All Busy Bags are available for order at just $3 per busy bags of your choice + shipping.
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Please email to inquire for purchase.
You are your child's best teacher! Thanks for reading and we look forward to hearing from you!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Welcome fellow shoppers of Kids Closet consignment sale!


Shout Out -- Welcome to all those visiting from the Kids Closet sale this past week!  Glad to have you here!

Search the blog for activity inspiration with your preschoolers by... 
a."Home" image at the top will bring you the latest and greatest posts.
b."Pages" along the top left will help with fast links to current and past posts with master lists of ideas.
c.Following on Facebook and/or Pinterest to see our hot topics!

The Lees Summit sale was a good one ~ I love getting stuff for my boys at reasonable prices.  For those that don't know about Kids Closet, it's a seasonal consignment sale in Missouri and Kansas. Excellent staff and excellent prices on kids clothes, shoes, stuff, you name it! Check them out here.

Again, thanks for visiting and we hope to see you again!
~Rachel~

Friday, September 7, 2012

Phone Use Tips for Preschoolers: 9-1-1 Emergency

Once your child reaches about 3 years of age and older, it's important to work on telephone skills. Spend a little time with the child practicing the phrases they should say when using a real telephone such as:
--"Hello, may I ask who's calling?"
--"This is <name>, may I talk to Grandma?" (or whomever they are looking for)
--"May I give the phone to my mom?"
--"Thank you for calling!"

When they turn 2 years, you can practice using pretend phones but conversations will be limited. Once they get closer to 3 and 4 years, you'll see their memory increase and they will suddenly be able to memorize phrases like this better.

An additional important step in teaching telephone use that is appropriate for kids as they reach school age is the ability to call 9-1-1.  Reinforce the importance of not calling this number unless it's "an emergency"; then talk about what defines "an emergency".

I read an article in our local paper recently that gave a variety of tips. Here is a summary of what they talked about:

Tips That Preschoolers Need to Know About 9-1-1
1. Teach your child HOW to hold and use your phone.
Have them hold the phone without touching their cheek to the speaker since that can muffle their voice.
For cell phones, walk them through how to turn on, dial, and send the call.

2. Role play the narrative that will probably be given by a 9-1-1 dispatcher.
Adult: Ask the child to pretend to dial 9-1-1. Then pretend to be the dispatcher, "Hello, this is 9-1-1, what is your emergency?"
Child: "Hello. My mommy cut her leg off. We need help." (or whatever you and your child deem as the pretend emergency)
Adult: "Okay, and what is your name and address." ...then work with the child to memorize these key items.

3. Then practice and practice your home phone number!
We move every couple of years but my husband's cell phone has been the same for 15 years so we've worked with our oldest to memorize that number.  Techincally, my husband is not with my children most of the week due to his work schedule, but in the case of an emergency, we wanted to choose a number that is always going to reach someone and not an answering machine!

FYI -- A lot of phone companies include cell phone trackers that can be used by police when 9-1-1 is called. (I know ours applies but only when we are within our metro area; not in the rural cities.) They may be able to track your location in the case that the child cannot report your physical location. But, even when traveling, work with your child to recall where they are and important locations such as city and state of wherever they may go (home, grandma's house, where you go on errands, etc).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Paper cups = a hop and a skitter, and away we go!

August 2012 series 
Paper products become a Preschooler's creative activity

Paper cups can become any sort of animal or creature you want...with a little imagination!  My 4 year old created these in his preschool class last fall and was extremely proud of his art work!  For the spider, he talked about how 'strong' he was to push the pipe cleaners through the cup.

And for the kangaroo, he was pleased to report that it could stand up on it's own and hold any candy we decided to put in it.  I asked if he'd rather put in something like grapes...but no, he thought it needed candy. Funny boy.
For each craft, start with a cup and let the child decorate it with paint or crayons or anything medium of choice. Note that the wax coating on most paper cups will not allow the crayon to mark well so paint is probably the best choice for full color covering.
The spider is created by turning the cup upside down, pushing a few pipe cleaners through, and adding googly eyes....making for a nice fall or Halloween craft!
The kangaroo is created by having the child color on paper and then cutting out an oval head as well as shapes for arms and then the lower torso/legs. Then glue the paper onto a large craft stick and then adhere the cup ontop.

Thanks for reading this 3rd and final post in this August series!  Join us next month for several new series for more ideas for Preschooler Activities.

Related articles to be posted during August:
-Paper bowls = turtle and a jellyfish
-Paper plates = octopus and a lamb

Monday, August 27, 2012

Welcome guests from Kids Closet!

Shout Out -- Welcome to all those visiting from the Kids Closet sale this past week!  Glad to have you here!

Search the blog for activity inspiration with your preschoolers by... 
a."Home" image at the top will bring you the latest and greatest posts.
b."Pages" along the top left will help with fast links to current and past posts with master lists of ideas.
c.Following on Facebook and/or Pinterest to see our hot topics!

The Northland sale was a good one and I'm looking forward to consigning again in a few weeks at the Lees Summit sale.  For those that don't know about Kids Closet, it's a seasonal consignment sale in Missouri and Kansas. Excellent staff and excellent prices on kids clothes, shoes, stuff, you name it! Check them out here.

Again, thanks for visiting and we hope to see you again!
~Rachel~

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Teaching Thankfulness -- Plus a free card offer today!

(Image of two FREE personalized cards I've made through CardStore.com earlier this year!)

The old saying is "Gratitude is a gift!" And what better gift can you help your child receive than to learn the value of thankfulness?!? One of the easiest ways to teach our little ones about being thankful is by writing Thank You cards. 
My youngsters love adding their own 'writing' on cards that we send out. Recipients cannot read their 'writing' but they often comment on how they appreciate it. Plus we take a moment to be crafty by adding stickers or coloring with crayons. 
Having your child watch you write is very important. They see that it's a life long skill to always work on and develop.  They see my address the cards which gives us the chance to practice our own address memorization (important Safety SKILL!!). And we get time to talk about the person/people we are writing to and share good memories about them. I encourage you to take a few moments to work with your kids in finding a way as a family to build a spirit of thankfulness!
There is something SO SPECIAL about handwritten notes so I make it a goal to send at least two thank you cards each month.  And one of my favorite sites has a deal to make this 'thankfulness' lesson FREE!!! (Really, truly free. I've made about 5 cards this year since they offer this type of code every other month or so!)

Right now on Cardstore.com, you can personalize and send a card straight from your heart for FREE! Use coupon code CCK2248 a free card -- but the offer ends at midnight tonight, Sunday 8/26/12!
Here's how:
  • Login or Register with Cardstore.
  • Select a card to personalize.
  • Use promo code CCK2248 during checkout.
  • Hurry, this offer expires 8/26/12 at 11:59pm ET!!!!!!!
  • (If you miss out on Sunday the 26th, we'll be featuring more offers in this Thankfulness Series so stay tuned!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Paper Bowls = shells, hats, lids....you name it, bowls can make creativity come to life!

August 2012 series 
Paper products become a Preschooler's creative activity

Bring out the bowls!  My 4 year old completed many really neat projects in preschool last year; often using multiple mediums in making his creations!  This turtle is a prime example: Start with a paper bowl turned upside down. Have the preschooler paint the bottom.  While the paint dries, they can cut basic shapes to form the legs and head which can be taped down to the bottom of the rim. Then have the child put glue over the top of the bowl and apply something 'hard' for the shell, such as pieces of wood chips!


Next is a super easy jellyfish. Have the child paint or color the bottom of the bowl, complete with a face. Then have them select pieces of streamers and tape them to the underside of the rim. Ta-dah!!

TIPS: Operating a tape dispenser can be hard for little fingers. Once the child is around 2 years old or older, it's good to talk about safety when using tape, i.e. don't touch the cutting blade, don't put tape on wood tables or floors, etc. Then let them practice taping things down. Once they realize how fun it can be to tape things down, you can even let them help you with 'sticky' things like stamps or mailing labels.

Thanks for reading!

Related articles to be posted during August:
-Paper plates = octopus and a lamb (on 8/21/12)
-Paper cups = kangaroo and a spider
p.s. Check out the tips on how to educate and teach safety when using scissors and glue found in the previous post in this series about paper plates. 



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tissue paper crafts with preschoolers -- a fish!

August 2012 series 
Tissue paper crafts for preschoolers

What happens when you put water color paints on tissue paper? Something magical! (At least that's the story according to my 4 year old!)  In his summer school class, they did an undersea project and made fish. From start to finish, my son was in charge of his project; hence why this looks more like 'interpretative art' since his limited cutting skills cut off snip the fins!  Despite the unique shape of his fish, he was incredibly proud of his very own creation!!

Directions:
Option 1 -- Start with a sheet of white tissue paper. Let the child paint with watercolors and watch the tissue change texture and shape as it absorbs and then dries the water!  For the finial touches, feel free to let them add any embellishments such as googly eyes, glitter, etc.
Option 2 -- Another idea is to let the child drizzle school glue onto a piece of paper, spread evenly with a paint brush and then have the child lay down pre-cut strips of tissue paper. Then cut the paper into the desired shape to create the object. To seal and add texture, brush the top with a light coat of water, then embellish.

Upcoming posts in this series during August 2012:
-Tissue paper 'fur' on a panda
-Tissue paper and other mediums to create texture on a bear

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Journaling cuteness....absolutely worth the time (& a Free book offer!)

Almost three years ago I started noting down the cute things my boys said or what they did or how they were growing.  Most of it was little comments I jotted in the "Notes" feature of my phone...typically right before bed and I was nursing my little guy.  I've always loved journaling but wasn't diligent when writing about my life.  But after I had kids and I was so sleep deprived and so busy, I didn't want to forget about all the funny things they said as time passed. And my commitment to write down something, anything, about our time together has been so rewarding! Even if you just write down one thing a month, you won't regret it!

But once I had all these notes, I thought, "What in the world am I going to do with these memories?" I've had a few photo books printed before and it hit me: Create your own journal-photo book!  Most photo book websites have the option for 'text-only' pages. So earlier this year, I compiled all the 2011 notes and had a book printed....and fell in love!

The awesome "News Of The Day" is that one of my favorite book-printing companies, Paper Coterie, is offering a chance to make your own book of quotes FOR FREE!  You do have to pay for shipping but it's a great value. Just go to their blog (here) and post a comment and they'll send you a link for the free product. Here's the image on their site related to the giveaway:

Here are a few of my favorites from my printed book of quotes in 2011:
From my 18 month old -- We were playing outside and suddenly the little guy started walking circles around our dog while saying, "duck duck doooo!" = he was playing Duck Duck Goose with her!

From my 3 year old -- After I got up in the morning, he said, "Uh, Mom. Your hair is crazy!" or the time when he met my white-haired aunt and said, "Hi. You are old." And lastly, as I was putting him to bed, he said, "Mom, are you going to do boring stuff now?" I said, "Yes, I'll be doing laundry." Then he said, "Great, I love boring stuff like that! Can I come help?" (anything to get out of bedtime, huh?!?)

Life is precious, so take a moment to make it memorable!  If you do make a book, please share in the comments below!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paper plates = Creative potential under sea and on land

August 2012 series 
Paper products become a Preschooler's creative activity

If you happen to have paper plates sitting around your house, then your preschooler is craft-ready!! Paper plates can become a variety of shapes, objects, and much more with just a bit of help from crayons, streamers, and googly eyes!! Here are two examples of creativity my 4 year old worked on last spring while in his preschool class.


