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Getting Preschoolers Ready for Math

Dun, dun, dun. Math. Okay, not everyone shares the same dislike for math as I do. Whether you like doing math or not, it is a major, major part of our daily lives. Our math teachers were right. I can't sew, cook, or even sing without math being involved.

How do we get our cute little preschoolers ready for the math that is to come in their future? Happily for me, this kind of math is fun (as compared to geometry...). On Becoming Preschoolwise has some great ideas starting on page 123. 

Math heavy on the patterns. Oh that sneaky geometry working its way in (I know, I know, some of you are math queens). Stacking rings help teach patterns and spacial relations. You can do pattern activities in bead stringing. You can play with pegboards. Pattern blocks are super fun. I think preschoolwise makes an excellent point in that you need to supervise and instruct in these activities when you want there to be mathematical learning happening. Any of these toys are fun alone and can lead to some great creativity. When you want to teach math, however, you want to focus on the patterns. This means the child needs to follow a pattern when stringing those beads. A pattern sheet should be used for the blocks and the pegs.

The time will come when pattern activities can be created by your child, but he needs to understand patterns first.

This is another fun way to introduce math. I have a post on our homemade calendar here:

You can also buy calendars you can change daily (we have one from Melissa and Doug). I like my dollar store, poster board creation best. We do our calendar each morning.

Brayden's first grade teacher has a great addition to the calendar idea. She has three little arrows at the top of the calendar that can be moved. They say "yesterday" "today" and "tomorrow." They move those words each day. 

Count, count, count. Count everything. You can count arms as you put a shirt on. Count toes as you do bath time. Count the number of grapes on your plate.

I find counting magical. Since Brayden was a baby, I have used counting to maintain patience in the child. When I clipped his fingernails, we counted each clip. I count so much. It helps the child focus on counting rather than the fact that he has to sit still for three minutes. You can use this in cars, waiting rooms, etc. McKenna can count beyond twenty--that is only because we count constantly.

See this post for more details on the different math activities from this post:

Related Posts/Blog Labels: 

Freenies {Giveaway Again Again!}

Freenies is one of those products made by a mom because what she wanted was not available. You know how when a little girl tries to crawl in a dress and she gets all tangled up and falls down because of it? Well the co-founders of the Freenies found this to be true, as well.

They asked around for advice and were told to avoid dresses for a while. But they didn't want to! They had lots of dresses and wanted to use them. They searched for a solution, found none, and came up with their own invention.

So now, your daughter can crawl and wear dresses at the same time! Cool right?

Freenies also has some other great products on their website, so be sure to check those out! Also, they have some photos of the product in use on their site, so if you are confused by what it does, look at those photos for visual information.

This week, 5 winners will win a package of Freenies! Oh, and you can enter even if you won last time. Maybe you want more, maybe you want some to give to friends...whatever. These would make great little Christmas presents! So let's enter!

For Your First Entry:
Become a follower of this blog. Then leave a comment. If you are already a follower (the thing where your cute face pops up with all the other cute faces of people following), comment telling me so.

Sample Entry 

I am a follower!

For Your Second Entry:

Go to the Freenies website. Look around. Come back and share what your favorite Freenies shape is.

Sample Entry

I like the pink double heart.

For Your Third Entry:

Like Freenies on Facebook! then comment saying you did so.

Sample Entry
I like it on Facebook!

For Your Fourth Entry:

Like this blog on FacebookAlready do? Tell me so. Comment saying you are a fan.

Sample Entry

I like on Facebook!

For Your Fifth Entry:
On your blog, write a post about this giveaway with a link to this post. When you have posted it, come back and comment with a link to your blog.

Sample Entry
I blogged it!

For Your Sixth Entry: 
Follow me on Twitter. Then comment saying you do so, and include your Twitter ID. 

Sample Entry
I follow! @valplowman 

For Your Seventh Entry:
Tweet on Twitter about this giveaway. Include a link to this giveawayOnce you have done so, come back and comment and include your Twitter ID. 

Sample Entry
I Tweeted! @valplowman

Entry Rules
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
  • You must leave a separate comment for each entry. This is not so I can get lots of comments--it is because it makes it a million times easier to choose a winner. It takes less time, and less time is good. Plus, it makes sure I don't miss an entry.
  • You don't have to do all seven entries...for example, if you just want to follow this blog, you can just do entry one.
  • One entry per comment.
  • Up to seven entries per person.
  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will disqualify your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM Friday, November 4 Mountain Standard Time.
  • The winner will be randomly selected at
  • The winner will be announced Saturday, November 5.
  • If you would like, you can add your email address to your entry. If you are the winner, I will email you to let you know. You do not need to add your email address in order to win. I understand not everyone wants to share their email addresses with the world. I will announce the winner on the blog, so you can check the blog Saturday to find out if you won.
  • Once the winner is announced, you will have one week to contact me or another winner will be chosen. Be sure to check back. The only thing worse than not winning is to win but not realize it in time!
  • US Mailing addresses please

Prima Princessa {Winner!}

The winner of the Prima Princessa DVD is...


Please email me at with your shipping address. You have one week or another winner will be chosen. Congrats! You will love it!

How I Do It: Hobbies

image source

I think one of the hardest things for a woman to work into her day is hobbies. Or even a single hobby. We are so busy taking care of our children and our home that to add in hobbies sounds like something that would happen in 20-something years!

What: Hobbies
When: During nap time and independent playtime
Where: At my house (typically)
Why: To be me
How: Make it a priority

What: Hobbies
We are talking hobbies today. I am talking about things you like to do--things that are you. You can think of things you liked to do before you had children (did you sing? Dance? Draw? Sew? Read? Run?....). But your hobbies don't need to be limited to what you did before you had children. I have a lot more hobbies now than I did before having kids. You can always add new hobbies.

When: During Nap Time and Independent Playtime
Where: At My House
I mostly do my hobbies during naps and independent play time. There are some hobbies that sometimes require me to leave my house (like playing in a basketball league), and that is usually done after the kids are in bed (during basketball season). There have also been times I have been in the city choir and have had practice in the evenings. 

I do my best to make sure my hobbies to not infringe on family time. That doesn't mean, however, that I never leave my husband and children at home for things. Going back to the city choir, practices started at 7 PM--bedtime is between 8-8:30. I never planned on joining the choir, but my husband basically told me I had to. He knows how much I love to sing and wanted me to have that chance. It was a 6 week practice schedule of once a week, so not a huge impact. I do like for my kids to see me doing things that show I am a person beyond a mom. I love being a mom and having that identity, but I am more than a mom. I have other things about me than just "mom."

Why: To Be Me
I have a goal. When my children move out, I want to handle it with grace. I want to know who I am and not be dependent on my children for my own identity. I think being an indpendent mom makes for a healthier relationship with adult children. I don't want my children to feel guilty for living their lives and leaving me behind. 

A lot of my hobbies are things I do for my children and husband. I sew for them. I make jewelry and bows for my girls. I garden for their food. I scrapbook to preserve our memories. I took a photography class so I could take better photographs of my children. 

There are hobbies I have like reading that benefit my children because they see me read and love books and it helps influence them to want to read and love books.

I have very few hobbies that are purely for myself. One is singing. I love to sing. I know my children love for me to sing them songs, but when I join a choir or sing a song in church, it is because I love it. I don't doubt they will benefit from my love of music, but my motivation is just that I love it. 

This post is one of my very favorites to women:

This is the key paragraph for this topic:
Third, even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children.
For more on my thoughts on why to develop hobbies, see Developing Talents.

How: Make it a Priority
This is where the whole hobby thing gets tricky. You don't want to neglect your family in pursuit of a hobby. But I do fully believe it is so worthwhile to develop hobbies. I think this post helps with the balancing act: A Good Woman see also Motherhood: Some Uplifting Words

So first, you decide you are going to work it in. 

