Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5 Minute Activity: Light-Up Christmas Tree

A friend gave us a Lite Brite she had picked up from a garage sale (thanks, Glenna), and the girls have really enjoyed making all kinds of designs.  I thought this would be a festive idea...


1)  Draw a tree shape on a green piece of construction paper.  Place on the Light Brite and add the colored pegs.

2)  Light up your tree!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday: 12 New Usborne Titles from $3.50 (Last Day)

One final deal post before we get back to our regular schedule! 

The books for Cyber Monday over at have been added (scroll to the bottom to find them)!

We love all of the sticker books from Usborne (especially the Sticker Dolly Dressing series).  You can get this Christmas Sticker Storybook for just $3.50!!

Play a game of Dominoes (Farmyard Tales version) for just $3.89!

I’m going to buy several of these Polar Bear Luxury Touchy-Feely books for $8 (reg. $15.99) to give away as baby gifts.  These are gorgeous — large and filled with all kinds of touchy-feely spots per page!

This hardcover Ballet Treasury contains 6 stories, and it is priced at $7.98 (reg. $19.95).

The Airport Magnetic book is marked down to $10.  The book is hardcover and filled with 10 MAGNETIC pages — it also has 24 magnetic pieces to move around on the magnetic pages!

I can’t list them all, because there are just too many!  There are books for babies, toddlers, preschooler…all the way up to high school (with the Conspiracy 365 series)!

I know there was some concern that shipping starts at $5 or 8% of your order cost.  I know this feels a little high, but if you order just three books it would be about $1.67 for each book to be shipped.  Go in with a friend and it could be even cheaper!  Anyway,  these are a really great price (better than I can get as a consultant — I’ll be ordering, too!), so I wanted to share them with those of you that love Usborne!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Savings: What's in the Bible with Buck Denver

We love these Buck Denver What's in the Bible DVDs! They are a fun and interactive way to teach your child about the Bible. And right now, there is a great deal on them! You can get Volumes 1-5 plus a bonus Christmas DVD for $37.95 (plus $9.95 shipping & handling). This works out to under $8 shipped for each DVD. Here's a short video if you want to experience a little more!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Usborne Books: Black Friday Sales from $3.90

I hope you'll check out the sale going on over at (yes, that's my consultant site)!  There are some great specials today....

This is my favorite buy, I think:  Get the Usborne Flap Book:  See Inside Space for just $3.90!!

T'was the Night Before Christmas is a recordable storybook (great memory-maker), and it is selling for just $10!

I have always been impressed with these jigsaw puzzle books (they actually have puzzles built into the pages!).  This Under the Sea Jigsaw Book is half-price at $7.50.

I can't list all the deals, because there are just too many!  There are books for babies, toddlers, preschooler...all the way up to high school (with the Conspiracy 365 series)!  Shipping is $5 or 8% of your order cost.

Check back Monday, too -- there will be some new books up for Cyber Monday sales!

Barnes & Noble: 50% Off 1 Educational or Learning Toy (Think Melissa & Doug, Playmobil, & More)

Barnes & Noble has some really nice specials today -- especially this 50% Off list price on any one educational toy or game. You can get a Playmobil Animal Clinic for $32 shipped!!  This doesn't require a coupon code -- if you pick an eligible item, the discount will show up in your shopping cart!

There are lots of other options, too (including some of our favorite Melissa & Doug items:  magnetic pattern blocks, puzzles, etc.)

Orders over $25 ship FREE.

Here are a few other coupon codes you can use:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Simple Thanksgiving Crafts: Pinterest Style

If you need a few simple craft ideas for Thanksgiving, I just added a few ideas to Pinterest!

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

LeapFrog Letter Factory DVD for $7.99 (+$4 Instant Video Credit)

If I ever get Part 3 of our Gift Guide out, this will be on it!  It's one of my favorite educational DVDs (I'm convinced my girls learned the alphabet names and sounds because of it)!

Right now, Amazon has the LeapFrog: Letter Factory DVD for just $7.99.  Plus, it ships FREE with Super Saver Shipping orders over $25.

