Falling Sight Words


You may remember from the post Practicing Letter Naming with Rocks and Trucks, that we have been trying to find fun ways for Zaven to practice his letters and sight words.   Keeping sight word practice fun and motivating is essential for Zaven, because he becomes very discouraged and frustrated.   This leaf and rake activity has been a hit.  And it is so easy to make!

I bought two packages of faux leaves from the Dollar Tree.  There were 10 leaves in each so I wrote 20 sight words.

  You could write the words you are currently working on or reviewing.  You could also write the letters of the alphabet.  I may even buy more leaves to write my daughter’s second grade vocabulary words.

I spread out a few of the leaves on the ground and told Zaven which leaves to rake up.  “Rake up have. Rake up with.” 

I also set a timer for 20 seconds to see how many leaves he could rake into his pile.  At the end of the time, he had to read each word for it to count.  He kept trying to beat his record.

Baby Language Building with Pasta


Look at one-year-old Brickston! I wanted to share an activity that will help you build language skills with the baby or toddler in your life.

Often times, play activities are derived out of necessity in my house. I needed to occupy Brickston for just a bit as I finished grading a paper.  I opened my pantry and saw the box of pasta.  It has been mocking me for weeks now.  My husband and I are trying very hard to stick to the Whole 30 diet once again, which means pasta is out!  So instead of letting the tri-color noodles go to waste, I had an idea.

I grabbed a large plastic bowl and a few measuring cups.  I sat Brickston on the hard floor (easier to clean up) and opened the box.  I watched him carefully pull a noodle out of the box.  He turned it over in his hand and looked to me for permission.  I poured some of the pasta into the bowl.  He stirred it using the measuring cups. I grabbed a few stuffed animals and modeled how to "feed" them.  I then grabbed my camera and took the video that is posted at the end.

The pasta provided great sensory exploration.  He buried the cups in the bowl of pasta and dug them back out.  He practiced cause and effect as he tipped the box over and watched the pasta tumble out onto the ground.  But best of all, the pasta play gave us an opportunity to build communication skills.

No, Brickston isn't yet talking beyond the occasional "Mama" or "Dada," but he communicates.  He communicates by pointing, whimpering , and going "boneless" (in protest of something he doesn't want).  

He is also demonstrating the ability to maintain joint attention.  Joint attention typically begins to develop around 6-9 months of age. It is a very important communication skill.  Joint attention is when a child and an adult pay attention to the same thing.  They are sharing attention that is focused on the same activity or object.  The development of joint attention means that the individual understands that other people have intentions and ideas, too.  

 Joint attention is needed for later conversational skills.  During play, Brickston looks at me often.  He is checking to see if I am attending and if I have anything to add.  These opportune glances are prime opportunities to build language.  
Babies and toddler's brains are developing rapidly.  This is the prime time to build language and communication skills.  This may seem like a hefty task, but you are probably already doing these things everyday.  
I want this post to be a reminder that you are a powerful force in your child's development.  An easy way to build your child's language is to comment or narrate what they are doing.  You can label the objects your child is using.  Describe the object by talking about its size, color, and texture. You can also label your child's actions. 
Sometimes it is fun to have "messy" play that is easy to sweep up.  Definitely watch your child closely, because the pasta could pose a choking risk.  If your child tries to put it in his/her mouth, you could use cheerios instead.  After we played together, I sat on the floor with my laptop to finish grading the paper.  Brickston continued to play for 10 more minutes with the pasta!


How are you playing with language today?


Practicing Letter Naming with Rocks and Trucks


When Kinsley was in preschool and kindergarten, she just naturally picked up on labeling letters and their sounds.  While Zaven’s letter recognition is improving, he still needs some attention in this area. He is a busy boy, so I knew we had to find a fun solution for him.

We have a creek next to our house (my husband calls it a ditch).  I gave Zaven the task of finding rocks (he’s still on the mission to find more).  Once he found the perfect ones, we took them inside to rinse off. I used a permanent marker to write both the upper and lower case letters on the rocks.  We use these rocks when he plays with his construction vehicles.  

How you can do this today:

1.       Find smooth rocks and rinse them off.  Or you could buy rocks from the dollar store (the kind used for filling vases)

2.       Use a permanent marker to write the letters on the rocks.  You will want to decide if you want to first focus on the capital letters or the lower case letters as well.  I went ahead and made both, but we typically play with just the capital letters.

3.       Gather up all the trucks you can find.  Look under your couches and in the back of your van (this is where we found the majority of ours). 

4.       Give your child a chance to just explore filling up the trucks and dumping them back out.

5.       Ask the child to drive certain rocks from the “quarry” to the loading truck.

     “Can you transport the letter Z?”  (Start first with letters that are in your child’s name)

    “We have an order for the letter that makes the /b/ sound!” (Continue through some other letter sounds.)

