Monday, January 13, 2014

Preschool Busy Bag Swap

Welcome to the 400Things Busy Bag Swap for Preschoolers!

To kick off Preschool Week here at 400Things, I'm hosting an online Busy Bag Swap for Preschoolers.

What is a Busy Bag Swap?

It's an easy way to get a box full of fun, educational activities to keep your little ones busy and learning at the same time. In this case, 20 moms will participate by creating one busy bag project 20 times, and then swap with the other participants, resulting in 20 different activities. Instead of dreaming of, purchasing for, and assembling 20 different activities, you will create just ONE (multiple times) and receive 20 different bags!

If you have preschoolers, you already understand the need for some creative new playthings. Moms, grandparents, homeschool families, preschool teachers, co-op teachers...this works for anyone.  It also makes a great gift!

What does it cost?

Just the cost of your activity plus shipping. You will want to spend no more than $1 per bag on supplies.

How does it work?

I'm glad you asked.

1. Choose your activity. You will be creating this activity up to 20 times, so choose wisely. : )

2. Email me at to join. Please provide the following info:
    Name, mailing address, and chosen activity.  This email is your commitment to join. Please do not      send a "maybe I'll do this" email. Once committed, please follow through.

3. Create! Assemble 20 identical busy bags. You have 2 weeks from the commitment date to complete the project.

4. Ship completed busy bags to me, and include payment for shipping your complete set back to you. You may include a money order, or pay directly through paypal at No personal checks, please. Send $12.35 for a Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box. This is how I will send your new set of busy bags! (If you're a local friend, you can skip the shipping cost; however, I'll ask you do do pick-up and delivery of your items.)

5. Wait with anticipation by the mailbox!

So, what shall I make?

There are SO many great ideas on the web, so I'm going to point you to my Busy Bags board on Pinterest. (Note: this Board contains busy bags for lots of ages; check to be sure that the one you choose is Preschool appropriate.) But don't stop there! Google "busy bags" or "preschool activities" or create something new.

Some of our favorites from past swaps:

Color sorting (works great with wooden beads, too)

Felt Lacing Shapes (no link)

Lacing Foam Shapes

Each activity needs to meet the following criteria:
· *Self-contained:* This way, you can just grab a bag and GO (without
having to add a number of supplies to the bag in order to make it useful).
· *Transportable: *Yes, they will definitely be used at home, but
parents might want to be able to grab a few bags to take to a restaurant, a
waiting room, plane trips, car rides, etc.
· *Convenient:* None of the bags will have supplies that require
major set-up *or* clean-up: (no paint, watercolors, liquids, sand, dirt,
· *Inexpensive:* Don't spend too much money on this project!
· *Easy to Make: *Don't spend hours and hours and hours making your
· *Re-usable:* You want these activities to last a while so that your
other children can use them in the future. Therefore, avoid activities
where you would have to buy new supplies to re-stock the bag. This is why
lamination is important for some of the activities. 
*Storage*  Use a gallon-size FREEZER bag for durability.
· *Include instructions:* Make sure the activity has a clear name or
instructions for use. Laminate this if possible, or write on Ziploc bag
with a Sharpie.
· *Preschooler appropriate*: The activity needs to be appropriate for
ages 2-4. Every child is different, so busy bags may be simple and some
will be more advanced. That's okay. Variety is the spice of life!

Please plan accordingly. You will need to purchase supplies, assemble Busy Bags, and ship them to me within 2 weeks of signing up.

*If however, you do sign up with full intentions of participating, but then realize that for some reason you are unable to continue, please let me know right away, so that we can contact someone else who would love to be involved.*
Try to invest *no more than about $1 per bag*. (Use those Michaels, Joanns, & Hobby Lobby coupons!!) This ensures that each bag is of approximately equal value.

Also keep in mind your schedule AND your budget. Some of you may have more time than money, vice versa. If you have the time, you might be willing to print and cut and sort flash cards or felt shapes. If you don't have the time, but have a few extra dollars, you might be willing to purchase manipulatives that just need sorting into bags.

Other important info:

I will take up to 20 participants. If more than 20 are interested, I'll start a waiting list in case someone falls through. 

