5 Tips for Taking a Theme Park Trip with Young Children

Are you planning a theme park trip with young children?

Last week we went on a whirlwind Orlando trip with our two kids, ages 5 and 2. Orlando is about an eight hour drive from us, so we decided to make a trip before we move away this summer. We drove there and back and visited two popular theme parks in three days. So, yeah, you could say we are a little crazy. However, our crazy ends up for your benefit. If you’re planning any kind of theme park excursion this summer with your young children, I’ve got some pro tips for you!

This post is brought to you in partnership with Legoland Florida Resort. All opinions are 100% my own. Affiliate links are also included. Your purchases through these links help keep this blog running! 

#1 Keep it laid back

When planning a visit to a theme park, its super easy to go overboard with the planning of every last detail. While it’s good to be prepared, don’t go too crazy and set yourself up for frustration when things don’t go as planned.

For our first theme park, I wanted to get there before the opening time… we woke up late.

So I wanted to get there as soon as possible… then we got lost on the way there.

I was hoping to bring a packed lunch to save money… but we didn’t have time to stop at the grocery store.

After these set backs (and more!) we could have let discouragement settle in and take hold. However, we chose to let it go, move on, and make the best of what we had – two small children who were still having a blast, regardless of whether the adults plans were flowing perfectly.

 

#2 Bring snacks and LOTS of water

If you are visiting a theme park at any time of the year, your energetic little ones are going to want a snack at some point. Unless you want to pay top dollar for theme park snacks (annoying if you’re already planning on purchasing meals there), bringing a few along is a much better option. Plus, unlike packing a whole meal, snacks are usually more portable and easy to take along. They also make great distractions during breaks – or for while big brother is riding the “big kid” rides!

If you are visiting a theme park during the summer, do not underestimate the importance of water. Sure, it’s important all the time, but I don’t know about you – I don’t normally spent 90+ degree summer days outside the entire day. If you don’t bring your own water bottles, you will either blow through the expensive theme park water, or be seriously parched.

Avoid heat stroke and bring one of these bad boys – we filled this water bottle up with ice (which stayed in there all day) and refilled it with water as needed throughout the day. Seriously, these water bottles are awesome (we got this straw lid to use with it).

#3 Use a stroller that has a basket and can lay back

While you probably don’t want to be lugging giant double jogging stroller around a theme park, having a stroller with a little room to carry your stuff is a must with small children. We brought our Britax B-Agile Stroller and it had the perfect amount of room for our snacks, supplies, and water bottles. I saw so many people with tiny umbrella strollers – I don’t know how they did it!

Another added benefit to a nicer stroller is that most have the option for your child to recline back. On both of our theme park visits, the toddler nodded off in the stroller and took a nice little nap. A must when you have kiddos used to taking a nap – especially when they are out in the heat all day! Unless, of course, you enjoy afternoon meltdowns!

#4 Let your toddler out of the stroller if at all possible

I know, I just praised the awesomeness of the stroller. However, here’s the thing, if the toddler rides in his mighty chariot all day long with his devoted parents pushing him around the park this is what you will end up with at the end of the day: a toddler with tons of pent up energy and exhausted parents. Ask me how we know.

If the park you are visiting is going to be too busy to let your toddler toddle on his or her own, I certainly won’t judge you for using a kid leash. I totally would have if I would have thought about it early enough. Even something like this would have been great for my five year old (who I’m not even worried about bolting off) because it got awfully sweaty during the times we needed to hold hands.

#5 Go to Legoland Floria Resort Theme Park

Okay, I’m going to be straight up honest with you here. We did THE Orlando theme park… you know the one I’m talking about… with the castle and the princesses and the mouse with the big ears. Sure, the kids had fun. Sure, it was a “classic” experience. However, the place was a mad house and we left feeling like… welp, don’t know that we will be spending our money on that “experience” again. (Die hard fans please no hate mail!)

We truly weren’t able to put our finger on what was missing from the experience until we went to Legoland the next day. It was a night and day difference.

It wasn’t totally over crowded.

The employees were cheery and helpful.

The atmosphere was awesome.

But the biggest thing that left us feeling like, “yes! we will be back!” was: #builtforkids.

I didn’t remember that was their hashtag until we returned home, but it fits 100%. Legoland was absolutely built with kids in mind.

We started off in Duplo Valley, which is especially geared towards the younger crowd. I think my 5 and 2 year old could have stayed there the whole day. Hands on play area (in the AC – hallelujah!), kid friendly rides, splash area – it was perfect.

