Archives for July 2010

Behind the Scenes ~ Rotating Toys

Behind the Scenes ~ Rotating Toys

Long ago when I was trained in child development, I remember learning something cool regarding the rotation and rotating toys and the specific placement of toys. The concept is more recently called “strewing,” as I have seen it spread around a few blogs I read lately. The idea I am talking about isn’t exactly what is described there, but it’s pretty close. I don’t remember if it even had a name back when I learned about it 😉 but I remember thinking it was a genius idea and that when I was a parent I would be consistent with the concept in my own home.

Fast forward to now, I am a mother of 3, with a house full of toys. I am busy and brain-less at times. Remembering to change things around to keep their environment interesting is something I often forget to do.

Lately I got back on the band wagon with intention and I have already seen great results. I thought I would share with you what is working for us based around this idea of keeping the learning and living environment fresh, fun, engaging, and new for our children.

I am VERY forgetful, so one day I walked around my house and picked some key areas I wanted to be sure to change out on a regular basis, and I brainstormed what my goals were with each area. I won’t share all of my areas, as all homes are different, but I will share some key areas that would probably be in most homes.

I also made a list with goal time frames of when I wanted to remind myself to change out particular areas. This is not set in stone, but at least it reminds me so I can check on the area if it hasn’t been updated.


My “Rotating” Areas…


The Dishwasher {could be fridge, washer/dryer, etc based on your house}. Once a week I am putting up a new magnet set for the kids to explore freely. Ladybug in particular has really enjoyed this!!!! You’ll notice a bowl in the photo, she loves to take the magnets off and put them into something and then put them all back up!IMG_8475




Living Room Toy Basketwe have one area on our entertainment center where we allow an assortment of small toys. Usually this has been a junky gathering place, until lately. I decided to make this a family-toy basket…choosing a special toy that could be enjoyed by all 3 of my children, rather than just one. The first week I put some of our Little People and some of the smaller pieces from their sets. The next week I put in our puppets. The boys hadn’t touched our puppets in MONTHS or longer, but when I put them there for them to find, they got busy doing puppet shows without me ever saying a thing! Right now I have our felt food from The Felted Pear, and it’s getting a lot of attention from all 3 kids!

IMG_3202K is a hoarder, especially when he LOVES something!!!! He loves this food!


Ladybug’s Books…she has a few areas where her books are available, one is a basket in the living room, one is a low shelf in her room {it’s from Ikea, imagine that, & please ignore the fact that it”fell” off of the wall due to my inability to hang shelves properly-my sweet husband will be fixing it soon}. IMG_2103 I make a point to change out her board books, and hide the ones not in use in either of those places, so her books are rotating regularly. This girl LOVES to read and is very excited on the day she finds I have rotated her books!


Mom & Dad’s Room…we don’t allow toys to be just hanging out in our room, but we’ve always tried to keep something in our room for the times we need to have a child in our room with us. Currently only Ladybug has something in our room and I am now intentionally rotating what is there. I have found that just by moving her bigger items around, she plays with them more and engages differently. Currently her large dragon is in there. It takes up space, yes…but I prefer that to tons of tiny toys all over the floor!


Mommy’s Office…sometimes Ladybug is in here while I am working and she loves to just sit and play. After determining that pens and pencils weren’t the best toys for her, I set up a low shelf where I now rotate something for her. Currently her favorite piggy is in here, and it gets MUCH loving since she loves to hang out with me!IMG_2129


I have a few other areas in my home, but they are more specific to our house. I suggest going around your home and look for places where toys seems to gather. Even with all of the “those are upstairs toys” rule we have, we have a little person who we have labeled the “toy migrator” he seems to reposition toys in our home secretively! Since I started rotating toys, he does this less and less! Each child also has a basket in our living room to collect any migrated toys ;-).

So, are you a toy-rotater, a strewer? How do you do it? How do you WISH you did it {for those of us who have big dreams and little time}? Do you have a post about this topic on your blog? Leave a link to it in the comments!!!!

See more of my Behind the Scenes posts here!

Tot School

~Ladybug is currently 15 months old~

I was much more prepared and focused this week ;-).  I am still in the figure-it-out mode as I try to develop a new schedule for us now that Ladybug does not nap in the mornings.  We tried a few things out this past week, and I hope to find the routine I like soon!  For now we are still pretty go-with-the-flow as far as the schooling schedule, but we are still spending loads of time in the schoolroom!!!

