DIY Wizard of Oz Costumes:Sibling Edition

I’m not really one that has ever gotten into Halloween, but when you have the chance to dress up your children in adorable costumes and take pictures, you better believe that I am ALL OVER that  opportunity! Last year I was pregnant with Reu when we took the girl’s to Boo at the Zoo. We had just gotten back from Uganda, and they were really looking forward to dressing up as princesses. Somehow during the course of that day, I decided that next year they should be Dorothy, Glinda, and our baby boy could be Toto. Fast forward a year later and we have Dorothy, Glinda, and not Toto, but one VERY adorable munchkin. I have literally had this planned for a year guys. And seriously, look at them. It turned out awesome! Now mind you, when I say I had this planned for a year, that does not mean I had their costumes for a year. Costumes were more of a week (or day) before kind of deal. No worries. These easy DIY costumes can come together pretty quickly, and certainly don’t break the bank!

So here’s the breakdown folks:

Glinda– Find yourself a frilly pink dress. Chances are, you already own one. If you don’t, thrift for one or make a pink tutu with some tulle. The Glinda crown is made from cardboard paper. I followed instructions found here. I omitted gluing on jewels and just went with a few silver beads, because it’s what I had on hand! It’s literally just cardboard, rubbed on pink chalk, glitter glue, and a few hot glued beads! The Glinda wand is made from cardboard, embellished with some glitter glue, and hot glued and taped onto a small plastic rod. We  already owned the sparkly shoes, but you could thrift for some, or buy some that your child can still wear after Halloween!

Dorothy-Lillie had some sparkly red shoes that fit her last year, and that may have sparked our Wizard of Oz theme passion! Unfortunately, her feet grew! Who would have thought!? We sprung for a pair of perfectly, glittery red “Dorothy” shoes. She wears them A LOT, so it’s totally worth it.  I brought some inexpensive gingham fabric and sewed together a simple Dorothy apron. You can find the pattern I used here.  I then put together a white tulle tutu to wear underneath. All I did was sew together some wide elastic, and then knotted the white tulle around it. *TIME SAVER TIP* If you want cutting your tulle to go faster, wrap your tulle in a continuous loop around a book length wise (pick a book that works for the desired length of your skirt). Then cut through ONE end of the tulle, and viola! Lots of tulle pieces all the same length! Tights under Dorothy’s outfit was a must with the see through tulle and backless apron! Add in those Dorothy braids, and you’ll have the sweetest little Dorothy around!

Munchkin-This little munchkin costume took no time at all! I pulled out a collard button up, some overall shorts, and borrowed a pair of socks from Reu’s sissy. Then all I had to do was slick up that amazing hair and apply some cute little freckles with my Young Living multitasker…it really is a multitasker! I put together a lollipop from the middle of a paper plate that I cut out and drawn on, and then hot glued to a straw. This was not completely baby friendly…as evidenced by the picture below, as Reu tried to chew on it once or twice…or a lot!

There you have it! Super simple DIY Wizard of Oz costumes! This worked perfectly for this sweet sibling trio, and no worries, we are already planning next year’s costumes. We’re thinking some sort of Peter Pan theme! Tinkerbell, Wendy, and oh the possibilities for Reu! Dustin thinks that he would make an adorable Smee to his Captain Hook! I guess we’ll just have to see what I can whip up a day before Boo at the Zoo next year!

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Learning with Littles // Tips for Tot Home School

Learning with two little ones, ages two and four, can have its challenges. Add in a one year old miss Hellen, and schedules can sometimes get a little complicated. We are by no means doing things perfectly. We by no means have it all down, but we are learning-together. Each time I put together and teach a lesson for the girls, I learn something new myself. Whether it be a fun fact that I didn’t remember, or the opportunity to practice some hard core patience, I’m learning. Here are a few tips when trying to figure out how to home school your own tots!

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  1. Be flexible.

    If you’re a parent, you’ve probably already learned this one to some degree. Having kids causes you to have to be flexible in certain situation. Have to leave the house in an hour? Start getting ready now because there’s 100% chance that one of your kids is going to have a poopy diaper, not be able to find her shoes, or have sudden hunger pains! Just like you can plan for some flexibility when you’re getting ready to head out the door, plan for flexibility in your school day! Give yourself permission to skip an activity if focus is just not there. Let them choose between worksheet A or worksheet B. Be flexible.

  2. Start with movement.

    I’ve been starting our school days with songs. There are a few songs we do every time that help create a routine and get them in the rhythm of school time. Then I have been adding a few movement songs to get those wiggles out before we have our listening and sitting time. You can find some fun moving songs here. 

  3. Keep quiet sitting time short.

    Now obviously as they get older they should be able to sit quietly for longer periods of time, but a two year old is not going to sit still and quiet for an hour-most likely. After getting the wiggles out, maximize some time to sit still, listen, and work on activities that may require more concentration. Often 10-20 minutes is enough. You can break up these quiet times and interject more active ones in between.

  4. If at a loss-READ!

    If you’re not sure what to do next, pull out a book! My girls love reading and could bring me book after book to read. There are so many benefits to reading with your kids. You’ll get some quality time with them, and help develop those little brains! Check out this previous post for some thoughts I have on using living books in the Charlotte Mason Way.

  5. Let them play. 

    While playing, kids are learning A LOT! They are learning how to problem solve, be creative, develop fine and gross motor skills, interact with their world and others just to name a few! Play is an important part of childhood, and even in home schooling, it’s important and shouldn’t be forgotten or overlooked!

I hope these tips leave you feeling encouraged as you plan your next home schooling steps! If any other tot home schoolers have any wisdom, I’d love for you to share here with us all! Check out some of my other tot home schooling post here and here for a few more ideas. Or follow my Pinterest board here!

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Earth Day Unit // Tot Home School

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Did you know that this Friday is Earth Day?

In 1970, the year of our first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channeling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, we continue to lead with groundbreaking ideas and by the power of our example. – earthday.org

This week we have been focusing on the world and how we should help take care of it.  So far we have talked about how God created the world and put man in charge of caring for it. How it is our job to do our part in keeping it clean and beautiful. God’s creation is breath taking, so let’s keep it that way!

The Earth Day activities that we have been doing are great because you can cover a lot of topics. Recycling, naming the continents and oceans, fun facts about the earth and so on. Just head on over to Pinterest to get an idea of the activities we’ll be doing this week, and some that you can do too!

Follow Oh Tiny Gifts’s board earth day unit/ tot home school on Pinterest.

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Unit Studies // Tot Home School

I’m a whole hodge podge of home school theories and activities as I’m sure you’ve figured out! If you read this post from a few months back, you’ll know that I started trying things more in the vein of the Charlotte Mason way. I wanted to read more living books with the girls and focus a curriculum around these books, while allowing a lot of time for exploration and outdoor activities. While we continue to read a lot of living books, I have gotten away from building a curriculum around the books. One key concept I am continuing to follow, is trying to allow for exploration and having the theme we are looking at focused around things Gracie is especially interested in or would be able to connect to real life events taking place. I have been able to accomplish this through implementing unit studies.

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Invitation to Build a Flower

My planning oriented brain seems to do better when I have a theme to plan around for the week. You might remember the Spring unit that we did a few weeks back. We have recently done a Nile River unit after having the chance to vacation beside the Nile and sail down it, and are currently in a Building unit. This unit stemmed from Gracie’s interest in what the tallest building in the world was, and loving to build tall Lego towers.

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Building a Dam

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Nature Journaling

With each activity I try to allow for some time of exploration and ability for them to do things on their own (which can sometimes be soooo hard for me!). I also try to incorporate different concepts such as letter recognition, writing, reading, math, geography or science into different unit themed activities. For example, when we looked up the tallest building in the world, we also incorporated geography by looking at the map to see where each of these buildings were. When Gracie built a tall Lego tower, we incorporated some math concepts and pulled out the ruler and started  measuring it.

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Water Bead Sensory Play with Lavender

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Word Practice with Labels

Each picture in this post is a peek into some of the activities we have recently worked on. I like to create a new Pinterest board for each unit study, so follow me here to keep up! If you’d like to see our most recent unit studies, click on the boards below and follow!

Follow Oh Tiny Gifts’s board spring unit/ tot homeschool on Pinterest.

                           Follow Oh Tiny Gifts’s board nile river study/tot home school on Pinterest.

      Follow Oh Tiny Gifts’s board building unit / tot home school on Pinterest.

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Tot Home School // Spring Unit

By now you all have probably figured out that I’m a big ol’ mixed up mess of home schooling theories and ideas…but in a good way, right? I take a little of this and a little of that and I use what works for our family, and trust me, I am totally still in the process of figuring out what works for our family.  

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This is what 90% of our days look like… (insert music blaring and baby screeching noises).

Displaying WP_20160307_16_00_03_Rich_LI (2).jpgI have currently decided to go with a Spring Unit and incorporate whatever home schooling theories work best for the girls at this time. That means they get a little bit of traditional book work, some Montessori type activities and some things geared more toward Charlotte Mason’s teaching.

Mind you, this Spring unit is just as much for me as it is for them. It’s hovering in the 90’s and I’m sitting here sticky and hot as I type. When back in Ohio, Spring is my absolute favorite time of year, and kind of how I imagine Heaven sometimes! So for the next few weeks, or however long this mama NEEDS her Spring time phase, we are doing a tot school Spring Unit. Here’s the break down for those that are interested in trying it out! The links will take you to the sites I used for ideas, and if you follow my Pinterest Spring Unit board, you can see most of the unit there.

Monday– A music class that included learning some new Spring songs. We then played around with the boom whackers and I worked on some music theory with Gracie. A wonderful friend from Ohio made us a little felt music staff and felt notes, along with some music flash cards. I had Gracie arrange some notes on the correct lines using the flash cards and then we played it with the boom whackers. We then made up a Spring like song to go along with our music.  I had her practice writing a few of those words to finish up.

Tuesday-We looked at lots of beautiful pictures of tulips in Holland! We found where Holland is on the map and then even made up our own plan to someday visit Holland during the Spring on our way back to the U.S.- just to see the tulips! The girls then colored pictures I had made of a tulip’s life cycle and we looked at them in the correct order. We finished by listening to books all about Spring.

Keukenhof Gardens in season

Wednesday- We found where Holland was once again on the map and talked a little bit about windmills and how they are a symbol of Holland. We watched a short youtube video on windmills in Holland and talked about how windmills are using the wind as a source of energy. We then made our very own pinwheels.

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Thursday-I’m able to take Gracie with me to a friend’s house on Thursday while I give piano lessons to two of her children. This sweet friend is gracious enough to hold an art history class for the littles where they get to make their very own masterpieces.

Friday-We did some brief phonics and writing practice in our workbook and then we created our very own Spring wonderland.

I start each class time by reading the Jesus Storybook Bible. We then pray and I work on a short bible memorization verse with Gracie. We all sing the ABCs together and I remind them what month it is, the day of the week, and the date. All of our activities are done in the morning and usually take an hour or two at most. Lots of outdoor play, free time and just being kids is part of the agenda! Lillie is able to do some activities with us, but usually ends up doing her own thing. I think this is perfectly fine, as she is only two, but I’m hoping to incorporate some more Montessori type activities for her next week that she can do independently while I try to help Gracie.

I hope this helps spark some wonderful Spring activities for you to do with your kids -wherever you are in the world and whatever your Spring looks like!

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It Will Be OK // Home School Reflections

Hey there mama/teacher of little children.

I know it get’s frustrating sometimes. I know they don’t always want to listen to you. I know that a lot of whining will usually take place every 4 out of 5 activities. I know that at least one of your children is usually distracted and not paying any attention. 

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I ‘m there in the midst of it. Tot home schooling in Uganda. Doing my best to encourage creativity and curiosity while learning the basics. Trying to spark that passion for learning and understanding that we all have different gifts and talents that Jesus has given us.

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The midst of it can be a strange place to be. It’s fun and frustrating all at the same time. And even though the end is a far way off, I don’t really mind, and  I have a feeling that it’s all going to be ok.

It’s going to be ok if that fun activity we planned just doesn’t pan out. It’s going to be ok if the two year old is paying zero attention to your letter learning. It’s going to be ok if you get a little snappy and have to ask for forgiveness. It’s going to be ok.

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And this is why it will be ok. It will be ok because you love them. It will be ok because you are trying. It will be ok because Jesus gives you grace for each moment of each day. For each failed activity and each distracted child.

So pull together some lessons. Read some books. Work on a craft together. Get outside and take a nature walk. And through it all, know that it will be ok.

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Trying the Charlotte Mason Way-Tot Home School

As we get back into a routine here in Uganda, I’ve once again started to do some loosely structured school lessons with the girls each day. Here’s the good news: When I asked Gracie if she wanted to do some school lessons the other day she got pretty excited! Here’s the not so good news: Gracie just turned four and Lillian just turned two. As you can imagine my living in a dream world ideas for school lessons are often completely and utterly demolished by the normal attitudes and abilities of these girls. In my dream world we are able to sit quietly, have long attention spans, and smile and nod as things are done efficiently and correctly. In my real world whining, running, and scowling are all involved at one time or another.

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While back in Ohio over the Christmas season, I got a chance to talk a little home school talk with another mom of littles that are very close in age to my girls. She brought up the Charlotte Mason way of homeschooling, and of course I had to go home and search her on Pinterest…because all the best home school ideas are found there of course. I’m sure I still have A LOT to learn on Charlotte Mason and her ideas on home schooling, but so far I have liked what I have picked up on.

A lot of the learning that is done the Charlotte Mason way is focused on the idea of living books. Living books are one that usually written in a storytelling style. They draw you in, and have beautiful language that is not dumbed-down for children, just because they are children. So instead of using text books, you could create a whole study based off a living book. History, art, science and so on could all be incorporated in a more engaging way.

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Some other focuses of Charlotte Mason include, building good habits, having short lessons for little children, and spending lots of time outdoors. Much of the focus is also on the child’s ideas and allowing her to be creative through engagement in the stories and time spent exploring outside. A few good resources that I have found on these Charlotte Mason ideas can be found here and here.

With the girls being so young and also having our almost 9 month old foster baby in our home, these ideas are VERY appealing to me. Uganda offers the perfect environment for lots of outdoor exploration and my girls have always loved reading. I still like to combine these ideas with other materials we have and ideas that I come up with, but for now I plan to come up with some plans based off of living books we can read. Currently we are reading Eeyore Has a Birthday.

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I decided to just read sections to maintain their attention span as it is a little longer than some of the children’s books they are used to. So far Gracie has stayed pretty engaged and is able to answer questions about what happened and anticipate things that are going to happen next.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you all may have on the Charlotte Mason method! Any good living books that you could suggest? Activities or projects to go with living books? I’d love you to share them so we can try them!

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Away in a Felt Manger // Christmas Blog Hop

Here in Uganda the temperature is hovering in the 80’s and the chances of snow are slim to none. Even though it doesn’t quite feel like the Christmas season I’m use to, the story of Jesus’ birth hasn’t changed with the climate change! We will be traveling home shortly for Christmas, but that doesn’t mean we need to wait to start on some Christmas activities here in Uganda!

Back home we had a little plastic manger set for the girls to play with and to talk about the story of Jesus’ birth. We don’t have that with us, and I’m not sure where I would even start looking for one here.

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Felt to the rescue! You could spend a lot of time cutting out intricate felt figures, or you can be like me and quickly cut out some basic felt people! I cut out different color clothing, some angels, baby Jesus, and different animals, and our very basic felt manger scene was ready!

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Gracie and Lillie sat down with grandpa and had fun dressing up each felt person and arranging their manger scene. It’s an activity that they can enjoy working on on their own, or we can dive in deeper and work on it together. The story of Jesus’ birth can be read and the girls can arrange and act out the story right along with the reading.

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It’s a simple, but meaningful activity. One that gives the kids a chance to physically interact with the story of Jesus and use hands on learning. When kids are given the chance to both hear the story and enact the story themselves, the learning and understanding will go twice as far!

So as we walk further into the Christmas season, I want to remember to focus on the true meaning of Christmas with my girls. To dive more into the story of Jesus and the true reason of the Christmas season, and less on the focus of presents. It doesn’t have to be complicated or even Pinterest worthy to be meaningful.

New Christmas Little Ones Blog Hop

Kid’s Pom Pom Christmas Tree by BYBMG
Advent Wreath Craft for Kids by Sweet Little Ones
Toy Free Christmas Gift Ideas by Wife Mommy Me
Making Ornaments Together by Polka-Dotty Place
Christmas Tree Counting Play Dough Mat Activity by The Magnolia Barn
Away in a Manger Felt Activity by Oh Tiny Gifts
Christmas Family Fun + Free Printable by Living In This Season

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Lessons on Diversity and Looking at the Heart // Tot Home School

A few weeks ago I really wanted to focus more on diversity and teaching Gracie that we shouldn’t judge others because of how they look. Now that we are living in Uganda, I feel like Gracie has a lot of opportunities to learn how to look beyond color and see that we are all created equal. There are also lots of instances though where color is used as an innocent distinguishing factor. Sometimes Gracie may have two friends with the same name, but they happen to have different skin color. Skin color simply becomes her way to distinguish between them.
The lessons we did were pretty simple and I tried to present them in a fun way. I found a few ideas on Pinterest to help me out and make the concept more concrete for her.  I first took two small containers. In one I put rocks, and in the other I put m & m’s. I then wrapped each of them. The container with rocks I wrapped up in nice pink felt. The container with m & m’s I wrapped with a black trash bag.
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 So you can probably see where this is going. On the outside the pink covered container looked more appealing, and this was the container that Gracie chose. Once we opened each though, she realized that the pretty pink container only held rocks and the not so pretty trash bag covered container actually held the good stuff!  We talked about how you can’t judge what is inside a person’s heart by how they look on the outside. Just because someone might be wearing beautiful clothes, it doesn’t always mean that their heart is beautiful. We need to look on the inside and notice how someone acts and treats others. We have already talked some about how when she does good things, like help someone, her heart is beautiful and she is sharing Jesus’ love. This is what is most important-not outward beauty.
Of course she loved this…since she got to eat candy. We also observed that each m & m looked different on the outside, but inside, they were all the same-chocolate! We may each look different outwardly, but each of us is equal in God’s eyes and we each have a heart full of feelings that can be easily hurt by unkind words. We have to work to fill our heart with Jesus, making it beautiful and kind, and then share that love with EVERYONE!
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I wasn’t sure if this would be too far a stretch for a 3 and a half year old to understand. But I think it’s important to talk about. This provided a fun way to do that. Even more important though, is to live it. To lead by example and show Gracie and Lillie how to treat others with kindness and respect, not based on outward appearance. To show them that just because someone isn’t dressed nice, or doesn’t look like us, inside they may have the most beautiful heart!
Teaching our children these lessons can be a hard and daunting task. M & m’s are a good start, but prayer is a better continuance! I continue to pray for my girl’s hearts that they would know Jesus and make Him first in their lives. In building a strong relationship with Christ, this in turn will affect all their relationships and ensure they are covered in the love and grace of Christ.
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How about you? What important lessons are you working to teach your children? Are there hard things you have been addressing? How do you do it? I’d love to hear!

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Online Resources for Teaching Tots // Mama Shares Monday

When teaching tots, I feel play is very important. Structure to activities is good, but it is also helpful to let them explore and learn things on their own. I recently  started using a few online resources that I feel enhance the experiences of play of structure. While I don’t think all your learning time should be spent in front of a screen, I do think some great things can come from online learning. Technology is a part of our world. Our kids are already bombarded by so many different kinds of it! It is important to show them how to use it in a positive way and with guidance early on.

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ABC Mouse

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I have really enjoyed going through the lessons on ABC Mouse with Gracie. I set her up at Kindergarten level 5 and she has been doing great. She has learned to use the computer mouse well (turning down the mouse speed helps!) and can even go through some of the lessons on her own while I  sit and play or do an activity with Lillie.  I also go through some of the lessons with Lillie. I set her at the beginning Preschool level, and even though some things are beyond her current ability, she still enjoys it. The videos and books are great, and the puzzles, color by number, and games help Gracie focus and figure out things on her own. Gracie has also recently discovered that she can use the tickets she gets after each activity for “buying” things for her room. So far her virtual room has a lot of dolls! There are also other elements to ABC Mouse that we haven’t gone through yet, but so far we have enjoyed it. Right now you can pay for a whole year for $79 dollars (2 months free) and add up to three kids for the price of one.

Reading Rainbow

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We recently started a free trial for Reading Rainbow and have been loving it! You have access to soooo many books, games and videos. I always loved watching Reading Rainbow, and Gracie has really enjoyed picking books and having them read to her. The program has something called a Skybrary where you can create your own personal hot air balloon and travel to seven different islands with books and videos.There are tons of books and video field trips. You can choose to have the books read to your child or you can read them yourself. There are also interactive animations that you can click on in each book. This has been so much fun as we don’t have a library to go to here in Uganda like we did back home in Ohio. A year’s subscriptions is $49.99 and something I think we will be investing in.

What do you think? Do you invest in online teaching resources? Have you found helpful free resources? I’d love to hear!

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