5 Nativity Favorites for Kids

Chatting with my friend Allie this morning about the kid’s nativity sets and books that our kids love, I knew I needed to share all of our favorites along with Part 1 of the Nativity Templates I made.

Allie really recommends this one:

Fisher-Price Little People Nativity Playset

Her kids play with it a lot and sing along to the music.  It lights up so they like to play with with the lights off too.

I want this (I love advent calendars and felt boards):

Kubla Crafts Nativity Fabric Advent Calendar


Here are the 3 books we absolutely LOVE (see if your local library has them):

Finally, here is Part One of the templates that I made as an extension activity to all that you are doing learning about the birth of Jesus:

Nativity Previews.009

The templates I made are GREAT to use as play dough mats, dry-erase tracing mats, patterns to put along side your paper as you draw the pictures shape by shape, and using for construction paper art.

angel template

This Part 1 of the templates include: Joseph and Mary, an Angel, a Star, and baby Jesus.

nativity templates

It is included in my membership because I sell this template set on TeachersPayTeachers, but you can get it included in the membership for just $5 right now (limited time price).

Here is a quick little YouTube video for using the angel template:

Christmas Memory Game {Freebie}

When I sit down at night to plan for the next day, I think about what would be a great activity for Sean Patrick.  Last night as I was brainstorming, I realized that we haven’t played memory in a while.

But, I also wanted to make a memory game that the incentive for winning was not just pride.

So, each time a player makes a match they collect a snow card.

The player with the most snow gets to “shovel” the cards and set up the next game.

christmas memory game 600 x 400.002

If you have any other ideas for winners of board games please share them in a comment!

For this memory game, nine matches can be made. There are numbers and words on the cards to reinforce number recognition and reading skills too!

(To make setting up the game easier draw a game-board with 18 rectangles for the kids to play the cards face down on).

The other extra page is a blank template if you want to extend this game by having the students cut up magazines to make their own matching game.

I will add pictures or a video of Sean Patrick and I playing this later but for now…

Here is your Game Printable!  Click here!

Or, if you have a TeacherPayTeachers account, click here, and follow me too please. 🙂

I recommend printing this game onto card stock so that you can’t see through.

Showing Your Children How They Communicate

Recently, in my “Parenting is Heart Work” group, we talked about how some children have a VERY hard time taking “no” for an answer.

Anyone? Anyone else experience this with their child?

I’m wondering if there are parents who don’t relate to this?!?

Well, children don’t recognize that when they don’t say “Yes ma’am” or “Yes Sir” to our rules and expectations that they appear to “disrespect” our authority.  They simply can’t comprehend why we would deprive them of joy…. ever.   Kids are like “Wait you are my parent… you are supposed to meet all my wants and needs in my timing at all times”  haha they are adorably mistaken.

But, we have a little of that in us as adults as well;  so, instant gratification is not a foreign concept for us either.

Either way, we have a big responsibility to ensure that our children become civilized little beings who can communicate in healthy ways… and unfortunately sometimes we don’t exactly model healthy responses.  As parents we can often be more reactive than anything else.

When Sean Patrick crosses his arms, throws himself on the floor, or loses his control, he doesn’t know that not only are his words destructive but his voice level and his body language also need to be replaced with appropriate responses.

So, I created a visual to show him how he communicates with me.

SS teaching children emotional control

I talked to him about all the different ways we can communicate about something and I made up stories about the children in a few of the pictures.  I strategically “make up” stories that are past examples of Sean Patrick’s impulsive responses.

For the picture of the demanding child crossing his arms I might say “This is Johnny.  Johnny’s mommy said that he couldn’t have a gummy snack until after dinner, and Johnny said ‘NO! I want it NOW!’  Can you see what Johnny’s face and arms are doing?  Do you think he is ready to listen and say “Okay mommy!”  Or do you think he is going to make his problem worse?  (Sean Patrick said he is not listening to his mom and he needs to get in control) .  The way Johnny is speaking to his mom with a mean face and crossed arms shows his mommy that he is demanding she listen to him instead of using his words to talk about the problem.  Can you tell Johnny that he can have a happy heart and wait until after dinner to get his fruit snack?”

We talk about the pictures and we also practice coping and fixing our problems AFTER we have a problem and he cools down I might say, “Sean Patrick what went wrong when we had that problem earlier?  Did you  try hard to calm down and talk about the problem or were you out of control?” (He usually is very honest about his emotions.  After we talk about that then we practice our coping strategies:  breathing, counting, walking out of the room for a minute, etc.

I hope this helps you too!

If you want this printable you can get it HERE

{DIY} Personalized Scripture Cards

My latest project is complete… and I’m pretty excited about it.  The best part is that I really had fun sticking pictures on these Scripture cards that I made for our family.

displaying Scripture Cards

I got this idea the other night simply looking through pictures on my phone.

Looking at each picture, I would think of  different Bible verses like:

scripture cards

“How sweet it is when brothers live in unity…”(Psalm 133:1)  or looking at a picture of my mckayla enjoying a cupcake and “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) popped into my mind.  So, I started searching for companies that made picture stickers.  Tons of companies make them, but not sticker pages that could be made of multiple pictures.

Then, I stumbled upon Moo.com and found this:

Create 90 different photo stickers


A sticker book of 90 pictures for just $9.99!

sticker pictures from Moo.com

I uploaded lots of my Instagram pictures from my Facebook account into their program (which didn’t take long), and then ordered my book.  When it came in, it felt like Christmas.  At nap time, I printed my Scripture cards & got busy.

Scripture Card Sorting

After printing my Scripture Card Printable I spread out all of the Scriptures all over my table so that I could pick which pictures applied most specifically to each verse.  I was excited to make them really meaningful.

Laminating Scipture Cards

After I finished matching all of my stickers and cards, I laminated them and cut them (you can do both of these things at an office supply store); I laminated mine with my affordable self-laminator 

guillotine cutter

that I love.  I bought mine at Walmart.

I cut them with my guillotine cutter.

Then, I searched around my house for the perfect place to place them… they are currently in my rooster coffee cups. 🙂

diplaying scripture cards in coffee cups

When I shared the idea with my friend the other day, she asked me,

“How would you introduce these?”

I let her know that I try to 1) Memorize most of the verses so that I can make them a part of our natural conversations.

I occasionally 2) Make observations verbally:

“Sean Patrick, you are being such a kind big brother.  Did you know that the Bible says “Be kind and loving toward one another?”  It makes God, Daddy, and Mommy so proud to see you doing those things.

Sometimes, I 3) Show my kids the pictures and we discuss them…

“See this picture of Mckayla and Meme looking at the sky God made?  The Bible says that the Heavens tell about God’s beauty…. Can you see how beautiful He is when you look at the sky?”

Finally, when they are old enough to read, I will 4) Ask my kids to read me a verse so we can talk about it, how we can see that verse in our lives, and how we can do a better job of living out that verse.

Does that make sense?

My mom did such a great job investing in my five siblings and myself by teaching us lots and lots of Bible verses in such a natural and meaningful way.

I am excited to follow in my precious momma’s footsteps and purpose teaching invaluable truth to my kids.

You could also use these as part of your daily devotions and come up with activities or songs to go with them. 😉

5 Tools to Make Reading Fun!

Let’s face it, learning how to read isn’t always the most exciting thing in the world, especially when you are practicing fluency with words that do not even exist (a common practice to gauge phonemic awareness and blending sounds).

James’ teacher sent home a new fluency folder that includes lists of non-sensical (made-up) CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant), sight and high-frequency words. Reading these lists can be absolutely BO-RING for both the reader (your child) and the listener (most often, you, Mommy Teacher).  It’s also super easy to get overwhelmed by unfamiliar words in these early reading stages, so, how can we make reading fun and enjoyable???

Here are 5 inexpensive and cheap tools that you can use:

1.  TRACKING FINGERS:  My son’s fluency folder came equipped with a rubber witch’s finger to use to follow the words left-right, top-bottom.  (I specifically wrote this post right before Halloween so that you can go pick some up at your local dollar store before the 31st!  You’re welcome!)  As soon as James hopped in the car from carpool he was pulling out his new fluency folder and showing us how to use his tracking finger… and now my 4-year old wants one too!



2.  PUNCTUATION SWITCH:  Take a popsicle stick and draw an exclamation point on one end, switch it around and draw a question mark on the other end.  Read the story (or even just a list of words) by adding different emphases at the end of phrases.  A simple change in intonation can make for an interesting read with even the most boring of texts – or it can make a silly book even sillier! (A twist on this is to sing the text… one of my son’s favorites that I catch him doing even when he doesn’t have an audience listening.)



3.  CATERPILLAR CHART:  When I was teaching, I used a caterpillar chart to keep track of how many books we read throughout the year.  I wrote the title and author of each book we read on a different circular body segment of the caterpillar.  By the end of the year, our caterpillar’s body went half way around the classroom!

You can use a similar, smaller version at home by using stickers.  Start off by using a sticker for every word your child can read by him/herself, and then move up to simple books.  With your younger child, you can just keep track of the number of books you read to him/her.  Set a number goal of number of words or books you need to reach before your caterpillar can turn into a butterfly!


“To help my caterpillar grow and grow,

I must read at least 1 book (or new word) a day.

Once he gets to be 10 stickers long,

He will grow wings and fly away.”

4.  WHISPER PHONES:  I am pretty sure Jessica has written a post about these before, but it’s always a fun reminder for next time you are at your local home improvement store.  Grab a PVC pipe and some 90 degree elbow fittings, cut it down to about 6 inches, and you have a great reading tool!  Teachers use these in classrooms all the time for young readers to hear themselves read out loud without making a lot of noise.  With these phones, even the quietest whisper is audible to only the reader.


5.  MAGNIFYING GLASS/GLASSES:  Grab some goofy glasses or a magnifying glass and all of a sudden reading became a game!  Much like the tracking finger and whisper phones from above, this reading tool just makes reading a little more fun… well, to your pre-schooler or school-aged child… I, personally, don’t get it 😉  If you have some old sunglasses, punch out the lenses so your child can have some new, funky eyewear while being studious!


What tools do you use to make reading fun for your child?  Share with us on Facebook or comment below!


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