Our Jesse Tree Ornaments

We had our swap on November 23rd, 2013 and it was a success!  The mom’s loved it and had an enjoyable evening out.  We all came home with 25 unique and beautiful handmade ornaments!  We even made 3 ornaments at the swap and that was perfect.  It gave our hands something to do while we talked.  I would definitely repeat that for a future small swap.  My children had a blast when they found the bag of Jesse Tree ornaments the next morning.  I’m very excited to share with them the Bible story with coordinating ornament each day in December.  Thank you crafty mamas for signing up and for a wonderful evening of chatting and friendship!

JesseTree1JesseTree JesseTree2 JesseTree3 JesseTree4 Baby Jesus Jesse Tree Ornament Joseph's Jesse Tree Ornament

Baby Jesus                                                     Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors

JesseTree8 JesseTree5 JesseTree11

Abraham’s camel and tent            Ruth’s wheat and heart            Jonah and the fish

JesseTree9 JesseTree10

Samuel’s Oil Lamp                                              Jesse Tree

JesseTree12 JesseTree13

Jesse Stump and Elijah’s Altar                       Grapes of Canaan

JesseTree14 JesseTree15

First Sin Apples                                    Announcement of the Gentle Shepherd Sheep

JesseTree16 JesseTree17

Noah’s Ark Rainbow Cloud                                  Jacob’s Ladder

JesseTree20 JesseTree18 JesseTree22

Creation’s Globe              Bethlehem Silhouette               Josiah Finding the Law

JesseTree19 JesseTree21

Isaac’s Bundle of Sticks                                      Moses Burning Bush

JesseTree23 JesseTree24

David’s Sling Shot                            Solomon’s Crown

JesseTree25 JesseTree26

Habakkuk Watch Tower                          Isaiah’s Tongs with Hot Coal

JesseTree27 JesseTree28 JesseTree29 JesseTree30 JesseTree31

Jesse Tree Ornament Swap

Sign Up Information for this swap is at the bottom of this post. Deadline to sign up is 10pm on Friday, November 11th, 2013.

I’ve been looking at advent calendars for the past couple years.  I’ve been trying to figure out if I wanted to make one or buy one and what was most important to our family in a Christmas advent calendar.  During my search on pinterest I came across these beautiful ornaments sold on Etsy.  They were a collection of Jesse Tree ornaments.  I immediately loved the idea.  My plan is to make something to hold the ornaments and then each day of advent our family will discuss the ornament meaning and hang it on our Christmas tree.  It will be a fun activity for our children and a wonderful reminder from lessons we learned all year.

What is a Jesse Tree?

“The Jesse Tree is named from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots.”  It is a vehicle to tell the Story of God in the Old Testament, and to connect the Advent Season with the faithfulness of God across 4,000 years of history. The Branch is a biblical sign of newness out of discouragement, which became a way to talk about the expected messiah (for example, Jer 23:5). It is therefore an appropriate symbol of Jesus the Christ, who is the revelation of the grace and faithfulness of God.”  Source

What are the Daily Themes?

There are several different versions of Jesse Tree daily themes and readings.  One version is in the chart found at this link.  Another version is available in a pdf booklet you can print from Ann Voskamp.  There is also a booklet from the Inspired Traditions Etsy ornaments that I initially found.  At the end of this post are several ideas for the days of advent and suggestions for what to do for an ornament.  The sign up list for the ladies night Jesse Tree ornament swap on November 23rd, 2013 at 7pm hosted in Lee’s Summit, Missouri is listed at the bottom of this post as well.

Samples of Jesse Tree ornaments:

Of course there are tons of ideas on Pinterest but here are a few examples I compiled that I really like the quality of.  Handmade ornaments don’t have to cost very much.  Quality ornaments are the ones that the creator spent time and put lots of love and detail into.

The stump below is personalized with the family’s name.  Very neat.  And the lion and the lamb are on reverse sides of the same ornament representing the peace between lion and lamb.  Cool!

jessetree3jessetree jessetree1 jessetree2  

Jesse Tree Ornament Swap Sign Up!

