Final Days Before Welcoming Baby Thatcher

We are just about 5 days (or less) away from meeting our sweet baby boy! And we are so excited, thankful, and ready.

I wanted to take the time to write down a few thoughts before this exciting day. I will first admit I struggled with writing a title for this post. It would be easier to just say “baby #2,” and that is what most people will call him when Thatcher is born because visibly he is our second child, but in our hearts he will always be our third baby. While the majority of this pregnancy has been marked by joy, there has been an underlying ache when I think of our second baby we lost in July. Losing our sweet babe in July has made this past pregnancy feel much more anxious. Even last week when I went in for my 37 week appointment, my heart still raced when the nurse took out the doppler to find baby’s heart rate. I know what it feels like to hear nothing in the cold patient room and that trauma still follows me.

Every time I do hear that loud heartbeat and feel the strong kicks, my heart is so much more thankful than with my first pregnancy. This pregnancy feels like a miracle and I feel confident that this perspective will follow from his birth and the early newborn days. That is not to say that the postpartum days of broken sleep and sore nipples will not still be hard, but my hope is that I will be able to handle it a bit more graciously than I did when Hudson was a baby. When I hold Thatcher, I will not only see the miracle gift God gave us on some of our saddest days, I will also remember our sweet babe in heaven.

Another thought that has been running through my mind is to stay present. When you get so close to the end of your pregnancy, it is easy to just think about that. I have found myself doing that. While I am counting down the days until we get to meet our son; I am working on staying present even in these final few days of waiting for baby. I know God already has the perfect plan and it doesn’t change anything to spend the time wondering when he will arrive. I also do not want to miss out on these last few days with just the three of us. I’ve been intentionally trying to soak in these slow and mellow days. I am treasuring these days of just Hudson and I holding handing at the our weekly trip to the Farmer’s Market with friends. I am trying to say yes more every time Hudson asks me to join him in the bath or snuggle with him on the couch or read one more book. I know in the matter of days, saying yes will be more of a challenge, so I am trying to say it more now.

These final few days have all looked pretty similar. I have been soaking in as much sleep as possible and for over a month have turned off my usual 6am alarm (it used to be 5am pre-pregnancy). I wake slowly to the smell of coffee and Hudson’s little voice chatting with Lance. I know things will not be quite this easy in the mornings so I am treasuring these quiet, slow mornings. Morning time of breakfast and warm baths and morning chores, are usually followed with time in the sunshine and baseball. Baseball seems to be the only thing H wants to do these days. He spends literal hours practicing each day. I have loved watching this great love of baseball form in him at such a young age.

After sunshine and baseball, our days begin to slow down. I usually find myself back on the couch reading To Have and To Hold by Molly Millwood, which I highly recommend. It deeply resonates with how I felt in the early newborn days with Hudson and is helping me prepare for this next season with two little boys. It is making me feel less crazy and it seems to hold some of the very words my heart needs to hear.

The rest of the day usually consists of some combination of dinner time, a short walk, more baseball, cleaning up the messes that have scattered throughout the day, and doing small tasks to prepare for baby’s arrival. At this point, we feel physically pretty ready. However, I will admit, my anxiety has begun to increase. Words cannot describe how excited I am to hold our baby, but I also am beginning to feel really nervous about those early days. I really struggled the first few months with baby Hudson. I definitely was struggling with postpartum depression/anxiety. Breastfeeding was extremely challenging for us and put me to tears every single night. I felt like I was failing and it unfortunately sucked out a lot of the joy this newborn season should hold. I am a little nervous I am going to fall back into what my husband lovingly refers to as “the dark side.” Yet, I do feel hopeful things will feel a bit lighter this time around even if we are faced with some of the same challenges. I have already been prayerful about this particular postpartum season and asking the Lord to give me peace, presence, and grace regardless of what newborn life throws our direction.

I also am mentally preparing and even visualizing what the first few days and weeks will look like. With Hudson, I had no point of reference and I think that is part of the reason everything felt so, so hard. In a lot of ways it is like a challenging race. The first time is always harder because you are unfamiliar with the course, but the second time on it feels easier. It is not because the course has changed, but you are mentally prepared for the hillier sections and know the parts you really struggled with on your first time around. My hope is that this will hold true with postpartum life as well.

Along with visualizing, I am planning ahead and cutting out all dairy. The dairy really caused a lot of digestive issues with Hudson, so my hope is that this will take away some of our initial problems. I also am packing my nipple shield in my hospital bag with zero shame and will absolutely refuse to be hooked up to a pump! I still regret listening to the nurses that told me to pump the first night Hudson was born because he was not latching well. Pumping really caused a lot of issues with my milk supply and before we even left the hospital, I was painfully engorged. I literally had milk coming out of my armpits. So absolutely no pumping in the hospital and if for some reason latching is not working out, I will first try to use the nipple shield. The nipple shield was a tool that the lactation consultant suggested a couple weeks into struggling with nursing Hudson and it really is what saved nursing for us both. I ended up breastfeeding Hudson until 14-months, which I never would have thought was even possible based on how things went months 1-6. While I really hated relying on a nipple shield (and it made nursing in public a big challenge), it is what allowed me to eventually love nursing Hudson. This time around I will have no issue needing to use it if I face some of the same challenges I did with H.

