Word Searches for Preschoolers and Young Elementary – FREE PRINTABLES!

Last week, we planned to stay at home all week and do some different home activities.  One activity I had on our bucket list for the summer was to do a word search or crossword puzzle.  I was somewhat limited, as the kids I was planning for are 3 and 6.  There’s only so much they can do with a word search and a crossword puzzle.

So after a bit of searching through some blogs, my favorite websites, and (of course!) Pinterest, I ended up with these:

Curious George Word Search

I found this Curious George Word Search on TeacherVision.com.  Every so often I find some good free printables on here like this one.  If you’d like to download this resource, click on the word find image above.  I used this one for Rapunzel, who is 6 and who will be entering first grade.

A-Z Letter Hunt Worksheets by Confessions of a Homeschooler

Since Tinkerbell is only in preschool, I found it more appropriate to give her a Letter Hunt instead.  I found a few things I liked, but what I ended up with was this resource from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  I gave her letters A-D on Monday, and she did very well with them!  I will definitely have her finish this packet for more practice.  If you click on the image above, you will be linked to the site, where you can download this free resource.  There are many letter printables listed; this one is called A-Z Letter Hunt Worksheets.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

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I Forgot My Sneakers (at the Gym)

I Forgot My Sneakers - Making the Most Blog

Nope.  I’m not kidding.  I got myself all the way down to the gym, opened my gym bag, and realized it.  I forgot my sneakers!

And my sports bra.

And my headphones.

And I had gone out of my way in the morning to make sure I remembered a change of clothes and a pair of socks ready for the gym.

I couldn’t believe myself.

But I couldn’t leave!  The front desk had seen me come in, and they know my face; they know my schedule.  So which would be more embarrassing–leaving right after I came in?  Or working out in what I had?

I decided the lesser of the two evils was just to work out in what I had.

I was sure that everyone was looking at me and inwardly laughing.  But I kept trying to tell myself that I don’t really pay attention to what everyone else is wearing, so maybe I would be lucky and no one would notice…that I was wearing my socks with my flats.  Yep.  Socks and flats.

I have to say, it’s not very easy to take a walk in flats.  Thankfully I didn’t have much time to work with anyway, so I just took a 15-minute walk.  I quickly changed into my flip flops before leaving the building so no one else could see what I worked out in.

This awkward situation reminded me of how unprepared for life we often are.

When I was pregnant with Rapunzel, I had planned to give her up for adoption.  I was 19, unmarried, and was no longer in a relationship with her father (long story).  I was in college and working in retail; I knew I couldn’t provide for her like I wanted, and, having been a child of divorced parents, I wanted her to be a child of a two-parent home.

But everything changed in the hospital after her birth.  Her father arrived for delivery and, the following day, announced that he would not sign the paperwork for her adoption.  My options were slim: I could sign away my rights to the new family I had chosen with the chance her father would fight it and win; then he would raise her (and if you knew his history, you wouldn’t want that either).  Not only that, but then the family would be heart-broken anyway and my daughter would have to try to bond with someone else during a time when she had already developed an attachment to another.  So I made the only choice I felt I had: the adoption was off.

And I cried.

our first night at home - I Forgot My Sneakers - Making the Most Blog

Here I was, 19 years old, without my four-year degree, working in retail, living at home, and single.  With a new baby.  This was not the life I had planned for my daughter.  Or myself for that matter.  I had no crib.  No car seat.  No diapers.  No clothes.  Nothing.  I was so afraid.  And unprepared.

But God gave me the gifts I needed for that time in my life in order to survive.

Friends, family, church members–they came out of the woodwork to support me.  My stepmom picked up a car seat, the family I babysat for gave me a crib and a mattress, and my friends and church sent diapers, wipes, blankets, and clothes–more than I could have ever asked for.

And their support was tremendous.  The first time I took her to church, everyone wanted to hold her.  During her first year, they fed her, rocked her, held her, and loved her.  And they loved me for me–a young, single mother.

WIth their help, and with my own instinct, the Word, and the help of Kevin Leman and Dr. James Dobson, I survived.  And with the help of friends and family, I worked hard to earn my associates degree and provide for my daughter.

God provided what I needed to get me through that difficult time.  And in time, he provided what I wanted the most for my daughter–a father.

