The Summer of PLAY (2019)

Time is going way too fast and I need time to slow down a bit. My babies are getting so big so fast and I just want to soak up as much time as I can with them being little. We are going to spend this summer PLAYING school. We are going to play school. That’s what this is all about. Lilly Belle is so far ahead academically that I forget sometimes to just PLAY with her. She’s not 6 until the end of the summer and I want to soak this time up where we have a 5 year old, 2 year old and a newborn sweet little baby.

This summer, we’re going to PLAY!

Each week we are going to do a new unit of Let’s Play School together. I’ve spent so-many-hours creating all of these packs with visions in my mind of getting to have time to actually do all of these activities with my own kids, and this summer – I’m making it happen.

We’re going to PLAY. Each week we will be doing a new unit I have created. We’re going to do a little bit of everything. I went through and chose units that I think my girls specifically will have a blast with and enjoy.

Our Daily Summer Schedule:

  • 7:00am Morning Basket and Breakfast
  • 8:00am Ready for the Day
  • 9:00am Playground or Pool *** On Fridays we will be going to Disney instead during this time. I will take the kids to a resort to swim, play at a Disney park, to Disney Springs or Disney’s Boardwalk. We will come home in time for Lucy’s nap or on some days she may skip nap.
  • 10:00am Home for Snack Time
  • 10:30am “School Time” – Play and Learn ABCs for Lucy (2.5) / Play and Read Phonics for Lilly Belle (almost 6)
  • 12:00pm Lunch and Stories
  • 1:00pm Lucy’s Nap / Lilly Belle Math (The Good and The Beautiful) and 15 Minutes Reading
  • 3:00pm Snack Time
  • 3:30pm “School Time” – Unit Plans
  • 5:00pm Dinner Prep
  • 6:00pm Dinner, Bath, Stories, Songs and Tuck-In by 7:00/7:30pm
  • ***The girls have dance a couple nights a week and Lilly Belle is enrolled in 2 summer camps, so those times will change. We also enjoy going out as a family to Disney at night during the summer. We usually do that 2-3 times/week during the summer.

Weekly Unit Plans:

May 13 – May 17 Let’s Play School Subscription – Bug Unit

May 20 – May 24 My First School Curriculum – The Very Hungry Caterpillar

May 27 – May 31 My First School Curriculum – Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

June 3 – June 7 Let’s Play Pretend (Coffee Shop) and Let’s Play Summer School (2 new cards each day)

June 10 – June 14 Let’s Play School Subscription – Summer Unit

June 17 – June 21 SUMMER CAMP WEEK and Let’s Play Summer School (2 new cards each day)

June 24 – June 28 My First School Curriculum – Tickle Monster

July 1 – July 5 America Unit Study (former Let’s Play School Book Club unit)

July 8 – July 12 Let’s Play School Subscription – Dinosaur Unit

July 15 – July 19 My First School Curriculum – I’m a Dirty Dinosaur

July 22 – July 26 My First School Curriculum – Dear Zoo

July 29 – August 2 FAMILY VACATION

August 5 – First Day of School 2019 / 2020 School Year (3 Year Old Preschool & First Grade)

I will be using Sundays to prep for the upcoming week. I’m pretty excited for all of the fun that is in store! I will be announcing our choices for our 2019-2020 curriculum very soon.




March 2019 Morning Basket

We are now in the big waiting game phase with our baby! I’m 36 weeks now. I have a feeling our little guy will be closer to on time, but mentally and physically I can tell my body is like, “oh hey – you usually only have a couple weeks to go…you’re almost done!” The nesting is real and I’m getting so antsy and excited to meet our sweet boy. And a bit nervous about labor/delivery again because, well…is there anyone ever not a bit nervous about that?

We are now also in a phase of leaving the house as minimally as possible. This includes me having to run must-do errands (bank, post office) or taking Lilly Belle and Lucy to their dance classes or our once/week story time. Matt is now working from home so he can help me as much as possible for these last few weeks. So, we’re all going to be home a lot for the next few months. This gives us tons of time for Morning Basket each morning so I crammed this baby full of learning goodness! I’m really trying to let things go right now and not freak out if we don’t get to all the things with homeschool. It is a season and will be a short season. I know once our sweet boy is here, we will slowly but surely start getting into a routine. It’s a serious limbo right now.


A few mornings ago the girls were beyond excited when they woke up and saw what I put together in the middle of the night for them. No, literally. I put this basket together at 3:30am while I couldn’t sleep. Figure I might as well be productive if I’m wide awake.

We’ll be spending most all of our morning doing Morning Basket together unless I have a doctor appointment or the girls have story time.

Here are all the goodies I’ve included for this month! I should mention, when I’m putting our basket together I think about how much goodness and learning can I bring into our mornings together. What can they learn that is new? What do they love? What brings them joy? What brings me joy? What brings us together? What starts our day of smoothly?

Bible: This month we are switching things up. We have now read all the way through the Jesus Storybook Bible 2 or 3 times and the girls love it, but I felt they needed to switch things up a little. Lilly Belle has been having a lot of questions lately, and questioning a lot lately and so I want to give her a diversity in learning so it’s not all coming from the same exact text and stories. We got out our My First Bible and Prayers again and it was a lot of fun to read from it again this morning! I bought it last spring and we get it out from time to time.

Fairytales: I got out one of our favorite fairy tale books for this month, the Mary Engelbreit 5 Minute Fairty Tales. The length of these stories are perfect and the illustrations are so cute. Our girls really enjoy these stories.

Poetry: Instead of our usual poetry books, this month I put our Usborne Musical Nursery Rhymes book back in our basket and the girls were beyond excited to see it there. It is always a favorite for both of them. We have had it in our basket on and off since Lucy was a baby. Lilly Belle was excited to be reading from it this morning by herself!

Fun Additions:

Usborne Lift the Flap Word Book: This book is great for both of our girls. Lilly Belle can read the words and Lucy likes to lift the flaps, repeat the words and find the pictures. It is great for Lucy’s vocabulary and speech and awesome for Lilly Belle to read with confidence. We will just do a page or two at a time.

Spanish Practice: I found this Paint Shop Matching Activity in the Target Dollar Spot. It has both english and spanish color words on it. Lucy sat and matched the colors while I read to the girls today and then when Lucy was done playing with it, Lilly Belle flipped them all over and had to match just by reading the spanish word and finding it’s matching paint can color. Lilly Belle will for sure have all of her spanish color words down this month from this game.

Character Building: We are so excited about the Big Life Journal Three Seas cards we received for our family. Each of the cards build conversations for families to talk about together. There are 52 cards with different conversation topics. This morning our question was, “what quality do you look for in a friend?” It led to a great conversation between Matt, Lilly Belle and I.

We have also included the Usborne Be Brave book. Lilly Belle has been loving this activity book so much! We keep it to 1-2 pages a day even though she begs to do more. If I let her, she would do the whole book in one sitting. I really want the ideas and concepts in the book to really sink in with her though so we are going through this book very slowly.

Handwriting: I added in two of our Chalkfull of Design boards. I have one small one for Lucy to color all over and the large alphabet board for Lilly Belle to trace.

Math: Lilly Belle’s favorite activity book has been this, My First Math Book! We have only used it during our Morning Basket time this year and she gets beyond excited when I get it out again. She would sit and finish the whole book at once if I’d let her! It challenges her and each page is completely different. It’s been great extra practice. I am actually thinking about getting a second book, tearing out all the pages and putting them in page protectors in a binder so she can use it over and over again until she has it too memorized. It’s been so great!

Art: I added in The Usborne Big Drawing Book so that we could learn how to draw some fun pictures together. I’m pretty terrible at drawing and wish I was better so this will be fun for us to do together.

Additional Read Aloud Stories: We are reading through Dumbo right now just a few pages a day until baby brother is born. It was Matt’s favorite movie as a little boy and our baby’s nursery is all elephants and we have Dumbo in his crib. There is more special to it that we will explain after he is born as well. The girls have been having fun reading the story together. We are also reading the last 3 books in the Zoey and Sassafras series! Lilly Belle and Lucy both love these. We read the first two earlier in the fall and it has been fun to get into them again. We have been reading a few chapters during Morning Basket and then again with another chapter before bedtime. If you haven’t checked out Zoey and Sassafrass, I highly recommend them. They are all about a little girl who discovers magical animals and does tons of science experiments. Lilly Belle has learned so much about science from these books. We haven’t done any actual science lessons really this year, so I love that these books are so full of science goodness!

For Lucy: Our last addition this month is The Usborne Big Book of ABC. This is a newer Usborne book and Lucy loves it! Matt has been sitting with Lucy on the couch and reading this with her in the morning while Lilly Belle is working on her math book with me.

The girls are really loving this month’s basket because it really has been different everyday for them. We don’t ever get to all of it and we do it a bit different every morning. Most days we do it sitting at the table while eating breakfast, but sitting on our wooden kitchen chairs for so long is getting super uncomfortable for me so we’ve recently moved over to the couch for Morning Basket time. Today we are doing it different than we’ve ever done it because I have a ton of work to do today. I am finishing a project for work, then sitting with them to do something from our basket. I’m alternating like that all day today. It helps me to be able to work while still getting so spend so much quality time with them!

Hope you’ve found some goodies in this post that your kids will love! Happy March…it’s BABY MONTH! A

February 2019 Morning Basket (Ages 5 & 2)

We really simplified our Morning Basket for January and I found the girls got bored with it after a couple weeks. That’s never really happened before so this month I ramped it back up and really added a lot of solid fun for them. I love when our mornings are smooth and when I can feel the girls’ joy from our time together. In January, for the first time, Morning Basket became something Lilly Belle and Lucy started moaning and groaning about. It broke my heart. So, now I know. They like it filled with all the goodness so we can change it up more each morning. As always, the biggest lesson is that yes, Instagram can be beautiful, but don’t ever forget to stay true to your family. Our family has bits and pieces of Charlotte Mason style learning, but at the end of the day, slowing down that much just isn’t for us.


So here is our February Morning Basket!

Bible: We are not using a Bible curriculum this month. I am going to continue reading the Jesus Storybook Bible to the girls each morning and we will sing the February Hymn from Happy Hymnody, but we aren’t going to do Bible based projects this month.


Poetry: Our girls love Shel Silverstein so we went to Barnes and Noble and got a new one for them this month. They will sit belly laughing listening to me read these poems! We already own Where the Sidewalk Ends, so now we bought A Light in the Attic. I’m excited to start this with them.


Fairy Tale: Dumbo has a lot of special meaning in our family especially with Baby Brother coming. It was Matt’s favorite movie as a little boy so we did his “nursery” with an elephants and dreams as the theme. I am reading a few pages of this book to the girls each morning. It’s almost 100 pages long and this was my book as a child.


Handwriting: I am trying to keep Lucy at the table with us longer because she just does not stay with us lately. We are using our Let’s Play School Nursery Rhymes Handwriting Book each morning. We sing the nursery rhyme to Lucy while Lilly Belle traces or does copy work of that nursery rhyme.


Let’s Play School Subscription: The girls have both been having so much fun with this. It’s so awesome to see that Lucy can participate in some of the activities now too! She can do about half of the hands on activities and a few of the printables too. Lilly Belle loves them all! Depending on the month, we choose 1-3 activities to do together each morning from that month’s theme. This month’s theme is ocean. We will be doing the majority of our ocean unit study in the afternoons, but doing a few of these activities each morning will get them excited for the learning that is to come in the afternoon when we really dive into our ocean study. Lilly Belle does the Kindergarten – 1st Grade activities and some of the preschool ones too. Lucy has been asking for these activities every morning!

(Pictures coming next week as I start photographing each of the 20 activities)

Rooted Childhood: We love Rooted Childhood so much. We’ve now used it for two months and the girls and I have really enjoyed it. We read the poems and the stories together during our Morning Basket time. Some days at the end of Morning Basket we do the handicrafts or recipes together and it’s been such a special time together.


Spanish: We are going to use our Kindergarten Toolkit flashcards to work on numbers to 20 and colors this month. These flashcards are perfect because they’re super simple and pretty and the you can do so much with them!


Fine Motor / Sensory: While I am reading to the girls, we get out Lulu’s play dough set from Prairie Tale Travels. The girls have been playing with this play dough and kit for almost a whole month now. It came in the mail early January and it’s something they are happy to play with every single day. I added it to our basket in hopes of keeping Lucy at the table with us while I’m reading. Lilly Belle has been designing play dough outfits for her barbies with it which has been really cute. I can’t wait to get another kit for them from Prairie Tale Travels soon!


Language Arts: We are going to be learning about nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives this month by using a Valentine’s themed Mad Libs. I tried this with Lilly Belle when she turned 5 in August and she wasn’t quite ready, but I know she is now and I know she’s going to think this is hilarious!


Songs / Finger Plays: Lucy has been loving our felt story sets from the Quiet Book Queen. This month I added our 3 Little Pigs and 5 Little Monkey sets to the basket. Lucy is obsessed and she saw me put these in the basket and started clapping!


I am so excited for our mornings to be filled with songs, stories and play this month!




2019 January – March Curriculum Picks

I shared our January Morning Basket yesterday which is a huge part of our school days together now. Once Lucy goes down for her nap (around 11:30am) we will begin our school time together, just Lilly Belle and I. Lucy usually naps for around an hour so we will do school just until around 1pm. Once it’s 1:00/1:30pm we will be done for the day and head out to a park to play, run errands if needed and get ready for Lilly Belle’s classes. Afternoons will also be a time to just PLAY. The girls have quite an awesome school/playroom now and we have really been enjoying spending time in there together. They also share a room now which they are in love with.

Our baby boy will be born sometime mid-end March and we will do school this way up until he is born, and then even slower once he is born. Lilly Belle has completed all of her Kindergarten curriculums (language arts/reading, math, and sight words) so we are now slowing things way down and learning in a different way than we usually do to just enjoy our time together more. She isn’t quite 5 1/2 yet, so we are way ahead. Time to slow it all down.

I am excited for this year and how we will be doing school now. I think it’s going to benefit all of us!


As our main curriculum, and the only real curriculum we are following, we will be using the Playful Pioneers curriculum. I purchased this when Lilly Belle had just turned 4 and have been wanting to use it forever. I’m so glad we have waited until now, because it is the perfect time and fits in so well with our new way of schooling together; gentle schooling. We will follow this curriculum the way it is written except instead of taking Friday’s off from it, we will be taking Wednesday’s off from it since that will be the afternoon we have a babysitter here each week and my work time. Lilly Belle is really interested in the Little House books recently, especially since I am from Wisconsin and our family is there. Playful Pioneers will be a beautiful addition to our days.


Math: Since Lilly Belle has finished the Kindergarten Math Made Fun Curriculum from the Moffatt Girls, I have been debating on whether or not we should jump right into the first grade curriculum or hold off a bit and wait until next August when she is 6. I’ve decided we will wait until August when she is 6 and for now we are just perfecting all the skills she has learned and building onto them slowly. This means that the First Grade curriculum may be completed pretty quickly once we begin since she’s so ahead, but then we’ll do what we are doing again and use the second half of the year for games and math with toys to perfect her skills. Math is her favorite subject!

We are using the Moffatt Girls Kindergarten No Prep Packs for math worksheets each day. She will do 2/day. Once she does those worksheets, we will either play a game or use a math learning toy. I forgot to add it to this photo because they are all hung so neat on our new board in our room, but each day she will also be working on a set of math facts from our brand new Let’s Play School Math Facts pack. This will be what she does first each day. There is also math included in the Let’s Play School Subscription that she does during our Morning Basket time.

Additional Math Toys:

Large Dice: The Dollar Tree

Wooden Numbers and Mushroom Counters: Little Light of Homeschool on Instagram

Judy Clock

Watermelon Addition Game

Plastic Links

Play Money: Homeschool Convention

Clock Chalkboard

Wooden Hundred Board and Numbers 


Reading / Spelling / Phonics / Sight Words: We are not using a reading curriculum anymore at this time with her. I have found she is progressing naturally just by reading books aloud to us each day. When we come across phonics rules in her reading, we go over then and usually she remembers while reading again and coming across that rule in future books. As she is just 5 and a few months old, this is working so well with her right now and allowing her to progress at her own natural pace. She enjoys reading from The Good and The Beautiful Level 1 Reader and also has a cute set of new Fancy Nancy beginning readers by her bed that she loves. She will also be reading the Little Bear and Frog and Toad books with me. We will alternate stories all the way through each book and then switch who reads which pages reading them again. Then I will have her read them on her own. She will also work on the Usborne My First Reading Library. She is now on books 5-8 in the set now and we just alternate which story she reads with me. These books are read a bit by her and a bit by me so it’s nice shared reading time. Everyday she just has to read me two books. She reads me one in the morning, and one during our school time.

She works on phonics with Explode the Code and does 2 pages/day with that. She is a bit over half way through book 2. We will get book 3 for her when it’s complete and she will just continue through those. She started with Book A, and completed A, B, C and 1. These 2 pages usually take her about 5 minutes to finish.

For sight words she will do one of the Let’s Play School Sight Word games each day. I have them in her daily drawers (I will share later) and she just plays the game that is in that drawer. She is just about finished with the First Grade set of words and I am currently printing and laminating the 2nd Grade set even though I just printed the First Grade set for the first time just a week ago…she already knew most of them without me knowing.

Each day she will play one spelling game. These are all apart of our Play and Learn Spelling Program in our Let’s Play School shop. She will do things like write the words in shaving cream, pass a ball back and forth with me while spelling, write on a Magnadoodle, etc. It will take about 5-7 minutes a day. I am just giving her 5 spelling words a week and choosing them from The Good and The Beautiful lists.


Read Aloud Choices: Each night when the girls take a bath, I read them one chapter from our chapter book choice. We are currently reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The girls are loving it and Lilly Belle got to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and earned her wand and her first Butterbeer (perks of living next-door to Universal and Disney). Her and Matt are now working on learning spells together and will be having Daddy-Daughter Dates to Universal and Islands of Adventure to do their spells together with her wand. Correction…he cannot use it because the magic won’t work for him since it’s her wand, but he will be there to help her.

Once we finish Harry Potter we are moving on to Mary Poppins. Lilly Belle saw Mary Poppins Returns twice in theaters because we couldn’t bring Lucy and each of us wanted to take her to see it. So we took turns and she saw it two days in a row. She now has the entire soundtrack memorized and listens to it on our Echo Dot in her room 24/7. That is actually what the girls are doing now as I write this. “Cleaning” their room and listening to Mary Poppins Returns. Which looks more like making their Sarah’s Silks Balance Board a stage and quickly jumping down to look as if they’re cleaning when I walk by… I kind of love it.

Lilly Belle loves the Who Was books so her and Matt read these together. They are starting by reading Walt Disney (again) and she has requested to learn about Amelia Earhart.


Handwriting: She has these handwriting materials all in her Daily Drawers. I have one for each day of the week and she just alternates which one she does. She does not like handwriting curriculum (in any way shape or form) so she just does one or two pages/day (depending on the curriculum) and I have her alternating to change it up. Her handwriting is already pretty good because she writes stories constantly and more recently…programs for her grand musicals that she performs for us nightly (that yes include programs and even refreshments she charges us for). She’s so my daughter…

Her favorite of these handwriting books are the My Picture Story Book and Handwriting Without Tears. I love the Draw Write Now series and think The Good and The Beautiful Handwriting Level 2 curriculum is good for her. She spends just about 10 minutes/day on handwriting unless its the Draw Write Now or My Picture Story Book. IMG_7763

Once our baby is born end of March we will take a few weeks off while family is here. While family is in town she will just be working on her math facts each day and reading to us. We will also continue with Morning Basket.

That does it! Our early 2019 curriculum picks. We will go back to all of this again in May/June/July. In August we will pick back up with The Good and The Beautiful Level 1, Moffatt Girls First Grade Grammar and Moffatt Girls First Grade Math Made Fun.

January 2019 Morning Basket

Hooray, it’s a baby year in our house! Just about 3 more months (or less) until we meet our sweet boy. 2013, 2016 and now 2019 are all our family baby years in this house. We are slowing things way down over here (more to come on this) but our Morning Basket for sure has a new vibe as does our entire home. Slowing life down to soak up this season because babies don’t keep…


For January through end of March, our Morning Basket will take up the entire morning each day. It is going to be my time with the girls when no matter what, I will be 100% present. I will not be checking my phone at all in the morning and will actually be keeping it on it’s charger until late morning when Lucy goes down for her nap (11:30am).  I’ll then be setting a timer for 10 minutes and once that timer goes off and time is up, the phone will go away again. The only time it will be out is if I want to get a picture of the girls or take a video – but it will not be time for anything other than using the camera. I just have really been enjoying the social media break and a break from all the noise. We have a lot going on and I don’t want to miss a thing (insert me singing Aerosmith).

Every night from 7:00-8:00pm will be my time to check Etsy messages, Instagram messages and emails. I will answer them in the order received and then once it’s 8:00pm it will be put away again so I can spend time with Matt. I will have working hours as well in the afternoons when we will be having some babysitter help so that I can get caught up on all the curriculums.

Lilly Belle will be doing any curriculum work during Lucy’s nap time only and whatever she gets to she gets to, whatever she doesn’t…she doesn’t. She is about a year ahead academically right now so we aren’t too worried about slowing down so much.

The girls and I got robes for Christmas so our Morning Basket time will be even more cozy. They wake up at about 6:30am and we start right then. So how is this going to look for our Morning Basket? What goodness will be filling our days together?


January Morning Basket Contents:

Story Alive – If you are not following Ashely over at The Littles and Me, you are missing out on a lot of goodness, joy, truth and just a lot of encouragement as a mom. I have had the pleasure of spending the day with Ashley in real life and she is just as full of goodness in real life as she is on her Instagram and blog. We love her children’s Bible Study curriculum, Story Alive. For January’s we will be using two of the units; one on sin and one on Noah’s Ark. We will read the bible stories together and do the related activities.

Write the Word for Kids – Lilly Belle loves this so much. We read the bible together and she loves copying from it and feeling like a big girl. She finds a lot of joy in this activity and anything that is bring so much goodness into her is fine by me. She does this activity about half on her own and half with me. While she is working not he copy work portion of that day, I am playing with Lucy next to her.

Bible used during this time: Jesus Storybook Bible

Let’s Play School Subscription – I finished January’s subscription super early. And I may or may not have had Morning Basket in mind while creating it. Both of the girls have activities from this month’s subscription that they will be able to enjoy each day. Everything from dressing up little paper dolls in winter clothing to Lilly Belle doing some winter poetry copy work. I’ve included some cute winter rhymes that I wrote for Lucy and all of your littles, a reading challenge, and of course fun math and reading games. The girls and I will do a few each morning. Lilly Belle will be doing the addition math facts activity and reading challenge everyday and I will be singing the rhymes to them each day and then after that we will pick one more to play together every morning. Our subscription releases on January 12th and I am excited for the winter theme so that these activities can be used by families all winter long.

Rooted Childhood – We recently discovered Rooted Childhood and have been in-love with it! It is absolutely perfect for our morning time together and a lead-in to our day. Rooted Childhood is filled with poems, short stories, finger plays, crafts, recipes and more. Since our Morning Basket already always has Bible, Poem and Fairy Tale each morning, Rooted Childhood will be taking the place for our fairy tale and poetry. The girls are loving the short stories there. The crafts and recipes have been new for us as they are more of a Charlotte Mason approach with crafts that are actual projects for the child to make things that are real and useful. Lilly Belle has loved knowing that she is making things that will actually be used and can be enjoyed for a long time. We will not be making a handicraft or recipe from here every single day, but by then end of each month, we will have completed them all. We are spreading them out and again – taking things slowly.

Picture Books – I am adding in picture books to our basket each month. These books are all chosen with lots of thought put into them. We are seriously purging our books over here to leave only what I feel is best for them at this time. We noticed that when we had too many books, we read less. We didn’t get to our favorites, they got lost in the shuffle. We have had two huge book sales and also donated over 100 books over the past few months. We still have an entire 9 cube shelf filled with books and 4 bookshelves in their room along with our morning basket, so they still have an enormous library, but not as overwhelming as before. Each morning I will be reading them a story or two from our Morning Basket choices. Again, we will be snuggled up on the couch together for this time each morning.

Poetry – Our poetry this month comes from the Let’s Play School Subscription and Rooted Childhood.

Busy Hands and Feet – For a lot of the time I am reading to the girls during our Morning Basket, the girls are eating breakfast. My plan moving forward is that while they eat their breakfasts (sitting at our coffee table) I will read the bible story to them. After that, they may be done eating and we usually lose Lucy to toys and running around a bit. She will play and come back to see what we are doing, play and come back, and so on. I want to see if I can keep her with us a bit longer. So after bible is when I will read them a picture book snuggled up. After this time, I’ll have her attention again and we can see if she would like to join us for any of the activities. Otherwise, she can color at our easel (from Ikea), play on our balance board, or look through our picture books.

And that will be our Morning Basket time each day. It’s filled with lots of handcrafts, stories, poetry, Bible time and just lots of time together. I’m pretty excited about it. We have family coming into town this month (Matt’s parents and then my dad) and I intend on continuing our basket each day while they are here and I’m sure they’ll like to join us – especially Nana.

I hope you all have a great start to the New Year! It’s going to be a great one – I can feel it!

Our Christmastime Learning 2018

This is the best thing that has ever happened to our homeschool…ever. It is now 11:55am and Lucy is napping, but Lilly Belle is still doing school. She has been working and playing since 6:30am…with no breaks except to take a 10-minute tidy break. She had a hard time even stopping to do that.

The magic…putting each of their Christmas learning activities in gift boxes! She is currently working on her 18th activity for the day. And the rule is that every time she grabs a box, she has to do and complete whatever is in that box. She has been doing crafts, reading, learning new math concepts, playing, doing some science…and best part, Lucy has gotten to participate in most of them with her!


We have been listening to The Nutcracker and Christmas music on our Echo Dot all morning while they play and learn. My plan was to take them to Disney Springs after lunch and nap today but Lilly Belle doesn’t want to leave! I’ve read them a few stories.

Oh, AND…they did Morning Basket with me for a good 45 minutes before jumping into the Christmas Shelf activities.

This is how we are going to be doing school until mid-January when my in laws get here for a visit. Then we will take a break while they are here and after they leave, the shelf will be switched to winter learning for the rest of January, then love and Valentine’s theme and then Spring…and then a break for a bit when baby brother is born end of March. After that…we’ll see how it’s going 😉


I have been doing stories on my Instagram this morning of all of our Christmas activities as the girls are doing them. I’ll be saving those as highlights so that you can always go back and see the girls doing the activities and how we played with each box.

What happens once the girls master an activity or a craft is complete?

So once Lilly Belle masters an activity, Lucy gets bored with an activity, or it is a craft that is completed, then I will be taking that activity out and replacing it with something new. Every weekend from now through mid-January when we are done, I will go through all the boxes and evaluate if they should stay, be changed in any way, or get the boot. There are always more Christmas crafts to be done, and a lot more learning ideas I have for them, so I’m not worried. I actually have a lot more Christmas activities I purchased on TPT or am making for Lilly Belle that need to still be added. I am also always thinking of new ways I want Lucy to learn and play, so I’ll be adding ones for her as well. She just turned 2 the 1st of this month and her attention span (is usually) only around 3-5 minutes long on an activity.

How did I decide what to add to the gift boxes?

I thought long and hard about what the girls are each working on and learning. Lilly Belle is soaring with her reading, so I wanted to be sure that at least a few of the boxes had reading activities and phonics in them. The majority of her reading learning right now is just from…reading books! But, I still want her working on phonics practice to really get those skills down. She also has just a few concepts she had to learn yet from the Moffatt Girls Kindergarten Math Made Fun before she moves on to the First Grade Math Made Fun in January, so I chose Christmas themed activities I found or created myself that would work on her really getting those skills down pat before moving her on to the next level curriculum. For Lucy, I know she loves fine motor activities and is good at them. They keep her interest as well, so I was sure to add that in for her. I also want to start working on counting to 5 with her because her speech is picking up, so I have a few counting activities ready for her. Other than that, she will get to listen to Christmas stories, play with her sister, and have quiet learning time with me when she wants to. We also let her play with us whenever I’m working on something that Lilly Belle can really only do. This morning we played a board game and just let Lucy have her own game piece and spin the spinner to feel like she was playing with us. She sat in my lap the whole time and loved it so much.

Where do you find all these resources?

My favorite “stores” in the world are Teachers Pay Teachers and our supply closet. I make a lot of the girl’s curriculum myself as that is what I do, but I also love finding things on Teachers Pay Teachers! And I always raid our supply closet first before purchasing ANYTHING. I save all of their activities from year to year so I already had 2 full bins ready to pull out this year from things I purchased this year. I sorted through those bins, pulled out anything that was age appropriate for them now and put away anything that was either now too easy for Lilly Belle or still too difficult for Lucy. The rest, I started adding to the boxes. Once I had done that, I went to Michaels and got all the gift boxes! And then I realized The Dollar Tree has them as well, so that is how I was able to get so many. I probably spent about $20 on the actual gift boxes themselves, but now we’ll have them every year to do this again! I’ll probably keep doing this until they graduate high school 😉 No but really…it’s so fun, you guys! Okay, so once I gathered what we had, made trips to Michaels and The Dollar Tree (and a bit from Target), then I headed online to Teachers Pay Teachers and would search like “Christmas Phonics Activities” or “First Grade Christmas Math Centers”. I picked out the ones I thought she would enjoy, bought those, printed, laminated and cut them out. And now…they’re set to go in the boxes.

What is in the boxes?!!! I will be blogging again every Monday so you can see what I have taken away, what they have finished, and what I have added in for the next week! So here it is, all of the current boxes the girls are working on this week. Today is Monday, and we’ll do this again on Tuesday/Wednesday. Thursday we go to Day School all day and I’ll be bringing a lot of them with me for my students to enjoy as well (I’m the Kindergarten/1st Grade teacher) and then we’ll play again on Friday. I’ll switch it all out and fix/change it over the weekend and we’ll start again on the following Monday.

Box #1: I picked up the Find It Fast Game in the Target Dollar Spot and the Crazy Eights game at The Dollar Tree. Lilly Belle, Lucy and I sat and played these for over a half hour today. They will be staying on our shelf again next week for sure.


The Good and The Beautiful Safety Science Unit: This will be on our shelf the entire month as well. We have noticed that Lilly Belle is testing her independence more and more lately and we want to allow her to grow and do that, but want to be sure she is safe while doing so. This unit is from The Good and The Beautiful and will be super helpful for her and also a lot of fun!


Box #2: I love searching Teachers Pay Teachers for learning goodies. For this shelf I searched “Christmas Math Activities” and one of my finds was from an adorable shop, Amanda’s Little Learners.


Box #3: This box is filled with play dough toys! I am making some Christmas play dough for the girls tonight so they’ll be excited when this box gets pulled out next. Today, Lilly Belle used the cookie cutters as a tracing activity.


I talked about our December Morning Basket all in our last blog post, but I wanted to share what I have included in the little tins here. One is pencils (and my scissors – not in this photo), one filled with colored pencils, one with crayons, and one with odds and ends: kid scissors, tape, glue sticks, and pencil sharpeners.


I have these plastic cups here for the girls to use for a number of different activities. This week they are using them to stack “Christmas trees”. I grabbed these at our local Dollar Tree.


Box #4: This box kept both of the girls entertained today for the entire time I took a shower. That’s a win in my book! Neither of the girls ever really super love Dot a Dot markers lately, but they got into this activity for a while making cute little wreaths.

Dot a Dot Markers


Box #5: The girls did not get to this activity today, but we will play tomorrow. I had a bunch of these wooden discs from Michaels and bought a couple packs of these alphabet stickers from The Dollar Spot at Target. I have a pair for each letter in this tin.


Box #6: This was one of the girl’s favorite boxes today. I made it for Lucy, but Lilly Belle (5) ended up having just as much fun. They were cracking up and being silly. I gave them each a magnet wand and they tried to get as many jingle bells onto their magnet wand as they could by swishing it around the box. Then they would slide them all off at one and laugh and laugh.

Magnet Wands


Box #7: This ended up being something we all loved making. Lucy loved that she could do this by herself. Lilly Belle was having fun making the biggest mess she could and I had fun getting to be creative for a bit. This was a 12-pack of foam snowflakes from Michaels and we just covered them in designs with glitter glue.

Crayola Glitter Glue


Box #8: This one was fun for Lilly Belle to do on her own today. She didn’t finish it today and I’m glad! She will be able to finish it tomorrow and we can hang it up somewhere in her room so she can take the chains off each day until Christmas. I got this little paper chain pack for her from Michaels.

IMG_3760 2

Box #9: Another fun activity from Amanda’s Little Learners. This is the Winter Sentence Matching activity and she did every single one. She was super proud to show me how she could read them all. She had to read each sentence and then find the matching picture.


Box #10: Another matching activity. I actually didn’t mean to make this one. I was sitting with Lucy going through our Christmas bins. I looked over and she had found this pack of stickers (from last year’s Christmas card envelopes) and another pack of the wooden discs. She had seen me making the alphabet set the day before and was now sticking the stickers on them herself. So, we sat together and made this set. She was so proud of herself! Lilly Belle and I played this one today and Lucy loved collecting each of our pairs once we found them and putting them back into the Santa bag.


Box #11: Bitty Beginnings is one our favorite shops! Lilly Belle loved this activity for preschool and I thought Lucy would be ready so I got it all set up for her. I figured she would put the pom poms on and I would count out loud, but…she didn’t quite have enough patience for it yet. I think it would be great starting around age 2 1/2 with a parent. She’ll for sure love this a ton next year! SO…what we are going to do instead tomorrow is have Lilly Belle do some addition with the pages by adding all the trees on each page together.


Box #12: Another hit and the easiest one to put together. I gave Lilly Belle a pen and Lucy some crayons and they made Christmas cards. Lilly Belle wrote a card for her music teacher and Lucy colored in a card for “dada”. I found these cards at The Dollar Tree.


The Target Dollar Spot is always one of my favorite places, but especially during the holidays! I found this puzzle for Lilly Belle 2 years ago. She still isn’t into puzzles because she just automatically assumes it will be hard so she doesn’t choose it, but a few days ago she did it on her own. I put it on her shelf because I want her to start challenging herself.


Box #13: By far the biggest hit of the day! I added plastic ornaments, craft poms and sequins to the box. I got all the supplies at Michaels. The girls and I each filled an ornament and then went and hung it on the tree. I’m excited to have these added to our tree each year now. They turned out so cute!


Box #14: Another super easy box to throw together and another hit for both the girls. This is one of Lucy’s favorite activities. She really enjoys fine motor activities like this. Lilly Belle made a bracelet for her music teacher. We were a bit late to her class today because I had a physical therapy appointment. She ran in and gave her teacher the bracelet and even though her teacher was in the middle of playing the piano for the class, she paused, put on the bracelet and kept going. Lilly Belle lit up. It was pretty adorable. I’m sure there will be many more bracelets made with this box! I got the beads and pipe cleaners at Michaels.


Activity #15: We didn’t get a chance to play with this today either so it is one of the top on my list tomorrow. This is from our Let’s Play School Christmas Sight Words Pack.


Box #16: Lilly Belle was pretty pumped when she opened this box up. I grabbed each of these crafts from Michaels and they’ll keep her busy for a while!


Box #17: This was the last box Lilly Belle grabbed today. She had been doing the activities for 7 hours and I told her she could keep playing tomorrow. This is from our Let’s Play School Christmas Preschool Pack. It is meant to be a counting activity, but since Lilly Belle can already do that, she will be using this to show me different ways she can make each number (example: 5+5=10, 9+1=10, 8+2=10). She’ll use the different colored bows as well. The bows are from The Dollar Tree.


Box #18: I played this with Lucy the other day and she enjoyed it. I made it with the hopes that it would keep her busy during Morning Basket time. The elves are from our Let’s Play School Christmas Preschool Pack and the buttons are from JoAnn Fabrics.


I still want Lilly Belle to continue with her Explode the Code series because it has been helping her so much with her reading from Day 1. She has now done books A, B, C and 1. She’s about halfway through book 2 now and we do about 5 pages a day.

Explode the Code A | Explode the Code B | Explode the Code C | Explode the Code 1 | Explode the Code 2


Another piece of our Kindergarten curriculum that I didn’t want to put away just yet. Lilly Belle is really enjoying this and I love that it’s helping her so much. I have also included our Let’s Play School Christmas Songs Copy Work set for us to do together. We play the songs and then trace and copy the lyrics as we listen.

Handwriting Without Tears : Letters and Numbers for Me


We love everything from The Moffatt Girls. Lilly Belle is now doing the Kindergarten No Prep Pack for December as independent work. I am using the Kindergarten pack for her now as review. I also put in this activity from our Christmas Sight Words Pack.


Box #19: One of the very first shops I found when Lilly Belle was 2 was Busy Little Bugs. She has a cute Etsy shop and is also on Teachers Pay Teachers. These two activities are from her Christmas Math Centers Pack.


Box #20: We got asked about this one a lot today! Lilly Belle and Lucy both love playing with Pattern Blocks and this activity from You Clever Monkey was a hit last year and again today. Lucy is too little yet for it so she just plays with the blocks, but Lilly Belle loved this!


I got both of these games from the Target Dollar Spot! We haven’t played the memory game yet but it looks adorable and Lilly Belle had so much fun learning how to play the Ski Lifts and Slopes game with me this morning!


Box #21: I have cards mixed together in this tin from two separate sets. One from our Let’s Play School Christmas Preschool Pack and one from Bitty Beginnings Nativity Preschool Pack. Last year at this time we owned Bitty Beginnings for a while. During the time that I owned Bitty Beginnings we were trying to combine both shops so that the activities would blend and be as one big shop together for Let’s Play School. So some of the activities starting to be very similar and some even the same 🙂 I loved pulling this out and seeing these all mixed together when we got the Christmas activities out this year. Jen and I are still very good friends and I loved being apart of Bitty Beginnings for a while while she got to step back and just be mommy. She missed it a ton so we ended up selling it back so now we are separate again 🙂 We love Bitty Beginnings so much! Her shop is closed now for the holidays, but once it opens again – head on over and grab all you can. Our girls both love her activities!


Box #22: Another math game from our Let’s Play School Christmas Preschool Pack. Today Lucy took over the Santa erasers, so Lilly Belle matched up the number cards with the number word cards.


Box #23: The last of our boxes for this week. If you have not yet heard of Craft and Boogie, you need to head over and grab a box! Meghan has the cutest craft kits I’ve ever seen and she is one hard working mama!!! She is amazing with her children and amazing with her business. She’s kicking butt and I love supporting her shop! Lilly Belle freaks OUT when she sees the boxes arrive in the mail. This is from her Advent Kit. The girls and I made this one over the weekend and it turned out so cute!