All of this to say, I am savoring these last few days leading up to Thatcher’s birth and I also am prayerful that I will be able to handle this next season with greater grace than I did 3 years ago. And even if not, there is a whole lot of grace to fill in my weaknesses. And for that I am thankful.

Our Baby Sprinkle at the Beach

Last weekend, we celebrated baby Thatcher with a beautiful baby sprinkle at one of our favorite places…the beach! While life is beginning to feel a bit normal, we still wanted to be safe and have a really small outdoor celebration. The pandemic has really changed how we celebrate things, but in this case, having a beach picnic was the perfect way to celebrate our rainbow baby.

There are lots of amazing picnic businesses that will setup a picnic for you, but we decided to do it ourselves! My mother-in-law and mom did a great job creating a beautiful beach-themed picnic setup. I wanted to share some of the details over on here so I can remember it and also, hopefully it can give you some inspiration if you are planning a similar type of event!

The Table

Finding good tables seemed to be the biggest challenge for us. Since there is a high demand right now, smaller picnic/beach tables are really pricey and very small. My husband had the idea to use wood palettes and it was the perfect solution. He found a place near us called A&I Pallets and they sold each one for just $6. We needed just 4 of them and Lance stacked two together and nailed a flat piece of wood to create the perfect table size.

The table was mostly decorated by pieces gathered by mother-in-law. The blues, whites, and tan colors all went so nicely together! She also brought lots of plants and flowers that really helped the table come to life!

For seating, she brought lots of blankets that we also put large pillows over. This helped keep things a bit less sandy! We also brought some extra beach chair for more seating.

The Food

We ordered from one of my favorite sandwich and salad places, Mendocino Farms. My brought an E-Z Up Tent for all the food and drinks, which helped with shade since it was a beautiful, sunny day! Along with yummy sandwiches, salads, and fruit; my sister picked up cute cupcakes from one of our favorite bakeries, Susie Cakes. My mother-in-law even made some ocean-themed sugar cookies that turned out super cute.

The Favors

For favors, there were cute little succulents in these pretty ceramics and little hand sanitizers. I loved the way the succulents were also a perfect decoration for the table.

It was a really special day spent with mostly family and a few close friends! My heart felt very full after and I felt thankful to be celebrated in such a beautiful place that means so much to our family. I’ve mentioned it on this blog before, but last summer when we were walking through miscarriage, the beach was our place of healing. It felt especially special to be back on the beach and this time celebrating our rainbow baby.

Oh! And one other detail from this sprinkle that was similar to my baby shower with Hudson is that my mom ordered these quilt squares from Etsy. All the guests were able to write a message to baby Thatcher. My mom will send back all the squares and the seller on Etsy will then make it into a quilt! Hudson’s quilt is still always on his bed. It is a great keepsake and a fun and lasting way to remember the people that made the day special.

Tot School: A-Z Bundle Curriculum

I have been SO busy creating curriculum over at Teaching Toddler Mama that I have not had time to create posts sharing about all the fun ABC learning we have been doing! I have missed writing on here as much, so my hope is that I will begin to have (a bit) more time to write over in this space! Things are about to get busier with our new baby less than 3 weeks from making his debut, but I really hope to prioritize creating space to write.

But before I delve back into consistently posting on here, I want to share the project I have spent the last 9 months working on! The Alphabet Toddler Curriculum. I have created a 26-week curriculum that is specifically designed for 2-3 year olds. Each week of curriculum includes a weekly calendar for that specific letter. Each day there is a few book suggestions, 1-2 activities, and the early learning standards that day addresses. I created this curriculum for a few reasons. The main reason is that due to Covid, my son was not in any type of classes or learning environments, so I really wanted to ensure that our days together had some structured learning + play. Secondly, I was still dealing with the grief of losing our second baby through miscarriage and my heart really needed a little distraction. It is amazing to think that just a few weeks in to creating this curriculum, I found out that we were pregnant again! And now as I type this, we will get to welcome our baby boy into the world in the matter of a few short weeks! I am really sentimental when it comes to things like this and this is just another reason why the completion of this curriculum feels so special. It started as a way to help me as I struggled in grief and spent most of my time on the couch. It then transformed into a special project that I got the opportunity to work on every week of this past pregnancy. Pregnancy after miscarriage is full of anxiety and uncertainty, so again this weekly rhythm of researching books for each next letter and brainstorming activities that went along with each book theme became a much needed area of focus to help distract my anxious heart.

As I think back on the past months, I have a lot of gratitude for what learning the alphabet with my son gave me. It gave me a sense of purpose in a time where I felt very uncertain on how to fill our days. It gave me a sense of connection as I got to share some of the books and the activities with our close friends. It also gave me a sense of work. I have not truly “worked” on something since I left my job as a high school English teacher. It felt good to have a sense of deadline and to actually make a little money from my efforts. Overall, this Alphabet Curriculum is more than just a curriculum. It is a project that I poured tons of time, effort and love into. It is something I actually used every week with my own 2-year old and it is something I really believe in.

