Motivate: Joyful Noise

In our home, we take Psalm 100 pretty seriously. It says, "make a joyful noise unto the Lord...come before His presence with singing...enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise...for the Lord is good." Why shouldn't it be fun to praise God for His blessings? 

Oh, the Lord's been good to me,
And so I thank the Lord.
For giving me, the things I need: 
The sun and the rain, and the appleseeds. 
The Lord's been good to me! 

Move: Alphabet Archeologist- Sensory Tubs Part 1

Nicole is a huge fan of Sensory Tubs...and she's got A LOT of easy, fun ideas for using them.
In keeping with our back-to-school theme this month, she's shared this one: Alphabet Archeologist. 

 plastic tub (storage bin)
rice, beans, pasta, sand, etc.
foam or wooden letters
small shovels

She says, "Take turns burying and hiding the letters in the rice and searching for them. My little girl found the same enjoyment from this activity as she does from the classic game of she was able to practice identifying and saying some of the letter names and sounds."

More Sensory Tub ideas coming...but we'd love to hear yours in the meantime!!

Birthday Blessings

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!"
2 Corinthians 5:17

 I wholeheartedly cling to this verse, and it's true meaning, with celebration and appreciation. I believe it to be a wonderful promise from God of our changed position before Him, after accepting His son as our Savior. I genuinely pray that you and your family understand it, or come to understand it, in the same way. On a more trivial level, however, this verse also comes to my mind before any major gift-giving holiday. 

My little boy's birthday is tomorrow. The new is coming...the old must go. His 'games shelf' is already full. His lego bin is overflowing. He has cars, costumes, and craft supplies he's barely used. He's gotten too old for Baby Einstein, and too big for his Tricycle. Many of his stuffed animals are suffering from love deprivation, and several of his footballs are longing for someone, anyone other than a three-year-old, to throw them. (Sidenote: My three-year-old throws a football the same way he throws a baseball. It doesn't work so well.) The bottom line is that we have some "old" to pass on. Not to pitch, but to pass on.

In one of my all-time favorite books, "The Ministry of Motherhood," Sally Clarkson shares that mothers should teach their children to serve others. My ultimate goal as a mom, in everything that I do, is to help my little boy know and understand the person of Jesus. He was a giver. His focus was always on others. Matthew 20:28 tells us that, "...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." I think this was probably the case even on His birthday. Now to teach this to my child...

Moms are known for multitasking. Two birds. One stone. So, boiled down, here's how it works in our house: Before new toys are received, my kiddo is asked to pick a few items to pass along to another child (give). Together we reassemble, clean, and sanitize those toys, doing our best to make them shine and sparkle again, while I remind him of the reasons behind this small service. Then, right before his little arms are showered with "new," I help him to carry "the old" to our local donation drop-off. 

The old has gone, the new will come...and a heart is being shaped.  

Toys for Tots:

Made you Laugh: This Little Light

MomSense Magazine:
Nov/Dec 2009
"Sing me a song, Mom."
"Which one?"
And so it went, my 3,457th rendition of "This Little Light of Mine." Something made me stop mid-chorus and ask, "Do you understand what this song is about?"
"Yeah, Mommy. It's about people wasting electricity."...let it shine, let it shine, let it shine....Of course. So obvious.
Later, I was recounting the funny exchange to my eldest son, (the one who always leaves lights on) explaining to him how we can love his younger brother better by understanding that he is a very literal child; that he sees everything in black and white.
"Ok, Mom," he said. "But you never told me that he was colorblind!"

Have a funny story to share? 
Please send it to

Motivate: Worn Treasures is so proud to introduce:
(Click link to learn more about Sarah.)

I am a reader.  Books are treasures in my family, and my children all have their own library cards by the time they're 5.  Their personal bookshelves have more books than most adults'. Reading is the way of life in our family. Research has shown that reading to your children is one of the best--and possibly the best--thing you can do with them.  But if you're not an avid reader, you might need some tips to incorporate reading into your daily life with your children: 

Buy a good book on books!  Jim Trelease's "Read-Aloud Handbook" is the gold standard, as is Gladys Hunt's "Honey for a Child's Heart."  There's also Sarah Clarkson's "Read for the Heart," and the classic, "Books Children Love."  All four not only have great booklists for every age and genre (type of book), but also great tips for reading to your children.
After you've done that, take them to the library, even if they're babies.  Children need to grow up familiar with and fond of their local library.  Take them to storytime, or just create your own.  My oldest son's first trip was when he was three weeks old, and I read board books to him.  He didn't have a clue what I was doing, but it started the weekly tradition that we continue nine years later.

Establish a daily reading time.  Fifteen minutes is appropriate for young toddlers, and the habit of attention that they develop will soon find you reading for much longer stretches.  If you're not used to reading aloud, this is a good amount of time to start with for you, too.  

Don't expect active toddlers (or boys of any age!) to sit still!  Allow your younger ones to draw or play quietly with Legos, etc.  Research shows that many kids pay better attention if they can move.  Forcing a busy three year old to sit on the couch next to you will work against you.  Trust me.  Our only rule is that everybody must be quiet, except for asking questions or commenting on the story.  But nobody has to sit still! If you read with enthusiasm, and let the story speak for itself, instead of interrupting yourself with reading comprehension questions (I'm a former language arts teacher, and the impulse still runs strong!), you'll find they are more interested, and those wiggly boys might even sit still!

Remember that reading is supposed to be enjoyable.  If you don't like the book you're reading, and neither does your child, find another one.  Everybody has different tastes, and with the wealth of books now published, you can find one that will suit everybody.  There's no hard and fast rule that you have to read certain books.  Let your children have a voice and help you choose the stories, and they'll be more willing to listen.

And last, model for your children what you want them to do.  If you surround yourself with books and reading material, and you read in front of them--purely for enjoyment--they will see that reading is a worthy pursuit.  If you treasure your books and teach them to take good care of theirs, they will see that books are special.  And if you read with them, just for the fun of it, they will see that they are important, too. 

Don't stop when they go to school; keep up the read-aloud times, and you'll find that you've created an easy way into their hearts and lives, as you discuss books and enjoy being together.   Reading can become a lifelong habit that will bless them, and you!

Munch: Pattern Necklaces

An easy, yummy educational spin on the traditional candy necklace.

Fruit Loops
*Lovey(s) optional*
1. Begin by securing one end of the string by typing a loop around a single piece of cereal.
2. Then, begin a pattern for your child (we, of course, used every color available...).
3. Next, teach your kiddo how to continue the sequence, and, if necessary, how to add a loop to the string.

4. Finally, tie the two ends together, wear, and ENJOY! :)

Move: I Spy Cookie Sheet

Here are a few ideas of things you can do with an old, beat up cookie sheet and a set of cheap magnetic numbers. I'll get us started, and then y'all take it away! :)

1. Play I Spy: I Spy with my little eye....a 7.

2. Manipulative Magnetic Math: Move around numbers to solve math problems. Great for kinesthetic learners.

3. Personification Number Problems: Once upon a time there was a happy, yellow number who looked like a snowman...

4. Who Done It?: Give a total, and see who's responsible for making it (Example could be "45"...guilty parties could be a 9 and a 5). Try addition through division for older kids.

5. Luck of the Draw: Pick an action card (blink, clap, hop on one leg, etc). Then close eyes and pick up a number. Do the specified action that number of times. 

Your turn! What would you do with this resource?  

Manage: Library Bin

I hate to lose things...especially when it costs me money!
Here's why I like this system for keeping track of library books:

* This particular bin is easy to find (Walmart). It's also very affordable (about $4.50 each). 

* My little boy can easily see and access all of his new books. This was my greatest frustration with previously using a library bag, satchel, or backpack.  

* The bin stores easily (it's designed to fit on a bookshelf), and is convenient for carrying around the house or library. 

Best of all...The window in the bin allows me to keep track of what we've checked out and when they're due back. I use index cards cut to 2"x3". I also keep extra cards behind the one I'm using. Works great for us! 

Would this work for you? Do you have a different system? Please share!

Motivate: 64 Crayons and Back-to-School Shopping

Shared by: Bev

August, when summer is coming to an end, and school is just around the corner. As a child, I always loved the start of the school year, new Big Chief tablets, #2 pencils with pink erasers, and a cigar box to hold all my supplies. The one thing I really, really wanted was the big box of 64 crayons, with the sharpener built in the side. With six kids to outfit for school, there wasn't money for any unnecessary extras. I didn't mention it to my mother, and took the little box she handed me without saying a word. The box that didn't have fun colors like fushia and turquoise. Mine had plain old blue and purple and red. 

So jump forward 35 years, and I'm shopping with all three of my kids, for school supplies. Two of the three weren't that thrilled that summer was about to end, and within days they'd be stuck back in a classroom seat, having to sit still and be quiet. Looking back, I can see that the fun of choosing school supplies was probably all that sparkled for them, when it came to the thought of climbing back on that bus, and walking into a classroom. Our kids were about 7 years apart in age, so the older one needed folders and notebooks and a calculator. The middle one wanted fun spiral-bound notebooks that had the latest pop-star on them, and sparkly pencils with her name on the side. The last one - a boy - well, the store shelves didn't hold anything that could get him excited about returning to the classroom, to another teacher who was bound to be completely worn out with him by Christmas break. 

The discontent, the mumbling and groaning and complaining, grew with every aisle. Like most parents shopping for school supplies, our budget was stretched thin, and my patience was growing thinner by the minute too. Feeling like I was trapped with a bunch of whiny, grumbling kids, embarrassed by their less than wonderful behavior, I quit asking for any input, just threw a bit of this and that into the cart, and headed to the checkout. 

As I began to unload the cart's contents onto the belt, one of my children went into meltdown mode 'I don't want to go back to school! My teacher is going to hate me. And I didn't even get the smelly markers I wanted.'

Instead of going back in my memories, to a little girl about seven or eight years old to whom a box of 64 crayons was supremely important, I had my own meltdown.  I yelled loud enough for anyone within several aisles to hear me, "I am NEVER taking all three of you shopping again!" 

Oh for do-overs. Nobody wants to be 'that woman' shopping at the discount store. So here's a heads-up idea: make it a special date with ONE child. Leave the others at home. Just the two of you go out for a hamburger, or ice cream cone, or whatever. Then let them help choose their school supplies. It'll give you precious time with your child, help them learn to make decisions, make them feel valued and ensure sweet memories when both of you look back someday. When I shared, a few years ago, with my own mother, that I'd always wanted the box of '64 crayons with sharpener' she said she'd had no idea. Being at the store with five siblings, there was little chance of being heard. One-on-one time is a gift, for you and your child. 

Move: Window Clings

It's that time of year again when stores are no longer stocking their shelves with fun, summer toys and games, and the plethora of  "back-to-school" supplies are in sight. As a kid this would always make me cringe, but once I became a teacher it almost felt like Christmas. I no longer have a classroom to decorate, but I still love looking through all of the teaching supplies and decorations this time of year (really, at any time of year!). 

Last week at the Dollar Store, I came across adorable window clings. My daughter has just gotten into the world of stickers, and I thought these would be a great activity for her. She LOVES them! I bought two sets. One with animals that had the spelling of the words below, and another that was numbered from 1-10, and had pictures of different objects for counting. 

Here are a few reasons that I love window clings: 
1.) They are larger than a regular sticker, and therefore are easier for little hands to manage and manipulate.
2.) They are reusable...It doesn't matter if my little girl crumples them in a ball and puts them in her mouth (because she does that at times). They still stick!! 
3.) They stick to our sliding glass door in our kitchen so it is an easy, mess-free activity for her to do while I work in the kitchen. 

When I use them with my toddler we play hide and seek..."can you find the bird, where is the cat?" Other times I will point to the animal and ask her what sound the animal makes. With the number set we practice counting objects and identifying the different pictures. For two dollars I definitely got my money's worth!