   “See if you can find all the letters that have a curve shape.”

6.       I made a quick chart for Zaven to dump the capital letters on to their matching lower case letter.

You can also write sight words on the rocks!

Easy Fine Motor Spider Web Plate Game: Perfect for a Class Party


I know classroom parties may look different this year due to COVID.  If you are a teacher, this is an easy game to set up in one of your learning centers.  If you are a parent, this is an easy game to put together as a kit for your child's teacher.

I have several years of experience as the teacher during classroom parties.  Party days are stressful for the teacher!  From experience, I know it is best to separate the kids into groups and have them rotate through activities.  You really want minimal downtime.  

I love all things Eric Carle.  Back in my teaching days, when we read The Very Busy Spider, we would make paper plate webs.  We then used the webs for math games.  I thought this would be the perfect party activity.  Minimal mess and lots of fun!  


What you need:

  • black paper plate for each child
  • plastic spider for each child (spider rings would also work, and would be cheaper)
  • white yarn
  • plastic bugs (I am using 48 bugs)
  • deck of UNO cards

    1. Cut notches in the paper plates.  I followed the lines that are on the plate.  I did this extremely fun step while waiting in the carpool parking lot at school.
    2. Pre-cut the yarn for each child.  You will thank me when you get to the classroom and all those hands start grabbing for supplies!  Thank you Netflix for making this step less boring.

    1. Sort the UNO cards.  Take only the numeral cards and the skip cards.

    Making the craft with the students:

    1. Give each student a plate and a bundle of yarn.  Have the students wrap the yarn around the plate.  The notches will hold the yarn in place. 

    1. Give each student a spider for their web.  Bonus points if it is glow-in-the-dark!
    2. Explain that you are going to play a game.  Ask if they know what spiders eat.  (Bugs!  They might list different types of insects.)  Tell them that today their spiders are hungry for flies.  Put the flies in a pile in the middle of the group. 
    3. Going around in a circle, each student draws an UNO card.  The student names the numeral and puts that number of flies on their web. 
    4. If the student draws a skip card, all the flies need to be removed from his/her web and placed back into the pile.

    5. When the pile is empty or time is up, everyone will count how many flies were caught in their webs.  The person with the most gets two pieces of candy.  All the other hard working spiders get one piece of candy.

    Why this activity is beneficial:

    • Promotes eye-hand coordination as the students wrap the yarn around the plate
    • Students work on labeling numerals
    • Students count objects using one-to-one correspondence
    • Promotes the use of a pincer grasp as students pick up each individual fly
    • Students interact socially with peers by taking turns and following directions

    Ways to change the activity:

    • Use tweezers to pick up the flies
    • Draw 2 cards and have the students add the numbers together
    • Write number sentences on notecards and have students "act it out" with the flies
    • Use a dice or spinner
    What are some of your favorite fall party activities?

    Must Have Baby Registry Items

     In case you missed it, I have four children :)  I have been in your shoes a time or two or four!  That being said, my youngest just turned 3 years old.  I know that there may be some new things on the market that were not available 3 years ago, but I think the list of items below stand the test of time.

    And honestly, you probably don't need half of the amount of stuff that you think you do!

    I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post, at no additional cost to you.

    Baby Gear

    Crib (although my younger two children NEVER slept a night in one :)
    Crib Mattress
    Crib Sheets
    Pack N Play
    Pack N Play sheet
    High Chair
    Extra carseat base
    Diaper bag
    I got the most use out of a jogging stroller and an umbrella stroller.  These two types of strollers cannot be used with a newborn though.  I actually borrowed a friend's stroller base to use with our infant carseat for the first month or so.  After that, I wore the baby during outings.  Try to minimize the amount of time your child spends in "container gear." 

    The Sit Me Up seat positions the baby in a more natural position that a Bumbo seat.  When a baby sits in the Sit Me Up, the back of her thighs and bottom sit on the ground giving her sensory input that is most similar to sitting independently.

    This was by far my favorite ring sling.  It folded up so nicely to put in my diaper bag.  Was not extremely hot in the summer.  I had several, but this is the one I always used.

    I had this basic Ergo and LOVED it.  Honestly, I still put Quinlan in there on some hikes (she is 3).  This one does not have a forward facing position, but honestly read up on that before you do it anyway.  

    This one is still going strong three years later for us!  I love that it has a soft night light that is helpful when you are night feeding.  We take ours with us to hotels!


    Baby socks
    Trust me, you are going to lose them!

    Seriously, when you are tired, you will not want to worry about swaddling a wriggly baby with that cute muslin blanket.  These velcro tabs are life!

    My dear sweet friend and colleague introduced these sleep blankets to me with my fourth child.  When your child begins rolling onto his stomach at night, you need to transition out of the swaddle me velcro sleep sack.  This causes all kinds of issues because he may still have the startle reflex.  This Zipadee Zip will be your best friend!


