Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Fall Cuisenaire Templates

Pre-K Math Fall Cuisenaire Shapes Apple, Pumpkin, Corn, Acorn and Leaf
As part of trying to incorporate hands on math activities, I have been making Archer Cuisenaire Rod Templates. He enjoys matching the rods and then really enjoys counting up each color at the end. These are some fall templates I made.

There are color and black and white versions of five different fall images.

Some other fall resources:
Fall Pumpkin Seed Sight Word linking activity perfect for morning work tubs

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Improve Your Career Development With These Tips

This is a contributed post. 

Did you know that over the course of your life, you will spend over 90,000 hours at work? That’s a lot of time spent doing something to earn yourself the money you need to eat and live. As you are going to spend so much time at work and earning cash, the best thing that you can do is ensure that your career is developing the way you want it to.

You wouldn't get your teacher certification and then not work to be a head tutor or a deputy headteacher, leading to headteacher. There is always progression to be had in any career but if you want to improve your chances, these are the tips that you will need:

Image Source: Pexels

  1. Make sure that you have clear deadlines for your goals. You don't need to work toward being a certain age and then hit the goal you want to hit, but you need to create some goals for yourself so that you are working toward the success that you want. Goals offer you the chance to focus, and you need to get specific about it. There is such a thing as setting SMART goals, and these can really help you. A deadline offers you the chance to be accountable for yourself, and this eliminates the wasted time and effort you would spend.

  2. Invest in you! You need to develop your career and if that means paying into yourself to get a further qualification, go ahead and get it! You need to make sure that you are taking the time to develop your functional skills, and the best way to do that is to take courses and improve. Your ability to learn doesn't stop after a certain age, so be smart about it and get yourself into learning. Your skills are more marketable if you have them in the first place. 

  3. Make sure that you use your current role. Speak to your current employer and make sure that you are in the spotlight for a potential promotion if there is one to be had. You know that most employers will give preference to current employees, so ensure that you are right in there and are getting the best from your current role first.

  4. Find a mentor. You are never too old to have guidance in the career that you want, and the best way to get that is to find a mentor who is doing what you want to do. You can then work to ensure that you are having the career doors opened for you. They’ll help you to expand your personal and professional network and you can then be in a position to better realize your potential.

  5. Get it all on paper. From your goals to your progress that you have made, you need to get it all down on paper. You have to think about how much satisfaction comes with the career advancement that you have. It’s satisfying to be able to see how far you’re getting with your career plans.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Pumpkin Seed Sight Word Fine Motor Activity

Fall Pumpkin Seed Sight Word linking activity perfect for morning work tubs 

September is well under way and I am getting to excited for fall! I made this fun pumpkin seed sight word activity to give my little guy another fall related hands on activity. He has been able to read all of his sight words for a long time, but I we're just starting to work on spelling words and I think the linking aspect adds fun fine motor practice!

I printed all the cards and laminated them (I've had my laminator for over 10 years and it is still going strong!). Then I used a hole punch to make room for the learning links. I have a "low force" hold punch and have found that if I take the bottom punch catcher off, I can see where I'm punching pretty easily.
Pumpkin Seed Sight Word Fine Motor Activity perfect for morning work tubs
To keep him from being overwhelmed, I only presented some of the words at a time.
He thought it was like hooking up train cars, so he loved it and insisted on finishing every word.

Some other fall resources:

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

How to Improve Learning for Any Child

This is a contributed post.

Whatever kind of success your child tends to have with their education, you are probably keen to always try and improve it as much as possible. After all, there is no such thing as your child learning too much or finding it too easy, so this is something that is always worth looking into in some way or another. The issue of how to improve learning for your child is actually relatively straightforward, and it largely comes down to paying attention to a few key things. Let’s take a look at what they are right now.

Image Credit - CCO Licence

Find Motivation

Very often with children of all ages, the issue is largely around having the right motivation to learn. Without a strong enough motivation, no child is going to be able to learn what they need to, when they need to, so this is something that you are going to want to focus on in particular. There are many ways to motivate your child to learn, from focusing on topics that intrigue them to explaining the positive outcomes of having a good education. However you do it, just make sure that they feel truly motivated to learn as much as possible.

Update The Teaching

The method in which a child is taught is obviously one of the most centrally important concerns in all this too, and you need to make sure that you are doing all you can to help update the teaching that your child is receiving. That might mean that you change your homeschooling approach, or that you need to change what school your child attends. Whatever it takes, just make sure that the teaching is as up to date as possible, taking into account all of the most recent revelations in the world of education. That is going to make a huge difference.

Image Credit - CCO Licence

Try Adaptive Learning

Every individual is different, and this means that everyone learns differently and has to take different approaches to achieving the same ends. If you are keen to improve the learning for a child, then one thing you might want to consider making use of is adaptive learning. This is a way of utilising the natural learner variability that exists between people, to ensure that each and every child is getting taught in exactly the way that makes most sense for them. That’s a really forward-thinking way of approaching this whole issue.

Vary The Methods

Finally, almost everyone learns more effectively and more quickly if they use a variety of methods, rather than simply sticking to just one. Just reading about something might not do much to help information stick in a child’s mind, for instance. But reading about it, engaging with it and talking about it are all going to make a difference. In whatever way you can think of, encourage varied methods when a child is trying to learn. It really does help, and it means that they are going to be much more likely to retain that information every time.

Famous Art Magnifying Match-Up

Earlier this summer I shared that we will be doing an Artist of the Month (and Composer of the Month). I was looking for more ways to make that engaging for my 3 year old and came up with this magnifying glass activity.
Montessori Magnifying Glass Match-Up Activity with Famous Art

One set of cards has a piece of artwork and its title. The second set has the artwork printed very small. The goal is to use the magnifying glass to match up the cards. I started with Mary Cassatt, because that was our first Artist of the Month. I'll keep making them and updating as long as my little guy keeps using them.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Making Learning Fun for Young Children

 Making learning fun for children can aid development and boost wellbeing and contentment, but it’s not always to conjure up new, original ideas. If you have young children, and you’re looking for inspiration, this guide is packed with ideas and tips to ensure that every learning experience is enjoyable and memorable. 

Image credit:

Vary activities

We all get bored of doing the same things over and over again. Many of us remember classes at school that we didn’t enjoy because every session was the same, and there are often jobs we try to avoid at work because they are repetitive or mundane. When educating your child or drawing up plans for home learning or playtime, try to include a diverse range of activities. Switch up your schedule, include different types of activities, and combine classes your kids love with new learning techniques and resources. A variety of activities will help children to maintain high levels of motivation and also make learning and teaching more enjoyable for parents, carers or relatives. From reading, problem-solving and arts and crafts to physical activity, role-play, outdoor pursuits and doing experiments or playing games, it’s an excellent idea to try to introduce a mixture of classes and play and learning-based activities.

Change your surroundings

A change of scenery can have an incredible impact on a child’s appetite for learning. Many kids love to be outdoors and to explore different settings. When you’re encouraging your children to learn, it’s a fantastic idea to try and change the surroundings from time to time. Go outside if it’s a sunny day, visit a park, the beach or a forest or work in the garden. Visit places that are relevant to what you’re learning about and use the environment to enhance the experience. If you’re learning about animals, for example, you could go to the zoo, a wildlife park or a farm. If you’re talking about trees, insects or plants, plan a nature walk or have a look around a garden center. Interactive, sensory experiences are often more memorable. If your kids have had a great day, they will be able to retain and recall information more easily. 

Picture from

Introduce a social element

Making friends, spending time with others and forming relationships can have an impact on how we learn and develop. If you’re looking for ways to make learning fun for your kids, have you thought about introducing a social element? From infant daycare facilities and play dates with friends and neighbors to summer schools and camps and local clubs, there are several ways to encourage socialization. Some children are naturally more sociable than others. If your kids tend to be shy around new people, support and reassure them and give them time to adjust to the environment and the dynamic of the group. It can be helpful to stick to the same groups or activities for a period to enable them to become more confident around their new friends. 

Bring learning to life

Most of us will have memories of reading books, writing notes and listening to our teachers talking during our time at school. Reading is incredibly beneficial for children, but it’s not the only way to learn. One of the best ways to make learning more fun and accessible is to bring it to life. Instead of just reading books about the human body, history or animals, or looking at pictures of famous artworks in books or doing sums written down in activity booklets, use visual, interactive, practical learning techniques. Paint your own pictures in the style of well-known artists, take a look at your facial features in the mirror or use models to see where different body parts are, recreate battles or landmark historical moments by creating role-play scenarios and develop counting skills by setting up a store and using a cash register, for example. Explore the great outdoors, be creative and try to include daily physical activity. You can use online resources and get ideas and inspiration from teachers, educators and parents via forums and social media groups. 

Ask for feedback and ideas

All children learn differently and they have preferences in terms of what they like to do and how they want to spend their time. Ask your children for feedback on activities you’ve tried and encourage them to get involved with planning classes or coming up with ideas for weekends or rainy afternoons

Image via

Every parent wants the best for their child when it comes to learning. If you homeschool your kids, or you’re eager to encourage them to learn through play and spending time together at home, it’s hugely beneficial to try and make learning as fun as possible.

This is a contributed post.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Visual Discrimination Pattern Grids

Printable pattern grids for visual discrimination practice
Visual spatial skills are important for math success, so I'm always looking for ways to incorporate them. Also, my little guy likes novelty, so I have to keep providing new activities. These little pattern grids work satisfy both!
Printable pattern grids for visual discrimination practice
I made three sets of grids, one smaller set of templates and then two bigger ones for him to build on (for a younger kid, you could have them build directly onto the template). I used primary colors so that lots of different objects could be used to make the patterns. The first picture has counting bears and the second has counting vehicles. You could easily use almost any manipulative in red, green, blue or yellow.
Printable pattern grids for visual discrimination practice
To add some extra fine motor practice, you could use pom poms with tweezers.


Monday, August 23, 2021

Printable Squirrel Directions and Beginning Coding Game


Free printable fall animal game for practicing giving and following directions. Also for beginning coding.

My little guy LOVES the GPS and has begun asking me what direction we are going while driving in the car. He does pretty well with right and left and wants so badly to understand North, South, East and West. Since he has also shown a big interest in maps lately, I made this little squirrel game to help with directions. I chose woodland animals because fall is coming up and that should fit into our fall activities!

The game is simple, there are little printable animals, some obstacles, some treats and a playing grid. I made two compass roses, one with Right, Left, Forward, Backward and one with North, South, East and West, so we could work on either set of skills. I also made some little arrow cards, to do it without the words.

I place the squirrel somewhere on the outside of the grid and place an animal friend for him to go visit somewhere else. Then he has to give me directions to get the squirrel to his friend (or I could give him directions). The stump or pile of leaves can block the path and the pumpkin or apple can be treats to collect along the way.

To turn it into coding practice (probably when he gets a little older), I would have him use the arrows to put together all the directions and then we would follow them all out. You could have older kids write down all the directions (either with arrows or words) and then follow them to see if it works.

To make it more fun, and because I had them, I added our little squirrel and bear figurines as well as some acrylic leaves, apple and pumpkin (vase scatter).

If you're looking for other fall resources, you might check out my Apple Tree Roll and Cover or Fall Dot to Dot Pages

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Composer of the Month

Printables and resource ideas for Composer of the Month

  I was a hardcore math and science kid. That's the way my brain works. However, I want to make sure I give my kids some well-rounded experiences. As part of that, I decided to do an Artist of the Month and a Composer of the Month.

Each month will have the composer, where they are from (we're working on geography), some quick facts and we will listen to some of their works. I will also use outside books, YouTube videos and other resources (I included some of these links in the PDF I'm sharing). If I can find them, I'll print some simple sheet music too. Since I have a middle schooler and a 3 year old, I included a wide range of things.

General Resource About Composers

(Only a few are done, so far. I will update as I add more, I was just excited to share before school started)

You may be interested in the Artist of the Month post:

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Art Activity for The Perfect Fit

Art activity to go with a lesson about acceptance and diversity with the book The Pefrect Fit
As I wrote about in our Pre-K Curriculum post, this year I am trying to include Heart Lessons. These are lessons about social emotional skills like kindness, friendship, self regulation, etc. One of the books I got to go with this theme was The Perfect Fit by Naomi Jones. Archer LOVED the book and when we read it three times in a row one day, I thought it might be fun to make a little art project to go with it.

The story is about Triangle who feels like she doesn't quite fit in, so she goes off in search of a place where everyone is exactly like her. She eventually finds it, but realizes things are more fun when all different kinds of shapes play together. Great message and it features shapes, for my little shape-loving guy! 
The book features patterns the shapes all make together, so I used some construction paper to cut out shapes in the same colors as the book. (I used his shape cookie cutters we use for playdough and Magna Qubix to trace the shapes). Now this kid has not been a big fan of art in general. I have to work to get him to paint, color, glue, etc., so I was thrilled when he was interested in gluing the shapes on! He also drew some faces on some of the shapes before tiring out! I have plenty of shapes cut out still, so we'll likely do this multiple times! 

It may not look like a lot, but it is more gluing than I have ever gotten him to do in one sitting! He even made a little "fishy" like in the book.


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Visual Homeschool Pre-K Schedule

Free Printable Visual Homeschool Pre-K Schedule
As I was planning our Pre-K year, I wanted to find a way to help us organize our days. Since my son is only 3, I want most of his time to be unstructured play. Any school work we do together should be fun and low pressure. A rigid schedule just wouldn't work for that. Instead, I came up with this visual schedule.

The left side has the things he still needs to do and the right side is for things he has finished. I printed little icons for all of the things we will do regularly, as well as a few blank ones for things I come up with on the spot. I used Velcro dots to make it easy for him. I also only included room for six things. I am expecting us to do fewer on most days, but that provides us a max. 

I may start out at only one or two things to get him used to the idea of having to get something done. I'm hoping this will transition well into other types of goals and task lists as he gets older.


Monday, August 2, 2021

Pre-K Homeschool Choices

So I always struggle with what to call these posts. My kids have never fit nicely into a grade band and I've always just tried to do activities that fit their current skill level. Pre-K just seemed closest to his current abilities.

Not quite typical Pre-K Curriculum Choices for homeschool. Could apply to some homeschool preschool or kindergarten as well.

Pre-K Schedule

These are the core of our school. Below I'll list more specifics. Number of lessons is my rough outline. We'll do more or less depending on how he takes to them. For instance, I can see him asking for math daily. I still want the vast majority of his day to be free play. Also, I did not include all of the "normal" 3 year old things like play dough, coloring books, stickers, etc.

  • Handwriting (2-3 times a week)
  • Spelling (2-3 times a week)
  • Math (2-4 times a week) 
  • Music (2-4 times a week)
  • Heart Lessons (2-4 times a week)
  • Bonus (as we have desire)


Archer has shown a big interested in writing (some letters, mostly numbers). To run with the interest  Handwriting Without Tears Kick Start Kindergarten. We'll do as much as he's interested in.


We are going to start All About Spelling Level 1. We started it with my oldest at around not quite 4 years old (see post here about adapting curriculum for a toddler) and Archer is only 3, but he love letters and talking about their sounds, so I think he will really enjoy this. I haven't 100% decided if we will use strictly their magnet tiles or if I will also use our Classroom Magnetic Letters. We will also go at his pace. If it takes us a couple of years, no big deal.


Math was a tricky one for me. Archer is a math kid. He will almost always pick a math manipulative over another toy, he loves math books, he loves math apps and he loves math shows. He can add pretty well and is starting to subtract. A kindergarten curriculum is probably too easy as a whole, but I don't think he's ready for some of the abstract thinking that could come with 1st grade. I've decided that we're going to end up doing a mix of things. My goal is hands on math that builds great number sense that he will ENJOY doing. (It looks like a lot, but he usually requests these kinds of things).
  • Math Activities: this will be the bulk of our math! He loves math manipulatives like base ten blocks, math cubes and Cuisenaire rods. To give him more variety this year I ordered a Geoland Mirror Activity set and some Geoboards too.
  • Cuisenaire Activities
  • Occasional lessons from Kindergarten Math with Confidence (just the teacher's book) - a lot of this is too easy, but I am interested in the lessons on money and measuring. I think it might also provide some review "games" for us. I have no plans/expectations for how quickly we will move through it or how much of it we will actually do. When we feel ready (and if I like it), I'll move on to 1st Grade Math with Confidence.
  • Some activity pages from Miquon Orange. I got a copy of this second hand and it has some great activity pages. Others will be much too hard for him. We'll use what I think he'll like and skip the rest.
  • Apps: SplashLearn, Dragonbox Numbers and Dragonbox Big Numbers. - Archer likes these and they're great for building mathematical thinking.


Last spring we started used Prodigies Music Lessons. Archer seems to really enjoy them. We have the Rhythm Band Bells and plan to also start using the stickers with for the piano. I'll also try to include some books about music and instruments.

Heart Lessons

I have decided to call Social Emotional Skill lessons "Heart Lessons". It is much much easier for a 3 year old to say and understand. I want to include things like being kind, mindfulness, gratitude, manners, self regulation, good behavior and both identifying and handling emotions. 
  • Books - Mostly I plan to read a bunch of books and talk about them. I put together a big list. Some we own, some we will buy (if I can narrow it down!) and some we will get from the library.
  • Daniel Tiger - the creators do a great job of tackling emotions in a way kids can understand. We will play with the app, watch some shows (if I can get him to) and read some books.

Books, Books, Books

Archer is a great little reader and we're past teaching him to read (mostly he wants to read independently, but he will still let me read to him, especially if he is doing something like playdough). I have worked really hard on our homeschool library, so he has lots to choose from. Here is some of what I bought or hope to buy specifically for this school year (not counting social emotional books listed above). As you can see, Archer really likes the Usborne Lift-the-Flap books. I ended up with so many of them ones on my wish list, I literally became a UBAM consultant for a discount! (Shameless plug: shoot me a Facebook message if you 'd like a 10% discount on Lift-the-Flap books or have a party to earn free books).

You may also be interested in the following posts:

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