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!

Felt Ice Cream Cone Patterns

On February 12th, 2013 I am hosting a busy bag swap at my church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.  I’m super excited.  Already we have moms signed up for four groups!  Each group has ten people.  That’s 40 different busy bags so far!  That is super exciting to me because that means that I will have activities for my two little girls to keep them stimulated and occupied while I teach their older brothers during our homeschool days.

I’m in all four groups so far.  So I need to make four activities x10.  So I better get started.  For one of the groups I’m doing felt ice cream cones with pattern cards.  I found the patterns on this website for the cone and ice scream scoops as well as the pattern cards.  I minimized them to a more realistic and practical size and created this pdf if you would like to use it.  So the planning part was super easy.  I have tons of felt from past Christmas ornament swaps I’ve done so now it’s just cutting, cutting, and more cutting!  😀

Busy Bag Swap in KC area

I am homeschooling my two sons who are in kindergarten and 2nd grade.  Quite often when we are doing our lessons my two little daughters want to join us.  The girls aren’t interested in the lesson but they want to sit with us and do something entertaining.  So right now I get out the counting animals, the dry erase boards, or coloring books.  I’m looking for more activities to stimulate them and keep them occupied while we work.

I’ve heard of busy bags over the past several years, seen them mentioned on social media, and decided to look into them for the girls.  My youngest daughter is 21 months and my older daughter is 3 1/2 years old.  So we need busy bags to get them stimulated and keep them occupied while mom teaches big brothers.  As I was looking online at all the different options for busy bags I realized that having some for my kindergartener would be fantastic too.  He doesn’t spend the whole day in lessons like my 2nd grader and he would love the extra stimulation.

So I put my feelers out on my social media accounts and groups that I’m apart of to see if there was interest and I’m so happy to see that there is.  In the effort to keep things organized I’m going to use my website to post the group(s) and items.  We will be doing a maximum # of people in each group of 10.  If there is enough interest we will do more than one group.  The bags will be exchanged at noon on February 12th in the Lee’s Summit area(TBD).

You’re Invited!

What:  Busy Bag Swap!
Where:  At my church in the Lee’s Summit area off Colbern Road. (I will pm the address to those who sign up.)
When:  Tuesday, February 12th at noon (Bring a sack lunch!)
Who:  Join other mamas looking for activities to help stimulate and occupy their child.
How:  Comment below or facebook me to sign up and let me know what activity you will be creating(check the blog to make sure there aren’t duplicates).  Then create/assemble/hand make an activity that is appropriate for the age range and store it inside of a 1 gallon plastic zip loc bag.  On the bag write in permanent marker: the name of the person in the group, the age range the swap is for, and your name.  Inside the bag include instructions on how your activity is to be used.  Bring a box, basket, or large tote with your name on it for everyone to put your new busy bags in.  (Bring a sack lunch.)  Pinterest has tons of ideas for busy bags.  Here is a link to my Busy Bag board.

Note:  If you don’t make it the day of the swap and you didn’t make arrangements for the busy bags you made to get there the day of the swap, then the bags that were made for you by others will be traded among the people in attendance at the swap. It’s too hard to distribute the bags you made to nine other people after the swap.

Note:  You can make more bags than the groups you are in.  Others at the swap may make more too and you can swap outside a group.  😀

Sign Up List

Busy Bag Swap Group #1
1) Brookie-Lee:  Felt button bird with colored feathers
2) Jayna: Felt Fishing
3) Candice: Popsicle stick puzzle
4) Ali: color matching boxes
5) Leslie: Paint chips with clothes pins
6) Shannon: “Now I know my ABC’s” – matching upper and lower case letters
7) Julie G: Felt Build a Rainbow
8) Michelle: felt popsicle matching
9) Mary: Homemade playdough and toys
10) Angeliina: Animal Habitat Match Up

Busy Bag Swap Group #2
1) Brookie-Lee: Felt ice cream patterns
2) Jennifer: animal head/tail matching game
3) Pattie: clothes pin number match up
4) Johanna G.: potatoe head bags
5) Angela: Felt Pizza factory with recipe cards
6) Julie G: Felt mailbox
7) Kimberly: shoe lace boards
8) Megan: Watermelon Picnic (matching numbers 1-10)
9) Caroline: clothesline bag with felt outfits and clothespins and string
10) Kylia: Easy Stitch Cards

Busy Bag Swap Group #3
1) Brookie-Lee: Cookie counting with sprinkles
2) Caroline: ABC Dry Erase bag
3) Nannette: button threading felt snake
4) Belinda: discovery bottle
5) Judi: Pipe cleaners and beads
6) Angeliina: hot glue shape that you can rub a crayon over and reveal the shape
7) Johanna G.: cupcake activity
8) Julie M: race car shapes w/ a car for driving plus a dry erase marker for tracing
9) Julie G: counting caterpillars for one
10) Megan:  letter activity called “Jungle Fun”

