Archives for March 2014

Home Preschool ~ Letter X

Each week I share 2-3 posts sharing our home preschool learning.  This post is only sharing our letter focused work. If we have a theme of the week, it will be a separate post too.  All of our general play based learning will be in a final weekly wrap up post called, “Learning with Ladybug.”  I am separating out the posts to make them easier for people to find down the road when searching for specific letter/theme activities.  See our entire home preschool plan here!

Home Preschool Letter X

{disclaimer ~ affiliate links are used in this post}

Her Letter X ABC Basket

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Since I didn’t really have a special theme in mind I set up a quick shelf stemming off of X-rays featuring our doctor play stuff and body books! I also pulled out our Doc McStuffins printables.  She loved it!

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I got this cute idea and printable here. She colored the top to look like her.

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We used white to make an X-Ray on the black paper!

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Saw this idea here, to write X’s in white crayon before she painted with watered down black!

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I saw this idea here first, to make a Q-tip X ray of her hand and arm, she loved this!

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ABC Find It!  We used bird seed to bury the image cards in!

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I have a few letter X printables for her to choose from.  She really enjoys these letter dot to dots.

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She loved completing this letter X dot fun page with her tiny Spielgaben circles.

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Our All About Reading Pre lesson for lowercase x was for the sound of “x” in ax.  She had a blast making wood pieces.

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Finding words with the “x” sound in them.

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Our finished Letter X work…

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See more Letter X ideas on our X  is for Pinterest board, and even more ABC ideas on my ABC Ideas board!

image  ABC-Ideas-on-Pinterest4312222222222


See more theme based printables to go with the Letter X  here!


See our other Preschool Letter posts featuring Ladybug ~

Letter A, Letter B, Letter C, Letter D, Letter E, Letter F, Letter G, Letter H, Letter I, Letter J

Home-Preschool-Letter-K2 Home-Preschool-Letter-L2 Home-Preschool-Letter-M12 Home-Preschool-letter-N2

 Home-Preschool-Letter-O12 Letter-P-Home-Preschool12 Home-Preschool-letter-Q2 Home-Preschool-Letter-R2 

Home-preschool-Letter-S2 Home-Preschool-Letter-T2 Home-Preschool-Letter-U12 Home-Preschool-Letter-V5

Home Preschool Letter W

Visit Preschool Corner to see more home preschool families!

Playful Learning with Spielgaben ~ March 2014

Playful Learning with Spielgaben

This is our very first Playful Learning with Spielgaben monthly post!  If you missed the introduction to this new series, you can see it here. We were given the Spielgaben set to review and are honored to have them as a blog sponsor.  I will be sharing once a month a detailed post featuring Spielgaben.  You can also see my Learning with Ladybug posts to see what my daughter is doing with this learning set!

Playful Learning with Spielgaben March 2014

This month we have had our Spielgaben set out more than ever.  My kids have loved it since we originally got it to review but recently all Ladybug wants to do is create freely with the set!  Everything you see in this post took place during this past month.

Below you will see I have divided the post into 5 categories ~ Lessons We Enjoyed, Free Play, Mommy Inspired Play, Nature & Inspiration Guide Play {a BIG favorite right now}, and Recent FAQ. It is a long post, I hope these categories help you find what you are interested in reading.

Lessons We Enjoyed

This month we worked with set 5 and 5b.  For each set, I go through the user guide and choose the lessons I think my daughter {almost 5} will enjoy.  We don’t do all of the lessons in the guide for each set. Usually only 1-3 actual lessons per week.  This has been a busy month, so you’ll see that there are less.

For Set 5 I chose the following lessons for her, 5-3 Making Twin Trees, and 5-5 Birthday Cake. I took small screen shots of the manual for you so you can see how the lessons are laid out.  They are very easy to follow and help me so much. I keep the user guide on my iPad and we use it for the lessons.  She likes that she can enlarge each step if needed to see exactly how something was built. it’s a nice bonus to a PDF digitally instead of printed!


Spielgaben 5-3 Make Twin Trees

We made twin trees together, with me helping her create the first one and then her independently copying it.

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We added tape so they could stand up.

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She added a house in the middle of her trees.

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Speilgaben 5-5 Birthday Cake


I originally shared her work with this lesson here in our Learning with Ladybug post, you can see more photos there. We made a birthday cake in the shape of an octagon.

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This lesson was a big hit with her, she loved learning about octagons and counting the sides with me. She is getting really good at her spatial reasoning skills and no longer gets frustrated when figuring out how to flip a certain shape to make it fit properly.

Singing Happy Birthday was a highlight, as was “blowing” out her candle.

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When we begin a new set, I always give her time to free play with the set before beginning a lesson. We introduced set 5b and she built for awhile and was soon ready for a lesson. I chose 5b-6 Make a Fruit Pie first.

