As a former Pre-Kindergarten teacher and now stay-at-home mommy of 2 boys and a sweet baby girl, many people ask me how they can be implementing educational concepts in the lives of their young children at home before they enter school. Instead of trying to come up with a quick list of ideas off the top of my head to answer these questions, I have decided to put all of my lessons into this blog. I, along with so many other parents, want to be purposeful at home with my children and make the most of the time I have with them.
I hope that this blog can help, encourage, and inspire you to work with your kiddos and
get involved in the learning process! The benefits will be endless,
and the moments you share together will be priceless! As Dr. Seuss once said,
"The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go!"

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Look Back on December

WOW!!!  What an incredible December this was...definitely my favorite Christmas of all time!  Although it was a little overwhelming at times, I loved every minute of it with my sweet boys!  Sawyer learned so much about the true meaning of Christmas, and even Tucker, in his own little way, saw the light of the world shine brightly!  I was so amazed at how the Lord opened all of our eyes to the needs of His people and to opportunities we have to serve them!  Participating in these RACKS makes me realize how much I need to be doing at other times of the year, not just at Christmastime.  I hope you were able to do some of these activities, as well.  I would love to hear about your experiences!  Maybe you had your own ideas and lessons that you did with your children.  Please comment and share with us!  I know so many people were blessed by your actions of service and love, and, ultimately, our Savior was glorified!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

25 Days of Christmas

For the 25 days leading up to Christmas, we are going to focus on our Savior, His birth, and the true meaning of the holiday season.  Each day I have listed a bible lesson, a random act of Christmas kindness, and an educational activity to do with your children.  I hope this month is filled with joy as you celebrate with your family and friends and stand in awe of the wonder of Christ and His gift of love at Christmastime!

~ 25 Days of "A Meaningful Christmas" ~

* This year we will be following a special devotional called " A Meaningful Christmas" by Carrie Rogers and Brittney Poe. Each day has specific verses to read through and talk about.  It not only covers the Christmas story, but the background of who God is and what He has done.  I am so excited to share these devotionals with Sawyer and Tucker each day and pour God's love into their little hearts.  I hope you will join me!

1.  Alpha and Omega - Revelation 22:13
2.  The Trinity - Colossians 1:15-16, John 14:16-17
3.  Creation - Acts 17:24
4.  Love - 1 John 4:16
5.  Believe - John 3:16
6.  Bethlehem - Micah 5:2
7.  Promises - Isaiah 7:14
8.  Mary is Chosen - Luke 1:26-28
9.  Trusting God - Luke 1:29-37
10. Immanuel - Matthew 1:20-23
11. Having a Good Attitude - Luke 2:1-5
12. No Room in the Inn - Luke 2:6-7
13. Born in a Manger - Luke 2:6-7
14. Shepherds Were Afraid - Luke 2:8-12
15. Go and Tell - Luke 2:16-18
16. The Wise Men - Matthew 2:1-2
17. The Greatest Gift - Matthew 2:9-10
18. The Word - John 1:1-3
19. The Good Shepherd - John 10:14
20. The Vine - John 15:5
21. The Light of the World - John 8:12
22. The Bread of Life - John 6:48
23. The Way, The Truth, The Life - John 14:6
24. The Lamb of God - John 1:29
25. Happy Birthday, Jesus - Luke 2:11

* Memory Verses:
1. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

2. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

3. "But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people. Today in the city of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.' " Luke 2:10-11

~ 25 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness ~

* I have been inspired by postings on pinterest of people doing random acts of kindness for their birthdays or the holidays.  I have combined lots of their ideas, as well as some of my own, and made a list of "RACKS" we are going to do each day.  We will not necessarily do them in this order, but I will post pics for each one as we participate in making others feel special and loved during this month.  What a great way to show our children why it is so much better to give than to receive!

* RACK Card to include with some of your gifts.

1.  Adopt Angel Tree Children and buy/wrap presents for them.

Our church always sponsors children in the area who are in need.  We adopted a 6 year old boy and a 12 year old girl and purchased a shirt, a pair of jeans, and shoes for each of them.  Sawyer and I wrapped the gifts and will deliver them to church on Sunday!

2.  Collect old toys/clothes and donate them to a local charity.

This morning the boys and I went through all of the closets, collected toys and clothes that we don't use anymore, bagged them up in large trash bags, and took them to the local Goodwill store.  Sawyer and I talked all the way to the store about how there would be lots of little boys and girls who could have these toys and play with them.  He was excited to share with others!
(* Note: There are some donation centers that do not accept toys, only books and stuffed animals.  You might want to call first to check.  We drove to three different places until we found a center that would take the toys!)

