# Alphabet Book: Free Printable

A couple years ago I had a Book Themed Baby Shower for my sister in law. I have been getting a lot of people requesting the pdf of the ABC book I made (THANKS!) and thought I would share it with you all in a post.

This is a printable that you can use to make any type of alphabet book- its not just for baby showers! Imagine the possibilities- “The ABC’s of Our Family” with all family members picking a letter (or two) and writing a word that starts with that letter to describe their family. Wouldn’t that be such a fun family night activity? If you are a teacher you could use this pdf to make class books such as ”Animal ABCs”, “ABCs of Reading (or Math, Science, any subject!)”, or “26 Reasons Our Class Shines- Our Classroom Alphabet Book”. Seriously the possibilities are endless!

# Geometry: A Common Core Math Series

I can’t even believe it- we are on our final math post!! We have learned about Counting & Cardinality, Operations & Algebraic Thinking, Numbers & Operations in Base 10, Numbers & Operations with Fractions, and Measurement & Data. While I haven’t focused on one particular grade, I have tried to list a multitude of resources to help students learn these basic concepts with an emphasis on the younger grades. I should also add that I didn’t focus any of my posts on 6th grade- they have a whole list of different standards!

What is geometry? The simplest definition of geometry is the study of shapes, points, and lines. Younger grades will focus on learning attributes of plane (also known as flat or 2D) shapes and solid (also known as 3D) shapes. Students should also be able to partition these shapes into equal into equal areas. Older grades will be required to learn about plotting points on a graph as well as drawing and understanding line and angle attributes.

When should I start teaching my child geometry? This is another standard that can be almost be taught in infancy! So many of the children’s books made for wee ones are about shapes. We see a lot of sorting and stacking shape toys, toddler television shows focus on learning shapes- and it is one of those concepts being taught in preschools around the world. Remember to start simple with basic shapes. Also say phrases like “our kite is shaped like a rhombus” “your ball is a sphere” and “do you want ice cubes in your water”. Using the correct terminology will build that geometry foundation that will help them in elementary school and beyond.

What resources are available to help my child learn geometry? Of course you are the best resource. Pointing out shapes in your environment and using the correct terminology is priceless. There are lot more resources available as well… here are a few of the apps, books, and ideas I have found.

Here are some great apps for the android users: Geometry 4 Kids, Geometry Quest, Geometry Pad, Kids Happy Shapes, and Shapes for Kids.

In the iTunes store you will find geometry apps like CyberChase Shape Quest, Geometric Cabinet – A Montessori Sensorial Exercise (one of my personal favorites), Montessori Geometry (another good one), Geometry for Kindergarten, and Symmetry School.

Here is a list of some good geometry literature. Just click on the image to learn more about each of these titles!

and teacher resources:

Here are some of our previous posts on geometry:

Our Learning About Circles post has several different resources to help teach your kiddo about… you guessed it, circles!

Toddler Twister is a fun game we played… check out the link for directions.

When my daughter was almost two we started Tot School- one of the activities we did was playing with an Elmo Shape Toy.

This post was on Humpty Dumpty- we made a craft using shapes!

One of the learning tray activities we did when my Boo was a toddler was playing with tangrams. This is a manipulative that is fun for all ages!

If your child is just learning to use scissors, encourage them to cut shapes. This may be difficult at first so you might want to draw lines, or just free cut shapes and see what they come up with!

In our Sidewalk Chalk post I shared the idea of using chalk to draw shapes (circle, triangle, hexagon, and if you are an artist try the 3 dimensional shapes such as cube, pyramid, etc!) on the driveway. Once the shapes are drawn, dance around until you call out a shape then everyone has to hurry and find one to stand on.

In our DIY Light box post I shared some ways to incorporate geometry. We used transparent shapes during free play, made shapes on an overhead projector geoboard, and used a transparent symmetry mirror.

Here are more ideas for teaching geometry from around the web.

Crayon Box Chronicles shares a great tutorial on making your own geoboard. She has a lot of great photos in her post- make sure to check it out!

Kids Creative Chaos shares a tangram project that you can make with either Santa or a St Patricks Day Leprechaun. So fun!

Naturally Educational had a super fun and educational Mathematics Beach Party with her kids. Not only does she incorporate geometry in this post, but measuring, skip counting and even some science skills!

