Pom Pom Press Fine Motor Activity

I have two littles, ages 1 and 3, who area both working on fine motor skills in different ways. I created this simple, low-prep DIY fine motor activity to put on our learning rotation and thought I’d share it here!

This activity is great for toddlers of any age – just be sure to watch diligently if you’ve got kids that likes to put toys/objects in their mouth. πŸ™‚

Easy DIY Pom Pom Press Activity

Here’s what you need:

  • 1-2 dozen large craft pom poms, varying colors
  • a small canister with an easy close lid, like a recycled oatmeal or baby formula jar
  • scissors

Remove the label from the jar (or cover and decorate if you like).

Remove the lid. Cut two small lines in the center of the lid perpendicular to each other in an X shape, just wide enough for one pom pom to fit through to the other side.

Lid with an “X” cut

Place lid back on the jar, and it’s ready to go!

My 3 year old loves sorting by both color and size before he places them into the jar. One time I gave him a toddler safe marker to use as a tool to help press the pom poms down into the jar. He also loves filling the jar completely up and shaking it to hear how it sounds!

My 1 year old pretty much enjoys putting the large pom poms into the jar without a lid, and then putting the lid on and taking it off again to dump out the contents.

So easy!

Wondering what the learning benefits are?

The pom pom press builds:

  • spacial awareness
  • creative and critical thinking
  • object permanence
  • math and sorting skills
  • fine motor skills

Want more large/gross motor skill development ideas? Check this one out!

This activity is great for toddlers of any age – just be sure to watch diligently if you’ve got one that likes to put toys/objects in their mouth. πŸ™‚

Kayaking, Granola and Obedience

My husband and I had the amazing opportunity to go kayaking this weekend at a nearby lake.

We had been looking forward to this outing for several days and our excitement to have a bit of an adventure sans kids shone through our mutually silly and grinning faces. I love kayaking, but it had been over a decade since I last set either of my feet inside a kayak. The Midwest wind was crazy and the waves were more than choppy as we parked the truck and unloaded the kayaks onto the sand.

Despite my excitement, I felt a bit uncertain. Thoughts of the boat tipping and water snakes and fish biting at my ankles filled my head. Even though I had some experience, I was still nervous. Even though I knew my husband would bail me out of the murky lake water if I tipped, my heart beat a little faster as we pushed off from the shore.

Still I knew this was the outing I’d been waiting for, and couldn’t wait to push off into the water. I simply hoped and trusted it would all turn out fun, whatever happened.

Sure enough, after even a few minutes every shred of my nervousness dissipated into the thrill of seeing what was around the next bend. Of course with the wind, the arm workout was almost more than I could handle by the end, but when we finally hit a stopping point I felt completely differently than I had when we set out an hour before.

Words like exhilarated, peaceful, and free rolled around my head. And as I watched the yellow late-September leaves tumble onto the lakeshore from the trees above I realized that I was so glad I decided to do the thing that made me nervous at the beginning.

Is God speaking to your soul this week about something that you know is good and right, but has you just a bit freaked out? Have you heard Him gently tapping on your heart about that one thing you’ve thought a million times about doing, but keep pushing it aside?

So many times I’ve felt that clammy-hand, racing-heart gut feeling that says, I should do it…I think I could…No, way… I couldn’t…but I should…I really should.

God speaks in so many different ways, but for me, when there’s something I know I should do – but fear or worry or pride keeps me from doing it – that awful gut feeling only worsens. Until I obey.

One time – honestly, my Bible study friends can attest to this! – the task was as simple as making a couple of quarts of granola for a neighbor. For some reason I was terrified. I didn’t know her at all, but knew she recently had a significant loss in her life…

Would I be offending her if I just showed up on her porch? What if she’s allergic to an ingredient in my granola? Should I make something entirely different? Would she be too sad (or simply worried) to even open the door to a stranger? What would the other neighbors think? Should I be making granola for everyone?? Those are some of my honest thoughts, but I knew deep down that truly they were also terrible excuses. God had laid her on my heart for a reason and when I confessed this to my Bible study girls, they stated so matter-of-factly, just do it!

And it really was that simple. Those words: freedom, exhilaration, peace – rolled around in my head the same way they did this weekend at the lake.

