Knot Tying Board

Recently the girls became very interested in P1010620knot tying, which has resulted in ribbon and rope tied from one piece of furniture to another.  Their aunt and Nana both gave the girls scarves this Christmas but the girls seem to think they got bigger pieces of rope.

We love the fact that they are learning to tie knots and the finger dexterity it builds, but we were getting a bit frustrated with them trying to tie everything.  It had gotten a bit out of control when Ed tried to leave the bathroom and they had tied the door shut.

P1010881In order to contain but encourage the tying Ed made these knot tying boards for the girls.  We bought a 2×2 piece of birch 1/2 inch thick cut to a square foot. (To make this project super easy we even had Lowes cut the board for us in fourths for us since we needed to make two and do some other projects).  Ed also sanded the boards and the edges.


We then chose a bunch of differentP1010880 fixtures to put on the boards.  We let the girls help pick out items and tried to do a variety.  This is where the project can get pricey if you aren’t careful.  And then we also picked out different kinds of rope that were a variety of thickness and texture.


P1010885To finish the board, Ed used the Dremel to trim down some of the screws poking through the back.  We then used PlastiDip to seal up the back.  I recommend the liquid form that you paint on or dip into as opposed to the spray on one.  We first used the spray on PlastiDip and it came out in clumps, which is why you can still see some bumpy parts.  But the pure liquid that Ed painted on went on very smoothly.

This project has been a really big hit with the girls. Our rule for the rope is that it stays with the boards which has really helped keep the random knot tying down. And, of course, this is one of those activities we supervise more carefully since they are playing with long pieces of rope. 🙂


Sharing a Love of Reading

My post yesterday about the Goodreads reading challenge prompted a conversation about sharing your love of reading with your 560581_4169830516604_1861102797_nlittle ones.  As I said yesterday, we agree that reading is important and that parents are children’s best role models, so it’s important that parents role model reading for enjoyment.

But with active little ones in the house, it can be very hard to show that you read for pleasure.  I read their books to the girls, but how do I show them how much I love to read?  It’s not like I can just sit around the house reading all day.  (Hmmm, or can I?)   When it comes to reading, of course reading aloud is the most important thing you can do for your child.  But here are some other ideas to show your young children that you yourself are also a reader:

  • Have your books out where they can see them.  In addition to our bookcases filled with our books, we also leave our books around the house and let the girls know that those are the ones we are currently reading.
  • Talk about books.  I love books and talking so this is very easy for me.  At the dinner table, we talk about what we are reading, interesting tidbits.  We also reference books that we love.  (I’ll be honest, in our house that means a lot of Harry Potter references).  And of course we talk to the girls about their books as well.
  • Read when your children read.  At first I thought this was impossible with little ones.  Now when the girls are looking at books, I get out my book to read.  I try to sit with them during their quiet time at least a few times a week and read my book as well.  They especially love laying on our bed looking at books together.
  • Let them look at your magazines and books.  Of course you want to be sure that the magazines are appropriate for them to look at but the girls love flipping the pages in my magazines and making up stories.DSCN1198
  • Share books that used to be yours.  If you have any books leftover from when you were little, share them with your kiddos and tell them about how much you loved them.  If you don’t, see if you can find copies of your favorite childhood books and share those.
  • Show interest in your children’s books.  Usually the girls choose which books we will read, but sometimes my husband or I pick the books.  We will talk about which ones are our favorites or why we want to read a certain book.  It’s hard to make your children interested in reading if you show no interest in the books they choose.  And try to not sigh or complain if you hate a book they like.

But what if you aren’t a reader yourself?  Well, then this is one of those times you fake it until you make it.


Feelings Cards

Here are the feelings cards I used for our calendar.  I couldn’t find any free clipart that was appropriate so my husband designed these.  There are cards for happy, sad, embarrassed, surprised, excited, scared, shy, silly, and angry.  Here is the link to the pdf file:

Feelings Cards

In addition to using them on the calendar they could be used on their own to practice identifying different emotions.  Make them as magnets for the refrigerator for children to choose how they are feeling or a matching game or a card they put by their names during the day.  There are lots of options.

There are card sets of both boys and girls and as well as sets with all different skin tones, hair colors, and eye colors.  Our hope was that everyone can find a set they like.  Or you can mix and match to create a multicultural set (great for preschool teachers).


To make life easier for you, you can take a quick look at the different people and emotions below.  When you download all the Feelings Cards set they will all be uniform in size.

Girls Feeling Cards 2
Girls Feeling Cards 1
Girls Feeling Cards 10
Girls Feeling Cards 9
Girls Feeling Cards 6
Girls Feeling Cards 5
Girls Feeling Cards 12
Girls Feeling Cards 11

Girls Feeling Cards 4
Girls Feeling Cards 3
Girls Feeling Cards 8
Girls Feeling Cards 7
Boy Feeling Cards 2
Boy Feeling Cards 1
Boy Feeling Cards 10
Boy Feeling Cards 9
Boy Feeling Cards 6
Boy Feeling Cards 5
Boy Feeling Cards 12
Boy Feeling Cards 11
Boy Feeling Cards 4
Boy Feeling Cards 3
Boy Feeling Cards 8
Boy Feeling Cards 7

Days, Weather, and Feelings Calendar

We have been continuing to learn the days of the week and how time passes.  To help us, I decided that I wanted a calendar for the girls.

When I looked online for a calendar, I really didn’t like what I found.  I hated how so many included all the months and/or days of the week on the front of the calendar.  To me that was just tempting the girls to tear them off and play with them.  I also felt like having all the options on display made the calendars confusing and wasted a lot of space.  And I didn’t like how big some of the calendars were.  And some were set up to be specific to one child.

When planning out my calendar, I decided to include the day followed by the date.  Then I wanted the weather and feelings included too.  My husband designed all the images and templates for me (and you!) to use:

Days and Months


I’ve included the emotion cards in this post here.

I wanted to keep the calendar somewhat small and magnetic since that works well with us.  I bought the largest cookie sheet I could find.  To do the permanent lettering I used my cricut and vinyl but you could also buy letters to use.  I then printed out the changeable pieces on magnetic computer paper.  To cut costs you could also skip the magnetic paper and just attach small magnets to the pieces printed on cardstock.

Since I didn’t want the pieces all on display in the front, I decided to store them in the back.  It was one reason that I used a cookie sheet so that both the front and back would be magnetic.  But there are so many pieces trying to stick on the back that I worried they would fall off.  I made a backing using velcro and leftover fabric.  After cutting it to the size of the tray, I hemmed the top.  I then hemmed the sides and sewed the velcro to the sides.  Then I hot glued the opposite velcro pieces to the tray.  I also hot glued the bottom of the fabric to the base of the tray.  This way the fabric makes a pocket protecting the extra pieces that can fold down to allow easy access.

At the start of the day we do calendar time.  At the moment we are singing our Days of the Week song that we first learned when doing The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Here again are the words courtesy of Homeschool Share and to the tune of the Addam’s Family:

Days of the week (snap, snap), Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap)
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday
There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday
There’s Thursday and there’s Friday
And then there’s Saturday
Days of the week (snap, snap), Days of the week (snap, snap)
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (snap, snap)

If you don’t want to make your own, here are some of the ones I had looked at:

Jars and Lids

This is another one of those activities that keeps your little ones entertained but is easy for you to put together.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been collecting jars as we empty them (salsa, spaghetti, artichokes, you name it).  Once I’ve had a few of various sizes, I shared my collection with the girls.  They had a great time practicing screwing the lids on and off as well as trying to match the lids to the correct jar.  In addition to building spatial skills, the girls loved that they got to be “grownups” and use real jars.

Before giving the jars to the kids, you do need to be sure that they understand that these are real jars made of real glass.  Our rule was that this was a sit down game.  As soon as they weren’t focused on the activity, the jars got packed up to prevent them for being taken around the house.

What other things do I collect to reuse?  Paper towel rolls, egg cartons, packing paper, and baby food jars (when the girls were eating it) are all things I like to stash away in the hopes of recycling into crafts.

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