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!

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!

5 FREE Outings for a Classroom Like Experiences

Every morning Josiah asks me the same question, “Mom, where are we going today?”  He loves getting out of the house and as a stay-at-home mom I do too! I actually need to get out of the house or else I’ll go crazy.

I want to give Josiah a feel for preschool even though I am keeping him home. It’s valuable for our kids to learn social implications that accompany classroom like experiences.

My top FREE freeschool outings for a classroom like experience are:

  1. Library story times
  2. Church Sunday school
  3. Bible study and Mom’s groups where the kids have teachers and a curriculum
  4. Community center kid craft times
  5. Home Depot & Lowes kids’ workshops

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These experiences all have an adult teacher figure and other students. Your little will have to learn to follow instructions, deal with distractions in the classroom, participate appropriately, and abide by the rules.

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These experiences and the skills they produce are vital to your child’s development and future success.  Kindergarden readiness is the goal.  Consider every experience you can give your little a step towards the end goal.

8 Developmental Benefits to a Responsibility Chart

As our little grow up, we must impart responsibilities on them. They actually crave it.  They see the grown ups doing chores and want to contribute to the family as well.

As soon as Josiah could walk, he wanted to help me vacuum. His little hands would grab on to the bottom of the handle and he’d push with me. Of course, this took much longer than I would have liked, but he was engaged and excited. He was contributing.

Now that he is three, he has a responsibility chart. He loves it.  Every day he checks to see what he has to do.  He’s so honest when it comes to putting up magnets for his accomplishments (and short comings).  He is motivated to help, knowing that he will get a magnet at the completion of a task.

We don’t reward Josiah for his responsibilities because we believe that’s just part of being part of the family, but the satisfaction of a job well done is reward in and of itself.

Benefits of a responsibility chart:

  1. Develop self-awareness
  2. Accountability
  3. Clear expectations
  4. Creates structures
  5. Develops awareness of surroundings
  6. Gross motor skills as tasks are accomplished
  7. Fine motor skills and tracking (early literacy skill)as chart is filled in
  8. Self-confidence for a job well done

We love and highly recommend our Melissa & Doug Responsibility Chart.  It includes pre-made magnets for both chores and behavior issues which has proven to be extremely beneficial to Josiah.  However, Target currently has these charts for $3 each. If you want to test the waters, I’d recommend hitting up the Target dollar section before they are all gone.

Breakfast Batches Defeats Battles

Breakfast.  It can be one of the biggest battles of the day.  It is early.  The start of the day.  I have to make a meal.  My kid is hungry.  My coffee has not kicked in yet. Can you relate?

I’m not an up before my kids type of mom.  I really wish I was.  I’ve tried.  It just never works for me.  I like sleep far too much.  So I need mornings to start off as easily as possible.  My son wakes up with crazy energy every morning which can quickly transform into hangry (when angry and hungry met) if he doesn’t eat.  I need breakfast to go smoothly and I need it ready quick.

Making batches of your kids favorite breakfast items to freeze make breakfast a matter of simple, quick reheat in the microwave.

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There are several products out on the market for frozen breakfast items marketed specifically towards children, but you are paying for the convenience.  Well mamas- if companies can make it, freeze it, and package it–so can we!  What’s even better?  We can control the quality of the ingredients, the cost, AND we can engage our kids in a hands on experience of making a meal with us.

One of our favorite batch breakfasts?  Pancakes.  When batch cooking I double or triple the recipe.  Think about it, you’ve already got all the ingredients out.  The mess is being made *flour, children…did I say children…it’s messy*  You’ve committed to the full process, so what is filling the griddle a few more times with tiny pancakes?  Its better than starting from scratch all over again another day.

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How to involve your kids: get out the step stool and aprons.  Go over the rules of cooking and some safety reminders.  Get to work pulling out ingredients and following the recipe.  Put the whisk in your kid’s hands.  Teach them to scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients.  Once the batter is made and the griddle is hot, its about to become a science experiment.  For our littles this is where the hands must go behind the back.  Once the griddle is on, I am very serious about Josiah’s safety.  Mixing and making batter can be fun and light hearted, but cooking with real heat is no joking matter.  While I actually cook, Josiah and I chat through the process.  How do you know when the pancakes are ready to be flipped?  Did you see the bubble that pancake made? Can we clean up a little while we wait to flip?  What does multitasking and cooking look like?  Every step is an opportunity to engage in learning.

Once the first batch is done, I set Josiah up to eat.  Then get on with cook the remaining batter, setting the remaining pancakes aside to cool.  Yes, this takes time.  It is time spent one day instead of time spent morning after morning.

When breakfast is done, together we clean.  Making sure everything is washed, dried, and put away.  It is important to me to model cleaning as part of the cooking process.  I want Josiah to clean up after himself always-whether with toys or dishes.  The expectation remains the same.  Clean up!

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Once the pancakes are fully cool, I neatly stack them into a freezer bag.  The dated bag goes in the freezer for mornings to come.

Your kid is going to love it.  They are going to want pancakes for breakfast everyday for the rest of the week…if not longer!  This is the best part about batch cooking.  You can provide the food for weeks to come without making a mess.  Every time you eat your meal you can reminisce about your time cooking together, but reminiscing is mess and hassle free!

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Disclaimer:  Pancakes are not the only breakfast food I feed Josiah.  The days following our cooking extravaganza, I limit pancakes.  Most mornings he may have one after he has eaten a scrambled egg (which I eat most mornings for breakfast and therefore am already making).  But let’s be real mamas, sometimes its just a 5 pancake breakfast kind of day.  Its called SURVIVAL!

What’s Freeschool?

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Preschool?! Everyone is doing it. From the time my son was one I had people asking me where I planned to send him to preschool. For goodness sake people, he isn’t sleeping through the night…. so neither am I! I have no idea where, when, or what preschool will look like for my one year old. And that’s okay.

As a credentialed teacher, and someone very passionate about education and early starts, it seemed preschool was a shoe in for our family. There are so many benefits to early education and being in a classroom environment for our preschool aged kids. This past February my son, Josiah, turned three (how is that possible?!) and I started to think about preschool. Within the last year our family moved to Denver, Colorado and so  when a preschool fair was held at our community center Josiah and I checked it out. After speaking with eight different program directors while trying to keep my three year old under control, I was feeling overwhelmed. There were some awesome options and many of the programs met the criteria I had for choosing a school that would truly benefit my son, but I couldn’t get over one thing. The price! The absolute cheapest option was $155 per month for two days a week, two and a half hours each. Five hours a week for ten months. Fifty hours (if he was well and we didn’t have any schedule conflicts) to the tune of $1550.


I kept going back and forth on the decision. Enrollment for the best fitting preschool started two weeks after the fair. If I wanted Josiah to join I had to act fast so he could get one of 14 spots. I felt so much pressure making the decision. There were many reasons I wanted him to join, but also many I hadn’t anticipated for keeping him home another year. One of the biggest was flexibility. I wanted us to be able to travel to visit family back in California. I wanted to put Josiah in ski lessons. I wanted to be able to roll out of bed and decide we are going to do x, y and z. In moving I’d found this new sense of freedom in our schedule and I wasn’t ready to lock that down. Another being financial. In moving my husband took a significant pay cut and I quit working. Yes, the cost of living is cheaper here in Denver (sorry Denver friends-I know it doesn’t feel cheap, but south Orange County is out of control), but not that much cheaper. At the time we didn’t have $155 a month to spare and I didn’t feel it made sense to commit to something we could not necessarily afford. The third major component was Josiah’s age. Josiah was three which meant we would end up doing two years of preschool before we sent him off to kindergarten. At the end of the day I had to listen to my mama’s heart, which with all things considered, was saying no.

$1550 could be put to use in several different ways for our family and ultimately for my son. Instead of spending that money on preschool, I created FREEschool! Free from time commitments, free from financial burdens. Free to learn in the ways that best suited Josiah and his unique needs and personality. If I spent a fraction of the $155 a month on materials, sport lessons, experiences, and travel I would feel like I was winning-and boy do I love to win! Doesn’t that sound freeing?


I’m excited to continue this journey as mama, teacher, and adventure buddy with Josiah. As a credentialed teacher and stay-at-home mama I’m finding our everyday world is the classroom of life. Join us and be free to let life be school for your little ones! Together we can guide our experiences to have great educational value and a lasting impact on our children.