That first year, I felt like I did at the gym: in my socks and flats, unprepared, clueless.  But nobody judged me for my preparedness, I worked with what I had, and we got through it.

Are you feeling unprepared today?  How have you been able to work with what you have to get by?

1 Year and Counting…

Wow!  What a fun (and busy!) summer we had.  Now we’re in the midst of fall and school, soccer seasons, and Wednesday night church programs, homework, and planning for the fall.  Does the busyness ever end?

I wanted to post a little over a week ago but, as usual, ran out of time!  I was excited to (internally) celebrate my one year anniversary of being a (sort of) stay at home mom!  October 1 was my first official day as an unemployed mother, and I can honestly I would never go back.  While the circumstances that surrounded my leaving my full-time job were thoroughly discouraging, I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had in the last year for anything!

I have no doubt that God was at work when he allowed me to leave full time employment.  Only two months into 2013 I had already had to grieve two loved ones and take time off to attend viewings/funerals.  There’s no way my full time job would have allowed that, as neither of the individuals who passed were immediate family.  I had the opportunity to volunteer for Kid Writing numerous times, went on field trips I never could have attended otherwise, and had the opportunity to attend other school functions.

I had a summer off!  (Well, mostly.)  We worked around my part-time work schedule, and I got to take my family to many different parks around the county, libraries, have playdates (my favorite was spa day!), color, read together, snuggle together, make crafts, and more.

I was able to start working out regularly at the gym–something I definitely wouldn’t have time for as a full-time working mom.  I’m working back toward being healthy.

And best of all, I’m able to drop Rapunzel off at the bus stop in the morning, drop off Tinkerbell at preschool three days a week, put in my hours, pick up Tinkerbell from preschool, and still get Rapunzel off the bus–something my full-time job wouldn’t budge on (we’ll just leave it at that.)  And in the meantime I get to help out my working friends who need to get their kids to and from school.

I love how God can take rotten circumstances and turn in them into something beautiful.  When has He done this for you?

Teaching Kids to Set the Table – FREE PRINTABLE!

One goal of mine last week was to begin teaching my kids to set the table.  Now, seeing as I have a teenager, a pre-teen, an elementary-schooler, and a preschooler, you may be wondering what took me so long.  Well, I don’t know how things work at your house, but over here it doesn’t matter how many times I tell them–they always forget!  So this time I found the perfect solution.

I LOVE this printable placemat that I found at Parents Magazine website.  They usually have a lot of good resources for activities, crafts, printables, and plain old parenting advice.  I wasn’t actually looking for a placemat printable on their website; I just ran across it, and I’m so glad I did!  Click on the image below to download this FREE printable:

Printable Place Mat from Parents Magazine

 

After printing it out, I laminated it and set it out for Rapunzel and Tinkerbell.  They took to it right away.  It wasn’t much later that Cinderella discovered it and wanted one for herself, so I went ahead and printed one for both her and Wendy.  This is SO easy!  Not only do they have a fun new placemat, but they also have a visual example for when they DO set the table–hopefully this will help them remember when they’re gone!  Right now we’ve been on track putting everything in the right place, and the only question I received was, “Where does the bowl go?” (lol)

I’d definitely recommend this as a resource for learning to set the table–and now I know it goes for any age! Try it out yourself!

It’s Funny…

You know how I’ve been talking about flexibility lately?

Well this week was another one of those weeks.  I seem to be having a lot of those.  The funny part is that I was trying to catch up on my reading for the Bible study I’m involved in at church. Starting way back at four weeks ago (because that’s how far behind I am!), the lesson was on…FLEXIBILITY!  I think Someone is trying to tell me something.

My favorite lesson was “Day 5” of the study, entitled, “Follow God’s Plans”.  The lesson begins with the readings of Acts 10:9-48 and Acts 16:6-10.  In both of these stories, God leads His people where He needs them to go–not necessarily where they planned to go.  Wherever God has made His plan evident, He succeeds.  It is our plans, as humans, that fail.

The next reading comes from Psalm 33:10-11.

10 The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations
    and thwarts all their schemes.
11 But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever;
    his intentions can never be shaken.

And lastly, from Proverbs 19:21:

21 You can make many plans,
    but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

Isn’t it true?  As much as we try to plan out our days, our weeks, our years, and our entire lives, it is rare that everything goes as planned.

I can’t even tell you how many times I made all of these great plans…only to be deterred.  I was going to go to a college four hours away; I ended up at a college close to home.  I decided on a major in Business Administration (I hated it!); I ended up in Professional Writing.  I planned to do whatever I wanted; I ended up with a baby.  And then a husband.  And two step daughters.  And then another baby.  And here I am.  I planned to be a lifer at my former employer; here I am seven months later, spending more time with my kids, getting more done at home, doing Gods work, and blogging on the side.  Oh, and selling Thirty-One!  (Can’t forget that!)

How different my plans were from God’s!

As much as it is frustrating to have our plans thwarted by circumstances we can’t control, try to remember that God may just have different plans than you do.  Hang on…you’re in for quite a ride!

Hello Summer!

Well, as I announced to my Facebook friends earlier today, as of today we are officially parents of a preschooler, an elementary schooler, a middle schooler, and a high schooler!  I don’t know whether to be excited or scared!

No matter how you look at it, one thing is true: it’s summer, and the kids are out of school.  Now officially begins our Summer of Fun 2013!  I’m so excited for more first summer (mostly) at home!  You have seen my calendar already, so you know we are booked for more fun than we can handle.  We’ve already started some activities, as my last week’s posts have indicated.

Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to do a few activities this week, but after Tinkerbell’s end-of-year preschool picnic today, we were able to squeeze in some of those.

little girl playing Pop the PIg game

Game Day was supposed to be on Wednesday, but we were able to fit that in today.  Kids this young still have a relatively short attention span, so this didn’t take long.  Our first goal for Game Day was to play a favorite game.  TInkerbell loves Pop the Pig, so we played that one first.

Our next task was to play a game we had never played before.  Surprisingly enough, we found one.  Thank goodness–Rapunzel’s teacher sent home foam dice and a few summer worksheets, one being a dice games packet and one a card game packet (learning activities in disguise!).  We played one of each.

I love these packets that the teacher sent home–they’ll keep the kids’ brains working over the summer so they don’t lose that important segment during their time off.

Last thing today: dance party!  This didn’t last very long either.  The kids didn’t want to do a whole lot right away, but once they got into it, it was dance party turned ring-around-the-rosie slash horseplay followed by some rest time on the floor.

I’m looking forward to the park’s fun day tomorrow. it’s supposed be chilly but not rainy and the kids always have fun there.

What did you do with your kids on the last day of school?

The First Sign of Summer…

…is signing up for our local library system’s summer reading program and our local park program! We signed up today, and Rapunzel was so excited!
Tinkerbell, Wendy, and Rapunzel in front of our local library

If you have a local library who offers a summer program (many of them do), I’d strongly recommend signing your kids up.  Our library system rewards the children based on the number of minutes read.  I enjoy this method better than number of books read only because it’s more fair to children of different ages.  Either way, it’s a great way to keep the kids’ learning throughout the summer.  It’s a known fact that many children lose much of what they learned during the school year throughout the summer.  Reading throughout the summer will help keep them from losing this knowledge and give them a boost for the next school year.

Our summer park program is offered in collaboration with the library program.  Check with your local library or your community’s recreation commission.  Last year was the first year our family did this, and we enjoyed it immensely.  Unfortunately Tinkerbell was somewhat of a pain to walk with, but we all got our exercise and were able to check out our local parks in the process.

After receiving our booklets today, I mapped out our route for the summer.
parkprogram2012

Last year, Tinkerbell won a camping package for completing all of the rubbings at each of the parks.  She wasn’t so thrilled when she saw it, but when we got home she thought it was the best thing since chocolate milk!  I hope we win again this year!

We’ve already logged ten minutes today (it doesn’t sound like much, but we were at a party all evening), and our first day of the parks will be next Tuesday, when the kids are finally out of school.

Does your community offer a library and/or park program?  What does it offer and how do you like it?

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

I have to admit–earlier this week, I was seriously thinking about quitting the blog thing.  I’m just not happy with my numbers–no non-spam comments, small number of views, etc.  The problem with that is that I’m not in the habit of quitting things easily.  I never have been.  Well some things.  Some things I quit pretty easily–like dieting.  Exercising.  Okay scratch that, maybe I quit about half of the things in my life, but that’s not the point.

Getting something started is even more difficult than keeping it going, though.  There are always those excuses running through my head: “I can’t, because I don’t have time.  I don’t have the money.  I don’t have the energy.  I’m not smart enough, beautiful enough…”  The list could go on forever.  You get the gist.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought I should just give up Thirty-One, because I don’t have the sales I want.  Heck sometimes I want to quit parenting.  (Who doesn’t?)

At the end of the day, the best laid plans don’t always work out.  For instance, I lay out my schedule all nice and neat at the beginning of the week, but here I am on Thursday evening, and I haven’t put much work into my blog, I haven’t booked nearly enough parties or talked enough about recruiting.  I haven’t done enough work for the church, and I haven’t done my filing.  Or the ironing.  Or finishing the laundry in general.

But that’s because I have two kids with ear infections.  And one got bitten by the dog yesterday when she shut him in our teeny tiny bathroom (who wouldn’t be claustrophobic in there with the door closed???)…so one thing leads to another, and I’ve lost countless hours of time that I could have been doing “more important things”.

Instead, I was a parent.  I sat with my little girl in the Emergency Room, stroked her hair, cleaned her wounds, gave her medicine, researched earache remedies (again), took temperatures, and got up in the middle of the night to snuggle.

So I suppose at the end of the day, it’s okay that I missed out on my business opportunities, my clean house, etc.  Because I got to spend some much-needed time with my kids.  There are so many more children out there who need that.

And the Bride Wore White: Review and Giveaway

And the Bride Wore White book cover

Today, over at MODSquad (Mothers of Daughters–that’s me!), Tracie has posted a review of Dannah Gresh’s And the Bride Wore White, a book that discusses the why of sexual purity–a topic that girls today desperately need to understand.  And something I wish I had known when I was a teenager.

Check out the review and enter to win a free copy of the book!  Follow this link: And the Bride Wore White Review and Giveaway

Too Early to Think About Summer? I Don’t Think So…

Child Lying in a Tent

A few weeks ago, I received an email from our church conference about upcoming summer church camps.  I was so excited, and I couldn’t wait to plan!  More recently, we have been receiving snippets from the school and hearing about other camps in the area.

Believe it or not, it’s time to plan for summer camps.  Camps book quickly, so in order to ensure

you’re spot, you need to sign up early.  Not to mention early-bird discounts.

Rapunzel and I are planning on attending Mommy & Me camp again this year; Cinderella and Wendy have a certain camp in mind that they would like to attend as well.  Tinkerbell is still too young.  That’s great and all, but Mommy & Me camp is only a weekend-getaway.  That means I still have three months to plan out.  Thankfully I am partially at home now, so I don’t have to worry about childcare.  But it creates the problem that I need to find things for these kids to do.  I just can’t stand the thought of them Facebooking and watching TV and playing on the computer for three months.  Talk about frying your brain.

One thing I know we are definitely going to do this summer is participate in our local library’s reading and outdoor program.  Last year, Tinkerbell won a camping set for completing the outdoor program, and two of our other daughters won items as well for their reading.  Plus it kept them busy and active for most of the summer and provided some quality time for us.

I do have some printables set out in a binder for the times that I’m in the office with all four kids.  Here are some of the resources I use for my printables:

I also keep up with Money Saving Mom, who is always posting links to free or discounted printables and activities.

I’m also considering signing the young ones up for a one-week theatre camp if we can afford a scholarship and finding a cheap swimming class in the area for Rapunzel.  She is six, and I’d really feel much more comfortable if she learned how to swim.  I was around her age when I had swimming lessons.

Outside of that, I’m a little stuck.  I came up with a few activities, but I doubt they’ll keep us entertained all summer.  Here’s what I have:

  • Learn about the family history
  • Do a craft, crochet, knit (this isn’t much trouble for Cinderella)
  • Make a collage
  • Color
  • Play with Play Dough
  • Play with Chalk
  • Put together puzzles
  • Word and number puzzles (Sudoku, word finds, crosswords)
  • Play a board game
  • Play cards
  • Do a scavenger hunt
  • Volunteer at a local agency/home
  • Work for extra money
  • Come up with a charity idea or an event, plan it, and carry it out

What do you do with your kids for the summer?  What is the best activity you’ve ever done?