This summer, I've made a special effort to do a little pre-schooling with Cooper.  I want him to get used to what "school" was like.  And I want him to learn early that learning can be and is fun.  Plus, it adds some more structure to our day instead of just free play all day long!

My favorite quote ever about teaching is one I found forever ago....
Another reason why I love Mr. Rogers!  I always try to keep this in mind with my firsties and my own toddler.  So, here's a look at how we play and learn together.... {stay tuned for a FREEBIE!!}

We do 30 minutes of literacy in the morning and 30 minutes of math in the afternoon.  And he **LOVES** school time.  Seriously...he begs to do more school time.  We take the weekends off, of course, and he still begs to have school time on Saturdays too.  Let's hope this attitude continues for the next 15 years....:)

Cooper already knew most, if not all, of his letters.  So during our reading time, we work on letter-sound associations.  I used the letter cards from my Word Wall Packet.  We added one letter at a time and talked about the sound and corresponding picture.  I would read, "A, /a/, apple" and he would repeat again.  It took us 3 or 4 school sessions, but we finally got all of the letters up!  Now, every school session, we start off reading our ABC chart.  He loves finding a fun fishing pole or toy flag pointer to use to "read."  And after almost a month of school time, he can read almost the whole ABC chart by himself without any corrections!  I just love this sponge age.  He soaks everything up!

My favorite moment by far was two weeks ago when I told him it was time to read our ABCs...

"But I tan't weed, Momma!"

"Yes, you can...start with A..."

"A, /a/, appuwl..." and he finished through the whole alphabet and said, "I tan weed, Mommy, I tan!"

Talk about melting my mommy and teacher heart all in one!  Now he proudly tells us almost every day, "I'm a weally good weeduh, Mommy!"

After we read our ABC's we play a little fastest finger (an all time favorite for my preschoolers and firsties!) with some letter ID. {Point to the letter ___. See who can point the fastest.  Yes, it's that simple.  Yes, they think it's the best thing ever.}

Then, we do "writing."  For the last month, we've been writing Cooper's name.  We spell out each letter, and then practice sliding our finger across the word to read it.  And we have written his name in all kinds of fun stuff...since those little fingers aren't quite ready to trace!

We wrote with playdoh... (we repeated this one for a whole week.  It was really hard for him to curve the playdoh snakes to follow the path of the letters!)
He's just so, so proud!

Black beans and glue!

Pinto buying new supplies here.  Just using what we have!

Cheerios... (just make sure you write the letters far enough apart.  I learned that the hard way!)
He has LOVED thinking of new things to write with!  This morning he told me, "Oh, I have a idea, Mommy.  I can write with tornbread (cornbread) today! Is that a dreat (great) idea, Mommy?"....silly boy!  And after he finishes each one, I have him go back over it with his finger to feel the bumpy (or smooth) path of the letters!  Lots of giggles for this! :)

I love using things to glue down because it gives me a chance to repeat the verbal paths for handwriting our letters over and over.  The more this gets ingrained in his head, the easier I think handwriting will be for him when his little fingers are ready to write.  He even tries his bardest to repeat the scripts back to me... #bestillmyheart  You can grab this FREEBIE from my TPT store.  It includes the scripts for capital and lowercase that I use in my first grade classroom!

After a few weeks of writing his name, we moved on to writing other words.  I've decided to work on our family rules {read about those HERE} and their key words next.  Just to have some extra conversation time about those rules too! *wink*

Yesterday, we did "Kind" and wrote it in rice.

This will look so cute hanging in his play room as an extra reminder!  And I love that he made it himself!

Of course, we always save plenty of time before nap for story time to practice all of our reading and CAP skills!  He loves finding the cover, the title, reading the title with his reading finger...and he even has a few books that he can "read" on his own!  Love watching his brain grow!

The possibilities are endless for fun, engaging literacy activities for our littles.  How else do you teach those early literacy skills?
If you are just catching up with my Sunday Open House Series, then here are the links for the other posts:
1. Kitchen
2. Curb Appeal & Landscaping
3. Dining Room
4. Fireworks (4th of July)
5. Blueprints
6. Back-To-School Decor
7. Cooper's Bedroom
8. Football Season Decor
9. Fall Decor

Today I'm blogging about our dining room...
Large Gray Rug, Amazon 9x12
Navy Door Mat Rug: Target

View coming in from our back patio...

