Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Beach Theme & Intro to Quiet Bins!

Greetings! The beginning of the school year has brought with it many changes in our home. Honey Pot has begun full-day Kindergarten and Little M&M has started going to preschool part-time. This has drastically decreased our time at home for themed activities, but we have found a way to make it work. Take a look at what we did:


As with other themes, we began our week by borrowing a number of books from the library. This week's theme is the BEACH, since we have our annual Outer Banks vacation coming up soon. Here are the books we found on the subject.

The kids' favorites were When a Dragon Moves In and Aqualicious. Such cute stories for young kids.

Quiet Bins

Instead of completing a number of activities and crafts throughout the week in our usual way, we have decided to implement quiet bins during the school year, as a way to complete some themed activities on limited time. I had seen these on Pinterest and had never really had a use for them before. But with the kids' schedules getting busier, my husband and I still wanted one-on-one time with each child. So here is how it works.

Every Sunday night I put together two bins full of quiet activities to do. Bin #1 has themed activities in it, and bin #2 has other activities. Each night in the half hour before bedtime, my husband will sit with Honey Pot and bin #1, while I sit with Little M&M and bin #2. Every other night of the school week, we switch kids, giving us quality and quiet time with each child and each bin. For the first month of school, this has been a SUPER success. The kids really look forward to "Quiet Time" each night.

Here is our beach-themed bin for the week:

Inside we had the beach/ocean page from Melissa and Doug's reusable sticker pad, an ocean jigsaw puzzle, blank paper with ocean stencils (Oriental Trading, and the BEST stencils I have found) and thin markers, a boat lacing activity, and ocean dot pages (Gift of Curiosity) with magnets and a magnetic wand.

And here is what we put in the non-themed bin this week:

Inside this one is our geoboard with some designs for inspiration printed out (from here and here), wikki stix inside a miniature binder with cardboard pages both blank and with shapes to trace, two construction truck puzzles, a Frozen look and find book, and homemade playdoh with tools and assorted cutouts.


I am a little bored of chain countdowns, especially since it is difficult for young kids to help assemble them. So this year I came up with something different. I printed out four pages of a simple beach background, as well as various beach-themed clip art. I wrote the numbers 11 through 1 on the background, and each picture had a corresponding amount of dots on the back. 

Each morning, the kids would count the dots, in search of the one that matched the highest number showing. After gluing it on, the new highest number that was showing, was how many days remained until the vacation!

It was taped up on the wall, in a prime location so we were sure to see it every day, multiple times a day. This really helped to build the excitement.

Here are the kids on the morning of our vacation. They both wanted the privilege of gluing the last picture on, so they covered up number one together. Then we were off!

Teacher Appreciation Gift

We decided to bring shells back for Honey Pot and Little M&M's teachers. During our beach walks, we found a few full shells with holes in them. So we chose these, tied a ribbon through them, and attached them to this poem that I created. The kids were so excited to bring them in for their teachers, and the teachers were equally as pleased to receive them. So glad we did this!

(Honey Pot did her own writing in the To/From sections, and Little M&M wrote just his initials while I wrote the To/From sections for him. But please excuse where I have erased the names.)

Also take a look at our other beach/ocean themes from previous years: