Alphabet Activities for Every Letter

Sometimes it's hard for me to keep up.  With my to-do list, Tot school, my email, feeding the kids something other than mac and cheese, scrubbing food off every surface in my house including myself, the list goes on and on.  Mom life is a good life, but keeping up with everything is a struggle at times.  I have been learning as I go with this Tot School thing and since Luke has been learning his alphabet, I have decided to come up with an outline I can use with every letter.  This means I WILL NOT have to come up with creative activities every. single. week.  I use the outline and add and subtract where it makes sense.

Luke is three, so he does less writing and more work on letter recognition. Here is the outline of what we use with each letter.  Sometimes it takes us four days to get through, sometimes it takes us two weeks.  Since he is three, I give us both a huge helping of grace.

Bible Verse

Isn't it great when someone has already created something you can use?  Over at 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 1 Momma Carissa is amazing with all her printables. We start with the Bible verse each week when I introduce the letter.  It's a great way to bring God in it right from the start!

Letter Books

The Measured Mom has some awesome little books that Luke just loves.  Lily loves reading them as well.  They are a great introduction to the letter we are studying and it brings in some songs and rhyming that make it all connect.


We have an easel in our playroom and I write the letter on the board and then brainstorm words that begin with that letter.  Sometimes I use the chalkboard, sometimes I use the chart paper.  Luke loves this, mostly because I am drawing for him.  At the end, I usually oblige him and draw a train or tractor, even if we aren't studying the letter Tt.

Find the Letter

We have a container of magnetic letters we use each week.  Luke goes through the jar and searches out the letter of the week.  This is also one of his faves.  We put those letters up on our magnetic board for the week, where our Bible verse usually hangs.

Letter Craft

Luke has never been too interested in crafts.  He will (sometimes) get into it, but not often.  I try and find crafts that appeal to his interests (i.e. anything with wheels).

If I don't have time to find or do a craft, I print off a 'fillable' letter and have Luke fill it up.

ABC Books

We are constantly reading ABC books and singing the alphabet.  Luke has just learned the entire thing and Lily loves when he sings it.  I have Luke identify the letter we are studying in the books we read.  

Some of our favorites are: 
The Sleepy Little Alphabet
The Construction Alphabet
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Country Road ABC  (for all you boy moms out there,this is a must have)

Name Practice

I always try to review Luke's name every week.  We have only done his first name, I will probably wait a little while to do his last name...as it is l-o-n-g.  He reviews by stamping his name in play-dough or using clothespins and matching his name.  Some other ways to do this:  use play-dough to spell out the name, use stamps to stamp on paper, trace the name, use magnetic letters to make the name.  Anyone else have some creative ideas?

If I have time, there might be a few activities I add in here and there.  This is just a baseline and can be modified for each child. 

Hope you found one or two things you can use with your little.  If you have any other activities you would like to share, I would love to hear them!  Please leave a comment below!


Cheerio Bars

We like peanut butter around here.  When I was a newbie to this mom thing, I was just a teensy bit terrified Luke would be allergic to peanut butter.  Kevin loves peanut butter just about as much as I love chocolate.  And, well, put them together and I definitely am eating the whole pan of whatever.  So, our child just couldn't be allergic to peanut butter.  Turns out, he isn't. Neither is Lily.  We found out Lily was in the clear pretty early on, because Luke leaves peanut butter on just about every surface he touches. #ihavedirtycupboards He is Kevin's clone.

Luke and I made these bars together.  Lily was chatting in her crib while she was supposed to be napping and Luke and I put on our aprons (so cute!) and got busy.  Luke was able to do many of the steps, which allowed for lots of learning.  And it held his attention since these literally took 15 minutes to throw together.

Of course, the best part was sampling after lunch.  My picky little man ate up his lunch so he could have a Cheerio bar.  Who am I kidding, I ate up my lunch so I could have a Cheerio bar.  Lily did the same.  They definitely got a thumbs up from both kiddos and I had to wait until their afternoon nap time so I could have just a few more bites.


Here is the easy peesy recipe:

Cheerio Bars

2 T butter
1 10 ounce bag mini marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter
5 cups Cheerios - You can use any kind.  I used Multi-Grain Cheerios.

1.  Melt butter in saucepan.
2.  Add marshmallows and stir constantly over medium heat.
3.  Add peanut butter and stir until smooth.
4.  Slowly add in Cheerios.  Stir until combined.
5.  Spread into a 9x13 greased pan.  (I put butter on my hands and smash it down.)

Hope you enjoy!


Sunny Saturdays

It's Easter weekend.  Celebrating the resurrection of my King is one of my favorite times of year.  We are spending the weekend in my hometown and there will be lots of visits, hugs, laughter, and yummy food.  This past week was another quiet one with Luke coming down with a fever the first part of the week, but he recovered and so we spent the second half of the week with friends and at MOPS. 

Can you believe we have flowers blooming on the Trail?  It's officially spring!  Daffodils are everywhere and Luke and Lily have been happily picking them whenever we are outside.  One of the perks of country life is being able to grow cut flowers pretty much anywhere and everywhere.  I was lucky enough to inherit gardens from my mother-in-law who is literally a Master Gardener.  Since I didn't plant these, I found some good information about planting and caring for daffodils.  

Do you read chapter books to your toddler?  I didn't until a few weeks ago.  Luke and I started reading Winnie-the-Pooh after we checked it out from the library (along with his fifty car/train/truck books).  We read it after nap time everyday, when he needs some down time to wake up.  I have to give credit where credit is due.  My good friend, Annie, inspired me to read this after she had the cutest Winnie-the Pooh party for her sweet-as-pie two year old daughter, Ellen.  It was also on this book list I found when I was searching out chapter books to read with Luke and Lily.  Honestly, it is a little strange, but in a good way.  Christopher Robin is so sweet with Pooh and some of the tag lines just give me all the mom feelings.  The Hundred Acre Wood is where this sweet story takes place and it reminds me of what I pray and hope my littles's childhood would be like...full of imagination and adventure.    If you have any other great chapter books you have read with your toddler, I would love to hear them!

Last week I mentioned that Kevin and I went to Kansas City and had some adult only shopping time at World Market.  Kevin has always liked clear glass coffee mugs because our favorite Omaha spot, M's Pub, used them to serve coffee.  Unfortunately, M's Pub had a fire this winter and is under construction.  We have so many memories at this place, including a Christmas dinner tradition and dates right before both of our children were born.  Needless to say, this place holds a special place in our hearts and relationship.  We found these glass mugs at World Market and couldn't pass them up.  They bring a little 'M's' to our everyday.

For those of you stopping by for the first time, I am a bit of a clean freak.  I love a good cleaning product like all of the rest of the clean freaks out there.  This Mrs. Meyers Lavender Glass Cleaner is simply awesome.  I never thought I liked lavender until I cleaned my windows with this stuff.  It is so yummy.

This saying and print is just the sweetest.  I'm not sure where I saw this quote first, but I absolutely fell in love with it.  It's from a Doug Stone song called, 'Little Houses'.  This print is from the Etsy shop Willow and Olive.  I love that it's an instant download and super reasonable at $5.  It currently sits on the ledge behind our wood burning stove.  I'm sure it will move around the house as time goes on.

That's it for this Saturday.  Hope you all have a super Sunny Saturday and a beautiful resurrection Sunday.


Random Picture Friday

Happy Friday all!  It is one of my favorite weekends of the year and I am anxious to spend it with my sweet family.

After a friend birthday dinner tonight, we are heading to my hometown tomorrow and I am excited to see some family and friends over the weekend, as well as celebrate the resurrection!  Our Easter routine is like most, go to church and stuff our selves silly after.  I am not totally sure of our plans (because that's how my family rolls), but I'm sure we will have some good times.  

Last weekend was one spent at home sitting on the couch binge watching basketball.  My bracket in hand, we watched pretty much every game.  There were some great ones and some terrible ones.  If you see me, please don't bring up the Iowa or UNI game...

We did cheer for our Hawks and they did win one game in the tourney, so that was fun to watch!  Kevin was super happy that his Cyclones won two games, so they will play again tonight.  I love my husband a lot.  I can't believe I'm going to type this, but Go Cy!  As Luke would say.

Saturday morning we spent some time dying Easter eggs.  Luke and Lily were so into this and it was fun to start an Easter tradition.  We also picked up some little eggs that they used markers on and that kept their attention for awhile (3.5 minutes).  

Happy Birthday, sweet Amelia!  Luke and Lily's friend, Amelia, turned four and we had fun celebrating with the birthday girl!

We had some odd weather this week.  It was beautiful for the first part of the week and then we had snow on Thursday.  I guess that's Iowa.  Kevin took on a yard project and Luke was eager to help him.

We even had a family ride in the loader tractor.  Luke wanted to show Mommy and Lily how it works.  He is the expert.

On the nice days we went on lots of adventures and Luke found some treasures to put in the drawer in his room.  It's so sweet that he wants to keep his special things.

On Wednesday we ventured to the library to go on an Easter egg hunt.  It was the tamest egg hunt I have ever been to, and this Momma loved it.  Luke did, too.  And those bunny ears are just too cute.

I'll end with my favorite picture of the week.  Sleeping babies are Mom sugar.

Have a blessed weekend all!


Simplifying the Playroom

My mom, Lily and I were in Target a few weeks before Valentine's Day leisurely shopping.  I say leisurely because two adults to one child is like a vacation.  We were perusing the seasonal aisles full of hearts and candy and champagne and valentines.  I was just thinking how great my vanilla latte tasted when Lily does her little shreak thing and lays out for the biggest stuffed bear on the shelf.  My mom thought it was the cutest thing in the world.  She was going to buy it for her, for Valentine's Day, of course.  How could she not?  (insert eye roll...love you mom!)  I tried to compromise with a smaller stuffed bear and thought the problem was solved.  As we started to leave the hearts and lace and stuff, Lily let. it. out.  That shrill of a scream that came from her lungs was heard at the registers.  People were staring, some averted their eyes when I made eye contact while others just smiled and shrugged.  She was having a monster meltdown, maybe the biggest one I have witnessed from her.  I wish I could tell you I stood strong and said no and walked right out Target's doors with no bear for Lily.  But, I didn't.  I caved.  My mom came around the corner with that big, pink stuffed bear and all was well.  You could hear everyone (me included) let out a huge sigh of relief as Lily snatched the bear from my mom.

It looked something like this...how can this girl still be cute when she is melting down??!

I am on my second read of Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne.  It's so good Mommas.  Payne, a consultant and trainer to more than sixty U.S. independent and public schools, discusses taking away the noise, the clutter, the stuff in our kid's life so they are free to play and explore their world.  He discusses paring down toys, clothes, even books (I know, this is a hard one for me!) and letting their world be more about experiences than stuff.  Hence, less stuffed animals from Target and more time outside in the mud.

I am in the first stage of implementing Payne's strategy, with my own spin on it.  First things first...paring down our toys, clothes, books...all the stuff.  This isn't hard for me to do, I actually enjoy it.  I have a problem with getting rid of too much stuff.  For example, I donate all of my son's winter hats in the summertime and then realize in December I have nothing to cover his ears.  Brilliant.  I'm sure some of you don't have this problem.  But, the point here is transforming a house into a place that has as little clutter as possible while still feeling safe with few distractions and not too many choices.

Not coincidently, before starting Simplicity Parenting, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which is also about simplifying.  Needless to say, I have been purging like it's my job.  But, like I said earlier, I weirdly enjoy it.  I literally just got done purging our house, but haven't really thought much about the kids' toys, clothes, and books.  Simplicity Parenting gave me some help in this area and, although I am not implementing everything Payne suggests, this is what I have come up with that works for us.  I have been going through all our toys, all our books, all our clothes and getting rid of...

#1: things that don't 'spark joy'

#2 things that are sensory overloaded (cue battery operated everything)

and #3 things that are broken, stained or physically/developmentally inappropriate.

1.  Plastic Blocks. These were from my teaching days.  We also have these we rotate out.
2.  Curious George Jack in the Box.  The kids love this thing.  
3.  Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Blocks.  There are many more of these, but we just fill the basic and leave the rest in the closet.
4.  Melissa & Doug Band in a Box.  There are also some homemade shakers in there.  Luke and Lily love music.
5.  Melissa & Doug Beginner Pattern Blocks.  Luke has been really into these lately.  He is really into puzzles.  We rotate this out with other puzzles.
5.  Plastic Eggs.  Since it is the Easter season, these have been out.  I'm honestly not sure how much they get played with...they are mostly used in the kitchen.
6.  Nesting cups and shape sorter.  We are borrowing this from a friend, but I really like this one.

It has been a process and I'm not sure the purging is over, yet.  I have a semi-organized toy closet that I rotate toys out of.  Luke has caught onto this and actually asks to have some new toys put out.  One toy out of the toy closet means one toy goes in the toy closet.  Same with books.  Obviously clothes are different. 

The closet.  Forgive the low quality picture...both my kids were sleeping a few doors down.  Like I said...semi-organized.
We are planning on having more children one day, so all of the developmentally inappropriate toys are stored in the closet until needed.  A few things that stay out all the time: the easel, the kitchen, the ride-on toys, the shopping cart, and Luke's train table.  These are things that are used on a daily basis and Luke and Lily don't get tired of them.

Okay, now onto the results.  Have I noticed a difference?  Yes and no.  My kids still fight over toys and disagree about who gets to play with the shopping cart...every. single. day.  I would get rid of it if it weren't such a hot item.  Lily still cries when Luke gets to the ride-on car first and locks her out when he gets out of it (smart little stinker).  But, I have noticed some good stuff.  Luke is imagining more, so is Lily.  They play with one thing for longer than ten seconds.  I can see their attention span growing and that is priceless.  In an age where bigger and more is better, my hope for my littles is that they understand that bigger and more is not always better and not everything.  

Regardless of whether a person believes in simplification, we can all benefit from taking a step back to reflect on what we want our kids’ childhoods to look like.  Intentionality; much more than a $10 word.

This is working for us, right now.  My kids aren't missing the toys that are gone forever nor are they begging to have all their toys out at once.  I understand this will not work for every family.  I don't like having a 'lot of stuff' around anyway, so I appreciate reading books and adopting strategies like this for my family and my life.

For all of you wondering, the giant stuffed bear did not get purged.  Lily is pretty attached to it and I'm alright with that.  But, lesson learned...never, never, never take my sweet sixteen month old by a shelf with giant stuffed bears or any stuffed animals, for that matter.  We now avoid it like political phone calls.  

You're welcome customers of Target.

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