But it wasn’t just Duplo Valley, the whole park was built with kids in mind. The ride lines had play areas for the kids while parents held the spot. There were free play, hands on exhibits scattered throughout the park. There were rides that were perfect for all ages. The whole experience was like a breath of fresh air compared to the day before.

A good way to describe the park is like the perfect baby of a hands on children’s museum and a theme park.

And, don’t forget the LEGO. If you have kids that enjoy Lego, they will seriously go crazy here. Awesome Lego shops around every corner, the most amazing life size Lego creations, and plenty of opportunities to build. It’s a Lego lovers dream.

After the day was over, we all agreed that Legoland was our favorite.

I hope these tips were helpful to you no matter what theme park you’re braving this summer. But seriously, if it’s an option, opt for Legoland Florida Resort.

5 Tips for a Successful Bible Time with Kids

I have a confession.

After completing the Play Through the Bible series I did a terrible job at having a consistent Bible time with my kids. We started and stopped, and started and stopped again. I had lofty goals and didn’t see them through. Most of the time I just plain didn’t know where to start.

Have you found yourself in this place too?

You know it’s important. The desire is there. But the days keep slipping through your fingers without these goals being met.

I’ve been there. In fact, I’m still there sometimes. However, over the past few months I feel like I’ve finally landed on something that works.

We haven’t been perfect, but we have consistently had a morning Bible time together, opening the doors for lots of great spiritual conversations.

Today, I want to share with you how we made it work.

#1 Find a time that works for you

Does it seem like everyone else in the world starts their days with the picturesque scene of kids delightfully learning about God’s world around the breakfast table, but at that hour of the day your brain feels more like your gray bowl of oatmeal?

Say adios morning Bible time. 

Seriously, let it go and be you. Maybe your family works better during a quiet hour when the baby is napping or in the evening when dad is home to lend a hand.

Set a time, embrace it, and then stick to it.

#2 Keep it simple

Like, ridiculously simple.

At least for me, it is so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like I can never make Bible time “enough.” Wiggly kids, lack of time, and unmet plans leave me feeling discouraged and I eventually give up.

I finally realized that something small is better than nothing at all. In fact, it’s actually quite freeing and opens the doors for continued, yet unplanned, conversation.

And I’m not talking about a “simple” lesson plan or a “simple” list of things to get out of the Bible time. Oh no. We started with one short Bible story at breakfast.

That’s. It. 

No lesson plans. No crafts. No memory verses, songs, or lengthy discussions.

We slowly got in the habit of daily starting our day with the Bible. We built our discipline muscle. The kids started to expect the story and look forward to it. We would miss a day or two and then quickly pick it back up again because we could feel it missing.

We stayed here for a long time. We didn’t read just one story for a week and declare it mastered, starting to add new elements. This one story was our home base and we stayed and made it nice and cozy until we were able to venture out and add more.

Your home base doesn’t have to be a Bible storybook. It could be a song you sing, a simple prayer, or a chapter from Psalms. Whatever feels like home for your family in the stage of life you are in currently.

#3 Slowly add more to your Bible time

After camping out in your home base for as long as it takes to build that habit (no rushing!), slowly add in other elements to your Bible time.

Don’t feel tempted to add in a bunch of things all at once now that you’re feeling confident in your new habit. Pride comes before the fall, yeah? Make a list of the things you would *someday* like to accomplish and pick one.

Introduce that one thing and give it time to become part of the routine. If, at any time or during any particular day, your new routine starts to feel overwhelming – go back to your home base. Do just that one thing and pick back up the new the next day or the next week.

I cannot emphasize enough to take it nice and slow with no pressure. We have been doing this for at least two months now and this is what our morning Bible time looks like (with a 5 and almost 2 year old):

  • Read Bible story and briefly discuss/answer 5 year old’s questions
  • Read a few pages from God’s Wisdom for Little Boys (awesome book by the way!)
  • About ten minutes of listening to and learning a hymn

That’s all. And if we don’t do it all, that’s okay. If we miss a day, we just pick right back up where we left off. Eventually I’d like to add more, but for now we will probably be hanging out here for quite a while.

Bonus tip: when you do get to the point of adding more, do them on a rotation, instead of trying to do everything every day.

#4 Roll with the punches

It’s easy to feel discouraged when things aren’t going how you expected.

There are going to be days when your kids are more interested in the squirrel out the window than the story you are reading or would rather run off and play than sing worship songs. Life will get crazy and you will skip a day here and even a week there.