View from our living room...
Let's talk first about this ***beautiful*** table!  That cost us...ummm....not much at all!  Because my handy hubby made it for us!  Yep, he did.  This 9 foot beauty and bench is all hand made, hand scraped by my One and Only.  He used the Ana White plan and modified it some to work with our longer dimensions.  You can find all of the nitty gritty on her link.  My dream from the beginning was to have one big open kitchen and dining area instead of 3 smaller kitchen, breakfast and formal dining areas.  So I wanted and needed a big substantial table to fill the space and seat plenty of people since it's the only official table at our house.

He hand scraped the bench and the table with his Papaw's carving tools.  Such a great memory for him!

Even Cooper sat on the table and helped distress it with a hammer! :)

Here's the underneath trestle part of the table.  He also made the bench bottoms match the table too, which I love!

And because our table needed to be really long so he added some extra support underneath as well.

I just love all of the imperfections.  It gives it character and a story to tell.

{{And for those who have already asked in person...yes, my husband will build you one too if you are in the Northwest Arkansas area...just email him for pricing, because it will depend on what size you need!}}

While the hubby was busy building the table, I bought these 4 chairs at various antique shops locally. For way cheap.  I actually have a fifth chair that will fit at the table, but it looks too crowded for all of the time, so it sits in our living room until we need the extra seat.  5 chairs...less than 100 bucks total!  Seriously.  I had a blast looking for these.  And so far, I haven't repainted any of these.  I had originally wanted to repaint the red one for sure, but now that I've lived with it for 3 months, I'm kinda partial to the splash of color.  What are your thoughts?  Let me know what you think about the mix matched chairs!

My daddy added a wooden seat to the red chair and I stained it {it had a woven seat that wasn't stable...} and I recovered one of the chairs with the stripe fabric I used to edge the curtains.  Other than that, I haven't touched the chairs.
 Here's a closer up on the seat cover...

For the end chairs, I splurged a little because I needed something that would be the correct scale and color for the room.

I wanted a neutral color since my side chairs would be mix matched.  I considered parson chairs, but when I found these, I knew I had to have them.  They have more presence than a parson chair and I loved the tufting and furniture like feel to them.

And I love the linen look for the fabric and the nailhead detail too!
End chairs: overstock, February 2015

I had a really hard time deciding on curtains.  I didn't want anything too bold in color on the walls, but I also didn't want just solid panels.  Every fabric I found that was blue and white was too "light and airy."  I don't know if that makes sense or not, but I knew I needed another color to "ground" the fabric.  I found this floral in cream and blue.  And it matched perfectly, but again...too airy.  So, then I found the same fabric in navy and cream.  And I fell. in. love. with the navy!  Plus, the fabric was made by my favorite designer, JoJo {Magnolia Home Fabrics}!  But I wasn't sure if it would work in our dining room without any blue.  I had also found this stripe which I liked, but thought it would be too heavy to do the entire panel in.  But it had the navy and the blue and gray and cream we were using in this room.  So I landed on trimming the panels with the stripe to tie it all together and I'm pretty happy with how it all turned out!  {The stripe trim is 4" wide for anyone wondering.}

Another thing I was weird about I guess is the curtain rod.  Our dining window is 9 feet wide.  These panels are "dummy panels"...not meant to close.  So, I just couldn't stand the thought of having 9 feet of nekkid rod all the way across my window.  So I bought two small curtain rods and hung them separately.

Back to more awesome things my hubby made...let's discuss this wooden crate he made from left over pallet wood...for *free*...and he whipped it out in less than an hour.  Yeah, he's a keeper, ladies!

It's the perfect size to hold large candles and mason jars and I'm excited about being able to change out the decor throughout the year!  Here's my 4th of July decorations....

These decorations were also all free...I reworked old patriotic decorations from last year....used left over ribbon, a few extra clear mason jars and flags laying around the house and it was all done!  I get super excited when I can repurpose decorations AND they look fabulous!
Also, the beautiful large blue mason jars and the smaller blue mason jars belonged to Justin's grandmother.  So that makes this centerpiece even more special.  Love all of the vintage stories from our families in this house!

Since we had such a long dining room AND a long table, I needed something substantial for light fixtures.  We already had the mason jar fixture over the island so I wanted something a little more traditional over the table.  I didn't want it to look like I had the same shape fixture in both places...does that make sense? ...or am I just crazy?? {don't answer that...}

I saw some pictures of two chandeliers hanging above tables in Pottery Barn and liked the look.  So, I decided to go with two and love it!
In our last house, our chandelier had shades and crystals and all that glam stuff.  But in this house, I just wanted simple iron look.  And thanks to the great deal at Lighting Emporium, I got both of these fixtures for less than I spent on the one chandelier in our last house...8 years ago! Yay for saving money!