I will not share your personal information with the group. You'll just get a big ol' box of goodies in the mail!

January 13 is the start date. I will continue to take names until I receive 20 requests. From that date, each participant will have 2 weeks to complete their task. So....let's begin!

Join 400 Things by subscribing at the top of this blog page so you won't miss a post, and go like my Facebook page. Please share this swap with your friends!

Preschool Week has been extended, due to illness in our home. : ) So, there's still time to join the Swap. 

Below is a list of the activities so far:

Felt Color Links by Jill

Matching Color Shades by Heather

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Day in the Life

Welcome to a day-long glimpse of our lives! This is a very typical day in our home. There's a little bit of everything thrown in: homeschooling, playtime, homemaking, and chores. So, let's begin!

8:00 I wake up. The little boys (5 and 8) are awake. The girls (3, 13, and 17) are not. I go wake the girls and start a breakfast of cinnamon toast and apple slices.

8:20 While I read the Bible aloud, the kids eat their breakfast. Then we discuss plans for the day.

8:40 Big girls start their independent schoolwork in their rooms, while I do memorization with the 3 young ones. We practice:

  • Books of the Bible
  • States
  • Presidents
  • Catechism
They get a couple of chocolate chips for rewards. I also begin sharpening pencils.

8:50 3-year-old asks to do her "pretty book" for school (like this one). 8yo does copywork from the Usborne Science Encyclopedia (his choice), and 5yo plays a game on the iPad. It's extremely counterproductive to have both boys at the school table together. 

I sharpen pencils for the 2nd time.

9:30 I sort and clean beans for the crockpot in preparation for dinner. 8yo finally finishes copywork, and chooses his read-aloud also from the Science Encyclopedia. And now 13yo asks for help with her math. 3yo helps with the beans. 

9:35 The boys are released to play outside while I help 13yo with math.

9:45 It's too cold to play outside! I pull out the rubber stamps and ink pads for a "busy" activity.

10:00 13yo finishes math and goes to shower. I teach 3 and 5yo to make thumb print animals. 3yo cries because she doesn't like ink on her fingers. 

10:15 Time for 8yo to do math, and handwriting for 5yo. 3yo puts stickers on paper. 17yo informs me she is going for a 2nd math lesson today. Yipee! 

Next, 8yo gets to choose a new book to read to himself, and chooses one on dinosaurs. He reads silently for a bit, then switches to reading aloud in a British accent. : ) 3yo goes off to play and I put laundry in the dryer.

10:30 8yo finishes reading and is off to play. 5yo does math flash cards and 100 Easy Lessons. 13yo is crocheting. 

10:50 I do a lesson on thinking with 13 and 17yo. They will read my blog post on "Changing the World One Comment at a Time" and practice writing effective comments. (Oh yes! I use my blog as instruction for my kids as well as for entertainment for you folks!) 

Where is my pencil sharpener?!? While 13yo finishes her writing assignment, 17yo checks the status of her Origami Owl business website. Then I check my blog, emails, and FB. All this time the little kids are watching a video. Then I check both writing assignments.

11:30 More laundry and then Sonlight with all the kids. We move to the living room with a stack of books. Today we read about Alexander the Great, catch up on timeline activities and prepare to discuss the rise of Rome (beginning tomorrow). 5yo copies the cover of the World History Atlas, and 13yo continues crocheting. 

12:15 I start lunch while 13yo cleans up the kitchen. While eating lunch, we all watch Drive Through History - Ancient Greece to wrap up our study of Greece.

1:00 School is finished! Time to clean up the books and put 3yo down for a nap. This is typically Quiet Time for all kids, but sometimes the boys ask to play outside for QT, and I say yes. Like today. If the weather's nice in the winter, I'm going to get those boys outside! They also get a candy cane.

I try a new recipe (Paleo Party Mix) and prepare to sew for awhile. I'm making my husband a t-shirt quilt for Christmas. 

1:30 I listen to Persuasion by Jane Austen while sewing. 

2:30 Sewing project went as far as it could today, so I switch to computer time (eBay, blogging, Usborne, etc.).

3:00 3yo wakes up from her nap. She gets a candy cane, too, and plays with her brothers while I finish up on the computer. I just remember to take ground beef out of the freezer for tacos. Oops!

3:30 5yo asks if I will go outside with them. Okay, I will. It's a nice day for December. The boys climb trees and ride bikes, while 3yo swings and walks with me. Then we all hike around the property.

4:00 We come back in for a few minutes before the little ones go back outside with 13yo to play and ride bikes some more. I check the laundry and season the beans. I finish up my computer work (finally).

4:30 Kids come back in to play. 13yo asks me to print out something for her brothers that will be their Christmas gift: instructions for making duct-tape swords. She will give them a folder with these instructions and several rolls of duct tape! Then off to clean my bedroom. Sigh.

5:00 3 of the kids watch a Spiderman episode while 17yo reviews her CPR training and watches The Next Great Baker. I fold laundry.

5:20 Little boys put away their laundry.

5:30 17yo points out the beautiful sunset, so we step outside and snap a picture. Then I replace several light bulbs and open mail. Christmas cards: yay! 

I look longingly at the book on my bedside table and wonder if I'll have time to read today.

5:45 I send 5, 8, and 13yo upstairs to clean up their bedrooms. 3yo asks me to braid her hair. I settle a squabble between the boys.

6:15 Start cooking dinner and another load of laundry. Boys play Minecraft. 8yo creates a Minecraft castle for Alexander the Great. 13yo crochets while watching Pride & Prejudice. I make refried beans and serve up tacos and burritos.

6:40 Dinner!

7:00 Hubby calls; he's on his way home from work.

7:30 Big girls play Boggle while little ones watch. I go through grocery ads and make my grocery list .

7:45 Hubby is home - bearing chocolate! 

8:40 UPS driver delivers my Discovery Toys order. Fun! I pay bills online. Very thankful for internet. : )

9:30 Hubby and I give new Christmas ornaments to each child - a yearly tradition.

9:45 Hubby puts little boys to bed while I put 3yo to bed - our nightly ritual. 

10:00 I call my mom to discuss Christmas stuff. Hubby and I go over our budget, bills, and Christmas lists. 

10:30 Big girls go to bed.

11:00 Wrap Christmas gifts while watching Pride and Prejudice.

12:15 Bed!

Thanks for joining us for this glimpse into our day. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Join Usborne Books for only $25 in January

If you've been looking for a wonderful home business opportunity, and don't have much cash to spare, look no further than Usborne Books at Home. 

In celebration of 25 years in business, the company is offering a $25 mini-Consultant Kit to get you started. This is a limited offer, so don't wait! 

Visit my website for more details:


Friday, December 27, 2013

A Pink Birthday Party

Last week we had a birthday party. Our little Catie-Pie turned 3, and she LOVES pink. Since her birthday is in December, we went with a Winter/Christmas theme. For the third year in a row. : )

It all started when her big sisters started making intricate paper snowflakes during family reading time. They got the instructions on Pinterest. The snowflakes were so pretty, I wanted to decorate with them! From there, we added the idea of pink and white paper chains.

Aren't they pretty?

Claudia and Chloe made pink strawberry cake balls with edible glitter. Oh, my; these were delicious!

The happy birthday girl!

I found these yummy little snacks to go with the pink/strawberry theme. They are GOOD.

Catie had three guests besides her family, and she got such fun little gifts for her baby dolls.

Catie did not want to blow out her candles, so she requested help from Claudia.

Since her world revolves around caring for her baby dolls and stuffed animals, I could not resist this cute little book:

The Melissa and Doug dress-up Bear Family was a huge hit!

For party favors, we gave a baby-doll bottle and a handmade cloth doll diaper. I found the pattern here, and it was a very easy little project to make.

Did I mention this party was done on a dime? We used printer paper for the snowflakes, scrapbook paper and printer paper for the paper chains, and fabric scraps for the diapers. The tablecloth and baby bottles were $1 each at the dollar store. Add in cake mix, icing, pink juice, and goldfish, and you have a very easy, inexpensive birthday party!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...