Top Ten Posts from 2012

Top 10 Blog Posts 2012

Seeing what readers and visitors enjoy is always interesting, I love seeing what you enjoy.  It has been a fun year of blogging, thanks for all of you who are a part of my online life!  Here’s the top 10 posts, in order, from 2012…

  1. Tot School Printables
  2. Brown Bear Printables
  3. Storing Theme Printables
  4. Alphabet Printables & More
  5. Where Do I Begin with Tot School?
  6. Daily Calendar Notebook
  7. Angry Birds Kindergarten Printables
  8. Legos Kindergarten Printables
  9. Preschool Printables ~ How Many?
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar Printables

The visual version…

Alphabet Idea Collection Tot School Printables A to Z

Daily Calendar Notebook IMG_9073_thumb[2]

Where to Begin with Tot School  Storing Theme Printables

Brown Bear Printables 2  Angry Birds K Printables  Lego_Printables  Very Hungry Caterpillar Printables

How to Plan Using Themes for Tots and Preschoolers

How to Plan Using Themes

I don’t always have a theme going on, but I often base Tot School, Preschool, and Kindergarten activities around a theme. I am going to share a bit about how I organize my thoughts, our stuff, and our week within a theme. This post is more for those moms who are feeling a bit lost and just need some simple direction. If you already use themes in your homeschool, I doubt you will learn anything new ~ I could probably learn from you!

Before I begin, please know that it is totally OK if you don’t do theme based learning with young kids.  I did very little of this with PacMan, and he has turned out just fine!  I think we homeschool moms can tend to go overboard sometimes, and feel the need to do it all.  I struggle with this too and need to remind myself that my simple presence as their mom and teacher is more important than any theme we ever do!  That being said, I do enjoy our themes and so do my kids.  We all think it is fun, so it works for us right now during this season of life!

~ How I Choose Themes ~

Themes in our homeschool are usually chosen one of two ways.  First, I will develop a school theme around a particular interest my child has.  A few examples of this in action are below…

The second way I choose themes is based around seasons or holidays.

~ How I Plan for the Theme ~

Once I have decided on the theme, I gather all of my own items, which includes:

  • Sensory Bin items {we don’t always have a sensory bin, but often I do include one for theme weeks}
  • Special toys {animals, games, etc.} that go along with the theme
  • Printables
  • Books IMG_0668

After I gather what I already have I begin searching online for what is new, mainly in the area of printables.  I create a Pinterest board for the theme and record all of my findings, whether I use them or not.  Using the Angry Birds theme as an example, here is my idea collection board. I try to keep my Pinterest Boards alphabetized in the theme section, so you can easily find my ideas.  This way when I go back to blog about anything, I can easily find links to share when we used things others have created.

I do not print an entire printable pack.  I usually will only print a few pages specific to the interests/abilities of my child. 

I utilize notebooks to save on printing and laminating.  I will put together a notebook with printables.  Printables that can be used with dry erase markers are slipped into heavy weight sheet protectors.  Consumable printables are 3 hole punched and placed in the notebook also, so I don’t forget what I have. Below is a photo of her Fall Theme notebook…

Fall Tot School-3310


I get my new themes set up for the kids on Sunday evening, so that is my final night of prep and set up.  By that point it is fairly easy to pull out and set up everything I have gathered.  Here are a few photos of theme set ups, the beauty only lasts for a few seconds on Monday morning, the rest of the week it is always a bit chaotic.  I enjoy the organized set-up and display! I do NOT always do an elaborate set-up for a theme, it is certainly not necessary at all.  Ladybug really enjoys the display so I will do it for her if I have the energy!

All photos are linked to the blog post they came from. Our shelf is from Ikea {Trofast}.

IMG_0659 IMG_4738

IMG_5091 IMG_8361

Pumpkin Tot School-3446 Thanksgiving Theme Tot School-4075

~ How I Organize the Stuff ~

Along with themes comes a lot of stuff; books, sensory bin items, special toys/games, and of course printables! When certain themes are not in use, the stuff is sorted so I can find it easily. 

Printables are stored using this methodStoring Theme Printables


Books are sorted using this methodBook Storage


Extra stuff, including small toys, animals, and more are stored in labeled bins.  Although, some things that are played with on a regular basis, are sorted within their regular toys so I have to remember to dig things out. Here are a couple of my bins, which are stored in our storage room.  You can see our homeschool storage room here, and here.

IMG_7044 IMG_7047

I store seasonal themes in bigger bins, with the book boxes alongside.  Here is a shot of my storage shelves for the season themes…


~ A Few FAQ ~

Do you use everything you print, or set up out for a theme?

NO!  I almost always have more than we use.  If my young child isn’t interested, we skip certain things.  I do my best to print and create activities my child will enjoy, but sometimes I am wrong.  I believe in child-led exploration and learning during the younger years, so even though I may fill her trays and notebook with many activities, it is OK if she only chooses to do a few. 

