Fill Me In Friday… Teaching Braylen

Each Friday, I’m going to be answering some of your questions from the post I did earlier and giving you a little more insight into how we do things around here. One of the most common questions that came from that posts was about teaching Braylen.


Braylen has a really good memory, and she picks up on things really quickly. I saw that she was learning her alphabet and numbers using the Melissa and Doug puzzles early on and then using that knowledge and recognizing them elsewhere. She would point out letters at the grocery store or numbers on a road sign.

As a teacher, I’m always just waiting for that moment when I can unlock a little potential and turn things into a teachable moment, I don’t think learning can be forced. And I think children learn well through hands-on exploration and they learn best at their own pace, especially at her age. So when I saw her natural learning progression I began to capitalize on little teachable moments throughout the day.

Which brings me to a couple of points I want to make about teaching children:

Incorporate learning naturally- Don’t expect them to do more than they can, don’t pressure them and make them dislike learning. For example, if Braylen wanted to show me the letter “A” in the grocery store, I would make a big deal about it and ask her to show me another one if she saw one. I never sat her down at 18 months old and structured her learning time to include specific alphabet puzzles, but when she naturally chose those puzzles, I was sure to point out the letters and talk with her while she played. Equip your child with the tools to learn, but let it come natural.

Make it fun- Plan fun activities, use manipulatives, meet your child on their level. Make learning fun for them, this is the time to instill a love for learning that can last a lifetime. Don’t structure it in a way that is beyond their level of attentiveness or boring to them.

Now that she’s older and has a great foundation, we’re really capitalizing. Right now, she’s a big fan of spelling words and trying to figure out words in books. I’m just guiding her with a little phonics help and waiting for the right time to teach her more about blending words. She also loves math problems so we use a variety of manipulatives to help her figure them out on her own.

Here are some recent favorites at her house:

teach preschoolers

Meet the Sight Words DVD’s Meet the Sight Words Flashcards/Meet the Sight Words Books/Math Manipulatives Set/Math Flash Cards

It’s really impossible to cover it all in one post. Because I absolutely love this topic and because I’m going to need a little creative outlet in the coming weeks since I packed up my classroom this year, I’ll make some printable teaching sets like I’ve been using with Braylen for you guys and give you some posts on how we use them.


Story Stones on Every Day Cheer

Since all of my teacher friends went back to the classroom last week and I’m missing those kindergarten projects and all the first of the year fun, I’m posting about one of my favorite ways to inspire creativity and imaginative play on Every Day Cheer. Click over to see how I use Story Stones and make a set for your kiddo or class tonight.


Summer Adventures with Kiwi Crate

A few days ago, I received a fun Kiwi Crate box in the mail. I have heard great things about the company, but I had yet to pull the trigger on another monthly subscription box. When it came I was pleasantly surprised, the box was full of fun and crafty toddler appropriate activities. There are two main activities in the box, but there are supplemental experiments to go along with each activity. Basically enough fun things to keep your little one busy for hours, fully engaged. My favorite part about the box is that includes everything you need to complete the project, down to an activity mat for coloring to save your countertops. I’ve since received another box that came complete with the tape and scissors required to complete the activity. I love that everything we need is in one box, ready to start as soon as it comes in the mail.



I think it’s safe to say that BK’s favorite activity in this box was the water color sea animals. She loved coloring the animals with markers (we mainly use crayons for the sake of easy clean-up) so the markers were a pleasant surprise for her.


After coloring the animals, we let her spray them with water to watch the colors run. She was giddy with excitement watching the colors change.


IMG_8076I hung them on the chalkboard, it was a nice touch, especially since we haven’t been able to hang new school work all summer.


Kiwi Crate did send me the box to review, but I must tell you that I really love the service. I signed up for a monthly subscription the next day, and we have since received another box that she was just as intrigued by.

DIY toddler chore chart

I’ve been toying with the idea of a chore chart for BK for a few months. She’s only three, but I have to give her credit, she’s smart and completely capable of a little responsibility. Of course, the chore chart is actually another chore for me, it’s not like I’m sending her off with a load of laundry to fold neatly and put away. Each and every day it’s an exercise in patience for myself, it’s letting go of control (that I cling to so tightly).

BK’s chore chart is a simple concept, just magnetic tiles with pictures. She moves her magnets down once the chore is complete. In hindsight, responsibility would be a better word to use, but the vinyl letters were already cut when I had that moment of clarity. The first few days we spent time talking about each tile, she would choose a few to do throughout the day. I must say, she has mastered sorting the silverware. I’ve also never seen her pick up her leggo’s so quickly. It’s neat to see her independence and responsibility grow in the process.

 Here’s a look at how we made the chore chart and what we included.


What you’ll need to make your own:

  • sheet metal 
  • tin snips (to cut the metal)
  • vinyl lettering
  • glass tiles
  • clip art pictures of chores (you can find them around the web, I actually have the Cricut cartridge that makes the ones we used, they were just too big for what I needed)
  • magnets
  • modge podge
  • trim
  • vinyl lettering

Here’s what you’ll do:

Measure the space where the chore chart will go, using your tin snips cut the sheet metal to the measurements. We put ours right inside the laundry room.


Measure and cut the trim to go around the edge of the metal. This just gives it a more finished look. You can even have Hobbly Lobby cut a frame to the exact measurements and make this step a little easier.


Use tape to hold the metal to the wall, you can use a level to make sure that your metal is straight. Attach the trim pieces using a nail gun, the trim will hold the metal in place, you’re only using the tape to hold the metal while you’re adding the trim.


Once the trim is set, fill in holes with wood putty and paint the trim.


Add vinyl lettering to personalize your chore chart and chore magnets. To make the magnets, print clip art pictures and attach them to the backs of 1X1 glass tiles (ordered from Etsy) using Modge Podge. Once the Modge Podge dries, attach a magnet using a hot glue gun. Cut a strip of vinyl to separate the chart, now your child can move the magnets down once the chores are complete.


From left to right, top to bottom, these are the magnets we chose to use:

  • Lawnmower- she gets to move this down when she helps Allen cut grass
  • Toybox- for putting away her toys
  • Dog- for helping with Coco
  • Laundry basket- she helps sort laundry, or takes laundry out of the dryer and puts it in the basket
  • Bed- when she helps me make her bed, some of the chores she’s just learning how to do
  • Gardening-for helping me weed the flower beds
  • Dog Food Bowls- she can help feed and water the dog
  • Windows- she can’t use cleaning products, but I do let her wipe off the windows, so she really feels like she is helping
  • Dishes- for putting her dishes in the sink
  • Books- for “reading” the books back to me at night or just when we go upstairs for dedicated learning time
  • Hair- brushing her own hair
  • Bathroom- for helping with bathroom chores
  • Table setting- for helping set the table
  • Toothbrush- for doing a great job brushing her teeth
  • Bed- a great nights sleep
  • Star- I let her move this down when she has a fantastic attitude
  • Dusting- when she helps dust
  • Pots and pan- when she has a great attitude or tries new things at dinner
  • Dishwasher- she sorts the silverware
  • Sweeping- she has her own broom and “helps” when I sweep
  • Clothes- for getting herself dressed

We don’t do all of these things every day, some days she only moves down a few. We don’t put any pressure on the chore chart, we just get a few things accomplished each day to give her a feeling of responsibility. There isn’t a prize at the end of the day either, we go over to the chart and talk about the different things she accomplished and we talk about how proud we are of her for each magnet she moved down. She counts the magnets and moves them back up. So far, it has been a fun and rewarding addition.

What are some ways you give your child responsibilities and build independence?

top 50 picks for toddler easter baskets

I tend to over think things, I’ll admit that. With Easter, I know that it isn’t important what she gets in her Easter basket. I know that the most important thing is that she understands that reason that we celebrate Easter. At the same time, there is a part of me that lives for these things. Brightly colored eggs and Easter basket full of fun little goodies, bring out the best in my creativity. We certainly won’t go overboard for Easter, I tend to use holidays like this to slip in some necessities that we will soon need. A beach towel? A swimsuit? Fun new sandals? You bet! I always get her something she’ll be able to use and play with right away, but it’s certainly acceptable at our house to not go overboard for this holiday. I’m also taking full advantage of the fact that anything new makes her excited.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite Easter basket ideas for toddlers with you today.

Toddler Easter Basket Ideas


Toddler Easter Basket Ideas

Here’s my list of my top 50 picks for toddler Easter baskets (items 1-10 pictured above)…

  1. Play-Doh Easter eggs 
  2. Playme Pluck Carrot
  3. Spring sun hat
  4. Child-sized instruments
  5. Hide N Squeak Eggs
  6. Jellycat Small Pink Bunny
  7. Playskool Weebles 
  8. Lego Seasonal Set
  9. Matchbox Egg Hunt Set
  10. Easter bunny ears
  11. Jellycat Duck
  12. Shape Match Egg Set
  13. Easter Themed Books
  14. Bible
  15. Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies
  16. Crayola Washable Sidewalk Chalk 6ct – 3 Eggs and 3 Chicks
  17. A new swimsuit for the warmer weather to come
  18. Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Blossom Bright Garden Tools Tote Set 
  19. A fun, monogrammed beach towel
  20. Melissa and Doug Puzzles 
  21. Spring clothes
  22. Sunsan Saltwater sandals
  23. Play food set
  24. Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Scoop Set
  25. Mini seed-pots to plant and grow
  26. Peek and Peep Eggs
  27. Melissa & Doug Bake and Decorate Cupcake Set
  28. Coloring books
  29. Crayons
  30. Bath toys
  31. A new toothbrush
  32. Personalized melamine plate
  33. Lime Playsilk
  34. Personalized sippy cup
  35. Pajamas
  36. Alex Tub Garden
  37. Babydoll
  38. Lego’s
  39. Bubbles
  40. Play-Doh Learn About Shapes and Numbers
  41. Coloring changing tablets for the bathtub
  42. Bathtub crayons
  43. Flash cards
  44. Stickers (foam shapes are her favorite)
  45. Bubble bath
  46. Hide ‘Em and Hatch ‘Em Eggs – Watch Them Hatch Like Magic Three Different Pets!
  47. Disney movies
  48. Fun toddler sized forks and spoons
  49. Easter themed sippy cups
  50. Plastic eggs filled with prizes

What are you including in your toddlers Easter basket this year?

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