Category Archives: Tot School

Summer of Shapes: Circle

Kent was 22 months old.

After doing our colors and some fun miscellaneous themes last year we were ready for something else to carry us through the summer months.  Why not shapes!?  I was a bit skeptical that Kent would actually pick up on the shapes and learn to identify them.  However, the same thing that happened with our color themes has been happening with the shape themes.  He seems oblivious to what I’m trying to show him, and then weeks later he pipes up with “Triangle!” and I realize that he did get it.  Our learning time together is supposed to be a fun, intentional way to expose him to new concepts.  That’s it: exposure without expectations.  That’s what works.

We started with the circle shape.  Here are our tot trays:

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Ball Matching printable from Memorizing the Moments.  I printed two copies of the strip, cut the balls out of one and glued magnets on the back.  I taped the strip down so it wouldn't slide around.  He did it a couple times and that was it.

Ball Matching printable from Memorizing the Moments. I printed two copies of the strip, cut the balls out of one and glued magnets on the back. I taped the strip down so it wouldn’t slide around. He did it a couple times and that was it.

Silverware matching.  I used our full size silverware and just laid it right on the scanner to make a copy.  I glued them to the tray with a glue stick: they peeled right off and the glue came off easily with a wash cloth.  He didn't love it.

Silverware sorting. I used our full size silverware and just laid it right on the scanner to make a copy. I glued them to the tray with a glue stick: they peeled right off and the glue came off easily with a wash cloth. He didn’t love it.

This is something new that we ordered with an Amazon gift card: Lauri Toys Smart Shapes and Stacking Pegs.  He REALLY liked this one!

This is something new that we ordered with an Amazon gift card: Lauri Toys Smart Shapes and Stacking Pegs. He REALLY liked this one!

I made this color wheel and used permanent markers to make coordinating mini clothespins. We had never tried clipping before and it was too hard for him. Now I know we have more work to do on those little hand muscles!

Nesting cups from Green Sprouts.  He had a lot of fun with these so we moved them to his toy kitchen where he can always access them.Nesting cups from Green Sprouts. He had a lot of fun with these so we moved them to his toy kitchen where he can always access them.

"A Shape Can Be..."  circle printable from Making Learning Fun.  I laminated them and added velcro dots.  This one was a big hit!  “A Shape Can Be…” circle printable from Making Learning Fun. I laminated them and added velcro dots. This one was a big hit!

"Shape Magnet Cards" printable also from Making Learning Fun.  I laminated it, taped it to his magnetic dry erase board, and added some matching pom pom magnets.  I moved it to our fridge when the week was over and he still does it occasionally but isn't a huge fan.

Shape Magnet Cards” printable also from Making Learning Fun. I laminated it, taped it to his magnetic dry erase board, and added some matching pom pom magnets. I moved it to our fridge when the week was over and he still does it occasionally but isn’t a huge fan.

Here are some action shots for you:IMG_5220IMG_5219IMG_5226

Baking with Mama!

Baking with Mama!

Pouring beans between two coffee mugs.  He still loves this, it's kind of a standby.

Pouring beans between two coffee mugs. He still loves this, it’s kind of a standby.

Marble track!  This was a Goodwill find but it's the first time I've had it out.

Marble track! This was a Goodwill find but this was the first time I got it out.

This post is linked to:

Tot School: Chick theme

Kent was 21 months old.

I found so many cute chick activities while searching for Easter ideas!  We raise a couple hundred chickens a year here, plus we have some laying hens wandering around.  Our first batch of day-old chicks arrived on April 5th.  We learned all about chicks and chickens that week!

I picked up this cool life cycle of a chicken set at the Chippewa Nature Center.  We used it as the basis for the week’s activities.  I put some white, yellow, and orange feathers in his sensory bin.  At first I added only the nest and eggs figurine.  We talked about eggs and decorated an egg coloring page.

Here he is sitting in the bin of feathers!

Here he is sitting in the bin of feathers!

Each day I added another figurine and talked to him about what it was.  Then we laid out each day’s coloring picture and matched up them up with the figurines.  We colored a hen on the fourth day and a rooster on the fifth day, even though the set only has one adult bird.  He recognized rooster, hen, etc. when we used those words but I explained that the rooster is the daddy, the hen is the mama, and the chick is the baby.  That made a big impression on him: now he always asks if an animal is a mama or daddy!