Join us for a Ladies Night!  Bring a snack or dessert to share, your ornaments in a container, and your wonderful self!  We will swap ornaments in the Lee’s Summit area(TBD) on November 23rd at 7pm.  Message me on Facebook or comment on this blog post to join in the fun!  We need 12 people to sign up and we will each make 12 of 2 different ornaments.  Please tell me your first and second choice when signing up.  The ornament options are listed below.  If the options are crossed out someone has already selected it.  If you have a great idea that isn’t listed here please let me know and I will add it or sign you up for it.  😉

Jesse Tree-Tree, Creation-Globe or Dove, First Sin- Apple Tree or Snake on Apple, Noah-Ark or Rainbow, Abraham- Tent or Camel, Isaac-Ram or Altar or Bundle of Logs, Jacob-Ladder, Joseph-Grain or Coat, Moses-Burning Bush or Staff or Lamb or 10 Commandments, Canaan-Grapes, Ruth-Wheat, Joshua-Horn or Wall, Samuel-Heart or Oil Lamp, David-Shepherd Staff or Lamb or Sling Shot or Harp, Solomon-Crown, Elijah-Altar or Pillar of Fire, Jesse Stump-Stump with Leaf, Daniel-Lion, Jonah-Whale, Bethlehem- City Silhouette with Stars, Esther-Scepter, Josiah-Scroll, Isaiah-Tongs with Hot Coal, Habakkuk-Watch Tower, Elizabeth & Zachariah- Couple or Tablet with Chalk, John-Shell, Mary-Lilly, Joseph-Tools, Travel-Sandals or Donkey, Announcement-Angels or Sheep, Birth of Jesus-Star or Baby Jesus or Manger

Group One

  1. Abraham-Camel: Brookie-Lee(1st Choice)
  2. First Sin-Apple: Brookie-Lee(2nd Choice)
  3. Noah- : Morgan J. (1st Choice)
  4. Announcement-Lamb: Morgan J. (2nd Choice)
  5. Joseph-Coat of Many Colors: Julie G. (1st Choice)
  6. Moses-Burning Bush: Julie G. (2nd Choice)
  7. David-Sling Shot: Amber A. (1st Choice)
  8. Josiah-Note in Bulb: Amber A. (2nd Choice)
  9. Elijah- : Heather B.
  10. Jesse-Stump: Heather B.
  11. Isaac-Bundle of Logs: Rebecca G.
  12. Bethlehem-Silhouette & Stars: Rebecca G.
  13. Creation: Jennifer J (1st Choice)
  14. Jacob: Jennifer J. (2nd Choice)
  15. Jesse Tree-Tree: Melanie D. (1st Choice)
  16. Samuel-Oil Lamp: Melanie D. (2nd Choice)
  17. Solomon-Crown: Teri P. (1st Choice)
  18. Birth of Jesus-Baby Jesus: Teri P. (2nd Choice)
  19. Habakkuk-Watch Tower: Joni R. (1st Choice)
  20. Isaiah-Tongs with Hot Coal: Joni R. (2nd Choice)
  21. Ruth-Wheat: Brookie-Lee(3rd Choice)
  22. Jonah-Large Fish: Brookie-Lee(4th Choice)
  23. John-Shell: GROUP
  24. Canaan-Grapes: GROUP
  25. Joshua-Wall: GROUP

Does Common Core Affect Missouri Homeschoolers?

Common Core State Standards as Defined in Missouri:

“The standards:

  • Establish consistent learning goals for all students – regardless of where they live.
  • Provide a clear roadmap of academic expectations at each grade level.
  • Are relevant to the real world and prepare students for post-secondary education and a globally competitive workforce.
  • Were developed by a diverse team of educators, researchers and parents from across the country‒including Missouri‒to be academically rigorous, attainable for students, and practical for teachers and districts.

The New English Language Arts Standards

Shifts in the new English language arts standards include:

  • Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction and information texts, in addition to literature.
  • Reading and writing grounded in evidence from the text.
  • Regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary.

The New Math Standards

Shifts in the new math standards include:

  • Focus: deeper learning in two to four areas at each grade level.
  • Coherence: concepts logically connected from one grade to the next and linked to other major topics at each grade level.
  • Rigor: fluency with arithmetic, application of knowledge to real world situations and a deep understanding of mathematical concepts.”  dese.mo.gov

How Common Core Standards Affect Missouri Homeschooling:

Books globe and glasses

“45 states–including Missouri–took the bait, gave
up the right to choose what their children would learn, and promised
to create a system that would require all public children to learn
exactly the same things.

