Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Teaching Children to Give During the Holidays

Children love to give, naturally!  Honestly, I am constantly amazed at children's ability to give.  Sometimes though, especially during the holidays, they need a little reminder to look beyond themselves and share with the bigger community that they are a part of.

That is why I absolutely fell in love with {affiliate link} Christmas from Heaven by Tom Brokaw.  It is the true story of the "candy bomber," a United States airman who dropped handkerchief parachutes full of candy and gum to children during Christmas in a war-torn Berlin in 1948.  It captures the idea of someone giving up a treat for themselves to serve others who need the treat even more.  My children were captivated by the story-telling and the pictures.  

Amazon affiliate link:

There were a few pages that I summarized for my younger preschoolers with shorter attention spans, but when we finished the book everyone was pleased with Hal's decision.  And (the best part), they were all excited at the idea that they could also do something this year to bless other children who have less than they do.

Before I read the story, I brainstormed easy ways that my children could give to someone in our community.  To introduce the idea of giving to someone outside of their family (someone they do not even know, but who is a part of our community), I sketched a simple representation of each of the ideas I thought of earlier.  Then I presented the ideas to my kids and let them choose what they wanted to do.  Everyone's community is a little different, but I thought I would share my ideas with you because they can be adapted to almost any community.

Ideas for Holiday Giving & Service

1- Donate food and/or toys to our local food bank.

2- Choose a specific child to buy for from the Angel Tree at the mall.

3- Take some of their money to a bell ringer at Wal-Mart.

4- Make cards for kids at the hospital.

5- Make a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

6- Make something for the fire-fighters at our fire station.

7- Donate some of their money to one of our church's charities.

8- Take a box of their favorite cereal (and some other goodies!) to a local refuge shelter.

9- Buy a pre-bagged "dinner" at our grocery store.

I truly believe that as children give they discover real holiday magic and make memories that are far more lasting than gifts received!

What kind of giving plans are you and your children making?  I'd love to know!

Story Book Advent

This post is part of the Story Book Advent series organized by Cerys of Rainy Day Mum!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

20+ Christmas Busy Bags & Montessori Bins

Christmas is coming!  This post is a HUGE celebration with 20+ Christmas busy bags and Montessori bins (and it includes a $500 giveaway)!!  Plan your preschool and pay for your holiday!

In December, we do even less formal school work and loads of fun, seasonal activities.  I absolutely love "busy bags" and "Montessori bins" for a couple reasons: They are easy to set up, easy to transport, fun to engage in, and your kiddo can usually play with them independently if you need to run check on dinner or help another child!  

Busy bags are self-contained activities that can be sealed up in a bag--I usually use a large freezer bag and store them in a file cabinet box.  Montessori bins are self-contained Montessori-inspired activities that your child can explore independently...they just pick up the bin and get to work!  I usually prepare 2-3 Montessori bins that are available at all times.

These activities all tie in to popular Christmas themes, and many would work for both bags and bins!  
And keep the end of this post is a chance to win one of four $500 prizes!!

Christmas Montessori Activities : Gift of Curiousity has great ideas and free printables that could go in either Christmas busy bags or Montessori bins!
Christmas Tree Addition : Kidding Around Greenville added a small twist to make this tree activity geared toward kids that are learning to add!
Early Reader Christmas Busy Bag :  Fun Christmas themed phonics activities in a bag from The Educators Spin On It!
Felt Christmas Tree Toy : Not only would this make an awesome busy bag, but you could even wrap it and give it to your kids!  What an awesome present!
Christmas Jingle Bells : This matching bell activity from Sugar Aunts is designed to store in a bag (which would make it perfectly portable), but it would also be super easy to set up in a Montessori bin!
Christmas Tree Decorating Busy Bag : This classic felt tree at Coffee Cups and Crayons is the perfect busy bag!  Plus, it teaches counting skills!
Wreath Counting Busy Bag : Coffee Cups and Crayons also has an adorable wreath counting busy bag!  You can pull this bag out at home for some festive one-on-one time or leave the supplies out in a bin!
Christmas Tree Counting With Pompoms : Rockabye Butterfy actually has about half a dozen Christmas-themed activities that would be perfect in either a busy bag or a Montessori bin!
Gingerbread Shape Matching : This cute gingerbread busy bag from Powerful Mothering could easily be set up in a Montessor bin and is perfect for the holidays...or any time of year!
Christmas Ribbons : This bin is part Christmas and part art!  I love how it looks!  I bet you could find a way to use this idea from My Montessori Journey in a busy bag too!
Christmas Tree Count Busy Bag : I love the unique materials that Motherhood on a Dime used on her counting tree!
Play Dough Christmas Tree : Mamma Pappa Bubba has the cutest play dough Christmas kit ever!  It works perfectly as a holiday bin too -- but I don't think your kiddos will ever want to close the lid!
Christmas Sensory Treasure Bin : My Nearest and Dearest has a completely irresistable Christmas treasure bin that could easily be adapted if you needed it in bags!
Christmas Roll a Block Tree : This fun game from The Preschool Toolbox also teaches numbers!
Candy Cane Stripe Counting : Preschool Inspirations has a fun way to combine math and holiday candy in a Montessori bin!
Printable Christmas Puzzles : These adorable puzzles from Itsy Bitsy Fun are perfect for creative minds!  First match them up correctly...then mix them up however you like!
DIY Magnetic Christmas Travel Games : These DIY magnetic games from Teach Me Mommy store great in a bag and would be perfect if you're traveling this Christmas!
Christmas Quiet Time Bags : Fun and easy DIY ideas for Christmas busy bags from There's Just One Mom!
Christmas Sensory Bin : This bin from 3 Dinosaurs is bright and colorful and ties into Christmas books!
Gingerbread Counting : This busy bag from Wildflower Ramblins is so cute you will want to keep it out all year long!  It would also work perfectly in a Montessori bin!
Christmas Play Dough Kit : This colorful and inviting bin from Racheous doubles as fine motor exercise too!
Snowman Busy Bag : Even if you don't have snow at Christmastime, your kiddos will love this snowman building busy bag from Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails!
Christmas Ornament Scoop : Let your kiddos scoop, pour, and play with Christmas ornaments!  This is such a fun idea from The Kavanaugh Report!  Just make sure you use shatter-proof ornaments!

Have you used busy bags or Montessori bins?  I'd love to hear your experiences with them!

AND, I've teamed up with dozens of other kid bloggers to bring you this massive Christmas-themed resource AND (keep reading!!) a $500 giveaway!!!

For more Christmas fun, celebration, and learning, check out these other kid blogger collections!

Win one of FOUR $500 cash prizes directly in your paypal account! This giveaway is open internationally. You must be 18+ years old to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Please see detailed terms and conditions below the giveaway for more info.

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I may share at any of these parties!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Healthy Holiday Treats & Poppins Book Nook

Festive, fun, and absolutely delicous!  Our preschoolers loved making and eating their Healthy Holiday Treats!

In the past, we have enjoyed dipping pretzels (and all sorts of other things) in chocolate during the holidays.  This year, however, I have a kiddo that cannot have any refined sugar, so I adapted our normal pretzel sticks to this healthy recipe that she can enjoy with us!

All of the kids (sugar free and not!) had a blast dipping their pretels...and eating them too!  You can make healthy holiday treats too!  You just need these

Simple Supplies:

* yogurt (we used plain greek yogurt sweetened with stevia.  Amazon affiliate link: Liquid Stevia )
* freeze dried strawberries (many grocery stores carry these, but you can also get them's an Amazon affiliate link: Freeze-Dried Strawberries )
* pretzel sticks
* wax paper (optional, but very convenient!)
* freezer

Easy How To:

1- Prepare your sprinkles by crushing the dried strawberries.

2- Dip a pretzel stick in the yogurt.

3- Sprinkle the healthy sprinkles on the yogurt-covered pretzel!

4- Place your newly made heatlhy holiday treat on a dish or pan covered with wax paper.  When the pan is full, set them in your freezer until the yogurt hardens.

5- When the yogurt is hardened, take your healthy treats out and enjoy them!  They make a great healthy dessert or just-for-fun snack!

You could read any Christmas or holiday story and tie it in with these red and white treats.  We read The Berenstain Bears' Night Before Christmas and talked about how the little bears would have loved to make and decorate pretzel sticks too!  It's also a great book for talking about family traditions!

Amazon Affiliate Link:

This post is part of the Poppins Book Nook, an online book club that brings you reading fun every month!

This month, the theme is To The Kitchen!  Check out these other blogs for more kitchen-themed ideas, activities, books, and printables!

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual MayhemPreschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom~Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things~Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ My Bright Firefly ~A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~Where Imagination Grows ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am  ~Simple Living Mama 

Also, be sure to pop over to Enchanted Homeschooling Mom for a Holiday Cookbook giveaway!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Placemats Preschool Craft

These placemats are a fantastic way for your preschooler to contribute to Thanksgiving and other fall festivities next week!

Making them is also intense fine motor exercise and a bit of an art project!  Fortunately, they are super simple to set up -- your kiddos can even make a whole batch while you do some baking!

Simple Supplies:

* construction paper
* scissors
* optional: laminator

Easy How-to:

1- Prepare your supplies by cutting strips of colored construction paper about 1 inch wide and then cutting strips in your "base" construction paper (we used brown) about 1 inch apart.

2- Show your kiddos how to weave the papers through the strips, alternating over/under/over in each row.

3- When you're done, throw a party!  

Optionally, you can laminate your kiddos' homemade placemats and use them for Thanksgiving and other special meals too!

Have you made woven placemats before?  I'd love to see them!!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hurricane Model Science Experiment

Hurricane season is almost over, but it is still a fun topic for kids of all ages...and we always love a good science experiment!

We actually created this model after discussing how hurricanes form.  My oldest daughter wanted to do an experiment to see if she could make her own hurricane.  Her brother was ready to add to it, and I love how many actual analogies they were able to make!  They loved it so much that they repeated it almost every day for a week!

I'm sharing the entire experiment (set-up and everything!) in this short video...I hope you enjoy it!  And -- just in case you are reading during nap time and have the volume muted -- I added captions too!  Let me know what you think!

If you have trouble viewing it, you can click here and watch it on YouTube.

Like all models, this science experiment has its inherent strengths and weaknesses.  Older children may enjoy discussing the limitations of models in science while they work on ways to overcome those weaknesses!  What would your preschoolers add to the science experiment?

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Welcome! I'm so glad you're visiting! I am a public school teacher turned homeschooling mom who runs a small home daycare. I love to teach, create fun and exciting resources, and share the educational journey that we get to live!

This blog is full of ideas and resources for parents teaching preschoolers! One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to meet you all--be sure to say hi! You can always leave a comment or email me anytime at PreschoolPackets at gmail dot com!



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