Buffet wall...I needed something not very deep, but that took up enough space visually.  And I love how this little nook turned out.  I had found this fruits of the spirit piece on Etsy right after we found our plan {thanks to my inlays for the awesome Christmas gift!} and it was the inspiration for my kitchen and dining area.  It's bright, it's clean, but a little distressed...just like our farmhouse kitchen and dining area!
Buffet: Kirklands, current
Fruits of the Spirit: Etsy
Lantern: Parkhill Boutique in Conway, Arkansas
Mason Jars: Walmart, the shortest and squattiest we could find!
Greenery: Hobby Lobby, current

I loved the look of the Fruits piece leaning, but that meant I needed super small mason jars so they didn't hide too much of the wood canvas! So glad Wally World had the size we needed!

This is going to be the perfect place for me to bring in fresh, cut flowers from my flower beds outside...I just don't have enough ready yet.  Can't wait to see my wildflowers and hydrangeas in these jars!

Love this lantern my mom gave me!

And it's extra festive with some patriotic ribbon tied through the hook and a Christmas ornament wired in...that I spray painted white!  Such a fun challenge decorating this room without having to buy anything.  I did this some last year too.  This is gonna be a go to tradition of mine before I head off to buy more things to clutter my house!

Love this room and it's patriotic look for now...can't wait to decorate it for the other holidays year round!

Here's what happens when you do Father's Day crafts for Sunday School:  You do Father Fun on actual Father's Day which means the blogging comes a tad late...

Oh, well...we can always pin and save for next year, right??

Last year, I blogged about Father's day in my first grade classroom {which we are able to do early! :)}.  No need to reblog all of that fun stuff again, but I did want to post Cooper's dad writing from this year {just for my personal benefit!}
Watching Cooper love his daddy just makes me love his daddy even more! :)

Friday, Cooper and I worked on a "sumprise" for daddy!  We used the tie writing {newly added to my Father's Day packet} and wrote what daddy is and isn't.  Note...Cooper is two...this was a little difficult for him language wise.  I have another version that is my dad can/can't and I think that would've been less abstract and easier for him to understand.  Just keep that in mind when doing this with the littles....

I wanted some cute way to display the tie writing, but this was just a random project on the Friday before Father's Day...which meant I had to just use what was on hand!  Had I worked a little a head of time, I would've let him go pick out some scrapbook paper to use for shirts at Hobby Lobby.  Usually I have scrapbook paper around the house, but I didn't have any that look "dress shirty!" So...  I let Cooper pick out the color shirt.  Then we folded the paper to look like a dress shirt.  Here are the steps if you are unsure...
1. Turn the paper landscape.
2.  Cut about 3 inches or so down from the top/middle of the paper.

3. Fold one half from the cutting point down to make a triangle.  The triangle should go from the end of the collar to the corner of the paper.

4. Fold the corner back to make the shoulder.
 ....and the back...

Next, we made daddy's face with what we had.  I had this plan to have a pre made, precut nose, eyes, mouth and ears for him to glue on daddy's face where they know, kinda like a Mr. Potato Head...but, alas, my stubborn two year old had better plans.  "I dwaw it myself, Mommy!"  So...easy decision!  We just let the two year old do it himself!  And daddy and I got the biggest giggles out of how Cooper "sees" daddy!  Everything you see, is what Cooper insisted that he add to daddy.  He added the brown blob nose, the red squiggle mouth, and the brown stray mark beard hairs.  He did let me precut hair for him and he glued it all the way around.  And he requested tiny beard hairs to cut also!  So fun to watch his creativity!  Of course, we didn't have big enough wiggly eyes on hand, but that's okay too!  This is a memory more than a piece of perfection.  And that's really what's important in the end!
 Um, yeah...and daddy was a little offended that he's not funny! *wink*

With my pre-k babies in Sunday School, we made a shirt and tie card.  Here is my example:

Each kiddo picked out a tie that I had already cut out.  They colored them, and we glued half of it to one half of the shirt (so it would still open up!).

Then, we glued buttons on the shirt too! Here's Coop's card....

The card is preprinted inside and the kids just signed their names.

Catch all of these fun activities in my Father's Day Packet!

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