Next, you decide what. Like the paragraph above stated, pick one or two things you like to do. Do you like to read? Crochet? Craft? Dance? Write? Play an instrument? Cook? What is it you like? If you really think this sounds impossible, I suggest you start with just one thing.

When Brayden was a baby, I didn't have many hobbies I actively pursued. I sewed sometimes. I scrapbooked sometimes. I mostly read because it was something I could do that was quiet and that could easily be interrupted. As you get used to being a mom and balancing your time, you will get better at fitting in other things. 

Now you are determined to do a hobby and know what you want to do. You next need to decide when to do it and where. This will depend on what it is. 

Next you just do it! You might need to set goals to motivate yourself. So if you want to sew, you might say, "My goal is to sew some pajama pants for my child(ren) for Christmas." But always remember, your purpose in your hobby is to enjoy yourself and enrich your life. 

A key to fitting hobbies in is time management. A lot of the ideas I have shared in this series are keys to helping your day be smooth enough to work a hobby in. Don't let your hobbies become a stress in your life (consistently--sometimes they when I was just sewing Halloween costumes and finished 15 minutes before my first party of the season). 

I should also add, there will be times when you have more time for hobbies than others. When I have a baby under 6 months, I don't have much time for hobbies. I do some here and there, but not much. Having one core, easy to work in hobby is great. That is one reason I love the hobby of reading. It seems like you can always work in reading. 

How do you do your hobbies? When do you do them and where? What do you love to do? Please share how you have made it work for you! We all benefit from each other's ideas.

Related Posts/Blog Labels:

Work: More than Economic Value

image source--a great article on work

Work, work, work. A lot of our efforts as a society seem to go into finding ways to reduce the work we have to do--either by eliminating it or by making it easier. Oh yes, I love my inventions that have come as a result. Thank you dishwasher inventor. Thank you to the evolution of the washing machine. I can't say enough good for my iRobot Roomba. I am waiting for someone to invent my iRobot Folda for my laundry!

Or am I?

Sure...if it is just me doing work around my house I would love a folda. It isn't just me, however. Nor is it just my husband and me. We have three little people in our home we are in charge of raising, and I think work is an essential part of our raising plan.

"People who see only the economic value  of family work miss what some call the 'Invisible Household Production'--the potential of family work to transform lives, to forge strong families, to build strong communities" (The Parenting Breakthrough page 18). 

I was reflecting on why I love this above quote so much. Why is it I value hard work so much and believe it does more than just "get things done." Sure, I like a clean house, but I can get a clean house in a lot of easier ways than involve my children in the process. And if it was just about a clean house, I could even hire out the cleaning. It isn't about the end product--the economic value. It is about what children learn along the way. Here is my short list for why I work with my children:

1. Help them learn how to do these things--achieve independence
2. Spend time together 
3. Stay out of trouble
4. Learn that things of value take effort

Learn How
One basic reason I work with my children is so they learn how to do work. Some day, they will move out of my house and into their own residence. They need to know how to take care of their home--and they need to know how to do it frugally. Yes, I could pay someone to come clean my house, but how long (if ever) will it take my child to get to that point financially? 

Yes, I have my iRobot Roomba, but you know what? As much as I adore that thing, we mostly sweep. Why? Because I think my children should learn how to sweep. So each night after dinner, two members of the family sweep the floor. 

Basics. I want my children to be able to do these things for themselves. I don't want them leaving my home unsure how to get their own home clean.

Spend Time Together
I have noticed that the more quantity time I spend with Brayden in a row, the more he talks to me about things that are of importance to him--things of his heart. We have three bathrooms. When I have Brayden help me clean bathrooms, it isn't until the third bathroom that our conversation turns to something of more substance. I just have to spend that time with him and wait for him to be ready to talk about it. 

I fully plan to wash dishes side by side with my children if I feel like they need some talking.