Who needs paintbrushes when you can just use a nest?

Who needs paintbrushes when you can just use a nest?

The chick walked on his nose...

The chick walked on his nose…

... right after it walked through paint, apparently!

… right after it walked through paint, apparently!

I gave him the chance to stick feathers on the paintings, on the last day, but he only added a few.

I gave him the chance to stick feathers on the paintings, on the last day, but he only added a few.

Our completed life cycle project.  The adult chicken figurine had already jumped in the sink for a bath.

Our completed life cycle project. The adult chicken figurine had already jumped in the sink for a bath.

He really enjoyed this spooning activity:  two terra cotta bowls, corn, and a round spoon.  One bowl did get broken but I had a replacement.

He really enjoyed this spooning activity: two terra cotta bowls, corn, and a round spoon. One bowl did get dropped and broken but I had a replacement.

Color reinforcement: matching pom pom chicks to the correct egg.  I hot glued googly eyes and felt beaks on to the pom poms.

Color reinforcement: matching pom pom chicks to the correct egg. I hot glued googly eyes and felt beaks on to the pom poms.

I made a chicken hand puppet in about 10 minutes with an old sock, felt, scissors, googly eyes, cardboard and hot glue.  I cut a hole in the end of the sock and put cardboard inside of it for the beak shape.  I was inspired by this tutorial.

He's cuter when you're not trying to photograph him on your own hand while holding the camera in the other.

He’s cuter when you’re not trying to photograph him on your own hand while holding the camera in the other.

My intent was for Kent to use the puppet and go around the house picking up pieces of “food”, i.e. balled up brown paper, with the beak.  The puppet was a little awkward for his small hands so instead he picked up the food and Brian or I grabbed it out of his hands with the puppet.  He thought this was hilarious and wanted to feed the chicken all week.  We had fun pecking at him. 😉

Feeeeed me!

Feeeeed me!

We wrapped up with this cute hand print project.  I colored the features on after the paint dried.

We wrapped up with this cute hand print project. I colored the features on after the paint dried.

Additional activities:

  • We used the This Little Chick printable activity to review colors.  We had two copies of the chicks, one cut out and one still together on pages.  I read the poem and asked him to help each bird find it’s friend of the same color.  The poem (in a singsong voice) really caught his interest.  We completed the matching a few times throughout the week – much more than we’ve done with plain matching cards.
  • We did the disappearing egg shell experiment.  I poured the vinegar in the jar and had him drop the egg in.  He wasn’t very happy that he didn’t get to play with it more.  A couple days later I opened the jar and gave it to him to explore in the bathtub right before bath time.

Have you learned about any fun, different animals lately?

This post is linked to:
Tot School Gathering Place ~ Week 17

Tot School: Gray

Kent was 20 months old.

Well… this will give me a chance to catch up on these posts.  We hardly did anything for gray week!  Or, maybe we did, but it’s all a blur and I didn’t take any pictures.  Brian was off work for awhile with a wrist problem and I think gray week fell on his first week home.  It was a hard adjustment for us (mostly me, I admit it!) but in the end we made a lot of good memories and were sad to have him go back to work.  We just didn’t make any memories about the color gray, apparently.

I was able to snap a couple pictures of some materials we used, and I can share some of the projects I’d had in mind…

He colored his gray bingo marker page.  We color one of these every week to introduce each new color.

He colored his gray bingo marker page. We color one of these every week to introduce each new color.

We learned the ASL sign for dolphin with this flashcard from babysignlanguage.com.  He played a lot with a blue play silk (water) and toy dophins from his toob.

We learned the ASL sign for dolphin with this flashcard from babysignlanguage.com. He played a lot with a blue play silk (water) and toy dophins from his toob.

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We did a little matching with these flashcards. He wasn’t really in to it.

I think we had some elephant books from the library but, alas, no pictures of those either.  We used his Melissa & Doug Safari animals puzzle as our puzzle of the week.

Other ideas I had in mind that didn’t come to fruit this time:

  • Sing and dance to “The Old Gray Mare” (available on YouTube)
  • Make an elephant mask out of a paper plate (lots of tutorials available online)
  • Color this gray wolf page.
  • Play with newspaper, either in the form of paper mache or recycled pizza.