Just keep going, keep coming back to it, keep building the habit. Hold your plans loosely and keep an eye toward the future.

Remember, Bible time is not the ultimate measure of your godly parenting ability. 

While it is definitely important to set a precedence for digging into God’s Word and going to him with prayer and worship, you have many more hours in the day. Hours where just walking along side your children through the daily tasks of life can speak more into their hearts and souls than you’d ever imagine.

One of my favorite parenting passages is Deuteronomy 6:5-9…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Let go of having the “perfect” moment and fill your home with the love of God and talk about him daily.

#5 Cover your goals in prayer

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
-Proverbs 16:9

Don’t try and do this on your own strength. Go to God for his grace and wisdom. Spend time praying over your goals. Spend time praying for the spiritual maturity of your children.

Even with the simple steps we’ve discussed here, we will just be turning our wheels without God establishing our steps.

Take the next step

So, friend, if you found yourself knowing that having Bible time with your kids is important, but you just weren’t sure where to start, I hope you have a much clearer plan now!

If you are ready to take the next step and you could still use a little guidance – I’ve got you covered! I’ve created a FREE printable worksheet to help you plan out a Bible time that works for you.

Enter your information below to grab the free Bible Time with Kids Planning Worksheet AND gain access to the ever growing library of free printables!

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Our Preschool (PK4) Plan 2016-2017

Four Year Old Preschool Plan

Read last year’s Preschool 101 series here!

Last week I realized I should probably start figuring out some plans for the upcoming school year. As I was working on the plans, I mentioned to K some of the things I was thinking of, to which his reply was “I want to do school now!” So, long story short, we started school this week!

It’s a little early, but K is eager and ready, so I decided to go ahead and get started!

A couple disclaimers:

#1 This says PK4, but he is really doing K4 work. I debated back and forth whether or not to call this “kindergarten” but in the end decided to wait until next year to tell him he was officially a “kindergartener.” For us, the label doesn’t really matter anyway, he will always do whatever level he is at, no matter what “official” grade he is in currently.

#2 We are planning on a classical education/Charlotte Mason combo (with some other philosophies thrown in here and there), so that is what we are preparing for and working towards. Right now, that means keeping lessons short (10-15 minutes) in the Charlotte Mason style. It also means beginning to train the brain for a rigorous education by starting memorization and laying the foundation in math and phonics.

#3 A lot of the things I wrote last year (here and here) still apply. Our “official” lessons are only a small part of the learning atmosphere and will continue to be for quite some time I’m sure!

Now, on to what we’re doing…

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THE ESSENTIALS

Bible

After breakfast, Bible time is first on the agenda. I am currently still working on our Fall Bible study and I’m really excited to share it with you – so keep an eye out for that! 🙂

Reading

K has been reading simple phonetic words for a little over a year now and we have been dabbling on and off with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for about that long as well. The goal this year is to consistently work through the book, hopefully finishing it. After that, we will probably take a break from formal phonics lessons for a while and just read.

Teach Your Child to Read is our core for phonics, but I also have some other things for K to work on as he has the interest. The first is Explode the Code Book 1, a phonics workbook. He’s also been reading the BOB books and anything else we can find on his reading level. Finally, we’ve been keeping track of the sight words he learns by writing them on paper train cars and posting them on the wall on his “sight word train.”

Under this category is also our read-alouds, something that I want to try and do a lot more of this year! After we finish Bible time, we like to snuggle on the couch while we do reading lessons and some read-alouds.

Math

loves math. I can already tell he has his daddy’s brain for numbers. We’re taking it slow to master the basics, but we’re doing math every day this year.

K is continuing to work through his math program from last year, MEP math (reception level). Although it still stumps his sometimes, it is getting a little easy so we are trying to work through it a little faster this year, about two lessons a week.

I wasn’t planning on adding anything more for math besides using manipulatives, lots of counting, and some math games, but his exuberance for math led me to rethink that plan.

My mom had given me the first two sets of Math-u-See, but I hadn’t planned on using it until at least next year. However, I brought the set of books downstairs to look over and gave K the placement test. He passed with flying colors! So, we are slowly slowly working through the Alpha level of that too.

Writing

At four years old, K is actually pretty good at writing since it is something he naturally took up on his own. Up until this point though he has just written freely, sprawling his words across the page. So, this year he is beginning to learn to write on lined paper. He still needs to work on his pencil grasp, so we are moving really slow.

He isn’t doing any formal penmanship program, instead he writes along with his other subjects. He’ll write a couple words out of the verses we are memorizing or in his science notebook, there is some writing practice in his Explode the Code workbook, and of course he still writes freely throughout the day when inspiration strikes.

4 Year Old Preschool

THE EXTRAS

Spanish

Learning Spanish together as a family is a big goal of ours… that we have thus far failed miserably at! So, we are back at it again this year. No formal program yet, just Spanish songs on youtube (we love Calico Spanish!), the Duolingo app, and learning some basic words and phrases.

Science

With science we are sticking with inquiry/project based learning. K shows interest in a topic, we load up on library books, and together we come up with projects and activities to do. So far, his interests span far and wide, so we haven’t landed on something specific to study first.

We will definitely be working in a lot of nature study as well. Another hand me down I have from my mom is the Christian Liberty Nature Readers set. I started reading book one to K during read aloud time and to my surprise it is one of his favorite books to listen to!

Art

Not a day goes by without some type of drawing or art project going on in our house! Even little J loves to scribble with markers! K has full access (with permission) to all the art supplies so he does a lot of creating.

Recently we have discovered Art for Kids Hub and he has been loving following along with all the drawing tutorials.

Everything Else!

There is so much more to do and learn, and I’m sure we will do a lot of dabbling here and there. We will stick to basics of reading, math, and a little writing – whatever else we take a fancy to is just icing on the cake!

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Steadfast Family!

Teaching Your Kids the Christmas Story (Truth in the Tinsel Review and Giveaway)

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY

Christmas is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. Christmas music, shopping for gifts, decorating the tree, cookies and hot chocolate – I love it all. And of all the great things that the Christmas season brings, there is nothing that compares with finding memorable ways to share the true meaning of Christmas with my kids. (In fact, I had a whole series devoted to it last year)

That is why I am so excited to share with you today this amazing Advent resource – Truth in the Tinsel!

truth in the tinsel cover

I have actually known about Truth in the Tinsel for a few years now. I thought about trying it with K last year, but he was only just turning three and, being pregnant, I was keeping things extra simple. So, I knew this year was finally going to be the year we were going to do it!

I purchased my copy a few weeks ago, so that I’d have time to read through it and get everything prepared for the coming Advent season. As I read through the crafts, K would look over my shoulder – getting more and more excited and wanting to know when it would be time to get started.

So What is Truth in the Tinsel Anyway?

Good question! Well, let’s get the the down low straight from the source. On the Truth in the Tinsel website it says…

“Each day Truth in the Tinsel will lead you through a passage of scripture, a corresponding ornament craft and talking points for you and your kids. It’s more than a devotion — it’s a meditation and hands-on learning for kids. It’s more than a craft-book — it’s a memory-builder for your family. It’s more than an e-book — it’s an experience and adventure in God’s Word!”

You can also read more in the guest post Truth in the Tinsel author, Amanda White, wrote last year or go to the Truth in the Tinsel page!

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Things I love about Truth in the Tinsel

Great Directions
Everything is so perfectly laid out for you. Supply lists, clear instructions, tips, alternate calendars, links to all the templates you’ll need – it couldn’t be any easier.

Simple Crafts and Activities
We love to keep things simple around here. I want crafts that my child can actually do, not things that I have to do for him. These fit the bill perfectly. Simple enough for a little one, yet fun enough for an older child too, these crafts are perfect for the whole family.

Although I encourage you to give them a try even if you think you’re not the crafty type, you can also get printable ornaments to decorate. Perfect for those extra busy days (cause who doesn’t have those during the holiday season!?) or when you’re just not feeling like doing a craft.

truth in the tinsel ornaments cover

Tells the Whole Christmas Story
Starting in Isaiah and ending at the cross, Truth in the Tinsel tells the grand story of Christmas in a way that is perfect for helping kids to remember. If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ll know that I love doing Bible activities that help my kids to really experience the story with all their senses.

Oftentimes I have to come up with these activities on my own (like Play Through the Bible or Hero Training!) , but with Truth in the Tinsel all the work is done for me and all we have to do is have a blast doing it.

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A Few Truth in the Tinsel Tips

Get the book early
I know, I know, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, so why are we talking about Christmas already anyway? Well, for me at least, the key to a smooth Christmas season is taking some time pre-Christmas to get prepared.

By downloading the ebook a few weeks early, you’ll have time to read it through and make a plan for how and when you’re going to do it. This will help you feel less rushed and let you be able to enjoy the process more.

Prep the crafts
To make things go even smoother, I’m hoping to take an afternoon and prep all the Truth in the Tinsel ornament crafts at once. I’ll put all of the ready to go supplies in individual bags and store them together in a tub. That way, when it’s time to do the day’s craft, it’ll just be grab and go!

It’s the process, not the product
The point of doing Bible crafts with your kid’s isn’t to end up with a magazine worthy ornament in the end. The point is to let the crafting be a way to help impress God’s word upon your child and to use the experience to open up time for great discussions.

Don’t worry if your ornaments turn out looking a little wonky, your child is just going to love that they made it themselves!

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Well, are you ready to get your copy yet?

Then you’re in luck! Amanda has generously offered a copy of Truth in the Tinsel AND a copy of the printable ornaments to go to one lucky Simple Life. Messy Life. reader! For your chance to win, all you have to do is enter the contest below.

However, if you think Truth in the Tinsel is something that would be great for your family and you are ready to get started – don’t hesitate to go grab it now!

I know exactly how it goes where you’re like “Yes! That sounds awesome. I will get that later for sure.” Then you blink and it’s halfway through December and you completely forgot (oh wait, maybe that’s just me!). Don’t let that happen!

The good news is that Truth in the Tinsel is super affordable. Plus it is great for all ages in your family and you can continue to use it for years to come.

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Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

Play Through the Bible ONE YEAR Anniversary, a *New Look*, and FREE Printable!

Hey there! Things are a bit crazy around here for the next two weeks, so I’m taking a super short blogging break. However I wanted to pop in real quick to say, YAY, it’s the one year anniversary of Play Through The Bible!

If you’re new around here, Play Through the Bible was my big project last year. It is a 25 week series detailing our toddler Bible lesson plans. We worked through an entire toddler Bible, doing crafts and fun activities for each story. It was tons of fun!

Now, I always knew that this series was pretty popular on Pinterest. It made me really excited to see all the people pinning (and hopefully doing!) our fun Bible activities. However, I just recently checked the posts to see how popular they were on Pinterest…

The Play Through The Bible series has been pinned over TEN THOUSAND TIMES!

Wow! I was floored and so grateful! It makes me so excited to think of all the little toddlers out there learning about simple truths from God’s Word!

So, in honor of the one year anniversary and the series doing so well on Pinterest I went back through and updated all the posts! Did a little cleaning up, a little editing, and gave the series a new look!

The old graphic was one of the first I had ever made and it never quite looked the way I wanted…

Play Through The Bible

See? Not so pretty.

And here’s the new one!

Play Through The Bible
Yay! Look at all those fun activities!

One last thing – to make preparing to do the lessons with your little one a whole lot easier I’ve put together a free supply list!

I purposely made the lessons so that they mainly used only basic craft supplies and things you’d find laying around your house. I wanted the lessons to be simple and accessible for most people! Now, with the supply list, you can see exactly what you need for the whole series!

The supply list is free for subscribers – so to get your copy, just enter your name and email at the bottom of this post!

Again, thank you so much for making this series a success!

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Steadfast Family.

IBG Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum

My Favorite Preschool Resources {Home Preschool 101 Series}

This post is part of the series “Home Preschool 101.” It is a peek into how we do homeschool preschool.

Here are all the posts…

Our Home Preschool Goals

Our Simple Preschool Plan 2015-2016

Our Top Eight Preschool Building Materials

Our Top Five Preschool Science Supplies

Our Top Ten Preschool Arts and Craft Supplies

Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum Review

Home Preschool Room Tour

Back to {Pre} School resources

For this last post in the Home Preschool 101 series I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite preschool resources. These resources have both shaped my educational philosophies and give me daily inspiration as we do preschool activities.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Websites

An Everyday Story – Kate from An Everyday Story is amazing. I follow her blog and her Instagram account and I love what she does with her two kiddos. She uses an inquiry-based, Reggio Emilia approach to her children’s education and does an amazing job explaining her thoughts behind what she does.

Simply Charlotte Mason – I love Charlotte Mason’s methods! I never was able to find a great book on CM, so I have been really grateful for the Simply Charlotte Mason website. It is full of explanations of CM philosophies and tons of amazing resources.

I Can Teach My Child – A wealth of information on early childhood education with tons of lesson ideas. This website is also really easy to navigate with everything organized by age.

Christian Montessori Network – A great resource for those who want to incorporate Montessori methods into their home preschool.