What about “normal” school during a theme?

Usually I just throw in a theme along with whatever curriculum/program we are using.  There are times I will take a break from regular curriculum and just do a theme.  I don’t have any set rule for this, I just go with the flow.

What about multiple ages?  What do your other kids do when a theme is planned specifically for 1 child?

I do my best to include the other kids in a theme as much as possible.  PacMan joins in with special games, and also loves sensory bin play! If a theme is for Krash {such as Angry Birds} I find ways to included the other 2 in the play/learning time too. Same is true when ladybug has a special theme, such as Doc McStuffins.  We all played doctor the animals together!  I usually focus my theme efforts around one child {age}, and then will add in a couple of extras for the others.

Be sure to visit iHomeschool Network to see more Homeschool Planning posts!


Christmas Alphabet Mazes

Christmas Letter Mazes

My ABC Letter Mazes are one of my most popular downloads so I figured many of you would enjoy a Christmas version!  I changed things up a bit and made these with dots, but the concept is the same; follow the letters through the maze!  There are 13 different mazes, featuring different images and letters.

Christmas Letter Mazes Jesus Christmas Letter Mazes tree

Download Christmas ABC Mazes Here!

If you find a mistake on these, let me know, we haven’t used them yet!

See the original Letter Mazes here, and ideas for how to use them!

Looking for more Christmas fun?

Christmas Printables and More

Animal ABC ~ Lowercase Letters

Animal abc lowercase letters

I have a bonus for all of you who have purchased the Animal ABC Bundle!  I created a separate lowercase letter set, with all new animals!

Why new animals? Because Ladybug loves animals and half of the fun with this is exploring the animals and not just the letters, so I thought 26 all new animals would capture her interest!  We will be using these after we finish the uppercase set, when she begins RRSP, I will add them in. We will also be entering into the second half of All About Reading Pre, which focuses on lowercase letters.

You might giggle at some of the animal choices I made, finding a 2nd animal for each letter was a bit challenging!  I wrote in the name of the animal on the main letter page in case you are a bit clueless!  Also ~ I usually use short vowel sounds but in the case of letter e, I chose an eagle, since the other choices for e weren’t good images. A few of my more interesting animal choices ~ v-vervet monkey, q-quokka, n-nightingale, z-zebra finch, y-yorkie {dog}.

I hope you have fun with these ~ they are available as a bonus for people who have purchased the Animal ABC Bundle!  Or ~ you can purchase the set from Teacher’s Notebook here.

This set contains…

display letters

Lowercase Animal abc

blank lowercase letters, full page

Lowercase Animal abc

animals to cut out and glue on finished project

Lowercase Animal abc

Feeling a tad bit uncreative with the artsy side of these?  Check out “Ideas for Using Animal ABC Letter Crafts” and get your artsy juices flowing!

Ideas for Using ABC Letter Crafts

If you have already purchased the Animal ABC Bundle, you will need to go back to the private webpage {link in your original email} and download this new add-on!  If you lost the link, just email me with your PayPal email address and I can resend your original email!

Just want this set?  Buy it here on Teacher’s Notebook!

If you have not purchased Animal ABCs yet but would like to, you can read more about it and other items I sell here!

Jesse Tree Ornaments

I have been busy printing my Jesse Tree Calendar cards and getting things ready to begin with my kids today {we are starting tonight} and getting my Jesse Tree eBook ready on my iPad so I can easily access it throughout the month,  This year I didn’t even print the info cards, I am just using the images and using the eBook to read the facts from, which also has my Bible so I can jump to the scripture references easily also!

Yesterday a reader sent me a really sweet thank you email and also shared a photo of her mini ornaments that she made from cutting out the images from the cards!  I thought this was a fabulous and simple to create idea so I made a set of ornaments in case any of you feel like printing quickly to begin tonight {or start when you can and add the ones you missed {since today is Dec. 1}. I am printing and laminating my own right now!

Jesse Tree Ornaments

I am going to offer these for free here in this post this year and next year they will be a part of the eBook bundle for sale, so be sure to download them if you think you might want them even for next year!

Download Jesse Tree Ornaments here!

In case you missed the Jesse Tree Calendar Connections and eBook, click the buttons below to grab those too!

Jesse Tree Calendar Connections The Jesse Tree eBook

Special Note ~ I have gotten several emails from readers asking why they haven’t received their free eBook.  The freebies are for my newsletter subscribers, not RSS blog feed subscribers, there is a difference and you can read that here.  The RSS email comes via Feedburner and is JUST my blog posts.  The newsletter comes via MadMimi and contains special announcements, post summaries, upcoming posts,  special freebies and more!

If you have signed up for the newsletter {check this link and be sure that is the form you signed up in} and you still haven’t received any newsletters from me, first check your spam, then email me with the email you used to sign up and I can search and find out what’s going on!

Hope that helps clear up any confusion!