This could affect homeschoolers profoundly if it is not stopped.
College admissions tests are already changing to submit to Common
Core. The ability to enter college or get a scholarship could one day
depend on having learned the Common Core. Getting a job or getting
into the military could one day depend on learning the Common Core.
Even some homeschool curriculum providers have announced that their
books comply with Common Core!

Once all public school children are learning exactly the same things
nationwide, the path is laid to force private schools and homeschools
to comply. After all, why should some non-conformists be allowed to
teach their kids anything they want when “everyone” is learning Common
Core? It is not unthinkable that your freedom to teach your children
what you know they should learn could vanish–or it could be penalized
beyond anything we might now imagine.

The federalization of education content would be a huge step toward
turning the clock back and ending homeschool freedom.”  HSLDA

Section 3 of the Missouri Homeschool Law:

“3. Nothing in this section shall require a private, parochial, parish or home school to include in its curriculum any concept, topic, or practice in conflict with the school’s religious doctrines or to exclude from its curriculum any concept, topic, or practice consistent with the school’s religious doctrines. Any other provision of the law to the contrary notwithstanding, all departments or agencies of the state of Missouri shall be prohibited from dictating through rule, regulation or other device any statewide curriculum for private, parochial, parish or home schools. “ FHE-MO

Brookie-Lee’s Perspective:

I’m glad to know that it’s currently illegal for the state of Missouri to tell me what set of standards(Common Core) or curriculum to use in homeschooling my children.  The freedom to teach my children based on our beliefs, learning styles, and each individual student’s pace is imperative to education.  We switched math programs to find one that worked better for us.  We picked our history based on it’s broad inclusion of events, peoples, and biblical history.  Our Language Arts is a combination of many different curriculum and materials to ensure the depth of learning.  We are teaching in an environment and with materials that we believe in.  Curriculum that we are confident will educate our children thoroughly despite any lack of education we ourselves may have.

I am confident in the schooling we are doing and am not currently concerned about the SATs.  We will fully educate our children, and unless the SATs turn into tests on presidential memos, I’m sure our children will know what they need to in order to score well.  As a concerned, involved parent I will keep my eye on the progress of public education in America.  Adjusting our own course as we see necessary.  While I don’t see higher education as a necessity to success, I believe that everyone should have the choice to choose that path. I have a stronger belief in entrepreneurship and real life to teach true and useful knowledge.  But CHOICE and the FREEDOM to choose is what made this country great.  And we will teach our children and supply them with all they need to have those choices open and available to them.  Apprenticeship, Business, College, Government, Family, Travel.  The world will be available to them because we aren’t limiting them to “post-secondary education and a globally competitive workforce.

One of the things we emphasize is doing what you love.  We’ve discovered in our own journey’s for happiness that doing work you love is imperative.  Helping our children discover their gifts and talents and making a living at it is our goal for the next three decades.  Passion for what you do makes all the difference in the world for having a happy life.  My husband loves to design and now works for a successful solar company that he helped grow to what it is now.  His love for his job and his satisfaction for what he’s contributing to the world is a wonderful example to our children.  We hope to find each child’s passion and talent as we homeschool.  Devoting more time on areas where passion shows.  Allowing the child to blossom and become an expert by the time they are old enough to go out into the world.  Thankfully there is not a law or set of curriculum that will limit us from doing that.

My Own 4-day Homeschool Planner

Last year I recorded all of our daily work in a planner I purchased from Mardel’s.  It was pretty and had Bible Scriptures, perforated shopping lists, goal pages, etc, etc.  By the end of the year there was a huge section of it that I just didn’t use.  A lot of fluff that I just didn’t need.  I looked at the other options at Mardel’s this year and nothing was really perfect for having two children to record for.  They aren’t learning the same things and I needed the right amount of space for each.  And we only homeschool four days a week since we attend an enrichment program on Tuesdays.  So I created my own.  It’s very plain but it is exactly what I needed and I’m excited about it.  I put it in a three ring binder for now.  I’m going to test it out this year and make any changes I need to pages as we go.  For next year I will spiral bind it.  I just printed a simple cover page with a picture of our family and the year.  Included a two year calendar that lists the holiday dates.  Then the log sheets and the weekly planner pages.  I write down daily what we’ve accomplished and do not write down for the future.  I find the future never goes as planned so I plan for that.  ;D  This is super simple but it’s clean and clear.  I hope you find this helpful.

Click images below to open excel and word files to create your own planner!

2013-14 cover  Two Year in a Page Log2013-2014Click on image below to open a generic excel file where you can fill in your own subjects/curriculum in the left column.  Notice I have all my core subjects toward the top and all the non-core subjects after.  To leave room for my 3-ring hole punch my excel sheet margins are top/bottom: .5, left: .75, right: .25, header:.15, footer: .0


2013-2014 Curriculum

We attended the Midwest Parent Educators conference and curriculum expo this past spring and got all our supplies and curriculum for next school year.  We purchase mostly from Rainbow Resource because they have the lowest prices but we got some things like our Math-U-See program direct from their booth at a show discount.  It’s a great place to look at the different curriculum that are successful on the market.  We are all set to go and we are spending any down time this summer finishing up the last few chapters in our 2012-2013 curriculum.

Zavien, 3rd Grade

  • Grammar: First Language Lessons II…  this is a short lesson that uses repetition in a constructive and non-monotonous way.  We’ve both enjoyed it and he retains it.
  • Writing: Writing with Ease IIthis is also a short lesson but you have to be engaged the whole lesson to make sure the child is writing correctly.  This is when I’m the most strict with writing.  Cursive Without Tearswe did one lesson of cursive last year and it was a disaster so I decided to wait until 3rd grade.  My son is young for this grade so we are a little behind in some subjects(cursive) and right on target with other subjects(math).
  • Spelling: Phonics for Reading & Spelling (spelling)… this is a good program and works best with consistency.  I’ve considered Explode the Code as an alternative as well.
  • Literature:  Classical House of Learning/Grammar Stage/Middle Ages.. my son loves to be read to and to draw.  This is a great program that ties into our history lesson too.
  • Reading: McGuffey Readersgreat classic curriculum to reinforce reading skills.  Christian Lighthouse Education Reading (readers and workbook)… I really like these readers as it teaches good character along with reading.  I got the workbooks to help with comprehension but it’s been less about comprehension and more about reading skills.
  • Math: Math-U-See Gammawe love this program and the boys really thrived on it last year.  It’s a very hands on program and teaches in sequence.
  • History: Story of the World IIthis is a great program that my son loves to listen to.  He will sit and listen to the audio while coloring and I will ask him the workbook questions to make sure he was listening.  Then we do map work and take the test.  We don’t get into the projects much due to time but we try to do some of the literature suggestions and encyclopedia reading.
  • Science: Apologia Zoology 1 & 2…. we did Zoology 3 last year and will be going back to do 1 & 2.  The children really enjoying learning about the animals.
  • Religion: Bible Storieswe read a chapter at bedtime and it’s been great for all of us.  Mom included.  Getting through the Old Testament is easy with these Children’s Bible Stories.
  • Art & Art History: Artistic Pursuitsmy son loved the few lessons we had time for last year.  I’m going to try harder to do a lesson at least once a week this next school year.  We do plenty of non directed arts and crafts at our house but this program teaches art history along with technique and I really need to buckle down and work it into our week better.
  • Music & Music History: Lives of the Musiciansthis book is so fun.  We read a short bit on the musician, I will play the music over the month, and we read books from the library about the musician.  Piano Lessonswe take lessons with Michelle Sherer and it’s been great.  It’s so fun to see them at their recitals.  Voice Lessonswe take lessons with Havilah Bruder and we saw a drastic improvement in our older son’s singing in church.

He also will be doing soccer in the fall & spring, DHA 1 day a week, and Trail Life.

Jaxon, 1st Grade

  • Grammar: First Language Lessons I
  • Writing: Writing with Ease I
  • Spelling: Phonics for Reading & Spelling (phonograms, writing, & spelling)
  • Literature: Classical House of Learning/Grammar Stage/Middle Ages
  • Reading: McGuffey Readers & Christian Lighthouse Education Reading(readers)
  • Math: Math-U-See Beta
  • History: Story of the World II
  • Science: Apologia Science Zoology 1 & 2
  • Religion: Bible Stories
  • Music: Piano lessons, Voice Lessons

He also will be doing soccer in the fall & spring, DHA 1 day a week, and Trail Life.