Books


The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer – This book only includes a short section on preschool/kindergarten, but I still found it very helpful! As mentioned in this post, part of my goal for preschool is to slowly transition into what I want school to look like in the future. For us, that means some Classical Education elements. So, it was good to read this book to get a better idea of what we are shooting for.

Montessori From The Start by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen – This book was great. Even if you aren’t planning on homeschooling for preschool, I still recommend this book for just general parenting. I read it quiet a while ago, so I really need to go back and read it again!

Teach Your Own by John Holt and Pat Farenga – John Holt – the original homeschooling pioneer. I finally read this classic homeschooling book this past spring and I loved it! Even if you think you are the farthest thing from an unschooler, you will still be able to learn so much from this book.

Instagram Accounts

Note: Instagram is one of my favorite-ist places to get homeschool inspiration. Personally, I love getting glimpses into other families lives. However, you do have to guard yourself against the jealousy monster and against the temptation to try and do allthethings. 

Left Brain Craft Brain

Charlotte Mason Living

Munchkins and Moms

Kinderfarmhomeschool

Artful Parent

An Everyday Story

Nature Pal Exchange

Wild and Free Co.

Are you on Instagram? I’d love to connect with you there! Follow me here!

What are your favorite preschool resources?

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

IBG Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum

*Updated* Home Preschool Room Tour (Home Preschool 101 Series)

This post is part of the series “Home Preschool 101.” It is a peek into how we do homeschool preschool.

Here are all the posts (links will go live as published)…

Our Home Preschool Goals

Our Simple Preschool Plan 2015-2016

Our Top Eight Preschool Building Materials

Our Top Five Preschool Science Supplies

Our Top Ten Preschool Arts and Craft Supplies

Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum Review

My Favorite Preschool Resources


 

Copy of Back to {Pre} School

A while back I shared a tour of our dining room, which we use as our preschool room. (You can find it here). I’ve made some changes recently, so I wanted to give an updated tour as part of the Home Preschool 101 Series.

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First, I’ll start with our wonderful white shelf. We bought this shelf years ago second hand for cheap (it is an old entertainment center). We painted it, used it in our room, stored it for a couple years, moved, painted it again, and now it has found it’s home here in the dining room.

The shelf has had a bit of an organizational makeover since the first room tour and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I grabbed a bunch of different sized bins from Wal-mart to store all the building materials, games, learning toys, sensory materials, and other random things. They all stack so neatly now! (Our nature tray got moved to that green tray)

The very top right shelve has sensory bin supplies and other things that I don’t want K to be able to reach. The top of the shelf has my laminator, camera, some books, and a few other random things.

The shelves on the left from top to bottom hold: card-making supplies and other things that should be out of reach, preschooler appropriate games, paper (in the file box) an books. The bottom shelves currently hold toys but I am thinking about rearranging them sometime soon.

You might notice the absence of something that took up a lot of space previously – craft supplies! All our craft supplies are now stored in the colorful and handy “art cart” (to the left of the shelf) that I found at Sam’s Club.

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Here’s a picture that is a little more zoomed out. You can see the white shelf, the art cart and our craft table (an old coffee table with a tablecloth on it) and easel sitting in new locations. We picked up some kid stools from Ikea to add seating to the little table. I pushed the dining room table to the side and added this great rug I found on Amazon. To the left is a big train table that we use all the time for activities and building materials (found it for free on the curb!).

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One last picture, from the other direction. You can see the edge of where the dining table is, our giant chalkboard, calendar (and other wall hangings), and another shot of our huge (free!) train table. Above the train table the wire that used to hold all K’s Play Through The Bible Crafts now holds all his daily creations.

And that’s it! It’s not fancy, and I’m always shifting things around, but it works for us! It’s great to have a place for all our materials and now it is the perfect place to contain all K’s things that need to stay away from little baby hands.


 

*UPDATE*

So, apparently I’m addicted to moving things around because I rearranged again before I could even get this post up.

Here’s what I did…

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I fixed the area on the white shelf that I wasn’t happy with. Moved some toys out and swapped them with the toddler toys that were up in K’s room. I moved the baskets all to one cubby, too. So now there are four shelves in that one cubby. That area will have our nature tray on top, and then the other three shelves are for learning activities that reflect what we are currently working on. K can access these materials whenever he feels like working on them.

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The big change was that I finally gave up on this space functioning as a dining room! I moved the table out and put it somewhere else. Then, I moved one of K’s shelves from his room and put it where the table was for extra storage. I think it ended up working out really great!

Where do you store your preschool materials?