As shown in the title photo at the top, here is an octopus. It can be created by cutting a plate in-half, taping streamers to the 'inside' and then gluing the two halves together. Then, of course, encourage the child's creativity with decorating the outside!

Tip on Scissors:
My oldest child was just under 2 years old when my Parent Educator from the Parents As Teachers Program suggested that we let him use scissors...and that SCARED me! But she followed up her suggestion with a step-by-step plan:
Start with using 'practice' scissors found in play dough kits as the first step. Then introduce blunt-tip kid scissors and let the child snip the edge of a piece of paper. Once the child has gained the muscle skills needed to operate the opening and closing action of the actual scissors, then they can practice cutting lines drawn down the paper.
When teaching my preschoolers, I found it helpful to point out safety skills such as 'how to hold the paper' and we talked about 'what we do and don't cut'.  This came in handy later because they knew why they got in trouble when I turned to help their younger sibling and I found a snip in my new table cloth. *wink*

And earlier this year, my middle child had the joy of learning to use scissors by cutting straws (see the Straw Beads Busy Bag post here). At the time, he was about 2.5 years old and found it very rewarding to watch the straw piece go flying through the air versus just making a simple snip in paper.


And this is a sheep. Using the back of a paper plate, glue on pre-cut black ovals for the face and ears as well as cotton balls for the wool. A few eyes on the front and a masterpiece is made in a few short steps!

Tip: Regular school glue can be tough for a toddler to work with -- the bottle can be hard to squeeze and it takes practice to make the glue come out evenly. Encourage your little one to practice with your help!  Even glue sticks take skills to operate so be patient and let them practice with lots of scrap paper under the project to protect your table!

Thanks for reading this first post in a series of 3 this month related to Preschooler Activities using everyday paper products. Come back for more soon!

Related articles to be posted during August:
-Paper bowls = turtle and a jellyfish
-Paper cups = kangaroo and a spider

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to life...literally...


My lack of posts are due to a minor technicality: I.almost.died.
...okay, so maybe it's a big technicality. *wink*

Prior to this summer, I was living life just like all the other busy moms of preschoolers: getting my kids ready for school by playing with Busy Bags, taking the oldest to gymnastics, teaching my kiddos about God and His goodness, making food, changing diapers, dealing with a not-good-sleeper baby, playdates with other mommies, more food and more diapers, being there for my hubby, and so forth.

Then *BAM*, one day I was sick....REALLY sick. My doc thought it was a virus because my symptoms were unusual: I had basically every illness in the book with only one constant pain which was that my intestines felt like they were on fire.  After a few days of suffering, we ignored my doc's review and my hubby took me into the ER.

The result after seeing several doctors and a surgery = my appendix had ruptured!!

Here I was, a VERY healthy person with no prior surgeries, no illness, no daily aches or pains, and I even birthed 3 babies with just mild meds....and I had a near-death experience!  Who knew that could happen?!?

Before the operation, docs weren't sure if it was my appendix because it didn't even show up on the CT scan and my symptoms were a-typical. After the operation, we found out that my appendix had spewed all it's infection all over my insides and it was now flat as a pancake (usually the size of your thumb)! And if I had waited another day or so, it would have infected my liver and ovaries. And if I had waited much longer...well, that's the scary part.

I am happy to say that I am back to life and back to a similar version of myself. I doubt I will ever be the same person I was before because I've learned a few things this summer...

What I've learned from this experience:
~~My husband is an amazing care-taker (which I already knew about but had 1st hand experience receiving his care) and I've also realized he is so forgiving of me.
Even when the house is a wreck, encourages me to rest; and even when the laundry piles up, he encourages me to just hang out with him.
I consider it the highest honor to have a husband that loves me this much. We celebrated 10 years of marriage a few weeks after this happened and we have a lot to celebrate after realizing how fragile life can be!

~~I've gained a new appreciation for motivation...when you have it, don't waste it!
When life hits you in the face and you think about all those projects you procrastinated on finishing...you suddenly realize it's time to find what inspires you to be motivated and keep that inspiration nearby.
It has been many weeks of waiting and praying for healing from all the intestinal damage, of dealing with a constant brain fog, and several other side affects.  I can feel great in the morning while taking a shower, then 3 hours later, I am suddenly wiped out!
So I am learning to take advantage of motivation because I realize that my body doesn't let me work at the same pace as I did previously.  Sometimes it's just a matter of knowing you will have one hour of work-time during my baby's nap or in the early AM....you can get SO much done if you just start that time by being motivated!

~~I am thankful, so thankful, for a healthy body.
Right after surgery, I couldn't lift anything; not even my baby - not out of his crib or the high chair, not even in his carseat in/out of the car! We had to get very creative with naps on the floor and having my 5 year old pick up the baby to put him on my lap and using a travel high chair on the floor.
These days, I can now carry the baby but there are still challenges in very simple, daily things, Activities like going to the grocery store take longer because the baby + groceries in the cart exceeds my ability to push for very long. And that means I also am working on teaching grabby-handed 2-year-old how walk next to his older brother by the cart versus riding in the cart itself!
So I am daily reminded that I have a healthy body that I am working to regain!  And I'm reminded that we have only one body in this earthly life...so it's so critical that we work our hardest to make it work well for us!

~~I've watched my children give me so much patience and grace and forgiveness; and realized that God does that for us every moment of every day.
On the days when I struggled with muscle cramps, my boys gave me extra gentle hugs and knew that I couldn't wrestle (one of their favorite things). On the days when my head is in a fog, my boys found new ways to play with each other and gave me a little space. On the days when I was grumpy from dealing with my pain, I would see their sad faces from my harsh reactions yet they would still be happy campers 10 minutes later and readily forgive me for my outbursts.
And the Lord is like that too. He knows all that we are dealing with and working through and how we sin against Him, yet he shows His unconditional love for us through the gift of His Son.

~~It's incredibly important to say "thank you" to people who support you; whether that's parents who help with your kids, or neighbors who bring you food, or friends who simply pray with you.
Take time to thank them so that those resources are there in the future. If you don't have these resources, take time now to find good connections with people in your community so they can be there for you if/when you need it.
For those that have been reading this blog over the past couple of months, I have been blown away by your continued interest and support!  I look forward to bringing you more ideas and connecting with you.
For those still reading this post, thank you! *wink*

~~And it's also incredibly important, as noted from above, to BE that person who can be 'thanked'....meaning, take the time to make a meal for a neighbor (even if they aren't so neighborly), and help a sister/cousin/friend with their kids (even just watching for 2 hours so that mom has a moment of free time), and, most importantly, pray for those around you!

~~Lastly, if you haven't already picked up this theme: TODAY IS A GIFT! Choose life... and choose to live it!

Again, thank you to those that continue to support this blog and to those investing your life to the betterment of your child.  Check back regularly for new posts planned to bring you lots of tips for inspired playtime with your preschooler!

~Rachel~

Deuteronomy 30:19 - "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Movin’ Mondays – Stamps

photo
For a lesson in patience, we decided to try our skills at using stamps.  *wink*  Stamps are so messy and with two very willing preschoolers, it can take a lot of verbal communication to keep the process of stamping a clean and fun project. (If you can’t tell, I don’t like messy kids.  Haha!)  Needless to say, stamping can be really fun and a good activity to get kiddos into the crafty mood.

What’s your "Moving” activity to start the week?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Movin’ Mondays — crazy hats!

photo
There is something about hats that seems to draw in children.  It’s as if wearing hats allows the preschooler the chance to be something different or to be somewhere else. None of my boys actually like to wear a hat for it’s real intent but they enjoy playing with them from time to time.  Plus, when you have silly ones like this, that makes play even more fun!
photo (1)

We have a basketful of ball caps and fishing hats in our hall closet (which is funny because none of us wear hats more than once a month or so!).  Instead of just letting them collect dust, every so often we pull out the basket and let the boys have at it!  They get so tickled seeing each other try out the different sizes and styles.  Some get stacked on-top of each other while others inspire them to suddenly act like they are out hunting or wherever their imagination may lead!


What’s your "Moving” activity to start the week? 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wednesday Why's: reasons why we love Busy Bags...

Reason #59 why we love Busy Bags:
Knowing that my preschoolers are learning life skills without buying expensive educational products. Busy Bags are one of the easiest, cheapest, most effective ways to help them learn with hands-on tools! 


What are the reasons you like Busy Bags? What is your favorite activity for your child related to their age or skill-level?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday Why's: reasons why we love Busy Bags...


Reason #834 why we love Busy Bags:
It’s a ‘go with me’ kind of toy.  We don’t allow most toys to leave the house since they can take up so much space in my purse or in the car (usually ended up cluttered on the car floor!). 
But the Busy Bags are a perfect addition for an outing since they are self-contained activities that lay-flat. Great to pull out of the diaper bag while required to wait in public, such as the doctor’s office, in church or wherever!


What are the reasons you like Busy Bags? What is your favorite activity for your child related to their age or skill-level?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Movin’ Mondays – Domino trains

photo
(Photo of my toddler using the Instgram app…isn’t is cool?!?)

One of our favorite family game night games is Dominoes.  We have the Mexican Train domino version. The rules are for the players to start with seven dominoes in their hand with a double-number domino placed in the center.  Then each person places their matching number domino and you take turns matching up your dominoes which form a train. If you can’t match, then you draw one and put up a plastic train on your line so others can play.

But playing games with a preschooler and toddler doesn’t usually involve rule-following.  Our two year old adores the plastic miniature trains so he is usually focused on playing with those while our four year old likes to count the dots on the dominoes.  

It’s important to try to teach the basic concepts but we also allow for a lot of ‘interpretation’ of those rules as well…which often leads to other really fun versions of game play! 

What “Moving” activities do you have planned for the week?
(Feel free to comment below)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wednesday Why's: reasons why we love Busy Bags...

Reason #291 why we love Busy Bags:
Many of the skills learned in these Busy Bags are Montessori-based…I feel like a good parent knowing that my kids are playing with good solid ‘toys’ learning good solid skills.

What are the reasons you like Busy Bags? What is your favorite activity for your child related to their age or skill-level?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Movin’ Mondays – Playing dress-up

photo
If you head over to the house of any little girl, I bet you’ll find a host of dress-up clothes…anything from tu-tu’s to toddler-sized high heals (complete with bling!) to oversized gowns and much more. But for boys, there really aren’t that many ‘dress-up’ options and we just don’t have that many outfits for pretending.

But playing dress-up is a great tool for letting children role play, express emotions, pretend, and much more! It’s a type of play that opens the door to expressing thoughts in a safe way by communicating as ‘someone else’.

So playing dress-up with three little boys gets a little creative around our house.  When we decide to play, half of the game time is allotted to searching for our outfits!

We pull out our magnifying glass and binoculars and go on a ‘hunt’ for the clothes to make up our characters. And we use anything from scarfs to Daddy’s neck-ties to old Halloween costumes to Mommy’s dressy shoes. The end result is a mishmash and often pretty funny but always fun.  Then we spend time playing our character roles; whether that is a role of fireman (photo above), explorer, detective, or anything else these little preschoolers decide to be!

What’s your "Moving” activity to start the week?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Last minute Easter fun with preschoolers!

In case you need any extra Easter weekend ideas for fun with preschoolers, here is some randomness found across the web that all look quick and full of fun-ness!

All sorts of printables over at NickJr.com------


Here is a way to dye eggs using an every day product: Kool Aid-----


My son adores brownies and would love these from KraftRecipes.com----


MakeIt-LoveIt.com has a host of more last minute ideas as well-----

Have fun celebrating Jesus' resurrection this weekend and enjoy the joy your preschoolers find with the holiday! We get to enjoy time with family and eating good food, a nice service on Sunday at church, and lots of candy from our annual family egg hunt with 6 kiddos aged 6 and down!!!

