Since my boys were 3 years old, this US Foam Puzzle has been a favorite go-to of theirs. At 1st it was just fun for them to put together, but as they got older it became a great learning tool. They are now familiar with most US states, their shape, general location, as well as some facts we’ve learned along the way.
Jacob has been asking about the difference between city, state, country and continent lately, so I wanted to come up with a hands-on way for him to understand the bigger picture. Since they enjoyed the other foam puzzle so much, I decided to purchase this World Map Puzzle with Flags & Capitals. Understandably due to size constraints, it doesn’t include EVERY flag in the world. If it did, I think that would be too overwhelming anyway. The puzzle has a total of 65 flags (based mainly on country size) which seems to be the perfect start.
The foam puzzle, flags and map provided are great. Unfortunately there is no ‘key’ to know where each flag goes. I was able to figure it out using the original sticker sheet, but both Jacob and Evan were at a complete loss putting the puzzle together without my help. To give them the independence of easily figuring it out on their own, I created a color-coded diagram showing all of the 65 flags and the corresponding country by continent. I also made a color-coordinating continent map for easy reference.
Click on image below for FREE Printable:
Once I gave them my diagrams (other than some adorably incorrect pronunciations) – easy peasy. Both Jacob and Evan were able to correctly identify 65 flags, place them in their corresponding country, and understand which continent they belonged to as well!
I have no doubt this puzzle will be another one of their favorites – learning more as they grow and discovering new things each time they complete it. 🙂
Related: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book
Related: Constellation Sticker Craft
“Without geography, you are nowhere.”
Jacob has been into origamis lately, so for Valentine’s Day this year I purchased these fun Papercraft Robot Cards. The thick, plastic-like cards are pre-cut and creased, which makes them durable and easy for little hands to work with. No cutting or sticking is required – just pop-out and fold!
To go along with them, I created this simple Robot Valentine. We stuffed both of them into fun blue envelopes I had leftover from the boys’ birthday (similar ones available on Amazon), but they could easily be attached by simply using a paperclip. Now Jacob is just “a bot” ready for his Valentine’s Day party at school!
To create your own Robot Valentine, download the FREE printable here.
If you would like smaller Valentines, click here for a PDF with 4 per page.
Other favor ideas for this DIY Robot Valentine:
– Make Your Own Robot Stickers
– Robot Erasers
– Robot Fidget Toy
Related: Mermaid Valentine Printable
Related: Unicorn Valentine Printable
Related: DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards
Related: Super Hero Valentine’s Day Cards
“Are you a robot – or do you think for yourself?”
For Valentine’s Day this year, I started by looking up some fun favors on Amazon and presenting them to the kids. Avery was super stoked about the flippy sequin bracelets I found, so we went with a Mermaid theme.
Inspired by her favorite color at the moment – GOLD, I created this super sparkly mermaid Valentine. Paired with the sequin bracelet favors and signed using my glitter pens, Avery’s definitely ready to make a splash at her school celebration!
Favor ideas to pair with this Valentine:
– Mermaid Sequin Bracelet (as shown in photo above)
– Mermaid Folding Paper Fans
– Sequin Mermaid Tail Keychains
– Mermaid Favor Assortment (Stamps, Stickers & Tattoos)
– Glitter Spiral Notepad / Pencils
– Mermaid Tattoos
Depending on your favor, you can tie it on with string, attach with double sided tape, or use a fun glitter or mermaid Washi tape.
To create your own Mermaid Valentine Printable, download here.
Related: Unicorn Valentine Printable
DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards
Build a Robot Papercraft Valentine
“Be a mermaid and make waves.”
We recently invested in a full-size digital piano and expanded our song list from my original post: Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Sheets. I also switched the orientation of the pages (from horizontal to vertical). Doing so allowed me to create a beginner piano music book that sits nicely in the sheet stand. All I had to do was print them out, slide them into page protectors and insert the sheets into a 3-ring binder. To label our keys, we used these Color Coding Dot Labels. The colors coordinate exactly and they are the perfect size for full-sized piano keys / keyboards.
Simple enough for my 4 year old to catch on quickly – this color coded piano music book has been such a confidence booster in my children’s ability to start reading sheet music. Watching their faces and sense of accomplishment after completing a song is absolutely priceless. The best part – they are having so much fun learning! 🙂
To create your own Color-Coded Beginner Piano Music Book, including ALL NINE SONGS, click here.
If you are simply looking to add to your collection from my previous post – below are the new songs…
Row Row Row Your Boat – FREE Download:
You Are My Sunshine and Baa Baa Black Sheep
Are You Sleeping? (Frère Jacques)
And just in time for the holidays, we added Jingle Bells and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
Hope you enjoy these music sheets as much as we have!
“Music is what feelings sound like.”
Related: The Imperial March Beginner Piano Sheet Music
With 8 to 14 inches of snow expected today, schools in the area were cancelled for a rare occurrence — SNOW DAY!! Needless to say, the kids were very excited and we spent most of the morning outside. This afternoon, we decided to stay warm and stick indoors for a Valentine’s Day themed craft.
Using these cute doilies from the dollar store, (click here for a similar product on Amazon) I simply cut out a heart shape from the middle of the doily and attached a square of contact paper (larger than the doily) to one side. Then, with Valentine’s Day inspired colors, I cut small squares of tissue paper and put them in bowls.
Sticky side up, the kids selected their preferred tissue squares and attached them to the contact paper heart in the center of the doily.
When their Valentine heart decorating was complete, I trimmed any excess tissue paper that was hanging over the lace part of the doily, then sealed their heart with another sheet of contact paper. After trimming around the outside of the doily (to cut off excess contact paper), we hung their masterpieces in our window to enjoy the beautiful stained glass colors!
These Valentines also make perfect gifts to send to family and friends! 🙂
“Close your eyes and picture of the sun. That’s what it felt like to love her, warmth.”
Follow me on Pinterest and Instagram for more fun ideas!
Right now Avery is OBSESSED with everything unicorn. Anytime she spots something at a store with a unicorn on it, she ogles at it like it’s a lost baby kitten and is convinced it was made for her. So to no surprise, this year we decided to create Valentine’s Day cards with this mystical creature – and just the right amount of sparkle!
Since Valentines these days usually come with a fun favor attached to them, I purchased cute unicorn fans to include with Avery’s. Some other ideas if you are interested in adding a favor (which you can either tie on, attach with double sided tape, or use a fun glitter or unicorn Washi tape)…
Based on whichever size you would like, click on the above image to download and start creating your own magical Valentines!
Related: DIY Heart Breaker Valentine’s Day Cards
“Always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn.”
When planning our trip to Disney World, I mentioned to the kids that sometimes people dress up as their favorite characters and showed them some pictures. Avery immediately shouted “I want to be Darth Vader!!”. Coming from a girl that plays with a 4ft tall Stormtrooper like it’s a doll (singing him lullabies and tucking him in for bed) this came as no surprise. I decided to take the challenge and come up with something that has a little bit of Disney Princess flair.
I purchased a black leotard and tutu from Amazon and created the below chest plate.
I used Dark T-shirt Transfers, printed the chest plate on a sheet, and ironed it on the leotard following the given directions (Note: It is not recommended to print on fabric that stretches like the leotard, however I was happy with the results).
Click HERE for free printable chest plate (to scale for girl’s leotard).
The force is strong with this one…
Happy Star Wars Day! May the force be with you.
Celebrate all the wonderful teachers in your life during Teacher Appreciation Week! Whether it’s a school teacher, sports coach, or even a caretaker – these real life superheroes cannot be thanked enough for taking the time to help us learn and grow!
This year I created a “Thank you” coloring page that’s easy for even the littlest of ages to provide a gift to their teachers with their own personal touch.
Click HERE or on above image to download FREE printable.
For the boys, I included a questionnaire on the back of their coloring page.
Click HERE or on above image to download FREE printable questionnaire.
Thank you to all the hard-working teachers!
“It takes a big heart to shape little minds”
Related: Teacher Appreciation Coloring Page with Questionnaire
The boys have mastered the Color-Coded Beginner Piano Sheet Music I created for them, so I thought I’d put together another song. They are super into Star Wars right now, so The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme) seemed like the perfect option. Simple, yet dramatically fun – and perfect to get in the mood for our upcoming trip to Disney World!
All I had to do was add a few more color-coded note stickers to our keyboard. POST UPDATE: I originally cut down circle dot labels I had on-hand (as seen in my photo), but recently upgraded to these Color Coding Dot Labels, which I highly recommend. The colors coordinate exactly and they are the perfect size for full-sized piano keys / keyboards.
Click on below image to download FREE printable color-coded sheet music…
…And may the force be with you.
Shortly after the boys turned 2 years old, they started finding Cory or I in the mornings and asking, “Is Dad home all day?”. If the answer was “no”, I often times had two crying kids on my hands. Understandably (in their minds), they were upset that Cory had to run off to some unknown “work” place, instead of staying home to play with them. Unfortunately for me, I had to break this news to them every Monday through Friday and they would be super angry with me – like it was MY choice which days Cory went to work.
While it was neat watching them realize the concept of days, I wanted to avoid the unnecessary tantrums and help them understand their schedules better. As a visual person myself, I decided to put together a weekly calendar *showing* them which days Dad was “home all day” (by putting a picture of Cory’s face on Saturday and Sunday). I printed out the calendar, put it in a sheet protector, and hung it on their bedroom door with a clothespin to mark the current day. Each morning, they would wake up and move the clothespin to the new day.
Both Jacob and Evan responded to the calendar extremely well, so I started adding images for almost everything – doctor’s appointments, swim class, holidays, etc. The boys quickly started understanding weekends vs. weekdays and were excited when something new would pop up on their calendar. Although our weekly events pretty much stayed the same, when I knew a holiday or special event was coming up, I would print the future week in advance and simply slide the sheet behind the current week (in the sheet protector) so that it was ready to go.
Avery is 2 years old now, and starting “toddler school” this week, so I started using the weekly calendar for her. She is loving the new responsibility of updating her marker for each day, and super excited for her 1st day of school. No more tantrums and full cooperation for the day’s activities (well, most of the time anyway). Either way, a definite WIN!
- Click HERE for Weekly Calendar Printable.
- Click HERE for Weekly Calendar Clipart Printable – Simply cut & paste appropriate holiday, event or activity onto your Weekly Calendar.
- For sports classes such as swimming, gymnastics, tennis, etc., I recommend using images from Classroom Clipart (endless options and free!). This website also has perfect graphics to use for other activities (piano lessons, etc.) and additional holidays.
“December is here before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss