25+ Children Books for Fall and Thanksgiving

25+ Children Books for Fall and Thanksgiving

Seasonal books are really great for young kids. Children can learn so many new things and be exposed to new topics through seasonal books. I typically check out most of our books from the local library, but I linked each book to the picture bellow. It would never hurt to buy some to keep in the box with your fall decorations…then you just pull them out to read when you get your fall decorations out for the year.

Here are some of our favorite Fall and Thanksgiving books:

Tips and Resources for Encouraging Creativity in Children

Tips for Encouraging Creativity in Children - Creative Play - Art for Children - How to encourage kids to be creative

5 Tips for Encouraging Creativity in Children

  1. Sit with your child on the floor and play for 5-10 minutes WITH them. I like to use this time to model out of the box ideas…or even silly ideas. You know your child, so make it something they WANT to do. Then say, “Now I need to go _______. You keep playing, and I will come back when I am done.” When you finish your task, check in on your child. It might be time to find something new to do, but they MIGHT be interacting in play. Let them be if they are having a good play time. I like to add encouragement, such as, “You are just having so much fun using your imagination.”

  2. Have open ended arts and crafts available. We love a good coloring book at our house and there is nothing wrong with that. BUT, your child also needs opportunities to create from scratch. This could be coloring a picture on a blank piece of paper or creating a masterpiece with miscellaneous craft supplies. Check out this post on Craft Items You Should Keep At Home.

  3. Have building toys available. This is one of my favorites, because I have loved seeing growth take place in my own daughter. Again, sit with your child and build along side him or her. Model how you create a structure. Then step back. If your child is having a hard time coming up with a great idea, give him some ideas. Some of my favorites are: build a playground for your babies (jumbo blocks), build a house for (insert favorite character), or build a town. After giving ideas, a lot of times your child’s imagination will start to take over.

  4. Have open ended toys that encourage pretend play. Some examples would be dress up clothes, play kitchen, play food items, baby dolls, baby doll strollers, plastic animal figurines, fort building kit or materials, doctor kits, blocks, train sets, and, of course my favorite, sensory bins.

  5. One of the most important ways to encourage creativity in your little one is to STEP BACK. Give your child some space. This might be painful. This might take some time, but that is the main way your child is going to learn to PLAY and CREATE on their own. Don’t you want that for your child?

Resources for Encouraging Creativity in Children

**Stay At Home Momming is part of the Amazon affiliate marketing program. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site, I may receive a SMALL commission from the purchase. All opinions are my own.**

$25 Sensory Essentials from a Dollar Store

If you are familiar with my blog at all, you know that I love a good sensory experience. There are just so many opportunities for learning through sensory play. I thought I would share a few items that I keep on hand from the dollar store so I am always prepared to set up a sensory bin.

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CLICK HERE for info on DIY Sensory Table pictured above.

How I spent my $25 on Sensory Essentials:

  1. Ice Cube Trays (pack of 2)

  2. Muffin Tin

  3. Funnels (Set of 3)

  4. Measuring Cups

  5. Measuring Spoons

  6. Colander

  7. Divided Bowls (Set of 2)

  8. Salad Tongs

  9. Ice Scoop

  10. Play Kitchen Utensils

  11. Rice

  12. Rice (Always grab more than one bag!)

  13. Beans

  14. Beans

  15. Beans (Always grab more!)

  16. Pasta

  17. Pasta

  18. Shaving Cream

  19. Shaving Cream

  20. Flour

  21. Baby Oil (Mix Flour and Baby Oil to make Moon Sand)

  22. Set of Shapes

  23. Set of Shapes (cannot have too many!!)

  24. Foam Letter Puzzle

  25. Shower Curtain Liner (protects your floors + helps with easy clean up!)

**Other things that are great for sensory play- playdough tools, plastic animals, bath toys, random party favors, pom poms, rocks, constuction trucks, cars**

Follow @stayathomemomming on Instagram to see how we use some of our dollar store supplies!

DIY Sensory Table

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Sensory play is one of my favorite open-ended play activities for toddlers and preschoolers. Such a great way to have some fun learning time! From day 1, I have always just set one of those under the bed storage boxes on the ground for our sensory play time, and it has worked great. But, now that my preschooler is four years old (and quite frequently wanting to sit in the dreaded ‘W’ position), I wanted to offer her a way to stand and play.

I’ve been eyeing sensory tables on Amazon for a while, but just never felt like I should spend the money on them. So I decided to build my own. I am no professional builder…I have absolutely no idea what I am doing! I totally winged this, and it WORKED! So I thought I would share the process with you.

What you need:

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What you do:

  1. Have Home Depot or Lowe’s cut your materials to size.

  2. Build a rectangle with your 1x6 pieces. Make sure to line these up to make a 90 degree angle.

  3. Add a 2x4 in each corner. I attached them 2 inches inside the 1x6 pieces. This still gave me 4 inches for my under the bed storage container to drop down from the top.

  4. Place storage container in table.

  5. Fill container with items for sensory play and ENJOY!

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Maybe that makes sense if you are wanting to build a sensory table for your littles. I’m really happy with how it turned out. I look forward to all the possibilities this set up will provide!

Thanks for reading!!

IKEA Kura Bed Makeover

If you follow along with @stayathomemomming on IG, then you know that we recently moved. Our move was less about location and more about more space for our growing family. We were living in a two bedroom townhouse with no yard or outdoor space. So the move to a 3 bedroom duplex with a yard and walkable neighborhood has been AMAZING.

I know this sounds kind of crazy, but I like moving. Sure, it is a whole lot of work and SO SO exhausting…especially with littles underfoot! BUT, I LOVE having a fresh start. Purging like crazy and setting up a newly organized house just feels good.

The most exciting thing about our new place is the third bedroom. Both of our kids are already sleeping later! Woohoo! AND, on top of that, setting up a little girl bedroom is just so much fun…especially when it is for the girliest girly girl!

You might have caught my post, Little Girl Beds on A Budget, a few weeks ago. While I loved all of those options, we decided to go with an IKEA bed. I had my mind set on one of the iron beds. Seriously, so precious and definitely the aesthetic I was going for. But when we went to IKEA, the KURA loft bed caught my 4 year old girlie’s eye. There was no saying no to her (and her daddy), so I just went with it. The only thing I just could not get over was the unfinished wood…just really not the look I was dreaming of…

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So out came the painting supplies, and here we have it:

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I am really happy with how it turned out, and I think we will be able to pass it down to little brother in a few years. I also painted these two old chests we had in storage. They were really old, but I think the paint gives the chests a whole new look. I also think that painting three pieces of the ‘bedroom set’ the same color really make it look like it was meant to be.

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Just for reference, I used Rustoleum Chalk Paint in Aged Grey. I love the price of this chalk paint. The one thing I have learned in the past, though, is that the clear coat that comes with this chalk paint line does NOT hold up very well at all. Thanks to Sara at Little Vintage Nest, I learned to use a water based polycrylic top coat. I did two coats on the chests and just one coat on the bed. I can already tell a HUGE difference.

**If you plan to paint an IKEA Kura bed, make sure you paint the end of the long pieces. I still have to go back and paint those parts…I did not realize they would show after the bed was put together.**

I still have a list of things to do in this room including: blackout window treatments, curtains to cover the MOUNDS of babies under the bed, wall decor, and just some more organization. I’m making myself tackle these items soon, so little miss can truly enjoy her space even more!

PS- We skipped the IKEA mattress and ordered this one from Amazon instead. The price point is still budget friendly, but the quality is WAAAYYY better. She LOVES this mattress, and always comments on how comfy it is.

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30 Fall Family Fun Activities

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I love the start of a new season. A fresh start is just something that inspires me.  With Fall right around the corner, I've been thinking of how we can make the most of this season.  I've been thinking of the fun family memories always made around the holidays.  And I AM EXCITED!! Here is a list of some of the activities we might try to squeeze in on our family fun days this fall:

  1. Carve a pumpkin
  2. Paint Pumpkins
  3. Go to Pumpkin Patch
  4. Go to a Football Game
  5. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
  6. Go and a Hayride
  7. Have a bonfire
  8. Take Fall Pictures
  9. Start a Thankful Journal
  10. Play in leaves
  11. Cook in your crockpot
  12. Visit a Farm
  13. Make S’mores
  14. Go to a Fall Festival
  15. Go to an Orchard
  16. Fall Colors Nature Hunt
  17. Donate to a Food Drive
  18. Check out Fall Books from the Library
  19. Use leaves for a craft
  20. Bake Pumpkin Bread
  21. Go to a Fair (TX State Fair)
  22. Collect Acorns
  23. Visit the Farmer’s Market
  24. Go on a Hike
  25. Make Applesauce
  26. Bake an Apple Pie
  27. Make Pumpkin playdough
  28. Make Pumpkin Moon Sand
  29. Decorate for Fall
  30. Make Halloween Costumes
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Fine Motor Skill Practice

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Offering activities that encourage fine motor skill development should be a very high priority for you.  Fine motor skills help kids learn to write, and that is very important. BUT, we use fine motor skills in so many daily actions.  For example, tying shoes, zipping pants, feeding yourself, fixing your hair...the list could go on and on.

