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Books from Birth

April 22, 2018

Exploring Reading Options for the Very Young

One can gain inspiration from the world around them. Right now my world is all about babies, since I am about to have my first child.  Having a degree in early childhood makes one think all the things when you finally have a child of your own.  One of the major things the upcoming birth of my son makes me think about is his education.  Yes, I should be thinking about the birth or his health, etc., but a teacher tends to think about education first and foremost!  We cannot help it.  Being a literacy gal, I have been thinking mostly about how excited I am to read to him and help him establish an early bond to books from the beginning of his life.

Yes, babies can hear you from inside the womb, and yes, you can start reading to them when they are still in utero.  I cannot say that I have read nightly to my little one while he is still tucked inside my belly, but, hey, all of those classroom read alouds he was present for count, right?  When I am still at the hospital, however, I will take a major step towards increasing his personal library. I cannot WAIT to sign him up for Tennessee’s literacy initiative Books from Birth.  This will enable Isaac to receive a book in the mail for free once a month from birth to age 5.  Many hospitals now make it their mission to get all new babies registered for the program before they are discharged.

I used to be a spokesperson for our local chapter of Books from Birth.  It was first established by our state’s superstar sweetheart Dolly Parton in an effort to help more students in her home county graduate from high school.  Dolly used to give graduating seniors money upon their completion of high school until educators helped her realize that her money would be better spent with an investment on the front end of the students’ lives.  Over time this program launched statewide and now the governor and his wife are in charge of expanding it.  Make sure your own little ones are signed up and make sure the parents of students in your classroom know they can sign up their little ones at home to participate, too.  Think especially about those families who moved from out of state.

Even my first graders gravitated to books on my classroom library shelves in which they had a copy of thanks to the Imagination Library.  You can rack up whole class sets or at least small group sets of these books at used bookstores like McKay’s to use in your classroom, too (side note: I always get into trouble at McKay’s. When I say trouble, I mean I never leave without less than 50 or so books and sometimes educational board games, too.). It’s exciting when students realize that they can now read by themselves the texts they were given in the mail years ago and may still have at home.  I witnessed kids that were certainly motivated to practice these particular texts.  That’s all on the subject of books for the very young right now. I think my contractions are starting, so I better get to the hospital! Until next time!

Letter From The Editor Motherhood

Hope Is In The Loss

March 30, 2018

“Yet…Hope is in the loss.

Now I know, this is only the beginning.  The beginning of a beautifully broken road leading me back to the joy I thought I lost.”

These were the words I wrote just a year ago.

What a difference a year makes.

With a grateful heart, I now sit here with my 10 week old baby boy.

Realizing, it really was only the beginning of a beautifully broken road which led us back to the joy I so desperately hoped we hadn’t lost.

At this time last year, we mourned.  We mourned the baby we lost.  We mourned the joy we felt weeks before.

My heart ached.  My perspective changed.

I joined a broken community of women no one wants to be a part of.

Here I am now to encourage you.  To encourage those of you who are in the midst of brokenness.  Who are in the midst of lost hope.  Lost joy.  Heartache.

The road is long.  It feels longer.

You will have days of pure sadness.  Days of complete happiness.  Days of utter confusion.

Don’t lose hope.  Don’t stop believing in your miracle.

God is in control.

He will give you the desires of your heart.

Seek Him.  Trust Him.

I don’t know why God answered “Yes” to our prayers so quickly.  Why He may be telling you “No” or “Wait.”

You may be struggling with the loss of a baby.  Miscarriage.  Infertility.

I pray for you every day.  Pray God will give you your “Yes.”

I wondered how I would feel when I found out I was pregnant again.

Scared?  Happy?  Surprised?  Excited?  Shocked?

I felt all of these things.  And more.

My pregnancy was all but easy.

I was so sick.  All day, every day for weeks.

Once the sickness was over, something else would plague me.

Heartburn.  Chest pains.  Uncontrollable itching.  Elevated liver enzymes.  Abnormal ultrasounds.

    Every time we turned around, it was something.

It was scary.  Terrifying.  Frustrating.

There were more moments of crying than I care to admit.

I had to remind myself to enjoy it.

It can be taken so quickly.  It was taken so quickly the first time.

Yet, this time I was hopeful.  I had a peace that transcended all understanding.

God knew I needed peace.

Hope truly is in the loss.

I would do it all again for my perfect baby boy.  You would too.

To the mamas in the trenches of motherhood.

Enjoy your baby.  Every moment.

Sleepless nights.  Spit-up stained clothes.  Countless dirty diapers.  Feeding around the clock.  Days that feel like weeks.

Endless crying.  From you and the baby.

It’s hard.  I know.  I am there.

There are women who long for the things we have.  The joy we feel.

I want to encourage you.  We know all too well it goes by so fast.

It won’t be like this for long.  This season is short.

We will look back on these days and wish we had them back.

Don’t let the mommy guilt discourage you.

We are all doing the best we can.

Bottle feeding.  Nursing.  Pumping.  Co-sleeping.  Working.  Staying at home.

You know all the things mamas get judged about.

Whatever you are doing, it is right.

You are enough.

Mamas, my heart is with you.  I am praying for you.

All of you.  Those of you who have your answered prayer and those still waiting.

Creativity Homeschool Motherhood

A Meaningful Easter Snack

March 1, 2018

My boys absolutely love Easter. And of course, one of the things that they look forward to each year is the infamous Easter Egg Hunt!

In the weeks leading up to Easter, we probably have a hundred Easter egg hunts in various forms, just because my boys are completely captivated by “the hunt.” They ask Mommy and Daddy to hide eggs whenever they have a chance. They hide eggs for each other. And as the actual holiday approaches, we get to go to a few organized events (either with our co-op, church, or other family members) where the Easter Egg hunt is in full swing!

As much as I love a good Easter egg hunt (my parents have actually held one for the adults the past few years), I never want my boys to miss the true meaning of Easter – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, when they were young, I started trying to brainstorm ways we could weave the two activities together. Now, of course, we’ve done the popular Resurrection Eggs – which are absolutely wonderful! However, one element was missing for my boys – FOOD! I mean, with all of that hunting, they definitely needed a snack, right?

So, we created this Resurrection Snack Mix that not only points to the true meaning of Easter but also gives them a little something to eat after using all of that energy to find the eggs!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Clean, plastic Easter eggs
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Fish crackers
  • Chocolate chips
  • Small marshmallows or Popcorn
  • Any small red candy (sometimes I’ll save red M&Ms from the Valentine’s assortment)
  • Large bowl

Now, you can do this a number of ways. If you want to place the actual snack mix items in the Easter eggs, be sure that you wash them thoroughly before filling them with the food items.

Then, fill the Easter eggs with the various items listed above. Leave at least one empty egg. Then, hide the eggs for your kids to find. Be sure to give them instructions NOT to open any of the eggs yet. Once all of the eggs have been found, come back together. Then, open the eggs and dump the contents into the large bowl. As you open each egg, explain what it represents in the Easter story:

  • Pretzel sticks – remind us of the wooden cross, where Jesus died
  • Fish crackers – remind us that Jesus taught his disciples to be “fishers of men.”
  • Chocolate chips – remind us of the dark sin that we were covered in
  • Small marshmallows or Popcorn – remind us of how the blood of Jesus makes us as white as snow
  • Red Candy – reminds us of how Jesus suffered and bled for us
  • When you get to the empty egg, celebrate that it is empty because the tomb was empty – Jesus is ALIVE!!!

If you’d rather not fill the individual eggs with the food items, simply place a small piece of paper with directions on which food item to add to the mix. See the FREE Download below. Then, as you open each of the eggs, you (or your child) can read the item listed and you can simply add it to the bowl that way, again discussing what each item represents.

Then, you simply pass out the snack mix for your kiddos to enjoy!

An added bonus to making this snack mix is that it will last for 3-5 days if you keep it sealed well in an airtight container. And this means you can continue to draw their attention back to the true meaning of Easter. I hope you enjoy this fun snack mix!

If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes. Leave me a comment below – I’d love to hear all about it!

Homeschool Motherhood

New Year, New Adventure

January 15, 2018

Well, it’s been about 6 months since we sold our house and jumped into my husband’s new career. If you’ve been following along with our journey for very long, you know that it’s just about time for a new adventure, right? HA!

Full-Time RV Life

Our original plan after Matt’s first storm deployment was to purchase a new house. Once we got home in November, we immediately began our search. Of course, we found plenty of homes we liked, but we hit a wall financially. We could either put a down payment on a home and hope our leftover could hold us until Matt’s next storm (we have no idea when that will be), or we could continue paying off debt. We couldn’t do both.

With how much we loved living in our sweet little RV during work, we knew we could handle living in it longer. In fact, it was sad putting it away in storage while we were living with family. So, we made the decision to go full time with our RV! We are so excited about paying off additional debt (student loans, we’re coming for you!!!) and love living the simple life in our little home!

Routine

Along with this new adventure has come a new routine. It’s pretty similar to our life during deployment, but very different from the routine I posted about a year or so ago. So, I thought I’d share it with you fellow SAHMs/WAHMs!

8am – Most days, LG is awake by this time. She’s usually ready for breakfast and we all know I’m more than ready for my coffee. Ha! We get breakfast going and relax with our beloved Veggie Tales!

9:30am – By now, LG is ready for her activities! This is where living in our RV brings so much peace to our days. Living in a big house meant chasing this spunky little 2-year-old girl all over the place before I could even finish my first cup of coffee. With our reduced space, I can see her from any spot in the RV. This gives her so much freedom to play as she pleases! Of course, she’s a 2-year-old and loves to be next to Momma most of the time, but having your kitchen area just a few feet from your living area and bedrooms makes things quite a bit easier! During her morning play time, LG loves to do crafts, read her books, and play with her puzzles.

11am – Since we live in climate-confused Texas, our morning activities tend to vary this time of year. In the warmer months, mornings are always our outdoor time because it’s the only time we can stand the heat. Now, this is either our outdoor time or time to run errands.

12pm – If you know me personally, you know I’m pretty strict with meal and sleep times. I don’t know about your kiddos, but ours can be a completely different person if we vary from certain schedules. So every day, lunch is at noon. Followed by…

1pm – 3pm – Nap time. Any earlier or later and we’re asking for it. Ha! During this time, I do as much blogging and TPT work as possible!

3pm – When LG wakes up, she eases back into reality with a snack and sensory play. This is when we get out our fun sensory bins and match up cards. She absolutely loves them! Once she’s ready to get going again, we use this time to run any more errands or get outside if it was too cold in the morning.

6pm – Like I said, I’m pretty strict with meal and sleep times. We try desperately to have dinner ready by 6 or 6:30pm so we can enjoy a meal together, watch a movie or play, and have baby girl in bed by around 8:30pm.

Does your little one have a routine similar to ours? I know I can’t be the only momma with a kiddo who needs some loose structure like this. ……..right?

Homeschool Motherhood

The Homeschooling Gift I Never Expected

January 1, 2018

As I’ve shared before, homeschooling was never something I thought I would be doing. You can read more about that journey HERE, but in short, after lots of prayer, conversations, and advice from people we deeply respect, we finally came to the conclusion that this was something the Lord was calling us to do – at least for a season.

And while I never expected to be in this role, the more we thought and prayed about it, the more excited I became.

I knew there would be some incredible benefits to being home with my kids and homeschooling them as they approached school age.

I knew that I would be able to build a strong academic foundation while also being able to pour into my kids spiritually. I wanted to be able to weave Biblical truths into our teaching and I knew that was not something that would be possible at a public school.

I loved the fact that I was going to know the nuances of my kids simply because I would have months and years to observe their behaviors. Having had my oldest in childcare until he was around 18 months, I loved the fact that now I was going to be the one who would pick up on little things that no one else might notice, simply because I was around them so much.

I looked forward to building strong relationships with my kiddos just because we would spend so much time together and do so many things together. The sheer quantity of time we would have together would be irreplaceable.

With two energy-filled boys, I was thankful that they were not going to be locked into an 8am-3pm class schedule at such young ages. They would have plenty of time to play, use their imaginations, run around outside, and not be subject to so many of the demands that are placed on our young children.

All of these things were things that I expected, or at least hoped, would come out of me leaving the classroom, staying home with my boys, and homeschooling. However, in the past few months, I have seen another incredible gift that has come out of this decision.

My boys are best friends.

And I’m not meaning the kind of “Well, we’re brothers so of course we’re friends.” No, I mean the kind of best friends that if they could choose anyone to do something with, both of my boys would choose each other.

