The Montessori Letters and Sounds Printable Pack Bundle in Action

Last year Sunshine spent the entire year trying to learn letter sounds.  Sadly, by the end of the year she could only remember a few.  This year her desire to learn letter sounds has intensified.  Knowing how much she struggled last year, I knew I needed to create a resource that would help her be successful.  The Montessori Letters and Sounds Printable Pack Bundle is just that!

Never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate it's use in our classroom to be so beneficial.  Sunshine is thriving beyond what I ever thought possible.  The Montessori Letters and Sounds Printable Pack Bundle not only helps her learn her letter sounds but provides the resources she needs to work independently, which is something that definitely wasn't happening up to this point.

Montessori-inspired Letters and Sounds Printable Pack  Bundle
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The bundle was so successful, I decided to create one in cursive, so that my older children could also benefit from it.  All three of them learned print first and are at different phases in their cursive writing journey.  There really is something for everyone here.

Montessori-inspired Letters and Sounds Printable Pack Bundle

The Montessori Letters and Sounds Printable Pack Bundle reinforces first letter sounds by using common household objects.  You can use the actual objects or images provided in the bundle for every letter of the alphabet.  Objects matched with first letter sounds remain consistent throughout the entire bundle to help reinforce the sound.

The Montessori Letters and Sounds Printable Pack Bundle is designed to be used with Montessori language materials.  There are also printables that can be used independently of materials for extra reinforcement of the skill.

This bundle follows the sequence of teaching letters, sounds, and writing the Montessori way.  For those who would like more information about this, be sure to visit the posts below.



Let's take a look at all the kiddos have been doing with this amazing resource!

Sandpaper Letters

The kiddos have thoroughly enjoyed having a basket filled with materials that match every letter of the alphabet.  Sunshine uses lowercase sandpaper letters in print.  Dinomite, Princess and Bulldozer use both the upper and lowercase sandpaper letters in cursive.


The kiddos arrange the sandpaper letters in front of them and then place objects on top of each card.  There are three items that we've chosen to use cards for instead of actual objects, but the rest are common household items that cost $1 or less.

Movable Alphabet

Sunshine has fallen in love with the movable alphabet this year, but struggled to use it appropriately.  For this reason I created My Montessori Lowercase Letters and Sounds Book as part of this bundle.  The size of the letters in this book is the same as those in our small movable alphabet.


Sunshine removes each letter from the box and places it on the card with the corresponding letter.  The image on each card helps Sunshine remember which sound each letter makes.  She will do this over and over again and loves to put the letters away as much as she enjoys placing them on the cards.

Writing

We have been working to help Sunshine learn to write for years, but her delays in fine motor skills make the process difficult.  This year Sunshine is begging for more opportunities to write, even though it's something she struggles with.  For this reason I created a traceable version of My Montessori Letters and Sounds Books in both upper and lowercase.  The letters are large and easy to trace using a finger, crayon, or marker.


Sunshine LOVES to trace her letters, especially when it means she is able to use her "special" markers.  Her writing is improving and the frustration over trying to write letters on her own is no longer an issue.

The cursive version of the same books has also been beneficial to Bulldozer as he also struggles with fine motor skills and needs larger letters to trace, especially on those days when he forgets how to write.


Dinomite and Princess enjoy the cursive versions of this book both in uppercase and lowercase.  They enjoy a large space to practice their letters.


Dinomite also enjoys the flashcards/flip books of letters written on lines.  The letters are smaller and for refined fingers, but provide a great chance to really master writing letters.  Control cards, traceable cards, and blank cards with lines are included.


Other Activities

Of course I couldn't just stop at books and flashcards! There is so much more fun included in this bundle as you help your child master their letters and sounds.



A bundle from us wouldn't be the same without letter sound clip cards, with both lowercase and uppercase letters.  Princess loves using the cursive version, while Sunshine is just starting to trust that she can mark the right letters, using her letters and sound book as a control.


There are match up cards, one set with uppercase and lowercase letters and then also a set of images that can be used.  Sunshine loves to use the match up cards and play a memory game.