    I honestly think the best ones as far as absorbency are the old fashioned diapers!  Don't like the looks of them?  You can dye them using RIT dye.

    This really is a personal preference.  I have tried SO many! So if you are not sure, maybe ask for different ones but in smaller packs so you can find the one your baby likes.  If you are breastfeeding, I have luck with these bottles

    Breast pump, accessories, milk storage bags and containers
    Choose a spoon with a shallow well and has a soft silicone tip.  This will be the easiest first spoon for when you're ready to start baby food.

    You're going to need these for bottle feeding, table feeding, and just slobber!

    Even if you aren't breastfeeding, these ponchos are great for covering an infant carseat!

    Baby Care Items

    Nail clippers or cuticle clippers (followers have suggested that these are easier to work with because they are angled to the side!)
    Baby wash/shampoo
    I get it.  This grosses you out.  But trust me, when your precious baby has his first cold...you will do anything!  And there is a filter so it will never ever get that far!  Promise!

    Things I think you can skip: 

    Expensive swings 
    Not all of my kids loved the swing.  And they only use it for a few short months before they start to sit up or roll over.  Borrow one!

    Expensive Baby Bathtubs
    Honestly the sink works great! And you don't have to worry about storing that big tub somewhere.

    Baby Walkers
    They are not great for development.

    Wipe Warmers
    If your baby gets used to toasty warm wipes, and then is on an outing....what happens?

    Expensive Crib Bedding
    You can't actually use it anyway.  Nothing should be in the crib besides baby, so spend your money on other things.

    I would love if you shared this post with your friends who are expecting a new baby!

    Spider Web Yarn Prints

     You know I stay away from cookie cutter crafts.  At first glance this could appear as a craft, but I assure you this is more about the process than the end product.  Using yarn to paint is definitely a messy, process-art activity.  I have done it several times during play groups (you can also paint with cooked spaghetti!). When y'all asked me for Fall open-ended activities, I remembered that some children said their yarn prints looked like spider webs!  I agree!

    What better time to try Yarn Prints, than fall when you see spider webs everywhere!

    Here's what you need: 

    • yarn
    • scissors
    • black tempera paint
    • white tempera paint
    • white paper
    • black paper
    • plates to put paint on 
    • clothes pins (optional)

    *** I suggest starting with the white and black paint, but if a child wants pink paint...why not?!  That is the beauty of being child-led.  Who cares if their spider web is hot pink?  Who cares if they decide it isn't a spider web at all?  Instead they may have discovered that the colors change when they mix.  They may have discovered that they can make a triangle or a circle with the yarn.  These discoveries are JUST as important.***

    How to play: 

    1. Squirt some paint onto the plate.  
    2. Dip the yarn into the paint.  Really mix it around.  This is MESSY!
    3.  Put the string onto your paper to make a design.  If you hold it tight, it makes straight lines.
    **If a child does not want messy hands, she can use the clothespins to hold the yarn.

    4. Try a different method.  Fold the paper in half.  Lay the painted yarn onto the paper.

    5. Close the paper. And rub your hand over the paper to press against the yarn.

    6. Open the paper to reveal your web!

    No-Prep Pumpkin Decorating Invitation


    Not every art invitation needs to be aesthetically pleasing and Pinterest ready.  We were visiting my mom this weekend.  My kids call her “GoGo.” She and Zaven went to pumpkin farm and bought a variety of pumpkins and gourds.  Sunday afternoon my mom set up a card table in her backyard.  We covered it with a simple party table cloth for easy clean up.  

    She pulled out her large storage tub of mismatched craft supplies.  She said she just tosses in odds and ends at the end of projects.  Inside this magical tub, the children found acrylic paint, beads, jewels, glitter (I know!), puffy paint, pipe cleaners, buttons, scissors, scrapbook paper, and Easter grass. 

    What made this storage tub so magical was not its contents, it was the free range my mom gave the kids as they explored the materials.

    Zaven: I’m going to glue this Christmas light on here like an ear.

    My mom: That’s a great idea.  See if that glue works.  If not, we can hot glue it.

    Quinlan: (covers the entire pumpkin in puffy paint and starts pressing buttons onto the soupy mess)

    My mom: We might need to leave that outside to dry a little longer.


    Her responses were beautiful.  Full of possibility.  Facilitating. 

    There was no judgment.  No telling the kids that something wouldn’t work.  I even found myself biting my tongue when I saw my daughter unscrewing all the glitter lids.


    This experience taught me 2 things:

    1.     1. I need to start a tub of leftover supplies.

    2.    2.    Letting the children be in charge is powerful…and the mess is not THAT bad. 

    When was the last time your kids created and played like they were at GoGo’s?  When was the last time you did?