Introducing my Amazon Storefront

IMG_20190223_103750_762I have been working on something for you guys for a little while and am excited to share it with you today! One of my favorite things about following other homeschool accounts on Instagram and blogs is discovering the resources and products that other families use and love. I love seeing them in real life in their schooling and in their homes. Many of you ask me where I get certain things and what brands things are that you see in my Instagram posts. My hope is that I can share with you what we are using and love and that is helpful to you as you make choices on what to purchase for your own journey.

Recently Amazon introduced Amazon Storefronts, which is a place for small accounts like mine to post recommended resources all in one place with links for purchase through Amazon! I get a small kickback if you purchase an item from my storefront, which helps me buy more homeschool supplies. The products that I recommend are the exact things I have bought and are tried and true by my family. I plan to add to my Storefront over time, but for now I stocked it up pretty good with things I use and love if you want to take a browse.

Lesson Preparation

These are the products I use to print, laminate, and organize my curriculums and lessons. I especially love my printer and laminator! I use both every week and have had no problems with either one. The Amazon Basics laminator is an especially good price!

IMG_20190124_130536_133Sensory & Fine Motor Supplies

This category includes everything from the scissors we love to the net swing that we have hanging in our front yard for vestibular input. I have also included things you would find in a sensory bin like the water beads I buy and fine motor tools for scooping and grabbing!

Books

Here I have listed the must-have books for your home library. They are they ones we use for tea time poetry, reference for multiple lessons, or read-alouds that we read over and over. I have also included my top reads for the homeschool mama!

What Mama Loves

This was a fun one to put together as it is full of all the random things I personally love. Shoes, home decor, and my favorite coffee making gadgets. I am a fairly simple woman, but I have a few things that really bring a lot of joy to my life that I wanted to share.

Practical Life Skills

In this category I have included the things that we have that encourage my children to work alongside me in household chores and in the kitchen – things like child size aprons and a small handheld broom. My favorite in this section is definitely the hard nylon knives that they use daily in meal prep!

Art & Handcrafts

This may be my favorite section and my favorite part of home education! You will find the exact crayons,  watercolors, and clay we love and use on a regular basis. Everything in this section we have on hand for various projects. The yarn needles and the weaving loom are amazing tools for introducing handicrafts to littles.

IMG_20190218_103603_915Toys We Love

Here I have all of our favorite open-ended toys! These are basically all of the toys we own and encourage so much imaginative play. Currently my kids are mostly playing with Calico Critters and Magnatiles!

Phonics & Handwriting

I can’t say enough good things about the products I listed here. These are the books and resources we use everyday. I have also included the pencils and pencil grips we love!

Visit my storefront to see all of these items in detail. If you found this helpful, be sure to keep checking back as I will add items as I discover new things that we are using and love!

Advent Calendar Activity Ideas & Bible Reading Plan

Okay, so before you read this post thinking I am the Advent-pro, I must admit to you first that I have never once participated (and especially planned and led) this tradition. But oh, how Pinterest and Instagram have led me into new and beautiful things. I started seeing all these creative ideas, adorable calendars, and lists galore of things to include in Advent. So with less than a week before December 1st, I scrambled to put this advent calendar together. It is not a finished product, as I know myself too well to know I couldn’t plan an entire month of activities without things changing. I think I have a solid plan though that is simple, meaningful, and fun so I wanted to share!

First off, I turned our dining room chalkboard into a paper sack calendar. My hubby and I made this chalkboard a few months ago, but this could work right on the wall as well. I ordered these mini paper sacks and these mini red clothespins from Amazon. My garland was a Hobby Lobby find a few years ago in the regular greenery section, and I stuck some berries in it to make the red clothespins pop. I just hot glued some twine behind the frame of the chalkboard and strung it across to make my paper sack “clothes lines”.

Next, I made a list of activities I wanted to do with the kids throughout the month of December. I scouted out all the free or inexpensive events happening in our town and included some of those. I also included some activities centered around giving and serving. I wanted to keep them simple. I wanted to have the ability to pick one each morning and pop it in the bag before the kids wake up depending on which one made sense for our schedule, the weather, and let’s be honest, the one I wanted to do that day. I typed them into a table so I could print them on cardstock and cut them into cards to put into the bags. Here is my list of Advent activities:

  1. Make cinnamon applesauce ornaments for the Christmas tree

  2. Drive around with hot cocoa looking at Christmas lights

  3. Help wrap presents

  4. Make gingerbread houses

  5. Get bundled up and go for a wintery hike

  6. Have pancakes with Santa (local event)

  7. Bake cookies to share with neighbors

  8. Make caramel popcorn and watch a Christmas movie

  9. String popcorn and dried oranges for the Christmas tree

  10. Throw a birthday party for Jesus

  11. Go to the train museum to see the Christmas train (local event)

  12. Buy gifts for our cousins at the Dollar store

  13. Go to Holiday storytime at the library

  14. Go see the animals at the live Nativity (local event)

  15. Be in the Christmas play at church

  16. Buy coats for children who don’t have any (local charity)

  17. Draw pictures in Christmas cards for Operation Shoebox

  18. Go to Gingerbread Lane (local event)

  19. Read Christmas stories by the Christmas tree

  20. Walk through the garden to see the Christmas lights (local event)

  21. Pass out candycanes to people on the Greenway (local hiking trail)

  22. Go to the Christmas Village (local event)

  23. Make presents for homemade gift exchange (This is an extended family tradition)

  24. Go to Grammy’s house and open presents (Christmas Eve)

  25. Go to Auntie’s house for Christmas dinner (Christmas Day)

I decided I wanted to add a biblical emphasis to our advent and we LOVE The Jesus Storybook Bible, so when I stumbled across their Advent Reading plan I was thrilled. You can see the plan and download the cards I used for free here. I printed them double-sided on cardstock, cut them out, laminated them, and put them in the bags with the activity cards. I have a feeling we will be using these again so I wanted them to last.

That’s it! My plan is to open the bag in the morning during our “Together Time” and read the activity for the day and the correlating Bible story. Then, we will sometimes do a simple ornament craft that represents the story we read and we will put them on our Christmas tree. Keep an eye out on my Instagram to see our activities and crafts in action!

Step-by-Step Cardboard Playhouse

My mom recently called me with one purpose: to tell me that she got a new IKEA couch. She had saved the enormous box specifically for me, knowing she could count on me to turn it into something fun for her grandkids. She knows me almost too well – so does my husband. That’s why when we went to family dinner the following Sunday, he wasn’t too surprised to find himself rearranging the minivan and shoving a ten foot box into the back of it. We had to fold it and break it down a bit, but eventually we got it all home.

I considered creating a castle or a boat, but after much scrolling and pinning I decided to create a little cardboard village. I narrowed in on an eclectic little home, a modern large library with a bookshelf inside, and a little grocery market. I know I can’t knock this all out at the same time, but I plan to build on it over time since I have the cardboard for it! Here are a couple of the cardboard playhouses that inspired this project:

We have a split-level home with a long, narrow downstairs space that needs a lot of beautifying work. It has been a wonderful sensory play space for the kids. I am working on cleaning out some furniture down there that doesn’t get enough use for the space it’s taking up. Besides, where will the cardboard village reside if silly couches are in the way? Until I have enough space for it all, I decided to start with the little house.

I did half of this project outside in the shade while the kids played in the plastic pool and sandbox. I finished the rest of it one evening after they went to bed. I think it took me a total of 3-4 hours. Below, I’ve given you a materials list and then broken it down for you in steps.

MATERIALS:

  • Large pieces of cardboard

  • Duct tape

  • Measuring tape

  • Box cutter and blades

  • Spray adhesive

  • Fabric (large enough pieces to cover the sides of your playhouse)

  • Hot glue and sticks

  • Other embellishments such as a cabinet knob, paint, or fake flowers

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lay your large pieces of cardboard out, and cut two rectangles of the same width and height. Mine happened to be 25″x34″, but you can work with whatever size cardboard you have.

  2. Cut out two more rectangular pieces with a triangle on top that are the same size (this should look like a pentagon or sides of a house). The height of all four pieces need to be the same, but these two can be narrower or wider than the previously cut rectangles, depending on how wide or narrow you want your house. I used the measuring tape to be sure the triangle was centered. My pieces measured 34″x34″, and my triangle was 14″ high from the top of the rectangle.
  3. Cut out your windows and door using the box cutter.

  4. Cover each side of the house with fabric. I used spray adhesive to do this, and it worked well. I used different colors of fabric for each side, only because I didn’t have enough fabric in my scrap bin to do it all the same. You could also use paint, wallpaper, or just let your kids color it!

  5. Duct tape all four walls together. I had to crawl inside and have my husband hold each wall for me to tape the seams shut. In some areas I used hot glue to reinforce the seams.

  6. Cut a rectangle for the roof, fold it, and hot glue it on. Add shingles if you would like. This was the most time consuming part, but they turned out so cute. I just cut out rectangles and used hot glue to attach them.

  7. Add embellishments. I added painted window frames, curtains, a cabinet knob for a door knob, and window flower boxes with fake flowers.

In one week this little house has been a flower shop, a puppet stage, and a market. Every stuffed animal in the house has been inside and it has been played with way more hours than it took creating it. I call that a win! I will update this post once the rest of the village is created.