Homeschooling my Preschooler: Easy Paint Chip Sample Games

I have chosen to homeschool SG for preschool this year. I am actually a former public school teacher. Once upon a time in a land far far away from Iowa, I taught first grade. For four years!

Today I’m going to focus on easy games that use paint chip samples. I saw a few pins on Pinterest that used paint chip samples (here on out referred to as PCS). The best thing about PCS are they are FREE! SG randomly collects them when we shop at Lowe’s. It keeps her busy while I browse the actual colors I like.

I had a pile of PCS and started there. A quick trip to the Dollar Tree for a pack of paper clips and clothespins and I was ready to go. I also had Sharpies at home and some stickers. That’s all I needed to make a few easy and cute preschool games.

These games don’t have names. I’ll just make some up right now. 🙂

Game 1: Clip and Count
To Make:
Using a Sharpie, write the numbers 1-10 on ten clothespins. Use 10 PCS and color dots using the Sharpie for each number. One dot for one, two dots for two, etc. We currently focus on 1-10, but you could do 1-20 or counting by 2’s to 10 or 20. Store in a plastic baggie.

Clip & Count

I colored circles with a Sharpie.  Round stickers would also work.

I colored circles with a Sharpie. Round stickers would also work.

To Play:
Mix up the cards and clothespins. Count the dots with child and find the matching numbered clothespin. Let child clip it on the correct PCS. You may have to assist several times before child can play alone. For an added challenge, ask child to put the numbers in the correct order after the clips have been added.

Clip & Count

Game 2: Spell My Name
To Make:
Use a Sharpie to write child’s first, middle, and last name on PCS. One name per PCS. Then write one letter per PCS for their full name. Keep the letters for each name in a separate plastic baggie. Put the whole name in front of the individual letters and store on top of the baggie.

We do this for SG's first, middle, & last name.

We do this for SG’s first, middle, & last name.

I store this with the name card on the front so I can easily grab this game & stay organized.

I store this with the name card on the front so I can easily grab this game & stay organized.

To Play:
Place the name card on a surface. (We play this on the floor.) Mix up the letters that spell that name. Show child how to spell her name using the name card as the guide. Eventually, the child can do this by herself. SG now doesn’t need the name card. She uses it to check herself. This game taught her how to spell her name in just a few weeks! And we only played it 2-3 times a week!

Game 3: Paperclip Counting
To Make:
Choose 5 PCS and write the numbers 1-5 and spell it out under each number. One number per PCS. Count out 15 paperclips. Store both in a plastic baggie.

Paperclip Counting

To Play:
Show child the number 1 and point to the word “one.” Explain she needs to put 1 paperclip on the PCS for the number 1. Repeat with 2, 3, 4, & 5. For a challenge, mix up the cards, have her clip the paperclips herself and then put them in order from 1-5 or descending from 5-1.

Game 4: Sticker Counting
To Make:
Choose 5 PCS and write the numbers 1-5 on the PCS. One number per PCS. Choose 5 more PCS and put one sticker on the PCS for the number 1, two stickers for 2, etc. (I chose to use the same stickers for each PCS because I didn’t want SG memorizing a butterfly sticker for number 1, two balloons for number 2, etc.) Store in a plastic baggie.

Sticker Counting

To Play:
Mix up the sticker PCS and mix up the numbered PCS. Assist child in matching the number 1 PCS to the PCS that has one sticker. Repeat. For a challenge, mix them all together, the stickered and numbered PCS. Have child match them alone and order them from 1-5 or from 5-1.

Game 5: Sticker Spelling
To Make:
You will need one PCS per letter of child’s name. I put one letter per PCS. I did it for SG’s first and middle name. I stored both names together in one bag. If child isn’t ready for this, store one name per baggie.

Sticker Spelling

To Play:
Have child spell her name, assisted or unassisted.

Game 6: Paperclip Addition
To Make:
Choose 3 PCS. Write these math problems on them using a Sharpie: 1+1= 1+2= 1+3= On the other side of the PCS, write the answers. 2 3 4 Store in a plastic baggie along with 9 paperclips.

Paperclip Addition

This is how SG checks her answers.

This is how SG checks her answers.

To Play:
Tell child you are going to teach them how to add numbers. Show her the first PCS of 1+1=. Have her put 1 paperclip above the first number 1 and another paperclip above the second 1. Tell her you are both going to add the paperclips. Count them together. Then tell her it’s just like that for the math problem. Point to the math problem and say, “1+1=…” Then count the paperclips again. Ask her what 1+1=. If she doesn’t say two then you can tell her. Show her how to check her answer by turning the PCS over for the correct answer. (Note: My exact wording isn’t needed. I typed it out as an example of how this can be worded. Feel free to say what works for you and your child.) Repeat per PCS and add more addition problems when child is ready.

I keep all of these games in an inexpensive photo box. The box also matches my living room decor, so the games are nicely camouflaged in our living space.

These are some of the skills SG learns when playing these simple games:
1. Following directions
2. Counting
3. Fine Motor Skills
4. Simple Addition
5. Learning to recognize math symbols (+ and =)
6. Able to put numbers in order from 1-10
7. Able to put numbers in order from 10-1
8. Learning to spell name (first, middle & last)
9. Matching number sets to numbers
10. Sitting still to work on and finish a task

(As a side note, SG is 3. She turns 4 in late November. We started these games in August and they are age appropriate for her.)

SG enjoys these games (especially the paperclip ones!). I love that these games were simple to make and have taught SG a great deal already!

I hope this post has brought encouragement to someone out there.

I have more ideas to share for another day.

What about you, friend? Do you have any easy and frugal preschool ideas?

(I was inspired by this blog post & this one.)

Easy Pumpkin Bread: Dairy, Egg & Cinnamon Free

I thought pumpkin bread was never gonna happen for us. First of all, the recipe needed to be dairy and egg free for SG. And for me…cinnamon free and can free.

No canned pumpkin?!?! We know how to bake and purée the pie pumpkins, but honestly it was a major pain. Neither the Huzz or I wanted to fool with that anymore.

Last December, I found what I thought I’d never ever find… safe boxed pumpkin! I had found one other boxed brand but it was processed on shared lines with dairy products. But this one, this Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin, was and is totally SAFE for us!

But then, the hunt was on for a cinnamon free pumpkin bread recipe (for me.)

So the recipe had to be basically vegan, without cinnamon. It felt impossible.

But then, I found this recipe. (Click here to read the original recipe.)

This recipe has rocked our world, y’all! I’m serious.

I made it several times last December and throughout the cold Iowa winter.

I let my last few boxes sit in my pantry and they had a use by date of September 2014. No specific date, so in mid-September, I mixed up three bowls and batches of the dry mix and then got ready to mix the wet ingredients. I discovered the pumpkin was already bad. Not only was I sad because I was craving pumpkin bread, but I had three bowls of dry pumpkin mix ready to go! I bagged them up in three separate bags and that was the end of that.

I can’t find the pumpkin locally, so I had to order it online. (Click here for the cheapest place I can find them online.)

Anyway, the long awaited boxed pumpkin finally arrived. I mixed together the wet ingredients (just 4 ingredients!) and dumped in my ready mixed dry mix. And yall, I had the pumpkin bread in the oven from start to finish in about 5 minutes!!! 5 minutes???? (give or take!)

Pumpkin Bread Made Easy!

Pumpkin Bread Made Easy!

So, friends, that’s my big twist on the recipe. I’ve decided I will premix the dry ingredients and keep them at the ready in my pantry. I kept the mixes in plastic baggies. I also discovered my giant olive jars are the perfect size for one recipe of dry mix.

Easy Pumpkin Bread

I’ve had two play dates lately and because of this tip, I’ve been able to have homemade pumpkin bread for my guests without making a mess of the kitchen!

I think these would make darling gifts this Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can re-use a glass jar or buy a cute one. Attach directions and you’re good to go.

Here’s the recipe for pumpkin bread.

Dairy, Egg & Cinnamon Free Pumpkin Bread
(modified very slightly from this original recipe)

Ingredients:

Dry:

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove

Wet:

  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp water

Easy Way to Make Pumpkin Bread:

  1. Line up several bowls. You need a bowl for each dry recipe you want to pre-mix. Mix all of the dry ingredients together per recipe per bowl.  Put each recipe in its own bag or glass jar.
  2. When ready to make pumpkin bread, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mix all of the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Dump in the pre-mixed dry mix from step 1. Mix well.
  4. I make mini loaves and medium sized pumpkin loaves. The mini loaves bake for 25-30 minutes. The medium loaves bake for about 30-40 minutes. According to the original recipe, a regular sized loaf pan bakes for about 50 minutes.

How to bake the “normal” way:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, add all of the dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. In another bowl, add all of the wet ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Follow step 4 in the section above.

Make sure to cool the pumpkin bread on a cookie rack.

These also freeze well. I’ve frozen them and they taste great after defrosting.

I have to say, the no cinnamon isn’t even an issue with this recipe. The bread tastes perfectly spiced thanks to the nutmeg, allspice & ground clove.

We like to spread some Earth Balance vegan butter on the pumpkin bread.

Mmm, mmm, mmm!

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

These are the medium sized loaves.

These are the medium sized loaves.

Mini loaves.  The recipe makes 8 mini loaves.

Mini loaves. The recipe makes 8 mini loaves.

15 Days of Dairy & Egg Free Dinners: Part 4

My menu plans are always my ideal and what I strive for. But let’s be real… sometimes I don’t have the energy or the desire to cook. That’s why I depend on my homemade freezer pizzas and flex meals to get me through some days.

Here’s my latest 15 day menu plan. I’m already behind my schedule because it’s day three and I haven’t used this menu yet! Oh well.

I shall try my best to stick to this plan.

Here’s my menu plan for the first half of October:

1. Sweet & Sour Chicken (Sub 3-4 flax eggs), White Rice & Steam in a Bag Broccoli

2. Baked Tilapia, Sautéed Spinach & Sautéed Zucchini

3. Tomato Herb Soup & Homemade Bread

4. Ranch Turkey Burgers (Use 2 Tbs. of this homemade ranch seasoning), French Fries & Grilled Asparagus

5. Taco Crescents & Steam in a Bag Broccoli

6. Pineapple Fried Rice

7. Veggie Pizza

8. Smothered Italian Chicken  (Sub Daiya for the Mozzarella & Omit Parm) & Noodles

9. San Francisco Chops, Rice & Sautéed Zucchini

10. Coconut Vegetable Curry Soup

11. Healthy Turkey Meatballs, Baked Potatoes & Roasted Carrots

12. Sticky Chicken, Vegan Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans

13. Mojo Pork Tenderloin, Rice & Beans

14. Mojo Pork Burrito Bowls

15. Flex Meal

Did you notice I included a recipe with fish??? That’s major!

If you have any easy and yummy fish recipes, please share! I’m in desperate need of some. The easier the recipe, the better.  😃

Sweet & Sour Chicken

 

I don't use ground beef anymore.  I use chicken.  Ground turkey or black beans would work well as the protein, too.

Taco Crescents.  I don’t use ground beef anymore. I use chicken. Ground turkey or black beans would work well as the protein, too.