Great Gift Idea….A Story-telling Bag…DIY!

One teaching tool that I love to have within an arm’s reach is my storytelling bag collection.  I hesitated to use the word “collection” but I looked up synonyms and nothing was cooler than that so I guess I have to admit that I collect storytelling bags.  A storytelling bag is basically a themed bag that includes a book, props for that book, and some teaching tips and ideas (mini-lesson plans) that extend the learning opportunities for that theme.  I love to use props to act out a story because drama really brings the characters to life and children are better able to recall the story from memory.

So many skills can be hit on using story telling bags…. check out some of Louisiana’s ELA grade level expectations for “reading literature and informational text” and “speaking and listening” for ideas.

Here is an example of a story-telling bag (also called a literacy bag),

and here is my effort to create the same story-telling bag for a friend who homeschools on her little one’s birthday 🙂

The llama is from Bolivia, in South America…. so glad my impulse buys came in handy 🙂

I also added teaching tips in the bag. You can do the same by typing the name of the book that you are gifting into a google search followed by “lesson plans” or something similar….OR you can come up with your own!  I may be the mommy teacher but I truly believe in saving time, (money), and reserving energy for my kids so do what is best for YOU.  In fact, if you are a garage-saler, be on the look-out for quality books and props that might correspond to the books and you will save money, and time shopping for the next birthday gift!

Adorable, DIY, No Sew, Easter Baskets & Liners For Under $10

For the last two years I really wanted to order Pottery Barn Baskets and Liners because I thought they were so cute, but SO expensive…even on sale!  So, I attempted to make my own by going to my friend and neighbor’s house who could teach me how to sew elastic on the end of fabric to attach to a basket.  But, she helped me pull together a GREAT idea instead….all thanks to a MISTAKE my husband made!!!

I saw these super cute, SUPER cheapbaskets on a stand at the PRODUCE market nearby:

And I chose this one for JUST $6!!!!:

I sent my husband to the store to buy pastel blue and pink FABRIC and he came back withBANDANAS because he thought they were “cooler” and only cost $1.79 a piece!!!

So, I brought them to my friends and said “What can I do with a basket + a bandana?”

And this is what she came up with:

1) Place the bandana in the basket with the corner’s lining up AROUND the basket handle.

2) Place something in the basket to weigh the center down.

3) Tie knots around both handles using the corners of the bandana, adjusting as needed after both sides are tied.

4)  Tuck the extra material through the basket handle and hot glue it to the underside of the knot.

 5 ) “PIN IT!” and “share it” if you like it 🙂

Displaying Your Little One’s Name

A friend of mine from Santa Cruz, Bolivia sent me a name plate for Sean Patrick that I have hanging on the headrest in front of his car seat.  Displaying words that are meaningful to children is key because children “study” the print after you have talked through it with them.  These images become input in their working memory and will benefit your little one’s ability to recall important information.  Don’t just assume that they know what the print is or says (even if there is a picture).  Talk about every feature. 

For this name plate we talk about the color, shape, letters, the ball, and that those are the letters in his name.  We sing our little song, and I ask him about it as we are riding along.  I know this may seem so “behind the times” because most people have a tv in their head rest these days, but if that is the case hang skill sets on the back of the driver or passenger seat because either way it is a great visual for concentration.

I really recommend making one WITH your little one, but if you want to buy a decorative one my friend is in the business of making them and she calls them “Name Plaques” so contact her if you want to buy an affordable, customized display of your little one’s name.

Crafty Christmas Clipboard

I love making my niece’s Christmas gifts because it gives me the chance to make them something they can use for their learning adventures.  This year I decided to make personalized clipboards because little ones feel so grown up using a clipboard and it encourages writing practice.  My niece’s get so excited about the handmade gifts which makes it so worth my time!

It was as easy as this….I bought a wooden clipboard from walmart:



Bought an alphabet stencil at Hobby Lobby and painted my little niece’s name on the front:

And I painted the entire stencil of abc’s and 123’s on the back:

Finally, I put a little paint on one of my baby’s wet wipes and brushed it over the surface to give it the distressed look I wanted it to have:


Personalized ABC Book

A few years ago I decided to make my super-amazing niece a personalized ABC book for Christmas.
To start, I wrote out the ABCs in a powerpoint document (one letter per slide) and then I inserted pictures that I had of my niece and her loved ones in front of the letter that corresponded to the beginning sound, like this:

A –  picture of Kaylee at an “Astros” Game

B –  picture of Kaylee with her “Becca”

C –  picture of Kaylee with her Uncle “Chris”

D –  picture of Kaylee with her “Daddy”    and so on.

I put the book to a song so that Kaylee could read it and develop fluency independently.  The song was Dr. Jean’s “Who Let the Letters Out” to the tune of “Who Let The Dogs Out?” For each letter the page read “Who let the “A” out? /a/ /a/ /a/  astros and you simply replace the letters like this “/a/” with the letter sound.  Then,I printed the pages onto colored cardstock, laminated them, and bound them together with a spiral.

Kaylee called my husband “Patrick Uncle” when she was two.

This would be a great book for you to make for your little one because it really makes the letter-sound associations so meaningful.

My sister, Ali (the beautiful “Mommy” on the letter M page), had a GREAT idea….  When she went to re-create the book for a friend, she started a digital book (examples are shutterfly, mypublisher, or snapfish).

Here she added a dedication and a title page with the instructions.

And here she added the words in ABC order in the user friendly way that you would read/sing the lyrics.  She was going to add pictures of the word associations in the drop-boxes after she received them.

This method of making the book is really practical because these companies make it pretty foolproof and they send you the bound book which looks very professional.  So, it is up to you – if you are the type of person who likes to make things by hand or if you are the type who likes to save the time and make it online!  Either way, if you make one, send me a picture or attach it to the Mommy Teacher Page to share with other mommies!

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