Tylea, Preschool

  • Reading: Phonogram cards, Discover the Code series
  • Math: Math-U-See Primer
  • Writing: tracing over letters and numbers with dry erasers
  • Enrichment: Busy Bags!
  • Music: Piano lessons

She also takes ballet during the school year and loves that.

Vaylee, Toddlerdom

  • Busy Bags!  We have like 50 different busy bags that I can turn to and entertain my little one.  I love it!


Supplement Resources:Homeschool Library

Weekly Enrichment Program: Discovery Homeschool Academy(DHA)- homeschool enrichment one day a week.  All the fun classes that you liked in public school: PE, Art, Music, Spanish, Science, Social Studies.  We have class parties, field day, grandparents day, field trips and other fun activities with the fellowship of other homeschool families.  They also have homeschool 101 classes for parents that were great.

Annual Trip to Mini Town: My children loved this program.  They got to experience being a consumer and Z also experienced being a producer.  So much fun and great learning!  I will be helping run the program this next year and I’m very excited!

Homeschool Support:  I really enjoy The Well Trained Mind forum online and the book has been so helpful in navigating available curriculum.  I also attend the Lee’s Summit Home Educators monthly meetings when I can and have found great information there.

Read Them to Sleep- Giveaway!


Recent trip to my grandparent’s farm this is how Jax and Vay fell asleep when I was reading to them.

We use to have a hard time at bedtime.  The boys would talk and keep each other up or get out of bed to play, they’d use the bathroom several times, complain that they were hungry, anything they could not to sleep.  My daughter won’t go to sleep by herself even though she sleeps in the same room as her brothers(for now).  We use to get frustrated and bedtime was a stressful time.  Then we decided to implement a bedtime routine.  When it’s bedtime we have them brush their teeth and get jammies on and then we ask four basic questions:

  • Are you hungry?
  • Do you need to go pee?
  • Do you need to go poo?
  • Do you have your water bottle?

Hp7Then we head up to their room.  We read our science and any school literature, then we do our Bible story readings(we have 3 different age levels we read too for Bible), then we say our prayers.  We finish the routine by reading a novel.  We started with The Magic Tree House Series, read some My Book House, and Grimm’s Tales, then the first few Harry Potter books, followed that with the complete Little House on the Prairie series, and now we are about to get back to finish the Harry Potter series.  My boys love for me to read to them, and my daughter gently drifts off to sleep listening to her mama’s voice.  It’s a very calm way to end the day.  We all enjoy the reading and it winds things down nicely.  Plus it’s enriching my children and giving them a love of literature.

The Giveaway!

In honor of the upcoming Summer Reading programs at our local libraries I want to share the reading love! I will be giving away a Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows to 1 lucky winner!  We were gifted some extra copies and we want to share! I’ll be mailing the book so you can live anywhere in the continental US to participate!


Subscribe to Win: Amber Teething Necklace

Post Comment Below to Win:
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows

Share with us in a comment below: the age of your child/children, and what literature you have been reading to your child to enter to win: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows! 1 winner will be picked at random and announced on my blog and facebook page. Thank you for participating and sharing with us!

Mini Town!

I signed my children up to join my homeschool mom’s group(LSHE) field trip to Mini Town(BSSE)!  I took Z in for a 3 hour session of planning his shop with his team and then a week later Kev and I took the four children to shop & sell!  My three youngest were consumers and my oldest son was a producer and consumer.  They had a blast and I think it’s great that we can sign up for this annually(public school does it once per child)!  I was asked to be an apprentice next year and learn to take the ropes for future trips!  How fun!  This was a great math credit day but also taught a lot of lessons to consumers and producers alike!

Valentine’s Fun

Valentines is so much fun for my kids.  They each made boxes to hold their cards.  Tylea handed out her cards at her ballet class which was so cute.  The boys had parties at their enrichment program on the 12th.  I love that even though we homeschool they get to have Valentine’s Day parties and they aren’t missing out on anything.  Daddy came home with roses today for each child and a bouquet for mommy.  We are celebrating a day early so that we don’t have to be out with the masses of people on the 14th. We will be giving the children their Valentine’s tomorrow morning.  😀  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

The Busy Bag Swap Was Awesome!

We had an amazing time at the swap today!  We swapped over 600 busy bags!  I’d say that’s a big success for a first time swap.  It was really awesome and my girls have some great activities to play with!