Spielgaben 5b-6 Make a Fruit Pie

This lesson was so cool for many reasons.  We worked on patterns, symmetry, and more!  The cool part, she had no clue how much she was learning!

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Eating the pie, of course!

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Spielgaben 5b-10 Pretty Girl

I thought she would love this lesson, she informed me however, that it was not a favorite!  She didn’t think the girl’s hair turned out nice enough. Silly girl.

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Free Play

We have an area set up now that is our “free play” area, however she has to ask me before playing with it.  She chooses to sit her and build things during much of her free time.

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Krash thought that looked pretty cool and spent a lot of time playing and exploring himself!

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Building on the flat tray is her very favorite.  Cats, cats and more cats…

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In case this one isn’t clear, that’s me with the awesome rainbow hair, that’s Ladybug with the white hair and our dog and cat.

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My all time favorite of the month the mama bird, feeding her baby bird {in the nest} a worm.  I shared this one on my Instagram here.

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Then she made a new scene, the mama bird flew away to get another worm and was flying it back to the baby. I just love how she added a wing when the mama was flying. 

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Mommy Inspired Play

I set up this one day to inspire any of my kids to complete the patterns and find what was missing. Isn’t it lovely?  Well, before Ladybug could even see it, the boys had done it and cleared it off!  Doesn’t always go the way I planned!

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I set it up again another day and she enjoyed it.  I gave her the missing pieces in a container and she had it done quickly!

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Nature & Inspiration Guide Play

I have our Nature Guide on the iPad also, I just set it up for her if she asks, or if I set up an inspired play {like the ladybugs below}. On the right you can see how nice it is to be able to enlarge an area, so she could see it better to build it.

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I introduced the Nature Guide to her by choosing one of her favorites, ladybugs, and setting out the pieces she would need to see if she would be inspired to create.

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She was immediately drawn to it and got busy.

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She asked if there were more and chose the crocodile to create next. I was amazed that I only needed to help her with the feet.  A couple of the triangle shapes are confusing.

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The crocodile and ladybug have been favorites and recreated a few times.  Here she made the poor ladybug be food for the croc.  Then she “wrote” her name on her work!

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A seagull…

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Flowers from the Inspiration Guide…

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Reindeer, also from the Inspiration Guide {she added the dog to be his friend}.

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Recent FAQ

I post a lot of our Spielgaben play on my Instagram and get questions a lot there and via email.  Here are a few of the recent ones with answers in case it might be helpful to anyone.

I’m a little concerned I’m not using our set the best way….I want to be wise since we chose to make the investment.  How have you approached using it?  What order have you gone through?  What’s your strategy?

    Basically what I do is sit down every Sunday night and choose 2-3 lessons from the manual, we do not do them all, I pick which ones she would enjoy best.  I also choose 2-5 worksheets from that same set {we put those in sheet protectors and use dry erase since the ink is heavy and we may use them again}.  I also have been letting her use the nature guide as desired {she loves it}.

I do allow monitored free play, but I don’t want to lose pieces so it is only when I am in the room. 

My question is, now that you’ve used it for 6 months or so, would you personally find it a good investment to buy outright if you had a 3 yr old and 6 yr old, or would you use that money towards other similar "toys" and curriculum?

    If I had a 3 and 6 year old, I would buy it if money were not tight, for sure. I understand it is a huge investment so if money is tight, it can be a hard decision that only you can make.

The toys themselves are amazing, and worth so much, but the digital guides are invaluable.  It truly is a full curriculum, not just a set of toys. It takes the guess work out of how to use it in MANY different ways.  Plus you have the amazing benefit of the open ended free play. If you desire only the toys, maybe it wouldn’t be a good investment, but if you desire the guides and having that kind of helpful direction, it is definitely worth it.

I don’t feel the same idea can be duplicated with other various toys and curriculum, but it is an investment so you have to desire something like this {a play based curriculum}.  If you have the money to invest, definitely buy Spielgaben and forget getting other toys with the money. I would gladly give up many of the toys we had before Spielgaben {in fact I have} that are somewhat similar. The other toys have always been just free play toys, but Spielgaben is all interconnected and I love that.

We only use the guides 1-3 times a week, mostly we enjoy the free play.  But the guides have empowered me to introduce concepts to Ladybug that I would never think of {symmetry, open and closed spaces, 3D shapes, etc.}.  I truly enjoy the guides beyond what I even thought I would!

This is a set we will enjoy for years.  I am already excited about using it more for Kindergarten next year with Lili, and I use the manipulatives all of the time for my 2nd grader during math!

Do you use Spielgaben daily?

Yes, almost! Formal lessons 2-3 times a week, free or guided play like this usually several times a day! I actually have a hard time keeping Ladybug away from it, she is in a stage of wanting to sit at our free play area many times per day and often asks me for my iPad for the Nature/Inspiration Guide.