I've come up with 15 low prep and budget friendly activities to help encourage fine motor skills in your little one.  These can be used for any age, really.  Just adjust the activity to your child.  These do not take very long to set up.  I think the bigger battle is being intentional and making yourself set them up. Also, I buy most of my supplies for activities like this at the dollar store.

One big tip I have for you is this: plan and prepare lots of activities at one time.  Then plan to do 1 or 2 or even 3 each week.  I have found that this really helps me to cut down on the time.  And when we have a moment that needs to be filled, I am ready to go with a new activity.

So first things first.  Here's a list of supplies for you:

  • spray bottle
  • ice cube trays
  • tongs/tweezers- look in the school section where you can find age appropriate tweezers
  • pompoms
  • stickers
  • construction paper
  • beans
  • animal figures
  • foam letters
  • bin or bucket for sensory activities
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • small plastic pitcher
  • bowls
  • scissors
  • straws
  • pipe cleaners
  • beads
  • toothpicks
  • q tips
  • Colander
  • fake flowers
  • rice
  • paper shred
  • playdough

That's 25 items.  If you go to a dollar store, that means you only have to spend $25! And I have 15 activities for you with these supplies! Just think, if you actually get to 3 of these a week, they will last for 5 weeks! And then you can repeat these over and over.

**If you want to splurge and spend an extra $5, go ahead and grab some shoe size bins to keep all of your supplies in.**

Spray Bottle Fun

Fill a pray bottle with water and have your child practice spraying it in the bath tub.  Or spray on the driveway to make art with water! If you have sidewalk chalk at home, write letters on the ground.  Have your child spray all the e's with the water.  Or do shapes or pictures.  OR let your child spray you! Make it fun!

Pom Pom Fun

There are endless possibilities with pompoms! Grab your ice cube trays and have your child work on the pincer grasp by placing individual pompoms in each cube.  Or add in tongs and have your child pick up the pompoms with them to place in the ice cube tray...this is a great opportunity for pattern practice.  You could also have them sort the pompoms by size and color.

Sticker Fun

Just having your child play with stickers is TONS of fine motor skill practice.  We like to place some stickers on a page and then draw to complete a picture.

Trace with Stickers

This one is great as they get older.  Draw a line, and have child 'trace' the line with stickers (use circle stickers).  You could incorporate shapes, letters, name practice.  Whatever you want.  I've even drawn pictures before with place to place round stickers.

Bean Sensory Bin

Fill you bucket with beans. Add in ice cube trays, spoons, measuring cups, bowls, animal figures or foam letters, whatever items you want.  Have your child practice scooping, pouring, and exploring.  Just let them play!

Water Pouring Fun

Fill bowls, plastic pitcher, and sensory bin bucket with water.  Have your child practice scooping and pouring. If you are worried about a mess, do this outside or even over in the bathtub or shower.

Paper Tear

Have your child tear paper.  That's it. Simple, and GREAT fine motor/pre writing activity.

Scissor Fun

Have your child practice cutting with scissors (adult supervision required!!).  Practice cutting plastic straws and strips of paper.

Threading Fun

Have your child use those straws they practiced cutting with scissors by threading them onto a pipe cleaner.  Once they have mastered this, have them use beads to practice threading.

Toothpicks and Food

Ok, this one is obviously a bit risky! Only do this if you feel comfortable that your child will follow your safety directions.  Have your child poke some of their lunch with toothpicks! Great for fine motor skills. This is a great way to encourage eating fruits and veggies, also!

Q Tip Painting

This one is simple.  Just have your child paint with q tips. You can print out coloring pages online that have pictures made with circles the size of qtips.  Have your child dip the qtip in paint and then make a dot in each circle on the page.

Colander Boquet

Have your child decorate a colander with fake flowers.

Rice Bin

Fill your sensory bucket with rice, ice cube trays, measuring cups and spoons, preschool tweezers, and foam letters. Have your child play in this sensory bin however they want.  If they are having trouble playing, give them some directives such as, "Can you feel the ice cube trays with rice?" or "Grab the letters with your tweezers and place them in the ice trays.".