Busy Bag Swap Group #4
1) Brookie-Lee: Fine motor popcorn game
2) Belinda: large button multi use game
3) Johanna G.: shades of color, a color graphing activity
4) Julie M: a felt and pompom apple tree counting game
5) Julie G: ribbon threading with plastic canvas shapes
6) Nannette: upper and lower case spoon matching
7) Johnna A.: cardboard stackers
8) Amber: fabric pattern matching game
9) Leslie: Picture Making Felt Board with Shapes
10) Kimberly: small felt squares that you thread onto a ribbon

Busy Bag Swap Group #5
1) Brookie-Lee: 3 letter spinning words
2) Amber: Gel Writing bag (Don’t worry I will use our food saver bags so they don’t open)
3) Ruth: felt button flower gardens
4) Adrianne: stretchy bands
5) Kylia: popsicle stick building
6) Shawna: Popsicle memory game
7) Tami: pipe cleaners and magnets
8) Julie R: egg matching
9) Julie G: chalk board
10) Jessica H: Milk Cap Numbers with Animal Countin

Busy Bag Swap Group #6- DUPLICATES OK
1) Holly: I Spy Books
2) Judi: color paint palette matching
3) Angeliina: Animal Memory Game
4) Tracie: The Early Bird Gets the Worm with a clothespin and pipe cleaners
5) Rachel: felt Popsicle color -word match
6) Rachel: felt ice-cream cone with pattern cards
7) Jessica: Upper and lower case spoon matching
8) Kimberly: TBD
9) Julie R: Number Boards
10)  Belinda: Coin money match

Comment below or join the facebook event to sign up and let me know what activity you will be creating!

Notes for myself:
Meet Shannon at enrichment on Feb 5th to get her 10 bags and then collect hers at the swap and take them to her at enrichment on Feb 19th.
Pick up Angeliina’s bags at Dionna’s.
Coordinate with Kylia to get her bags.
Meet Judi at Coco Keys on homeschool day.

Noah’s Ark Art Project

We are using The Bible Story series for our religion lessons right now.  The readings are perfect for my kindergarten and second grader.  They are short enough to keep their attention, long enough to teach the lesson, and interesting enough to hold their attention.  We are all really learning our Bible stories and I’m loving it.  I wanted to share some of the things we did with our Noah’s ark readings.  I read the stories to the children at bedtime.  I have their attention then and they seem to retain things better.  Then the next day we got out watercolor pencils and paper and drew an ark.  I think they did amazing.  And I printed off pairs of animals that they colored with color pencils and cutout to add to their ark.  They loved it and we all had a lot of fun.  I wanted to share with you the animal images that I put together.  Enjoy!

Noah’sArk2 (Click link or image below to open full size pdf)  The pdf version has strong lines and doesn’t look as pixelated as the image below.  I printed two of these and cut them in half for my four children.

Crazy Busy Mama

Oh my it’s been a busy month.  We were getting our homeschool hours in, getting ready for Halloween, we passed around the flu, cleaned up the backyard, and finally built the fire pit.  Yay!

With homeschooling we are loving reading from the Bible Story books.  It’s just short enough to hold their attention and so far I really like the point of view.  A little old school maybe, but I think it will be a great foundation.  The boys love bible study time.

All our other homeschool subjects I’m really happy with and Jax just starting reading Dick and Jane.  That was a huge boost for him.  He finished the Biscuit books and got to “level up” to D&J.  He is super excited for reading time now.  That’s a pretty awesome thing to see on his face.  And I’ve started him on the McGuffey primer.  He feels like a big kid and I’m loving his enthusiasm.  Zavien finished another of the CLE readers and we are almost to the main reader books.  We could move through these little ones faster but we just read one or two sections a day.  I’m having him read his math worksheets now too.  Getting that reading throughout the day and not just during “reading time”.  We’ve also added 30 minutes of silent reading to his day as well.

I’m working on a few things for the little girls as they are getting bored and need something to keep their attention.  I’m hoping to coordinate a busy bags swap locally and have some great things for my girlies.  😀  I have a few things pinned on my pinterest but there are TONS of ideas out there for this.

P.S.  The baby crashed my laptop and my wonderful husband has reconnected me to my online world this week on our desktop(that we never hooked internet up on because we didn’t really need to).  So hopefully I will be back on top of posting and sharing with the wonderful online community.

Homeschool Mothers Journal: October 12, 2012

We had an awesome week this week.  We completed our checklist each day and got our hours in.  I was thrilled at our progress in our curriculum and the fluidity that we had in our days.  What helped in that, was me letting completely go of the structure and recognizing what subjects are better for the morning and what subjects are better for the afternoon.  I’ve decided that the schedule just doesn’t work in our household.  It just doesn’t.  Our school day starts anywhere from 9 to 9:45 am.  My goal always to start before 10am.  And we start our day with religion, next we do math.  And the amount of time that we do each subject totally depends on the children and their capability to complete the task or their frustration level.  For example Jax was so irritated about writing from 1-100 this week on his math worksheets.  So I had him do it correctly on a few and said if he did well I wouldn’t make him do the other two practices pages.  He was okay with that until his test where he bugged out about doing it again and dad showed him some tricks and he did his best ever.

