6 Great (God-Inspired) Parenting Rules to Live By

Inside: 6 God-inspired rules to live by while learning how to be a better parent


6 Great Parenting Rules to Live By

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click through and buy something. It’s a win-win!

Parenting doesn’t come with a rule book. Some days, I wish it did. And yet, I know that no parent-child relationship is one-size-fits-all. How I parent each of my 4 kiddos varies and is really about what suits them best.

But there are a few things that I’ve noticed are true across the board.

Becoming the parent I want to be

This parenting gig is simultaneously one of the hardest and best things we do.

For me, it started off simply enough with my first. He was a very attached baby but was otherwise, fairly simple. Even when I added my second little one into the mix, things were still very do-able. Then number three came. And number four. And somewhere along the way, I kissed “simple” goodbye.

Mom life has challenged me (in the best and most beautiful ways). And these are the truths that have formed over time in my heart on this mom journey.

One thing to note: NONE of it is possible for me without God. When I focus on MYSELF and MY CIRCUMSTANCES instead of focusing on God, I become:

  • impatient
  • angry
  • overwhelmed
  • emotional
  • anxious

With Him, motherhood is an ebb and flow of amazing (though often difficult) experiences that always lead me deeper into His truth and bring our family closer as a unit. (And it’s also an ongoing exercise in character!)

Without further ado, here are 6 great rules for parenting:

1) Connect before you correct

I talk about this more in this post:

Strong-Willed Child

But here’s the rub: the better the relationship, the more your kids trust you, the more they will respect what you have to say and WANT to listen. Parenting is really about discipleship. Not punishing someone into submission.

By connecting before we correct, we show our kids Jesus.

2) Practice the Pause

Man, when I’m frustrated, I want my kids to do it the right way the first time because I said so. I know I’m right. And I also know I have their best interest at heart.

But do they?

How to Be a Better Parent | 6 Great Rules to Live By

One of my favorite examples is found in John 8. You may look at this story and say, how in the world do you see parenting in this chapter? But it’s there.

Judah Smith has a great sermon on this passage. In it, he talks about how everyone always tries to figure out what Jesus was writing in the dust here. Instead, Judah focuses on what the act of him writing in the dust does to the scene.

The Pharisees are out for blood. They want answers from Jesus, like NOW. But instead, Jesus slows down the whole scene. He’s the one in control. He pauses, presumably for a while if we look at how irritated the Pharisees become.

When he finally does speak, it silences the accusers.

I find that I silence the accuser in my own mind toward my children when I take a moment to pause. How can I cast a stone at the heart of my child, knowing how often I fall short as an adult?

Practicing the pause gives my heart a minute to prepare itself, hear God’s voice, and speak with compassion (while still maintaining authority).

3) Boundaries, rules, and consequences are good

You’re probably thinking, “duh, Audriana!” But a recent post written by Rachel over at A Mother Far From Home really helped me better understand what my personal boundaries are as a parent and how those shape my rules.

I’m the type of person who tries to ignore my own personal boundaries, and then I wonder why I’m so irritated. Her post really helped me clear that up.

It’s also important that we set up consequences that make sense. Not random or overly-harsh ones out of anger or frustration.

4) Becoming emotionally irritated while disciplining never helps

It’s there. The frustration is right there, bubbling at the surface, ready to explode like hot lava all over your back-sassing 6-year-old.

But it won’t help. I know because I’ve been there. Over and over and over. Pretty much daily.

And every day, I have the choice of letting my feelings get the better of me, or parenting in the way I know I’ve been called to parent. I don’t always make the right choice. Chances are, you don’t either. There’s mercy for us on those days.

But there’s more than that. Anger doesn’t have to have a place in our homes.

Think of the fruits of the Spirit as if they were growing in a garden. The Lord is the keeper of the garden. Spending time with Him and allowing Him to search our hearts helps to grow those fruits and prune away anything that could stifle our growth.

At any time throughout the day, we can choose to pick those fruits that the Lord has been tending in our lives.

When I’m feeling frustrated, I say OUT LOUD, “God I lay down this anger and instead choose Your peace and joy.”

5) Be someone you’d want your kids to become

How to be a Better Parent

Of course, that can be easier said than done. Being the example they need probably means submitting to some work. Actually a lot of work. (And also accepting God’s mercy and empowering grace along the way!)

I say submitting because God will be the one doing all the heavy lifting. But you’ll be allowing the fields of your heart to be plowed.

This may look like:

  • seeking solid Christian counsel
  • being intentional about spending more time in God’s Word
  • spending lots of time in earnest prayer
  • PRAISING Him even before we see the change
  • taking in helpful points of view (via books, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc.)
  • honestly and vulnerably connecting with people who have been there

6) Do your best, let God do the rest

The Lord knows how hard I can be on myself, thinking that it’s all on me. Do you feel that way? Are you being crushed under the weight of parenthood? That’s not God’s design for the family or His hope for your life.

Are you familiar with this verse?

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)

Chances are, you know it.

But recently I learned some background on this verse that I hadn’t yet heard. In the book, The Dream of You, Jo Saxton talks about it.

I knew that a yoke was something used to hook up an ox for work in the field. But she brought something else to light. During this work, a younger ox would be paired under the same yoke as an older, stronger, more experienced ox. In this way, the younger ox didn’t have to do the “hard” stuff, but learned how to do the work.

This is the picture of us under the yoke of Jesus. He does all the heavy lifting while we’re able to learn from Him and see how He operates.

This applies to EVERY circumstance of life, including parenting. We can come up under His yoke and see how it feels to parent from His perspective.

What parenting rules do you live by?

Until next time,

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Fall Fresh Start || Using This Season to Change Your Patterns

Inside: Learn how to break old patterns and shake up your routine this season


Break Old Patterns

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click through and buy something. It’s a win-win! 

It’s FALL, y’all!!

And for me, that signifies new beginnings. I know for a lot of people, spring does that. But for some reason, fall has always been my jam. The old is passing away, and there’s a fresh, crisp feeling in the air.

Originally, this was a message I sent out in an email newsletter to my subscribers. But I got such a good response from them, I decided to revamp it and share it with the rest of my readers too! If you’re not already subscribed to my email list, you can do so here:

[convertkit form=4960114]

My email list is a place where I get pretty vulnerable and speak a little more freely. It’s also usually the first place to get updates about any new content I’m putting out.

But enough of that. Back to getting out of our rut!

Maybe you’re a fall person. Maybe you’re not. But either way, you can shrug off that old dirty cloak in favor of something more fitting (Mark 10:50). You’re not bound by anything! Not your circumstances, your financial situation, your relationship status, or anything else that tries to make itself larger than God in your life.

It’s a new season. And we can use things happening in the physical to help shift our minds in the right direction. Like jumping a car to get it to come back to life. We can use the changes in the air to stir up change in our hearts.

Some practical ways to see change this season:

1. Start new routines.

Our daily flow has naturally shifted since it’s school time. But I’ve also started cleaning my home differently, following different patterns in the evening, and even doing things a little differently with the kids’ bedtime wind-down. Most of the changes are things that I’ve thought about but never actually implemented. If you have some things you’ve been wanting to shake up in your daily flow, take this time to do it. It seems simple, but the impact on your mind can be amazing.

2. Get inspired.

I’ve been taking in SO MUCH good input recently. Specifically books. I just finished up another incredible one, entitled The Dream of You by Jo Saxton. It’s all about getting back to the true YOU–who God created you to be before the world left its mark.

3. Shake up your environment.

Guys, my house was SO CLUTTERED. I knew there was a lot. It had started to bother me. But, y’all. There was so much more than what I even thought. So I’ve been going through our home these past couple weeks and slowly, but surely getting rid of things we don’t need. There’s just something freeing about pitching the excess. And it’s glorious.

4. Make new connections.

This is so hard for me. I have a tendency to be friendly and kind, to be that person who listens to others. But to not actually make myself vulnerable enough to fully connect. But we were created to be relational. As uncomfortable and naked as it makes me feel, I have to step out and let other’s see me. It’s all a part of walking in the light. (And it helps keep us protected when we stumble.)

5. Set one big goal.

From the very beginning, our souls were made for work. Don’t confuse this for working to gain God’s love. We have that, unconditionally. And don’t think I’m talking about striving. Striving is the perversion of work. You see, work is good. It’s part of who we are and helps our souls feel fed. But striving comes from the fall of man. As soon as we stopped relying on God, everything got harder. We had to toil to gain an inch. Instead of working and prospering, man was striving and struggling. Thank you, Jesus, for freeing us from the need to strive! Now we can work from the desires of our hearts and flourish again.

What’s ONE thing you want to work toward before the end of the year? Set it. Break it down into small parts. And give yourself enough time to complete each one. When you reach a big goal, it sets your soul on fire! You’ll be inspired to do it again. And again. And again. And you’ll find that your life feels more energizing than draining.

What things do you do that help you feel fresh and ready to conquer the world? Leave them in the comments below!

Until next time,

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For the Joy Set Before Us || Parenting in Seasons of Greater Sacrifice

Inside: a closer look at keeping joy in hard parenting seasons


Keeping Joy in Hard Parenting Seasons

Sure, sacrifice is always a part of motherhood. But you know those seasons that just really take it out of you? The ones that would look completely different without the instruction and favor of God? THOSE are the seasons I’m talking about today.

For some mommas, that season may be all the time. Maybe you have a child with special needs. Maybe you just have so many children that they rotate going through those really tough seasons. If that’s you, I want to start off by saying, YOU ROCK! Your patience, dedication, and daily sacrifice may go unnoticed. It may be taken for granted. But I want to encourage you as you read. You are amazing! I wish I could be there to cheer you on in person because you deserve it. The days are long. You’re exhausted. Every bone in your body may be begging to quit. But you just keep trucking because if not you, then who?

I wish I could say I have your fortitude. But right now, I’m growing.

It Started so Well…

Man, am I tired.

Our 2-year-old recently moved from our room to her room (that she shares with her older sister), and it’s been a little draining.

To say that my attitude at the beginning of this transition was cocky would be an understatement.

We had it in the bag! I was rocking mom life.
Who said this would be hard? They obviously weren’t aware of my mad parenting skills.
Was I a momming ninja? It sure felt like it.

She was sleeping in her own bed, hardly waking up during the night to come find me, and she was SO PROUD of herself.

“I sleep in my bed alllll night,” she’d share with anyone who would listen.

Then I messed up.

Let me explain…

The simplified version of our bedtime routine is this: every night when it’s that time, I sit next to little Arwyn’s bed until she falls asleep. At first, I would rub her back or play with her hair. I’d occasionally lay my head down next to her. We’d connect and smile. We’d give little cuddles and kisses. It was a sweet bonding time.

Then when she’d wake up in the middle of the night, her little feet would speed into my room, and I’d hear her asking for me. So I’d get up and carry her back to bed.

“Mommy, can you sit with me?” Her sweet little voice would ask. Of course I could. I’d sit back down on the floor and wait for her to fall back to sleep, usually praying rest and peace over her as she did.

Every night this was our pattern. And it was working.

Then I got a little tired.

My (Very Sleepy) Sacrificial Season

I say “a little tired” because my mind and body didn’t realize it yet, but it would get much worse.

And because I got tired, I got impatient. This was NOT my finest hour.

I wanted her to fall asleep as fast as possible because I wanted to get to sleep. We had to get up early in the morning to get her two older siblings ready for school. I had a breastfeeding baby waiting for me back in my room, ready to wake up at any point needing a snuggle and midnight snack. I didn’t have time to sit around and wait for her to fall asleep every night.

And because I felt that way, I broke our pattern of connection and replaced it with one where I sat impatiently while she stared at the ceiling. Then I became frustrated when she wasn’t just zooming off to lala land.

Keeping Joy in Hard Parenting Seasons

“Arwyn, mommy doesn’t want to sit here all night. I’m tired too.”

Of course, this only made her anxious, which worsened the problem. Before I knew it, our awesome bedtime routine turned into a nightly cry fest and power struggle where neither of us were winning. To make matters worse, it also meant she was waking up more frequently at night AND that she was spending more time being anxious and upset throughout the day.

Clearly I had gotten off track.

Keeping Joy in Hard Parenting Seasons

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV, emphasis mine)

Stick with me. I know this is not the main meaning of this verse. I know this isn’t the big picture. And yet, as I sat crisscross applesauce in my baby girl’s room, oozing a bad attitude, THIS is the verse that came to my heart. God always meets me right where I am.

…for the joy set before Him, He endured

The Passion Translation says verse 2 like this:

We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

Jesus was my example. God was showing me I had given up joy in this circumstance because I had taken my eye off the prize.

What is the Joy Set Before Us in Motherhood?

It can be such a thankless job. An exhausting job. A draining job. And no one seems to see all the little things that go into being “mom.” All the little ways we make sure that everyone’s world keeps spinning. It’s so easy to get hung up on feeling unappreciated. Or like what we’re doing doesn’t matter. Or like we’re doing it all wrong anyway. It’s so easy to get ensnared by a bad attitude in this mom life.

But there is a joy we can focus on.

It’s what I had forsaken when I got a little tired.

It’s the relationships that we’re building with our kids.

Keeping Joy in Hard Parenting Seasons

Connection is Key

Over and over again in the Word, we see God’s heart toward family and the powerful connection there.

During these seasons of greater sacrifice, it can be tough to stay focused on what’s really important. But we can persevere by looking to the joy that will grow from all this hard work. By protecting our connection with our children above our own exhaustion (or whatever else is coming against us), we are intentionally sewing into our relationship with them.

The parent-child bond is one that the enemy loves to attack because it’s one that is so important to God and is one that can be such a pure representation of His love for us. Not only that, but it’s the way we train them up in the way they were created to go.

But it’s one that’s dependent upon our connection with them.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”If there’s one thing my kids are constantly showing me, it’s that so much of their mental & emotional health depends on connection. And it makes sense. After all, we were created to be highly relational beings. https://plantingvineyards.com/keeping-joy-in-hard-parenting-seasons” quote=”If there’s one thing that my kids are constantly showing me, it’s that so much of their mental and emotional health depends on connection. And it makes sense. After all, we were created to be highly relational beings. “]

When they’re cranky? They often need connection.
When they’re being defiant? They need more connection.
When their emotions are clouding their minds? They need more connection.

Sacrificing to protect that connection at all cost means that we’re tending to our special bond with our kids. Like tending to a garden. So even during these harder seasons full of plowing and weeding and digging out stones, we can have joy in knowing the fruit that will come from it.

And it’s a picture of Jesus.

The Example We Can Look to

Going back to our example of Jesus, He sacrificed everything to give us a place in the family of God and protect our connection to Him. He was able to endure what He had to go through (which was so much more than my sleepiness) because of the joy of what His sacrifice would mean. It would mean a family bond. It would mean a loving relationship with all of us. And it would mean freedom for those who would lean on Him.

In our homes, our sacrifice means sewing into our family bond, putting love and connection above all else, and creating a family culture where our children can trust us to understand what they’re growing through (even when that’s hard for us to execute). Not only does that bring them closer to us, but it also shows them the love of God. It gives them a picture to compare to the savior and loving Father we’re trying to teach them about.

Thank God, He’s in our corner! Because without Him, that would be a tall (and impossible) order. But with Him, we have the grace (the ability through His divine influence on our hearts) to learn and grow.

(And I have mercy for letting a bad attitude get the better of me!)

What season are you facing right now? If you’re struggling through a hard one, know you’re not alone! And you’re growing something sacred and beautiful with your child.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”This too shall pass. Until it does, prayer, chocolate, and coffee help! https://plantingvineyards.com/keeping-joy-in-hard-parenting-seasons/” quote=”This too shall pass. Until it does, prayer, chocolate, and coffee help!”]

Until next time,

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Fall Kids’ Craft (and Relationship Builder) | Turkey Bags with a Twist

November is right around the corner, making it the perfect time to start thinking about this fall kids craft.


Fall Kids Craft | Turkey BagsIF YOU’RE SKIMMING THIS ARTICLE:: Make sure to complete this activity BEFORE November 1st. (But even if you don’t see this until November and are late for the party, it’s still a fun idea to do! It’ll make an impression, even if you only do it for a week.)

A few days ago, I was trying to think of some little crafts to do with the kids this fall. Sure, Pinterest has tons of ideas. But I didn’t want something that would be done in 10 minutes, hang on the fridge for a month, then go into the keepsake box without making much of a memory or lasting impression. Don’t get me wrong, I love their art. But if I keep adding crafts for every season to the “keepsakes,”

  1. we’re going to run out of attic space and
  2. my husband is going to move out.

SOOO… I needed another option.

Remember Valentine’s Day bags from school? The ones you decorated and everyone would drop store-bought little cards into? That’s what came to my mind. This craft is a little like that, but so much more emotionally powerful. AND it helps to strengthen your bond with your kids.

Score!

Making This Fall Kids Craft || Thankful for “My Little Turkeys”

*It seems like I’m always calling the kids turkeys. It’s something my mom said to me all the time when I was little, and I guess it just stuck. (Plus I feel guilty when I call them turds instead.) So naming this craft for My Little Turkeys seemed fitting!

Things You’ll Need:

  • one brown paper bag for each child
  • brown, red, orange, and yellow construction paper
  • googly eyes (or construction paper eyes)
  • Elmer’s glue
  • index cards
  • a sharpie
  • scissors

To Make the Turkey Bags

Either pre-cut turkey heads, beaks, gobblers and feathers OR draw them on construction paper, and have your kids cut them. If you’re using construction paper for the eyes, go ahead and cut those out too.

Cutting Instructions:

I started with the head/neck part of the turkey. This picture shows its size in relation to the bag.

Fall Kids Craft

Next, I started on the feathers. Since I would need 8 feathers of each color (and only wanted to use up 1 sheet of each color), I did the math. I folded a standard piece of construction paper in half, then halved each of those sides again and cut on the lines. Which gave me this:

Fall Kids Craft

I then folded those in half lengthwise and cut on those lines, giving me this:

Fall Kids Craft

Finally I cut those into the general feather shape I was looking for like so:

 

 

Fall Kids Craft

Then I cut the beaks and gobblers. The beaks were simple enough–just triangles from the scraps of orange that were left over. I also used scraps for the gobblers as you can see here:

Fall Kids Craft

In the picture, I’m holding a scrap from the feathers, and in the background you can see 2 of the gobblers that I have cut from similar scraps.

Finally, I opted to cut out eyes from construction paper (it was what I had on hand, and they turned out cute). You could totally use googly eyes though! For the larger white area of the eye, I used one of our water bottle lids. We also use it for learning activities, which is why it has a 5 written on it.

Fall Kids Craft

I free-handed the black circle-ish shapes and glued them onto the whites. When complete, all of the pieces should like this:

Fall Kids Craft

Assembly:

Arrange the feathers around the top half of the bag, and glue them down.

Fall Kids Craft

Side note: If you have multiple kiddos, be sure to write their names on the bottom of the bags before getting started so you know what belongs to who.

Next, glue on the head/neck pieces.

Finally, add the eyes, beaks, and gobblers.

Fall Kids Craft

And there ya have it! Super simple.

Because they’re precious, here’s a picture of my 2 girls working on their bags (their older brother was at school and hasn’t gotten to do his yet):

Fall Kids Craft

Adding Some Love to Last the Whole Month

Here’s where the real magic comes in.

When the kids aren’t with you, cut index cards into strips large enough for a word or two to be written on them. You’ll need 30 for each child. Then take the sharpie, and on each strip, write something about that child that makes you thankful for them. Character traits, personality quirks, anything that you cherish about them.

Put the words into their turkey bags.

On November 1st, tell them that there is something special in their bags, just for them. Have them blindly choose only one card out of their turkey for every day of the month.

They can either read it, have you help them sound it out, or you can read it to them, depending on their age level. After its read, talk about each word and why you love that thing about them so much.

Even if you have a busy schedule, just a few moments that you spend with each individual child, pouring into them, will be special. Kids really appreciate and covet the little things.

A Note on Speaking to the Gold

I don’t think we always believe in the power of our words and the impact they have in the lives of our children. Sure, most of us understand the gravity of speaking negative things over them. We know not to call them names. We know not to outright bully them. That’s fairly simple.

But do we speak into their strengths? EVEN if they’re things we don’t necessarily understand?

I have four very unique children living under my roof. And if I’m honest, I don’t always “get” them. It would be easy for me to snub the pieces of them that just don’t make sense to me.

But the Holy Spirit shows us the gold deposited in the hearts of others, just waiting to be unearthed, studied, and explained. During the course of our children’s entire lives, they will be finding that gold in themselves and trying to understand why its there. How it’s a part of the plan. Let’s not bury it under more dirt but instead, help them do some of the excavating.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Our kids will spend their lives trying to find the gold that God deposited in them & understand why its there. How it fits into the plan. Let’s not bury it under more dirt but instead, help do some of the excavating. https://plantingvineyards.com/fall-kids-craft-turkey-bags/” quote=”Our kids will spend their lives trying to find the gold that God deposited in them & understand why its there. How it fits into the plan. Let’s not bury it under more dirt but instead, help do some of the excavating. “]

Now back to turkeys…

Fall Kids Craft

Fall Kids Craft

What do you think of this idea? Have any of your own? Tell me in the comments below!

Until next time,

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Homeschooling a 2-Year-Old || Our Early Preschool Daily Flow

Homeschooling a 2-Year-Old

**UPDATE**
Since first writing this post, the materials we use have shifted. She absorbed most of the information quicker than I expected, so I did a follow-up over on the NEW blog (geared specifically toward homeschool, parenting, and simplifying family life). Check it out HERE!

Homeschooling a 2-year-old *may* sound like overkill.

But our little Arwyn LOVES to learn. At first, Dave and Ava videos on YouTube were enough to satiate her thirst. But as time went on (and my urge to homeschool grew), it was clear that a more structured daily learning flow would be a good fit for us. If your little one loves to learn, this may be a good route for you too!

Watch this video from our channel, Smith Party of 6, to see some of the activities we do in our early preschool!

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKQb6dnmvLA%5B/embedyt%5D

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. It’s a win, win!

Our Daily Tot School Flow

Here’s a general breakdown of our homeschooling time:

Calendar

Our day starts out with calendar time. This usually happens during breakfast before the big kids leave for public school. Every day, we review what month we’re in, the date, and the year. We also go over the days of the week and talk about which day it is. Then we talk about seasons, the temperature, and the weather. Finally, we get specific about any holidays that may be close, activities that we’ll be doing for the day, and how the kids are feeling.

ALL of that is included on our Melissa and Doug calendar. To see a closeup of all the pieces, be sure to watch the YouTube video I’ve linked above. You can purchase the calendar from Amazon here:

Bible

Next we’ll do Bible. We have a verse each week that goes with the stories we’re reading. We use the book below as our guide. I love it because while it doesn’t follow what the Bible says word for word, it says things in such a way that it really paints a picture for little minds. You can hear me read a snippet of it in our YouTube video!

After Bible, we quickly go over the Water for Our Growing Hearts. Don’t know what that is? Check out this post where I talk about it:

Back-to-School Prep

Toddler Learning Folder

Next, we get into the meat of her daily work. By this point, we’ve taken the older kids to school, so this is our one-on-one time. We use a learning folder that I purchased and downloaded from Jady Alvarez, a fellow homeschooling mom on Teachers Pay Teachers. In the video, I detail some of the activities we do in the binder and do a quick flip-through.

Purchase the binder from Jady A HERE

*I was in no way paid to sponsor this product. We just love it!!

I try to break up the activities we do throughout the week. So while we do letters every day, we alternate the other pages we work on like numbers, colors, shapes, and continents.

Hands-On Activity/Craft

After working through her binder activities, she usually needs something that requires a little less acute focus. We take this time to either do a craft, a coloring page, a painting activity or something similar. Some days we’ll also do a fine motor activity to help her start gaining the skills she needs for handwriting.

Flashcards

For some reason unknown to me, all my kids LOVE flashcards. For Arwyn, we’ve been focusing on animals so far this year. We have a fairly large deck of different classes of animals, and I’ve divided them into 3 sections:

  • ones she knows
  • ones we’re working on
  • and ones we haven’t started yet

During this time, we also use her name packet that I made (and you can see in the video) to help her start recognizing which letters make up her name.

Something messy outside

I try to switch gears with her as much as I can to keep her engaged. Homeschool is something I want her to enjoy, not dread! So after flash cards and her name, we go outside and play. This usually entails side walk chalk, our water table, bubbles, or a messy sensory activity. If you need some sensory ideas, check out my Homeschool board on Pinterest.

And that’s a wrap! After that, were usually done for the day.

Other Things I Incorporate

Books

Reading is a big thing in our house. The kids have always loved books, and Arwyn seems especially inclined toward them. So reading is a part of every day for us, whether it’s during our school time or dispersed throughout the day.

While she’s a little young for worksheets, she does enjoy a wipe clean workbook that I got from Amazon. It’s nice because she can practice her writing and tracing skills over and over again without using up paper. We just wipe it clean, and she can do it again! You can find it here:

Songs

As I mention in the video, Arwyn is a big music kid, and songs help her learn. Our family is big on music too (that’s actually part of the story of how my husband and I got together), so we sing pretty much all day, every day. From random tunes about what we’re doing and silly songs at play time to worship songs or showtunes, our house is constantly full of music. So we use a lot of songs for school time too. Some are even songs we’ve just made up to help teach whatever it is we’re talking about.

Like I mentioned above, she’s enjoyed Dave and Ava videos on YouTube since before she was even a year old. If you’ve never seen them, they’re vividly-colored videos set to revamped nursery rhymes or learning songs. I recommend them for anyone with small kiddos.

That’s a Wrap

And that’s it! Do you have anything else that you do to teach your 2-year-old?

Until next time,

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The Back-to-School Preparation that’s Most Essential for Our Kids

Back-to-School PrepIt’s that time.

My oldest kiddo is headed to kindergarten this year while my little free spirit is off to Pre-K. They’re both SO excited. Luckily right now, they love learning, and I want to keep it that way.

We’ve got their backpacks. Their crayons, glue sticks, and erasers. Their back-to-school clothes and tennis shoes.

And while all of that is a necessary part of early elementary school, there’s something much more important.

The Question

Are their hearts ready?

It’s the question I find myself asking since they’re going to public school. The truth is, this momma yearns to homeschool her babies. But in this season, it’s not quite possible yet. While I’d love to be preparing lessons this week and getting their curriculum all ready, that’s just not in the plan right now.

Thankfully, there are great teachers who love our kids and are passionate about guiding them in learning. My mom used to be one of them (until her retirement), so trust me when I say my desire to homeschool has nothing to do with a lack of appreciation for educators.

Pray for Our Teachers | Back-to-School Prep

It’s just something God has laid on my heart for a time that hasn’t quite made it here yet.

While I don’t worry about their teachers, I do often wonder about the impact made by other students on their little lives (and the impact they make on others too). Don’t think I want to shelter them from it. Effective interaction with others is too essential to every fiber of our beings for that.

No, I don’t want to keep them from it. But I do want to prepare them for it.

  • I want to prepare them for the child who tries to convince them to do they things they shouldn’t.
  • For the child who’s sitting alone because no one else wants to be their friend.
  • For the child who tries to make others feel inferior.
  • Or the child who feels inferior themselves.

I want to prepare them to be out among the broken. They may still be little lights, but man, can they shine.

Being Little Lights

“Is she saying she’s trying to make her 4 & 5-year-olds into little evangelists?”

Not exactly.

I’m saying my kids love Jesus, and I don’t want them to be afraid to let Him shine through them.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”There is no junior Holy Spirit. The God who tells me to smile at the cashier and sincerely ask her about her day is the same God who can give my children the eyes to see their classmates the way He sees them. https://plantingvineyards.com/back-to-school-prep/” quote=”There is no junior Holy Spirit. The God who tells me to smile at the cashier and sincerely ask her about her day is the same God who can give my children the eyes to see their classmates the way He sees them.”]

Do they have to lay hands on the kids in their classes and pray for them? No, but it would be cool if they did.

I’m just saying that children are 100% capable of showing the love of God to others (often more so than adults because they have less hurt and lies to weed through).

Our Back-to-School Prep

So what exactly are we doing to get them ready for the school year?

1) Water their growing hearts

For our kids, confidence starts at home. We start each day with this reminder:

I am LOVED!
I am one smart cookie.
I’m a great kid.
I am kind.
I am thoughtful.
I am patient.
I’m a big helper.
I’m a world changer.
I am understanding.
I am loving.
I’m a LIGHT!

Beyond this list, make it a point to speak life into them regularly. Are your kids perfect? Nope. Mine aren’t either. But doesn’t negate our duty to speak to the gold deposited in them.

2) Pray over them

In this post, I talk about 2 things I vigilantly pray over my children:

Prayers for My Children

But in preparation for the school year, I also pray:

  • that they be overflowing with the love of God
  • that the Holy Spirit will embolden them to exhibit strong character, especially when it’s hard
  • that they will be anxious for nothing
  • that they will turn to God and us, as their parents, when they need help
  • that they will be an example for other kids, in whatever ways they are gifted

A quick note: let your kids hear you praying for them.

I treasure those verses in John when Jesus is praying because I get to read something that He prayed with me (and all believers) in mind. And of course, it’s a comfort knowing that He always intercedes for me.

Similarly, we are the hands, feet, and mouths of Christ in our homes. We are the ambassadors of Jesus to our children. What does hearing us pray for them stir in their little hearts?

I love having people in my life who pray for me. But there’s something very special about my mother telling me the situations in my life that she’s praying over.

God thinks generationally | back-to-school prep

Over and over again in Scripture we see that God thinks generationally, and the family unit is something of extremely high value to Him. How precious then are the prayers we speak over our children and allow them to hear?

3) Open the conversation

If we really want our kids to get it, we need to just talk to them.

Talk to them about peer pressure and bullying. Let them know what they should do if they see someone else being teased. Encourage them to be kind to those who don’t have many friends. Teach them the importance of disagreeing with others without being disrespectful.

Of course, modeling these types of behaviors for them goes far. Want your daughters to know gossiping about their friends isn’t cool? Make it a point not to gossip. Want to teach your young men not to tease other boys? Make your home a no-teasing zone. Want them to respectfully disagree with others who have differing opinions? Make it an everyday practice.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”If we want our kids to have strong characters, it starts with us. https://plantingvineyards.com/back-to-school-prep/” quote=”If we want our kids to have strong characters, it starts with us.”]

Take steps to model the behaviors you want them to exhibit (if you haven’t already).

We only have a few more days before my son goes to kindergarten and a week before my daughter heads to Pre-K. I don’t know how much time you have before your little ones head off to school. Or maybe they already have. Even if that’s the case, it’s not too late. Let’s all do what we can to help our little lights shine.

How are you preparing your kids for this school year?

Until next time,

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2 Important Ways to Pray for Our Kids (and Ourselves)

Inside: Two main ways that I pray for my children


Prayers for My Children

We all want the best for our children. And as Christ-following moms, we can lift our prayers for our kids to the Lord, knowing that He hears and trusting that He will answer in accordance to His will and what is always best for them. (Even when what’s best for them isn’t necessarily what we’ve imagined.)

So what are these two important prayers that can help them along in their journey?

Two Big Prayers for my Children

When reading endless lists and browsing for what others pray over their kids, I found that most prayers for our children can be pared down to two biggies. Father, give them:

  1. eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts that are soft.
  2. an unshakable relationship with You.

These aren’t the only two things I pray over my children (but they’re two big ones!).

It’s also important to let the Holy Spirit speak through you on a personal level when it comes to your kids–watering their strengths and pruning things that may hold them back.

Eyes to See, Ears to Hear, and Hearts that are Soft

So much is wrapped up into this prayer alone.

On numerous occasions in the Word, Jesus speaks of spiritual blindness. The ability to see things from a perspective of the Spirit is extremely important. In navigating the world around them, our kids are going to need the ability to see things through spiritual eyes.

Then there’s that still small voice. The enemy roars and shouts to get our attention because he’s not within us. But God is. So He uses a still small voice within our hearts to communicate with us. It can take time to learn how to hone in and hear Him over all the noise. With this one, its important to not only pray that our kids have the ears to hear His voice but also for us to disciple them in hearing it. But that’s a different post for a different day.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”The enemy may roar to get our attention, but greater is the voice within us–still and small. https://plantingvineyards.com/?p=552&preview=true” quote=”The enemy may roar to get our attention, but greater is the voice within us–still and small.”]

Soft hearts has more to do with the ability to accept what we’ve seen and heard. We all have the choice between obedience and bucking the authority of God. Praying for soft hearts in our kids is HUGE if we want them to act on what they’ve seen and heard.

An Unshakable Relationship with the Lord

We know there is a very real enemy that would love to keep our kids from communion with God through Jesus. He’s out to plant seeds early on that will rear their ugly heads later in the lives of our children. But we as their moms can pray for them to have an unshakable relationship with the Lord. We can pray that the seeds the Holy Spirit plants through us will be the ones that are watered, take root, and bear fruit.

I pray that the plans of the enemy in their lives would be uprooted and exposed through their closeness with God. That lies and counterfeits would have no place in their hearts and minds because they already know the real thing.

From both of these prayers then, the rest flow more easily. They give us a foundation to begin. Then we continue to listen to the Spirit as we’re praying and branch out from there.

Praying them Over Ourselves

When praying these things over our children, it’s also wise to pray them over ourselves. So that we can be a model for our children, but also because we need a solid relationship with the Lord and the discernment that comes through Him too.

As a model for our kids

Firstly, it’s so true that children learn much more from what we do than what we say. When they see our relationship with the Lord, it gives them a working model. By modeling the fruit of the spirit of God in our own lives, it helps give them a picture of what it looks like.

Of course, it’s important to add here that the fruit of the Spirit is NOT something we work up ourselves. It’s not something we’re striving for.

Prayers for our children

An apple tree doesn’t sweat and toil to try to force itself to produce apples. They grow naturally as a product of the apple tree because of the nourishment and sunlight it receives. We, too, have to be connected to our source of nourishment and light to grow spiritual fruit. Otherwise, it’s only a work of the flesh and is in vain.

As help for us as parents

Secondly, praying these words in our own lives allows us to clearly see the insight and wisdom from God that helps us navigate difficult parenting situations. On more than one occasion, I’ve retreated to my bedroom or the bathroom to let out a good cry or scream into my pillow. Mostly because I don’t want to let it out all over them.

Prayers for my children
For my post on getting through hard days with kids, give it a click! ^^

And once I let it all out, quiet my heart, and pray, I can usually hear God a lot better and get some answers for what to do in that moment. All I need are eyes that see the situation at hand for what it truly is, ears to hear what he would have me do, and a heart that’s soft enough to receive it, even if it goes against my pride.

And of course, we understand the importance of spiritual protection in parenthood. Our enemy prowls about as a roaring lion, waiting to devour us in every facet of our lives. Of course, it’s in his plan to seek to destroy us in parenthood and negatively affect the next generation. He hates the family bond because he hates the God who blesses it.

And if he can convince us we’re doing poorly, that we can’t make it, that we have to throw up our hands in defeat and parent them on autopilot, then he’ll do so. Staying conscious of that fact can keep us from being derailed.

So these prayers are just as important for us as they are for our kids.

What things do you pray over your kids on a regular basis?

Until next time,

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Easy DIY Face Mask (with Things You Already Have in Your Kitchen)

I did something today that felt amazing, not only for my skin but my well-being. It was something special for me.

We mommas are so focused on our kiddos that we often let what we need slip by the way-side. As honorable and noble as that is, it’s just not a sustainable way to live. Yes, we make sacrifices for our babies, but it’s not healthy to never spend some much needed rejuvenation time on ourselves.

Of course, as a mom, it can be hard to find the time (or energy) to spend on myself. So instead, my littles joined me for our DIY spa treatment today. And it was glorious. (More on that toward the end of this post!)

So we did a thing 😂 #facials #DIY #spadayathome #allnatural #makingmemories

A post shared by Audriana ✌🏽 (@plantingvineyards) on

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Not only did I get in some time making myself feel great, but we got to make a memory together that they now want to turn into a weekly tradition. And they also helped themselves to licking a little off their cheeks!

So how did we make that awesomeness smeared all over our faces?

Easy DIY Face Mask Recipe

This was SO SIMPLE. And I already had everything we needed, so there was no need for a shopping run.

What you’ll need:

  • banana
  • oatmeal
  • honey
  • lemon juice or water (optional)

How to use it:

For the four of us (me and my 3 oldest kids), I used 1 banana, half a cup of oatmeal (ground up in my spice grinder), and 4 tbsp of honey. If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of water or lemon juice (I opted for water since it was going on little faces). Once mixed, spread generously over the face and let sit for 10-20 minutes. And of course, it’s a good idea to wash your face before the facial. Especially since this mixture is mainly for moisturizing.

DIY Face Mask

Why these ingredients are so great

Bananas

MOISTURE! These are great for moisturizing skin. But they’re also full of potassium and vitamins C & E. So mashing up a banana and applying it to your skin periodically can help keep that healthy glow.

Oatmeal

Where do I even begin?! Oats have so many amazing properties that make them the perfect ingredient to include in a DIY face mask. Anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant are the biggies. Oatmeal is also great for eczema, psoriasis, and sunburns because it soothes skin, moisturizes it (because of the lipids and proteins it contains), and helps with itching and restoring the skin’s natural barrier. Plus it helps exfoliate your skin and get any of the dead stuff off.

Honey

Honey is a natural antibacterial that’s also full of antioxidants. And like the banana and oatmeal, it’s great for moisturizing your skin.

Lemon Juice

If you do choose to include a little lemon juice in your mask, know that it’s not just a random ingredient thrown in. Lemon juice, like oatmeal, has so many properties that make it fantastic for our skin. It reduces the appearance dark spots and blemishes, helps heal acne and remove blackheads, and even reduces oiliness of skin.

DIY Face Mask

A Different Perspective on Self-Care

Self-care is something we hear about a lot right now. Everyone tries to give ideas for self-care or talk about why it’s so important. Even I wrote a post dedicated to self-care for busy mommas. And all of that is great.

But here’s the thing: we don’t always realistically have the time away from our kids that a lot of those activities require. Sometimes they wake up before us and cling to our side for the rest of the day. Or we have multiple kids who need our attention at different times. Or we’re so busy with all the other things we “need” to do all day that even in those times when we have a moment alone, we’re not focused on taking care of ourselves.

Maybe sometimes, the answer is flipping our perspective. In reality, I usually don’t have a moment to myself. Even after the big kids go to bed, our two-year-old is often still awake, and our newborn almost always needs me. ‘Tis the life of being someone’s food source (and I wouldn’t have it any other way). But we all need times when we get to do the things we love.

Now I’m not saying this is always the answer. Sometimes momma needs a break. But SOMETIMES maybe what will help fill our cup, is doing all of those things we need WITH our kids. Pass the things that we love on to them. See their little faces light up when they get to partake in something that momma enjoys.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Sometimes, as a mom, self-care means doing something FOR yourself even when you don’t have the time to do it BY yourself. https://plantingvineyards.com/easy-diy-face-mask/” quote=”Sometimes, as a mom, self-care means doing something FOR yourself even when you don’t have the time to do it BY yourself. “]

Just a thought!

Do you plan to try this DIY face mask? What are some of your favorite facial recipes?

Until next time,

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I Can’t Protect My Kids from Heartbreak (and Why I’m Okay with That)

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3 (NKJV)

I Can't Protect my Kids from Heartbreak, and That's OkayYesterday that verse came to me, and I decided to tweet it. Today, God used it in a pertinent situation in my life. And the way He explains things is so beautiful, I just couldn’t help but share.

I was praying over a situation with one of my children. I’m always so worried for their little hearts. I know what it’s like to hurt, and like any other parent on the planet, I don’t want that for them. I try to minimize their pain as best I can.

But the reality is, they’re going to get hurt. No matter what ways I try to protect my kids from heartbreak, they’re living in this imperfect world just like the rest of us. Here, disappointment and heartache is a reality. We have a perfect home, but we’re not there yet. While we’re here, we’re going to get some battle scars.

He Binds Up Their Wounds

God gave us that verse to give us comfort.

While I was praying, He brought it back to my mind. And He said, “I bind up their wounds.” Emphasis on the word “I.”

See, He doesn’t use gauze and tape. Or stitches. Or surgical glue. He binds up our wounds. He Himself goes into every crack and crevice. Every fracture and fills it with Him, holding all of our pieces together and making us whole.

Kintsugi for the Soul

A picture came to my mind. Of a cup.

Have you ever heard of kintsugi?

In Japan, when a bowl or cup or plate breaks, instead of just throwing it away, they’ll often fix it with gold. So not only is the break repaired, but it becomes a work of art. Because to the Japanese, the break is just a part of the object’s history that makes it more beautiful.

Protect my Kids from Heartbreak

And that’s what I saw. Sure we all break, but He binds our wounds. He’s what holds us together and makes us purposeful again. He doesn’t come in and take away all of those things that happen along life’s journey. He doesn’t erase our past. He turns the breaks in our soul into something of beauty. A flash of gold in His already beautiful masterpiece.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”God doesn’t erase our past but turns all those breaks in our soul into something of beauty. https://plantingvineyards.com/protect-my-kids-from-heartbreak/” quote=”God doesn’t erase our past but turns all those breaks in our soul into something of beauty. “]

Living in Them

Now does this make me eager to have my children upset and disappointed by this life on Earth? Not exactly.

But the flaws and shattered places in their lives make more room for Jesus to come in and live life with them. Don’t get me wrong, we always have His fullness within us. But we have a tendency to quiet Him when we don’t realize how much we need Him.

I’ve been a Christian since I was a little girl. I loved Jesus. But I didn’t understand how intimate and how deep His love for me was until I was at my darkest. It was when I couldn’t have just picked myself back up. When He gave me promises and spoke to me in a way that was unshakable. When He brought other people into my life that somehow knew exactly the words to speak to my heart even though I didn’t tell them what was going on (thank you, Holy Spirit).

That’s when I realized He was the very air I was breathing.

I Can't Protect my Kids from Heartbreak

Did the pain that took place before all that suck? Yeah. But it was kind of like when you’ve been underwater for a long time and then finally make it back to the surface. When that first breath of air fills your lungs, oxygen spreads to your deprived cells. And you’re suddenly aware of just how alive you are.

Living Through Them

But even more than just being in them, it gives Him more space to come in and show Himself through them.

It reminds me of the verse:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭(NLT‬‬)

Yeah, we’re all a little broken. We’ve all gone through some stuff. We’ve all done some stuff. And my kids won’t be the exception to that.

But that also gives room for God’s grace and power to come into their lives and show off. Then they can be the ones speaking into someone else, pulling them out of their darkness. He’s going to make all the mess into something beautiful.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”All of our imperfection gives room for God’s grace and power to come into our lives and show off. https://plantingvineyards.com/protect-my-kids-from-heartbreak/” quote=”All of our imperfection gives room for God’s grace and power to come into our lives and show off. “]

Which reminds me of a different tweet of mine from a few days ago…

He has made everything beautiful in it’s time..
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV)
How awesomely good and loving is He to place those verses on the forefront of my heart right before I was about to need them?

I can’t protect my kids from heartbreak, but here’s what I CAN do…

I can trust God. We can trust Him with our kids, guys. Which I know is hard. Those are our babies! But they were His first, and as crazy as it is to think about, He loves them even more than we do.

So, no. Protecting them from ever being heartbroken or disappointed isn’t an option. But that’s okay. Because God is the master of coming in and making beauty out of the mess.

Until next time,

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3 Simple Summer Unit Studies for Your Curious Preschooler

Preschool Unit Studies

UPDATE:: If learning activities and homeschooling are up your alley, check out my NEW blog, Smith, Party of 6. Over there, I post about homeschool, parenting, and simplifying family life.

The summer sun is out, and the world is full of life! But the kids are also out of school, and now, we have to figure out ways to keep them learning. Use it, or lose it, right?

AND we also have to get our little soon-be-schoolers prepared for life in the classroom.

So here, you’ll find some short and sweet unit study ideas to get those brain juices flowing in your little one. Each unit is designed to be spread out over one easy and fun week. They only take 1-3 hours of the day, depending on how in-depth you and your kids want to go. And you can choose to get all of the day’s activities done at once or break it up into morning and afternoon activities.

We opted to break ours up. It’s great because the activities don’t take so long that the kids lose focus, get bored, or are bombarded with too much information. So they stay entertained and educated at the same time.

(Psst.. If you homeschool your kids, these units would be great to do during the year too! Just use these ideas as a starting point, and build from there.)

In addition to these activities, my kids also practice their letters and numbers, either by writing them on different surfaces (i.e. paper, chalkboard, dry-erase sheet, etc.) or by using a sensory tray like this one.

Outer Space

Preschool Unit Studies

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. You get awesome products you want/need, and I’m rewarded for bringing you to those products. It’s a win, win!

Day 1

You’ll notice that I have a different song for every day. I don’t know about your kids but mine are in love with music, so starting off each lesson with a fun song gets them engaged and interested in the topic of the day! We kick off this lesson with “I’m a Star” by the StoryBots. You can find any of the resources I’ve used by clicking the links throughout this post!

On day 1, we also read Pete the Cat: Out of This World. My kids love Pete the Cat, and it opened up the opportunity for us to learn about some spacey stuff like astronauts, gravity, and comets.

And what’s better than topping off your first day learning about space with staying up late and looking at the stars in your back yard? Parent bonus points for using a telescope like this one.

Day 2

Song: “I’m so Hot” by the StoryBots

What better way to learn than with lots of hands-on activities? You can find a Montessori-inspired one by exploring how planets orbit the sun, at Gift of Curiosity. And at Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls, you can find a fun science experiment about what melts in the sun light. Finally, wrap up your day by making cute sun catchers from Rainy Day Mum.

Day 3

Song: “Time to Shine” by the StoryBots

Read: The Berenstain Bears on the Moon (by the way… do you remember these books being called the Berenstein Bears? If so, you’re totally not the only one. There’s a whole crazy theory. Look it up!)

Kids learn best through play. So a fun way to talk about the difference in gravity on the moon versus Earth would be to play freeze tag with a twist: everyone has to move as if they’re on the moon!

Round off the day with this fun moon dust painting activity from Learn-Play-Imagine.

Day 4

Song: “A Beautiful, Beautiful World” by the StoryBots

There’s a good chance your little one loves sensory bins (or will, if you’ve never heard of them). They’re simple, foster kids’ imaginations, and are super easy to throw together. You can just buy little toys from Amazon to stock them with. And you can steal this idea from My Mundane and Miraculous Life.

Every child in the world also seems to be obsessed with slime (and making it) right now, so you could strike up a conversation about the Milky Way Galaxy by making some galaxy slime from Schooling a Monkey.

And of course, a simple and free activity to talk about our very own planet is to go take a walk and enjoy it. Talk about the life all around us that is unique to our planet and you wouldn’t find on the others.

Day 5

Song: “We are the Planets” by the StoryBots

When I was a kid, I LOVED the Magic School Bus books and show, so I was excited to pass it on to my little ones by reading The Magic School Bus Lost In The Solar System. Afterward, we came up with as many space words as we possibly could. Pulling from their memory bank helps to solidify what they’ve learned throughout the week.

Finally, you can end your space journey by having your kids paint their own planets and name them!

The Deep Blue Sea

Preschool Unit Studies

Day 1

Song: “Big Blue Whale” by Dance ‘n Beats

Read Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef. Afterward talk about coral and other questions your little ones may have. Next head over to The Science Kiddo to recreate their fun and easy science experiment on salt water density. Round out the day with making puffer fish paintings using a bouncy ball like this activity on Crafty Morning.

Day 2

Song: “Baby Shark” by PINKFONG

It can be hard to get little minds to understand how big something really is. Today, start off with doing a fun activity to show your kids how big a great white shark really is! Take some easily removable tape, and make a shark like this one that’s 13-21 feet long (depending on how much space you have). Then they can take turns lying down inside the lines. Get at a good angle (like standing on the stairs), and take their picture.

Next create this sand and water sensory bin from Fun Learning for Kids, and let them have at it! Maybe throw in a few shark toys while you’re at it to keep the theme going.

Finally, make some cute shark hats like these from Glue Sticks and Gumdrops and use them to play freeze tag (with a twist). Whoever is wearing the shark hat is it. All other players are the “fishies” and have to try to swim away! Of course, this only works if you have more than one child. If not, you can find another silly way to play with your newly-made hats.

Day 3

Song: “Numbers Song: Counting Fish” by LittleBabyBums

Read the much-loved story, The Rainbow Fish. Then do this cute craft from Crafty Morning to let your kids make their own rainbow fish. And because sensory bins are much fun, let them play in this sea foam sensory bin from The Crafting Chicks.

Day 4

Song: “5 Little Octopus Jumping on the Bed” by TinyDreams Kids

Give your kids an idea of what the different ocean zones look like by recreating them in a jar with this activity from I can Teach my Child. You can use this time to talk about different creatures that live at the different levels.

Next, print out this cute sea animals memory game from Adventure in a Box, and sit down to play. Afterward, test their fine motor skills by making these simple octopus crafts from Buggy and Buddy.

Day 5

Song: “Submarine” by Bounce Patrol Kids

Read Pete the Cat: Scuba-Cat (because obviously, there’s one for every occasion). Afterward talk about oceanographers, marine biologists, and other ocean-based professions. Then wrap up the day (and the ocean unit) by taking a big cardboard box and making your own yellow submarine like this one from Little Tiny Learner. Ask your little one about what animals are outside the submarine windows and what ocean zone he or she is diving down to (anything to make that info stick!).

Dinosaurs

Preschool Unit Studies

Day 1

Song: “Tyrannosaurus Rex” by the StoryBots

Read If You Happen to Have a DinosaurThis book has all kinds of fun examples of different dinosaurs and is perfect to bring up the difference between carnivores and herbivores. You can even talk about your own diet in your home (as your kids will most likely want to do).

End the first dino day with this fun frozen dinosaur eggs experiment from Little Bins for Little Hands.

Day 2

Song: “Velociraptor” by the StoryBots

Jump into the day by measuring dinosaur footprints with this activity from The Many Little Joys. Just like shark day during ocean life week, this will give your kids an idea of just how big some of the dinosaurs were.

Take a little break by making an herbivore snack, consisting of your kids’ favorite fruits and veggies. You can let them help out by taking a trip to the farmer’s market and letting them pick which yummy plants to buy.

Afterward you can all sit down to do a little crafting and make dinosaurs from basic geometric shapes like this idea from Little Family Fun.

Day 3

Song: “Triceratops” by the StoryBots

Today, you can revisit our favorite kitty by reading Pete the Cat: Cavecat Pete.

Afterward, dive into a discussion on archaeologists and paleontologists by doing a fun dinosaur bone dig. My son got one for Christmas that he loved doing! You can find it on Amazon.

Day 4

Song: “Apatosaurus” by the StoryBots

Get your little ones outside early in the day to dig in the sandbox or a sensory bin for little dinosaur toys. You can even find those at a local dollar store. Or reuse the ones you hatched earlier on in the week! Afterward, come back inside and do some simple worksheets like these from Easy Peasy and Fun. Wrap up the day by getting their little hands messy with paint. Make a handosaurus like these from Fun Handprint Art.

Day 5

Song: “Stegosaurus” by the StoryBots

Read The Dinosaur Who Lost His Roar. Afterward, get your little dinosaur up and moving by using a movement cube like this one from Creative Little Explorers to choose dino moves. End out the dinosaur unit by making fossils like these from Learning 4 Kids.

Now Obviously…

These aren’t going to be enough to get you through a whole summer. But they sure are a great start! And not every week has to have a unit study.

One thing that would be cool… if you’re taking a vacation, use wherever you’re going as inspiration for a study of your own. Find ways to make it come even more alive for your little explorers.

The Best Tip

My very best tip to give you while doing these preschool unit studies: just have fun with it!

I’ve been known to get uptight when things don’t go according to my plans. But man, that sucks the joy out of everything.

If you have high expectations, get frustrated easily, and lose patience, it’s going to show. And your kid is not going to enjoy his or herself. And they definitely won’t enjoy learning.

Just breathe. There’s no pressure to teach them everything they need to know right now.

Create a fairly casual atmosphere and just let the experience be fun. Don’t expect to follow everything I included here OR to only do what I included. Use these ideas and tailor them to fit your little tribe.

Let their curiosity take the front seat this summer!

Until next time,

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