Blog Archive

American Football Unit w/ Free Printables

When I think of Fall, I think of apples, pumpkins, squirrels, and FOOTBALL!!!

Dinomite has started to show an interest in sports, specifically football.  Jason is eating this up.  We couldn't resist putting together an American football unit with free printables.  The kiddos have loved it. It's amazing how much you can learn through sports.

A special thanks to my husband for all of his work and creativity in this unit.  I enjoy football, but I don't begin to come close to knowing as much as he does.
American Football Unit with Free Printables.
This post may contain affiliate links.

Here are our football themed activities!


Football Spelling Activity
Football Spelling Activity
The kiddos will use the stamps and ink pad to spell their new spelling words on small slips of paper provided.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of the American Football Unit Language Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Football Compound Words
Football Compound Word Activity
The kiddos will create compound words, using the matching strips provided.

Source: Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of the American Football Unit Language Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Football Sentence Diagramming
Football Grammar Activity
Using the control provided, the kiddos will put the words of each sentence in order, and then place the corresponding Montessori grammar symbols above the correct words.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of the American Football Unit Language Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.


Football Addition
Football Addition Clip Cards
The kiddos will answer the problems on each card, using the brown glass beads as markers, and the helmets as counters.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of the American Football Unit Math Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Greater Than/Less Than Football Cards
Greater Than/Less Than Football Cards
The kiddos will use the green glass beads as markers to answer the greater than/less than problems on each of the cards provided.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of the American Football Unit Math Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Football Points Skip Counting
Football Skip Counting
The kiddos will practice skip counting by 3's (field goals), and 6's (touchdowns).  I've provided Montessori Beads as a control.  Princess is very excited to have pink and purple beads as part of a football unit.  Lol.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of the American Football Unit Math Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Football Word Problems
Football Word Problems
The kiddos will mark the answer to each word problem using a glass bead.  The beads can also be used as counters when needed.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of the American Football Unit Math Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.


Who's Who in Football?
Who's who in the NFL?
Jason did a fabulous job creating cards with different players, their number, position, and team.  The kiddos should have a lot of fun matching up all of the info. (These cards were made to reflect who plays in the NFL in 2014)

Source:  Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of the American Football Unit Culture Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Football Position Match Up
Football Position Cards
Dinomite is trying to understand all of the different positions in football, and what each player does.  Jason created these fabulous cards to help him learn everything.  The kiddos can use the cards to play memory, or they can simply match up the player position cards with definition cards.

A football formation diagram has been included to help the kiddos understand where each play may stand.  There are several different formations, football players could use.  This is only one of them.

Source:  Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of the American Football Unit Culture Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Puzzle of the USA
Puzzle of the United States of America
The kiddos will use the puzzle to help them practice remembering where each state is located in the USA, and where their favorite football teams are located.

Football Invitation to Play
Football Invitation to Play
I am so excited about this activity.  The kiddos can use green play dough to create a football field.  A control has been provided.  Different sized lollipop sticks can be used as lines on the field.  Yard lines can be marked using the number stamps.  Wooden player figures can be placed on the field to set up any play they choose.  Footballs have been provided for obvious reasons.

If the kiddos would prefer to make something else, chocolate scented play dough has been provided to make footballs etc.  The white lollipop sticks can be used to make the laces.  I'm sure they kiddos will come up several other ideas as well using a variety of the materials provided.


Football Sensory Bin
Football sensory bin.
While others wait for the invitation to play, I felt it only fair to provide a football sensory bin.

Contents include:
Wooden Footballs

For those interested in the printable packs:

If you're interested in more fall themed activities and free printables, click on the link below.
Autumn Activities & Free Printables

If you're interested in more sports themed activities and free printables, visit the page below!
Sports Activities & Free Printables
Read More »

Homeschooling Question & Answer Session with Renae

This post contains affiliate links.

Many of you have had questions about our homeschooling journey, how we do things, materials, we use, etc.  I have attempted to write this post to answer your questions at least three times, and even as I sit down to write a fourth time, I'm still uncertain if what I'm going to say will make any sense.  The truth is, I still feel so little and inexperienced at all of this.  Perhaps that feeling never goes away?  I guess I'll have to wait another three years to find out.  Until then, here are the answers to your questions. If you have any other questions, please write them in the comments section, and I will do my best to answer them.

1. How did your homeschooling journey start?

One day in January 2012, I had a meeting with preschool teachers and administration about Dinomite's behaviors.  It did not go well. The next day I decided to keep Dinomite home.  Someone had said to me, I couldn't know for certain that the behaviors were being caused by school.  I put this theory to the test.  Within three days of being home, Dinomite's negative behaviors disappeared.

Bulldozer attended the same school as Dinomite at the time  It didn't make sense to send one and not the other.  I pulled both out of school permanently, with the plan to homeschool.  I didn't know how. I didn't have resources.  I had no clue what I was doing.  Fortunately, the kiddos didn't know what we were doing either, so we learned together.

2.  When you first started homeschooling, what was it like?

The first few months of homeschooling are a complete blur to me.  I do remember that learning time took place during nap time.  I created a simple preschool syllabus for the kiddos.  Each month I chose one theme, and then broke it down into four parts, for a four week study.  For example:

November: Music
     Week 1:  Percussion
          X is for Xylophone
          Number of the Week:  12
     Week 2:  Brass
          T is for Trumpet
          Number of the Week:  13
     Week 3:  Strings
          V is for Violin
          Number of the Week:  14
     Week 4:  Woodwinds
          O is for Oboe
          Number of the Week:  15

I created a weekly planning template, and used it to plan out each week of lessons and activities.  I also used a workbook for each of the kiddos.  Workbooks were supplemental to all the other activities.  Dinomite was fairly easy to teach. Bulldozer needed constant one-to-one assistance.  Princess was always ready for battle, no matter the task at hand.  Sunshine is a combination of Princess and Bulldozer.

3.  Do you continue to use workbooks?

We continue to use workbooks as supplemental materials on a daily basis.  The kiddos each have one School Zone workbook.  They complete one to two pages each day.  I feel this is important for several reasons.  It's a short activity that helps their writing skills.   The process teaches them how to read directions and solve problems in workbook form.  It's a skill the kiddos need to learn for state testing, and for all of the paperwork they will have to fill out as adults on a regular basis.  In my opinion, it's a practical life skill.  The workbooks also help the kiddos review material in a different form than what's on the shelves,thus helping them generalize skills.

4. How did you know what you were supposed to do when you started homeschooling?

I contacted our school district right away.  They sent me a packet of information, which included everything I would need to know to meet their requirements.  I also became a member of HSLDA.  Whenever I had further questions about the homeschooling process, someone there was always just a phone call away.

5.  How and when did you decide to teach using the Montessori Method or in a Montessori-Inspired manner?

Each kiddo responded differently to lessons, activities, crafts, etc.  Over time, I noticed that all three kiddos responded very well to activity ideas I found at Counting Coconuts.  I learned these were Montessori activities.  The only problem was, I didn't know what Montessori was.  Thankfully, Counting Coconuts has a fabulous Montessori Resources & Recommendations page I could go to.  I checked out every book our local library exchange had, that was on the recommendation list and started reading.  The process of reading and studying all of the books took about 3 months.  I then spent time in our local Montessori preschool, observing, asking questions, and learning more about the materials.  By the end of a 3 month period, I was hooked.

6.  How did you go about implementing the Montessori Method into your learning time?

Each year I've introduced the kiddos to a new aspect of Montessori.  For me, it was too overwhelming to do it any other way.  The first year I focused on the presentation of activities.  I put shelves in our classroom.  Individual activities were placed on trays.  Trays were either Melissa & Doug wooden containers from toys my kiddos had received during the holidays, or plastic drawers for organizing papers.  I used what I had on hand at home.  My collection of tiny containers and manipulatives slowly began to grow with each new unit.   Initial containers were Pyrex storage containers from my kitchen.  I still love to use them.  Manipulatives came from the local dollar store or craft store, and still do.  Thrift stores also have some pretty great materials to use.

My second year of homeschooling, I decided to implement the Preschool Montessori Curriculum.  This can be found at Montessori Print Shop for a small fee.  In order to follow the curriculum, I found it important to either have Montessori Materials, or to learn how to make my own. In almost every situation, I've found or created my own alternatives.  When finances permitted, I started purchasing the real materials.

This year, I'm trying to implement the uninterrupted 3 hour working period.  It hasn't been the easiest thing to do.  It's a good thing we have a whole year to work on things.

I encourage you to progress slowly in your adaptation to whatever method you choose.  Not only do you need time to learn and grow, but your kiddos do too.  You can't pull off everything at once, unless you've received professional training, and even then, you still have to move at a pace that's comfortable for everyone.

7.  Is a syllabus important?

A syllabus for the year is required by our school district.  I break mine down by month.  The process is extremely time consuming, and at times very difficult and frustrating, but it has been so beneficial.  The best way to keep my sanity and to make sure the kiddos are learning everything they need to know is to have a syllabus to go by.  I design mine using the Montessori Curriculum and the table of contents of the kiddos' workbooks.  (The Montessori Curriculum does not include all that our state requires.)   For a sample of my monthly syllabus, click HERE.

8.  How did you go about finding Montessori printables to use?

When I started my Montessori journey, I spent A LOT of time searching for free printables.  I'm at a point now where I have my go to resources which include the following blogs:

1.  Montessori Nature
2.  Living Montessori Now
3.  The Pinay Homeschooler
4.  Trillium Montessori
5.  The Kavanaugh Report
6.  Montessori Print Shop
7.  Montessori for Everyone
8.  1+1+1=1
9.  Suzie's Home Education Ideas
10.  Making Montessori Ours

When I can't find exactly what I want, or it's faster to create my own, I do!  If you haven't checked out our Free Printables page yet, you're missing out.  Don't forget to check out our Tot & Preschool Free Printables also.

9.  What other materials have you found helpful to use in your classroom?

When we practice writing and art techniques, the kiddos use lined & unlined white boards with erasable crayons, markers etc.  The kiddos also have writing journals.  Other materials we use on a daily basis include our math fact and sight word cards.

10.  What materials do you use to teach your kiddos how to read?

I am a HUGE fan of BOB Books!  All of my kiddos (so far) have learned to read using these books.  I start out with Level 1 and have the kiddos progress all the way through Level 5.  Each day, the kiddos read their latest BOB book to either Jason or myself.  They continue to read the same book every night until they get all the words right.  Then, they move on to the next one.  Whether they learn to sound out the words, like Princess does, or memorize the words, like Dinomite and Bulldozer, by the time they've finished Level 5, they know how to read extremely well.  When they've graduated from the BOB Books, they start choosing their own books to read.

11.  Where do you find books to read to your children?

Due to a lack of finances early on in our homeschooling experience, I could not purchase books.  Instead I learned to take advantage of our inter-library exchange program.  Whatever our local library doesn't have, usually a library within the program does.  As long as I order the books a week in advance, I usually have everything I need for a unit.  As time has passed, and our finances are more secure, I still find this system to be the best for our family, especially when it comes to storage.  I love not having to worry about housing rows and rows of books.

12.  When do you fit reading into your homeschool schedule?

In the morning, before Mommy or Daddy come to tell the kiddos it's time to get up, they are welcome to read silently in bed.  During learning time, the kiddos each practice reading their BOB Books to me.  I read aloud to my kiddos while they're eating their lunch.  My husband and I also read with the kiddos before bed.

13.  How do you create a weekly unit?

Using my monthly syllabus, I map out what topics I want to cover each week.  I know that my weekly shelf set up includes 3-4 language activities, 3-4 math activities, 3-4 science experiments/activities, 3-4 culture/geography activities, 2-3 practical life activities, 2-3 sensorial activities, and 2-3 art and music activities.  I have 3 kiddos I work with, and rotate activities out on a weekly basis.  You may not need this many activities for each subject, or you may decide to leave them on the shelves for a longer period of time.  The set up above, does not include six activities for Sunshine each week.

I try to keep my activities similar to the weekly and monthly theme, although sometimes that's not always possible.  When it comes to coming up with ideas, I use Pinterest a lot, and then do a lot of browsing around each week for ideas at craft stores and dollar stores.  Most often, my husband and I sit down together, and work through ideas we have individually.  I love that he's such a part of learning time.  Lately, as I've had less and less time, and financial resources have become available, I've created less activities and use Montessori Materials instead.

14.  What does your homeschooling budget look like?

My biggest expense is ink for my printer.  This costs me $35 each month.  I buy a package of cardstock and sometimes printer paper each month.  This costs me $6.   Then I spend $50-$100 a month on other supplies such as manipulatives, arts and crafts materials, sensory bin contents etc.  I am a regular at our local craft store and dollar store.  When I'm shopping I have one rule for myself.   I have to be able to think of an activity in detail, that I can create, using whatever cute manipulative I have found, and am holding in my hand, at that very moment.  If I can't think of an activity, I don't buy it!  This rule saves me a A LOT of money!  I know if I think of something later, I can always go back to the store and get the item if I truly need it.

I do have one time a year expenses, such as laminating paper, writing journals, and workbooks, but that doesn't cost me more than $100 all at once.  I also have one time expenses such as my laminator and materials I've mentioned earlier in this post, like BOB books, white boards etc.

All of our reading materials and other items used in learning time (such as videos) are borrowed from our local library.

Now that finances allow, I do try to purchase a few new Montessori Materials each month.

15.  What do you do on days when you aren't fully prepared or sick?

When a new unit isn't ready, or something else is going on, we usually do a random field trip or write in our journals, do a workbook pages, practice math facts/sight words and writing, and read together. It is very rare that we don't do anything during the course of a day.  If I'm really sick, we may just cuddle up on the couch and read or watch educational videos all day.  In my yearly syllabus, I try to plan for about a month to 6 weeks of make up time, to make sure I cover everything I need to.  Whether it be vacations, holidays, sickness, or whatever, you will have times when you aren't able to do homeschooling with your kiddos.  As long as you plan for make up time, you'll be okay!

Thank you for making this journey so incredible!  When I started, I never anticipated sharing it with my readers in the way I do today.
Read More »

75+ Weather Activities & Free Printables (KLP Linky Party)

It's no secret that Bulldozer is obsessed with weather.  Due to his obsession, we've incorporated a lot of weather activities and units into our learning time.  Just this week, we finished reading yet another weather book.  As we were reading, I kept thinking about all of the different activities we've done and thought to myself, wouldn't it be nice to have all of my weather activities and printables in one place?  And well, I decided to just do that.  I hope you enjoy!  The activities are grouped together by weather topic.

This post may contain affiliate links.

The books recommended below are some of our VERY favorites.  Bulldozer owns all of them! They are fabulous!

Welcome to the Kids Learning Printables Linky Party!

co-host Montessori Nature

1. Farm Do-a-Dot Printables from Gift of Curiosity

2. Fall Themed Activities for Toddlers from Welcome to Mommyhood

Here's how this works!

1.  Link up to 3 educational printables for kiddos.  Free, paid, and giveaway printables are welcome.
2.  Add our Kids Learning Printables Linky Party Button to your post or blog.
3.  Support your fellow educators by commenting, pinning, and/or sharing the post published before yours.
4.  If you're not already doing so, follow me on FacebookPinterest, Twitter, and/or through my blog.
5.  You give me permission to use and repost images from your blog.

1.  Visit all posts.
2.  Share and pin as many links as possible throughout the week.
2.  Feature my favorite posts in next week's link up.
3.  Get to know you, your blog, and your printables for future use.

Let's get this party started!
Every Star Is Different
Read More »

Our Montessori Inspired Living Room

This post may contain affiliate links.

This is our living room.  It's not the most elegant living room, but it works for us.  (If you haven't read other posts about our home, please know we live in a very old (1890s) Victorian style home.)  You'll notice no end tables, coffee tables, and/or table lamps.  Some of the curtain rods are bent and sheer curtains missing.  This is a result of having two sensory seeking kiddos for whom safety is not always the first priority.  What Bulldozer didn't teach us, Sunshine has.
 There are two sections to our living room.  The picture below shows our seating area.
The ottoman can act as seating for four more people, or as four personal tables or lap desks for work space and/or treats, when the storage compartment lids are turned over or removed.  The ottoman has wheels, so it can be moved around the entire living room.  Among other purposes, we use it as storage for blankets for the kiddos.  The kiddos are able to use the ottoman independently without assistance in any way that is needed.  (Pushing the ottoman across the room is a fabulous sensory activity too!)
In this picture, one ottoman lid is completely off exposing blanket storage. Another lid is half way off.  Another is turned over to expose the table.   The last lid is in seat position.

 The picture below shows our work and play area.  I'm writing this post at the computer desk in the picture.  Right by the computer desk is the entrance to our learning time room.  (In case you were wondering.)  The dresser is home to all of our play dough supplies, paint & brushes, stamps & ink, and puzzles. The knobs from all of the drawers have been removed so Sunshine can't get into them.  The storage unit in the corner is home to board games among other things.
 I'm sure you can notice from these pictures I'm a very simple person who does not like clutter.  My attitudes do not change when it comes to anything Montessori.  I'm a firm believer in using what you have.  When I feel the need to purchase more shelves or other furniture items to organize a room, I know I either have too many things or I'm not utilizing the space I have already.  As I designed our Montessori inspired living room, I kept this idea in mind.

One of the first places I noticed I had space and shelving for activities was our TV stand.  Due to several infants and toddlers in our home for the past 7 years, the stand has never been home to books, decor, or anything else.  However, we've found it's a perfect place to store a few activities and/or toys.  I'm sure you can see the wear and tear of little hands.  The closing doors store our DVD player, right where the kiddos can learn to use it themselves.  The pull out drawers underneath are empty. Sunshine loves to put things in and out of everything she can.  These drawers are perfect for her to practice her skills.
 There are three activities on these shelves, one is a fall invitation to play, designed for toddlers.  You'll notice a SOFT football for gross motor skill activities on another shelf.  On the bottom shelf is a board book with five small pumpkins to act out the story.  I rotate activities on these shelves when I notice Sunshine is getting bored with the ones that are there.  All activities in the living room are designed specifically for Sunshine because she spends the most time in this room.  (The room has baby gates at every exit.)  However, any of the kiddos are welcome to use them.  Activities for the older kiddos are stored in the dining room where there is a table, chairs and plenty of floor space.  Sunshine can't interrupt and/or destroy activities in the dining room due to the baby gate.  (She really likes to do that.)

I don't purchase new items for activities in the living room or dining room.  If I want books I get them through our local library exchange.  All other materials are usually toys the kiddos already have, or manipulatives I've used in past units.

The second set of shelves for activities is in the corner of the room, next to the learning time room entrance (where we also store board games).  These shelves had been used for books.  However, I'm not one to read a book twice, unless it's REALLY good or a FABULOUS resource.  I realized there was no point in keeping most of the books on the shelves.  They look much better as Montessori shelves anyways.
 On these shelves you'll find four different toys or sets of toys that either have a learning or practical life component to them.  Right now the shelves hold a baby doll with her diaper bag, fully equipped with a diaper, "wipes," bib, & bottle.  Sunshine is struggling with diaper changes and eating, so I'm hoping this activity will help her feel more comfortable with these tasks.  Another shelf holds Sunshine's camera. She's been watching Mommy take lots of pictures lately and wants to join in on the fun.  One bottom shelf holds a set of parent and baby farm animals.  The other holds a LEGO duplo store set.  This is a great activity to help Sunshine with her fine motor skills.  (Putting LEGO duplos together requires lots of skill.)  I have chosen not to use trays because Sunshine tends to destroy them. When she's older, I'm hoping she grows out of this.

I couldn't resist showing you my toddler friendly Fall Invitation to Play.  It's been a HUGE hit.  The basket (which is soft and very hard to break), holds tongue depressors, felt leaves, pine cones, plastic apples, and acorns.
 I introduced the activity by making a tree with all of the materials.  Today, Dinomite created his own.  I must say, his was much better than mine.  I love how he made roots.
Dinomite's leaves.
 Bulldozer has built several houses.  I do believe they're houses for the squirrel.
Bulldozer's latest house.
 Princess has even joined the fun creating houses of her own.  I love how she decorated hers with leaves.
Princess' house.
I love applying Montessori principles into our daily living and home life.  Usually, we find that we already have the materials and space to do so, if we just take a minute to look, and possibly rearrange a little.  Creating a Montessori home does not need to be expensive.  If you're starting from scratch and have no furniture at all, then you may have to spend some money, but otherwise, it should literally cost you pennies if anything.  I'm always amazed at the change in the environment when I turn another room into a Montessori inspired one.  It's so worth it!
Read More »

Squirrel Activities for Tots & Preschoolers w/ Free Printables

Sunshine is quite obsessed with squirrels at the moment.  She squeals in delight every time she sees one. If we're outside she darts after them.

It only seemed fitting to create squirrel activities for tots and preschoolers for her to enjoy.  And boy of boy has she.  The unit comes right after having a squirrel themed birthday party.
Squirrel activities
 This post contains affiliate links.

Here's what Sunshine has been up to!

S is for Squirrel
S is for Squirrel
Sunshine will practice making a "snake" with play dough.  She will place it on the "S."  The play dough is chocolate scented for an additional sensory experience.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Squirrel Activities for Tots & Preschoolers Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Counting Acorns
Counting acorns
Tonight at dinner Sunshine tried to count the pieces of pumpkin pancakes on her plate.  None of the numbers were in the correct order, but they were all numbers.  I was so excited. We're making progress!

This week Sunshine will practice counting acorns.  I've included enough acorns for all five cards, in hopes that we can compare them afterwards.  We'll see.  Baby steps.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Squirrel Activities for Tots & Preschoolers Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Woodland Animals
woodland animals
 As I was planning the kiddos' birthday party I saw some adorable woodland animal cakes, decorations, etc.  I thought it would be fun to talk about other animals that live in the forest.

Sunshine will learn to identify the animals by name and match them with the figure provided.  She loves animals, so I know this activity will be a hit.

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Squirrel Activities for Tots & Preschoolers Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Acorn Transfer
Acorn transfer
 Sunshine will use the tongs provided to transfer the acorns from one bowl to the other.  She's done pretty well with tongs in the past, so I'm hoping she'll remember and be successful.

Acorn Craft
Torn paper acorn craft
This activity has multiple steps. Sunshine will first color the two brown pieces of paper provided, one light brown, the other dark brown.  She will then tear each colored brown piece of paper into pieces.  Last, she will glue the torn pieces of paper on to the acorn. The dark colored pieces will be placed on the top half of the acorn. Light colored pieces will be glued to the bottom half.

Source: I found this craft at No Time For Flashcards.  The acorn template can be found at Enchanted Learning.

Acorn Toss
Acorn toss
I did not make this activity.  Sunshine's grandparents put it together for her birthday party.  I just thought she'd have fun continuing to use it.  Sunshine will practice throwing the acorns into the hole provided.  She loved this at her birthday party.

For those interested in the printables, click on the link below:

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.
Autumn Leaves Unit with free printables

Apple Unit 2

Autumn Activities and Free Printables
Read More »

Fall Kickoff Birthday Party

This post may contain affiliate links.

As some of you know, we had a fun birthday party this weekend, to celebrate the birthdays of all four of our children.  Two have birthdays in July and August.  The other two have birthdays in November and January.  This has been the second or third year we've done all four birthday celebrations at one time.  I must say I LOVE celebrating this way. No one feels left out.  It's only one party for those who live a further distance away, and I can choose a month when there's nice weather.  However, with that said the temperature yesterday was a high of 56 degrees with a 90% chance of rain all day.

We had intentions of having the party earlier in the summer, however both times we started the process of planning etc., it fell through.  Even plans to have a party with my extended family fell through due to me having an allergy attack on our visit to where they live.  So, extended family had already given gifts to the kiddos.  I had pretty much given up on the idea of having a party this year.  

Over the past two weeks the boys spent time with several of their friends that we had planned to invite to the party. All of them asked when it would be.  I felt bad. It was then, I realized the party wasn't just about my kiddos, but about their friends having a chance to come to our home and do something  fun.  One week ago, (Sunday night) after speaking with my husband, I decided to see if their friends had plans for the upcoming Saturday, and if they'd be able to come to a party in the afternoon.  All but one family was willing and able.  So, I finalized everything and put together a Fall Kickoff Party for all four kiddos in six days.  Each kiddo chose their own fall theme.  Dinomite chose football.  Bulldozer chose pumpkins.  Princess chose apples. And for Sunshine I chose a squirrel theme because she's so obsessed with them.  The four kiddos helped with every single detail!

So I wouldn't drive myself mad with planning and preparing, I asked each one of the kiddos, what mattered most to them in regards to their party.  Dinomite said he wanted decorations.  Bulldozer said he wanted lots of treats.  Princess was all about her attire.  (You'll notice the girls are wearing attire that go along with their themes.)  Sunshine just repeated everything her older siblings said.  Lol.  I focused mainly on these three things.

Knowing I couldn't do everything on my own, and that Jason was going to be working the entire day up to the party, and for the first 30 minutes into the party, I enlisted the help of a grandparent who lives very close by.  She was more than willing to help!  Each day or night we'd chat on the phone discussing plans, what we'd found etc.  It was so much fun.  My husband was super supportive as I was gone almost every night this past week, baking all day, leaving the kitchen a mess when I left.  Every night I came home to a clean kitchen.

In the end, we threw an amazing party that everyone seemed to enjoy.  The kiddos worked so hard every single day this week, planning, preparing, creating, baking, etc.

Here's what it looked like in pictures!

The Football Corner
 Dinomite has always been one big on decorations.  I remember a few years ago, around the Christmas season he was so upset because we didn't have enough Christmas decorations. He's felt the same way around Halloween etc.  Each time this happens, he'll go shopping with me to find the "perfect" decorations to put in our home.  He's a boy after my own heart!  As we went shopping this week, he was no different.  He found football field dish towels, used as part of his table spread.  (I needed new dish towels anyways, so I decided the purchase would be okay.)  At another store he found a package of all of the NFL team helmets.  I allowed the purchase because I knew we could use the helmets for more than just the party.  Hint:  Our learning time unit for next week has been changed from The Doctor's Office to Football.  Then of course we had to have a football.  Dinomite went with me to every store looking for the cheapest one.  Since the purchase, he's slept with it, carried it everywhere, and played with it outside with Daddy.  The last thing on his list of decorations was a banner or streamers of sorts.  I found some fabulous football scrapbooking paper at the local craft store. He cut out all of the strands to make the decoration you see above.

Fall Focal Point
 Since I'm limited in funds for decorations for every holiday and season, a few years back, I decided I would use pictures of our family to decorate our home for the seasons. Each season I switch out photos in our living room and add a few small holiday tokens.  This is great incentive to take pictures of our family during every season and event.  The Fall Kickoff Party was great motivation to get out our fall photos and decorations. They went perfectly with our theme!  The focal point of our living room is the picture collage above.  I love how it includes pictures of our family from the time Dinomite was just 9 months old, to the present.

Halloween Corner
 Also in the living room is our Halloween Corner.  It's missing a couple pictures, but still looks fabulous.  (I need to find a few more frames.)  The kiddos love looking at pictures of themselves.  Halloween is one of their favorite holidays!

Football Themed Treats
 Decorations didn't stop in the living room, but continued on in the kitchen.  Each kiddo chose four treats they wanted at their party, and then helped prepare them all.  We tried to relate the treats back to each kiddos' theme, as well as the Fall Kickoff theme of the party.  I am so pleased with how everything turned out.  Dinomite chose football brownies, popcorn, potato chips, and chocolate football cupcakes.  Note:  Dinomite picked out the football dish towel under the cupcakes.  A grandparent lent us the table cloth.  The popcorn and chips are in a simple paper grocery bags, trimmed down.

Pumpkin Themed Treats
 Bulldozer was all too excited to help make treats for those coming to the party.  He helped make pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, pumpkin pie, and chocolate chunk pumpkin cookies.  Had we been able to have the party outside, we were going to do doughnuts on a string game.  Since we were inside, I added the doughnuts to his table.  Bulldozer picked out the doughnuts, large and small pumpkins for decorations.  You'll also notice leaves and pine cones scattered about. Those came from our homeschool fall bin of manipulatives.

Apple Themed Treats
 Princess requested apple pie, apple crisp, apple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and apples for her table.  She helped make everything and LOVED the process.  For decorations we used more manipulatives from our fall learning time bin including apples and fall leaves.  The tablecloth was borrowed from a grandparent.  If you like our apple cupcakes, you can check out how we made them at Makes and Takes!

Squirrel Themed Food
I loved how Sunshine's treats turned out!  Sunshine helped me make her allergy friendly cupcakes.  Then I made the most adorable little acorns from Hershey Kisses, chocolate chips, and Bulldozer's favorite mini cookies.  They were seriously the hit of the party.  To find out how easy they were to make, check out the recipe at The Hungry Housewives.  I'm seriously contemplating making them as part of our Christmas treat plates!  To finish off her table, I created a trail mix station. Each bag contained a different ingredient that could be combined to make a special treat.  The cups for the trail mix are missing from the picture, but they went right next to the plates.

For drinks we served apple cider, apple juice boxes and mini water bottles.

Pumpkin Balloon Game
 My four kiddos aren't that fabulous with games where there are winners and losers.  They're a bit sensitive about that.  We tried to find games that would not cause hurt feelings.  For the first game we gave all of the kiddos orange balloon "pumpkins."  While fall themed music played, they needed to keep their balloons in the air. When the music stopped, they had to hold them still.  If we had gone a step further, those who couldn't hold still would have been out, but we decided not to do that.

Acorn Toss
Disclaimer:  I did NOT create this amazing prop for our game.  One of the kiddos' grandparents is extremely talented in the area of art, and did this, with some help stamping leaves and painting from his wife.  We are truly blessed to have grandparents willing to help make birthdays so special.
 In this game the kiddos took turns trying to throw the acorn into the hole.  Each time the succeeded they took a step back and tried again.  The game was much harder than it looked. All had a fun time.

Kick, Kick, Pass
 This game was hilarious to watch.  Some of the kiddos had never played Duck, Duck, Goose before.  We changed the wording to go along with Dinomite's football theme.  The kiddos did such a great job following directions and waiting their turn.

Apple Relay
 Once again, this game was hilarious to watch.  The kiddos put apples under their chins and had to carry them to a specific point, turn around and give them to their teammates.  It was hilarious trying to watch kiddos carry the apples.  Some just ended up holding them with their hands and chins, as shown above.  Lol.

Pumpkin Bowling
This game was HUGE success!  The kiddos took turns bowling with the pumpkin, knocking down as many filled water bottles as they could. The water bottles worked great on the carpet.

Party Favors:
Fall Themed Mini Invitations to Play
 When trying to think of what party favors to give, the first thing that came to mind was a min invitation to play.  My kiddos LOVE play dough and manipulatives. They play with them for hours.  So, that's what we did. The kiddos helped choose and make all of the play dough (12 batches) and helped pick out manipulatives for their friends.  Here are what each party favor bag included:

Football Themed Bags
Dark Brown Chocolate Scented or Green Play Dough
Brown, Green, and White Glass Beads
Small Lollipop Sticks cut in half (to be used for the strings on a football)
Large Lollipop Sticks (to be used as yard lines and/or the large string on a football)
Wooden Figures (to be used as players)
Wooden Football

Pumpkin Themed Bags:
Dark Brown Chocolate Scented or Orange Play Dough
Fabric/Plastic Leaves
Small, Medium, & Large Pumpkin Buttons
Brown, Orange, & Red Glass Beads or Jewels
Pumpkin Figure

Apple Themed Bags:
Red Play Dough
Fabric/Plastic Leaves
Small Green and Red Plastic Apples
Brown, Orange, & Red Glass Beads or Jewels
Cinnamon Sticks

Squirrel Themed Bags (Made for Toddlers):
Cinnamon Play Dough
Fabric/Plastic Leaves
Two Large Plastic Acorns
Pumpkin Figure
Cinnamon Sticks

The kiddos then decorated small paper bags to put the party favors in.
My favorite bag is one Princess made for her friend Alice. I love her apple tree drawing!

The party was a HUGE success.  Though the party was only for friends, we ended up having two sets of grandparents attend, one set who helped with the party in a BIG way, and the other a set who hadn't been able to travel to our home in almost a year, due to health concerns.
We are so thankful to such fabulous friends for attending the party and celebrating with our kiddos!  Here is Bulldozer with one of his closest friends!  A special thank you to two special grandparents who helped plan, prepare, and host the games at the birthday party.  Lastly, I'm also thankful I have a year to recover before the next big birthday bash.  I'm exhausted!  Lol.
Read More »

Get Access to Exclusive Special Needs Parenting Printables by Subscribing Below