Alphabet Blocks

This alphabet activity is a great way to get exposure to the alphabet during block play. Do you have a kiddo who loves blocks? He/she loves blocks so much that you just can’t get them interested in anything else? Here is a way to incorporate their love of blocks and stacking with learning the alphabet.
alphabet activity - teaching creative minds the alphabet
This post has been updated from September 2, 2016.
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Happy Friday!

Sometimes you have a kiddo who really enjoys playing with one thing. This may make you feel like you can’t work on any skills besides that one thing. We need to get creative!

As a parent, you may not have time for that – ha! And I totally get it. So I’m here to get creative for you with a great alphabet activity for kiddos who love blocks.

Dylan has been having a blast with his big Duplo blocks. He grabs the big bucket and drags them into my craft room and goes to town. He builds trains, spiders, buildings, cars, “shooters,” airplanes…you name it, he’s built it. He even uses the bucket as part of his play. It’s usually a body of water – ocean, lake, river, whatever.

Photo of alphabet blocks - letters B and G

I have been wanting to get him exposed to the alphabet as he starts preschool in a few weeks (right after Labor Day) but he has no desire. So I thought back to my preschool days. When lesson planning, I always catered to the boys because they were more stubborn. I would be more likely to see boys doing a “girl activity” than girls doing a “boy activity.” So I used the blocks to my advantage a lot.

Sensory activities can be enhanced to work on any skill!

It’s important to take kids’ favorite toys and incorporate other skills into them. This is also why I did so much sensory when I taught. Most of the students I came across really enjoyed sensory play. I learned that they would pretty much do anything, as long as I added it to the sensory table. So, if we were working on colors, I would add different colored items to the sensory table and we would work on sorting. If we were working on numbers, I could add number cards to the sensory table with small objects so they could count and work on one-to-one correspondence. You can adjust your targeted skill to their interests.

Find out why I think flashcards are a waste of time!

Photo of alphabet blocks - letters B and G

I took out his Duplo blocks, measured them and then created rectangles for the 2 part blocks. I printed this out and cut them up and taped them to the front of each block (I didn’t have a lot so I used both sides of the blocks for the letters – uppercase on one side and lowercase on the other side).

Photo of alphabet blocks - letters B and G and J

At first, I’m not gonna lie, he ripped them off and told me he didn’t want them on his blocks. So, obviously not on my side. But I put them back on and he was playing with them. He wouldn’t stack them according to their letter and picture (which is fine because my intention was just to get him exposed to the letters), but I did catch him repeating the letters as he picked them up or saying the picture.

In my book, that’s a success.

You could really do anything on these. Animals, people…tailor it to their age group and interest.

Alphabet Block Activity Skills

  • Exposure to letters: As I mentioned, the alphabet is not super age appropriate for a 3 year old, but that doesn’t mean you can’t expose them to the letters so they start to recognize them. My intention of this activity was NOT to get him to match letters with their sounds. It was to expose him to the alphabet.
  • Fine motor: Stacking the blocks helps strengthen fine motor skills, which I always talk about. It is important for pre writing, too!
  • Creativity: If they bypass the alphabet activity altogether and only stack/build (which is fine, by the way!), then they are working on exercising their creativity. Don’t worry – they’re still seeing the letters!
  • Turn taking: If they grab a sibling or a friend, this works on turn taking and cooperative play.

You can download the letter version here for your own use.

Looking for more activities that help with letters? Check out this simple DIY Letter Flip Book!


Grocery list and meal planning printable

In my Facebook recipe group, I post every Sunday (read: try to post every Sunday) what our meals are going to be for the week. I have found that planning each week makes us spend less money on groceries (because there are no last minute grocery trips for “a few things” to make this random recipe). It also makes it so that we go out to eat a lot less, which saves us a ton of money – we were going out to eat at least twice a week. It was a bad, bad habit. I never cooked on the weekends it felt like.

When I post my meal plan for the week, people will comment on how organized (ha!) it is or say “how do you do it? I could never do it!” And the truth is, YES YOU CAN. If I can, you can. I decided to break it down for everyone and tell you HOW I do it. Plus, I’ll give you some FREE printables. You can print new ones each week, you can print one and laminate it or put it in a sheet protector and then use a dry erase marker..whatever you prefer.

*Note: I only plan dinners. Breakfasts and lunches are a free for all. But I put all three on here for anyone that does all 3.*

In the beginning of the month, I sit down with my phone and look through Pinterest and my Facebook group to gather some meal ideas. I also have an excel spreadsheet (nerd, I know) with all of our favorites. It has the name of the recipe and the link. I print it out and then I have it on hand. I am in the process of switching over to pencil and paper recipes books. I come up with about 20 (I throw in our regulars each month – frozen pizza, leftovers once a week, hot dogs, mac and cheese, frozen meals I made in bulk the previous month, we go out to eat for dinner once a month, etc) different meal ideas and list them out. Then, from here, I pick and choose each Sunday which ones I want for that week. Again, I do leftovers every Thursday or Friday, and a “regular” meal once a week so I really am only coming up with 5 meals a week.

I keep that list on my fridge and each Sunday when I plan something from it, I tick it off of my list.

I take the monthly list that I made and make my grocery list from there. I try to pick and choose meals based off of what I already have in the house so that I am not overbuying.

Then I go through our necessities and see if we are in need of those – coffee, milk, eggs, cheese, creamer, lunch meat, Goldfish, etc. I add those to my list and it’s off to the store!

I also created a “freezer list” for you. When I make some meals, I double the batch and freeze what we don’t eat to save it for future meals. Chili, taco pasta, meatballs, pulled pork, etc. (You see what I did there?! 😉 )Our freezer where we keep the meals is in the basement. So I like to have a list of what’s going on in there.

Here are the printables…(Click on them, then save, then open and print) 🙂

So, while this isn’t groundbreaking, I hope it can inspire at least one person to start meal planning in their family! It sounds overwhelming but it really isn’t. Would I ever lead you in the wrong direction?! Please comment if you have any questions!


Paint Swatch Number Activity – One to One Coorespondence

At the risk of sounding so completely cheesy and cliche, my favorite part of teaching (and one of my favorite parts of parenting) is seeing kids “get it.” Seeing their eyes light up when they understand that 11 comes after 10. Seeing them get so excited when they write their name properly (still trying to find a fun activity to get Dylan to write his name!). The joy in their faces is amazing (to me at least) and the idea that I had a hand in them understanding that is indescribable. I miss it so, so much!

We have been working on numbers with Dylan and he has a book from Usbourne called “1001 Animals to Spot.” Each page has a different habitat and tells you how many of each animal to find. He is currently obsessed with it (he goes through phases where we read the same 2 books every night for a few weeks) and can recognize all the numbers 1-10 (that’s as high as they go). But he doesn’t quite have the one-to-one correspondence yet, which is fine. He has some time!

What is one-to-one correspondence, you ask? It’s the ability to actually count items. Kids Dylan’s age can count, but they’re not actually counting when they learn numbers. They are essentially memorizing the numbers and their order. Children with one-to-one correspondence demonstrate that they understand that this duck is 1, this one makes 2, this one makes 3, etc. Right now Dylan will point to the animals as he counts which is a start, but he does that because we do it. He sometimes skips ducks or counts a duck a few times.

You can also use this activity a step further by adding and subtracting, and I’ll show you how at the end.

I took paint swatches from Home Depot (free, but I always feel like I have to do it discreetly) and leftover glass gems I had from 2 other projects. I wrote numbers on each color and would hand him a certain amount of gems. Then I would tell him to count the gems and show me on the paint swatch how many he had. He started to place the gems on the cards if he could.

(It is impossible to get an in action picture of this kid that isn’t blurry)

If you want to work on addition, you can take two paint swatches and a plus sign (I wrote it on a larger paint chip, along with an equals sign), and find the paint Swatch with the answer. Easy enough, right? 🙂

He really loved playing with the gems and even telling me which number was which. He always surprises me when I give him these activities. He goes right ahead and does them on his own – making up his own rules. 