I love this Geometry for Kids: Finding Shapes at the Playground post from Buggy and Buddy. I am in love with the fact that her kids had fun at the park and made a fun photo book of their learning and that she has a free printable! I am totally pinning this activity and saving it for a nice summer day.

Well- this is it! I hope you have had fun learning about math standards and the resources that are available to help us teach them to our kiddos. Even if you aren’t home schooling (which I’m not) you are still your child’s best teacher and taking advantage of learning opportunities will definitely give your child an advantage at school. And besides- learning can be fun!

Happy Teaching!

# Measurement & Data: A Common Core Math Series

So far in our series about math standards we have discussed Counting & Cardinality, Operations & Algebraic Thinking, and Numbers & Operations in Base 10 and with Fractions. I am excited to share with you some of the resources I have found for teaching your children about Measurement & Data.

What is Measurement & Data? For the younger grades it is the ability to  measure and estimate length and width using standard units, represent and interpret data on a graph or chart, and understanding the concepts of time and money. Of course the degree of difficulty depends on the grade level of the students- with kindergarteners only being required to categorize data into groups and using terms more/less than to describe varying measurements.

When should I start teaching my child Measurement & Data? The terminology for this standard can be introduced to your child early on. They might not be able to count money or measure anything, but using terms such as “time, coins, taller, shorter, longer, bigger, and smaller” can set a good foundation.

What resources are available to help my child learn Measurement and Data? Of course there are a lot! Because this standard includes time and money this list could be very lengthy. Just know that this is a small sampling to whats available online.

Here are some great apps for the android users that include Kids Measurement Science, Kids Learn Time, Interactive Telling Time, Telling Time: Read a ClockKids Money Box (this is like a digital piggy bank), Learn to Count Money, and Count Money Master

In the iTunes store you will find measurement and data apps like Mingoville Fun Clock, Interactive Telling Time, Clockwork Puzzle, Exact Change, Coin Matching Game, Kids Money (digital piggy bank), Preschoolers Learn Money, Smart Fish: magic Matrix HD, Mathomatix Measurement, Measure Length: Tiny ChickenData and Graphs, and Teaching Graphs

Here is a list of Measurement and Data literature and teacher resources that you can read with your child. I apologize for the length- there were just so many titles that looked interesting! I will divide the books into four categories: measurement/data/time/and money. And don’t forget to click on the picture to learn more about each book!

Measurement:

Data (charts and graphs):

Money:

Time:

Here are some of our previous posts of Measurement & Data activities.

When Boo was just itty bitty we would play a coin learning game. I liked this because not only did she become familiar with money words, but it was a great fine motor activity. And it was as simple as taking down her piggy bank and sitting on the floor!

I made some free printables that you can download in our New Years Countdown Bags post and  Our Disneyland Adventure post. These activities are both similar in that your child gets to open up a bag at a certain time. Can I just say we had a great time with our Disney Clock bags! I highly recommend making them for the long car trips.

We learned more about coin recognition during the holidays with our Christmas Money Advent Calendar.

Played with some of my old money manipulatives for the overhead projector (did I just age myself as a teacher) . You can read more about in our DIY Light Box post.

During our Lego Day we made rulers out of legos and ran around the house and measured things. Of course I didn’t take a picture of that activity. But adding with legos was fun too and it is math related

During our studies of mammals we made animal footprints and then categorized them by the number of feet they walk on. Keep in mind this was a preschool activity- you could always extend this by having students make different graphs and charts to represent their data.

Here are some other great posts on Measurement & Data from other bloggers.

The Preschool Toolbox shares a fun winter post “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” Winter Activities for Kids which includes a snowman estimation and graphing activity. She has included free printables, too!

Interaction Imagination posted a really fun and magical activity Creating Fairy Doors. Get your rulers out for this one- not only will your child make a cute door but they will learn a lot about measuring! She also posted some Forest Math activities which include measuring the size of trees and checking the depth and size of holes using sticks. So fun!

Kids Creative Chaos shares a St Patricks Day Game that will teach your kiddo to count money. She has included free printables for her game as well! I love to see math learning integrated with fun holiday stuff

I love Naturally Educationals post March Weather Bar Graph. This is a great example of math you can do at home with your little ones. She also has some ideas on how to incorporate this activity into a lesson for grade level kids. She also has a cute Candy Heart Graph. I especially love that she has her four year old label her graph… great way to incorporate writing! Plus I just love the look of child-made work.

I have tried to keep this post informative and yet not too long- which was hard to do with all the resources available to teach Measurement & Data! I am especially impressed with all the good math literature that is now available in helping our kiddos understand concepts that can sometimes be a little tricky or abstract.

Enjoy! Happy Teaching!

# Numbers & Operations- Fractions: A Common Core Math Series

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post Numbers & Operations in Base 10. Fractions are a part of this number system- with every decimal place indicating a multiple of a negative power of 10.

What is included in the standard Numbers & Operations- Fractions? Simply put this is everything fractions- with the degree of difficulty being dependent on the grade level of the student. Some examples of these skills include performing operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) using fractions, comparing fractions, and understanding the decimal system.

When should I start teaching my child fractions? As early as possible (Although it is not part of the common core until third grade). I am a big advocate for communicating with your child using math terminology even at a young age. So your 2 year old might not understand equivalent fractions perfectly, but you can ask them if they want half a sandwich or a whole one. And then you can smile because you just had a mini math lesson during lunch.

What resources are available to help my child learn fractions? Just as in our previous posts, there are TONS of resources available! Of course in the interest of time I won’t share everything I have found, but this is a good start.

There are some great apps for the android users that include The Digits: Fractions Blast, Equivalent Fractions, and Motion Math: Fractions.  In the iTunes store you will find fraction apps like Pizza Fractions, The Digits: Fraction Blast, Jungle Fractions, Decimals!!!, and Motion Math. Again there are so many more apps available- this is just a small sampling of what you can download to help your child learn and better understand fractions.

Here is a list of Numbers & Operations- Fractions literature that you can read with your child.

Here is a list of some teacher resources. Manipulatives are important in helping your child understand math concepts, including fractions. I didn’t include any in this list because you can use everyday items such as pizza, apples, straws, paper… anything you can cut in pieces!  Using items your child is exposed to on a frequent basis will help them better relate to using fractions in the real world.

I have never written an entire post about activities I have done with my daughter using fractions. However, in our post 20 Activities With Sidewalk Chalk, I came up with the idea to  draw several shapes and have your kiddo draw a line to cut the shapes in half/thirds/fourths/etc. Make sure you talk about fair shares (how each section should be the same size) when they are drawing the lines.

Here are some ideas that are from other mom bloggers:

Naturally Educational shares an idea using paper plates in her post Pizza Math. I love how she is having her little ones learn about the numerator and denominator as well as comparing fractions.

Peakle Pie combined frogs, crafts, and fractions in her post Fractions Fun with Origami Frogs. I have never thought of fractions this way before- it is so creative and I know my animal loving daughter could easily consider this math lesson as more of a game!

Of course there are TONS more resources available with fractions. I would love to hear about what you have done with your kiddos at home to help them understand this concept better!

Happy Teaching!

# Numbers & Operations in Base 10: A Common Core Math Series

Our math series continues today with a post on Numbers & Operations in Base 10. The past two days we have discussed  Counting & Cardinality and Operations & Algebraic Thinking. We are making a lot of progress on our way to learn more about the Math Standards included in the Common Core. (Tomorrow’s post will be about Numbers & Operations with Fractions.)

What are Numbers & Operations in Base 10? There are two parts to this standard. The first is a basic understanding of the place value of numerals in any given number. We refer to this as base 10 because each number has 10 times more value than the digit to the right. For example, in the number 24, the 4 is also known as 4 ones while the 2 has 10 times the value consisting of 20 ones. I hope this makes sense! Understanding numbers in Base 10 also consists of skip counting and  comparing two or three digit numbers using greater than, less than, and equals to while looking at the number in the tens or hundreds place.

The second part of this standard- “Operations in Base 10″  has the objective that students will be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide while understanding the place value of each digit and how that affects the answer (hence the word “Operations” in base 10)

When should I start teaching my child Numbers & Operations in Base 10? I would start as soon as they can count to 10. I think the most common way I have seen this modeled in a classroom setting is with straws during calendar time. A teacher will put a straw in a bucket for every day they are in school. Once there are 10 straws, they get bundled together with a rubber band and placed in a separate 10s bucket.

What resources are available to help my child learn Numbers & Operations in Base 10? There are actually lots of resources to teach this concept to your kids. I have to admit I am pleasantly surprised- I was expecting this to be a shorter post due to lack of resources but I am wrong!