Does my son now know the alphabet by heart? Nope. We are not quite there yet, but the intention of this curriculum goes far beyond teaching the abc’s. It really is about learning about all the wonderful things, places, animals, and people that begin with each letter. Throughout this curriculum we got to learn about so many interesting things like airplanes and dinosaurs; quills and rockets; volcanoes and x-rays. This curriculum is the perfect introduction for your little one to begin to be exposed to things like the alphabet and numbers and shapes, but it really is created in a way that it is not solely about that. It really is about playing, creating, and imagining. My hope is that this curriculum can give you a sense of learning structure, but can really be the catapult for more learning and exploring to come!

Each individual letter week ($5) can be purchased on my store on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can also find the Alphabet Book ($2) which is a fun way to do a letter craft each week and create a book for your little one to flip through after. If you would like to purchase all 26 letters, you can purchase the bundle and save over $30!

To give a better idea of what each of curriculum is like, I am linking my posts on letters A-G:

Thanks for all those that have supported this little shop of mine! It has brought my heart a great deal of joy knowing that other little ones are learning from this curriculum I’ve created!

2020 Reflection

In ways, it feels like I was just sitting down a year ago typing up my 2019 reflection. I just read it back and was deeply encouraged by it. My words a year ago reminded me of my own growth and ultimately showed me the faithfulness of the Lord. Even if you don’t click the link and go back to read that reflection, I would love for you to read these words from that post:

The thing with 2019 was that there was no big ah-ha moment. There was no big day of delivering a baby or getting married or starting a new job. However, 2019 held a lot of small choices, small decisions, ultimately of saying yes. I will join that. I will do that. I will help out with that. There were a lot of miles done in secret. Lots of early mornings of pouring out my heart onto a blog that only a few very kind people read. Lots of talking with God and quite a lot of waiting. These types of years can be hard but they also can be wonderful. It is a time of preparing and pruning and getting ready for what is to come.

Preparing and pruning. This is what stuck out to me. After now living out the year 2020, I see the work the Lord was doing in 2019 to prepare for what was to come. I see His faithfulness.

The thing with 2020 is that it is really easy to write it off as just that really, really bad year where the world shut down and everything was cancelled and people lost their jobs and lives and sanity. This is easy, but instead, I want to dig in. I want to see the Lord’s faithfulness in the hard and the unexpected.

Good Thing of 2020 #1: Blog Growth

To really reflect on 2020 and to look ahead at 2021, I am going to reference some of my posts that I wrote throughout the year. Before even getting into specific posts, I want to write very quickly about this blog. I have been writing on here for over 2 years. Of all things postpartum, this blog of mine has been the thing I have been most consistent at. It has given me a place to make my words a home. A place to be honest and reflect. When I think back to 2020, one thing I am truly proud about is this blog. I have felt the calling to write and create for most of my life and this blog is ultimately an outpouring of staying faithful even when the growth is slow.

I was blown away to see that the amount of visitors to my blog over doubled in 2020, compared to 2019. Amazing! I have found that this past year I have spent significant less time writing on here. It was just one of those years. I wrote 51 posts and just a bit over 67,000 words this year. In 2019, I wrote 71 posts and over 100,000 words. Yet, I had over double the visitors! This is a small little thing, but it really encourages my heart and reminds me that good things come to those that stay faithful in the small ways. I am excited and hopeful for the ways this blog can continue to grow and transform with me.

Good Thing of 2020 #2: Bouncing Back from Boston Marathon Cancellation

When I look back to everything I was writing about, the majority of my posts at the beginning of the year were part of my “Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston” series. There ended up being only 8 parts to this series and I wrote the final Marathon Monday in the middle of March once the marathon was officially postponed. This was just one of the many things that happened in 2020 that I definitely was not expecting. In the unexpected, it allowed me to still push myself and realize that running for me, goes way beyond racing on a big stage. Like a lot of my running career, the performances I am most proud of are the ones that happened on quiet streets where no one was around. The cancellation of Boston, allowed for me to push myself in two virtual races: the 10k and the half-marathon. If you get a chance, go back and read that half-marathon recap. In a lot of ways, it captures my heart for this entire year and season of my life. It has never been about the stage. It has always been about showing up and remaining faithful to the tugging the Lord has put on my heart:

These past few weeks, I have had to really dig deep.  What do I do when really no one is watching? How hard am I willing to push myself when the cheers are silent?  Will I keep writing when it sometimes feels like only one sweet friend reads my words? Yes. I will keep running, writing, pushing, dreaming; until God says otherwise. 

This is the freeing part.  It was never about the stage.  It was never about Boston. It was about saying yes to the dreams and visions God has put on my heart.  Whether we are in a pandemic or not, I will continue to say yes to God even if that means running for 13.1 miles on empty streets. 

Both those virtual races and the necklace I won from the half-marathon race really meant a lot to me. Ask my husband. I did not take off that “run to overcome” necklace for months!

