"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Posts tagged ‘learning’

What I learned when she sang my praises

We were in the car, heading off to her weekly swimming lesson, when my five-year-old daughter broke out in this joyous, made-up-on-the-spot song:

I love my mommy!

I love her so much.

She takes care of me.

She feeds me yummy food.

She takes me places I need to go.

She doesn’t leave me alone.

Remi's flower

She plays with me.

She teaches me.

She makes school so fun.

She is the best mom ever…

On and on and on she went, and I’ll admit it: With each line, my heart swelled a little more. Oh, I know I’m not “all that”…but in HER eyes, I am! And it was really nice to hear her singing my praises.

  • It reminded me how much she truly loves me.
  • It made me feel appreciated.
  • It thrilled me that she was so sincere in her thoughts that she just couldn’t help but sing them out.

And then it hit me.

How must our God feel when we sing praises to Him?

          When we can’t help but shout about all the great things He’s done for us?

          When we list off all the people and things we’re thankful for?

          When we tell Him everything we love about Him?

          When we acknowledge that He is the BEST?

In God’s case, He actually deserves all the praise we can give Him, and it must warm His heart to hear His thankful children giving glory and honor to His name.

So…when was the last time you just couldn’t stop telling your Father in heaven what you love about Him? How long has it been since the list of what you are thankful for was so long, that it far outweighed all the things you asked Him for? I know I need to do better about that, and this experience motivates me to try.

Let’s make it a point today–and every day–to let our hearts and mouths overflow with praises for the One who does everything right.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;

Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.

(Psalm 98:4)

Thanks for stopping by!



Young children pick up their native language at an astonishing rate. I am always amazed at how quickly and effortlessly they grow to understand vocabulary and syntax without any formal instruction. Of course, sometimes there are bumps along the way, which provide plenty of free entertainment for those witnessing them.

A while back Remi went through a stage where she often substituted words and phrases she knew for those that weren’t familiar or didn’t make sense to her. Here are a couple of examples:

She found a package of these ….

…. and asked, “Hey, Mommy, do you think Daddy would mind if I ate some of his Sesame Streets?”

A week later we went through the drive-through at Whataburger and got a vanilla malt, the first malt she’d ever tasted. Apparently, she liked it; the whole way home, she kept asking, “Can I have another drink of that Malt-O-Meal?”

Here’s where I’ll open it up to the rest of you: What funny things have you heard from the mouths of little ones? Please share them in the comments so we can all smile together!

(Note: Only your first comment on this blog has to be approved; all your future comments will show up automatically. So go ahead and share! It’s easy!)

Thanks for stopping by.

Have you checked out Cheerful Learning?

It occurred to me recently that I never officially introduced my other blog on this site. Cheerful Learning is all about ways to teach and interact with your favorite preschooler, whether that’s your child, grandchild, niece/nephew, or friend. It’s also helpful for Bible class teachers, preschool teachers, and child care providers looking for fresh, new ideas.

For those who haven’t visited yet, here’s an introduction to what you’ll see if you stop by Cheerful Learning:

There are fun Storybook Activities (snacks, games, crafts, and more) from children’s books like Snowmen at Night

…and How the Grinch Stole Christmas

…and The Sesame Street 1,2,3 Storybook.

There are LOTS of activities to go along with Bible stories such as The Tower of Babel

…and Noah’s Ark

…and The Rainbow Promise.

I’m working on getting up pictures from all the fun activities we did to teach numbers and numeral formation. Zero and One are already up, and more are on the way soon!

I’ll also be posting the fun activities we did to learn the letters and their sounds, including games, crafts, snacks, and much more. There are holiday activities (Valentine’s Day coming soon!) and ideas for movement/PE, visual discrimination, and fine motor skills practice.

I hope that, if you haven’t yet, you’ll come on over to Cheerful Learning to see what all the fun is about! And when you do, be sure to first check out the pages About Us, Our Story, and About Our Curriculum ; they’ll fill you in on how we do things in our preschool program, and why.

Finally, if you are considering doing preschool activities with a child you love—either as their sole preschool experience or as a supplement to what they’re learning elsewhere—you may want to read through Should We “Do Preschool” at Home? and What Do I Need?, both under Getting Started.

I hope those of you who have preschoolers will enjoy Cheerful Learning and that the ideas I post there will help you make the most of your time with your child, by eliminating the hours of planning and preparation you’d spend coming up with your own curriculum.

Thanks for stopping by!


Off on the right foot

I suppose it doesn’t really matter what the calendar says. After all, homeschooling year round means the first day of school could fall just about anywhere. And yet, I am a diehard, day-after-Labor-Day starter. It’s what we did as kids, and it just feels right to me!

Since we’ve now made it to the end of our first month of the school year, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite “schooly moments” so far.

