Sunday, October 30, 2016

Monster Bark {Halloween Candy Bark}


As soon as I saw this Halloween Candy Bark on the front cover of Kroger's My Magazine, I knew we had to make it.  It just looks so silly and fun for little ones!  

So the kids and I dubbed it "Monster Bark" and had a blast making it together this Halloween!


Monster Bark (Halloween Candy Bark)
(Original recipe by Kroger)

Ingredients:

Chocolate candy coating (near the chocolate chips in the baking aisle)
Halloween candy of your choice, such as:
Gummy worms
Candy eyes
M&Ms
Candy corn
Pretzels
Sprinkles
Peanuts
Whatever you'd like!


Directions:

1.  Melt the chocolate in a covered saucepan on the lowest setting on your stove top.  Stir with a spatula and watch carefully.  Be patient!  Do not overheat or the chocolate will caramelize.

2.  Place parchment paper at the bottom of a 9x13.

3.  When chocolate is melted, pour onto the parchment paper.  Spread chocolate evenly (being careful not to make it too thin).

4.  Decorate with Halloween candy while the chocolate is still warm.

5.  Refrigerate until hardened.  Cut and serve!

Notes:

It took 20 minutes for 1/2 lb. of chocolate to melt on our stove.

In the magazine article, Kroger suggested putting the pieces in pudding cups.  It would look so cute in dirt pudding!


We absolutely loved making and eating this sweet and silly dessert!  So if you want a fun and cute treat to make with your kids this Halloween, you should definitely make this Monster Bark!

Happy Halloween!

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This post was NOT sponsored by Kroger - I just love their magazine and shopping there for our groceries!


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Printable Halloween Decor from Sweet Little Ones Shop:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/454415812/happy-halloween-printable-wall-art
https://www.etsy.com/listing/482166105/trick-or-treat-halloween-candy-printable
https://www.etsy.com/listing/454406086/double-double-toil-and-trouble-printable


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Thursday, October 20, 2016

My Favorite Online Homeschool Preschool Resources


Last week, I shared our fun and bright homeschool preschool room and how we organized it.  It's a beautiful learning environment - just perfect for little ones to learn and grow.  So now that our homeschool preschool room is all set up, I want to make sure we use it well!

Professionally, I am not a teacher.  So when we started to prepare to homeschool preschool our then 4 year old last year, I kept asking myself:

How do I get started...and keep it up?  
Where can I find the best worksheets, crafts, activities, and books?  
How can I incorporate our Faith into my child's day?  
What are the best online learning games and activities?

After a lot of searching, these are the best online preschool resources that I have found for learning activities, crafts, and books for teaching your preschooler at home:


Below I have posted affiliate links (under This Little Home of Mine and ABCmouse), which means that I may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase after clicking on those links. Please see the disclosure page for more info!

This Little Home of Mine
The first question is always - where do I even begin?!  Elizabeth lays out so many great homeschooling how-tos from putting together your supplies to assembling a unit to breaking preschooling down by age (for 2, 3, and 4 year olds).

She also has an excellent homeschooling newsletter and e-book Homeschooling Your Preschooler that goes through everything you need to know to get started and stay on track as a busy mom.  (You can see what is in her Homeschooling Your Preschooler book below.)

https://gumroad.com/a/539505779

This Reading Mama
To introduce a letter a week, I especially love reading books that start with or are about that letter.  So my favorite Letter of the Week book list comes from This Reading Mama.  Becky also has a free Reading the Alphabet curriculum that looks excellent that we will be starting soon.

The Measured Mom
Every printable you could ever want is at The Measured Mom!  It's a dream for a SAHM to have so many wonderful worksheets all in one place.  I especially love Anna's alphabet tracing worksheets (pictured below).

The Measured Mom also has a great Letter of the Week book list and activity list that I like to combine with This Reading Mama's (who I mentioned above).


Catholic Icing
For us, we want to incorporate our Catholic faith into our homeschool preschool as well.  Catholic Icing is perfect!  Lacy has crafts, recipes, and activities for liturgical seasons, feast days, saints, the Mass, the Sacraments, and so many aspects of our Faith - all beautifully done at a kid level.

Pinterest
Of course!  Pinterest is one of the best resources.  You can find anything you search for...which is exactly what I've been doing for years!  So my favorite homeschool preschool Pinterest account is actually my personal account because I have acquired so many great preschooling pins over the years!

Instagram
I've been finding that Instagram actually has many great resources for teaching your preschooler at home.  My 3 favorites are:
Katherine Marie - for beautiful crafts and imaginative play
Happy Tot Shelf - for fun crafts and activities by theme
Simply Learning - for a week by week schedule of learning activities



I was given a free year of ABCmouse to review, but all opinions are my own (and my kids' too!).  Please see my disclosure for more information.

ABCmouse
This is my favorite new resource!  ABCmouse has everything in one place and is really fun!  My sister began using it this summer for her kids, and they loved it!  So I knew I wanted to try it for my 3-1/2 and 5 year olds.  One of my favorite things about ABCmouse is that it has a very thorough assessment at the beginning so it's very easy to see your child's progress.  Also, the kids love how with each activity they complete, they move another space on the map, so they can also see their progress.

My full review will be coming soon, but right now I can definitely say that we really enjoy using ABCmouse for it's ease of use (for me and for the kids), wide variety of activities, and for how much fun the kids have while learning!  ABCmouse is perfect to use alone or alongside reading books and doing worksheets at home.

And right now, you can get a free 30 day trial or 2 months of ABCmouse.com for only $5! It is definitely worth checking out - I think you and your kids will love as much as we do!


The internet is full of so many wonderful resources to help us teach our kids!  So what are your favorite homeschool preschool websites, blogs, e-books, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts?  I'm looking forward to checking out your favorite resources!

Have a beautiful day, friends!

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Our {Budget Friendly} Preschool Room


I'm excited to show you our homeschool preschool space!  I just love how fun, colorful, and organized it turned out!

My favorite part is that almost every single thing I used to design and organize our homeschool preschool room was from the Target Dollar Spot, the dollar store, or garage sales.

You can make a nice homeschool space in your house on a budget!  Here's how we did it:

Below I have posted a few affiliate links, which means that I may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase after clicking on that link. Please see the disclosure page for more info!


Here are our tips on how to make a budget friendly homeschool preschool room:

1.  Use what you have.  Used food containers, shoe boxes, wet wipes containers, etc.  If it's sturdy and can be cleaned, then it can be used for cheap craft storage.  For decorations, use books, toys, and colorful school supplies you already own to brighten up the space!

2.  Shop the Target Dollar spot, Dollar Store, and the clearance section.  Almost every single organizational thing I used was from the Target Dollar Spot or the dollar store.  And the best part is that the Dollar Spot has a lot of very beautiful decorative options!

3.  Shop garage sales.  Bargain hunt for bigger, pricier items at yard sales.  (If you feel comfortable utilizing Craig's List or Facebook re-selling groups, go for it!  You can find some really great deals there as well.  Just be careful when meeting people you don't know says the paranoid mom in me!)

4.  Know when the deals are...and wait for them.  Storage containers typically go on sale around the back-to-school time (July) and the New Year (because "getting organized" is a popular New Year's resolution).  Get your supplies when they're at their cheapest.

5.  Be patient.  It took me 2-3 years to put this together.  Plan ahead if you can, piece it together over time, and you'll save quite a bit of money!

Then, you can save your money for the things that really count like nice books and teaching supplies!

This sale will run from 8/30-9/5/2017!

ABCmouse.com


Now here is exactly how we used those budget friendly tips to decorate and organize our homeschool space:


1.  To organize our dry erase markers, chalk, and other smaller supplies, I use these little metal buckets that I got from the Target Dollar Spot.

2, 3, & 6.  These 4 gold wire baskets, gold wire magazine holder, and wooden ruler box are all beautiful finds from the Dollar Spot.  They hold our flash cards, workbooks, crayons, glue, markers, scissors, chalk, erasers, and most of our regularly used preschool supplies.  (I love storing our school supplies in baskets because you can easily keep everything together - and then it's easily cleaned up when you're done.)

4.  Everything that we typically need during each lesson is kept on this little white book shelf, which was a garage sale find for $5.

5.  To keep small school utensils together inside the wire basket, I used a little mason jar that originally stored homemade jam.

On the other side of the peninsula and bar stools (that you can see in the first two pictures in this post), we have a very nice wet bar turned craft space.  We're lucky enough to have built-in cabinets throughout our craft room so we have a lot of storage space.

Here is how we keep our school supplies inexpensively organized in one of the cabinets: 


1.  Wet wipes containers are perfect for craft storage!  This one in particular holds our crayons.  A bonus is that if you always use the same brand, they can even be stackable!

2.  This old Christmas gift basket filled with fruit got a new life - now it holds our drop cloth and painting smocks!

3.  One thing I really love are file folders.  This is just a little one, but we have many larger ones too.  They are from our college days and the Dollar Spot.  I keep the papers that we plan to use over and over again in them, such as their letter tracing papers, plastic sheet protectors, etc.  I also use one for stickers and one for bigger pieces of scrap construction paper.

4.  A cheap kitchen / shower caddy holds all of our Play-doh, stamps, cookie cutters, and other associated supplies.

5.  Old food containers and spice jars might be my favorite way to store crafts!  (You'll see that more below too!)  This old Parmesan cheese container now holds our magnetic letters.

https://gumroad.com/a/1053209715
Five Senses: Letter-A-Week Activity Guide
My favorite resource for teaching the alphabet at home!

Above the built-in cabinets, we have a lot of shelves.  You can see how I decorated and organized the biggest set of built-in shelves here.  But this is how I utilized our smaller shelf / ledge:


Dollar Spot metal buckets, old spice jars, and garage sale mason jars and glass containers organize our writing utensils and other small supplies.


My old bulletin board brightens up the space by displaying the kids' art projects.

I use our old lazy susan spice rack / kitchen utensil holder to hold all kinds of supplies too!  (Think outside the box before you throw anything away!)


Old spice jars hold everything from pencils to paint brushes to sequins to paper clips.  They are perfect for very small craft and school supplies!


After organizing everything in our preschool room, I added some final touches to decorate the space!  (And of course, the decorative pieces are functional too!)

I hung up brightly colored educational posters (from the Target Dollar Spot) right in her line of vision from where she sits during her lessons (which is at a round kitchen table and chairs off to the side (not pictured).

We have a simple, yet pretty chalkboard / dry erase board easel from IKEA which works great for me as the teacher and for her for practicing writing and drawing.  (You can actually get it on Amazon too if you don't have an IKEA nearby!)  We also use it as a stand for their magnetic board (similar).

I found a huge gold frame at a garage sale for $5.  We just added hooks and string to display the kid's art.  (You can see it here - this is my favorite spot!)

Bulletin boards are also a pretty cheap way to display art projects - ours is actually mine from when I was a girl!  (You can see the bottom of it in several of the pictures above.)

But really, my favorite way to decorate is using stuff we already own!  For instance, on our little white book shelf, I used some brightly colored flower MegaBlocks, a kid's colorful wooden bead rosary, and their favorite books.



It's bright, colorful, and organized: our fun homeschool preschool room!

I love how it came together, especially since it was budget friendly!  It's my new favorite spot in the house!


How have you organized and decorated your homeschool space?  What are your best tips?

And please come back next Thursday - I'll be sharing my favorite online homeschool preschool resources!  I'd love for you to add your favorites to my list!

Edit (10/20/16) - You can find my favorite online preschool resources here!

Have a beautiful day, friends!

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Check out Five Senses: Letter-A-Week Activity Guide by Elizabeth of This Little Home of Mine!  Every letter is perfectly laid out with an easy and concise list of activities and books.  It is my favorite resource for teaching our little ones at home!

https://gumroad.com/a/1053209715



From now through September 5, 2017, an annual subscription to ABCmouse.com is 50% off!  We absolutely love ABCmouse!  My daughter has learned so much playing it this past year! Click here or the banner below for details on how to save big on this amazing learning tool for your kids ages 2-8!




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You may also like: 
http://www.sweetlittleonesblog.com/2016/10/favorite-best-online-homeschool-preschool-resources-websites.html
 My Favorite Online Homeschool Preschool Resources


http://www.sweetlittleonesblog.com/2016/04/20-favorite-picture-books-for-boys.html
Our 20 Favorite Picture Books for Boys


I'm linking up with these awesome parties!
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