Paper Shred Bin

Hide animals and foam letters in a bucket filled with paper shreds.  Have your child use their tongs to find the letters and and animals.

Playdough Fun

Any kind of playdough play is great for fine motor skills.  Check out this article if you want some ideas.

***Adult supervision is always recommended for all activities.

Playdough Recipe

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One of our favorite things to do is to play with playdough.  We always have plenty of store bought on hand, but we LOVE to make our own.  I actually like our homemade version better than the store bought, so here is the recipe:

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What You Need:

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  • 1 packet of Jello
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Cream of Tartar (this time I only had 1 1/2 tbsp, but that worked just fine)

What You Do:

This is very simple.  First, mix all ingredients into a saucepan. Second, stir your mixture over medium heat until a ball of playdough forms (takes about 5 minutes).  Let the playdough cool.  Kneed playdough with extra flour until it is no longer sticky. And, lastly, have fun playing!

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If you need ideas for how to play with playdough, check out this post! As always, thanks for reading!

Kindle Fire Kids Edition with Freetime Unlimited Review

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I have been wanting to write a post about kids and screen time for a while now, and then follow up with a post about how much we love our Kindle Fire Kids Edition with Freetime Unlimited. But, in honor of Amazon Prime day, I decided to go ahead and write about how much we love our Kindle Fire Kids Edition.

Kindle Fire Kids Edition

Picture is linked to product.   Original Price $100       Prime Day Price $70

Picture is linked to product.   Original Price $100       Prime Day Price $70

Picture is linked to product. Original Price $130        Prime Day Price $90

Picture is linked to product. Original Price $130        Prime Day Price $90

Picture is linked to product. Not Included in Prime Day   

Picture is linked to product. Not Included in Prime Day

 

The Kindle Fire Kids Edition comes with a year subscription to Freetime Unlimited, a wonderful case for protection from those precious little ones, AND a two year warranty...Really, we started having a problem with ours charging, and Amazon replaced it for us! The Kindle Fire Kids Edition come in 7", 8" and 10". The bigger the screen, the better the resolution and more storage you get.  We have the 7, and are completely happy with it. The above pictures have links to each product.

**We did decide to add this Micro SD card to expand storage.**

Freetime Unlimited

Freetime is a subscription (one year included with purchase of Kindle Fire Kids Edition) to unlimited access to TONS of books, educational games, and tv shows. This is seriously so kid friendly, and you are able to personalize for your child.  We have ours set for the 3-5 year old age.  You can also set daily goals and time limits, block entertainment content until all daily educational goals are met, or even blog specific content you do not want your child exposed to. How cool is that? The ability to personalize makes this even more developmentally appropriate.

You actually do not have to have a Kindle Fire Kids Edition to have Freetime Unlimited.  Freetime Unlimited is actually compatible to many different devices including Fire, IOS, Android, Kindle, and even some Amazon Echo's

Click on these pictures to either buy a 1 year plan and save 40% or to try a 1 month FreeTime Unlimited.

Safety

As I stated earlier, there are so many ways to personalize your child's FreeTime Unlimited profile.  I absolutely love the safety that this brings to your child having access to a tablet.  This world is scary, friends.  Anything connected to the internet could potentially be very dangerous for our kids, but this feature adds another level of safety.

**Sidenote--Personalization aside, I think you should still keep a VERY close eye on what your child is doing on any tablet...no matter how safe it is.**

Books

There are SO MANY books included in the Freetime Unlimited Plan.  There is a huge variety of books ranging from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? to Big Sister Dora! and Disney Princess books. I prefer to read actual books to my kids, but this is great for offering variety and especially when traveling. 

Educational Games

I think I was most impressed with the Educational Apps collection when we first bought the kids' kindle. There are several Daniel Tiger Apps, which we love...always great for character development. There are also lots of great Math and Reading apps.  And, of course, there are apps that, in my opinion, serve no purpose...but, used with discretion, these are not harmful.

Shows

While there are no Disney shows available in Freetime Unlimited, there are lots of PBS show and other favorites.  Some of our favorites are Daniel Tiger, Chloe's Closet, Team Umizoomi, and Mother Goose Club.

Traveling

Lastly, I just want to say how wonderful this has been when traveling.  We have traveled a good bit the last two years, and I am so thankful we have had this...for car rides and plane rides. And BONUS, you can connect headphones.  I suggest these.

Also, if you buy a Micro SD card, you can download shows, books, and apps to that so you can have access to them while away from WiFi.

ABC Mouse and Netflix

You can also exit out of the kid profile to access regular apps.  Don't worry, you have to have a passcode to do this.  I love that we can access ABC Mouse and Netflix from the main screen.  We have also downloaded shows on Netflix for travel days.

**You can actually set the profile to allow certain Apps (like ABC Mouse and Netflix) from your regular screen to show up in the FreeTime.  We prefer to keep them seperate, but this could be useful information for some of you.**

If you have been considering buying a Kindle Fire Kids Edition for your kids, take advantage of Prime Day.  You could give it now before your next summer trip, or you could save for a Birthday present or Christmas Present.  Or if you already have a tablet, you could just try out the FreeTime Unlimited free trial or 40% off the year long subscription.

**Stay At Home Momming is part of the Amazon affiliate marketing program. This means that if you click and/or make a purchase through certain links on this site, I may receive a commission from the purchase. All opinions are my own.**

5 Stay At Home Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Some days at home fly by, and at the end of the day I honestly cannot tell you what we did all day.  BUT, some days at home drag...you know the days when you think it is lunch time but you look down at your watch to see it is only 9:00 am...  These are the days that I just need some go to activities.  Activities that fill the time in a productive way and get us through the day.

Today I plan to share with you the 5 activities we go back to ALL THE TIME.  These are not hard to set up, and offer lots of open ended playing/crafting.

Magna Tiles

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OK, I've mentioned these in so many of my posts (and I don't have that many!), but, seriously, we use these ALL THE TIME.  They are the perfect for preschoolers.  I think one of the reasons I like these so much is that this is something that Emma is able to be successful in.  They are so easy to build with. We normally just build on the floor, but there are lots of other options as well.  These tiles stick to the garage door, so they can easily become an outside activity. I saw on Instagram where someone cut up a cereal box in the shapes of these tiles and created a puzzle with them.  Here, you see that we built off of the fridge.  This just gave a little variety and 'newness' to an old activity.  

Rice Bin

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I talked about how much we love our rice bin in 5 Ideas for Sensory Fun.  This really is our go-to.  We love it.  Sometimes this only lasts for about five minutes, but sometimes Emma will play in the rice bin for an entire hour.  You can get all of the necessary materials at the dollar tree. All you need is a plastic tub, rice, measuring cups and spoons, ice trays, scoops, funnels, foam letters.  We especially love these handy scoopers from Learning Resources. Anything you want to add in is perfectly fine! 

Painting

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We paint at least once a week, if not multiple times a week.  This is just a good way to get our creative juices flowing.  Sometimes Emma does this while I am doing chores, but sometimes I sit down and paint with her.  She, of course, loves when I sit with her the best.  I'm always surprised by the conversations that take place when we are sitting next to each other creating.

Here are a few tips:

  • Offer 4-6 colors
  • Spread out a vinyl table cloth underneath
  • Set out one paint brush for each color paint
  • Give suggestions if they ask what they should paint, but don't give any instructions. Let this be there thing.
  • Always ask them about their painting in the end.  "Tell me about your painting!" "I love your painting. What's your favorite part?" "My favorite part is..."

Puzzles

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This one is not very open ended, but puzzles are a go-to for me when I need to do something and Emma is right under foot.  Puzzles normally distract her for at least 2 minutes...just kidding...they last longer than that.  We love all sorts of puzzles.  This is a great activity for fine motor skills, cognitive development, problem solving skills, and SELF ESTEEM.  Emma is always so PROUD when she works hard to figure out how a puzzle fits together.

**Side note-Emma did not enjoy puzzles for the longest time.  The ONLY way she became interested in them was from a game on the Kindle.  No kidding.  I think this helped her learn the concept of fitting the pieces together.  Once she mastered this on the tablet, we moved back to floor puzzles.  Now that is her first choice.  It just took a little work and encouragement to get there.**

Art Box

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I've shared about our Art Box on Instagram before (click here to follow if you don't already).  This is an easy concept.  I have a box of art supplies. Emma gets to use the art supplies however she wishes.  She always has a new idea.  My only rule when we have this out is that everything has to stay in one place, usually on the coffee table or kitchen table.

This is what is in the box:

  • construction paper
  • paper plates
  • scissors
  • glue
  • popsicle sticks
  • googly eyes
  • yarn
  • plastic straws
  • toilet paper rolls
  • foam sheets
  • anything random I feel like recycling

I hope this gives you some ideas for those days at home that are dragging. If your toddler or preschooler don't like some of these activities, pick something else.  Just always have at least five activities you can pull on on those long days.  It helps SO MUCH!

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