 

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IBG Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum

Our Top Five Preschool Science Supplies

This post is part of the series “Home Preschool 101.” It is a peek into how we do homeschool preschool.

Here are all the posts (links will go live as published)…

Our Home Preschool Goals

Our Simple Preschool Plan 2015-2016

Our Top Eight Preschool Building Materials

Our Top Ten Preschool Arts and Crafts Supplies

Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum Review

My Favorite Preschool Resources

Home Preschool Room Tour

Back to {Pre} School science

Science for preschool is simply exploring the world around us. Here, we keep preschool science very hands on, interest based, and simple.

There is no need to have any elaborate preschool science curriculum or equipment, so today I wanted to share with you the few things we do use and love!

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1. Sensory Bin

We love our sensory bin. We’ve had it for over two years now and it is still going strong. We use it for any activity that needs to be contained – water play, experiments, small worlds, rice, sand, etc. Ours is just a simple under the bed storage container, but I’d love to have a water table someday too.

For more sensory bin ideas, check out my Pinterest board – Sensory and Science Ideas

Follow Simple Life. Messy Life.’s board Sensory and Science Activities on Pinterest.

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2. Magnifying Glass

My son loves his magnifying glasses! They really make you feel like a real deal scientist.

I knew when I was looking to buy him a set, I wanted to get something that was high quality. I was looking for a tool, not a toy. Something that would actually work and last for a while. I ended up going with this set and I have been very pleased with it!

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3. Nature Tray

Nature study is the perfect science for preschoolers. It doesn’t take any encouragement from me for my son to automatically explore the outdoors.

The problem for me comes when he tries to bring the outdoors, in. So, we created the nature tray. Problem solved! You can read more about it here.

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4. Library Books

Hooray for the library! What an invaluable resource! Pretty much any subject K has an interest in, we can head to the library and load up with books on the subject. We head home from the library multiple times a month with books stacked high on all sorts of topics.

We’ve brought back books on the human body, animals, trains, airplanes, bugs, construction, gardening, and more! We love the library!

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5. Skeleton Model

For a long time, K was obsessed with skeletons. He even memorized most of the major bones – at three years old!

When he really gets into a topic like that, I try my best to feed the fire of his interest. So, one of the things I got during the “bone phase” was this awesome skeleton model . It’s the same one I had as a kid!

*Bonus* Handheld Microscope


This isn’t something that we have… yet! I’ve had my eye on this awesome handheld microscope since I saw it on Instagram. It looks really neat and I know my little explorer would love it. It’s definitely on the wish list!

What are your favorite preschool science tools?

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

IBG Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum

Our Top Ten Preschool Arts and Crafts Supplies

This post is part of the series “Home Preschool 101.” It is a peek into how we do homeschool preschool.

Here are all the posts (links will go live as published)…

Our Home Preschool Goals

Our Simple Preschool Plan 2015-2016

Our Top Eight Preschool Building Materials

Our Top Five Preschool Science Supplies

Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum Review

My Favorite Preschool Resources

Home Preschool Room Tour
Back to {Pre} School

If he could, my three and a half year old son (K) would spend all day cutting, glueing, and coloring. He loves doing crafts!

So, as part of our “Home Preschool 101” series I wanted to share with you our top ten arts and crafts supplies!

(These supplies would be perfect for the Play Through The Bible series!)

1. Crayola Pip-Squeaks Skinnies

Pip Squeaks Skinnies are amazing. I love these markers! They are the perfect size for little hands. Plus, they come in so many fun colors. K is literally using these off and on all. day. long.

2. Paper

Construction paper is definitely used for tons of crafts in our house. K also goes through a bunch of scrap paper (mostly old loose leaf paper) since he is all about writing right now.

We also use our giant roll of paper a lot. Ours came from my dad who can get them from his work (a recycling company), but here is something similar.

3. Kid Scissors

K’s been able to cut with kid scissors for a while now. They are one of his favorite art tools! It has been really fun watching him go from just learning how to grip them, to using them to make all sorts of fun creations.

4. Tempera Paint

We usually pick up paint from Walmart or Hobby Lobby that looks almost exactly like these ones. They are very affordable, which is perfect for preschoolers who like to use a lot of paint! Quick tip: mix in a squirt of dish soap for easy finger painting clean-up!

5. Water Colors

We just picked up a new set of water colors the other day and K went to town painting with them! These little Crayola palettes are nice, but I really want to try liquid watercolors sometime soon!

6. Chalk

We have this exact same pack of Crayola chalk and it works great! The colors are so bright and they write so easily. We’ve used them both outside on the sidewalk and inside on our giant chalkboard. We are almost out – I need to restock!

7. Glue Sticks

While we do occasionally use standard Elmer’s glue, K’s glue of choice is glue sticks. He loves to cut and glue paper to create his own crafts. The disappearing purple glue is our favorite because it is really easy for him to see where he has put the glue down.

8. Craft Sticks

We have a big box of jumbo craft sticks and K is always pulling them out to make all sorts of different creations. We’ve also used them as manipulatives for math work and as prayer sticks.

9. Stickers

Stickers are so great for fine motor practice! My favorite place to pick up stickers is the dollar store, but you can grab a pretty good deal here.

10. Googly Eyes

These crazy little googly eyes are one of K’s favorites! Nothing completes a project like a nice set of wiggly eyes (or three or four if you’re making a monster!). I think next time I might spring for the more expensive peel and stick google eyes.

Share your favorites in the comments!

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

IBG Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum

Our Top Eight Preschool Building Materials

This post is part of the series “Home Preschool 101.” It is a peek into how we do homeschool preschool.

Here are all the posts (links will go live as published)…

Our Home Preschool Goals

Our Simple Preschool Plan 2015-2016

Our Top Five Preschool Science Supplies

Our Top Ten Preschool Arts and Craft Supplies

Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum Review

My Favorite Preschool Resources

Home Preschool Room Tour

Back to {Pre} School building

There are so many benefits to using open-ended building materials! Math skills, reasoning, spacial awareness, problem solving, creativity… the benefits go on and on!

We love building materials around here. K has something out on his train table nearly every day.

Here’s our favorites!

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1. ZOOB

ZOOB building sets are so fun! We got K the 250 piece set for Christmas last year and we all had a great time building with them! There are different types of pieces that all connect together in different ways – making it so you can build some neat creations!

The box says for ages 6+ and the pieces can be a little tricky to snap together for little fingers. However, K was able to use them at three with a little help.

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2. Classic Blocks

Our block set is a mishmash of hand-me-down blocks (some from when I was little!) and Jenga blocks. That doesn’t bother us though – they still work great for open ended building. A set of classic blocks is great for young and old preschoolers alike. Add some small toys and build a city!

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3. Mega Bloks and Duplo

Friends of ours gave us a giant bin of Mega Bloks and K has gotten tons of use out of them since he was a toddler. They are super easy to build with, which is great for tiny little fingers. I, personally, think that Duplo blocks have more building options than Mega Bloks, and we do have a few of those, but since we already have so many Mega Bloks I never built up our stash.

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4. Tinker Toys

These are another set that I played with when I was little! Hooray for hand-me-downs! Tinker Toys are so much fun – the perfect toy for your budding engineer.

5. Krinkle Blocks/Bristle Blocks

We grew up calling these neat building toys Krinkle Blocks and I didn’t realize that was even what they are actually called until I just looked them up. The set K plays with is once again one of my old toys, and it now considered a “collectable.” This is the exact set of Krinkles blocks we have. However, now you can find them as Bristle Blocks !

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6. Wooden Train Set

Now, a when you think of building sets you might not consider a train set to be in the same category – but I think it is! You have to use creativity and problem solving to connect the different pieces into a functioning track. K has had his train set since he was about two and he loves it!

A lot of people buy an all-in-one set, like this Thomas the Train set or this cool Melissa & Doug set, but we opted for a more cost effective generic box of train parts and a few of these trains.

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7. Lego

At 3 1/2, K has just recently had his first introduction to classic Lego. While we were on our trip last month to visit family, I had my younger brother fill a bag up with some from their big bin (that they don’t use anymore) – perfect to get K started with!

Now, both Lego and #8 K’nex, have really small pieces and are generally for older kids. So, use your own good judgement as to whether your preschooler is ready to use them as building materials.

8. K’nex

K got a large set of K’nex for Christmas last year, but at that time he just couldn’t figure out how to put them together. So, I put them up on the shelf for a while. Just recently I decided to take them back out again and he loved them! Similar to Lego, they have lots of interesting little pieces that can make some pretty cool contraptions.

And if you’re looking for some more…

We love building materials in our house, so here’s a few more that we have on our wish list!

Magna-Tiles

Gears! Gears! Gears!

Crazy Forts!

What are your favorite building toys?

Affiliate links included. Thank you for using your purchases to help support Simple Life. Messy Life.

IBG Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum