The Little Lamb {learning through literature}

My son loves all of the books written by Judy Dunn with photographs by Phoebe Dunn.  These books were written in the 1970s and I remember them from my childhood.  The photographs are stunning and simple.  They always include a cute and believable storyline about a young child and their journey with a lovable little animal.

The Little Lamb by Phoebe and Judy Dunn


Making crowns out of dandelions like Emmy and her lamb.



Brushing our hair like the lamb had his wool coat brushed.


May joined too and played with her little lamb ♥


I made a simple sensory bin that only included little lambs and tractors.  The base was ground corn, found in the pets department, and I included some spoons and bowls for John to use.  I think this was his absolute favorite sensory bin.  I loved watching him play and explore and imagine.
Driving his Gator in the corn.
DSC04871DSC04870Scooping with a spoon.DSC04869DSC04868Feeding his lambs.DSC04867
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Happy learning and reading and playing,

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Tot School – Letter L

We spent two weeks on the Letter L!  We focused on leaves and two books: The Grouchy Ladybug and The Little Lamb.


We focus on a letter every week and do fun activities based on that letter.  I usually set six “Tot Trays” up for my son to play with and learn as the week progresses.  I had a six-tray set-up in the kitchen, with six trays from Oriental Trading.  Promoting the four Montessori principles: Language, Mathematics, Sensory, and Practical Life.

I have decided to only put out one or two trays out at a time. Some children would thrive with all six trays out, as I was doing up until Letter K, but my son needed less in front of him.  My child thrives with less choice and I have found that one or two trays engages him more than six trays.


At the beginning of the week, I cut out each of the following from our Tot School ABCs curriculum — this makes Tot School time easier for me, when we are “in the moment.”

  • Numbers: for using manipulatives in 1:1 correspondence
  • Colors: coloring with markers or crayons
  • Shapes: gluing onto a piece of paper


{Disclosure: affiliate links may be in this post.}

Here is John with his numbers.  He is learning 1:1 correspondence with these adorable bear counters.

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Lauri capital letter peg puzzles.


I bought four different sized screws and corresponding bolts at the hardware store.  He was very excited about this tray!  He got hard at work with his fine motor pincer grasp skills — it was difficult for him to master, so we will be doing this again!  (I had to keep this one up due to having a crawling baby in the house!)



I saw this fun magnet stick from Memorizing the Moments and wanted to get one!  It was $2.99 at Amazon!  A fun introduction to magnetism!


Michelle at Delightful Learning had such a fun idea — to get these links and put them in the holes for lacing cards — John loved this!!



I made this schedule to organize our Tot School time, according to the Montessori principles: Language, Mathematics, Sensory, and Practical Life.  I didn’t get a picture of mine from Letter L, but this is what the blank one looks like:

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You can read my post about it and download the free Tot School Planning Form here.


Bible verse of the week:

Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

We had a lot of use out of this bible verse this week!

We use the ABC bible verse songs from Songs for Saplings.  These songs are so catchy, beautiful, not “children’s music annoying,” and I find myself singing and learning and memorizing the bible verses along with John.  Carisa at 1plus1plus1equals1 has made coordinating ABC Bible Verses posters which have really helped with his memorization as well.


We put up our bible verse, a Ll small poster from Tot School, a Ll sign from my Kindergarten teaching days, and these wonderful Montessori sandpaper letters.  We put these up on the wall so he could feel the letter every morning and trace his fingers on the letter.

Letter of the week: Ll

Our curriculum consists of 1plus1plus1equals1‘s Tot School ABC’s.

John has really gotten the hang of tracing!!  We do this with dry erase markers and heavy duty sheet protectors.  Erasing is a handy practical life skill as well!

Check out my recent post about utensil prewriting and letter writing in {Early Literacy Stage 3}.


Do-A-Dot markers on his L pages.


Stamping an L on the Leaf!


For our Leaf shapes, we stamped some leaves on a green sheet of paper and glued our shapes on, while we talked about the shape names!


Our work for the week on a clothesline in his room:


And our L magnets and Leap Frog Letter Factory magnets on our refrigerator:


Book of the week:

We had fun with The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle


John pulled out this book from his shelf and has fallen in love with it!  The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle has a lot of great life lessons in it.  We have learned about night time versus daytime, telling time with clocks, sharing, learning about the circle of life, learning about large and small animals, and the importance of friendship.


We colored a picture of a Leaf and colored both the ladybugs and the little aphids.  This was very exciting, as this was the first time John has intentionally colored. {Proud mama moment.}



We also read The Little Lamb by Phoebe and Judy Dunn — so stay tuned for the post on that fun book later this week!


Working with his pattern puzzles.
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We went on a leaf hunt around our yard.  He had so much fun discovering big and small and dead and alive leaves!

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We made some ladybugs by cutting a potato in half and doing some good-ol’-fashioned potato stamping!  We then worked with black paint to make all of the ladybugs friendly (“and not grouchy”) because the two ladybugs in the book are friends in the end : )

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I hope you have a wonderful week,

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Check out my posts on the Early Literacy Stages:

This post is linked up at the Tot School Gathering Place and check out my Link-Up page for the other awesome places I may link this blog post!