What activities do you have planned or have already completed for Easter weekend?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter Egg matching activity

plastic egg matching
Easter Egg Matching activity! With this weekend holding a fun-filled activity that will probably leave your home with lots of empty eggs by Monday, here is an activity that can put them to creative use this next week! 

Create a scene with construction paper. Trace the shape of the eggs, cut out the halves and then mix them up (i.e. yellow on top and green on the bottom). Then secure the mis-matched eggs onto your background.
Give the preschooler the eggs and ask them to find the matching pairs and place ontop of the correct images on the scene! 

For the younger tot (2 to 3 years), have the eggs already popped in half and ready to match together.  For the older preschooler (4 to 6 years), give them the eggs whole and ask them to pop open and match together by themselves.

Another version is to let the tot create the background scene with you!  Let them practice egg tracing (a hard skill for younger preschoolers) and have them run the gluing of the objects to the background paper.  They can also color or draw on the finished scene for more fun.

I saw a post on one of my favorite blogs (MoneySavingMom.com) that had ideas for reusing plastic eggs with egg cartons and realized that these little objects are perfect for developing finger strength as well as growing sorting skills.  This activity also builds skill sets of: color recognition, finger strength, object manipulation, sorting and grouping as well as skills in patterning and shape recognition.

Enjoy your weekend and may it be filled with the Hope that is found in Jesus Christ!

List of Busy Bags for purchase ~ $3

Mr. push it upclose
Individual Busy Bags are available for purchase and are priced at $3 per bag.  Shipping is $5 for the first item and free for as many additional bags that fit in a priority box! Orders can be paid via check or handled faster with Paypal (100% online-security guarantee).

Each activity comes in it’s own plastic baggie with zippered top (good for little fingers to operate) as well as individual instructions.

Here are the current ideas and products available on this website and on Facebook.
List of available products (sorted alphabetically):
1. Alphabet Match-up – using magnetic letters and a printed sheet for letter and color recognition skills
2. Classy Colors – using clothes pins and paint chips for color and visual learning skills as well as building finger strength
3. Match-Me Cards – using colorful objects on cards for matching and recognition skills
4. Pop the Popsicle – using popsicle sticks and color ‘tops’ for matching and recognition skills as well as learning letters and basic sight words
5. Rainbow Bright – using felt and small objects for color sorting, finger dexterity and visual learning skills
6. Straw Beads – using straw beads and lacing items to build life-skills such as stringing; can also help with color recognition and sorting

Please be aware that these contain small parts that can be a risk for unsupervised small children. Take time to educate your child on appropriate use to reduce the risk of choking, suffocation or other injury.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Busy Bag Sensory Kits

Busy Bag Sensory Kits are available!
Orders can be paid via check or handled faster with Paypal (100% online-security guarantee).
Email when ready to order! busybagcentral@gmail.com

All kits include NINE (!) activities with a focus on: Sorting, Matching, Lacing (a hard skill to learn for toddlers), Counting & Math, Color & Number recognition, Sensory development with finger strength growth, Writing, along with visual learning & exploration through free play.

For the current list of Busy Bag Central's SENSORY KITS, go to either of these pages....
-Master List: http://busybagcentral.blogspot.com/2012/04/master-list-of-activities-by-age.html
-April 2015 List of Sensory Kits: http://busybagcentral.blogspot.com/2015/04/sensory-kits-20-each.html

Please be aware that these contain small parts that can be a risk for unsupervised small children.  Take time to educate your child on appropriate use to reduce the risk of choking, suffocation or other injury.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday Why's: reasons why we love Busy Bags...

Reason #333 why we love Busy Bags:
They use everyday products from the home and being able to recycle items into part of the activity.  Plus, if something in the bag breaks or gets lost, I can cheaply fix the activity (unlike with most plastic toys!).

What are the reasons you like Busy Bags? What is your favorite activity for your child related to their age or skill-level?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Corner Tiles = easy signs …Tip Tuesday from a Pinterest project

photoTileSignage

For ou Tip Tuesday’s post, here is a super cool project I used last weekend! The original idea came from a Pinterest.com project.

:::::::Use a corner tile and write with a dry erase marker = instant signage!::::::

The dry erase marker just wipes right off so the tile can be reused as a sign for any project or display. Plus, unlike paper versions of signs, they won’t droop when they get wet and are easy to change the text.

These looked very sharp and classy at our booth this past weekend.  And it’d be great for use on a buffet for a holiday dinner party or as name plates at dinner.

The corner tiles used were found at Home Depot for less than $2 each in the regular tile section. And the marker, in any office supply section of a store.

P.S. If you need an invite to join Pinterest, just let me know and I’ll send you one!  Feel free to look us up on the site to follow future posts (Busy Bag Central)! 

Busy Bag Central goes public!

photoOfBooth
This past weekend I had the opportunity to host a vendor booth at a local kids consignment sale! It was a great opportunity to chat with other moms about what interests their preschoolers.
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The Busy Bags were displayed for sale and the most popular item was the Alphabet Match-up bag. As always, just $3 per bag.
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We also had products by a friend who makes/sells the gorgeous flower clips – great for hair or hats or bags, etc.  A few clips were showcased on an uber-cute hat, handmade by Stiches By Sarah (who makes unique, handmade knits). She’s also on Facebook with lots of photos of her products available for purchase!
photoKits
And the last item offered was our BRAND NEW Busy Bag Kits!!  I’ve had so many requests for a kit that would offer multiple learning activities centered around one theme!  These are inspired by some of the basic learning skills that are key for all kiddos ~ sorting, counting, stringing and more. Plus they have a great theme that allows the preschooler to learn in a way that’s great for their individual interests.