3.  Place a gift in the mailbox for the mailman.

We bought a hot chocolate/mug gift set and a gift card and placed it in the mailbox this morning!  I hope our mail carrier is super surprised!

4.  Tape quarters to vending/soda machines around town.

We printed out 2 RACK cards, taped quarters to them, and then taped them on 2 different soda machines by HEB.  A man was watching us do this, and as we were leaving, I saw him go get a drink!  SO FUN!

5.  Deliver hot chocolate to Salvation Army bell ringers.

Well, this one was a bust, so we will have to try again another day.  We drove through Starbucks, bought the hot chocolate, and went to Walmart where I have seen multiple volunteers ringing the bells.  Unfortunately, no one was there.  We drove all around town trying to find one, but the more we drove, the more the hot chocolate became not so hot!  Note: Find the volunteer first!

*Found one at Walmart!  Just happened to be Andy Anderson, the KCEN weather man!  He even let Sawyer ring the bell a few times!

6.  Make Christmas goodie totes for friends in playgroup.

We are inviting our playgroup friends over to make a Christmas craft and play next week, so Sawyer and I decided to make little goodie totes for each one to show them how much we love them!

7.  Leave quarters at the local laundry mat.

Sawyer and I collected lots of quarters from the coin jar and delivered them to a local laundry mat.  The man working there thought we were a little weird, but he was happy to give the money to people coming in to wash their clothes today!

8.  Donate supplies to the local animal shelter.

I called our local animal shelter, Happy Endings Dog Rescue, and asked what kind of materials and supplies they needed.  Then the boys and I headed to Walmart and bought dog treats, blankets, towels, liquid laundry detergent, and bleach as they requested.  The rescue center was so appreciative, and Sawyer was excited to make the dogs happy!

9.  Share Christmas treats with the gas station clerks.

We have a Shell station right by our house that we go to very often.  There is a sweet girl that works there who is always so nice and caring.  We decided to give her a little gift to show her how thankful we are for her kindness. (I didn't want to freak her out by taking her picture with Sawyer :), so we only have one pic from this RACK!)

10. Give a "Christmas Tip" to a waiter/waitress.

Today we had brunch as a family at one of our favorite places, Cafe Cappuccino.  We decided to leave a generous tip to our waitress who has happened to be our waitress there many times!  She is always precious to us and our rowdy boys, so I pray she feels blessed today!

11. Adopt a soldier for the holidays.

This one turned out a little different than I intended, but that's ok.  There was not a sign up this year at our church to do care packages for soldiers overseas, so I looked online for an organization that we could donate to for them.  Hugs for our Soldiers is the website we found.  There are many different ways to give on this site, even a special Christmas link.  This is a great way to help make soldiers feel special this year!

12. Pay for the person behind you in the drive-through line.

We got lunch out today, and paid for the man behind us in line.  Sawyer handed the cashier our RACK card to give to him when he pulled up.  It was so fun to watch him in the rear view mirror!  We got a big smile, a wave, and a thank you as he passed on the road!

13. Give Mother’s Day Out Teachers special gifts.

Today we bought Sawyer's MDO teachers special Christmas gifts.  They each received a cross and a gift card!  They have been incredible with Sawyer this year, and he loves them to pieces!  Thank you, Ms. Brandy and Ms. Lacy, for teaching my son and sharing Christ with him each week!

14. Buy a grocery store gift card and give it to the person behind you in line.

As we were checking out at HEB today, we bought a gift card and handed it, along with a RACK card, to the lady standing in line behind us.  She was so grateful and sweet!  It makes me want to do this more often when we go to the store.  You never know how you could truly be helping someone!

15. Donate to World Vision Gifts.

I decided to change one of our RACKS when I saw this special magazine at Sawyer's school.  I cried reading through this knowing there are so many needs out there that need to be met.  Sawyer and I looked at each page and decided to help an orphan with their education.  Please visit this website for World Vision Gifts and join us in helping these precious people!

16. Buy books and give them to children.

Originally, I wanted to buy some books and read to children at the elementary school I taught at, but I was too late in getting there before they were out for Christmas break.  Instead, a friend of mine started volunteering at the local pregnancy center and asked for us to donate some books to the moms and babies there.  Our entire playgroup participated in this and collected the books today!

17. Donate food to the local food pantry.

Today Sawyer and I went through our pantry and collected items to take to the local food pantry.  Our little Tucker has been super sick, so when he feels better, we will deliver our sacks. * Delivered to Salvation of my favorite donation centers!