For the android customers there are some great apps that include Base 10 Number Grid for Kids and Base 10 Number Blocks.  For the iTunes users there are several as well like Common Core Numbers and Operations in Base 10, Place Value MAB, Montessori Place Value, and Math Bugs (this one looks really cute!)

Here is a list of Numbers & Operations in Base 10 literature that I came up with!

Here is a list of teacher resources and manipulatives that can help you teach your child place value.

We have done a couple activities in the past that can be tweaked to include the math standard Numbers and Operations in Base 10.

Addition Towers with Unifix Cubes: At the time we were just working on very simple addition. To turn this activity into more of an educational place value experience, don’t make the towers with both addends. Take the loose unifix blocks and group them into “ten towers” while finding the sum.

DIY Montessori Number Beads: So this would need lots of tweaking. Choose one color for your beads. Make 10 bead sticks with pipe cleaners with 10 beads on each stick. Or you could spend a gazillion dollars and buy some awesome golden beads from a Montessori store. OK so they aren’t a gazillion dollars but when you can make something similar for free paying ANYTHING just doesn’t make sense.

Here are some activities and idea for Numbers & Operations in Base 10 from around the web!

Boy Mama Teacher Mama shared a fun Ten Frames game to do with your kiddos. She has a set you can purchase or you can download some seasonal ten frames. I am putting this activity on my list of things to do with my Boo!

Naturally Educational posted an activity using coins to skip count. Love the idea to use money!

I will be writing another Numbers & Operations post soon- but instead of being Base 10 stuff it will be all about fractions.

Alright- blog post is done which means the laundry must begin! Yay for me?

Happy Teaching!

# Operations & Algebraic Thinking: A Common Core Math Series

So far in our series about math standards we have discussed Counting & Cardinality. Today’s post is centered around Operations & Algebraic Thinking (one of the K-5 Common Core Math Standards). I am excited to share with you some of the resources I have found!

What are Operations & Algebraic Thinking? This is simply understanding and solving math problems using the 4 operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Of course Kinders will start out with gaining a basic understanding of just adding and subtracting while the older grades are required to not only use all 4 operations but to understand them enough to write numerical expressions and analyze patterns and relationships. This post will primarily focus on the younger grades, since this is where I will be teaching soon.

When should I start teaching my child Operations & Algebraic Thinking? You can model simple addition and subtraction problems with your kiddos as soon as you feel your child is ready. I think most preschool age children would benefit from modeling of very simple problems using objects that are important to them. For example: “You have 2 cookies, if I give you 1 more, how many would you have?”

What resources are available to help my child learn Operations & Algebraic Thinking? There are SO many wonderful activities and lessons available to help us teach our kids to understand this math standard. I have included apps, literature, activities from this blog, and links to other great ideas.

There are TONS of Operations & Algebraic Thinking apps available! This is just a sampling of what I have found: Mental Math for Kids (android), Addition and Subtraction for Kids (iTunes), Math Addition Games For Kids (android), Sushi Monster (iTunes), Rocket Math (iTunes), Math: Multiplication Table (android), Einstein Math Academy (android), Division for Kids (iTunes), Medieval Math Battle (android) AND Medieval Math Battle (iTunes), YodelOh Math Mountain (android) AND YodelOh Math Mountain (iTunes), and Operation Math (android) AND Operation Math (iTunes). I could easily list 100 apps that are centered around the Operations & Algebraic Thinking math standard!

Here is a list of some of the great Operations & Algebraic Thinking literature. Just click on the pic to learn more about each book.

Multiplication and Division:

Algebra:

Teacher resources:

Here are some of the activities that we have done in the past centered around Operations & Algebraic Thinking:

MISSION ADDITION When my  daughter was 3 we spent a day saving all the animals in trouble via math skills. And while she didn’t walk away quoting math facts, she had a BLAST. There is nothing wrong with a little academic immersion through play! (Feel free to download our free Mission Addition PDF)

I posted a review about Bubbling Math- a math operation game for Kids. I like that this available for desktops as well!

I saw the idea of creating Towers with Unifix Blocks on Pinterest (thank you Home Grown Learners!!). This activity is easy to use, hands on, and gets kiddos familiar with the look of math problems.

And last but certainly not least is our trusty number scale. One idea is to have your child find the sum by placing two weights on one side of the scale (the math problem) and then on the other side of the scale put a weight on the sum. If their answer is correct  the scale will balance!

Here are some other GREAT educational games from around the web.

Candace from Naturally Educational shares a great way to teach addition with regrouping using money! And what kid (or parent for that matter) doesn’t LOVE money?

Little Bins for Little Hands has a cute numbers and colors game that will teach a basic foundation for addition and subtraction.

I love the Teaching about Number Lines with the Number Line Hop post from Boy Mama Teacher Mama. This activity would go GREAT with the book Ready, Set, Hop.

And for those that want a fun, unique math operation challenge, check out Afterschool for Smarty Pants. She has a wonderful post on using Math Squares!

We can’t forget to include two other resources:

Math Story’s Math Songs with videos and lyrics. Great resource!

Teachers Pay Teachers. This is a one stop shop with some of the CUTEST math curriculum I have ever seen! (Is it sad that the cuteness is a selling factor for me? haha I promise I enjoy the quality and educational aspects of their work as well!)

As always- I hope this list will be beneficial in helping your kids understand math more fully.

Happy Teaching!

# Counting & Cardinality: A Common Core Math Series

This week I will be centering all my posts on MATH- more specifically: counting & cardinality, operations & algebraic thinking, numbers and operations in base 10, measurement and data, and geometry. For those familiar with the Common Core Standards these should look very familiar! With my daughter in kindergarten this year, and with the possibility of me teaching school this fall, I thought it would be good for me to immerse myself in the current math curriculum. In this post I will share with you what I have learned about these different math standards and some activities that you can do at HOME with your kiddos! So let’s get started on our math adventure!

What is Counting & Cardinality? It is the ability to know, write, understand, group, count, and correctly use numbers. This is an important academic foundation for our little ones to completely master.

When should I start teaching my child counting & cardinality? As early as possible! Take every opportunity to use numbers- whether its counting how long it takes for your kiddo to put on their shoes or pointing out numbers in books, signs, and toys… math is everywhere!

What resources are available to help my child learn counting & cardinality? The resources are endless. Here are just a few!

There are some amazing number sense apps available. Native Numbers, Approach to Montessori- Numbers HD, Montessori Numbers, and Intro to Math by Montessorium are just a few of the many that are accessible through android and iTunes.

Literature is always a great tool in helping kids understand math concepts. Click on the pic to get more information about each of these books.

These are some of our FAVORITE workbooks from Kumon as well as other teacher resources:

There are also number sense books available for older kids.

Here are some of the activities that we have done in the past centered around counting & cardinality:

Teach your child numbers with our Number Day Plans and Free Printables. We had a great time learning numbers using a variety of methods- stamping, tracing, writing, and using stickers to show numbers. On my wiki I have a number book cover and number pages 0-30 that you are free to download and use.

Number Recognition Activities with our Education Cubes. One of the activities in our post include rolling one die and running around the table that many times (this activity is inspired and created for my little runner… remember to center your learning activities around your child’s interests!)

8 Learning Lessons You Can Use with a Number Scale. I love, love, love our number scale! My Boo (who was a toddler at the time) and I had a great time learning number sense with this fun, hands-on educational tool. One activity mentioned in our post was a “Count With Me” game.  To play you give both you and your tot ten weights. Out loud, count from one to ten together while each of you place a weight on the appropriate side of the scale. This will help your tot to see the numbers while saying them… it’s a pretty simple activity!

Here are some other GREAT educational games from around the web.

Katie from Preschool Inspirations created an interactive calendar with her preschoolers which allow them to become more familiar with number recognition.

Chelsey from Buggy and Buddy shared a wonderful way to have calendar time with her 2 year old! See it is never too early to get our kiddos involved in math!

Buggy and Buddy also has a WONDERFUL post about Finding Number Patterns Using a Hundreds Chart. She has included a free printable that I am going to print as soon as I am done typing this post!

Nadia from Teach Me Mommy posted about Using Playdough to Teach Math. She has some great number recognition activities that are not only educational but fun as well.

Creative Connections for Kids has a great kinesthetic game where you use your body to count. I especially like that this is something you can do anywhere! For those teachers- great educational activity to do with your kids when you are waiting outside during a fire drill.

Lalymom shares several different ways to work on counting with your kids. I love that her ideas are simple and things you can integrate into your daily activities.

Lemon Lime Adventures has a great post for those who are struggling on how to start teaching math with your kiddos. I especially like her list of math centered questions you can ask your child. Thanks for this resource Dayna!

Debs from Learn With Play at Home had a great idea using paper tubes to teach number recognition and ordering. This activity is geared for kids 2 and up… such a fun education craft! She also posted an idea to teach your kids teen numbers with manipulatives, a super cute bowling game to teach number recognition (great for those active little kids!), making 10 with an egg carton, and 30 Counting Activities to do with Kids. This site is a wonderful resource for counting & cardinality!

Math Story has some number sense songs (as well as other math standards) with videos and lyrics. Great resource for our music/visual learners.

Check out What Do We Do All Day for a Kindergarten Number Matching Game. Great hands on learning activity!

I hope this list is will be a great resource as your are teaching your kids about counting & cardinality. Remember: Math can be fun! And it doesn’t have to be hard or take a lot of time to teach these fundamental skills.

Happy Teaching!

# New Year, New Blog Platform

I finally made the switch to WordPress!

8ish years ago I started blogging with my second graders. I used WordPress and loved it. I felt so tech-savvy! But for some reason- perhaps the challenge of trying something new- I decided to use Blogger with my Home Teacher blog. Blogger made everything so easy that coming back to WordPress was a bit intimidating. However thanks to some incredible and easy to use plugins the migration wasn’t too bad! And I have already jumped into the code and made some minor tweaks to my blog. Oh it feels good to be back…plus I love feeling like I still have some tech smarts

As you can see- the blog is simple and clean- just like I hope this New Year will be. I guess that means I should hit the laundry pile? On second thought I will go snuggle with my daughter. Cleaning can wait.

Last week we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th). I thought I would share some of the ups and downs of our holiday adventure. Because believe me- while we did have fun during the day we had a lot of “blessings in disguises” (aka trials of patience).

I was super excited to celebrate Santa day with my Boo! I spent the day before combing through Pinterest and drooling all over the cute Santa crafts and treats. I picked some of my favorites, mingled in some learning stuff that I needed to work on with my daughter, and I proceeded to plan away! I jotted down a quick agenda of everything we were going to do.

Our first activity was to learn about Sinter Klaas (tying in some world geography and customs) and to leave out shoes on the night of December 5th for Santa to fill with treats or coins. However that night we made the mistake of turning on The Sound of Music (Carrie Underwood edition) and we couldn’t pull away (was it the anticipation/fear of someone messing up on live TV? Perhaps….) When the show was over my daughter was so exhausted that she told me she didn’t want to leave out her shoes- she just wanted to go to bed. But dang it I was so determined to include this activity in our day of learning that I found her shoes and set them by her door. No big deal- I just told her the next day that Rudy (our reindeer version of Elf on the Shelf) set them out. But Boo also was certain that Rudy was the one that put coins in her shoes instead of Santa.

Earlier that morning I blindly grabbed some coins from my dresser to put in her shoes. I thought I grabbed 2 quarters. Instead I accidentally took a gold dollar coin and didn’t realize it until after Boo looked in her shoes. Which probably sounds like no big deal EXCEPT we were going to have the gold dollars be a special thing that just the tooth fairy did. Yes I tried to sneak away the dollar and change it for a quarter. But my gal was well aware of my plan and insisted she keep her golden coin. Haha I ended up making up some story that Rudy must have somehow gotten one of the tooth fairy’s coins(reindeer do lose teeth too, right?) and wanted to give it to her. The things we do to keep the magic alive for our kids!!

Since my daughter had no school Friday, we enjoyed a late breakfast of Santa pancakes: these were super easy and perfect for the occasion.  As a special treat I also let her watch a movie while we ate- Santa Claus is Coming to Town seemed like a good fit… but my daughter didn’t like it at all. She refuses to watch any movies with bad guys but will pretend to be a ferocious carnivore on a daily basis. Go figure.

I saw some cute ideas of playing Santa’s workshop either by making homemade gifts or wrapping presents but I somehow thought I would be clever and have my six year old help me try to fix our vacuum. While wearing Santa hats of course. After 2 hours of intense mechanical labor (aka pulling out gobs of hair and searching on our hands and knees for a dime sized vacuum wheel that mysteriously disappeared) we both decided to take a snack break. At this point I am thinking that our Santa Day has been disappointing (other than our cute pancakes). I messed up with the Sinter Klaas coins, watched a horrifying Santa Claus cartoon, and lost a vacuum wheel. Still, i was determined to follow my itinerary for the day. So we headed to the kitchen to make a Santa snack.

What could be more Santa-ish than a snack of homemade milk and cookies? Even if the cookies got burned, right? I am sure Santa has consumed plenty of overcooked cookies.

I made the executive decision to take a Santa break and go upstairs and play dinosaurs. We had fun and there was no mention of the old man in a red suit for a good hour.

Later in the day we did do some fun Santa stuff. We played a sight word game with words my daughter is working on in school, a super fun game called “Don’t Eat Santa”, and a money dice activity where my daughter “shopped” for Santa’s suit. I would recommend all three of these activities!

For dinner I decided I wanted to make a Santa hat pizza. I saw the idea on Pinterest from Family Fresh Meals and it seemed easy enough. And surprisingly- it was pretty simple! We bought homemade pizza crust and cut up string cheese instead of using fresh mozzarella- other than that we followed the recipe. And although the green pepper had gone moldy so we couldn’t use it- I would still call our dinner a success!

With our dinner we made Santa Punch. I modified the recipe a bit by adding strawberry kool-aid instead of lime, and Sprite instead of ginger ale. It was tasty! We watched Miracle on 34th Street- black and white version- and was totally expecting my daughter to get bored but she actually really enjoyed it.

After dinner I wanted my daughter to write an official Santa letter. One that I could keep in the scrapbook I will make for her one day. She has written quick little notes of what she wants for Christmas, but I thought this would be a great time to teach her proper letter writing skills.  However Boo decided she was going to write to Mrs Claus instead and ask how her life was. I absolutely love this letter and how thoughtful my girl was to check up on Santa’s wife.

We read a few Santa books before bed. There are so many- but here are some of our favorites:
Guess Who’s Coming to Santa’s for Dinner? By Tomie de Paola
How Santa Really Works by Alan Snow
Presents for Santa by Harriet Ziefert
Priscilla and the Great Santa Search by Nathaniel Hobbie
Dora’s Starry Christmas by Christine Ricci

Despite the ups and downs of holiday planning- I really enjoy the magic of the season. We had a fun Santa day and now I am off to plan a more spiritual day learning about the Nativity and the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy Teaching!

# 8 Family Friendly Black Friday Activities

Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with my family and I thought I would quickly post some of our non-shopping ideas for Black Friday tomorrow. I know most people love the bargains and the mad rush of running from store to store… but our little family plans on staying in our nice quiet home and will try to avoid the stores for the next few days :).  So for the past few days I have been brainstorming some different activities we could do that would not only officially kick off the Christmas season but also have fun with the “black” theme.

This is what I have come up with so far:

1. Black Jack Friday: Instead of rolling the dice with what good deals you might be lucky enough to grab, have a game day with the family instead. Pull out all the card games/ board games, pop some popcorn, and just enjoy being together!
2. Black Board Friday: Take advantage of this day off from school to play school together. Have little lessons on the value of a dollar, advertising, etc for older kids- or for the little kids have a day celebrating the color black. And of course you don’t have to focus on Black Friday for your learning day- you can also use this time to reinforce/review/enhance skills your child is learning at school.
3. Black Bag Donations: Grab a black sack (or cardboard boxes) and clean out your house with toys and clothes in good condition your children have outgrown that could be donated to those in need. I love the idea of totally switching gears and turning the shopping madness into a day of giving to others.
4. Black Bites: Create a menu of black foods to nibble on throughout Friday. Black licorice, black velvet cake, black berries, olives, and black rice just to name a few!
5. Play Store: Have your kiddos set up some merchandise (aka run through the house and grab toys, books, etc), find or make some play money, grab a toy shopping cart or basket and a cash register and you are ready to go! For an extra twist have your kids make their own ads- this would be a great writing and art activity.
6. North Pole Breakfast: This idea has been floating around the internet for awhile. Have a special breakfast with the family to kick off the holiday season. This is the time we bring back our Elf on the Shelf (although ours is a reindeer).
7. Decorate for Christmas! For those that decorate for Thanksgiving, Black Friday is the perfect day to set up the tree and enjoy Christmas decorations after the famous day of gratitude.
8. Black Friday Math: Toddler Approved came up with this WONDERFUL math activity you can do with your kids using your stack of Black Friday ads. Check out her site for more information!
If you do decide to go shopping on Black Friday- be safe! And if you plan on staying home I hope this list helps you to plan a fun family day.
Happy Teaching!