I don’t know how God speaks to you when he wants you to obey. Maybe in a whisper when your open window catches the breeze. Maybe in a song on the radio. Maybe with heart-pounding gut feelings that say just do it.

Can I tell you a secret? Today it was THIS post. (That’s why it’s going live so late!)

Whatever that thing is this week, I’m praying both you and I will have the guts to say yes. To hear his call. To obey again. And again.

I know we won’t regret it.

β€œDo not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James 1:22

β€œTherefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Matthew 7:24

Autumn Teatime Poetry Inspiration

Fall is officially here and with school well underway, my kids wasted no time in asking if we could conduct a teatime poetry, one of their favorite school pastimes.

We love teatime poetry, and in the past it has taken a lot of work on my end – setting a table, selecting the readings, creating the goodies and making the tea, etc. But this time, I wanted the children to really take ownership of it. It was, after all, their request!

This morning I told the kids that their assignment for the morning was to:

  • Make the food from start to finish (with adult supervision/aid)
  • Plate the goodies
  • Help make the spiced apple cider (which was our tea for the event)
  • Set the table, including a tablecloth and a centerpiece
  • Help choose the poems and books to read from
  • Help read the poems
  • Use their best manners
  • Help with cleanup

They honestly did a fabulous job, and I’m so glad I documented so I could share here what they came up with!

So what did Mom do? Here’s my rough list:

  • Choose baby’s teatime snack (mostly Cheerios)
  • Help select poetry and read
  • Provide the recipe for cookies and monitor baking/food prep
  • Help clean up!

The work this time was so much more minimal for me, and I’m thrilled the kids wanted to take such a big part in our teatime poetry! They immediately asked if we could have it once a week. I’ve been hesitant before, but now I’m ready for another one soon!

Okay, enough with the teatime duties. Here’s the details on what we used and loved for our Autumn Themed Teatime Poetry!

Books and Selected Poems:

Red Are the Apples by Wade Zahare
Wonderfall by Michael Hall
Tiny, Perfect Things by M. H. Clark
Fall Leaves Fall! by Zoe Hall
Grasshoppers by Paul Fleischman, Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
Honeybees by Paul Fleischman, Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

Teatime Food Ideas:

All these choices are kid-friendly, caffeine free, and can be converted easily for allergen friendly necessities.

Other Inspiration:

  • Utilize an autumn-themed radio station or playlist on youtube or spotify to set the mood. We love this one!
  • Bring out a few kid-friendly, fall decorations (battery operated candles, candy dishes, colorful cloth napkins, etc.) and allow the kids to pick what goes on the table and where.
  • Use the real dishes! It helps littles with fine motor control and also teaches the value of being careful. Of course, use your own discretion and judgment. πŸ™‚
  • Let the kids do as much of the preparation as possible. Take the whole morning! (I’m totally giving you permission to skip the subraction flashcards if you need it.) It really amplifies their enjoyment of the process, gives them a varied learning environment, and eases your workload, too!
  • Get outside if you want to! We opted for our kitchen nook – right near south facing, open windows since it was pretty dewy and wet outside still. Also, our tiny one year old likes to chew every stick in sight.

For a quick video of their adorable setup, visit my Instagram stories and request follow today! Or you can check out my Facebook here. πŸ™‚

We hope you found some exciting fall inspiration to create your own special teatime poetry session this season. If you loved this post, please share or visit here and here for more ideas on homeschooling and fresh recipes!

Illumine

I was reading through some poetry last night and these words made me catch my breath. I think I’ve heard them before somewhere… The context, the author, and any extra thoughts about it escaped me though. I read it again. What a notion…to request from God himself to illuminate all that is dark within my soul!

Lord knows there’s a lot of it. Darkness so deep I can’t even begin to see where it starts and ends.

And that is why I need Christ.

Because he sees my heart, and knows all the dark corners that I have neglected, refused to see, and have even been hiding from — subconsciously or otherwise.

It’s radical. It’s a revolutionary – or no, maybe just plain scary – idea to ask in vulnerability for the Creator of Light to take a Holy lantern to every cobweb of our souls.

Photo by Highland Magazine on Unsplash

John Milton’s words are tough to swallow, and an even harder prayer to pray. Buried deep within me are the faults I don’t even want to admit to myself, much less my family or Bible study group or even best friends . The little lies and fears I end up believing deep in my soul. The anxiety and shame I allow myself to dwell on. The hurtful comments and judgmental attitudes of my heart. How could I possibly let go of all that to someone Who could expose it all?

What is dark in me, illumine.

-John Milton, Paradise Lost

But then, maybe if I surrendered…and allowed Jesus to step into the dark recesses of my heart, I’d feel a bit brighter. A bit less burdened. Maybe it would be easier to breathe and move and live.

If I choose this morning to come defenseless to the throne of God, I can trust in his mercy. I can rely on His grace. Those blankets of darkness – anger, anxiety, hurt, fear, regret – can dissipate into nothing if only I allow Jesus to pour out his grace-light upon them. And instead of that darkness, pure white radiance would flow into those corners instead.

It would flow into and across and over and pretty soon, the whole of my soul would be illuminated with Him.

And that is exactly what I desire.

More of Him. Less of me.

My prayer today – as terrifying as it is – echoes Milton. The vulnerability is worth it when you can trust your life with the Creator.

 What is dark in me, dear Jesus, illumine.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

Blessings,

Fall Homeschool Bucket List

Not a fan of the traditional pumpkin patch this year? With fall just around the corner, I’ve compiled a list of unique and social-distancing-friendly autumn activities for homeschooling families!

Grab a pen and jot a few down, or print the entire page for your fridge or bulletin board down below!

*Not an affiliate link post. I do have some links included, but only because I simply love the products/blogs. No product promos here. πŸ™‚

Find the printable PDF at the bottom of this post!

After being cooped up for more of the summer than we wanted, our fam was MORE than ready to get out and explore. Now that the weather is cooler, we’re even more ready! Here are some of the things we’re hoping to do before autumn comes to a close:

  1. Finish an Apple Unit Study and go apple picking at a local orchard.
    – We used this curriculum for our mini unit study, and this amazing book to go along with it. Even my youngest and squirreliest learners were into it!
  2. Hunt for, label and sketch different types of leaves.
    – Use an entire morning for this! Head to your local walking path, nature trail, lake, or backyard to find your leaves. For my preschooler, I set out kid-safe scissors and glue and let him cut and glue leaves to his nature journal.
  3. Use Map Skills to Explore a New Place
    – You could use nature trail or state parks near you (be sure to grab a map at the visitor information center!), print one off from your own city, or older kids could create your own!
  4. Try Your Hand at Fall-Scented Candle Making
    – I am personally in love with this idea. While it might work better for older children, I’ll probably try this one during nap time. πŸ™‚ I’m trying this pin first!
  5. Conduct a Bird or Plant Nature Study
    – It’s fall!! So think of migratory birds (like Canadian Geese) or fall harvest crops (like corn or maize).
  6. Make Apple or Pumpkin Scented Play Dough
    – A family favorite here. Here’s our favorite recipe!
  7. Read Aloud Outside
    – Our top favorite fall read alouds are Charlotte’s Web, the Boxcar Children Series, and any of the Magic Treehouse Series.
  8. Build an Outdoor Fort, Tent or Teepee
    – This may require some hunting for materials before, but why not include that in the school day? Gathering materials and building promotes scientific and artistic creativity!
  9. Make a Thankful Pumpkin or Tree
    – See some examples here and here!
  10. Bake with Local Produce
    – Need some ideas for a jumpstart? Try our Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie or Spiced Carrot Cake Scones!
  11. Create a Farmer’s Market Dramatic Play Area
    – This one’s more for younger kids, but my older child loves it, too. Maybe the big kids can even create something to actually sell at a real local farmer’s market!
  12. Print and Color a Gratitude Journal Page
    – Here’s an adorable open-ended one (and it’s free!)

With those cooler breezes, you can bet on finding us outdoors as much as possible, checking these off one by one. Even as I type, I’m still dreaming up more I’d love for us to do! Must be the kid-at-heart in me. Hopefully they’ve inspired kid-at-heart in you as well.

Happy Fall!

Want to print this Fall Homeschool Bucket List off? Click the green button below!

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