Even better, you'll get a $4 Amazon Video Credit when you purchase the DVD.  You can use it to buy anything from the Amazon Instant Video collection!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Amazing Mess Gift Guide: Part 2 (Puzzles & Games)

Part 1 of our gift guide can be found here (it includes books, building, & imaginative play).

Continuing with our gift guide for little ones, I’d like to focus on puzzles and games.  Puzzles are a great gift — perfect for developing fine motor  and spatial skills.

Board games are a favorite around our house, as well!  They are great for developing numerical skill, and the ever-necessary cooperative/social skills.  (Yes, we have some sore losers around here sometimes — including me!)

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Classic Peg Puzzle (Pack of 3)
Our TOP PICK is the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Classic Peg Puzzle (Pack of 3).  It contains three great puzzles for learning letters, numbers, and colors.

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board 

The Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board has all kinds of latches to explore.

Melissa & Doug Magnetic Hide and Seek Board
This Melissa & Doug Magnetic Hide and Seek Board is the perfect beginner puzzle for toddlers and prescholers!

Melissa and Doug Basic Skills Board
Hands-on practice with tying, buckles, etc. is so easy with this Melissa and Doug Basic Skills Board.

Melissa & Doug Farm Sound Puzzle
We love how the Melissa & Doug Farm Sound Puzzle makes the animal sounds as you put in the correct puzzle piece.

Melissa & Doug Puzzle Storage Case Single Wire
We don’t have this Melissa & Doug Puzzle Storage Case Single Wire, but we have a similar one.  It’s nice to have a place to store all of our puzzles!

Can you tell we are Melissa & Doug fans around here?!!


Sequence for Kids 
Sequence for Kids is one of our favorite games.  It says ages 3-6, but I think it has enough strategy in it, older kids will like it as well.

What can I say?  Candyland is a classic!

Candy Land Castle Game 
Candy Land Castle Game is a great beginning game for toddlers.  We used to play this with all the girls even when our youngest was just under age two.
Chutes and Ladders 
Chutes and Ladders is another classic!

Hi Ho Cherry-O 
Hi Ho Cherry-O is great for those early numerical skills.

ThinkFun Zingo 
ThinkFun Zingo is just fun!

If you need an active game, Elefun is the way to go!

Tri-Ominos For Kids 
Tri-Ominos For Kids was one of my favorite games as a little girl.

Count Your Chickens
Count Your Chickens is a cooperative game — it’s nice because there are no winners or losers!  Everyone is helping each other.

Do you have a favorite puzzle or game I missed?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Amazing Mess: Preschool Gift Guide (Part 1)

With Christmas fast-approaching, I wanted to share a “Gift Guide” of sorts with you!  There are so many options, and I find it rather overwhelming sometimes.  I wanted to focus in on several categories of gifts, so I will spread this guide out over a few days.


All children need a home full of good books (see my post on reading with your preschoolers)!


If you don't have a lot of space for books, The 20th-Century Children’s Book Treasury: Picture Books and Stories to Read Aloud includes lots of books in one convenient volume!

Some more of our favorites include:

If you need a guide to aid you in choosing books, my personal favorite is Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families.

Building Materials & Construction:

I love these kind of toys — they allow for open-ended play and are great for sparking creativity!


Unfortunately, the price has risen on these Melissa & Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit Blocks, but for natural, wooden blocks they are still a pretty good value.  We have two sets to allow for larger creations and expanded play.

Some of our other favorites:

Imaginative Play:

Obviously, you don’t even need to spend money on items for imaginative play (boxes, utensils, recycled materials, etc. work quite well), but sometimes a nice toy can provide hours of fun.  The girls have especially enjoyed the kitchen they have!


We have a plastic kitchen, but the Kid Kraft Suite Elite Kitchen has great ratings (and it's currently marked down by $65).

Here are a few more ideas:

What are some of your favorites?  Any I need to add to my list?!!

To be continued…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Preschool Basics: Printable Number Rhymes

For the past few weeks, I've been sharing ideas for teaching numbers.  Today, I'm so happy to share these sweet printable number rhymes with you!

