Posted in Materials

Quiet Bins!

In the classroom, I had a quiet tub filled with different quiet, independent activities. There were reusable stickers, counting/sorting activities, puzzles, matching games…. Just to name a few.

I knew right away that I needed to have some of these at home. With Little Miss still taking 2-3 good naps during the day, I needed to have something quiet to entertain Mister that wasn’t TV or electronic games. Also, he has a rest time everyday that includes a time where he has to lay in his bed and quietly look at books. If he doesn’t fall asleep (which still happens a decent amount of the time), the rest of the time he can do quiet activities. 

I have taken pictures of the bins we currently have and I’ll do my best to remember where everything is from!

1. Number Construction

I ordered this through Scholastic Books. It was in my classroom for awhile and kids love it! They can follow the cards to form numbers, create the numbers solo, or make boats… ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. ISpy bin

This book has Mister’s beloved ISpy books along with the ISpy matching game I talked about a few blog posts ago. I didn’t leave them out on the book shelf because he goes through phases of wanting to look at them all the time to not at all. I figured a quiet bin was the perfect place for them.

3. Magnets

Mister LOVES magnets! He had a set of black stone ones his grandparents got a few years ago. Then Grandma bought him another set a few months back. I also brought home some from school to add to our collection. I brought home the ball magnets and wands to try painting with them at some point, but for now they live in the quiet bin. He knows things like this have to stay away from Little Miss, so a bin he can only get out when she’s not around is the perfect solution.

4. Wicki Sticks (or whatever you choose to call them)

A retired teacher donated these to my classroom. There were sooooo many that half went to my classroom and half went in the cupboard. (And then home with me.) My class loved using them to make letters, numbers, tiny baskets… I showed them how to do that last one. ๐Ÿ™„ Mister really enjoys these and they are a wonderful independent activity!

5. Hot Dots

The Pete the Cat clicker and books came in the big Scholastic order I posted about before. Then, while I was cleaning out my classroom cupboards, I discovered this set of cards and hoped they worked like Hot Dots. I was pleasantly surprised that the 25 year old cards worked with Pete! This activity is a little more difficult for Mister to do alone because he can’t read yet, so this is better suited for Little Miss’ nap times. Of course, he’s determined to do it alone, so he tries!

6. Washi Tape Art

I saw this idea on a Pinterest post. Washi tape can be expensive, but I was able to score these big boxes at Michael’s while they were 60% off. If you can get them with a coupon, do it! The idea is for him to create pictures by ripping off different lengths of tape and sticking them on the paper. Right now I get mostly the same length in rows, but in time I think he’ll become more creative.

7. Counting Bin

I got these counting ants for Mister a couple years ago through Scholastic. I call this the counting bin because I intend to change it occasionally. I also have counting bears and pattern cards to swap in this box.

8. Spelling bin

Mister got this for his birthday last year. He hasn’t used it much, but he’s now getting into words and spelling. I expect it will get more use now, especially being more available in a quiet bin. This is a Melissa & Doug set.

9. Upper and Lower Case Bin

I purchased this set for my classroom and it was their favorite letter matching activity. I know Mister enjoys it too! This is another Melissa & Doug set. I love the quality of their products!

10. Shape Bin

I cannot remember the actual name of this bin. It is written on the tub, but Mister is asleep and I’m not about to go in his room to look. ๐Ÿ˜‚ I think you can all understand what this is. You make pictures with the shapes and there are patterns you can follow. Mister has times where he loves this activity and will play with it a lot. Then other times we don’t see it for months. Hopefully having it as an option more frequently will convince him to play with it more. This one is another Melissa & Doug set.

11. Rubber Stamp Bin

It’s yet another Melissa & Doug set! I had mini alphabet stamps in my classroom that I purchased from the Target deal bins. They were looking very rough after being in use for the last couple years. Mister was starting to really get into stamping his name, matching lower and upper case, and stamping his friends’ names. I found this set an snagged it! These are quite a bit larger than the ones in my classroom and I think that will help keep them (and his fingers) looking nicer.

12. Unifix Cube Bin

I LOVE Unifix cubes! They have so many great uses and I actually have an entire book of games and lessons using them. I found it at a garage sale a few years ago, so it’s an oldie! I had a set in my Amazon cart to order for my classroom and then plans changed. I decided to order the smaller set for home since I knew they’d be a great asset for homeschool!

13. Puzzles!

Just as it says, this one is full of puzzles. Some of these are matching puzzles (opposites and sight words) and some are just for fun cardboard style puzzles. Mister is a fan of all puzzles. He will keep redoing the same one over and over until he can do it super fast! 

And that is the end of the quiet bins! This one shelf has taken forever to finish, but I’m so happy with how it has turned out! I know being organized is going to make planning lessons and finding what we need to complete them just that much easier! Now we can enjoy our holiday weekend and jump into some summer homeschool lessons next week!

Posted in Materials

Organizing the Book Shelf

Being a teacher, I have collected a lot of books. Being a mom, I’ve collected a lot of books. Running the Scholastic Reading Club, I’ve collected a lot of books.

Basically, I’m drowning in books around here and I needed a way to organize them!

The books that we’ll be using for different topics while homeschooling I decided to organize by color. I searched Pinterest for awhile and figured white address labels were the way to go. Below are the categories I created that work for us. I’ve included a few examples of what some of the topics include.

Raspberry-Language (alphabet, rhyming, Spanish)


Violet-Social Skills (manners, sharing, siblings)

Orange-Dinosaurs (stories about as well as informational)

Brown-Science (weather, food, inventions)



Blue-Fairy Tales (also alternative fairy tales)

Pink-Bible Stories

Green-Math (counting, addition, fractions)

Light Blue-Insects


White-Seasonal (Right now this includes summer and Fourth of July)


I know. Some of those color choices seem odd. I was limited to the markers that still had caps in Mister’s marker box.

There is also a cube that contains random books, like character and magazines (Ranger Rick Jr. lives here).

Two of the cubes are sorted by author. Mo Willems, Eric Carle, Dr. Suess, Laura Numeroff…. and many other! I couldn’t see splitting up sets to fit them into categories.

The puzzles and Legos had to find a spot on this shelf as well. We have limited space, so we made it work.

There are also two cubes just for Junie B. Jones, The Magic Treehouse, and all those character plush!

This project has been ongoing for a couple months, so I’m glad it’s finally done!

… Of course, after I took photos and celebrated, I found a book I missed… I should probably accepted this is one thing that will never truly be complete.

Posted in Cooking, Lessons, Science

Sea Turtles!

Mister has been asking almost nonstop when we are going to start doing school at home! Since it is Shark Week and science day at the library this week is about the coral reef, we decided to do a mini lesson about sea turtles.

He asked me a few weeks ago about making these cookies and I told him we’d have to do that once we started staying at home. He loves helping in the kitchen and this project was perfect for tiny, helping hands! Mister dumped in most of the ingredients, helped me turn the mixer on, and even got to assist in the egg cracking! (That’s the part he asked about the most.)

He helped roll the “shell” balls and used a fork to make a shell pattern. I rolled the tiny balls, but he placed them on for the legs and head.

Note how some of the turtles seem to be break dancing… ๐Ÿ˜‰

We found the recipe, along with a story and coral reef activities, in this month’s Ranger Rick Jr. magazine. Grandma subscribes and Mister is always so excited when it comes!

Now we can’t wait to learn more at the library this week!

Posted in Materials

Calendar and More!

Even though this was our first week at home, I have decided to wait until after the holiday to start our new routine. I’m still sifting through allllll the supplies/books/papers I brought home from my classroom, so we’re slowly getting things together and organized.

Tonight I finished setting up Mister’s calendar wall. It’s similar to what we had at school, but with a couple additions. 

Obviously, the calendar. I have a couple of handmade number sets that I make patterns with, but for now I’m going to use the ones that came with the calendar. I purchased this one from Dollar Tree. 

The other part that was on my wall at school is the weather wheel and chart. There are small pieces that match the weather options from the wheel that I place on the chart.

Here is the link for the weather wheel and chart:
I changed the storm cloud to snow since we get more of that here in Michigan. 

I had a word wall at school that was organized by beginning letter. However, we don’t have the wall space for that here. I had Mister choose a few words from the premade cards I have and then I added in a few. (Library, dinosaur, and carrots since I plan on talking about those things when we first start homeschool.)

I also hung up his reading chart from the local library. We visited the library this week (actually, twice) and enrolled him in the summer reading program. He’s really excited about it! (I signed up for the adult one, too!)

The more I set things up, the more excited I get about jumping back into the school routine. I’m looking forward to sharing more in the coming weeks. ๐Ÿ™‚