Tot TraysI set up 3 Tot Trays for Ladybug this week and she explored them each day.  She REALLY enjoyed them all, and we had lots of fun working together!!

Tray #1…colored stirring sticks {from Target}, and an empty coffee creamer bottle.  In and out, in and out, in and out…shake, shake, shake…TOTAL fun for a young tot!!!IMG_3456

I was surprised when she pulled her froggy watering can over and began to put the sticks into the small hole on the top of his head!  She added her own extension to her Tot Tray!!!! IMG_3461

Tray #2…I selected 12 bumpy beads form our pop bead set and put them in an empty almond container, along with an empty Happy Bellies frozen baby food tray.  She used her tiny fingers {strengthening those muscles} to put the beads in between the clear bottle and the tray.  At first she just dumped the beads on the tray, but then I showed her how to put one bead into one hole and she repeated it!  Each day she did this over and over again and loved playing with this!!!!IMG_3435 IMG_3441


She then combined two of her trays and began adding her beads in with her sticks 😉IMG_3584

 Tray #3…a small blue cup and 5 wooden slotted clothespins.  I showed her how the clothespins slid onto the edge of the cup and she pulled them all off to put them back into the cup.  She can’t get them to slip onto the edge but definitely tried hard!  Eventually she would hand it to me to show her again!




Learning ToysI bought Ladybug some Crayola baby crayons and she loved them.  She hasn’t quite learned how to color with them {that’s K’s demonstration for her on the sheet}, but she had fun trying!!!



A little ring stacking time with Daddy…IMG_3761


The couple of photos I showed last week to share what school time looks like seemed to be a hit ;-), so I will try to do that more often.  The planned stuff is great, but I know many of you wonder if my school time is as hectic and chaotic as yours is…I assure you it IS.  I will try to capture the “mess” more!  Here Ladybug was done with her stuff and climbing up to “ask” for the Bristle Blocks.  Pac Man was getting them down, basically so she could toss them around the room. IMG_3598

Krash was playing with Wedgits, Pac Man joined in and Ladybug came to knock it all down {moments after I snapped this shot}.  Great lessons in patience and selfLESSness going on during these times! IMG_3609


Life School Ladybug lives to take things out.  She loves to unload shelves, bins, baskets, boxes…anything.  She slings things over her shoulder and occasionally will sit down and peruse what she has uncovered. Here she is unloading her bookshelf, specifically her “big girl” Fancy Nancy books…IMG_3746She managed to sling a few of her board books down too and enjoyed a unique read of Twinkle, Twinkle Little StarIMG_3751

I added 3M Hooks low on her shelves in her room and she has just recently learned how to hang things on them and LOVES doing this!!!IMG_3764


Moms Favorite

One night last week, I walked in to find Daddy and Ladybug spending some quality time together.  I couldn’t get my hands on my camera fast enough!

She chose…IMG_3692

He styled…


IMG_3719 {most of the the hair bows shown were made by my mom using crocheted flowers from this Etsy store}

Miss CHEESER…this is her new face that she only does when Daddy is around!!!!IMG_3715

This Weeks Tools

See more ideas for 12-18 month old tots…Tot-School-Ideas-Ages-12-18-Months.jpg



Raising Rock Stars Preschool ~ Letter Ee

Rock starsThis is the main section of our preschool posts-focusing on what we do for our Raising Rock Stars Preschool Curriculum. I am not sharing photos of each part every week, just what I happen to catch! We do the entire unit even if I don’t show it here in the photos!

Raising Rock Stars Preschool Letter E

Our letter this week ~ Ee, our verse: Even a child is known by his deeds.

Here Krash is reading his easy reader. {which focused on positional words, as well as a letter e word: egg, and the sight word: is} He did much better with his reading when using the PowerPoint rather than the paper copy of the book. He is not very fond of the paper books, {but does like real books, whew!}IMG_3127


He did very well with his writing this week. We are really working on this left handed thing. I recently learned from a reader {thanks Val!} that I was supposed to turn the paper diagonally to help left handers…who knew? I honestly don’t ever remember learning about this…should have been a part of teacher certification, don’t ya think? Here’s the helpful site if anyone else has a lefty.