Happy teaching!

Craft Room Art

When we went and saw our new house for the first time, I was obsessed. If I’m being honest, I was obsessed because I knew I could have my own craft room. My “craft room” at our old house was an Elfa system from the Container Store and then an old IKEA desk with a sewing machine and random mismatched bins from The Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby (not without a coupon), Target and Wal-Mart, all crammed into a small, unfinished basement. There was nothing cute about it. 
So when I saw that I could have my own space, I was hooked. But then we moved in. I quickly realized how low if a priority it had become. I had all this super cute art that I had printed out before we even put an offer on the new house. But it just sat in a pile in my craft room, waiting patiently for me.
The room still has A LOT of work to go, but it is getting somewhere. I really want to paint it and get all coordinating furniture and maybe some built ins for storage. But for now, quotes will have to do.
Since I am not a fan of permanency or putting holes in my walls, I bought these 3M clips. They are like the hooks but they clip. 
I eyeballed their placement (they’re not centered on the wall but I did that on purpose) and put 3 clips up. Then I used hemp cord and strung it through the clips.
I love, love, love clothespins,  so I used them to hang the prints up.
These are some of my favorite quotes. This one is probably my most favorite. Words I live by, definitely. 
The lighting in my craft room is awful! But this is how it turned out. I am so in love with it and I can’t wait to get the walls painted and organize my supplies. Maybe when my kids are out of high school 😉

Pantry Organization from The Dollar Tree

A while ago I did a little teaser on my Etsy Facebook page about reorganizing my pantry.

It was a waaaaaay premature post.

I was not ready.

I am really good at that. I like to get really excited about stuff, tell people, and then it fizzles out. What can I say? I get really excited when I get new ideas. Which is literally every day.

I bought the bins from the Dollar Tree to use and it was going well but then we went grocery shopping so I had to reorganize again. And again. And again.

But, here we are, months later, with a plan! And I want to share it with you.

I always saw pins on Pinterest that said “organize your entire house, car and office with 1 trip to the Dollar Store!” And with excited eyes (and probably a beer), I would click on said pin and it would do 1 of 2 things – be a dead end or take me to a blog post where I didn’t have that dollar store or they lived in Canada or not everything was from the Dollar Store or they just LIED. So I took my happy self to The Dollar Tree and got to work.

As much as I hate it, I do have a disclaimer. These stores have random bins in random colors, which is why not all of my colors are the same. I wish they were, and I strive to have them all the same colors, but I just couldn’t on my couple of trips.

So here’s a picture of my pantry…

And I’ll break down each bin I bought there (all the containers you see in here were purchased at The Dollar Tree (in Villa Park, to be exact).

First up are probably my favorite containers. They have them in 3 different sizes. These are the medium sized ones – 3 quarts. They fit an entire box of cereal or bag of pretzels / chips (right now the veggie straws have taken up residency). We buy goldfish in the big bulk box and they don’t all fit in there but after we’ve snacked on them for a few days, we can fit them all in. I just take the rest of the box and store it at the very top of the pantry with all of my extras that are not currently in use.

The next one is the rectangle boxes. I have one on the floor with fruit cups and 2 on the shelves. One holds rice and potato sides and one holds pasta. I buy mac and cheese from Costco (don’t judge) so I keep a few boxes in with the pasta and the rest up top with things that I am not currently consuming.

The 2 blue ones are stackable ones. They don’t have them online but they are in store. The top bin is candy and the bottom bin is peanut butter cracker sandwiches. We eat those on the regular here.

Then I use these for Reagan’s snacks. Anything she can have goes in this basket. I also have some in the cabinet for granola bars and one for fruit snacks.

Aren’t those purple snack cups cute?! Use coupon code “CUTECUP” in my Etsy shop for FREE SHIPPING on them!

If you actually browse the organization aisle in the Dollar Tree, you can find lots of other bins that might work for you. Just measure your shelves first before you go! 🙂