We started off the first day with our annual, cake-for-breakfast tradition.  This year I made Butterfinger Cake, and let’s just say no one complained!

Another important tradition: those first-day-of-school photos. (My kids do NOT consider this a highlight of the school year, but I certainly do!)

(I printed the cute little signs from here.)

There are so many things I love about teaching my kiddos at home. I love that I see learning going on no matter which room I enter, whether it’s the kitchen…

…or the living room…

…or the bedrooms…

…or the school room…

(I adapted Remi’s printable from here.)

…or the game room…

…or the dining room.

Yes, that means there are school-related messes everywhere, but they are worth it! This year, even our bathroom showed signs that school had started!

(That was for me, by the way…not the kids. Thanks, Troy!)

I love all the hands-on activities that go on in our home, like science experiments…

Observing fat and protein molecules moving in milk

Addy is rubbing vegetable oil on a bird feather to see how down works.

Now, getting it wet…

…and observing the difference. See how the water beads up on the one she oiled, on the left?

….and history projects.

Addy made sesame circles for Greek food night while studying ancient Greece…

…and Greek salad, too, of course! Mmmmmm….

I love finding activities around the house that I didn’t even assign, like when Addy decided to experiment with growing her own green onions…

…or when she decided, on her own, to illustrate her Latin vocabulary words the first week of school, and put them in a card for us:

I’ll admit that some days are harder than others…like when the mom who already has issues with touching raw meat has to help a child break open and compare the densities of chicken and beef bones. (Eeeewww!)

The things we do for our kids, huh?

We also took a couple of field trips during our first month of school…but I’ll save those for another post.

And, you can see lots more of our first weeks of school at my new preschool blog, coming soon!

Wherever you or yours go to school, I hope you’re all having a great year so far and learning what’s most important. I’d love to hear about it—so please, leave me a comment below!

Thanks for stopping by.

The bonus post (Tiny Tots Week, Day 6)

Just when you thought we’d covered everything you could possibly want to know (and then some) about play-teaching toddlers and preschoolers, here’s one more “bonus” follow-up entry with a few more ideas on some of the subjects we covered in the past week…

More thoughts on tot school fun: (See the original post here.)

In answer to the logistical question of how and when we do tot school, I have to tell you honestly that it’s different every day. Normally, I try to do some fun activities with Remington early in the day, while she’s happy and interested. But sometimes circumstances dictate that other things have to come first.

Often we do the activities with her strapped into a booster chair, mainly because it seems to help her maintain focus on what we’re doing and it keeps our supplies from getting strewn all over the house. But other times we do tot school outside, or on the floor, or in some other random place, and occasionally we skip the PLANNED activities all together. (She doesn’t often let me get away with that, though!)

But even on the days you don’t sit down to a concentrated time of learning, remember that your child is learning all day as you interact and play with him! Don’t restrict tot school to certain times and places, and don’t restrict it to only your own ideas. I would certainly never have planned to have Remi measure Addy’s knitting needles, but there was a ruler sitting around, and her two-year-old curiosity just got the best of her…

(By the way, it was “a million.”)

Besides our sit-down times, we do tot school in the car (listening to CDs and talking about everything we pass), in line at the grocery store (looking for shapes and colors), before naps (reading books together), while fixing meals in the kitchen (counting forks and napkins, measuring, and pouring), during family devotionals and while lying in bed at night (listening to Bible stories), and so on. For a toddler, life is all about learning. The focused activities are special and fun, but they’re the extras.

Here’s an example of “spontaneous tot school:”

Yesterday was Saturday. I didn’t have a single formal activity planned for my toddler—we were just going to hang out. While walking around outside, she became intrigued by the colorful fall leaves on the ground. She started collecting them, and as she did so we examined each one and talked about the different colors and about why leaves fall from the trees.

We took them inside and ironed them between two sheets of wax paper to make a fun little autumn place mat for her spot at the table. She totally got into the ironing part!

We counted each leaf as she put it on, and she made them into families (which is why you’ll notice some of the leaves are stacked…Those are the mamas and daddies holding their babies.)

She spelled her name for me while I helped her cut the letters out using my Cricut.  (I put the letters on the wax paper so it would actually spell Remi, but she did all the rest, and I left everything just the way she put it, which is why the hearts are upside down and most of the leaves are turned over backwards. The colors were so vivid on the front sides…but this was her masterpiece!)

No planned activity. Plenty of learning fun. Oh, and as usual, she wanted to take a picture of me, too. I think I’m raising a little photographer! (But she has some practicing to do…)

Photo by Remington

More thoughts on doing tot school on a shoestring: (See the original post here.)