He resisted the page turning at first, wanting it straight, but eventually trusted me ;-). I am also REALLY working on keeping his grip correct {something I was not as intentional as I should have been with Pac Man-who now writes like I do}.



He still loves taping his verse together and then comparing its length to himself!



Here he is working with his egg and basket {the craft for the week}. It was a hands on activity as well as a craft. He colored the egg, then we used it to practice positional words {like in the easy reader}. Afterward we glued it to his paper.


We used our RRSP Review mat to find the letter Ee!!!



The Power Point lessons I referred to and the RRSP review materials are located in the Members Only section. You can see a video here showing a PowerPoint lesson. You can learn more about the Members Only section here. The entire printable unit {everything else you see pictured above} is available for FREE on the main RRSP page…

You can download the entire letter Ee unit here.

in the box{A few things that were in his preschool workboxes for the week, not all activities are pictured}

We started the Kumon Drawing book this week. While Krash was away I took the book apart and placed the pages in sheet protectors so we could reuse it. I am having Krash trace on the sheet protector with a dry erase marker…IMG_2949…then I am having him actually do the drawing in his own notebook which has drawing space and writing lines. I am having him dictate a sentence or 2 about his drawing. This week he did 2 drawing lessons, and he didn’t totally love either one ;-), drawing isn’t really his thing. He is actually struggling a LOT with his drawing and it frustrates him. We’re taking it slow though and keeping it FUN, while also learning some skills!

Here he is showing my dad his drawing and reading his sentences with him. IMG_2837

He did a great job reviewing his numbers with our clothespin number cardsIMG_2940

We did a few fun letter of the week activities. Here he is sorting his upper case and lower case Ee’s…IMG_2946

He dot painted an elephant…IMG_3138

We played E-e Tic-Tac-ToeIMG_3159

He made the letters on a Play Doh mat {which is inside of a sheet protector}IMG_3161



star boxesThis is where I share the 3 special open-ended toys that were in our Star Boxes for the week.

Our 3 STAR boxes for the week: Unifex Cubes, Pop Beads, and Eggs & Spoons. I only got a picture of K counting his tower of cubes ;-)…IMG_3173

He loves to count!!!!


techy time

He worked with our new Simple 3-letter CVC words PowerPoint {this is located in the Members Only section}. He grasped the concept more than I thought he would, and really enjoyed the show!



game time

Our game this week was Hullaballoo. I was a lazy mom and only played the first day. The boys played alone several times though. 😉 This game is great for…

  • colors, shapes, vocabulary
  • listening and following directions
  • getting energy out!

IMG_2958 See more of our favorite preschool games here.

Life SchoolThis is where I share games, toys, and life experiences that occur outside of our planned preschool time.

Remember my Tot School post where I shared how much Ladybug loves her new Felt Food? Well, Krash loves it EVEN MORE!!! Here he is washing each piece of food so he can serve me dinner ;-). His blankee was the dishwasher. We are SO thankful to Susan for sending it to us, and allowing us to host a giveaway for her soon!IMG_3212

Here the boys are riding their Unicycle. This is the fun new part we have added to our morning routine. Each boy chooses an action ABC card and we all do it together!!!! They both LOVE this!!!IMG_3145

My boy is a BIG Batman fan. When I found Batman books in the $1 section at Target I snatched them up!!! I knew he would like them, I had NO idea he would sleep with them at night!!!! He loves this book {I have the other 3 saved to bring out later}. He has spent so much time reading this book!!!IMG_2840


Moms fav

As I said above, BIG Batman fan. I surprised the boys with this dress up kit, and Krash has literally been Robin almost the entire week {as I am sure you noticed in many photos above}. IMG_2885




More Preschool Links…

Be sure to visit Preschool Corner to see all of the other amazing home-preschool moms!

Pac Man Loves…USA Geography

Yup, he actually does! I knew very little geography going into homeschooling {either I wasn’t taught well or I forgot most of it}. I now know lots and am enjoying learning {or relearning} right alongside of Pac!

I do a lot of our own stuff even though Pac is enrolled in a cyber charter school. One area I have always sorta done my own thing is geography. We do what the school has for us but we do a lot more too!