Group 1

Jayna: Felt Fishing, Candice: Popsicle stick puzzle, Ali: Color Matching Boxes, Leslie: Paint Chips with Clothes Pins, Shannon: Letter Eggs, Julie G: Felt Build a Rainbow, Michelle: Felt Popsicle Matching, Mary: Homemade Playdough and Toys, Angeliina: Animal Habitat Match Up, Brookie-Lee:  Felt Turkey(not shown, see image down the page)

Group 2

Jennifer: Animal Matching, Johanna G.: Mr. Potato Head, Angela: Felt Pizza, Julie G: Felt Mailbox, Kimberly: Shoe Lace Boards, Megan: Watermelon Picnic (matching numbers 1-10), Caroline: Felt Clothesline, Kylia: Easy Stitch Cards, Brookie-Lee: Felt Ice Cream Patterns(not shown, see image down the page)

Group 3

Caroline: ABC Dry Erase, Nannette: Button Threading, Belinda: Discovery Bottle, Judi: Pipe Cleaners Beading, Angeliina: hot glue shape that you can rub a crayon over and reveal the shape, Johanna G.: Felt Cupcake, Julie M: race car shapes w/ a car for driving plus a dry erase marker for tracing, Julie G: Counting Caterpillar, Megan:  Letter Activity, Brookie-Lee: Cookie Counting(not shown, see image down the page)

Group 4

Belinda: large button multi use game, Johanna G.: Shades of Color, Julie M: Felt Apple Tree, Julie G: Threading on Plastic Shapes, Nannette: Spoon Matching, Johnna A.: Cardboard Stackers, Amber: Fabric Matching Blocks, Leslie: Picture Making Felt Board with Shapes, Kimberly: Button Threading, Brookie-Lee: Fine Motor Popcorn(not shown, see image down the page)

Group 5

Amber: Gel Writing, Ruth: Felt Garden, Adrianne: Stretchy Bands, Kylia: Color Wheel Matching, Shawna: Popsicle Memory, Tami: Pipe Cleaner Magnet Bottle, Julie R: Egg Matching, Julie G: Chalk Board, Jessica H: Milk Cap Numbers with Animal Counting, Brookie-Lee: 3 Letter Spinning Words(not shown, see image down the page)

Group 6

There was a group six but I didn’t participate in that swap.  We opened it up for duplicates and I will post a picture if someone sends me one.  😀

Brookie-Lee’s Bags

The five activities that I made that were included in the groups above(just not when I was taking the photos).  The turkey isn’t done in this photo but you’ve seen the finished product on my other posts.

Group 1: Felt Turkey, Group 2: Felt Ice Cream, Group 3: Cookie Counting, Group 4: Fine Motor Popcorn, Group 5: 3 Letter Spinning Words

Thank You and a Sweet Gift!

I was chatting with a mama and I caught sight of the white board at the front of the room.  There was a thank you note written from the moms and it was so sweet and made me feel great.  One of the mamas brought me a hostess gift which was extremely sweet and Tylea has been playing with it for hours.  Thank you Ali!

This was a great experience and all the children were wonderful and everyone was very understanding when things didn’t go perfectly.  I really enjoyed it and thank you to all the wonderful women who created these fantastic busy bags!

When’s The Next Swap?!

Late Spring/Early Summer!  I’m thinking either May 4th or June 1st.  Both are Saturday’s.  I will have to check with the church but it would be great to do a 10am.  Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog and you’ve liked my facebook page so that you stay updated!

Busy Bags- Giveaway! (Closed)

Everyone wants to know… What is a busy bag? A busy bag is a gallon size plastic bag(or some other container) that holds an activity with instructions for how to do the activity. These activities are usually appropriate for ages 18 months-5 years. You can do them for older children as well. These activities usually do not require mom’s involvement or supervision. It’s an activity that will stimulate the child and keep them busy for a time. There are SO many wonderful ideas out there and there are Busy Bag Swaps popping up all over the country! A swap is where a bunch of mamas make busy bags and then swap them. So for instance I’m making 10 bags with a felt ice cream pattern activity in them. I will be taking these ten bags to a swap on 2/12/13 and giving nine of them away in exchange for nine unique and different activities. So my daughters will have ten different busy bags to try out!