I have been so focused on Z and getting him to a fluent reader that I haven’t spent as much time with Ty.  I will be printing off more material this weekend to really help her with activities during the day.  We have two of the programs from confessions of a homeschool mom that are great for her age.  Jax I’ve been working with and he gets frustrated when he can’t remember his phonograms when reading the Biscuit books.  It just takes practice, lots of practice.  I slow down or take steps backwards when he gets frustrated.  I want him to excel and not to psyche himself out.  I think it will be a huge boost for him once he moves on to the Dick and Jane books.  And baby Vay is a pistol.  She eats all our school stuff and wants to do school too.  Super cute but she’s feisty.  😀

Our normal order for the day is Religion, Math, Language Arts, History or Science, Literature, Art or Music, and Piano.  But sometimes I mix it up completely depending on the mood in the house.  We have a checklist that has to get completed.  Other than that requirement we make things work around eating, potty training, booboos, naps, and whatever else comes up during a day with four children.

Z’s Skylander’s 7th Birthday Party

Z’s 7th Birthday Party was all about Skylanders!

Last Christmas my children got Skylanders and the Portal of Power.  A video game featuring unique characters with elemental powers.  In order to play with the character you have to collect each one.  Brilliant idea on the manufacturers part by the way.  My boys love it and get to play a couple times a week.  Z’s favorite guy is Slam Bam who has ice powers.  So he requested a Skylander’s birthday party theme.  So I went to the party store and guess what?  No merchandise for Skylanders.  Okay….  so I got online and searched.  I found Amy’s Party Ideas which had great ideas and I copied it.  I got together with Christina from Makes and Cakes and ordered the Portal of Power Cake and Sheep Cupcakes.  She was great to work with and it turned out awesome.  We played games that represented restoring the elemental powers and my son was thrilled.  It was a huge success with parents and children alike thrilled to participate.  Best of all I was able to give my planning happy son the birthday party he wished for.  I love that by simplifying my life and focusing on my children we can create memories like this one.  Happy 7th birthday my wonderful boy!

Elemental Activities:

  • Fire- Blow out the birthday candles.  (Eruptor)
  • Magic- Magician and magic show.  (Wreaking Ball)
  • Water- Use straw to use suction and keep shark at end of straw then race to finish line.  (Zap)
  • Air- Keep balloon in the air by blowing.  (Sonic Boom)
  • Earth- Play Frisbee.  (Dionrang)
  • Life- Scavenger hunt for pine cone, rolly polly/bug, stone, 2 types of leaves.  (Stomp Smash)
  • Tech- Use ball gun to knock down golden cans.  (Trigger Happy)
  • Undead-  Pop balloon with your bottom.  No hands!  (Chop Chop)

Homeschool Mother’s Journal: September 14, 2012

My husband was in Florida this week!  I wish I could have gone but he was at a solar expo the whole time so it was all work and no play.  Not having him home turned mama’s world upside down.  My husband is my best friend and to be disconnected from him for a few days just sent me spiraling.  So I doubt we will hit our homeschool hours goal this week but I’m okay with that.  Sometimes life happens and you just have to let go.  Without my rock this week we did well just to get through the day.

Z(7yr):  My baby turns 7 tomorrow!  It’s so crazy but I am so excited for him.  I just got the eBooks for The Magic Tree House series, which he loves, and I think he will be ecstatic about.  I’m working on getting the audio books too, so that he can read along.  This week he constructed hats for himself and then his siblings from construction paper and tape.  It was awesome and so sweet.  Dad brought home solar robot kits so we are excited to play with those soon too.  Z has been asking to build a robot for a year now.  He loves crafts and projects.

Jax(5yr):  He rediscovered today.  It was awesome.  He read through the site for hours today while I worked with his brother.  I love hearing reading and phonics from the other room while we are doing grammar.  He also got out the big cats book and horse book.  He loves to look through the pictures.  Having these visual books is amazing for children.

Ty(3yr):  She is 3.  What can I say.  I’m struggling with all the whining and tantrums.  She’s had some kind of bug this week so her tummy has been hurting her.  So feeling unwell added to her whiny disposition.  She seems to be at the tail end of it so hopefully she will be much better this weekend.  Everyday she asks to do school with mom.  She’s cute and I love that thirst for knowledge, or at least participation.

V(1yr): Potty training is going amazing!  We still have accidents during the day but if we consistently ask her we usually don’t.  It’s when we get distracted and forget, that she will run into the bathroom and make a puddle in front of the toilet.  I’m totally cool with a puddle on the bathroom floor.  It means that she is aware and knows where to go.  Now if only mom could do everything at once.  My 17 month old baby girl is so cute in underwear.  The smallest size is 2T and she doesn’t have much of a tushie, so they fall down.  If you tell her to pull up her panties she gives herself a wedgie.  It’s hilarious.