I have used these little rhymes for about ten years to teach students (and now my daughters) how to correctly form numbers.  I asked Shelly Fraley (my talented sister) if she could make up some special cards for me.  They turned out so well, I wanted to share them with you!


You can print them here. If you would like to hear the rhymes in conjunction with the writing, please see our video

(Be sure when you print you pick "None" for the scaling option. I had some trouble with the spacing and that turned out to be the problem.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Gratitude Journal: A New Family Tradition

Last year around Thanksgiving, we made a simple Gratitude Journal from a notebook. This morning, we pulled it out and looked through it.  It was so fun to see what the girls had written about and drawn!

After thinking about it, I decided I really wanted to make this a special keepsake.  At The Relevant Conference, we were given a beautiful bound journal, and I decided it was just perfect to begin a list of things we're thankful for this year.

  • This morning, I had all of the girls finish the sentence, "I am thankful for..." on one of the pages, and then they illustrated it.
  • Tomorrow (and the rest of the days until Thanksgiving), we will make a list of our blessings and record them.  It will be a wonderful reminder of God's faithfulness to us in the years to come!

Looking for more ways to help your kids become more thankful?  See my post on Cultivating Thankfulness in Preschoolers for ideas!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

5-Minute Activity: Lacing Cards Dot-to-Dot

If you have lacing cards, this is a great activity to reuse them for another purpose!

  • Lacing Cards
  • Pencil
  • Markers or crayons
  • Paper
1)  Place the lacing card on a piece of paper.  Hold firmly (you might need to help with this) and draw dots in the holes.

2)  Complete the dot-to-dot!  (Your child may want to draw over the dots with a marker.  I just didn't want the marker on the lacing cards, so we used a pencil first.)


Monday, November 7, 2011

Homeschool Blog Awards Nominee (Warning: Self-Promotion Ahead)

Homeschool Blog Awards Nominee Button

Yay!  I've been nominated for The Homeschool Blog Award for Best Crafts, Plans, & Project blog.  Not so sure I deserve that with my *slack-off-ish* writing the past month or so, but I really am excited!  So, if you want to vote for me, I'd appreciate it!

Sorry to be completely self-promoting here!

You can vote on your favorite homeschool blogs here!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Servant's Heart: Operation Christmas Child

I absolutely love this ministry!  It's a great way for children to serve others in a hands-on way -- just perfect for a "Servant Heart" activity!

For many years, we have packed shoebox gifts through Operation Christmas Child.  The premise is simple:  pack a shoebox full of items for a child in need.  What isn't so simple is the impact this can make on you, your child, and the child receiving the box! 

Three years ago, my oldest daughter helped me shop, pack a box, and take it to a drop-off center in our town.  Four months later, we received a photo and letter from two sisters who received our box!  Although I had included a photo and address, I never really expected to hear anything!  It was a blessing and made the whole process much more real for our family!

Last year, we packed a box and tracked where the package went using a special label we printed after we gave our shipping donation online.  It was an excellent opportunity to learn about the countries where our boxes went!

How to participate in Operation Christmas Child:

1)  Pack a shoe box:  Pick an age group, gender, and include items such as small toys, school supplies, and toiletries.  Click here to find full instructions.

2)  Drop off the box at a local collection site:  National Collection Week is November 14th-21st.  Find a collection site here.

3)  Follow your gift:  If you make your gift donation online (to cover shipping costs), you can print out a special label and track the gift!  Find instructions here.

If you are unable to pack a shoebox, Samaritan's Purse (the sponsoring ministry of Operation Christmas Child) also offers a gift catalog.  You can give funds to purchase livestock, feed a baby for a week, give sports equipment, purchase mosquito nets, and much, much more.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Number Basics: Jumping Beans

This little game incorporates counting and movement!

  • Large beans
  • Permanent marker
  • Cup

1)  Color one side of the beans with a permanent marker.

2)  Place 10 or more beans in a cup.  Shake and dump the beans on a hard surface.

3)  Help your child count the number of beans with the colored-side up.

4)  Jump that many times!

  • With an older child, you can use more beans to count higher.  
  • You can also use the beans to make addition problems (i.e. 5 red beans + 5 white beans).

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