There is a theory in the study of communication...I can't remember the name off the top of my head. Some day I will have a post just on that alone. The theory states that people communicate more openly if they are focused on a task. It is like a triangle. You, the other person, and your task. A person is more comfortable talking about things when there is something else to focus on while you are doing it. This seems to be especially true for males. 

This is why work is so valuable. As you work, you think. As you work side by side with your child, those thoughts will come to the forefront of the conversation. 

Stay Out of Trouble
The Parenting Breakthrough quotes the old saying, "An idle mind is the devil's workshop" (page 18). That is what reminded me of this good reason for including work in your child's life. I kind of think the old saying says it all.

Learn About Value of Work
It seems to me that anything of value in life takes work. Anything that comes the easy way is hardly worth your time. A good marriage takes work. Bearing children takes work. Raising children takes work. Saving money takes work. 

When we work for something, we appreciate it more. When we work for something, we take better care of it. When we work for something, we understand how much work other people put in to doing things for us. As my children get older and are able to do different chores, I see that they take better care of the house in general. They put more effort into keeping things nice because they know what it takes to get it that way. 

I believe it is important to know that in life, you have to work for what you want. I think working around the home helps a person understand that concept better than if he did not work around the home.

I have to point out, because I know someone who hates Babywise will run from this post with this idea, that I am not saying we need to work all.the.time. I am saying work has its value, and that value is not only in what it actually gets done. Children learn a lot from work, and we learn a lot while working with our children. It definitely takes work to teach your children to work, but just like anything else of value, the payout will be well worth your efforts. 

Related Posts/Blog Labels:

Help a Reader Out: Potty Training at Night

Stephanie said...

My daughter is now a little over 3 1/2 and has been potty trained during the day since last summer. We officially did away with the diaper at night this past January. She would then wake often at night crying needing to go potty, and I would take her and she'd go back to sleep. This would happen several times a night. She has only wet the bed 2 times since taking away the diaper. I expected her to wake a lot the first couple of weeks while getting used to not having a diaper, but like I said, that was back in January when we started and it's now 8 months later and she is still waking several times a night to go potty. There have been some nights in between there where she's slept all night or only gotten up 1 time (which is such a treat that it's just as good as all night!). But most of the time it's anywhere from 2-5 times a night she's going. And of course I cut her off of liquids at least an hour to an hour and a half before bed, but it doesn't seem to matter because there have been some nights that she has had something to drink right before bed and I thought for sure she was going to be up a lot and then doesn't wake up at all! I'm not sure what's happening first--either she's not sleeping good and even the slightest feeling of having to pee is causing her to get up and go OR she really does have to go and that's what's waking her. I also found out I was pregnant in January and I was nervous about having 2 kids getting up all night, but everyone assured me that this would certainly go away by the time the baby comes. I'm now a little over a week away from having this baby, and it's not ANY better! And it is incredibly exhausting having to get up that many times a night now with being pregnant. But after the baby comes, once one falls asleep, the other is going to wake up--I'm nervous about how that's going to leave my sanity! :) So anyway, I was just wondering if you've experienced this with your kids at all or have heard of other kids. Everyone I talk to who has kids the same age all say their kid doesn't ever wake up once they're asleep. Thanks so much for any help or advice you can give!!!

Plowmanators said...

Stephanie, I haven't experienced that at all. I know some moms take their child to potty right before they go to bed--it is like a "dream pee."

I would wonder if it is some sort of habit. If she still is waking up and you have a new baby, I would honestly put her in a diaper for nights again. If you are getting up all night long between two children, you are going to be unable to function.

If you would like, I can post this as a "help a reader out' question to see if there are some good ideas and experience out there.

Stephanie said...

Sure! I'll take any ideas! Thanks!


Sooner than 5 AM
  3 (1%)
5 AM hour
  24 (10%)
6 AM hour
  79 (35%)
7 AM hour
  78 (34%)
8 AM hour
  19 (8%)
As late as possible!
  21 (9%)

Votes so far: 224


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