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!  ♥ 

around here: spring days

Isn’t God amazing?



While getting our {raw} milk for the week, we decided to say hello to these big ladies.



And a family of geese decided to walk by our road.

I hope your week is blessed,
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Treasure Bin: Yellow Wooden Objects

What is a Treasure Bin?

A small amount (5 to 10) of similar items to put in front of your growing baby and let him/her explore!

Ensure that the items are safe to babies (no choking hazards or sharp edges) and that your baby is supervised at all times!

May loved her all wooden Blue Treasure Bin, so I included all wooden yellow objects thhis week too.  She especially loved the yellow wooden pegs from this Melissa & Doug toy.   I kept her Treasure Bin upstairs and every time I brought her up she got ot play with it.We keep her bin under the couch and I take it out a couple of times a day.  Most of the items included in her bin are from Melissa & Doug wooden toys.

My first post about Treasure Bins is here.


 And here is my sweet girl with her Treasure Bin.
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Check out all my posts on Treasure Bins here:

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I am grateful to all of the wonderful linky party hosting mamas: check out my Link-Up page for where I may link this blog post!

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! ♥

hammering flower prints

I saw Ashley at Life with Moore Babies pound flower prints with her children last week and I knew my son would love this activity!

We collected flowers and put them between two pieces of paper.  (He became distracted by daddy’s tractor in the yard — that’s his sweet little head on the tractor.)


Next we pounded them with his hammer.  (He, as you can imagine, was a little over-zealous with this part.)DSC04612

And woh-lah, a sweet little Picasso.  We kept the flowers on, instead of peeling them off, and taped it to our kitchen window for a super-easy craft painting!


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Happy playing,

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Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!  ♥ 

great father’s day gift idea: this helicopter is driving me crazy {wordless wednesday}

DSC03451 DSC03447DSC03790DSC03788These two play with this every night. It has held up great for about a month now. Boys will be boys. You can find this Syma Helicopter at Amazon for $20!

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{Early Literacy Stage 3} Utensil Prewriting and Uppercase Letter Writing

The development of early literacy skills progresses in stages.  Beginning concepts should be taught before introducing more difficult ones.  By following a proper developmental progression, we assist the child’s natural learning capabilities.   This is why I have decided to write a series about {Early Literacy Stages}.  These stages will all inter-mingle with one another, but it is important to define them, and I recommend introducing them in this order.


Here are the Early Literacy Stages for childhood learning:

  1. Uppercase letter recognition

  2. Tactile uppercase letter writing

  3. Utensil prewriting and uppercase letter writing

  4. Lowercase letter recognition (and matching uppercase with lowercase letters)

  5. Lowercase phonetic sounds

  6. Lowercase letter writing

The entire scope of literacy includes the following: reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and representing.  I am focusing on reading letters and writing letters for this series.  However, the other components are very important in developing the whole child towards literacy and becoming a lifelong learner.

Please note: I do not label these stages by age — I have met 18-month-olds who have learned all of their upper and lowercase letters and I have taught 5-year-olds who were still struggling to learn both.  It is important to meet the learner where they are and embrace the child’s pace!

Please see my {Early Literacy Stage 1} to read about why I am teaching uppercase letters first.

How do we introduce utensil prewriting and letter writing to our children? How do we set them up for success in handwriting? 

1.   Read, read, read!  Literacy begins from infancy on.  Reading to your child will always be my first suggestion to parents.  Children are opened up to a world of imagination and developmental readiness towards learning through books and fine literature.  If you are unable to invest the time in any of my {Early Literacy Stages} due to time constraints or affordability, please go to your library and check out some books!  Also, the springtime is the perfect time to visit garage sales and buy a library of books for your child for a very low cost.  If you read to and with your child, you are already setting them up for success!!

In addition to making books available for your child, your child should see you reading in the home to know that reading and literacy is an important and worthwhile investment of your time.


2.  Using markers and crayons: Give your child experiences with writing utensils from an early age.  This is while knowing that every child has different interests — I know some 18 month olds who could draw for hours, and I know four and five year olds who are uninterested.  Every child is different.  Keep in mind that short utensils promote proper finger grip.

Until recently, my son had not been interested in drawing or coloring.  For example, during our Tot School, I have asked him to color the apple on the “A is for Apple” page, and he would scribble on it briefly, but then want to move on.  Lately, he has paid closer attention to actually coloring the object, and he has wanted to do more pages as well.  My advice is to follow your child’s lead and have materials available for them to work with!