These are available for $25 each plus $5 s/h. A list of all kits available will be posted in another day or so. 
Insider tip: We’ll have a giveaway for one kit to a lucky Facebook fan!  So go on over to Facebook to “Like” us and watch out for the post on the blog and Facebook later this week!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Master List of Activities by Age


List of Busy Bags by Age

Here are the current ideas listed on www.BusyBagCentral.blogspot.com with a focus on what is appropriate for each age.

VIEW IT!
Feel free to click on the title of each activity and it will take you to the original post showing a description with details.

Be Safe.
Note that this is based upon my own opinion and experience with preschoolers. All children are different – some 2 year olds learn by putting things in their mouth while other 2 year olds are very trustworthy. Also, some second-born or third-born kids are exposed early-on to smaller objects and have a quicker understanding of appropriate use. For the notes given below, please evaluate the activity ideas with your individual preschooler in-mind!


Basic Toddler Bags:
(2 year olds to 4 year olds – as well as some mature 18 month olds)
Alphabet Match-up
Letter Match-up (details in new post coming)
Match Me Cards
Big & Little sort (details in new post coming)
Color sort (details in new post coming)
Animal sort (details in new post coming)
Lacing (details in new post coming)

Beginner Bags:
(3 year olds to 5 year olds – and for mature 2.5 year olds)
Snip-A-Chip
Sensory Kits (details in new post coming)
Clothes Line (details in new post coming)
Rainbow Bright
Classy Colors
Pop the Popsicle
The 3 P’s
Mr. Push It

Advanced Bags:
(4 year olds up to 6 year olds)
Twist-Ties
Pop the Popsicle (using the harder words on the sticks)
Toothpick Trace
…more coming soon!

Please be aware that these contain small parts that can be a risk for unsupervised small children. Take time to educate your child on appropriate use to reduce the risk of choking, suffocation or other injury.

Movin’ Mondays – Colored Ice Cubes

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A fun activity idea for our Monday morning post is about colored ice cubes!  I came across a preschooler activity last fall called Ice Boats (will post later) in which you fill an ice cube tray with water and let the toddler color the water and then add a stick to make a boat.  My boys LOVED the activity and we’ve made a few fun versions of the game.

Coloring the water can be done with a variety of mediums…here are some we have tried:
1. Food coloring – Have the adult drop food coloring into the water and let the child mix! After frozen, drop into a bowl of warm water to watch colors swirl as they melt.

2. Sprinkles – These usually dissolve in water and it’s fun to watch what colors come off of each sprinkle! After frozen, drop into a bowl of warm water or they can be added to a drink!
We have a few sprinkles leftover from Christmas that are green trees and red dots as well as some of the typical multi-colored balls.  The balls never fully dissolved and made the water sort of brown while the Christmas ones floated so this discovery lead to some good communication about color mixing and sinking/floating.

3. Kool aid – Pre-mix in a pitcher so you don’t get liquid on the counters which may stain.  We have a Pampered Chef large pitcher with built-in sifter to mix the liquid so my little preschoolers like to take turns with the mixing!  After frozen, you can put in a bowl of water or, for a special treat, add these to a cup of water or Sprite!

As shown in the photo, we mixed three different packets of koolaid with water; one at a time.  We only used about 1/3 of the water that the directions call for and then poured into a few slots in the ice cube tray.  Two of the packets were the same color just different shades (berry and pink lemonade) so we added a little bit of our blue mix to make purple.  It turned into a fun science lesson and, once frozen, will turn into a fun drink with our soda!

What’s your "Moving” activity to start the week?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mr. Push It busy bag

Mr. Push It
Loving this activity.  L.o.v.e. I.t. 

I do have to say that this may be the best preschooler Busy Bag out there! At least it has been the most interesting to my young preschooler so far!!  We get to use an everyday item and recycle it (snack container) plus all the items store inside for easy access.

We tried a different version of this Busy Bag called Pom Pom Stuff It In (per MoneySavingMom’s blog)…used a yogurt cup and cut slits in the top for stuffing in pom poms.  But my preschooler kept getting his finger stuck in the hole and just using pom poms was uninteresting after awhile.

I know there was also a version somewhere that used pipe cleaners and a Pringles can…but even if you wash the can, those chips always seem so greesy to me! 

After my boys quickly ate through a tub of Ritz Bitz, :) I wanted to recycle the container somehow and realized that it was the perfect container for a mix of the two activities!  We called it “Mr. Push It” because my little guy kept saying ‘pushhhh’ as he was pushing in each item.
Mr. push it upclose

To create, we started by letting my two preschoolers have ‘craft time’ and color a bunch of hole reinforcement stickers with markers. Then I got out my special single hole punch and hammer (back from scrapboooking days!) and whacked a couple of holes.  After the boys added their stickers around the holes, we found matching pipe cleaners and pom poms for each color. 

Two adjustments had to be made:
1) The holes were a bit small for the pom poms so I snipped a quick rectangle down the center for easier manageability by my two year old.
2) Plus we had to cut the pipe cleaners in half to fit the length of our container.

We made this two days ago and my preschooler has played and played with it.  Since creation, it has been found randomly in our rec room and in the kitchen and in the dining room….meaning that he has carried it around and played with it at different times all on his own – AND cleaned it up on his own! 
soy with Mr. push it

This Busy Bag activity is getting permanent residence in our Busy Bag Box as well as a copy is being made to go in the diaper bag!

Friday, March 30, 2012

More on the Toothpick Trace busy bag…

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Here’s a better photo of one of the tracing pages. As noted in the original post, I made hand-drawn tracing pages using shapes from our puzzles.  After tracing, I went over the lines with a marking in some of my preschooler’s favorite colors.

