Hammer Lettering

Need a new way to engage your child as you work on the alphabet?  Hammer lettering hits the nail on the head!

Set up: Write a letter on a scrap of cardboard, place dots along the letter, add numbered directional arrows.

Activity:  Go over the letter’s name and sound-repeat this step throughout the activity.  Have your little properly trace the letter with their finger as it is formed when written.  Give your little a golf tee and a hammer.  Allow them to hammer a hole in each dot following the correct path.  I’d recommend helping them with the first few to make sure they are safely and properly using the hammer and tee.  You may want to hold the tee in place if your little feels more comfortable using two hands to direct the hammer.  Each hole makes a “pop” when created which is sure to delight.


Follow up: Instruct your child to use their finger again to trace the letter correctly.  This gives an additional tactile interaction with the letter.  “Remember back to how it felt the first time you traced the letter, how was it different this time?”  Review the letter’s name and sound.

This activity is a winner for all the kinesthetic learners out there!  Give it a try!

Name Games

Want your little one to learn to spell their name? This is no small challenge.

Try the following three activities that we’ve personally used and found success with.

Before engaging in these activities, talk through your kid’s name with them. What does your name start with? What letters are in your name? Discuss Why names are capitalized. Notice the capital letter’s placement. 

Name puzzles:

Write out your kid’s name on cardstock. Make a cut creating a puzzle. 

Mix up the pieces and challenge them to spell their name by putting the puzzle back together. Once this becomes easy, make an additional cut. Continue this until each letter is on its own piece.
Rainbow name spelling:

Cut out a cloud and strips of the colors of the rainbow. Write out your child’s name on the cloud as well as the letters of your child’s name in corresponding rainbow order on the strips. 

Task your child to spell their name by putting the rays in order and matching corresponding letters.

I’d recommend review the rainbow before starting this activity. Before this activity, we read about Noah’s ark and the promise of the rainbow. This proved to be a helpful anticipatory set. Keep the story open to use as a reference.

Clothespin Name Game: 

Clothespins and tongue depressors create an easy game. Write letters A to Z on clothespins. Spell out name on tongue depressor. Mix up clothespins and let your little one match clothespins to their name. Challenge them to only place the pins on in order. 

As your little one has success encourage them with a, “You’re spelling! You just spelled your name!” Using academic language when instructing our kids gives them confidence in their accomplishments.

All About Me! September Unit

September is here! School is back in session and it’s time to gear up for our first month of freeschool after the summer. 

This month I’m sharing intentional lesson plans as we explore the unit ‘All About Me!’ I’ve chosen 12 topics that fit into this theme. My plans are loose. Each week I’ve assigned three topics to cover and at least one accompanying activity to complete throughout the week. I’m all about flexibility and want this intentional time to fit into our life instead of running our life. There are days when my son is so excited to learn and others when all he wants to do is play. I want him to love learning and so while we can be flexible at home, I want to make room for that.  Every week the goal is to cover at least one activity for each of the three focus topics. If we do more, awesome.

All About Me Topics

  • Name
  • Body parts
  • Family
  • Height/self-measurements
  • Finger prints 
  • 5 senses
  • Self-portrait 
  • Emotions
  • Favorites
  • I can’s
  • Pulse
  • My home 

Together we will explore each of these topics through conversations, activities, and books. 

I likewise chose a verse for us to memorize and pray this month. As the unit focus is on learning about self, I think it’s important to put in perspective why we are special and unique.  We are who we are because God made us. Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Stay tuned for a glimpse into our month. I’ll be sharing set up, the activities, and the results for all that we do. My goal is to help you make the most of these fleeting years or months before your little one starts kindergarten. I’m designing everything to be recreatable for you at home with your littles. These activities do not require buying much of anything. Most of what I will use I have on hand or picked up at the Dollar Store. My hope is to save money and make memories that last. 

Join me mamas!

Traveling by Plane with Littles: What to Carry On

Taking little ones on a plane is always a daunting thought.  What do I pack for the flight?  Will their ears pop?  Will they loose it and scream the whole time?  Can I keep them contained for the duration of the flight without them bothering everyone around me? What will the people around me say or at least what will their looks communicate they’d like to say?

Our first flight with Josiah was close to 5 hours and he was 3 months old.  Since then our three and a half year old has been on 12 round trip flights varying in length from 2 and a half hours to 6 hours long.  Three of those trips I flew alone with Josiah (now that is a feat!).  I’m certainly not an expert, but I’ve picked up some helpful tips along the way.  My motto, “engage, distract, and stay positive!”

Here’s my carry on packing list:

  • Snacks on snacks on snacks
  • Water bottle
  • New activity book
  • Few small toys 
  • Cards/Card Games
  • Coloring book with small pack of colored pencils (or crayons)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wipes and/or tissues
  • Bandaids 
  • iPad with downloaded shows
  • Kid’s headphones 

Here is why:

SNACKS: you can never have enough snacks. Snacks solve most problems.  Screaming…have a snack. Bored…have a snack.  Want to get out of your seat…have a snack. Ears aren’t popping…have a snack (swallowing helps pop ears). Hungry…HAVE A SNACK.  Snacks are good before you board and while on board.  TSA regulations do not apply to food for our kids.  So if you want to bring a pouch or milk on board which does not fit within the TSA regulations, you can do that.  You must pull these items out separately and inform a TSA agent before your items go through security.  They will likely test any liquid, but you can bring what will be helpful for your kiddo.  

WATER BOTTLE: once you go through security, you can fill your bottle.  There are water bottle filling stations all over the airports that make this easy.  When taking off and landing, your little one’s ears need to pop to relieve the pressure from the change in elevation.  Swallowing does just that.  Flight attendants don’t pass out water until after you reach a certain height. Mama, we can’t wait that long.  I start Josiah drinking once we take off until his ears pop.  Additionally, the flight attendants only give small cups of water which easily can be spilt..enough said!

NEW ACTIVITY BOOK: something new is the key here.  It is exciting to get a new something and what better time to be excited than while confined to a small space.  Our little ones will play and enjoy something longer the first time it is introduced.  Take the time to explain this new activity book, let them explore it independently, and join them as they engage it.  This will extend the amount of time this activity will last.  A book also will that have several activities within the book.  So if one page gets boring, move on and find something that looks exciting.  If you get an educational book, you can get a little bonus school time in while playing. 

COLORING BOOK AND COLORED PENCILS: coloring is a great way to pass the time. I recommend colored pencils as the won’t melt if you leave them in your bag once you arrive at your destination. Melted crayons are not welcome on my vacations.  

FEW SMALL TOYS: there is no space for large toys when trying to stow a bag under your seat.  Grabbing a few small toys is space efficient.  Having a few options allows you to pull out several iteams throughout the flight for a little  fun.  I’d advise hiding the toys before the trip so they seem new even if they aren’t.  Also, be aware of bring a favorite toy that would be devastating if lost.  

CARDS/CARD GAMES: Target always has fun educational cards or games in their dollar section.  Cards are small and perfect for planes.  Learn some trivia or play a game while flying or waiting in the airport.

HAND SANITIZER: this is an essential! Airports and airplanes are dirty.  Our kids put their hands in their mouth regularly.  These things do not mix well. Kids often get sick after travel because of this.  Use hand sanitizer every step of the way.  When ou go through security, after playing on the floor before boarding, while on board.  I tend to overuse it, but I hate having a sick kid…particularly on vacation.  (Side note: Also recommend making sure vitamins and probiotics are regularly taken before, during, and after a trip).

WIPES/TISSUES: you never know when you are going to need to clean something up. Sticky? Sneeze? When you are stuck in a tiny seat, it is best to be able to have all the supplies you need.  

BANDAIDS: these things are miracle workers in the lives of our littles.  Get an “owie,” a bandaid can fix that.  Most owies on the airplane are going to be superficial, but sticking a bandaid on it just makes little hearts feel better.  Tears stop and they can move on.  

IPAD WITH DOWNLOADED SHOWS: this is a lifesaver.  When all else fails and all my resources are exhausted, it is the iPad to the rescues.  A little Daniel Tiger fixes everything.  Netflix and Amazon Prime both allow you to download episodes and movies to your device for viewing when you are offline or in airplan mode.  These downloads do have a time expiration so be aware of that when watching.  Likewise, most Bluerays purchases come with a code for a digital download.  This allows you to download the movie to your device to be accessed as well.  

KID’S HEADPHONES: if you are using an iPad, it is best to have headphones to go with it. You can’t allow your kid to watch with volume on too loud.  Flight attendants will ask you to turn it down/off if it seems too loud.  Headphones are fun for kids and give you a littl peace and quite.  

I also will use my phone for entertainment.  Our favorite plane phone pastime is playing with Snapchat or Instagram story filters.  Looking like a puppy always is entertaining.  When kids see themselves, they are engaged and often calmed when throwing a fit. Give it a try. 

Plan ahead and pack your plane bag when your child is not around. You want to be able to pull out surprise after surprise while traveling.  Use a bag that has different compartments. Organizing your items will make access much easier when trying to pull them out from under the seat in front of you.

When traveling with little ones you never know what you are going to get.  Expect everything to fall apart.  Be prepared mentally and with your bag of tricks.  If you are ready for the worst, you will be alright if it happens or pleasantly surprised when it goes well.  Most of our travels have been positive.  I attribute that to being prepared and having a good outlook.  People can be rude, but you’ll most likely never see them again,.  Brush it off.  You are paying a lot of money to travel and have every right to be there.  Kids are kids and that is okay! 

So hang in theire mamas.  You can do this!!

Kids who Cook

Cooking is one of the best hands-on educational activities we can do with our children. The best part about it?  You put a kid in the kitchen and you just naturally start explaining things.  Setting up procedures.  Teaching them about recipes, how to measure, follow directions, and kitchen safety.  Josiah now knows that when we cook together he gets out his apron, his step stool, and puts his hands behind his back until he’s given directions.

When cooking I like to use the method of:

I do

We do

You do

Teacher or not-cooking in and of itself with kids leads to teaching!  You truly have no choice.

Cooking can cover

  • Math
  • Science
  • Reading
  • Responsibility
  • Patience
  • Listening
  • Following Instructions

So get your kiddo in the KITCHEN because life is a classroom!

Shape Hunts

Reading is the cornerstone of education. Everything in our society is built upon literacy. The best start we can give our kids is to prepare and equip them to read and comprehend what they’ve read early in life. So much of what we do is preparing our kids to read. Many simple daily activities ready our little ones to read.  Learning to identify and discover shapes in everyday life is a skill that will later transfer into letter discrimination and word identification.

Early literacy activity: go on a SHAPE HUNT!

Simply identify a few shapes to hunt for. Start with one and count how many you can find. Then go onto the next shape. Work alongside your kiddo or let them to do it independently.

A shape hunt can happen anytime and anywhere. However, my favorite time to do a shape hunt is when Josiah is starting to loose his patience. Turn a meltdown moment into an educational moment. Use a moment when your little one has to wait. Shapes are everywhere. Running an errand, standing in line, or waiting for just about anything makes for a perfect opportunity. 

Incorporate hunting for shapes into reading as well. 

Activity extensions:

  • Identify shapes and talk through their characteristics
  • Ask your little one to trace the shapes with their finger
  • Compare and contrast different shapes (example: square and rectangle)
  • Use cookie cutters to create shapes in sandwiches


Chalk, water, and summer just go together. What if you could add in a little educational value to your time out in the sun?


  • Chalk
  • Spray bottle
  • Water

Set Up: 

  • Draw “bugs” with letters on their backs
  • Spiders, flies, bees, and lady bugs were about all my limited drawing skills could manage, but feel free to go all out or just keep it simple
  • Fill spray bottle with water

Pep Talk (Instruction)

  • AlphaBUGS have just landed in our backyard. I have this special bug spray for you to get rid of the bugs. The only way to kill the bugs is to spray them in A, B, C order while making the letter’s sound. 
  • Grab your spray and go find A! 
  • Remember to make A’s sound while you squirt the bug. What does the A say? “The A says ah. Ah, Ah, Ah”
  • What letter comes next? “B.” Quick find B. What does the B say? 

    Educational Objectives & Skill Development 

    • Letter recognition 
    • Phonics: associated letter sound
    • Alphabetical order
    • Letter discrimination 
    • Fine motor skills 
    • Finger and hand strength 
    • Reading readiness 

    Whether your kid loves bugs or hates them, this activity is for you. Littles who love bugs are excited to find each bug and discover the letter on its back. Kids who dislike bugs are eager to spray them away so there are no more bugs. 

    Depending on how well your little one sprays, this activity can be recycled. If the spray bottles stream is concentrated, most of the bugs will disappear the first or second time around. However, to make the most out of the experience adjust the spray bottle to a wider spray. The bugs will still get wet, but the chalk will remain for a few days allowing your little to keep practicing without having to redraw the bugs.  

    Variations for Differing Levels

    • Draw letters in alphabetical order vs. letters mixed up to create a scavenger hunt
    • Capital letters vs. lowercase letters
    • Child produced letter sound vs. parent instruction and guided practice 

    So Many Questions: The Benefits of Answering Our Kid’s Questions 






    and my personal favorite 


    If you’re living with littles, you’re fielding millions of questions a day.  Often coming at rapid fire.  

    It drives us crazy, but this is the gift of little ones.  Their curiosity spurs on learning!  They ask and then they actually listen to the answer. They spin it around in their brains and internalize it.  What they learn impacts them moving forward. 

    So how do we teach our kids? ANSWER THEIR QUESTIONS 

    Teaching our little ones doesn’t have to be   complicated.  It can be that simple.  The best learning happens when it isn’t planned.  When curiosity is resolved, learning sticks.

    • Slow down and take the time to answer questions.  If you don’t know the answer, look it up or go to the library and find an age appropriate book to read with your kid.  
    • Ask your kid questions in response. Why do you think that happens? How could we investigate that together? 

    The truth is, we may not always have the answer, but we can be life long learners alongside our kids.  Modeling learning yourself is an incredible lesson for your kids. 

    Parents, let’s take a cue from our kids and be curious.  Ask questions and find the answers. 

    Let’s love our kids well by honoring their questions with answers. 

    Renaming a Dish: A Game Changer

    Preparing healthy food and getting our littles to eat that food don’t often go hand in hand. The food battle rages on. Mom victory: rename a dish to something exciting that engages your kiddo’s imagination.

    Enter “Cowboy Pie.”

    I love this healthy paleOMG Tex Mex casserole dish, but the first several attempts to get my guy to eat it were total busts. He liked several ingredients, but wasn’t about to eat this healthy, one dish meal. That is until the day I renamed the dish.

    Well hellooo Cowboy Pie!
    “Little boys who eat this become big, strong cowboys!”

    “No way! There’s a cowboy dance party after you finish your meal?”

    Sign me up! I can’t wait to be a cowboy!
    True story this situation went down on two separate occasions in my home. First with my Josiah and then again months later with our long term house guests’ little 3 year old son.

    It may not always be an easy sell, as getting kids to eat a new healthy meal typically is not.  But as the family joins in on the fun, dinner becomes an opportunity to playfully spend time together while getting our littles to eat a healthy and balanced meal.

    Just have fun with it! Leverage what your kids love as you rename a healthy meal. Don’t be afraid to be silly and make your time around the table an enjoyable experience rather than a battle.

    And let me tell you, the dance party that followed dinner the night when Josiah and Davis both ate their entire meal–one for the books!

    Cookie Counting

    The key to teaching our little ones is to create scenarios that don’t feel like school. Kids love to learn through play. Counting can be so fun when you are cookie counting with chocolate chips. 

    An easy and exciting way to engage in counting for littles is to incorporate snacks! I quickly drew some “cookies” and “chip spots” for this activity. Have your kiddo count out each chip as they lay it down. Once your done, enjoy a little treat! 

    If self-control is an issue, make raisin cookies instead. 

    It is important to develop self-control in our young ones. Working up to a chocolate chip counting activity might be wise. For the week prior to the cookie counting, practice snack counting each day. Create a sheet that you can reuse for the week with each number and snack spots. Count with cheerios, blueberries, raisins, fruit snacks, nuts, or whatever your little one will enjoy.

    Set up your expectations for the activity. 

    • No snacking until he activity is completed
    • Count out loud
    • Complete one cookie or box at a time

    Continue the counting practice by counting each snack piece as they are eaten. 

    1, 2, 3 GO!