Good Thing of 2020 #3: Starting my Teachers Pay Teachers Store

I feel like this year was the first year I felt at home in my purpose as a stay-at-home mom. The transition from being a high school English teacher to staying fully at home with my son was hard for me. I ended 2018, feeling like I really lacked purpose in my life. It was a hard season for me personally. I reflect more on those feelings here if you are interested.

2020 brought to me a sense of both clarity and contentment. The Lord gave me a better vision for how He wants me to steward my time as I am in this season of raising little H at home. He showed me how I can use my love for teaching and pour that into intentional activities for Hudson. He also revealed to me that I can sell my curriculum and share the resources I make with others to help them teach their own toddlers at home! A win-win.

Quarantine really pushed me to begin thinking outside of the box on ways I can intentionally spend time with H at home. This led to teaching him a different color every week, which eventually led me to start a tot school ABC curriculum. I started selling curriculum on my Teaching Toddler Mama store and I have found a great sense of joy and purpose in this new project. It was my first time outside of my teaching career that I actually made some money. Not to mention, the first time I ever made money for something I created with my own creativity. It was empowering and it was just another way the Lord encouraged my heart in a challenging year. He is always so kind + tender.

Good Thing of 2020 #4: The Joys of 2 Pregnancies

One thing I have really struggled with this year, is to figure out the best way to grapple with both intense grief + abundant joy. 2020 will always be the year I was pregnant twice. I am not going to go into all the details of our miscarriage story here, but I wrote an entire post sharing about our loss, which you can read here. Of everything I have ever written on my blog, this is the piece I am most proud of. From the very beginning as we were walking through losing our second baby, I could feel the Lord tugging at my heart to openly share. I really did not want to. And I almost did not, but I am really thankful I did. It was one of the most healing things to openly share our story. I was also deeply humbled by the outpouring of texts I received from sharing that story. I even got the chance to connect with other women who were walking through very similar situations and my story helped them in their own grief. It really is amazing the type of work the Lord can do through our pain + suffering.

Less than 2 months later, we found out we were pregnant again. The emotions were quite different this time. I was incredibly humbled + grateful to again see those two pink lines, but the trauma I just walked through was still alive within me and I was paralyzed with fear that the same outcome would happen. I am 20 weeks pregnant today and as I type this I have a visible bump. Words cannot accurately describe the gratitude I feel for this pregnancy and our precious baby boy. Yet, at the same time, this pregnancy has been difficult for me to feel as joyful because part of my heart is still grieving the baby we lost in July. Every ultrasound I cry alone as I drive to my appointment because I am so terrified that I will have the same ultrasound experience of hearing no heartbeat. Miscarriage is a type of trauma. And for me, this trauma + this healthy pregnancy both happened in the same year and it is a lot for my heart to process. I finally feel like I am at the point where I can get excited for our baby boy and rest in the miracle of this healthy pregnancy. I miss our second babe with all my heart, but I also feel so much peace and love for this third pregnancy. Grief + joy. They have both been in my heart a lot this year and I finally feel like I can walk well with both these emotions.

We are due in May and we cannot wait to meet baby T! Hudson is especially excited to be a big brother. He has been talking to my stomach almost every night and it just melt my heart like no other.

In summary, here are the major things the Lord has taught me this year:

  1. He is always faithful, even in the hardest, most painful seasons of our life.
  2. He blesses small acts of obedience.
  3. He is incredibly tender and will make his love known to us when we are walking through hard things.
  4. He has placed me right where He wants me. As much as I have tried to fight it these past couple years, I see with clarity the position and purpose He has put before me.
  5. His plans are always, always better.

2020, you were hard, but you were also very, very important. Thankful for this year and feeling very hopeful for the year ahead! Excited to share with you in the week ahead some of my hopes + goals for 2021 and the word I have chosen for my year!

Happy New Year, friends!

Simple Christmas Toddler Ideas

I have been desiring to write on this little blog of mine more, but recently have been busy working on my toddler curriculum + getting ready for the holidays. I am working on a mental list of things I want to do more of in 2021 and writing here is definitely going to be on that list. I feel like I have so many ideas floating in my head that I would like to share with you all, but since we are just a week from Christmas and I still have a long list of to-dos, I wanted to share a very short post of a few Christmas activities we have really been enjoying. Hudson is now already 30-months (be expecting a 30-month update soon), so Christmas time is proving to be even more fun this year than the previous one. It is hard for me to fully believe this is already his 3rd Christmas. If you are interested in reading what our Christmas was like last year with an 18-month old, please read here.

I think this Christmas for all of us is going to feel a bit different from previous years, but that does not mean it can’t still feel just as magical (especially for our kiddos).

Before I get into the list, if you are looking for some intentional learning activities themed off of Christmas, I just released a Tot School: Christmas Curriculum. I know Christmas is fast approaching, but there is still a whole week to squeeze in some intentional learning time together. You can get this curriculum for just $5! It comes with a full-week calendar with books suggestions, activities, and the early learning standards addressed.