Remember there is a special discount for 1+1+1=1 readers…

Spielgaben is offering an exclusive discount to 1+1+1=1 blog readers – AUD 360 | USD 320 | GBP 195 including shipping to AU | USA | UK, which is over 12% off of the already discounted online price.  All you need to do to claim your discount is send an email to [email protected] mentioning 1+1+1=1 and you will be provided with a discount coupon!

Tot School Gathering Place ~ Outdoor Fun with Tots

Outdoor Tot School Fun

Welcome to our Outdoor Activities Round-up! Warmer weather is coming (it has to, right?) and our Tots are getting excited to break out of the winter dull-drums. Why not try some of these fun activities to get them moving and learning outside!


Our Crafts-n-Things shares with us a couple of spring activities that will both entertain and save you some money! Check them out by clicking the photos below!

Our Craft-n-Things Our Crafts-n-Things 2


Spark and Pook let us in on an enjoyable activity using things around the house that will also help your sweet pea learn!

Spark and Pook 2


Over at Grow, Glow, Go, Mama Romina has an entertaining activity that will have your kids hopping like mad!

Grow Glow Go


Mama Kristina from School Time Snippets shares with us a few fun activities that will have your kids enjoying the fresh air and sunshine for hours!

SplatSchool Time Snippets 3

Color GolfSchool Time Snippets 2

DIY Bird FeedersSchool Time Snippets 4


Fantastic Fun and Learning shares a fun Nature Scavenger Hunt!



One of our very favorite outside activities is Cloud Dough!  My sanity simply can’t handle this inside so it’s outside fun for us!


Remember to visit our Pinterest board hosting our featured blogs each week! Be sure to follow the board and re-pin ideas you like, it’s a great way to support each other!!

I also created a Tot School Printables Pinterest Board. If you are using Tot School Printables and blogging about it, will you email me with a link to one of your posts and your Pintrest link? I am opening up the board to allow other bloggers to pin their Tot School posts that feature Tot School Printables in action.

Tot-School-Gathering-Place-Pinterest   Tot-School-Printables-Pinterest-Boar[1]

Were you featured?

You are welcome to a button but you certainly don’t have to use it! Totally optional!

Tot School Feature

<center><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="I was featured for Tot School!" src=""/ ></a></center>

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By linking up you agree to the following:
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A Few Great Deals

{disclaimer ~ affiliate links are used}

First, Scholastic’s Dollar Deals is back!  This sale ends 3/31/14, no code necessary, items are already marked down!  See our newsletter here sharing a bit of what we purchased last time around. Not signed up for our email newsletter?  You can do that here.

Scholastic Dollar Deals Spring 2014



Second, our beloved What’s in the Bible is have a 30% off of $100 purchase! Use code MARCY30 through 3/31/14. Remember they have free shipping on orders over $25 too!




Finally, another we love ~ Little Passports ~ is having a 15% off sale using code HAPPY5, through 4/8/14.


Heart FELT Truths Easter Banner

Heart FELT Truths Easter Banner

We were given the Heart FELT Truths Easter Banner to review {there’s a discount code at the bottom of the post}. I was immediately drawn to this unique way of sharing the Easter story with my kids.  This year I was aiming for meaningful, different, and simple to prepare.  This is just that!  We are excited to use it beginning on Palm Sunday.

We have our Easter banner hanging in between our dining room and kitchen like shown below. The kids have asked several times what it is for, I am excited to reveal it soon! I went through and reviewed it all but we have not used it yet as a family since it isn’t time yet!

Heart Felt Easter


The complete set comes all prepared as you see, and includes the banner {which has 3 large banners in all that you flip over as instructed}.  The symbols are all included as shown below.

Heart Felt Easter


A printed guide is also included telling you exactly what to read and do each day!  Each day you will find a brief introduction, scripture reading, and discussion to use.

Heart Felt Easter

There are 8 days total {some days add more than one symbol}.  Here is a simple photo of one of the days so you can see how it is laid out.  It tells you exactly what to do, very simple and straightforward!

Heart Felt Easter

You can find more information and details here on the Heart FELT Truths blog! There is even an instruction guide and patterns to make your own if you are feeling crafty!

There is still time to order one and have it in time to use for Easter this year! In the Heart FELT Truths Etsy Store you will find all of the following Easter products:

  • Complete Easter Banner Packet (includes banner, hanging dowel, instructions and story text packet, and felt pieces)
  • Easter Banner DIY KIT (banner, hanging dowel, instructions and story text packet) with DIY patterns and felt supplies for making your own felt pieces.

10% off using code 1PLUSEASTER through April 1, 2014

This code is valid on any products in the Heart FELT Truths Etsy Shop here