Here are some art bin suggestions: {this post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy, thank you}


3.   Proper “pencil grip”: Children aged two to four are working on the development of their fine motor skills (small muscles).  If a child lacks the ability to: pick up small items, lace beads, use a tweezer, or do a knobbed puzzle, then your child’s fine motor skills need to be further developed.  At a very early age, your focus should be on promoting learning, and playing, to develop these fine motor skills, rather than perfecting the pencil grip.  You do not want writing to be a negative time or experience, and you should always teach with the learner’s abilities in mind.  However, with that being said, if they learn (somewhat) the proper grip from day one, it will be that much easier and smoother for a transition into more advanced learning and writing.  Here are some helpful steps and tools:

  • Determine which hand is the child’s dominant hand.
  • Holding a writing utensil requires the “tripod grasp”: using the thumb and index finger and resting the middle finger on the index finger.
  • A trick to learning proper pencil grip: lay the pencil, point facing you, pinch pencil about a half inch up with thumb and index finger, and flip the pencil so it rests on the fatty part of your hand.
  • We have the Pencil Grip Writing Claw which also may be helpful.
  • And I have also heard good things about trying the Pencil Grip Ergonomic Writing Aid.
  • I found another great (and free!) suggestion from Teacher Lisa’s Class about using a rubber band around the wrist and around the pencil.
  • See Handwriting Without Tears 4 Steps to Teaching Writing Grip for more beneficial information.


Here my son is working on his pencil grip — this is a quadropod grip (which is discussed in the Handwriting Without Tears link above) — and includes holding with four fingers instead of three.  He is, of course, still learning!

4.   Prewriting tracing sheets:

  • There are many free resources from many wonderful bloggers.  We use 1plus1plus1equals1‘s Tot School ABC’s tracing sheets.  These sheets focus on straight lines, while promoting left to right familiarity for reading and writing.  (Below is my son using dry erase markers with heavy duty sheet protectors.)



The above is from 1plus1plus1equals1’s Nativity pack and Mama’s Monkeys Fall pack.

5.  Ordered letter writing: When it comes time to write uppercase letters, a proper sequential order is needed to set your child up for success in handwriting.  I wrote about the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum in my {Early Literacy Stage 2} post.  Since all of the alphabet letters include either straight lines, diagonal lines, and/or big and little curves, this curriculum helps children learn the letters in a sequence that is easiest.  It begins with allowing children to create their letters using alphabet letter templates.


These templates can be found for free from the following two sites — I made mine out of colorful paper-foam: Build-A-Letter Templates (includes mats) from Tired, Need Sleep Blog or Magnetic Alphabet Builders from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  

I highly recommend the Handwriting Without Tears book “My First School Book.”  It includes arrows as well as large, thick prewriting lines and circles to help your child succeed.  The following is the recommended schedule for learning to print letters:

    • Vertical & Horizontal Lines: L, F, E, H, T, I, U

    • Magic C: C, O, Q, G, S, J

    • Big & Little Curves: D, P, B

    • Diagonal Lines: R, K, A, V, M, N, X, Y, Z


Further resources, to use in addition to or in place of purchasing the “My First School Book” by the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum:

  • Erin at Royal Baloo created an amazing free printable series called Zoomin’ Movin’ Alphabet. These truck printables include pre-writing pages to prepare children to write their letters as well.  You could use her wonderful curriculum with your child using the letter sequence above.


  • ABC Jesus Loves Me has a wonderful Learning to Write series for free individual (not classroom or commercial) download pre-writing and letter practice.  I recommend the letter sequence above, as written by the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum.

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  • Carisa at 1plus1plus1equals1 created Raising Rock Stars Preschool which includes wonderful printing pages.  You can also buy them from Teachers Notebook. She recommends an order similar to the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum.


It is difficult to find printables that only include uppercase letters.  Here are two additional letter writing free printables that may be helpful to you — from Homeschool Creations and 123Homeschool4Me:

PicMonkey Collage

What are your challenges with teaching your child to write?  What other resources have you found helpful?

Check out all of the Early Literacy posts: 


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Happy teaching and learning,

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Please check out my Link-Up page to see where I may link this blog post.

around here: spring flowers


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making a handprint on canvas every year

I saw this idea on Becky Higgins’ blog.  The idea is that you have a handprint for every year of your child’s life.  

We started our handprint canvases when my son was 2 and 7 mths and my daughter is 6 mths.  We will do it again to have a 3 year and 1 year hand print and then we will do it every year from then on.  We will do a different color combination each year and make sure to write the date and name of the child on the back of the canvas.  It’s amazing to see how many canvases Becky has — what an amazing keepsake for our children!  Our sweet handprints are hanging on our wall in our living room — the best art you could ever ask for!

All you need are 8×8 canvases from Michael’s (these were buy one, get one free — I thought 6×6 would be fine, so I started out with those, but then I had to realize, and mourn, the fact that my babies hands are going to grow, grow, grow — and my baby boy’s hands will be man’s hands one day!).


And you need your desired color of acrylic paints.  I painted them twice to make sure that they were fully covered.

DSC04018I don’t have any pictures of getting the actual handprints — I was very nervous and meticulous — but we came out unscathed and even my sweet baby opened her hand long enough for me to get her handprint ♥


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