The possibilities of the Montessori Letters and Sounds Printable Pack Bundle are endless.  It grows with your child whether you're at the very beginning of your letter journey or have been at it for a while.  I seriously don't know what we'd do without it!

The Montessori Letters and Sounds Printable Pack Bundle is available in print and cursive. Click on a links below to obtain your copy today!  I promise it's completely worth it! 

These individual bundles are on sale November 15-21, 2017 at 20% off.

Every Star Is Different Site Wide Sale




They are also part of the Montessori-inspired Printables Sampler available November 15-21, 2017 at an amazing 70% off.

Montessori-inspired Printables Sampler from Every Star Is Different

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Montessori Sensorial Materials: Number Rods and Red Rods

In the words of Maria Montessori,

"The training of the senses, insofar as it makes a man an observer, not only fulfills the generic function of adapting him to the contemporary mode of civilization, but it also prepares him for the exigencies of life."

A child can not progress with academic accomplishments until their sensory needs are met and developed appropriately.

This is why sensorial materials are being highlighted in our classroom this year with Sunshine and our other children.  

Let's discuss the Montessori Sensorial Materials in more detail using the Montessori Number Rods and Red Rods as an example.

Note:  The Montessori Number Rods are the first material in the Montessori Math Preschool Curriculum, but they can also be used as a sensorial material.  For the purposes of this post I will refer to them as a sensorial material.

Montessori Sensorial Materials: Number Rods and Red Rods

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The Benefits of Sensorial Materials

I have put off purchasing Montessori sensorial materials for quite some time.  Those that I can make with my limited DIY skills, I do.  Justifying the cost and the need for sensorial materials compared to those in the core subject areas is tough.

Then there's the question of space.  Some of the sensorial materials are really big, not to mention heavy.  Even if we find a space to put the materials, my husband worries about the space needed to successfully complete sensorial work.  

And safety...  If some of the sensorial materials aren't used appropriately, they can definitely cause damage to surroundings and people.  Some of our kids have a lack of safety awareness, issues with depth perception, vision impairment, and destructive tendencies.  

Then there's our kids who become quite obsessed with parts and pieces, so much that they're unable to complete a task. 

One would think this is enough to build a case that sensorial materials aren't worth purchasing.  But here's where you'd be wrong.  Sensorial materials help a child develop their minds and bodies in a way that prepares them for work in the core subject areas.

Working with the sensorial materials can help a child's body receive sensory input that's crucial to development.  This sensory input may help a child stay regulated in a classroom whereas he may not otherwise do so.

Sensorial materials can aid in helping a child with sensory sensitivities become more comfortable with their surroundings.  They can help a child with motor delays and low muscle tone.  If a child is able to complete sensorial work in the classroom, he will be prepared to succeed in the core subject areas because his body and his mind are trained in the ways that are necessary for success.

Just take a look at what can be done with the Number Rods and Red Rods!

The Number Rods and Red Rods

The Number Rods and Red Rods are huge!  They are long and heavy.  Storing them on shelves or in their stands can take up quite a bit of space.  The price of the materials can be quite a turn off.

But do you know how many different ways there are to use the Montessori Number Rods and Red Rods?  Do you know how much these materials can benefit a child?  Are you aware of alternatives that may work for specific children in your classroom?  Let me just give you a glimpse of the amazing sensory experiences that have taken place in our classroom!

The Number Rods and Red Rods have been in our classroom for over a month now.  Each child has shown excitement while using the materials in ways that best fit their academic and sensorial journey. 

Beginner Exercises

Sunshine is just beginning her sensorial journey in the classroom.  When working with the Red Rods she is starting with the very first lesson.  The same is true when using the Montessori Number Rods



Intermediate Exercises

Once Dinomite, Bulldozer and Princess completed the beginner exercises, they moved on to the intermediate level exercises. These include variations for each set of rods, used individually.

Bulldozer using the Montessori Red Rods

Advanced Exercises

Eventually Dinomite, Bulldozer and Princess all felt ready to take on a bigger challenge, variations that include the use of both the Number Rods and Red Rods at the same time.

Montessori Red Rods and Number Rods

Resources for the Classroom

When it came to finding resources for my four kiddos, Montessori Print Shop didn't let me down.  They offer this amazing Red Rods & Number Rods Pattern Cards Bundle that includes all of the variations you could possibly dream of to accommodate any child's need.

I noticed that Bulldozer preferred work where he arranged the rods vertically.  Dinomite leaned toward work where he could easily see patterns.  Princess loved variations where the rods were more spread out.  The bundle from Montessori Print Shop included variations for everyone.

Special Circumstances

Now some of you may be thinking, wait a minute! Aren't Dinomite, Bulldozer and Princess elementary students?  You are correct. They are.  But due to their developmental disabilities it wasn't until now that they have been ready for work with the Red Rods and Number Rods past the initial lesson.

Dinomite becomes frustrated easily and hasn't been able to visually discriminate variations until now.  Bulldozer could not lift and carry materials due to low muscle tone and a lack of safety awareness.  Princess was not at point where she would let me present lessons to her or be trusted working independently.

If your child has special needs of any kind he may not be ready for the Red Rods and Number Rods until much later in the learning process. And that's okay.  There are so many variations that make this work very flexible for physical and cognitive development.

Alternatives

There are some children who may never be ready for the classroom size Red Rods and Number Rods due to physical limitations, lack of safety awareness or behavioral issues.  If not supervised closely 100% of the time, Sunshine and Princess are not able to use these materials. Instead we have them use the small numerical rods.
Small Sized Number Rods in Use

There are actually two sets of numerical rods included.  One can easily be painted red to act as a set of Red Rods.  Though smaller, this set can provide a child with experiences they may otherwise not have due to developmental, physical, and/or emotional limitations.  They are also a great cost effective alternative if your budget is tight.
Using Small Number Rods

The Montessori Number Rods and Red Rods are fabulous materials that should be included in every classroom.  There are so many ways to use them, such as those mentioned in this post, and then some when combined with the Montessori Pink Tower and Brown Stair.

Children love them and find the challenge of working with them too exciting to resist.  It's through their experiences with these materials that they improve and refine their senses, and also prepare for more difficult math and geometry concepts.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.
Montessori Homeschooling Resources The Montessori Silence Game The ABCs of Montessori and Special Needs
Montessori Sensorial Materials: Number Rods and Red Rods

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Montessori-inspired Gift Ideas for Little Girls

Sunshine is turning six! I can't believe it.  She has been talking about her birthday nonstop.  At the same time, every day she keeps telling me she has too many toys and wants to get rid of some.  Needless to say her wish list was a little bit of a challenge this year.

The good news is, if I had to pin point one area of life where she just can't get enough, it's learning.  She LOVES to learn.  Right now she's big into astronomy, geography, history, zoology, and botany.  It only seemed appropriate to put together some Montessori-inspired gift ideas for little girls.


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Let's take a closer look at Sunshine's requests this year!

Montessori-inspired Gift Idea for Little Girls

Astronomy

One of Sunshine's favorite things to do since we moved to Virginia is stargaze.  She's come a long way in just six short months from being afraid to even step foot outside in the dark, to enjoying campfires safely, and then laying on a blanket and to look at stars.  We definitely are excited to encourage this new hobby!

A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations is a great book to teach Sunshine about the night sky.  We are always looking for constellations, shooting stars and more.

Purchased The National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space is a book we've checked out from the library but still don't own. It's the perfect book for Sunshine to enjoy.  Lately she's been very big into encyclopedia type picture books.

Purchased Animals in the Stars Lacing Cards are a great way for Sunshine to practice fine motor skills which she needs some help with, while at the same time learning some of the constellations in the sky!

Purchased Binoculars are a hot item in this house. Only Dinomite owns his own pair.  Sunshine gets quite upset that she doesn't have any to use, especially when outside. Just imagine how many more stars she could see with them.

PurchasedWaterproof Blanket has been deemed a necessity while star gazing. We've been bringing blankets out from inside, but they always soak through with dew and we end up getting wet.  This seems to be the perfect blanket for Sunshine as she refuses to look at stars any other way.

The Space Shuttle is such an adorable plush item!  Sunshine can still only keep soft items in her room.  We figure it's time we add a vehicle.  What better one than a space shuttle!

Montessori-inspired Gift Ideas for Little Girls


Geography & History

Sunshine is LOVING geography and history.  She gets so excited when identifying her continents and learning all about them.  As a family we've been focusing on American History this year and she finds it absolutely fascinating.

Purchased The National Geographic First Big Book of the World is yet another encyclopedia like picture book that Sunshine seems to gravitate to right now.  It's perfect to look at while she wants to stay close to Mommy and Daddy in the kitchen.

The Hug-A-Planet Earth and Moon 2 Piece Bundle is something that Sunshine saw a while ago and has begged for ever since. I love that the set is soft and that she can keep it in her room.

Purchased The National Geographic Kids Beginner's World Atlas is yet another book that will entertain Sunshine for hours, when she decides she doesn't want to go play in her room but instead sit in the kitchen while Mommy or Daddy prepare a meal.

"Anne of Jamestown" is a doll that Sunshine saw while we were at Jamestown that she loved.  Already she has one from the Colonial Williamsburg Era that she dresses and undresses everyday, and sleeps with at night.  Of course Sunshine wants the complete set!

Purchased "Winganusk of the Powhatans" is the perfect doll to remind Sunshine how much she LOVED learning about the Native American Indians while in Yorktown, Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg.  It also goes along perfectly with the doll she already has and the others on this list.

Mukambu of Ndongo" Doll is yet another doll from the Williamsburg area.  While visiting we learned about three different perspectives: the colonist, Indians, and those that had been kidnapped from Africa and sold as slaves.  A doll set from that era wouldn't be complete without this beautiful addition.

Montessori-inspired Gift Ideas for Little Girls

Biology

It's no secret that Sunshine has always loved biology.  At this particular time she's quite obsessed with the plants and animals in our yard and in the fields behind our house.  Life wouldn't be the same if Sunshine wasn't learning something new in these areas.

Purchased The Learning Resources Let's Grow: A Life Cycles Game is perfect for Sunshine right now and helps her learn the life cycles of animals around her.

Purchased The National Geographic Wild Animal Atlas is great for those times when Sunshine just likes to lay on the floor with a book.

Purchased Set of 10'' and 6'' Deer (Mommy and Baby) is very specific to Sunshine's love and adoration for the family of deer that we see daily behind our house in the fields and sometimes in our yard.  There are 7 deer total.  We've seen the babies grow from their tiniest size to looking like full grown adults now.  If you choose this gift, be sure to order both size deer, the mama and the baby.

The Harvest Time Cooperative Game has received great reviews and is the type of game Sunshine can play without worrying who wins or loses.  And it's about plants!

PurchasedFlower and Leaf Press has become a necessity in Sunshine's life.  She is constantly picking flowers and leaves but is devastated when they crumble, tear, or die.  With a flower and leaf press she'll be able to keep her treasures forever!

The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-Ups is perfect for Sunshine and her obsession with trees.  I have never met a child who can drive down the highway and pick out all of the trees that she sees, identifying them by name.  That is until we moved here and the trees are different.  She's desperately trying to figure out what everything is. This book is the sure thing to help her.

It's so fun to see Sunshine's interests blossom.  Over the past few months she just craves learning as much as she can.  The most exciting thing of all is that she's absorbing it!

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Bulldozer is Baptized a Member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

I've been thinking a lot about Bulldozer and his baptism lately.  Since moving to VA this boy has blossomed in so many ways.  Bulldozer absolutely loves church and shows a sincere desire to attend each week.  He's started participating in the cub scout program.  Each week he talks about his friends and loves to spend time with them.  I couldn't be happier.

There have been some hiccups along the way, and currently we're trying to help him through some difficult transitions, but when I look at how far he's come, I'm amazed.  This is the kid that wouldn't participate in primary until he was seven years old and that was only with a parent.  

Bulldozer was petrified of baptism and showed no desire until three months before his 8th birthday when he decided it was okay to put his head under water.

As I've been reflecting on Bulldozer's special baptism day, I realized I didn't ever share it with you.  There were some complications with pictures, and so only tonight did I finish editing them all.  It only took me a year.  Lol.  The pictures aren't perfect, but you see the joy and happiness in Bulldozer's eyes in almost every one.  He truly shined that day.  It was perfect!

Here are memories from when Bulldozer was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

I realized right before Dinomite's baptism that it would be wise to hire a photographer for the special occasion.  Sure I could take photos, but I wanted to be there for my son, and didn't want to miss a single precious moment.

Dinomite being my first, I wasn't really sure what types of pictures I wanted so the few that were taken worked, but I knew for Bulldozer's baptism, I wanted more.  I wanted to capture the day in as many ways as I could.

Note: All photos were taken before and after the baptism and confirmation, NOT during.
We were really hesitant about moving forward with Bulldozer's baptism.  Due to his autism, ADHD, and history in primary, we wanted to make sure he understood what he was doing and that we had other eyes and ears on him to confirm that in fact he was ready.

As part of this process we had the missionaries over on several occasions to teach him the discussions.  Bulldozer loved to have them come over and developed such a great relationship with them.  I feel this helped so much as we grew closer to his special day.
My husband Jason performed the baptism.  Bulldozer was so proud of himself for enjoying the process.  Like I mentioned earlier, it was only three short months before his special day that he decided it was okay to put his head under water.
At Dinomite's baptism, I didn't realize until afterward that not one photo of him and I was taken. Though I'm not a fan of being in pictures, I wanted to be sure I had one this time around.  Looking at Bulldozer's genuine smile, the photo was so worth it!
Dinomite with his younger cousin Cam.
The baptism was conducted by a member of the bishopric. Bulldozer chose the opening hymn/song.  An opening prayer was said and then Dinomite gave a talk on baptism, per Bulldozer's request.  Somehow I missed getting a photo of the two brothers together this time around, but the one above will work as it's my favorite picture of Dinomite from the day.
After the baptism while Jason and Bulldozer were getting dressed, two of Bulldozer's friends played beautiful music.  Bulldozer had specifically asked that they play at his baptism.  He loves these girls and their music!
Once Bulldozer was back from dressing, a talk was given on the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Bulldozer asked the mother of his two favorite girls to speak.  She gave an amazing talk relating the gift of the Holy Ghost to Star Wars and the "Power of the Force."  Everyone knows Bulldozer is obsessed with Star Wars.  He loved it!
My husband confirmed Bulldozer a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Bulldozer specifically asked all of the men in this picture to stand in his confirmation circle.
After Bulldozer was confirmed, the Primary President of our ward was the first to welcome him as an official baptized and confirmed member.  She gave a beautiful talk that included a bag of chocolate which Bulldozer LOVED.
Before the reception, we gathered everyone who was in attendance for a picture.  Due to Bulldozer's anxieties this was an invitation only baptism.  We so loved all those who came for his special day!
All of the kids did very well before, during, and after the baptism. I was one proud Mama!
Bulldozer could not imagine the day without his favorite buddy PJ, his mentor from a one-to-one program in our community.
When asked what Bulldozer wanted served after his baptism, he requested a dessert bar.  Several of the sisters from our ward made all types of delicious chocolatey treats.  Bulldozer was in heaven.
We were so excited that three sets of grandparents, an aunt, and a cousin were all able to be in attendance for Bulldozer's special day.  Some drove over two hours to be there.
All four kids with their Grandma Rose
Whenever grandparents are around we try to capture some fun photos. Knowing the kids were pretty burned out at this point, we told them they could make any face they wanted.  Here's the results!
All four kids with Grandma Toni and Grandpa  Ron
I love all of the expressions on their faces.
All four kids with Grandpa Rob and Grandma Jackie
I can not think of a more perfect baptism day than the one Bulldozer had.  He just radiated with the spirit and soaked up so much attention from all of those that love him.

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Giving Family Experiences-Our New Christmas Tradition

What do you do when you don't have space for anything else in your home and the holiday season is approaching and you're already freaking out about all of the kids' triggers related to the holiday season?

Since our move in June, we are slowly working on making our house a home, painting and furnishing it room by room.  But until that process is finished we have piles of stuff everywhere.

All of the kids clothes AND our clothes are piled high in the master bedroom.  Rows and rows of shoes line the floor in the front entryway.  Stacks of books lean against the wall and floor in several rooms of the house.  Toys are in plastic bins in any place that there is a space.  Paperwork is collected in bags or left on the computer desk.

We do not need or want anymore stuff.  Just the thought of more toys, books, and other miscellaneous items makes me anxious.

So, we're doing something else this year for Christmas.  Instead of giving the children gifts this year, we're giving them family experiences.  It's our new Christmas tradition!
Giving Family Experiences-Our New Christmas Tradition
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Giving family experiences for Christmas will also help with managing anxieties, PSTD triggers, autism struggles, and behaviors related to Reactive Attachment Disorder.  It's amazing how the process of giving and receiving gifts affects a child's ability to function in different ways.  

If you're not familiar with our story or your family is struggling during the holiday season as well, be sure to check out our book, Holidays and PTSD: A Parent's Guide to Survival.

I am so excited about this alternative with so many fewer triggers for everyone!

Our Plans

Here's how we've worked it out.  Grandparents are giving specific experiences aka family passes to some of our favorite places.  We as parents will be giving the kids a vacation where we will use a majority of the passes.

We will also be spoiling the kids with the luxuries a vacation can bring such as eating at their favorite restaurants, staying in a hotel, participating in special activities we wouldn't normally do.

And just in case you're wondering if the kids are on board, or if we made this decision ourselves, we let the kids decide.  Yep! That's right! They chose vacation over presents.  I'm smiling from ear to ear just thinking about.

Goodbye holiday stress!

Hello fun and relaxation!

Now before you get all worried that my children will not receive any gifts for Christmas, know the agreement is that each person in the family will buy one small gift for everyone else, which will be opened on Christmas morning.

Each person will also receive their stocking filled with fun goodies which seems to be what was most important to each kiddo.

Our Christmas vacation will take place the first week in December when my husband is able to take time off and when it's least busy with kids and college students still in school.  This will hopefully make up for the fact that Daddy has to work every holiday until the end of the year.

How to Come Up with Family Experience Ideas

Though your family may not live where we do, we hope that these family experience gift ideas will provide inspiration for you. Consider the following questions when coming up with family experience ideas.


  • Where would your family go if you could pick a mini vacation destination?
  • Are there special places of interest close to doctors, specialists, and/or therapist offices?
  • What are your children interested in currently in regards to history and science?
  • What places have age appropriate activities where your children will feel comfortable?


When asked where they wanted to go for our Christmas vacation, the kids decided unanimously voted to return to Williamsburg, VA.  It's only three hours from our home.  We have friends in Richmond that we visit along the way.

All of our children's specialists are located in Charlottesville, VA so we go there often.  Natural Bridge is located only minutes from our home.

This year in school we're studying American History because the kids have begged and pleaded to learn more about it.  Anything related to American History is the "cool" thing right now.  We have the musical Hamilton to thank for this.  I'm enjoying every moment of our studies!

All of my kids love science, and show a particular interest in zoology, botany, and astronomy.  There is no better place for them to learn about these particular topics than some of the experiences we've listed below.

With the children ranging between the ages of almost six and almost eleven in age, we work hard to find places where both the oldest and the youngest can enjoy themselves.  All of the experiences below are sure to be a hit for all.

Important Reminders!

When purchasing tickets and passes, it's important to remember the ages of the children.  Sunshine will be six years old in November.  Dinomite is turning eleven in January.

Be aware of varying prices for in state versus out of state residents.  At some places being a resident of the city or county can provide opportunities for huge discounts.

Consider a special experience within an experience.  Most places offer an initial price for entrance but also offer other unique opportunities that must be paid for.  There are so many ways to make an experience extra special!

Family Experience Gift Ideas

We have come up with five different types of family experiences that meet the needs of our own family and are realistic in regards to where we live.  If we still lived in the city, movie theater passes, a gift card to the bowling alley, concert or show tickets, and a few other items may have made our list.  Unfortunately those aren't really practical or possible here.

Here is our family experience wish list this year!  I'm sharing it on the blog for a few reasons.
 I hope you are inspired!

Historical Sites & Museums


1. Annual Passes for Colonial Williamsburg
The kids love Colonial Williamsburg.  We've been there twice before.  During our last trip they all begged to ride in one of the carriages.  They also expressed interest in renting clothes to wear for the day so they could look like colonists from the time period.  Both of the experiences mentioned above are not included in the annual pass.

2. Jamestown Settlement and American Revolution Museum at Yorktown Virginia Residents American Heritage Annual Passes
We visited Jamestown and Yorktown during our last visit to Williamsburg and the kids had such an amazing time.  They have all asked to return to one or the other or both.  All four of the kiddos can't wait to come with a little spending money to use at the gift shops.

3. Monticello Annual Family Pass
This historical site has so much to offer and explore during every season.  The gardens are of particular interest to Sunshine who is the botanist of the family.  The older three children love learning more about Thomas Jefferson.  He's one of the main characters in the musical Hamilton.

4.  George Washington's Mount Vernon Family Membership
George Washington has been an adored hero in our home for quite some time.  This can be attributed to the kids' love for the musical Hamilton as well, but also their following of the last Presidential Election.  It is amazing how visiting the actual places where our Founding Fathers lived brings history alive and help the kids make connections they wouldn't otherwise make.

5. Nauticus Family Plus Membership
The boys are so excited to visit Nauticus.  They are quite obsessed with war and battles right now and have been asking to visit a place like this for a long time.  I love that it offers excitement and adventure for both the girls and boys.

6. Science Museum of Virginia Supernova Membership (Purchased)
All four kiddos love science, particularly astronomy.  This science museum is the perfect place for them to explore, learn and have fun!  It's also in Richmond which is on the way to Williamsburg.

Amusement Parks

All of the kiddos are excited about returning to an amusement park as it's one of their favorite places to go.  This park in particular holds a special place in their hearts because it's Peanuts Character themed and age appropriate for everyone. 

For those who don't know both boys have read through all of the Peanuts comics.  All four kiddos love the Peanuts movies, and Sunshine specifically loves all things Peanuts related to holidays.

Hotel Packages

We took the kids to Great Wolf Lodge during our last stay in Williamsburg. They didn't want to leave.  Whether the gift card is used towards a night's stay in one of their Kid Cabins, or used for the arcade, bowling alley, or breakfast buffet, you can be sure the kids will love every minute of their time there.

Zoos & Safaris

All of the kids miss visiting the zoo on a regular basis, since we moved from NY.  This zoo has so much to offer. Dinomite is begging to know when we can go.  There are so many fabulous animals to see here and they can feed them (extra cost), which is an added bonus.

The kids have visited the Virginia Safari Park twice and each time they beg to go back.  They love all of the animals there and jump at the chance to feed them (extra cost).  There's nothing quite like the up close and personal experience you get with animals here.  It may mean going through the car wash afterwards, but it's so worth it!

Restaurant Gift Cards

Buffets are the ultimate happy dining experience for us. The kids LOVE them.  When asked which buffet is their favorite, the answer is always the same:  Golden Corral.  It just so happens that a Golden Corral restaurant is literally two doors down from our favorite hotel in Williamsburg.  We eat there every time we visit.  I love that it has something for everyone.

There are very few restaurants in the world where everyone in our family can eat with food allergies considered.  KFC is the kids' favorite fast food place.  Whenever we go on vacation, KFC is almost always involved.

Chili's is a favorite restaurant from NY that the kids miss dearly.  During our last vacation in Williamsburg, we discovered that they have one there.  The kids were delighted and can't wait to go next time we're in town.

We are all so excited about our Christmas plans this year.  It's our hope that the kids will enjoy the experiences so much that this can be a tradition that continues over the years providing great opportunities to travel all over the United States and beyond!

I'd love to hear about family gift experience ideas that you have!

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