Alongside my Christmas Curriculum, here are a few other things we have enjoyed this season:

1. Checking Out ALL the Christmas Books at the Library

I am not going to put a list together of our favorite Christmas books because I did that last year, you can read it here. However, I would like to add a few that we have really been enjoying from the library. Side-note: I am SO thankful our library is still open for holding/picking up books. It has been one of my favorite parts of quarantine to still be able to pick up new books from the library every week. Hudson is really enjoying all the gingerbread-themed books I checked out, his favorite right now seems to be The Library Gingerbread Man by Dotti Enderle. He also is loving all the Llama Llama Christmas book, especially Llama, Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney.

Ignore the fact he is standing on a table.

2. Decorating a Mini Tree

This year, I got a mini tree from Trader Joe’s and he has been loving decorating it! Before I even set-up all the things for him, he started decorating on his own by throwing pom poms on it. I walked in and he was happily decorating his tree. This was quite the contrast from last Christmas when he broke multiple ornaments. So far, we are at zero broken ornaments! A small win.

3. Christmas-Themed Play-Dough Tray

I love making seasonal play-dough trays. It takes just a few minutes to put together and then it is something I literally leave out in his playroom all month long. It makes it feel like there is always a festive activity for him to work on without all the work of setting up a new activity each day. This year, I just made some green play-dough and added gold sparkles to make it more festive. I love this green jello play-dough recipe, I use it for both Christmas + St. Patrick’s Day. In the tray I put mostly little things I picked up from the Dollar Tree, along with a roller and kid-safe scissors. H is really enjoying practicing his scissor skills. Play-dough is perfect for practicing to use scissors.

4. Naming Friends/Family in Holiday Cards

I noticed this year that H has really enjoyed as I put up the holiday cards. He loves seeing family and friends and will point and name everyone! This is such a fun little activity that takes no setting up and I am amazed with how many people he easily recognizes!

Looking at lights on Balboa Island!

5. Looking at Holiday Lights

Every night we enjoy walking in our neighborhood and looking at the lights. H’s favorite thing this year is what he calls the “blow ups.” Probably not the best name for it, but he is referring to all the holiday inflatable decorations. We also have been enjoying taking hot cocoa on-the-go and driving through neighborhoods with lots of lights. A new favorite place to view lights is at Balboa Island. We walked around and looked at all the beautifully decorated homes/boats. The boat parade was so fun to watch!

6. Dropping Off Cookies to Friends

This year felt like the first year I could really lean into the message that Christmas is more about giving than receiving. This is also the first year that H is gift-obsessed. It is taking so much self-control for him to not tear open the presents under our tree. He is constantly asking about gifts + presents, so I really want to make sure we model to him how giving is much more important. A small and simple way to do this is dropping off cookies to friends. We had a special night where we drove around and knocked on doors and H really loved it.

Polar Express Ride!

7. Making Special Christmas Memories Together

I really want to do a whole blog post on our Arizona trip we went on a couple weeks ago. We stayed in Sedona and drove to Williams to do the Polar Express Ride. It was magical for H. He got to see Santa and tell him about that baseball he really wants (which I am still slightly confused about since he has SO many baseballs). We got to ride on the Polar Express and sip hot chocolate and sing Christmas Caroles. Santa even gave us all jingle bells. Hopefully more on this whole trip in a blog post to come, but in summary, it was a really special Christmas memory I think we all will remember.

There is probably a few more things I could add, but these came to my mind first and I fear nap time is coming to an end! However you spend your holiday this year, my hope is that it can still be a memorable one, even in a year that did not go the way we imagined.

Merry Christmas, friends!

Favorite Thanksgiving Toddler Books

With Thanksgiving literally less than a week away, I wanted to share a few of the Thanksgiving books we are enjoying in our home!

Alongside these books, if you are looking for some intentional Thanksgiving learning activities to do with your little one, I have a Thanksgiving Curriculum, specifically designed for 2-3 year-olds that you can purchase for just $5! It is a really fun week of learning! Some of my favorite activities include the Feed the Turkey Game (works on alphabet recognition) + the Thanksgiving Plate Activity (works on naming pictures).

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tot School: The Letter G

Last week, we wrapped up the letter G! Yet again, we did not get a chance to get to ALL the wonderful resources, but I still wanted to do a quick summary of the learning activities and books we did engage with!

You can purchase this full week of Letter G Curriculum on my TpT shop for just $5. If you want to buy the whole ABC bundle + save money, you can buy the growing bundle here!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links! All that means, is that if you make any purchases through the links, I earn a small commission. I put a lot of work and love into these posts and curriculum and I really appreciate your support!

If you would like to download the alphabet book I created, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  The book is bright and colorful and image based.  I intentionally made the letters extra big and it is perfect for your little learner.

Week 7: The Letter G

Letter G Books

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

How Groundhogs Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry

We are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines

Buster the Little Garbage Truck by Marcia Berneger

The Little Ghost who Lost her Boo by Elaine Bickell

Ghosts in the House by Kazuna Kohara

Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist

Letter G Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter G curriculum for just $5 on my TpT shop!  Within this curriculum, you will be given the calendar pictured above + all the activities I made for the week. The early learning standards are also included. The main intention behind this weekly curriculum is to give you some inspiration and structure! It is easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, so I do the hard work of planning and brainstorming for you! All you need to do is print and have fun with your little one! 