Recently, we asked our boys individually (when the other one wasn’t around), “So, who would you say is your best friend?” Without hesitation, they both replied, “My brother.”

My oldest tends to be an early riser, and if he’s been awake for more than 10 minutes or so, he’s eagerly waiting for his brother to arise – sometimes going in and waking him up just because he “misses him so much” (his words, not mine).

When one of them gets hurt, the other one often cries too.

And just this past week, my boys were at AWANAS, and it was “Store Night.” My oldest picked out an item for himself and one just for his brother with his AWANA bucks. My younger son (who is in a younger class and doesn’t earn bucks just yet) got to pick one item from the store. When we picked them up, the gift my oldest had selected for his brother was the exact gift the younger son had picked out. He knew his brother so well that out of all the items in the store, he knew exactly which one his brother would want.

I’m not saying any of this to brag – believe me, they have their moments, and sometimes they really just need some space from one another.

But I share this because I truly believe that their closeness has come as a result of our choice to homeschool for this season.

This is our third year “officially” homeschooling our oldest and I started thinking. 3 years, approximately 180 school days every school year, at around 7 hours a day.  That’s 3,780 hours that these boys have spent together that they otherwise would have been separate. And that’s a lot of time.

A lot of time to build a relationship. A lot of time to have shared memories. A lot of time to talk, laugh, and play together. Plenty of time to get on one another’s nerves, but also plenty of time to learn how to talk, forgive, and make-up.

I know that this isn’t a possibility for everyone, and I know that every kid is different, but the relationship that has developed between my boys is absolutely priceless. And one I pray that will only grow stronger over time.

We don’t know how long we will homeschool, but this unexpected gift is something I will always be grateful for!

Homeschool Motherhood

RV Toddler Must-Haves

November 27, 2017

It should come as no surprise that living in an RV with a busy toddler can be exhausting. When we first got ours, we took it out for a week to get used to maintaining and living in it. In addition, I had no car for the first month of my husband’s “deployment” and was in the RV all day while he was at work. Needless to say, I had to get pretty creative with ways to keep her busy and would love to share 3 toddler RV must-haves with you today!

Noise Machine
The first must-have isn’t exactly to keep your kiddo busy while they’re awake, but trust me you’ll appreciate it. Living in such close proximity to each other means you hear everything from one end of the RV to the other. This can be especially tricky with a little one who needs good sleep. (And let’s be real – if Momma is going to get anything done, good toddler sleep is a must!) LG sleeps in the back bunk room but because the door doesn’t actually latch, it can be difficult to keep sound out. So we use her AC fan and a noise machine that plays calming pond sounds. Thankfully the AC fan is pretty loud, but a box fan would work perfectly! While we still stay as quiet as we can, this allows us to watch TV and talk at a reasonable volume without waking her up.

Craft Box
Kids. Love. Crafts. I don’t care how old they are, kids just love them! They are open-ended and allow kiddos the chance to be creative and use their imagination. Back home we have a different bin (cheap $1 WalMart tub) for each season so that we can mix things up. But in our RV, I keep a generic craft bin. These items vary from relatively mild supplies like Color Wonder markers and stickers, to messy craft supplies like water colors and finger paint. If the usual toys and puzzles just aren’t cutting it, the craft box never fails to excite LG! And craft supplies for little ones can be SUPER cheap! Head to the Target “dollar” spot, the Dollar Tree, or a clearance section anywhere for odds and ends that your kiddo will love to piece together!

Outdoor Activities
Finally, sometimes we just need to get out. When we didn’t have a car available during the day, LG and I would hang out in the shade next to our RV. Most RV parks are great about keeping picnic tables in each spot so you don’t get cabin fever. We took advantage of this whenever we could by doing our water sensory play or messy crafts on our table! One of her favorite activities to do was scoop puree pouch lids in and out of her tub of water. If things got messy, oh well! We were outside so she could get as messy as she wanted!

While we’re certainly learning lots of tricks during this adventure of ours, these are just a few things that have proven to be very helpful while living in our RV. However, I hope they help you and your kiddo have a fun, stress-free day no matter where you’re living!

Motherhood Organization

Making Mornings Easier

November 16, 2017

When I was teaching, I was surprised by how many non-teacher friends couldn’t believe what time I got up or left for work each day. The craziest part of this to me was that I was the queen of sleeping as late as possible and still getting to work on time. (I lived 5 minutes away and regularly got out of bed after 7:00am and was still at school by 7:45am. THANK YOU dry shampoo and coffee pot timers.) While I of course had mornings when I was feeling a little more frantic than others, I attribute my easy mornings to 3 main things.

Plan a Week of Clothes
Call me a crazy girlie-girl, but this was my favorite way to plan ahead for the week! Each Sunday evening, check the weather for the following week. Then take 30 minutes or less to plan your outfits, including shoes and accessories. Use this time to take care of any ironing and find a good spot to lay them out. Our old closet had a small space on one wall that was too small for shelving but perfect for a rack that I could hang my outfits on. This made mornings soooooo much easier! I just grabbed that day’s outfit and was ready to go!

Make a Week of Breakfasts
Time for coffee in the morning? ABSOLUTELY. Time for breakfast in the morning? Not unless it’s a Saturday. I’m not a fan of sweets in the morning (except my super sweet coffee, of course) but I never had the time to make things like eggs. So, I got into the habit of making ahead breakfast burritos and/or breakfast casserole. Even if I didn’t have time to eat at home, I could still take them to school and pop into my microwave I kept in my classroom.

Find a Consistent “Drop Spot”
Finally, find a “drop spot” that works for you. Make sure it’s a place where you can easily drop off your things, but where you’ll always see it as you’re leaving for work in the morning. My spot was on top of the dryer in our laundry room. I walked past it every morning and afternoon, so I knew my bags would always be there. I kept my purse, keys and teacher bag there. If I was taking something like muffins for breakfast, sometimes I’d even leave them there as well!

Mornings can be tricky. These things helped me stay organized so that I could sleep in just a little longer. While this was before I had LG and left the classroom, I can only imagine how much it would help to plan out these things if you’re getting kiddos ready for school in the morning, too!

Homeschool Motherhood

“Play” School Routine

October 19, 2017

I may be a stay-at-home momma, but in my heart I will always be a teacher. As my daughter gets older and my time at home with her pushes me farther from my days in the classroom, I get the urge to start academic practice with her. She’s so smart and curious that it’s easy to forget she’s only 21 months old. (Yes, I’m that mom who still uses months.) While she’s already ahead of the game (have you SEEN her pencil grip, y’all?!) I don’t want to push her or rush her through being a little one! So for this school year, we’re taking things slow and PLAYING.

What’s “Play” School?

I’m sure this “play” school thing isn’t original to me. If you browse Instagram or Pinterest for just a bit, you’ll notice a million amazing ideas for sensory play. They’re all perfect for practicing fine motor skills and introducing other skills like colors, seasons, etc. As a former 1st grade teacher, I can already imagine how starting early with these skills will benefit LG greatly in the future. And, the activities are a BLAST!

As a planner, I love to pick a few fun activities to do each day. I don’t set a schedule for them so that we can go with the flow. But having things readily available and prepped makes it so much easier to grab a great practice activity when we have the time for it. If we’re not able to do them one day, we just push them over to another day!

Our Routine

Having a solid routine while on the road in an RV is tough in general. Throw in a curious, energetic toddler stuck inside with her teacher momma and you’ve got quite an interesting combination. Like any other time I start getting stressed, I decided to solve this by planning ahead. However, for the same reasons I listed above, these plans still have to be very flexible. Sounds like a fun challenge, huh? As of now, here is what we’re working with!

7:00am – Wake up… breakfast/coffee… Sesame Street or Veggie Tales (LG’s FAVORITES!)

8:00am – Walk around the pond/outside play time

9:00am – Indoor sensory play… independent play time… crafts

11:00am – Outdoor water play or bath time

12:00pm – Lunch and books

1:00pm – Naptime/Momma’s work time

3:00pm – Wake up… snack… outside play time

4:00pm – Indoor sensory play… independent play time… crafts

6:00pm – Dinner… family time

8:00pm – Bedtime routine

Just like anything with a toddler, this routine is very flexible. Meal and sleep times are pretty solid, but everything else is there so that we have an idea of what we can do. Does this look like your schedule with your little ones? What are your favorite activities to do together or for independent play time? Check back soon to read about a few of ours!