What would you do with window clings?

Motivate: Enjoining

This AMAZING post shared with permission from Katrina at
It was a normal evening during a normal week. I was cleaning up the dinner dishes while the kids played and Chad caught up on that day’s Tour de France happenings.
L.(4) was headed outside with a notebook and a crayon. He was so excited about the prospect of “writing outside.” I didn’t know what he planned on writing, but judging by the sparkle in his eyes, it was going to be something good.
Right before the door closed behind him, he peeked back in and asked, “Are you coming outside too, Mom?”
“No, buddy, I’m cleaning up the kitchen right now.”
“Oh. Well, when you’re done, would you like to enjoin me?
According to the dictionary, “enjoin” means to order or command someone to do something. That’s not at all what L. was talking about. He has endearingly combined the words “join” and “enjoy” to create his own hybrid, “enjoin.” He’ll use enjoin wherever you or I would use join or enjoy, and I have no plans to correct him.
[And C.(11), if you're reading this -- you're not allowed to correct him either! I like how he says enjoin. Let's hold onto it for a while.]
In L.’s world:
Join + Enjoy = Enjoin
And so, he had asked me to enjoin him outside when I was done in the kitchen.
I have to admit, there are far too many times when I join my kids, but I leave out theenjoy part.
I’m sure you moms know what I’m talking about.
We can join our kids grudgingly, thinking about all the things we’d rather be doing or “should” be doing.
We can join our kids critically, noticing (or even pointing out) all the things they’re doing wrong.
We can join our kids distractedly, being physically present, but mentally….we’re somewhere else entirely.
But those times when we do manage to truly enjoin our kids — to join them and enjoy them — they’re something special. Last night, I chose to enjoin L. outside. I watched him conquer a challenge on the swingset, I smiled while he combined his imagination and a watering can to do all kinds of things,… and then I instigated a water gun fight.
Before long, both of the kids and I were soaked (refreshingly so), chasing each other around the back yard and the front with a variety of water guns. In the end, C. won, because he lugged out the SuperSoaker Flash Flood. But L. and I didn’t mind losing. The water felt good…and we were having fun.
The enjoinment continued through bedtime reading and snuggling with L., and then with C. as we read another chapter in our current read-aloud. All in all, a delightful evening.
Sure, I could have picked up a book, or checked my email and Facebook (again), but it was so much more fun to join the kids…and to really enjoy them.
I’m hoping for even more enjoining today.

Munch: Edible Color Wheel

This activity is simple enough for a preschooler, but yummy enough that a preteen will gladly review the concepts covered! As a middle school art teacher, my kiddos loved the day we learned how to mix colors. It's easy, cheap, fun, and actually really good (gotta love salty and sweet at the same time!). 

All that you'll need is a plate (paper works well), a tub of white icing, a few pretzel rods, and food coloring (yellow, red, and blue). Give your child three globs of icings in the shape of a triangle (but with adequate space between each for mixing others). Then allow your kiddo to make one glob yellow, one, red, and one blue. The pretzel rods make great (and tasty) mixers.

Next, fill the empty space between each of the colors with a little bit of each of it's neighbors (a little red and blue, for example, will make a nice shade of purple). See picture above for guidance.

Red + Blue = Purple
Red + Yellow = Orange
Blue + Yellow = Green

Yum! Satisfied Monet's-in-the-making! :)

Have a fun Munch activity or snack you'd like to have featured here? 
Please send it to

Mid-Week Laugh: Dirty Mouth Vacation

So excited to introduce our newest contributor:
Click image above to learn more about Bev. 

"Dirty Mouth Vacation"

Our oldest daughter and her family had just returned from a week's vacation out of state. It involved miles and miles of traveling in the car, and time spent in a hotel. We were at the dining room table with our three grandkids, getting the play-by-play of the vacation, with each kid adding to the conversation as it went along.
Four-year-old Addie told us all about her imaginary friend. Caiden, who's just about to turn nine-years-old, shared how much he had enjoyed riding a horse, alone, for the very first time. Then almost six-year-old Grayson piped in, "Did you hear about the 'F' word?"
The conversation came to a standstill. Grayson's Papa very calmly said, "No. What happened?"
Grayson looked at both of us, with big, beautiful, blue eyes, and said with a very serious face, "I frowed up."

Calendars and Countdowns

Let me tell you about our August, from the perspective of my preschooler:

* Our biblestudy group leaves for our annual beach trip in one week (between us there's now a total of 10 kids under 6-years-old, but who's counting!). 
* We're meeting my parents (Grammy and Papa) in the mountains the week after that. They just moved about 1200 miles away from us, and Landon misses them terribly. He can't wait to see them!
* The week after that is Daddy's birthday.
*A few days later is Landon's birthday.
* Our first day of preschool is a couple weeks later (September). 

Due to the nature of the above list, I've had the equivalent of the "Are we there yet?" conversation multiple times a day with a certain very excited little boy. I'm not usually one to get frustrated by repeated questions, but I realized that, though I understood his excitement, my patience was beginning to wear thin after the 28th time of trying to explain what 'two weeks' was to a three-year-old. 

So, I scoured the internet for a calendar to help me show (and teach) days, weeks, and months visually to my kiddo. I found some good ones, but here's the one that he and I both liked the best: It allowed him to pick a character (there were many to choose from), and I was able to mark important days with fun icons.

Last night, as we were driving home from one of his beach buddies houses', he did ask, "Mama, how far away until we go to the beach?" Sweetly, without a hint of impatience, I simply said, "You know honey, we'll take a look at your calendar together when we get home." He was pleased with the answer (he's very proud of his big boy calendar), and 
I was pleased to give it! 

Move: Nicole's Number Hop

 Introducing the newest team member....
Click on image to learn more about Nicole.
You're gonna LOVE her! 
Here's the kind of stuff she's got up her sleeve: 
Nicole's Number Hop

My little girl is a toddler...and that means a lot of running, hopping and jumping on a daily basis! I love the energy of this age, but I wanted to think of a way we could use this energy to learn as well (I guess that's what happens when your mom is a teacher!). On one of my many trips to the dollar store I stumbled across what I believe are  supposed to be rubber hot pads...but all I could see was a fun floor game that could grow with my daughter. I  bought three packs of four and headed home to my Sharpie's! I wrote the numbers 1-10 on the little circles, and that was it!! 

They are perfect for hopping on! They don't slip because of the soft, rubbery surface and my daughter loves to jump on them. She even takes her baby dolls and has them jump on them (which is adorable I must say!). Since we have been playing with them, she has learned the numbers 1, 2, and 3! She was even able to bring me the number three when I asked her for it the other day. Most of the time though we just enjoy hopping all around the house on them...wait a second, did I say WE?  

In the future I am sure there are many more math-related games I can come up with for these inexpensive dollar store finds. 

Anyone care to share other ideas for these fun little circles?

Munch: Pull-n-Peel Play Cards

I've been trying to think of different ways for Landon to review his letters, numbers, and shapes...while having fun. So, yesterday I went to the candy aisle for inspiration. Always a good place to start...

Next, I cut 4 pieces of cardstock in half, and used a permanent marker to draw the images I wanted him to practice on the fronts and backs of the cards. This only took a few minutes. I made sure to mix in some pictures that were just for fun (though they are still great for working on eye-hand coordination), so that it wouldn't feel too much like a lesson.

And, what do you worked!  Together we wrote out his whole name in Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers. It was fun! And then, he ate it. And then, he smiled. 
Mission accomplished. :)

Only 1 day left to enter yesterday's "Let's Cut Paper" Giveaway!! 
Please see post below for more details. 

Make: Great Resource...Great Giveaway!

Update: TONI WON! 
Thanks to all who participated! 

I LOVE Kumon First Step Workbooks! They actually say that their products, "allow parents and children to share meaningful playtime together." It doesn't get any better than that! My current favorite is "Let's Cut Paper!," which you can find here can win for FREE simply by leaving a comment below ( will help me determine the winner)!

Landon is at the age where scissors are just as fun as paint or play-doh, so he was super excited when I pulled the workbook and fun, rounded-tip scissors (of his very own!!) out of a mystery bag for Special Time yesterday. The book progressively teaches your child how to hold their scissors correctly, how to cut straight lines, curved lines, and then how to change directions while cutting. The best thing is that as your kiddo masters a skill, he or she also creates a really neat masterpiece, as Landon called it

Wanna win one?! Ready...set....GO! 
Winner will be announced Saturday morning (8/7).

Mid-Week Laugh: Add Yogurt

A couple of years ago Landon and I decided to make these yummy frozen treats. He was new to the "little kitchen helper" role, so I walked him through the steps. He helped me get out the strawberries...measure the lemonade....set the ice aside in a cup...all without a glitch! So, when it was time to "go ahead and add the yogurt now, honey," I was surprised, and tickled, to see this: 

For some "literal fun," with sayings, phrases, and homophones, check out Amelia Bedelia books (anybody else have very fond memories of these books?). If your kids are old enough, they can draw some silly illustrations of their own...they might just knock your socks off!! Hee Hee. :)

Make/Move: Shaving Cream "Spelling"

I used to do this with my 5th graders the day before a Spelling Test. It's easy, cheap, really fun, and did a great job cleaning off the tops of grimy school desks! :)

Begin by lathering some shaving cream (foam is better than gel) all over a surface (we used a light, portable serving tray). Start slow, by letting your kiddo use paintbrushes, or their fingers, to create drawings and designs in the fun, squishy medium. Then, be creative! Preschoolers can work on numbers or letters. Elementary kids can play a game of hangman with sight words. Tweens can refresh their memory on how to multiply and divide fractions...actually, I could use a quick refresher on those as well!

What ideas come to your mind??

Manage: Accountability Scheduling

When Landon was a baby, his schedule was somewhat sacred. We stuck to it to the point that friends probably whispered behind our backs...and though it worked well for us at the time, looking back, I can't say that I blame them. As he's gotten older though, and as we've all settled into "summer mode," our day-to-day happenings have become a bit too flexible. I decided that a happy medium would do us all some good, especially with fall and preschool approaching, but knew that I needed an accountability partner to keep me on track (I've mentioned before that I tend to have time-management issues...). After looking high and low, I realized that a certain little man (who, at the moment was dressed in pirate gear and playing with legos), was probably my best, and let's face it, only bet for the role. I looked him up and down for a moment or two, wondering how to make this partnership work. I pondered deeply what might entice a three-year-old towards responsibility, and came up with this....his own giant "watch," as he calls it, something that he an manipulate, bright colors, and pictures of himself. Add in a huge heap of "you're-such-a-big-boy-to-help-your-Mama-know-what-to-do-next-today," and we sealed the deal.
So, my current accountability partner is a preschooler.
And, even's working!!

Our (Semi-Flexible) Schedule:

9:00ish- Breakfast, Morning Show
10:00ish- Chores
10:30ish- Play
12:30ish- Lunch
1:30ish- Quiet Time
2:30ish- Nap
4:00ish- Special Time with Mama :)
5:00ish- Daddy's home!
6:00ish- Dinner Time
7:30ish- Bath Time
8:30ish- Bedtime

How to Make the Clock:
*Supplies highlighted*

1. I used a paper plate to trace a circle onto a cheap, thin, flexible cutting board.
2. I used colored Sharpie Markers to draw numbers on the clock.
3. I added tiny pictures of the things Landon does at different points in the day (I just cut, pasted, and printed these off in a Word Document).
4. I used a tiny piece of extra cutting board material to make the spinner (see above), and colored it in with a black Sharpie. I then poked a hole in the spinner and the center of the clock, and attached it with a standard brad
5. To keep the pictures in good shape, I covered the whole surface with a couple layers of Modge Podge (you could also just paint it with Elmers glue). 

Question for you...Do you stick to a schedule or routine? 
If so, how do you do it?


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