Gardening Activities

This boy loves gardening! Most of our week was spent focused on garden-themed activities. His favorite thing about gardening is all the different tools. For that reason, he loved Joanna Gaines’ book, We are the Gardeners. He really enjoyed pointing out all the different gardening tools. Along with some great gardening books, H really enjoyed playing with the garden sensory bin. For this bin, I used pinto beans and lentils. I put a planting pot, shovels, and used the garden name sensory bin printables in my curriculum. This is an easy and hands-on way to help work on name recognition with your little one. This sensory bin proved to be the hit of the week. He plays with it almost every day.

For letter G decorating, I let H paint with gardening gloves. I bought these gloves at the Dollar Tree, so I was fine getting some paint on them! It turns out H was more interested in painting with the paintbrush. It was worth a shot.

Ghost Activities

With Halloween right around the corner, we had to do some ghost-themed activities for the letter G. H is very into ghosties right now, so this friendly/spooky ghost decorating was a hit. We also did some ghost in the house counting, which H enjoyed.

Garbage Truck Activities

Not only does this boy love gardening, he is even more obsessed with garbage trucks. Naturally, we had to do some garbage truck activities. H has been getting a bit bored with the classic letter do-a-dots, so I have been working on mixing these activities up. He really enjoyed this letter G do-a-dot that used garbage bags instead of dots. As he was working on this activity, he told me he wanted to give it to our garbage truck drivers, Manny, Chad, and Brian! There is also a fun garbage truck and bin shape matching game included in this curriculum!

Giraffe Activities

We just did this giraffe spot counting activity this morning and H loved it. I have been trying to create counting activities that are more interactive beyond simply counting and tracing the number. H is a very hands-on kid. As I am modeling how to count something, he needs something to do with his hands. That is why this activity was perfect for the way H learns. He was very happy coloring in the spots, while we worked on our counting! This activity is the perfect pairing to the book, Giraffes Can’t Dance!

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store! Like last week, this week of curriculum is full of great activities and book suggestions! We just got the chance to do a few of the activities. If you are working on teaching the alphabet to your toddler, I really hope you purchase and love this resource!

Tot School: The Letter F

We have gotten a bit behind in our letters of the week, but we finally wrapped up the Letter F Week, so I wanted to give a brief summary that will hopefully inspire you as you work on the letter F with your toddler!

You can purchase this full week of Letter F Curriculum on my TpT shop for just $5. If you want to buy the whole ABC bundle + save money, you can buy the growing bundle here!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links! All that means, is that if you make any purchases through the links, I earn a small commission. I put a lot of work and love into these posts and curriculum and I really appreciate your support!

If you would like to download the alphabet book I created, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  The book is bright and colorful and image based.  I intentionally made the letters extra big and it is perfect for your little learner.

Week 6: The Letter F

Letter F Books

Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni

Firefighter Frank by Monica Wellington

The Little Fire Truck by Margery Cuyler

Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson

On the Farm by David Elliot

My Mom is a Firefighter by Lois Grambling

Letter F Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter F curriculum for just $5 on my TpT shop!  Within this curriculum, you will be given the calendar pictured above + all the activities I made for the week. The early learning standards are also included. The main intention behind this weekly curriculum is to give you some inspiration and structure! It is easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, so I do the hard work of planning and brainstorming for you! All you need to do is print and have fun with your little one! 

Firefighter Activities

This week of curriculum has so many fun firefighter-themed activities. We definitely spent most of our week focused on all things firefighter-related!

For the letter of the week decorating, we kept it really simple and decorated it with fire colors. We used red, orange, and yellow do-a-dots.

In the middle of the week, I set up an activity mat that was firefighter-themed. These are super simple to setup and make for a great activity that offers variety and options. Tracing is still tough for H, but he has been enjoying using cars/trucks to follow the dotted line. This is a great way to work on beginning tracing skills! These activity mats are also perfect for displaying a few themed book options. We checked out SO many awesome firefighter books from the library. The favorites were definitely My Mom is a Firefighter and Curious George and the Firefighters.

This week of curriculum also included some name recognition practice! This is a skill I have not focused on much with H, but is something I want to work on and get him to recognize by the end of the school year! For this activity, I wrote his name on the fire truck template. I then wrote each individual letter on the fire templates. I laminated these and cut them out. I hid them around the house and had H look for them and bring them to the truck. It was fun! While he was not super into ordering them to match his name on the truck, this is a great start to getting him to recognize the letters in his name. Not to mention, name recognition is a great way to get your little one to learn the alphabet.

Fall-Themed Activities

The perfect time of year to do fall-related activities for the letter F. The curriculum includes some leaf size sorting and a fall leaf do-a-dot. For do-a-dot letters, I have been enjoying using other objects besides dots. This is a fun way to mix up the ordinary do-a-dot and makes it more tied to a specific theme.