Homeschool Motherhood Organization

On the Road

September 24, 2017

Wow! I can’t believe how quickly things can change! Although, you’d think by now I wouldn’t be surprised a bit! In my “Renfros on the Road” post, I shared with you all that we were ready and waiting for my husband’s first call. Flash forward over a month and we’re already finishing up our first “deployment”!

Life On the Road

We knew things could change in a hot minute, but we really got a taste of that recently! One minute we were planning our 4th of July family gathering, the next we were running around like crazy people trying to gather up my husband’s new work clothes and work materials so he could leave THE DAY after getting the call to work with his father 13 hours away in Iowa. We were both shocked it happened so fast, but it was certainly great practice for what’s to come!

Due to the nature of Matt’s first “deployment”, we thought it was best for LG and I to stick around with family for a few weeks. Much like any job, there was a huge learning curve and Matt just needed time to wrap his mind around his new work without the temptation to hurry home to his little girl every night. While we missed him tremendously, having 2 weeks back “home” was great for me to gather everything I wanted LG to have while we traveled.

While we are planning on buying a travel trailer in the near future, there simply wasn’t time for that with how early Matt was called. Fortunately, he found us an AMAZING farm house in a tiny country town on AirBnB. It has been the neatest experience! We’ve spent lots of time checking out the town and nearby larger city of Des Moines, and we have loved getting to know the owner of the home! We’ve already decided she’ll be our first guest back home in Texas when we get our new home together!

Tot School on the Road

As you can imagine, I was extremely nervous about how life outside of our own home would affect our little one. LG is now 19 months old (I hate typing that!) and is a super smart, curious, spunky little one. How was I going to keep her busy in a place that wasn’t ours?! So, I spent several days sorting through all of her toys to find her favorites for fun and educational practice. I decided to bring this shelf and committed to filling up the 3 baskets with as much as I could to keep her busy. I split them up into 3 categories.

  1. Craft Supplies – My thinking in ordering this was simple – keep the messy stuff highest up. Ha! I was SO excited to load this basket with stickers, coloring books, crayons, KwikStix and a dry erase board. My girl LOVES playing with stickers, so I knew I had to grab a ton! Thank goodness, Michael’s has a BILLION sticker books to choose from and they’re each only $1! While traveling, I also picked up some Crayola Color Wonder markers and they truly are a wonder! I could almost guarantee a mom or teacher came up with this product!
  2. Fine Motors Practice – LG may still be only 19 months old, but I figure it’s never too early to practice our fine motors! This basket is home to lots of pom-poms, pipe cleaners, magnets, blocks, clothespins, and her stacking rings. I wish I had grabbed a pair of tongs in place of the clothespins for now, so I’ll definitely be getting one soon!
  3. Books & “Noise Makers” – I always try to keep lots and lots of books on hand! I love to read picture books to LG, but she’s still too excited about ripping pages out to give her anything other than board books to read on her own. I was THRILLED to find these board books with buttons on Amazon! They’re perfect for practicing her colors, numbers, animal sounds, and identifying every day objects. She loves them!! I also threw in her favorite “noise makers”. She doesn’t have a ton of tech toys, but she sure loves those!

Thankfully, all of these activities have held her attention really well while traveling! If you’re traveling anytime soon, or are just looking for activities your toddler can play with at home, I hope these are some great options for you! If you have any questions about where I got any of them or other ideas, leave me a comment! I’d love to chat with you!

Back to School Homeschool Motherhood

Homeschool Preschool: Letter of the Week

September 1, 2017

When I was first blessed with the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom I  was overjoyed. I soaked up all of the snuggles, hugs, “conversations,” and time with my boys.

However, as my firstborn got older, and I came out of the fog of having a newborn, I craved more structure.  Perhaps it’s the teacher in me, but I wanted to start implementing a regular routine in our day. I still loved just getting to spend each day with them, but I knew I wanted to begin working more intentionally with my oldest and create a daily routine that would work for us all.

So, our homeschool preschool was born. My husband is a teacher, so when he headed back to school, we started up as well!

At the time, my oldest was not yet 3 and my youngest wasn’t even a year, so our preschool was very basic. Lots of play, exploration, and using our imaginations. But for about an hour every day, we tried to work more specifically on skills that I felt were important for him to learn.

We always began our day by reading from The Beginner’s Bible and singing a verse song or two. (I highly recommend Steve Green and Seeds Family Worship if you’re looking for some) Then we moved into our alphabet work.

For simplicity’s sake, we started with a letter a week. I know there are so many different opinions about the order in which to do the letters – but again, keeping things simple – we just went in alphabetical order.

There were some foundational skills I wanted to work on with my son, but I didn’t want to be searching for, printing, and preparing a new activity every day. So, during the summer (before we officially started our homeschool preschool), I created packets of activities that would set me up for success.

The purpose of these activities were to help my little guys begin to recognize and write their letters, to work on distinguishing between capital and lowercase letters, and to introduce them to the sound that each letter made. I also wanted to include activities that allowed them to practice counting objects, begin learning basic patterning skills and even be introduced to the wonders of science. I’m a huge fan of reading to your kids, so I also looked for books that included ideas or characters related to the letter. And since kids always love a good snack, I brainstormed ideas for letter of the week snack ideas.

Here’s a peek of some of what’s included in each letter packet:

The beauty of the activity packets was that once I had made them, I was set. I didn’t have a lot of prep work during the week because we focused a lot on play and when we were all ready to have a little more focused time, the activities were already ready to go. I just printed the pages I wanted for the week on Sunday evening, and I truly had the rest of the time to focus on my kiddos.

These packets gave me a focus for the week. And since I already had these ready to go, I could be as creative (or not so creative) as I wanted – or as the week allowed. Baking, crafts, gross motor activities, field trips, art projects, games, the list goes on and on. But I actually had time to think about what those other activities could be because my letter work was taken care of.

And I have to say, I absolutely fell in love with homeschool preschool. I loved being able to watch my kids learn and grow. I loved seeing them get excited about learning. I adored getting to instill values that were important to our family.

But I also loved the fact that we could move at our own pace. If we needed a break, we took a break and went outside. If someone was sick, we took the day off. If a task was a little too advanced, we waited until he was ready. We weren’t confined to a strict time schedule. It definitely brought some much needed structure to our day, but these boys still had PLENTY of time to play and we still had a lot of flexibility.

And what I loved even more – I used these letter of the week packets 2 years in a row for my oldest. During the first year, when he was 2 and turning 3, we just worked on recognizing letters. We talked about each letter’s sound, but I definitely didn’t expect him to master it. I showed him the capital and lowercase version of the letter of the week, but if he was able to recognize any form of the letter during the week, I was thrilled and we celebrated. We worked on counting objects, but I didn’t require him to form numbers correctly or even consistently match a group of objects to the number in written form.

Then, the next year, we went through the alphabet again, but this time we focused on different skills. We moved on from just recognizing the letter to being able to write (or trace it). I started to emphasize the sound that the letter makes and we worked on finding objects that began with that sound. He started to recognize the difference between capital and lowercase letters, and he started being able to count a group of objects and point to the number that represented the number of items. Sometimes we repeated the pages we had used the year prior (mostly because he had enjoyed them so much), but we also used pages that were just too advance the year before.

By the time that year was over, he knew all of his letters and could identify each letter’s sound accurately. His fine motor skills (writing with a pencil/pen as well as beginning scissor skills) had improved dramatically. For the majority of the letters, he could recognize, write, and differentiate between capital and lowercase. He recognized numbers 1-10 and was proficient in one-to-one correspondence for these numbers. He recognized different types of patterns and was able to continue them. However, most importantly, he was excited about learning. He felt confident whenever we talked about school. And he was eager for more.

The next year, my oldest was 4 going on 5, and so we moved beyond simply working with a letter a week; however, by this point, my second son was now two going on three, and I already had all of the materials I needed to start working with him.

And that’s part of the beauty of these digital resources – you can print and re-print pages as often as you like for your kids or class. No need to go out and purchase additional copies! You are set!

I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed using these resources with my boys – and then with the homeschool co-op that we are a part of.

If you’d like to get a taste of what these packets offer, you can sign up to receive my FREE Dot the Letter A-Z Set HERE.

Can’t wait to see how you use these!