We have yet to try out this activity because I’m busy hosting a booth for BusyBagCentral at a kids sale this week! (Yay!) Reader Hint: At the sale, I’ll be releasing the new Busy Bag Kits that will include a bunch of great sensory games and bags.  So check back next week for photos and reviews of the new, super-awesome kits!

When life is quieter again, we’ll pull this toothpick activity out for play and I’ll update you on how my four year old likes it! 

It’s worth noting that, when I was making this activity, my son watched me and excitedly said, “I want to do that too!” So we let him trace for the first time on his own paper and the creation of the Busy Bag became a craft in and of itself!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Toothpick Trace busy bag

Toothpick Trace
(Disclaimer: This activity is suggested for older preschoolers who can safely use toothpicks without hurting themselves.)

Here is an interesting activity that I’ve called Toothpick Trace.  I was reading about different ways to develop hand-eye-coordination in older preschoolers and they suggested using toothpicks to ‘trace’ – have the child poke holes along a pattern line.

As shown above, place a hand towel on a flat surface then a dark colored piece of construction paper and top with a pattern. (Our patterns were hand-traced from favorite puzzle pieces but you could just print off some clipart shapes.)  Once the holes are poked, the dark colored piece of paper can be hung in a window to let the light shine through the new outline!

Wooden clothes pins are placed to secure the top and bottom so my preschooler can focus on his handiwork with the toothpicks.  To reduce the risk of injury, I may go buy some of those fun toothpicks with silly decals at the top (such as little umbrellas) so there is only one sharp end.

Now, this activity does break a rule of the Busy Bag criteria list…all bags are:
non-messy and/or quick clean up, totally independent in use, interesting enough to last 15-30 minutes, and reusable products <—the rule breaker.

Even though this basically fits the concept of other Busy Bags, I wanted to give it a try with my four year old. He doesn’t show interest in writing or drawing or doodling. If he does any of these activities, it’s because I told him that he had to and then the activity only lasts 5 minutes.  This also means he doesn’t have very good skills with using pencils or paint brushes.

So I’m open to any kind of activity for him that builds his skill at “writing”…and using toothpicks is included! 

For more photos, go to the Facebook page under “BusyBagCentral” and be sure to ‘Like’ us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways. Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing (BusyBagCentral@gmail.com). Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Why's: reasons why we love Busy Bags...

Reason #5 why we love Busy Bags:
My preschool-aged boys prefer to run around or play with toys like vehicles.  They don’t generally like to sit and play with anything craft.
Yet they will occupy themselves with a Busy Bag activity for up to 20 minutes at a time. That speaks for itself!


What are the reasons you like Busy Bags? What is your favorite activity for your child related to their age or skill-level?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Twist-Ties busy bag

Twist-Ties

For this Busy Bag, you take a handful of twist-ties and a handful of objects and present it to the child then let them play.  We don’t use twist-ties in my house because our trashcans have either a bag with a built-in drawstring or they are recycled bags from the grocery store.  But I’m a saver and collect these each time we empty a bag of bread.

The interest of this activity comes because the primary object (the ties) are new and different for the preschooler. We’ve included a variety of items for the twist-ties to be twisted around – a pencil, an empty spool, tupperware, and so on. We also included a few pipe cleaners for more twisting fun.

So far, my two year old is not sure what to think of the activity.  Since we don’t use twist-ties, he is having a hard time wrapping the ties around and keeping them around anything.  He is more interested in stuffing all the objects into the green tub for the moment but he has asked to play with this again today and left all the parts out, as if he wanted to play with it again later.  So we’ll have to make an effort to develop his twist-tying skills to make this more interesting. 

I know my four year old can do this type of twisting motion so I’ll post again once he plays with the activity to let you know if it’s a winner or a dud of an activity for him.

 

For more photos, go to the Facebook page under “BusyBagCentral” and be sure to ‘Like’ us so you can get in on the fan-only giveaways. Orders can be taken on Facebook or by emailing (BusyBagCentral@gmail.com). Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness -- Cookies and Cupcakes


A goal of mine for this blog is to provide tips to simplify education with preschoolers.  And one of the areas we educate is about what we value in our home. 

One of our core values in our home is giving. We live in such a harsh world and so it's critical for us to show our little ones how to spread kindness wherever they can!  So as a random act of kindness, occassionally we deliver goodies to our neighbors.

In the photograph above, we had a 'cooking' activity with the boys in which they drizzled melted chocolate over cookies and home-make cupcakes...then we delivered randomly to our neighbors! It was a good opportunity to open a discussion on different ways that they can give to others.


What ways do you help show kindness and giving to your little ones?

Calendar of events: Fun with preschoolers in April

As noted in a post earlier this month, we are taking inspiration for daily activities from crazy-kooky national holidays.  And with April right around the corner, here is a list of the national holidays coming this next month:


April's National Holidays
April Fool's Day and Palm Sunday - 1st
Children's Book Day - 2nd
Find A Rainbow Day - 3rd
Passover/Good Friday - 6th
Easter - 8th
Look-A-Like Day - 20th
Earth Day - 22nd
Hug a Friend Day - 26th
Tell a Story Day - 27th
Arbor Day - 29th



Check back during the month of April to see photos of activities, cooking, and crafts that we did to celebrate with our preschoolers!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday Why's: reasons why we love Busy Bags...

Reason #32 why we love Busy Bags:
Knowing that the child is learning hands-on without me having to do all the hands-on teaching every single time; and WITHOUT the help of TV or other electronic stimulus.


What are the reasons you like Busy Bags? What is your favorite activity for your child related to their age or skill-level?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Movin' Mondays -- Build something with your preschooler!


There's something neat about building with your kids.  They get the opportunity to follow your lead, learn about following step-by-step directions, as well as obtaining a better understanding that individual pieces work to make a whole.

Last summer, my oldest preschooler and I put together a windchime. We found it on sale at Sam's...I had been looking for one for awhile but the large ones are so pricey! The longer the metal tubes, the better sounding chimes...and this wind chime sounds beautiful! 

I was very happy to find this great bargain and excitedly asked my 3 year old if he wanted to help build it once we got home. He agreed and after some work together, it was up and ready for use.  After the first windy day, my son was quick to note that he heard the chimes. And then the next day I heard them and we both agreed how nice they sounded.  

Many times over the past year, when we hear those chimes, my son and I just look at each other and smile or we talk about how nice our project turned out.  Taking a little extra time to build the project together has resulted in many moments we can enjoy together. 

Even though preschoolers are a challenge when helping build, work, cook, clean, etc, I encourage you to take the extra time to include them.  You both will be rewarded!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

More yummy green food = Spinach Smoothies


My boys LOVE green so we had a lot of fun doing activities with green this past week in preparation for St. Patty's Day.

I want to share one of my favorite green foods = Spinach Smoothies! We eat smoothies regularly around here because the ingredients are so easy to keep on hand....milk and yogurt in the fridge along with fruit from the freezer. Plus, adding a pinch of spinach doesn't affect the flavor at all and it's a great way to get extra vitamins!!

TIP: Never have ripe bananas go to waste again! If you can't eat them before they go bad, peel and then chop them into 1" chunks and put them in a freezer-safe ziploc and store in the freezer for up to 6 months.  Same goes for any other fresh fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, etc.

Recipe for Green 'N Healthy Banana Chocolate Smoothie: 
1/2 cup of juice or milk
1/2 cup of yogurt
3-4 ice cubes
half a banana
handful of chocolate chips
pinch of spinach, fresh or frozen
(can add a tablespoon of water to thin if needed)

Grind everything up in a Magic Bullet or blender and enjoy!


Note that spinach is optional but, honestly, it really does NOT change the flavor of the smoothie.  But also note that the green dominates the color, even if you put in blueberries, so don't use if you can't get over eating something creamy-green.

Other combinations of smoothies that we have tried:
>Blueberries with apple juice (instead of milk) plus bananas, yogurt, & ice cubes
>Strawberries with orange juice  plus bananas, yogurt, & ice cubes
>Bananas and orange sherbert with a bit of milk and ice cubes

Now go make...enjoy...and be healthified!

St. Patty's Day cooking craft



Happy St. Patty's Day to ya!  We used an idea off of Pinterest for a cooking craft with our preschoolers = yummy Shamrock flowers!!

We took three pretzels and laid them next to each other (ours were waffle-shaped but the regular ones would make the end product look more like a flower).  Then I had my toddler bite one in half for our stem while my older boy laid wax paper inside a cooking sheet (to contain our mess).  :)

After melting almond bark, I drizzled it onto our 'shamrock' and then let the boys sprinkle with green sprinkles. We finished it off with a bit of green icing for the stem.

Our shamrock flowers each got their own unique touch and we enjoyed eating each of them!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday Why's: reasons why we love Busy Bags...

Reason #12 why we love Busy Bags:
As an adult, I haven’t played with beads, crayons, or jewels since I was a child…it’s fun to enjoy these kinds of products again with my own child.


What are the reasons you like Busy Bags? What is your favorite activity for your child related to their age or skill-level?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Play-Doh = Play-Quiet


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Play-doh.  Honestly, it annoys me.  If you squish it, you get gunk in your nails.  If you kneel in it, your pants get stains.  If you don’t keep it collected in an area, little bits end up in the weirdest places and dry to the floor. Yuck!

But in my house….play-doh means quietness. My preschoolers just love to use their fingers to create on their own. We have a ‘bag of playdoh’ that came with plastic scissors, several shape-cutters and a rolling pin as well as a few other items to push/shove/squish. This past week, playing this activity hit the spot!
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Do you have any tips for playing with play-doh? And do you have any tips for getting it out of the carpet? *wink*

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tennis Balls & a ‘safe’ indoor game idea


tennis balls
What little child doesn’t love balls?!?  But in the winter, there are few opportunities to play with balls since we like to keep our pictures hung nicely on the walls. *wink*  So a game we came up with for indoor ball play is with tennis balls and a pop-up tube.  It’s wonderful way to burn off a little energy, build skills at hand-eye coordination, and keep the walls safe!


History ~~ About a year ago, my preschoolers we were bored playing indoors during the winter and I wanted some sort of game that got us up and moving.  We had recently purchased a bag of tennis balls and I thought my two boys would enjoy rolling them around our living room.  The younger of the two kids was only 1.5 years so it was very hard for him to keep the balls on the floor – he desperately wanted to throw them!  I tried to find a way to allow him to throw yet keep the balls contained and then thought about our nylon tube that goes to our pop-up tent…it was perfect!
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We pulled it out and I told the boys to throw or roll the balls inside the length of the tube.  Not realizing that both boys had very bad aim, we STILL had balls flying!  Haha!  That’s when I realized what a great tool this activity could become at building hand-eye-coordination as well as finger strength while also motivating them to get up and move.


Skip forward to this winter ~ Both boys have better throwing skills now but we’ve moved the game into the hallway because those balls sometimes jump out of their excited little hands. Having the bag of balls is very handy because it allows the ball-thrower multiple opportunities to practice and we're not having to throw-stop-pickup-then start again.


Sometimes we play with one kid on each end and see who can get all their balls to the other receipent (since some balls stop mid-way in the tube) or we have both on one end of the tube and see who’s faster at rolling.  And it usually ends with at least one person rolling around inside the tube along with lots of giggling!
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You can always modify the activity if you don’t have a pop-up tube like this and just use a closed-door hallway.  Plus, you can challenge the preschooler to knock over items at the end of the hall (empty soda bottles?) or put obstacles in the way of ball rolling or whatever else may fit your playtime.

Please share any thoughts on the activity and let us know how your little one(s) did with building their rolling/throwing skills!