18. Give Sunday School teachers a special Christmas gift.

Because Tucker has been sick, the boys did not go to church on Sunday, but we will deliver these gifts of popcorn, candy, and gift cards to their Sunday School teachers at the Christmas Eve service!

19. Bake Christmas cookies for the neighbors.

Sawyer and I made Snickerdoodle cookies today for some special friends in our neighborhood!  Hope they enjoy them!

20. Take balloons and flowers to someone in the hospital.

Tonight, as a family, we went to Providence Hospital to deliver a poinsettia and star balloons to someone special.  I asked the nurses at the desk who they thought needed some holiday cheer the most, and they pointed us to room 322 where a lady named Ms. Riche was staying.  Sawyer and I visited with her for a few minutes, and she seemed so blessed to have people stop by to say hi.  This was probably my favorite RACK so far, and I encourage you to do this one, too!

21. Visit a nursing home and deliver poinsettias to different rooms.

Again, as a family, we took poinsettias to an assisted living facility here in town.  Most of the people were resting at the time we went, so we placed the flowers outside their doors with a card wishing them a Merry Christmas.  A lot of the doors were decorated with fun Christmas garland and wreaths, so Sawyer and I decided to place the plants outside doors that didn't have anything.  I hope they are surprised when they see them!

22. Take kolaches and juice to the homeless.

This morning the boys and I went to Shipleys and picked up a dozen kolaches and a few orange juices, and drove around town to deliver breakfast to the some precious people we have seen frequently living under a specific bridge here in town.  Unfortunately, they were not there today, so we are going to try again tomorrow.
* We decided to visit the Salvation Army shelter center and deliver the breakfast there!  What a blessing these places are, especially during this time of year!

23. Make dinner for EMT, police officers, or fire fighters.

Tonight we made spaghetti, salad, and cookies for Sawyer's Uncle Kevin and his flight team at the West Air Evac Station.  We are grateful for the work they do in our community in saving lives and helping others!

24. Deliver special treats to someone working on Christmas Eve.

This morning we all went to Shipley's for a Christmas Eve breakfast and delivered a little gift to the wonderful lady who works there.  She was overwhelmed!  We just love her!

Enjoying donut holes and candy canes! :)

25. Take a gift to someone working on Christmas Day.

On our way out of town on Christmas Day, we stopped for gas and gave a gift to the attendant working inside.  I felt so bad that he had to work on this day, but he was happy to be serving!


25 Christmas Lessons

* These are great lessons to do during this month that incorporate math, science, and language skills into Christmas.  No pressure to do all of them! (I know this is a lot!) Again, we might not do them in this order, but pics to come as we go along!

1.   Which One Is Different? - Winter Wonderland Pack (Over the Big Moon)

2.   Christmas Light Patterns - Meet the Dubiens

3.   Nutcracker Counting - PreKinders

4.   Gingerbread Man Match - KidzClub

5.   Poinsettia Craft - Arts and Crafts for Kids

6.   Snowmen Ornament Craft - Meet the Dubiens (I was planning on doing this lesson with Sawyer at home today, but when I picked him up from Mother's Day Out, this is what he showed me!)

7.   Candy Cane Patterns and Story of the Candy Cane - Ministry To Children

We did 2 different patterns!

Enjoyed a real candy cane as we read the candy cane story!

8.   Letter/Sound and Number/Counting Cards - Winter Wonderland Pack (Over the Big Moon)

9.   Christmas Tree Craft/Shortest to Longest - Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten

10. Santa Position Words - Preschool Toolbox

11. Nativity Craft - First School (Once again, MDO beat me to it!)

12. Ornament Sorting - PreKinders

13. Angel Craft - Sonbeams

14. Snowman Name Building - Kindergarten Lessons

15. What Comes Next Patterns - Winter Wonderland Pack (Over the Big Moon)

This little one wanted to help!

16. Candy Cane Colors File Folder Game - File Folder Fun

17. Stocking Number Game - place a number beside your child's stocking and have them put the right number of candy pieces in it

18. Nativity Coloring Book - 2 Teaching Mommies

19. Baking Christmas Cookies - Snickerdoodle Recipe

20. Silver Bell Game - PreKinders

21. Christmas Memory Game - DLTK

22. Make a Gingerbread House
(Our dear friends came over tonight, so Sawyer and Zaki got to do this together.  The walls of the house would not stay up, so they just decorated their own wall and munched on the candy!)

23. Candy Cane Observations - 2 Teaching Mommies

24. Letter/Gift Match - place a letter on gift box and have your child put items or pictures of items that start with that letter inside the box

25. Nativity Timeline - 2 Teaching Mommies