Friday, October 28, 2011

Structured Learning Activities with a Young Toddler

Recently, I've begun implementing structured learning activities into our day for Peanut. Although she is just over 16 months old, I can already see the benefit these early learning sessions will have! We plan on homeschooling, so getting into a routine of daily learning will also be really helpful when she starts more formal preschool studies.

When I first started researching homeschooling, I thought for sure that I would not have to worry about it until she was at least 3. But the more I learned about early learning and the more I watched her develop and grow, I decided to start doing structured activities with her, even if just for 15 or 30 minutes a day. The great thing is that she has fun and is learning without even realizing it!

I've been able to find quite a few free young toddler curriculum online, and so far we have been following Pam's House Young Toddler Curriculum. I love how flexible it is and how you can just pick and choose what you want to do. I also love the Christian teachings included. Since Peanut is still fairly young and not really talking, I can just repeat lessons a few times if I need to. This is going to come in handy when I am busy taking care of a newborn at the same time. These lessons are structured so that you can quickly start and stop different activities if needed. I borrow books for the week from the library, and am working on getting our "school" supplies stocked so I can more easily do projects that involve things like construction paper, glue sticks basic craft supplies or crayons.

If you're interested in teaching babies and toddlers, here are a few more links I found that were helpful:

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Little Cheeser

I remember as a child I loved to "cheese" for the camera. It seems my daughter does as well, and she preps for her shot before I even turn the camera on! She loves "cheesing"!!

Here she is sporting her sunglasses inside, with the famous paci and her favorite toys- a spoon and a bowl!

"mommy! I'm ready!"

The next day...

And again! (notice the little scab between her eyes- that was from falling and landing face first on a frisbee she was carrying off the step from the garage to the sidewalk!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Canning Grape Jelly

This week, I completed my first canning project: grape jelly! It was so much fun, I did it again the next day! I'm pretty excited about this since not only will canning my own fruits, spreads and butters be so much more affordable than buying them at the store, they also taste better and I know what's going into them.

I got my super simple recipe from Hillbilly Housewife. All you need is a box of pectin, 3 cups of grape juice and 4 cups of sugar! So simple!

Here is my workstation ready to go: The grape juice and pectin are on the back left burner, the lids are on the front left and my canner is getting ready on the right.

This is what happens after you bring the juice and sugar to a boil! I thought it was going to boil over! Thankfully, it did not.

After the jelly was ready, I ladeled them into hot, sterilized jars.

Then I wiped the jars clean, put lids on them and placed them in the canner for 10 minutes.

Behold! Jelly!
Here's a price breakdown of how much it costs to make this jelly:

Juice- $2.19 for a bottle from Aldi. I used a little less than half, so we'll go with $1.
Sugar- $2.49 for a 4lb bag from Walgreens on sale. I used $1.10 worth.
Pectin- $2.29 for a box of 2. I used one box, so $1.15.

Total: $3.25 for 6 half-pint jars. Or just 54 cents each!

If you want to include the price of the jars, I paid $5.50 for a dozen half pint jars. So, $2.75 was spent on this batch. So with new jars, the total is just $1 each! Plus, you can reuse the jars over and over.

We love this jelly, and although I figured one jar would last us about a month based on our current consumption of jelly, it's probably only going to last a couple weeks since we are eating it so much!

My next canning project will be apple butter. I'll post pics and a recipe as soon as I finish it!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vegetable Garden Update

For those interested in reading about how our vegetable garden fared over the summer, you can read the post I wrote on my natural and organic living blog:

All in all, I consider this past season a success, and I can't wait for the possibilities of next year!