Busy bags can focus on fine motor skills, learning shapes, colors, numbers, letters, matching upper and lower case, counting, to beginning reading, or just for fun.  Ideas range from play-dough, to dress up dolls, to matching word colors to paint colors.  The options are endless.  Think about how much fun our toddlers have after the presents have been opened on Christmas just playing with all the boxes that gifts were in.  Children don’t need a lot to keep them interested.  Just something different that catches their attention.

Interested in Busy Bags?  Host a swap in your area of town!

How to host a busy bag swap-

Pick a Location:  Check with your church, library, or wait for warm weather and go to the park!  Find a location that works for lots of little kids and have access to drinking water and bathrooms.  OR keep it small and have a moms night in and host it at your house!  I’m hosting my first swap at my church.  Late spring I hope to host one at a local park.  And in the heat of the summer I’m think a mom’s night in would be really nice.  😉

Rules and Restrictions:  Decide the top number of people that can be in a group.  I put a cap of ten people per group.  That means that one mom makes the same activity for her bags for ten people.  Which will include herself.  So far we have six groups in our swap.  That’s 60 unique busy bags!  For five of the groups I asked for no duplicate activities.  The sixth group we’ve had several duplicate activities.  That way if the same person signs up for two groups then they won’t have duplicate activities.  You can also decide if you are going to put age restrictions on the groups.  As my kids and the people I know mostly have multiple children I didn’t put an age range restriction.

Who to invite:  One of the great things about social media is how easy it is to connect with other mamas.  First create a facebook event with all the location and time details as well as instructions for what to do.  Then post a link on your facebook profile and invite people to your event.  I also posted on forums that I participate in.  My local homeschool group, parenting group, church group, etc.  Let the moms know if the event is kid friendly or mamas only.  Of course nursing, lap babies are always welcome.  Edit the details of the event to show what activities the moms in each group are making.  You can also keep this list on your blog like I did.  Just somewhere public and try to keep it up to date.

Activity Instructions:  Give instructions for what the activities need to include.  I asked that the activity be placed in a  gallon plastic bag with the group number, the creators name, and the name of the person it’s going to.  Also if the activity requires instructions(for mom) that those be placed inside the bag as well.  If there were a age restriction that could be written on the bag as well.

At the Swap: Setup tables or spread out blankets and place numbers for each group with the names of the people in the group listed on the same page.  I asked each participant to bring a box/basket/tote with their name on it so that it can be placed on that groups table.  I’m in five groups so I will need five boxes with my name on them to place on each group table that I’m participating in.  Then moms mingle, and kids play while we hang out and wait for everyone to show up.  The swap I’m hosting is at noon and we are bringing a sack lunch.  So we will stay and have lunch, see our busy bags, and play with friends.

Be Prepared:  Sometimes moms want to participate and can’t make it to the event.  Be flexible and try to figure out how to underground the exchange.  I’m meeting one mom at homeschool day at our local CoCo Keys indoor water park to get her bags and meeting another mom at my local La Leche League to give her her bags.  Neither activity is out of my way and more mamas are getting to participate.  Hopefully no one is sick or otherwise unable to make the swap but if they miss it, and they didn’t get their bags to me before hand, then the moms at the swap will have extra to swap with each other.  It’s too complicated to try to get the bags to everyone afterward if something wasn’t setup before hand.  Make sure your moms know that this will happen if they miss the swap.  It’s also a good idea to mention if the moms want to make extra to swap outside of a group.

The Giveaway!

In honor of the Busy Bag Swap that I am hosting in Lee’s Summit on February 12th, 2013 I want to share the Busy Bag love!  I will be giving away a busy bag to 3 lucky winners!  I’ll not sure what the bags will be yet.  Probably some from the five activities I’m making for the Feb swap.  I’ll be mailing them so you can live anywhere in the continental US to participate!  My last giveaway winner lived in Michigan!

Subscribe to Win: Amber Teething Necklace

Post Comment Below to Win: Busy Bag

Share with us in a comment below: the age of your child/children, and activities that you have them do to keep them busy while you homeschool/clean/work to enter to win: a Busy Bag!  3 winners will be picked at random and announced March 1st. Thank you for participating and sharing with us!

5/3/13  And the random winners of the Busy Bags are… Coree, Amber, & Nannette!  Thank you to everyone who contributed by sharing with us!

Also this month’s random subscriber winner of the Amber Teething Necklace is… jjbretches!  Congrats and thank you for subscribing to my blog!