!

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Organization Week: Chore Charts and More

Here are a few more organizational ideas:

We used this "Helping Hands" chore chart last year.

We still use this spice rack for our tiny craft items!

Feel free to leave your organization ideas (and links if you have any) in the comments below!  I love to find new ideas!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Savings: FREE Audio Downloads of The Chronicles of Narnia

This is such a great freebies!  My husband just finished reading these aloud to my oldest daughter -- and she loved them!  You can download the Chronicles of Narnia audiobooks from Ancient Faith Radio!

Thanks, Saving Dollars and Sense and Money Saving Mom!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Idea and Activity Organization: Index Cards to the Rescue!

I have a confession. 

I struggle with brain clutter!

I have too many ideas.  I write them on pieces of paper.  I lose the paper (and I can't find it when I want it).  It drives me insane!

So, I came up with this simple idea.  Whenever I have an idea for an activity for the girls, I write it on a colored index card.  I place it in an index card holder, and when I'm planning or looking for something to do, I can pull out the cards with all my ideas on them!

I've also listed every learning activity we have on white index cards.  When I want to plan which ones to use, I just pull out eight to ten activities and get them ready for the next week.  Then, I move those cards to the back, and we have a fresh rotation the next week!

I can't say my mind is completely uncluttered, but it's helping!!  And I remember to utilize the activities we have that I sometimes forget about! 

*On a side note, I've also found Pinterest helpful in organizing ideas, but sometimes I just need a break from the computer!!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Organization Week: Our School Room Bookshelves

For those of you interested in our homeschool classroom, here are our slightly messy bookshelves!

I have a *slight* obsession with bookshelves!  Over the past five years, I've asked for bookshelves for my birthday presents and Christmas presents....and I now have quite a few!  Two of these bookcases are right by our school table -- making it very easy to keep everything we need close-at-hand.

Like the craft supply closet, I use a few different storage options.  Chocolate milk mix containers are fabulous for storing scissors.  They are also the perfect size for markers, dry erase markers, or colored pencils.

I load up a shower caddy with pencils, erasers, glue, and scissors to make a portable school supply box!  Then, we can take it upstairs or outside (or wherever we want to do school that day)!

In the other bookcase, I store curriculum we use every day, so I have easy access to it.  Curriculum worksheets and paper are stored in stacking traysYou can see our craft supply holder made from an old spice rack -- perfect for tiny items like beads!  I also keep a shelf of thematic books.  Of course, each of the girls has books in her room, but these are some of my favorites to go with certain themes!

We use learning baskets during our school time, so I have a small box filled with ideas for activities, and there is a box of file folder games from my teaching days!

What are your favorite ways to store school books and supplies?!!


Monday, August 1, 2011

Organization Week: My Craft Storage Closet

Welcome to Organization Week at The Amazing Mess!

I have to admit...I was planning to take you on a little video tour this afternoon, but my plans were changed! My friend, Donna, very generously gave me two big boxes of craft supplies, so I'm sorting and rearranging. And it is terribly unorganized at this point! NO VIDEO ALLOWED!! :)

So, I'm just going to show you my craft closet today. We inherited this wardrobe at our previous house (the owners didn't want to move it, so they just left it). Though nothing fancy, it has worked well for us. I'm currently using it for storage and also as a room divider to separate our family room and school room!

Inside Our Craft Closet
My very favorite way to organize our craft supplies is with plastic shoeboxes. I have acquired these over the years, but they are perfect for so many items! They also stack neatly and you can store them in a variety of places.

We use them for:
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Glue
  • Stickers
  • Ballooning
  • Math games
  • Flashcards/notecards
  • Stamping
  • Misc.
  • Pipe cleaners/pom-poms
  • Fun foam/felt
  • Paint
  • Modeling clay
  • Glitter and glitter glue
  • Play-doh
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Books on tape (yes, we still have some cassette tapes!!)

There are a few other storage containers I use, too:
  • Popcorn tins
  • Wipes containers
  • School supply boxes
  • Random packaging (plastic jars, strawberry containers, etc)
  • Shower caddy
  • Plastic bags (I hang them with a skirt hanger)

You can see, I also have my trusty laminator (yes, I'm crazy about it), tons of games, our favorite cardboard blocks, learning baskets (well, boxes and bags!), and random craft supplies!

How do you store your craft supplies?!!