Please remember that my little toddler is our fourth child, so I’ve been collecting fun resources for quite a while! And one thing I’ve always done is to buy ahead. That means that if I find a great resource at a great price, I’ll pick it up now to have on hand when we need it. (Think of it like stocking up on groceries when they’re on sale or you have a good coupon.)  Here are a couple of personal examples from this past week:

I loved these colorful wooden shape puzzles with numbered pieces, but I knew they’d be a little advanced for my two-year-old. (This was confirmed after purchase!)

But, I also knew that they’d be great to have during her preschool years, and that they probably won’t be available for $2.50 each in the Target Dollar Spot by the time she’s ready for them. So now, they’re ready for HER.

I found a whole set of these telling-the-time puzzle cards at a thrift store for fifty cents:

I have no desire to teach Remi how to tell time right now, or any time soon. She’s only two!  But these cards are super cute and will be great when we’re ready for them…and she’ll probably still play with them now, just matching the pieces that fit together…and did you hear me say they were FIFTY CENTS?!?

Speaking of thrift stores…Unless you are just rolling in money or don’t have anything else to spend it on, don’t be above buying second hand. My husband will tell you that I go a little crazy cleaning things I’ve bought used, but once that’s done we have all kinds of fun resources at incredible savings.

For example, Amazon sells this product (called Max Discovers Shapes & Colors) for $13.99. I found mine at the same thrift store where I bought the time puzzle cards. I paid fifty cents.

The instructions were missing. But I can tell you right now that we are going to be matching shapes and colors, copying patterns, extending patterns, and probably lots more with this set.

I found this Imaginarium art kit at a yard sale yesterday, also for fifty cents. Everything is in the box, including full bottles of paint!

Just remember to keep your eyes open wherever you are, always being on the lookout for fun, inexpensive ways to play and learn with your little one. I found these last week at Dollar Tree (for a buck) and immediately thought of tons of ways to use them in our tot school!

One addition to my favorite toddler resources:  (See the original post here.)

Since the original post was monstrously long, I waited to share this last suggestion with you here. One of my very favorite and most budget-friendly resources for teaching toddlers is…the internet! There is an unbelievable amount of free inspiration online. I use the internet for ideas and to download free printables, which I can tailor to our specific needs. For example, after our recent family camping trip, I printed lots of fun camping-themed activities for Remi to have fun with in tot school. Here are just a few of the ones we did that week:

"T is for tent" Do-a-Dot paint marker page

Matchng camping supplies

Arranging lanterns and canteens by size

Matching camping items (like sleeping bag and campfire) to their shadows

The activities were more meaningful to her because of what she’d just experienced.  Whether you are going to the zoo, the farm, the circus, or Grandma’s house, internet resources can help you make your tot school relevant to your situation. I got the downloads for the activities above here and here.

One final thought on tot school organization: (See the original post here.)

After a time of trying to keep up with lots of little zipper baggies full of pieces from cute activities I’d printed from the internet, I finally came up with an EASY way to store them where I could see them, get to them, and put them away again easily. I took a 3-ring binder, added page protectors, and inserted each set into its own sleeve. I can easily flip through and find what I want this way, and NO MORE WANDERING PIECES! Yea!

The activity showing is from a now-defunct website (or I'd give credit).

Well, this is officially the final post of Tiny Tots Week. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and gotten some helpful ideas.

By the way, it THRILLED me to hear from some of you who have already tried out some activities, or have been inspired to think of your own. If you’ve done either, I’d LOVE to hear about it!

Thanks for stopping by.

Surrounded by signs of learning–part II

(See the first half of this post here.)

Then, there were the more obvious clues that someone is indeed learning something around here, like this:

(Yes, she was ready for baseball practice only 5 hours before it started.)

and like this:

and even this:

The sweet sight above is what greeted me as I entered my two-year-old’s room and heard her “reading” to herself, “The Emperor of China lived in a greeeeat palace, and he said…’I got your e-mail.'”

Yes, they’re learning all right. And what I’m teaching them is such a very small part of it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Surrounded by signs of learning–part I

I seldom wonder whether the kids are learning enough, in part because on any given day there are little clues all over the house that let me know they are…little signs that, in a variety of ways, learning is taking place in our home. For example, in just one day I looked around and saw this:

(a leaf Connor had soaking in alcohol to remove the chlorophyll, so he could use the then-colorless leaf for another experiment)

…as well as this model of a strand of DNA he’d created:

and this computer he’s been taking apart in the middle of the gameroom floor:

On the other side of the room I found these baby oak trees Addison’s growing:

(These seem to move all over the house–I think she’s trying to find the best source of light.)

And nearby were these bongo drums she made for herself. (I haven’t yet taken a picture of the guitar she made–from a box–to go with them. Both were her own ideas.)

See the rest of the post here.

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