We just completed our first round of identifying 1 state per day and coloring it in. We do this each morning during our calendar time. Krash participates also and has learned to locate Minnesota, Texas and Maine ;-). Although my favorite was when he located Megazona. My main focus in doing this each morning is to give Pac Man a better grasp on quickly locating and naming all of the states.

We use these printable maps. We staple the blank outlined on on top for the boys to color 1 state per day, and we put the labeled map underneath to check. I also used a set of USA flashcards. The boys took turns each day-one would draw a card and name the state and then other would find and color the state. Obviously we greatly modified for Krash ;-).

This time around I am going in ABC order and using the new PowerPoint show I am working on {it is located in the Members Only section}. I am not done with the entire show {all of the states}, but am linking up in the MO section as I get chunks of it complete! So far I have released “A States” and C & D States.” We started this week and it was a big hit!!!

I am setting up the laptop right in front of our calendar board for our morning group time, with the show ready to go. Here is the detailed order that we are going in {since I know some of you thrive on details}…

  • I begin the PowerPoint at the beginning, which takes us through identifying the capital city, the postal abbreviation, and then the location. This is what that slide looks like at the end {each sentence and then the graphic answer comes up in order so the child can think first before checking the answer}.USA.Alabama (2)
  • When this slide pops up {shown below}, I ask the boys {or one of them} to come up and show me where he thinks the state is. He can then self-correct by pushing the arrow to make the slide animate the state emphasizes with a circle-draw and then the name and abbreviation pops up. They LOVE this and actually hit back to have it animate over and over!IMG_3141
  • Each day we are adding a new state, going in ABC order. I still start the show at the beginning each day though, so we have a building review of the concepts. I obviously don’t expect Krash to pick up on USA geography at 4, but I can imagine he will naturally soak a TON of information in!!!IMG_3114
  • After the slideshow, one boy {they take turns} colors in the state for the day, which is an additional review.IMG_3118
  • On top of our US geography, we have added in Africa this round!!! I am using our country cards and Africa board from Where in the World. Krash chooses a country card, IMG_3232I whisper the name in his ear, he tells Pac Man the name of the country. Pac Man then does his best to remember where it is by looking at the Where in the World board {we have studied Africa in depth in the past so this is a great review for him}. Then Krash tells him the correct {the countries are numbered on the board}. IMG_3234
  • After using the board, the boys then find it on our HUGE foam world map {THIS is our exact map but the price on Amazon is outrageous. We paid $19.99 for it years ago at Lowes-yes the hardware store!}, which now sits in the middle of our schoolroom. I absolutely did not stage this shot, and love it! They were pointing out Gambia in this photo!!!IMG_3123

The total time for all of this is about 10 minutes. It seems like a lot, but it really goes by fast and the boys both enjoy it. As we get into the states, it will obviously take longer as we review each day. We may not continue to review all of the states each day, we’ll see!

Last week the boys had a blast putting our big puzzle together, and then using it as a wrestling mat. Boys will be boys, and I LOVE them.IMG_2827

Wrestling…Geography…it’s all connected, right?

Raising Rock Stars ~ Philippians 4:6-7

Philippians 4:6-7

We began our study of this awesome verse with this YouTube video from Seeds Family Worship


We used the awesome new printables Valerie made for Totally Tots to learn this verse and what it means. I shrunk down the PDF files to make them into cards and we went through them one by one. We talked about each portion of the verse, the hard words, what it meant, and how the image gave us a clue to the meaning.


We reviewed with the verse all on one sheet {again I shrunk down to get them all on one page}, and Daddy was the review master. We couldn’t stop laughing though because Krash insisted that the cats were screaming. The cats on the picture are actually singing, but he thinks they are screaming, and therefore thinks he needs to scream this verse.IMG_3279-2

I also made a black n white version for the boys to color …IMG_3280

The whole evening went really well, it was nice to be back to our Raising Rock Stars routine!

** edited to add-Valerie liked the shrinking idea and recreated the printables to include this idea and many more, find the updated printables for this verse here!!!!

Resources used this week:

Visit theRaising Rock Stars Webpage to download your own notebook pages and to see links to previous Rock Stars posts!