The last activity Lilly Belle worked on today is not shown here because I didn’t get a picture yet, but it is our tradition of her making beeswax candles. We did this last year and will continue to do it every year. I buy them for her over Thanksgiving weekend and she works on them all throughout the holiday to give as gifts for our family and her teachers. She loves it!

So that does it…Until next week!

Christmas Morning Basket 2018

I say this every month, but every month it is true…I’m so excited about this Morning Basket! We are going to be doing school a lot more relaxed through the end of the year. In the morning I will be lighting a candle, turning on the Christmas lights and music and we’ll snuggle up on the couch and living room rug for Morning Basket. We rearranged our furniture and got a new coffee table. It’s going to make Morning Basket time so much more cozy. And I love cozy at Christmas time! I’m now 22 weeks pregnant and by the end of the year I’ll be 27 weeks and probably getting a bit uncomfortable. So, bring on the cozy and relaxed! We’ll be drawing a lot, reading the Bible a lot, working on some sticker books, playing games and I’ll be doing some serious reading aloud with the girls each morning.


Here we go! Christmas Morning Basket 2018 – Girls ages: Lilly Belle about 5 years 4 months, Lucy about 2 years 1 month.


Lilly Belle really wanted to start this back up again, so I got out her Write the Word for Kids book. I also got her the Adventure Bible to start reading with her Write the Word for Kids. She loves to journal and do copy work writing so this is right up her alley. I also found the girls a copy of The Very First Christmas from The Beginner’s Bible. We will read this story together often throughout the holiday. The girls will also be working in their Nativity Usborne First Sticker Books! They both love these and I love that for this one it has a really nice story along with it on each page. Lilly Belle will most likely fly though this because she could sit for hours filling them up. Lucy will do a few here and there over the course of the next month.

Poetry / Music:

For our usual poetry time this month, we will be learning and studying Christmas Carols with the Squilt Christmas Carols Volume One. I purchased this for the girls last year and Lilly Belle was a bit too young so we just touched on it, but this year we are going to get to dive in a lot more. Lilly Belle takes private voice and piano lessons as well as a Musical Theater and Group Voice class each week, so many of these music theory concepts will be things she knows already so I’m not worried now about it being overwhelming.

We will also be doing The Nutcracker Holiday Unit Study from Squilt Music! Lilly Belle will be doing this one as a research project. She is Obsessed (with a capital O) with the Nutcracker. She can audition when she is 7 and she is on a serious mission to be ready. As a dance teacher, this will be a lot of fun for me as well. I think we will really dive in deep with this and make it into a big thing. I may try to teach her some dances along with her learning the story more and lots of vocabulary and little projects to go along with this.

We will also be working on learning to play some Christmas songs on the piano together. For some handwriting practice this month, Lilly Belle will be using our Let’s Play School Christmas Songs Copy Work and Tracing pack.

Fairy Tales / Stories:

This one is going to make Lucy super happy! I picked up a copy of the 5 Minute Christmas Stories Disney. Each morning we will read a new story together from this book. Once we have read them all, we just start over. There are 12 stories included in this book and we usually do Morning Basket 4 days a week. This month we will most likely be doing Morning Basket on Sundays as well as a way to spend time together and remember to slow down and just enjoy each other. And again…because I’m pregnant and super tired lately.


I bought this Learn to Draw…Christmas! book for Lilly Belle last year and she loved it so much. I was excited to get it out again for her. There are 50 Christmas pictures included with some step by step drawing instruction for each. I also added in a few of the Target Dollar Spot blank books for her that I had left over from last Christmas. She can choose to draw while I read aloud or she can do this activity once Morning Basket is coming to an end or during Lucy’s nap time.

I also have a set of the Usborne Magic Painting Christmas Cards included in here for her. It includes 10 cards with envelopes and also a brush. She paints over the pictures with water and then once dry, she can write in that card the next day and we can send them out to family and friends. She eats this stuff up! Anything with making things for people, she’s all about it.

For Lucy I have included a copy of the Usborne Little First Stickers Christmas. There are over 300 reusable stickers she can play with. She likes to peel and stick stickers on lately so this will be fun to play with her while Lilly Belle is working on drawing or painting her Christmas cards.

Read Aloud Books:

Nutcracked – We’re pretty excited about this book! I will read them a few chapters every morning and play The Nutcracker orchestra music in the background. During this time they will be allowed to use anything from the Morning Basket and they may also go and grab a box from our Christmas Learning Shelf (I will link once I have it posted here).

A Boy Called Christmas – This story sounds so cute! It is the story of how Santa became Santa. There are pictures and I think this will be a fun and quick read aloud for the girls. We read aloud during Morning Basket, lunch, bath and bed time so between all of that, I know we will for sure read through both of these plus many, many more this month.

Sight Words Practice:

I have included two of our Let’s Play School Christmas Sight Words activities here in Morning Basket and I want to play both with her each morning. She is so close to knowing all of the Dolch Primer Sight Words now and just has a few she is stuck on. I added in the tracing activity as well as the Journey to the North Pole board game.

Extra for Lucy:

Christmastime Is Here! is an adorable Little People book. Both of our girls absolutely love these books as toddlers and early preschoolers. Lilly Belle read them all-the-time when she was little and now Lucy is loving them a ton. I like to have the holiday ones and we also have a few Disney ones. Lucy will just sit and lift all the flaps while I am reading or while Lilly Belle is working on something. Sometimes she wants me to read it to her, but mostly, both of the girls like/d to just sit quietly and look at these independently.

Phonics Practice:

I love adding in our Let’s Play School Kindergarten Bingo games for Morning Basket time. Lilly Belle always loves playing bingo, and these games have been helping her a lot of reading skills she is working on.

That does it! That’s our Christmas Morning Basket 2018!