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Animals At School

Baby School Scholar

Baby School Scholar

For anyone who is homeschooling and has children not yet old enough to participate in formal education, you know one of the biggest challenges is balancing the needs of the little ones with the ability to teach the older and allow them to concentrate. Thankfully, I had fun with a lot of preschool and baby school type activities with my oldest before she started kindergarten, and can adapt most of those ideas to use with my two year old little guy. I document a lot of them, because he has so much fun and he’s so doggone cute. 🙂 I was thinking that maybe someone else might find some of our little “baby school” activities useful in their own homeschool or quiet times with their kiddos, so I’m going to start sharing some.

One activity both of my little ones have loved is oversized animal flash cards. The exact ones I have are these Animals (Slide and Learn Flash Cards) that are really neat, but these are a nice, inexpensive set that will work for any of the activities I’m sharing using my flash cards Animals of All Kinds Flash Cards. I can come up with a lot of different activities using these, and easily keep a toddler happy with them for half an hour or more. Here are a few fun ones for you to try with your baby schoolers.

Big or Little

Big or Little

I have Bambam sort the cards by whether he thinks the animals are big or little. This is a good one for him to start the day with, because he’s good at it and it builds up his interest and confidence.

Another activity he enjoys is sorting the cards by whether they have fur or not. This is slightly more challenging for him, but usually not too difficult for him to reason out, which is a good thing.

Color Sorting

Color Sorting

For variety, I have him stack the cards according to the color of the trim. This one makes him have to focus on a completely different part of the cards, so he feels like it’s a new activity and it keeps him interested for longer.

Some other things we do with the cards are sorting them by the following categories: No feet, two feet or four feet? Can they fly or not? Is the animal a baby or grownup? Scary or nice? Pet or wild (I started with farm, pet or wild, but my kids think farm animals make great pets, so I dropped that. LOL)?

Can you think of any other games you can do with animal flash cards?

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Win For Wednesday

Great Gobs of Giveaways

Great Gobs of Giveaways

Another winning Wednesday here, just sharing some of the awesome- but less widely publicized- giveaways I find on the wonderful worldwide web. I love entering contests, although until the past several weeks I have rarely won anything. By rarely, I mean practically never, ever, ever. Just since Christmas Eve, though, I’ve won several awesome giveaways!!! One was a $20 boutique gift card! Another was a giveaway for the After Saga I featured here recently! Another was Christmas Eve and a higher entry giveaway for a huge prize package for our baby valued at over $1,200!! Another is a precious children’s book I featured here previously! More recently, I won a $25 Publix gift card, a craft kit, and a gluten free snack box! I’m not sharing to brag, but it tells you that people really do win! I think this baby in my tummy is my lucky charm, y’all! 😉 The giveaways I share here are not giveaways with hundreds of thousands of entries, so you actually have a decent chance to win something. Who doesn’t want to win free stuff?

Enter to win one of $500 Paypal cash prizes! (Ends 3/26)

http://gvwy.io/841g4fx

Enter this great contest to win a Tula Baby Carrier! (Ends 3/22)

http://is.gd/eOIAwP

Enter to win this HUGE giveaway for kids!! (Ends 3/16)

http://is.gd/K2sJbG

Try to win three months of free A2ME preschool kits! (Ends 3/5)

http://gluedtomycraftsblog.com/2015/02/a2me-preschool-spotlight-giveaway.html

Enter to win a Little Tikes Jr. Jump ‘N’ Slide Bouncer! (Ends 3/9)

http://is.gd/3xyipG

Enter to win a $120 Jord gift certificate! (Ends 3/17)

http://gvwy.io/bo1g5ka

Enter this Baby BeeHaven See N Store Giveaway! (Ends 3/9)

http://mamasmiths.com/2015/02/baby-beehaven-see-n-store-giveaway.html

Try to win a Zero Shock Leash and a Chest Plate Harness from EZY Dog! (Ends 3/12)

http://mamasmiths.com/2015/02/ezydog-harness-leash-giveaway.html

Enter to win an amber teething necklace! (Ends 3/17)

http://www.nannytomommy.com/2015/03/toogli-amberteethingnecklace-review.html

Try to win $30 worth of Lilla Rose goodies! (Ends 3/17)

http://ourmoderndayfairytale.blogspot.com/2015/03/lilla-rose-your-pot-of-gold-at-end-of.html

Any bloggers or small businesses with current family friendly giveaways are welcome to post links to one or two of those giveaways with a brief description in the comments section. If you have an upcoming giveaway you would like to be featured, please contact me via my Facebook page with details. There are a few open giveaways remaining from last week, including a DVD, book and $500 Paypal cash prize, so head on over there for more chances to win some awesome prizes: https://pennypinchingpeach.com/2015/02/25/wednesday-is-for-winning/ This will continue to be a weekly feature here on Penny Pinching Peach if there is consistent interest, so give a shout if you like this idea and let me know if you entered any contests! Oh, and definitely come back and let me know if you win something, please!!!


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The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game

If your kids are like mine, they love to play games together. However, it’s really hard to find a game that is fun for my very smart five year old, while being simple enough for my determinedly independent two year old to do with little to no assistance.

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Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game is one of those rare amazing finds! They received this as a gift from a sweet friend of mine a few months ago, and they still play with it at least a couple of days a week. If you’ve been around little ones much, you know that this means this game is awesome if it’s surviving and still enjoyed regularly after that long!

If your child is old enough to know his colors well, or has an honest older sibling who can assist them nicely, you can let them sit at the table and play while you putter around the house getting things done. Since I initially helped them learn to play and they completely got the hang of it, which took about three or four games in all, they have rarely needed my assistance for anything except occasionally reminding Bambam to take turns when it’s not his turn. If you’re a mom, you know how valuable games and toys that encourage independent play can be for both you and your children. If you’re not, trust me when I say both parents and children will be happy with you for this gift for that very reason! 😉

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Playing

Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Playing

Every piece of this game has proven to be sturdy enough to withstand the normal treatment of a little boy who earned every ounce of his nickname, Bambam, with all of that playing time. Both of my kiddos love their Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel game enough to willingly clean up and keep from losing the cutesy squirrel pinchers and numerous multi-colored acorns. The adorable tree shaped box is even much sturdier than the average game, so it’s still completely intact, as well. The only thing I would add is that if you have little ones who still put things in their mouths, please keep this game and it’s pieces safely away from that child, since the colorful acorns would be really tempting to taste and choke on. This should be common sense, but I felt I had to say it as a responsible parent of itty bitty folks. 🙂

I definitely recommend buying this game! I’m not being compensated for this review, just recommending and sharing a great product I think other families would love as much as we do, but I would be thrilled if you would purchase it through one of my Amazon affiliate links in this post, above and below. It costs you nothing, but it gives me a small commission to help take care of these cute little rascals. 🙂

Educational Insights The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Need some fun activities for your little ones? Check out 10 Preschool Activities Using Household Items!


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Cloud Dough

So much fun!

So much fun!

Has anyone made their own play dough? I hadn’t, but I was looking for a new project for little miss creative when I saw a recipe for something they called “cloud dough”. It looked so easy, fun and super duper cheap to make, I had to give it a try.

The recipe? Two parts corn starch to one part hair conditioner of choice. I let my little one pick one that was pink and she liked the smell of. Mix until it’s all combined. It will be the roughly consistency of play dough, smell like conditioner, and have a soft fluffy feel to it ( hence the cloud part).

My daughter loves this stuff! She says it is even better than regular

Glittery Dough

Glittery Dough

playdough, because it’s soft and makes her hands smell yummy. We keep it in a Ziploc bag between playing. Our first batch kept for several weeks, then we made a second. It takes very little time or money, and scored high points for Mommy. It has kept her busy for hours, and I even let my little guy play with it some, if I am able to stay by them to watch closely.

A fun change up is one we just tried yesterday. I sprinkled a tiny bit of gold glitter on the table and let her roll the

dough in it, then she squished the glitter all up in it. Now she has sparkly cloud dough, which she calls her sparkly fairy dough. 🙂

Pink Cloud Dough

Pink Cloud Dough

Updating to share yet another twist on this fun dough we make regularly! 🙂 If you’re like me, and don’t keep dyes around on a regular basis, but do

Green Cloud Dough

Green Cloud Dough

keep sugar sprinkles for decorating baked goods, this one is for you! My kiddos had been arguing over what dough was whose, so I was brainstorming for a way to differentiate. I reached for the green and red sugar sprinkles in the spice cabinet and mixed a generous amount into each of their batches separately. My girly girl Princess Peachy wound up with a beautiful pink to make her little heart smile, and my dinosaur loving Bambam got a soul satisfying light green. No more fussing!! 🙂

Who wants to whip up a batch of this stuff? It is super simple, inexpensive and smells wonderful! 🙂


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National Preschool Fitness Day

Pretty Day At the Park

Pretty Day At the Park

Jan. 30 is National Preschool Fitness Day. I just learned about this particular day, but I definitely make a point of keeping my kiddos hopping. During nicer days, even if it’s cold outside, we get them outside playing, like this recent photo at a park. When we are stuck inside a lot due to cruddy weather outside, it presents more of a challenge and Mommy has to get creative! My children have to be active or they will go completely nutty, so it’s an absolute necessity to find ways for them to move those little bodies when we’re stranded indoors. I’m sharing the official page about the holiday and their ideas for keeping little ones fit, then some of my own little tricks for burning that energy indoors. 🙂

Fun ideas for helping your preschooler stay fit:

http://kid-fit.com/wordpress/?p=454

Free preschool fitness kit.

Bop the balloon. The object of this game is simple: Keep the balloon in the air by bopping it. My 2 1/2 year old and my 5 year old absolutely love this! Just make sure you have extra balloons ready, because they may pop and it won’t be pretty if you don’t have a replacement handy. 🙂

Chacha train. I have my kiddos line up behind me and we do our own version of the chacha in a choochoo train kinda way. It’s weird and wacky, but it leaves them giggling and gets them moving.

Hokey Pokey. We’ve all done this one as kids, right? You can do it with them or just sing the song and do the best you can while doing whatever you’re doing.

Simon Says. Simon Says: Hop like a bunny. Simon Says: Spin around. Simon Says: Do jumping jacks. Everything Simon Says is something active in this version of the game.

Dance party!! I like to put on some music and do crazy dances with my munchkins. If I am not feeling well and don’t feel like dancing myself, I’ll often sing a song and clap for them to dance. They LOVE it!!

The items below look like some really fun resources for physical activities for preschoolers, if you want some help in getting those little hineys moving! 🙂

303 Preschooler-Approved Exercises and Active Games (SmartFun Activity Books)

Preschoolers and Kindergartners Moving and Learning: A Physical Education Curriculum (Moving & Learning)

Sesame Street: Get Up and Dance

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What kind of activities do you keep your little ones active with during yucky weather?


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Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

 

Upcycled Thanksgiving Turkey

Upcycled Thanksgiving Turkey

For our preschool the other day I decided to make it all about Thanksgiving.

First, I told my daughter the 4 year old comprehensible version of the first Thanksgiving and we had a discussion about the things we are thankful for.

She was especially thankful for her mommy, daddy, baby brudder, all her animals and food. 🙂

Next, I sent her into the yard to gather leaves while I got together craft supplies for her project of the day!

I like re-using random items in our crafts, so I grabbed part of a thing cardboard insert I’d been saving from a box of drinks  (an old cereal box would work) and cut pieces to make a turkey body and head, cut a slit in the neck and chest to be able to stick them together, trimmed an old Reeses’ candy eggs box, then laid them out with her crayons and markers so that she could decorate her turkey however she wanted, and got some googly eyes to glue on when she was finished decorating. She had a blast! When she was through, I couldn’t find any clear tape, so I just used masking tape to tape the cardboard pieces around the box “stand”, put the head on and helped her tape the leaf tail on the backside. It would’ve been prettier with clear, obviously, but Princess Peach is pleased as punch, and that’s what counts. 🙂

Thanks for Turkey?

Thanks for Turkey?

Once the turkey was proudly perched on our windowsill, I wrote out THANKS and TURKEY on two pages, had her point out all of the letters and we talked about the words. Then she did her best to copy the words out. She also made a picture with her two hands traced and the word THANKS at the top later that day, because she enjoyed her Thanksgiving theme so much and didn’t want to be finished with it. 🙂

What kind of fun Thanksgiving themed things do you do with your little ones? Try my Free Printable Thanksgiving Turkey Craft!



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The Teeny Tiny Ghost and the Monster

Halloween book

Halloween book

We were given a few of the best Halloween books from my mother in law’s expansive collection of all things autumn.

Halloween was her favorite holiday, by far. We lost her recently, so even though I don’t generally go all out for this particular holiday, I decided to do a Halloween themed story time with my munchkins in her honor, complete with a craft, game and treat. She also loved all things crafty, and was a retired Head Start teacher, so I know that she would have enjoyed it.

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I chose the book  The Teeny Tiny Ghost and the Monster by Kay Winters for our fun Halloween themed activity time.

It’s quite the cute little book, and not the least bit scary. My little girl is strongly opposed to all things “creeeeepyyyyy”, as she says, so that was a must. 🙂 This book and activity would be fun any time of the year, but especially for fall and Halloween. I love that it fits the season without being too scary for little kids.

Pipe cleaner arms and legs

Pipe cleaner arms and legs

First on our agenda are ghost and monster puppets!

To make these, you just need craft sticks like Loew Cornell 1021254 Woodsies Craft Sticks, 1000-Piece (or popsicle sticks),  Crayola Construction Paper, Assorted Colors, 240 Sheet (99-3200)or cardstock, pipe cleaners like these Creativity Street Stetems/Pipe Cleaners 12″ X 4mm 100-Piece Assorted Colors, tape and something to color with. I sketched the requested outlines for their ghosts and monsters, but if you don’t have a knack for drawing, just print or trace the outlines. While I let my five and two year olds loose to decorate their respective puppets, I grabbed a couple of pipe cleaners and snipped them into four pieces each for the monsters’ legs and arms. You need one pipe cleaner per monster.  I just twisted loops at one end of each to make hands and feet. Once they were finished coloring, I cut out their creepy (bahaha!) creations and helped them tape the arms and legs on the monsters and the craft sticks on all of the puppets. See? Super simple, easy peasy!! As I mentioned, even my two year old could participate in this activity.

If you don’t want to bother making your own puppets, this set of teeny tiny finger puppets is super inexpensive and awfully cute  Monster Finger Puppets – Collect all 8!

Halloween Monster Back

Halloween Monster Back

Below you see my munchkins proudly displaying their one-of-a-kind ghosties and monsters. Quite the colorful creatures, aren’t they? 🙂 They get all the credit, since Mommy literally left them to it while she finished the legs and arms and worked on dishes.

Monster and Ghost Puppets

Monster and Ghost Puppets

Now for the next part of our freaky fall fun fest!! Halloween storytime, with a game!

I settled them down in our oversized chair, and instructed them to hold up their ghost puppets when they heard the word “ghost” and their monster puppets when they heard the word “monster”. As you can see, they had to concentrate to hear those key words, but they did really well and thought it was the neatest way to read a book together.

Halloween Game

Halloween Game

We weren’t ready to be finished with that, so the kiddos put on a Halloween puppet show for me using their new monster puppets.

While I won’t pretend that the script was riveting, they were pretty doggone cute in their attempts at a story line. My two year old really didn’t get it, and wound up watching his sister’s puppets more than doing anything with his own, but they had a blast, anyway. Puppet time is great for creative children!

Monster and Ghost Puppet Show

Monster and Ghost Puppet Show

For the grand finale, I brought out their trick or treat buckets from the fall festivals we attended the other day and let them both pick out a sweet treat. As you can see, they were quite pleased with that finish! 🙂

Do your little ones enjoy books and puppets? What are your favorite books for autumn? For a fun pumpkin activity to do with your little ones, try No Carving Pumpkin Family!

Story Time Trick or Treat

Story Time Trick or Treat


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Getting Artsy With D, E, and F

Tracing "D" With Pompoms

Tracing “D” With Pompoms

My newly turned five year old and I are continuing our fun journey into reviewing the

Tracing E With Pompoms
Tracing E With Pompoms

alphabet and adding in the phonics side of things as we go.

She looks at school time as one of her favorite games, since Mommy is playing it with her and she is actually learning. I’m lucky that my kiddo inherited my odd fascination with learning new things, so it makes homeschooling her (thus far) more of a joyful journey than a chore.

This lesson is one we did several weeks ago, and is all about the letters D, E, and F. We did all of the activities over the course of a couple of days, along with other things we were working on. My little peachy princess really enjoyed all of the things I came up with for these letters! 🙂 I’m not going to list these alphabetically as much as by activity, to keep it from being too befuddling.

Tracing F With Pompoms

Tracing F With Pompoms

My little girl loves colorful pompoms and art projects, so it was easy to dream up this first activity! I filled an empty wipe box with multi colored pompoms Pepperell Craft Making Assorted Pom Poms, Standard Colors, 750 Per Package and wrote the letters D, E, and F in large print on three pieces of paper. I had her trace each letter using the pompoms, talking about the sounds each letter made as she traced it. She was very pleased with the results, and wanted to glue them to show off later, but we didn’t have enough pompoms for all that. 🙂

D is for Dog and Disguise

D is for Dog and Disguise

Next, we talked about what words started with each sound. She was delighted to realize how

E is for Elephant

E is for Elephant

many words she could come up with beginning with each sound. From there I asked her to draw or color a picture of something she really liked starting with each letter sound. She chose to wear a “disguise” while coloring a picture of “dog” biscuits for the “D” sound, to draw a picture of an “elephant” for the “E” sound, and to draw a picture of her daddy, the firefighter, for the “F” sound. She was so proud of her artistic abilities, and learned to write some new words. 🙂

F is for Firefighter

F is for Firefighter

For some outdoor educational fun, we went on a hunt for flowers to go along with the “F” sound. Since we were still enjoying ourselves so much, we created a beautiful letter “F” on our back deck using some of our flower finds. My peachy princess was fascinated with her floral creation! 🙂

How have you been having fun with your alphabet lately? Here are some fun activities for ABCs!

F is for Flower

F is for Flower

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ABC Fun, Find and Food

Amazing A Sound Hunt

Amazing A Sound Hunt

I am always looking for ways to make learning fun for my munchkins. Lately, one of the things I am doing with my daughter is reviewing the alphabet, making sure she can write each letter well and knows the phonetic sound that goes with each one. She’s not crazy about repetitive copy work, so I am having her do that part first so she can get to whatever fun game or activity I have planned with it.

Here is my lesson plan, if you can call it that, for the “Fun, Find and Food” theme for the letters A, B and C…

Letter A:

  1. Color the A page in her book, then fill in the practice page for writing the letter A.
  2. Attach the coloring page to the lid of a shoebox, as shown.
  3. Have her make the long A and short a sounds, and tell her to search the house for anything starting with those sounds.
  4. Watch as she runs excitedly around the house hollering out words for items to see if they start with the letter A.
  5. Give her a snack starting with an A, in this case, an apple.

Additional snack suggestions: Apricot, Apple Pie, Almonds.

In the above picture, she found: ape, apple, apron, antlers, animal, alligator, angel.

A is for Apple

A is for Apple

Letter B:

Repeat steps 1-5, just for the letter B.

Snack suggestions: Banana, Berries, Burrito, Blueberry Muffins.

Letter C:

Repeat steps 1-5, just for the letter C.

Snack suggestions: Carrots, Cookies, Crackers, Cucumbers, Craisins.

If you want to do all three letters in one day, you could have them collecting the ingredients for their snacks over the course of the three letters, then eat the snack at the end. For example, you could do a fruit salad with chopped apples and/or apricots, sliced bananas and shredded carrots or some craisins. You could also do a fruit trail mix with a mixture of any or all of the following: dried apples or apricots, almonds, dried bananas or berries, and craisins.

Here is an adorable Alphabetimals coloring book that would work well with this activity, if you need a new one: Alphabetimals Coloring Book (Dover Coloring Books)“>

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Egg Carton Flowers

Egg carton flowers

Egg carton flowers


I had a stack of egg cartons piling up, waiting on some inspiration, and my daughter brought them to me wanting to do a project. I came up with egg carton flowers. She was thrilled! Since my little princess enjoyed her new project, I thought I’d share it with other folks who might want something new to do to keep their munchkins happy. 🙂

We gathered together our supplies: An egg carton (of course! 🙂 ), then some scissors, markers, marker stampers and some stickers that aren’t pictured below.

Egg carton flower supplies

Egg carton flower supplies

First, I cut the top off of the egg carton, then cut between the cups. Next, I cut the cups into a smoother rounded shape around the top. Last, I went snippety snip around the cup to make the petals. The different stages of development in the picture should help fill in any confuzzlement left by my description. 🙂

From there, it was up to Princess Peachy to finish up. She smashed the petals flat with her little hand, then got to work decorating. She had a good ol’ time being creative with decorating them all sorts of different ways with the supplies we had on hand. When she was finished, we arranged them in a flower shape on a green piece of construction paper. You could glue them on, if you want, but my little one enjoyed rearranging them too much to let me glue them on.

What household item do you have overflowing, but don’t want to throw out because you think you can find some nifty way to upcycle it? Maybe I can come up with something. 🙂