Farm Activities

This week, we visited Underwood Family Farms. We got to see all the pumpkins, ride on a wagon, and see lots of farm animals! H loved seeing all the animals, especially the pigs and chickens. To pair with this field trip, we read the book On the Farm (which is pretty simple, but H really loved it). In the curriculum, there are farm animal puppets that match with all the animals in the book. I laminated them and attached a popsicle stick. I spread them out and as we read the book, I had H pick up the correlating animal. It turned out to be a fun and engaging way to read the story. Also, great for imaginative play.

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store! This week of curriculum is jam-packed with tons of great learning activities. This blog just scratches the surface! There are so many activities we did not even get a chance to complete. Hope you enjoy!

Tot School: The Letter E

This week we learned about the letter E! It was a week full of elephants, excavators, and eggs! We started off our week with a trip to the San Diego Zoo to say hi to the elephants! My Letter E Curriculum is jam packed with SO many fun book suggestions and activities that we simply did not have time to squeeze everything in this week. Therefore, I am going to keep this post short and sweet, but I would love for you to check out the curriculum so you can learn and play with your little one at home!

You can purchase this full week of Letter E Curriculum on my TpT shop for just $5. If you want to buy the whole ABC bundle + save money, you can buy the growing bundle here!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links! All that means, is that if you make any purchases through the links, I earn a small commission. I put a lot of work and love into these posts and curriculum and I really appreciate your support!

If you would like to download the alphabet book I created, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  The book is bright and colorful and image based.  I intentionally made the letters extra big and it is perfect for your little learner.

Week 5: The Letter E

Letter E Books

Elmer by David McKee

What to Do if an Elephant Stands on Your Foot by Michelle Robinson

Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney

The Empty Pot by Demi

An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Elhert

Letter E Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter E curriculum for just $5 on my TpT shop!  Within this curriculum, you will be given the calendar pictured above + all the activities I made for the week. The early learning standards are also included. The main intention behind this weekly curriculum is to give you some inspiration and structure! It is easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, so I do the hard work of planning and brainstorming for you! All you need to do is print and have fun with your little one! 

Monday: Elephant Activities

As I mentioned above, we went to see elephants at the San Diego Zoo! Along with this fun trip to the zoo, we did a few elephant-themed activities. In terms of books, H was not interested in reading Elmer, but he really enjoyed What to Do if an Elephants Stands on Your Foot. Along with these books, we made our letter E looks like an elephant + did some Elmer coloring pages. All the Elmer-related activities can be found in the Letter E Curriculum on my shop. I also included some colorful elephants cards that are perfect for color or sorting or to use as a collage! H really enjoyed gluing the elephants on paper for an additional activity.

Tuesday: Excavator Activities

Excavators are one of H’s favorite construction vehicles! We did a fun size sorting excavator activity. H enjoyed these excavator cards and he liked sorting them on his own using the chart provided. Later in the afternoon, I made an excavator letter dig sensory bin for him. I shoveled in some dirt and threw in a set of his plastic letters. I encouraged him to find all the letters by using the excavator to dig them out.

Wednesday: The Empty Pot Counting

If you are looking for a good story that teaches about honesty and hard work, I recommend the book, The Empty Pot. This is a Chinese story about a little boy that plants a seed from an emperor and his pot stays empty the entire year. He tends to the seed with great care and consistency but nothing grows. Instead of being dishonest, he shows up to the emperor with an empty pot and explains to him that he tried his very best. I don’t want to ruin the ending, but this is a great story especially for older kids too! We did a simple counting activity to pair with this story. I gave H coffee beans to act as seeds to place and count in each pot!

Thursday:  Egg Activities

We read the book, The Extraordinary Egg. We then did the line tracing activity that pairs perfectly with this book. Again, line tracing is still pretty advanced for H, but this is great exposure for him. This week he was eager to attempt this skill, which was big progress!

Friday: Eating the Alphabet

We ended the week with Eating the Alphabet by Lois Elhert. I created a do-a-dot activity that goes along with the fruits and veggies in abc order! This is the perfect do-a-dot to pair with Elhert’s book. In the Letter E Curriculum, I also included some veggie and fruit letter matching cards that would make another great activity to pair this book with.

Letter E Sensory Bin

It was one of those weeks, so I don’t have a picture of our bin, but it looked very similar to previous weeks. Again, these sensory bins are perfect to throw together at the beginning of the week and leave out all week for your little one to look at and interact with.

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store!

Tot School: The Letter D

This week we learned about the letter D! We did a bunch of fun activities full of dragons, donuts, and dump trucks. You can purchase this full week of Letter D Curriculum on my TpT shop for just $5. If you want to buy the whole ABC bundle + save money, you can buy the growing bundle here!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links! All that means, is that if you make any purchases through the links, I earn a small commission. I put a lot of work and love into these posts and curriculum and I really appreciate your support!

If you would like to download the alphabet book I created, you can purchase it for just $2 on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  The book is bright and colorful and image based.  I intentionally made the letters extra big and it is perfect for your little learner.

Week 4: The Letter D

Letter D Books

Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff

Letter D Curriculum

You can purchase a full week of letter D curriculum for just $5 on my TpT shop!  Within this curriculum, you will be given the calendar pictured above + all the activities I made for the week. The early learning standards are also included. The main intention behind this weekly curriculum is to give you some inspiration and structure! It is easy to get lost in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, so I do the hard work of planning and brainstorming for you! All you need to do is print and have fun with your little one!  

Monday: Dumper to Digger Tracing Line Practice

This boy loves dump trucks and really any type of truck. I knew we had to have some type of dump truck-themed activity. We started by reading Digger, Dozer, Dumper. This is another hit for H and even though it is a longer book it is perfect for flipping through and finding the trucks that they are most interested in.

For the activity, we did the dumper to digger tracing line practice I created. This is one of the activities included in the Letter D Curriculum. H is 27-months and tracing lines is a bit advanced, but it is still great early exposure. I model what it looks like to trace the lines. And we did a few lines together. I let him try on his own after a fair amount of modeling and he did a lot of scribbling, but did a pretty good straight line. This is all just for fun, but I do think this early practice will help him in the next year when we focus on this skill more!

Tuesday: Dino Activities

There are so many good dinosaur books out there, but for this activity, we read When Dinosaurs Came With Everything. This is a great story, super fun, and amazing illustrations. We both enjoyed it. After reading through a couple times, we did a couple themed dinosaur activities. We did the “Color and Count Dino” activity from my curriculum. These are similar to my previous counting mats, but I added a coloring element. This is great for early counting exposure and for continuing to review colors. H is still very much a scribbler, but having smaller dinosaurs to color gave him a bit more focus and target while coloring. Every week he seems to be a little more invested in these counting activities, which makes his mama happy.

For the letter D in the alphabet book we are working on, I setup some paint and small dinosaurs for him to make dino tracks on the letter. This is usually an activity H would love, but this afternoon he was not as interested. So he did a few marks and then quickly moved on to playing in the dirt with his dump trucks!

Wednesday: The Dot + Do-A-Dot the D

This was our first time reading The Dot and I really loved it! I really loved the way the teacher hangs Vashti’s single dot in a special gold frame. This framing was the very thing that encouraged Vashti to more seriously pursue being an artist. It is a wonderful reminder of the important role we as parents and teachers have to encourage and motivate our children to dream big.

There so many fun dot-related activities to pair with this book. We did a do-a-dot for the letter Dd and I gave him a printable to create his own masterpiece. I put out watercolors, crayons, and do-a-dots and let him be creative with this open-ended activity.

Thursday:  Make a Dragon a Taco

We read Dragons Love Tacos, which was the favorite of the week. We definitely read this book the most out of all of them! The activity I designed to pair with this book, really works on fine motor skills (folding, cutting, tearing). Using the printables included in “Make a Dragon a Taco” activity, simply cut out the tortilla, tomato, lettuce, cheese, beef, and hot sauce. To make this activity even more interactive, I also cut out the instructions for each one and put it in a separate envelope. This allowed for H to get the chance to open 6 different envelopes, which increased his overall excitement and engagement towards the activity. We worked on folding skills (tortilla), cutting skills (tomato and beef), and tearing paper skills (lettuce and cheese). Some of these skills are still tough for H, but he really enjoyed the concept of pretending to make food and even enjoyed pretending to feed it to the dragon! This is a fun, hands-on activity, that really encourages imagination and creativity!

Friday: Donut Activities

We started our donut-themed day, with a late morning snack of “healthy donuts.” Instead of fried dough, think apple slices, and instead of sugary frosting, thinking pink cream cheese with sprinkles on top! These turned out yummy and H was totally obsessed with them. I felt so much better with him snacking on these donuts over real ones. To H, as long as there are real sprinkles, these treats are just as good as the real thing.

As we munched on these, I read If You Give a Dog a Donut. We loved this book and especially love that there is a part about baseball!

Later in the afternoon, I made H an activity mat using butcher paper that had more fun donut-themed activities! I had a section for him to build-a-donut with a paper plate, paint, and colorful pipe cleaners. There was another section with the donut printable from Letter D Curriculum. I gave him crayons and encouraged him to color “sprinkles” on the big letter D’s and to color the small letter d’s brown to be the “dough”. He mostly just colored it the way he wanted, but this printable is still great for letter recognition as the donut is covered in the letter Dd!

Also, I want to note that for some reason, this week H was not interested in sitting down and participating in any of the paint-related activities. He had no interest in creating a donut. He was also just not interested in a lot of the things I presented to him this week. That is ok! It can be frustrating, but just like adults, toddlers have tough weeks and they are not always going to feel like doing things they normally enjoy. I am slowly learning to be okay with this. My hope is to always keep learning at this age light, fun, and flexible!

Letter D Sensory Bin

This is what our letter D sensory bin looked like this week! Again, these sensory bins are perfect to throw together at the beginning of the week and leave out all week for your little one to look at and interact with.

You can purchase this week of curriculum for just $5 at my TpT store!