What’s your best idea for a “gray” activity?

 

Tot School: Easter

Instead of doing our normal tot trays we did our own version of Resurrection Eggs to lead up to Easter Sunday.  We started on Palm Sunday.  For more details on these projects please see my post about Resurrection Eggs for Toddlers using The Beginner’s Bible.

After reading about Palm Sunday we walked his donkey (Eeyore) over leaves cut from felt.

After reading about Palm Sunday we walked his donkey (Eeyore) over leaves cut from felt.

Then we made a path all over the house with green clothes and walked the donkey (and ourselves!) over them.

Then we made a path all over the house with green clothes and walked the donkey (and ourselves!) over them.

I printed the black and white Triumphal Entry coloring page from here.  Kent used the felt leaves and a clothespin to paint it green.

I printed the black and white Triumphal Entry coloring page from here. Kent used the felt leaves and a clothespin to paint it green.

It turned out really cool because when the paint dried it acted like glue and held the leaves to the page - a totally unintended but fun extra!

It turned out really cool because when the paint dried it acted like glue and held the leaves to the page – a totally unintended but fun extra!

I didn't have anything else to represent perfume so we used a small plastic vial of eye drops.

I didn’t have anything else to represent perfume so we used a small plastic vial of eye drops.

I made these cards for him to smell from things we had around the house.

I made these cards for him to smell from things we had around the house.

Our cracker (bread) breaking was a bust.  It initiated a tantrum because he wanted to eat the crackers.

Our cracker (bread) breaking was a bust. It initiated a tantrum because he wanted to eat the crackers.

The silver coins activity was pretty cool.

The silver coins activity was pretty cool.

He had more fun sticking and unsticking the magnets than putting them on the sheet.

He had more fun sticking and unsticking the magnets than putting them on the sheet.

The tape resist project was probably my favorite.

The tape resist project was probably my favorite.

The effect was stunning!

The effect was stunning!

He liked the nailing activity and came back to it day after day.  He mostly put the nails in the same holes each time.

He liked the nailing activity and came back to it day after day. He mostly put the nails in the same holes each time.

The crown activity went over well.

The crown activity went over well.

I was surprised he actually wore it and was excited to show Daddy later.

I was surprised he actually wore it and was excited to show Daddy later.

The night before Easter we made Resurrection rolls.  This year we opted for the super easy recipe described here.   I even splurged and bought the pre-made dough.  He had fun helping with this and so did I (pretty impressive since it was almost 10 o’clock when we did it!).  They turned out delicious and perfect for a busy morning.

He got a modest Easter basket from us, and lots of goodies from his Grandmas.  From us: a couple of used books, a blue play silk, a palette shaped like a flower, and this set of garden tools.

He got a modest Easter basket from us: a couple of used books, a blue play silk, a palette shaped like a flower, and this set of garden tools.

His Grandmas spoiled him.  He got his first chocolate rabbit.  We waited for him to put it down and then tucked it away in the cabinet for later.  After awhile he became very upset and when we inquired he signed "rabbit" frantically.  Smart boy! ;)

His Grandmas spoiled him. He got his first chocolate rabbit. We waited for him to put it down and then tucked it away in the cabinet for later. After awhile he became very upset and when we inquired he signed “rabbit” frantically. Smart boy! 😉

I love this picture.  Look at those little hands.  <3

I love this picture. Look at those little hands. ❤

I know Easter was awhile ago but I hope yours was blessed and full of happy memories, like ours.

This post is linked to Tot School Gathering: Week 14.

Resurrection Eggs for Toddlers using The Beginner’s Bible

For pictures of these activities please see our Easter post.

After venting about the lack of truly Easter related “Easter” activities on the web I received several suggestions to try Resurrection Eggs. There are some commercial versions available for purchase but a quick google search pulled up several DIY editions, too. My biggest concern was making all the activities toddler-friendly. I didn’t expect him to “get it” completely but I wanted to lay a foundation for him to learn upon and have lots of fun in the process. I’d say we succeeded.

The best DIY plans I could find that were geared for toddlers came from Play Eat Grow and H is for Homeschooling. I wanted the activities to line up with the chain of events in the Bible and I wanted to tie each event in to a hands-on activity.  I pulled ideas from both blogs and added some of my own to fill our eggs.

Both of the sites I linked to offer a printable list of verses that tie in to each day’s discussion. We didn’t do any studying or memorizing of the verses this year.

Each day we opened one or two eggs and talked about the contents. Then we took the egg and contents to the living room and read the related story in our Beginner’s Bible. Then we moved on to the activity, often taking the egg with us and discussing the story more as we worked.

We skipped over a few activities but I’ll list them here in case you have time for all of them. Some days we did two eggs if we had more time or the activities were simple. There are 12 eggs but we started on Palm Sunday and went through Easter Sunday for a total of 8 days.

Egg contents, coordinating pages in the Beginner’s Bible, and activities:

  1. Perfume (small vial of eyedrops), A Gift for Jesus pgs. 423-426: I applied different scents to six index cards and introduced them one by one.  I talked about each scent and what it might remind him of.
  2. Leaves (cut from felt), The True King pgs. 427-432: First, we walked a small stuffed donkey (Eeyore) on the felt leaves.  Then, we gathered up a bunch of green fabric (clothes, towels, and blankets) and took a walk around the house.  We laid the cloths out on the floor and walked the donkey across each piece before walking across it ourselves.
  3. Piece of Cracker (to represent bread), The Last Supper pgs. 442-445: I put a few crackers in a bag on the floor and gave him a wooden hammer to break them with.
  4. 3 Dimes (to represent 30 silver coins), Jesus is Arrested and Crucified pgs. 446-452 (several eggs relate to this story so either read just the applicable pages each time or repeat the story each day):  I printed this free printable from Lapbook Lessons at 135% scale and laminated it.  Then, I hot glued 30 nickels on to round magnets (mine were strong ones from Wal-Mart but lightweight ones would do if you were only going to use them on a horizontal surface anyway).  I taped the printable to a cookie sheet and gave him the bag of coins to stick on.
  5. Cross (made from two pieces of stick and a rubber band), Jesus is Arrested and Crucified pgs. 446-452:  We did this tape resist cross painting with red paint.  It was easy and even my boy who doesn’t love to paint got enough red paint on there to create a stunning effect.  Alternatively, I thought about doing a gross motor activity with a laundry basket and added progressively heavier contents to it while discussing how heavy and burdensome the cross was.
  6. 3 Nails, Jesus is Arrested and Crucified pgs. 446-452:  I gave him a wooden hammer and showed him how to pound the nails in to Styrofoam.
  7. Crown, The True King pgs. 427-432: I printed this free crown printable on card stock.  He colored it with regular markers and Do-A-Dot markers.  I cut it out, stapled it together, and gave it back to him to wear.  Then we talked about how Jesus is our one true king.  This crown might be easy enough for a preschooler to cut, and there are several other options here.  You could use foam instead of card stock and glue on jewels or other decorations.  (Note: Jesus had no use for a fancy crown like ours but I still felt it was a good way to help my young child grasp the concept that Jesus was special.  If we repeat this activity when he’s older we’ll have to talk about humbleness.)
  8. Dice, Jesus is Arrested and Crucified pgs. 446-452: H is for Homeschooling had the idea to roll a die and put that many pieces of clothing on.  I didn’t find a die in time so we skipped this one this year.
  9. Piece of Sponge, Jesus is Arrested and Crucified pgs. 446-452: We could have incorporated water play with sponge bombs or a Montessori Sponging activity like this one.  We didn’t get to it this year.
  10. Piece of Rolled Up Toilet Paper (to represent gauze), Jesus Is Risen pgs. 453-458 (read only page 453 if you want to break it up): Wrap yourselves in toilet paper (picture mummies) or wrap stuffed animals.
  11. Pebble, Jesus Is Risen pgs. 453-458 (read only pgs. 453-455 with an older child and talk about what might happen next.  We repeated the whole story each time for emphasis): Put a gray sheet or towel or a big toy ball and put it in the entryway of a pop-up tent or teepee if you have one.  Or, make a fort and use the ball or a heavy object to block the entrance.  Talk about how Jesus couldn’t have escaped.
  12. Nothing!, Jesus Is Risen pgs. 453-458 (reread or finish): We colored picture of the open tomb, I think it came from 1+1+1=1’s Just Color Easter packet.  Next year I want to do this magic watercolor project instead.

Since this post is so long I’ll be posting pictures and details of our Easter activities in a separate post.  I hope you found some inspiration here to help you remember the real reason for Easter!

Do you have any special Easter traditions in your house?  I’d love to hear about them!

Tot School: Spring theme

Kent was 20 months old.

Wow!  I’m three weeks behind on Tot School posts again.  How does that happen?

As I was perusing the web looking for Easter ideas I kept stumbling upon tons of cute flower, bunny, and chick ideas.  Sure, they were cute and I wanted to do them, but there are not at all related to Easter in my eyes.  Since March 20th is the first day of Spring I decided to do a whole week on the new season.  Fun was had!

Our tot trays for the week:

Clockwise from top left: Duck coloring page, bug catching puzzle, pom pom activity, beginner pattern blocks, felt flowers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar activity.

Clockwise from top left: Duck coloring page, bug catching puzzle, pom pom activity, beginner pattern blocks, felt flowers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar activity.

He colored the duck.  I suggested maybe the duck should have some orange feet.  He came up with the blue eye all on his own.  I glued the feathers on, he was having an anti-glue moment.

He colored the duck. I suggested maybe the duck should have some orange feet. He came up with the blue eye all on his own. I glued the feathers on, he was having an anti-glue moment.

He does the magnetic puzzles for a few minutes but doesn't love them yet.  It seems to frustrate him that he has to pull the pieces off of the magnet wand by hand.

He does the magnetic puzzles for a few minutes but doesn’t love them yet. It seems to frustrate him that he has to pull the pieces off of the magnet wand by hand.  He has more fun trying to stick the wand to random things around the house.

I found some rabbit tongs at the dollar store and put them out with the pom pom tray.  Things like this make me glad we do Tot School.  Using the tongs was a big challenge so now I know that we need to do more activities like this to build up those little hand muscles and fine motor control.

I found some rabbit tongs at the dollar store and put them out with the pom pom tray. Things like this make me glad we do Tot School. Using the tongs was a big challenge so now I know that we need to do more activities like this to build up those little hand muscles and fine motor control.

He found an empty toilet paper tube and had fun stuffing the pom poms through it.

He found an empty toilet paper tube and had fun stuffing the pom poms through it.

I taped a piece of contact paper on the fridge to make a sticky wall and he "planted" flowers on it.  He really wasn't in to it the first couple of times but by the end of the week he loved it.  Actually, it's still up... and today he had fun sticking himself to it and pressing his face on it.  Funny boy!

I taped a piece of contact paper on the fridge to make a sticky wall and he “planted” flowers on it. He really wasn’t in to it the first couple of times but by the end of the week he loved it. Actually, it’s still up… and today he had fun sticking himself to it and pressing his face on it. Funny boy!  Note:  He did rip the contact paper down once.  I was irrationally annoyed and overreacted.  I’m a work in progress folks, but at least I’m honest.

He liked this activity so much!  I printed the caterpillar and pieces of food from here, laminated them, and attached the caterpillar to a ziploc baggie with a hole cut in it.  We had the best luck laying the pieces out in a cake pan with a towel in the bottom so he could easily pick them up.  He fed the caterpillar while we read the story a couple times but mostly he wanted to feed it, dump the pieces out, and repeat.

He liked this activity so much! I printed the caterpillar and pieces of food from here, laminated them, and attached the caterpillar to a ziploc baggie with a hole cut in it. We had the best luck laying the pieces out in a cake pan with a towel in the bottom so he could easily pick them up. He fed the caterpillar while we read the story a couple times but mostly he wanted to feed it, dump the pieces out, and repeat.

He painted a butterfly.  He doesn't love painting right now.  He asks to do it but by the time I get the paint out and put his smock on he paints two strokes and signs all done.

He painted a butterfly. He doesn’t love painting right now. He asks to do it but by the time I get the paint out and put his smock on he paints two strokes and signs all done.

Best gross motor activity ever.  The ironing board has a spot behind the couch until the weather breaks.

Best gross motor activity ever. The ironing board has a spot behind the couch until the weather breaks.

This was the second week that I requested books for our theme ahead of time.  Googling "spring theme books" or "spring reading" pulls up a lot of good lists.  The Jim Arnosky books were just part of our normal selection as we work through the shelves but they are very nature based and perfect for this theme.

This was the second week that I requested books for our theme ahead of time. Googling “spring theme books” or “spring reading” pulls up a lot of good lists. The Jim Arnosky books were just part of our normal selection as we work through the shelves but they are very nature based and perfect for this theme.

Do you do anything fun or special to recognize Spring?

This post is linked to:
Montessori Monday
Tot School Gathering Place ~ Week 13

Tot School: St. Patrick’s Day week

Kent was 20 months old.

As we’ve been growing in our faith I’ve started digging in to each holiday and trying to decipher whether or not it is worth celebrating.  For us, St. Patrick’s Day is.  We are not Catholic but the story of how St. Patrick spread the word of God is still an inspiring story that I feel Kent can benefit from hearing.  I wanted to make the week really fun.  It was VERY fun, even better than Brown week.  Planning and preparation is really paying off.

I wish I had snapped a picture of the tot tray shelf.  I’ll try to do that from now on.

We made homemade vanilla pudding and Kent stirred in green food coloring.  Fun to watch!

We made homemade vanilla pudding and Kent stirred in green food coloring. Fun to watch!

A rainbow showed up right in our front yard at the best possible time.  All three of us stopped eating in the middle of dinner and sat on the porch for awhile to enjoy the sight.  Kent is still talking about it.

A rainbow showed up right in our front yard at the best possible time. All three of us stopped eating in the middle of dinner and sat on the porch for awhile to enjoy the sight. Kent is still talking about it.

St. Patrick's Day sensory bin: 2 packages of green split peas from WalMart, green pom poms, green foam shapes from our green bath activity, 3 strands of shamrock mardi gras style beads, and a green laundry soap scoop.  He loved it!

St. Patrick’s Day sensory bin: 2 packages of green split peas from WalMart, green pom poms, green foam shapes from our Green week, 3 strands of shamrock mardi gras style beads from the dollar store, and a green laundry soap scoop. He loved it!

I asked him for a smile and this is what I got.  Funny guy!

I asked him for a smile and this is what I got. Funny guy!

Rainbow craft for Great-Grandma's birthday: I rubber banded several crayons together and let him color over where he had watercolored earlier.  Then I put glue on the pot and let him stick it where he wanted.

Rainbow craft for Great-Grandma’s birthday: I rubber banded several crayons together and let him color over where he had painted watercolor earlier. Then I put glue on the pot and let him stick it where he wanted.  Oh, and he added glitter.

This was really fun, although I couldn't get any good pictures during the activity.  It was a scavenger hunt!  I printed off some coins, colored them yellow, and laminated them.  Then I hid them in various containers: an envelope (not sealed), a ziploc bag, a take out container, a paper sack, some things with lids, and the zipper pocket on this bag.  He had fun going through and finding them and preferred to put them all in the zipper pocket as they were found.

This was really fun, although I couldn’t get any good pictures during the activity. It was a scavenger hunt!  I saw this idea here. I printed off some coins, colored them yellow, and laminated them. Then I hid them in various containers: an envelope (not sealed), a ziploc bag, a take out container, a paper sack, some things with lids, and the zipper pocket on this bag. He had fun going through and finding them and preferred to put them all in the zipper pocket as they were found.  The only free coin printable I could find was a Crayola one so I just used the coins that didn’t say Crayola.

Practical life skill: dusting with a green feather duster from the dollar store.

Practical life skill: dusting with a green feather duster from the dollar store.

The highlight of the week!  An obstacle course of green streamers!  Best gross motor activity ever.

The highlight of the week! An obstacle course of green streamers! Best gross motor activity ever.

Our house doesn't have hallways so opened up all the doors makes a circle to run around and around.

Our house doesn’t have hallways so opening up all the doors makes a circle that he can run around and around.

Over

Over

Under!

Under!

He found a ball and threw it through the streamers.

He found a ball and threw it through the streamers.

Later it the week the sensory bin made a great seat.

Later in the week the sensory bin made a great seat.

Our favorite library books from the week.  Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland was really, really good and tells the real story of St. Patrick fairly accurately from what I understand.

Our favorite library books from the week. Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland was really, really good and tells the real story of St. Patrick fairly accurately from what I understand.

We also colored a free printable of St. Patrick and made a shamrock egg carton craft.  It was a GREAT week!

Have you changed the way you think about holidays due to your faith?  Any awesome activities we missed?