100th Day of Homeschool!

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And just like that we have had 100 days of Mommyschool! We have read and played, learned and explored and have thoroughly enjoyed our adventure thus far!

I have been blown away (with both exhaustion and love) by this experience, but I will save my own reflection for another day.

Here’s how we celebrated 100 days of learning:

We counted to 100 using our hundreds chart and discussed how 100 was 10 groups of 10. then using 10 different water colours and Qtips we drew/dotted 100 gumballs on our gumball machine template.

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We talked about how big the number 100 is. And for little ones just beginning to grasp the idea of number sense it truly is a HUGE number! I drew 2 pictures of a cup and showed them the actual cup and droppers we would use and then had the kids predict what 100 drops of water would look like.

Following their predictions we got some water (which I coloured blue to make it easier to see) and measured out 100 drops into our cups and recorded our findings. Both of them were pretty surprised at how little water we actually got from those 100 drops!

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It has been frigid in our parts lately…actually all Winter, so for our daily physical activity we were indoors. We completed a 100 fitness movements challenge, which the kids LOVED and we have been doing daily ever since!

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We made a list of 100 words we know (even after they insisted NOBODY knows THAT many words!). And yes, ‘poop’ and ‘pee’ made the list, but so did ‘mosaic’, ‘kindness’ and ‘vehicle’, so I let it go,,,you’ve got to pick your battles, right?!

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We counted out 100 Duplo blocks and experimented with what we could build with them.

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We bingo-daubed 10 ten-frame caterpillars to help reinforce the concept of 100 being 10 groups of 10.

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And while the littles napped, Little Momma and I had a roll the dice race to 100 – which she won, but was kind enough to help me finish, too!

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We had a really fun day celebrating 100 days of homeschool, anyone else do anything to commemorate the achievement?

Cooking with Kids: Toblerone Shortbread

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I love baking with my kiddos! Yes, it’s messy and makes WAY more dishes than if I just do it myself, but their excitement for the process and pride in the finished product is TOTALLY worth it!

This was our favourite new recipe over the holidays – Toblerone Shortbread Cookies –  and we used it to practice our reading and measurement skills this week!

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I began by taking out all of the ingredients and measuring implements required and placing them on the table. Then I wrote out cue cards of each amount of ingredient that would be needed. I laid everything out for the kids to explore.

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The kids looked at each cue card and found the matching measuring cup/spoon and ingredient. It was a great practice for number, letter and word recognition/reading.

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If they found the correct match they got to measure it out and mix it into our recipe, which added a nice competitive streak to the whole ‘game’ of it!

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Bonus: We even got these delicious cookies out of all that learning 🙂

Book Club ~ Mo Willems

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With the New Year we have started a monthly book club for a group of fellow homeschoolers in our area.

Each month will feature a new children’s author and share the love of reading with our early readers. The plan will be to read a story together, have other titles by the author available for the children to read and then bring our story to life through a craft and hands-on activity.


For our first month – JANUARY – we are celebrating the silly and fun stories of Mo Willems!

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Our primary focus for book club was “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!”, but we also had the following titles on hand for the children to enjoy:

  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
  • Knuffle Bunny Free
  • Edwina – The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She was Extinct
  • Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed
  • Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late
  • That is Not a Good Idea
  • The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog

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We began by reading the story aloud. I had the children collect unifix cubes for each time we had to tell the pigeon – “No!”. The kids all agreed that the pigeon was not doing her best listening.

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After reading the story we did a survey of whether or not we would let the pigeon drive the bus, if we had been the bus driver. Each child added their pigeon to our pictograph, and we added up our findings. Two kids were brave enough to let the pigeon drive, while the other 4 stuck with the bus driver’s discretion.

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Using my hand-crafted worksheet, (since printers only breakdown when you need 8 copies of a black-line master) the kids each got to choose, write and illustrate another vehicle that the pigeon would need to be stopped from driving. The children had some excellent ideas, like a truck, a train, a helicopter and an airplane – that crazy pigeon!

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Before moving on to some unstructured playtime, the kids each completed this cute hand print pigeon craft (credit to Pinterest!). Overall, we had a pretty fun inaugural book club, thanks to Mo Willlems silly tale!

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Come back next month and dive into the beautiful stories of Jan Brett along with us at Mommy School!

Cooking with Kids: Smartie Oatmeal Cookies

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Anyone else dealing with an excess of Halloween candy? We decided to incorporate our masses of Smarties into these delicious Smartie Oatmeal Cookies.

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They were fun and easy to make and they freeze well too (just in case you don’t want to eat them all in one sitting :P). We used about 25 packages of our snack-sized Smarties, which added some counting and addition practice to our baking session.

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Rolling dough into Tablespoon-sized balls and then flattening with the palm of your hand makes for the perfect large flat cookies, that are still chewy and tender! And little hands were quite good at helping to flatten our cookies!

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Name Activities

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Learning to recognize and then write their name is one of the earliest (and most exciting) literacy skills for young children. And even once they’ve mastered it, there is a pride that comes in celebrating it again and again! After all, don’t you want them to LOVE the name you spent countless hours mulling over and trying to agree upon with your significant other?!?

Here are some fun and easy (read: minimal prep!) name activities we have done to kick off the new school year!

1) Tracing and writing with pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, etc. – Simple, right?! But this will give you an excellent opportunity to assess your child’s pencil grip and fine motor capabilities, from there you can decide on appropriate letter size and whether tracing or copying is best suited for their level.

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2) Q-Tip Name Tracing – Put out a variety of paint colours (we used crayola glitter paint for some pizazz!) and have your children use q-tips to trace each letter of their name.

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3) Piercing Cardboard with Toothpicks – We had a few great layered cardboard pieces leftover from some IKEA packaging (you could also use Styrofoam or floral foam) that I printed each child’s name on. I then gave them a selection of plastic toothpicks and allowed them to pierce the letters of their names, naming each letter along the way.

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4) Erasing – I printed each child’s name on a mini-whiteboard and allowed them to erase each letter as they spelled out their name. Without realizing, this allows them to practice letter formation by undoing instead of doing for a change!

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5) Blocks – I labeled some mega blocks with the appropriate letters of each of the kids names, then I hid them in the rice table. The kids had to search for their letters and build ther name. Upon completion, I also had them count the blocks to determine the number of letters in their name.

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6) Wax Crayon/Candle and Watercolour Resist – Using a birthday candle (or a white crayon) I printed the kids names onto a sheet of paper and asked them to read it. Both of them told me I was mixed up and needed a pencil not a candle (silly mommy!). I set them up with some watercolour paints and told them they could just paint the paper, since my ‘pencil’ wasn’t working.The wax writing resists the watercolour causing their name to ‘magically’ appear! This one is lots of fun and always a big hit with the kids, as it really seems as though the writing appears from nowhere.

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7) Clothes Peg Matching – Print your child’s name on a sentence strip and then write each letter on a clothe peg. Allow your child to pinch the pegs over the matching letters on the sentence strip to spell their name. This is great for practicing the proper letter order of their name, as well sneaking in some fine motor skills.

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8) Wooden Stick Puzzle – Write one letter of your child’s name on individual Popsicle sticks (or larger wooden craft sticks). Mix them up and have your child order them to spell their name. Little Momma added a picture across her finished puzzle, to make it more ‘puzzle-like’, too.

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There you you have it – some great ways to encourage young writers about how fun writing can be, and all with their very favourite topic…THEMSELVES!!

Morning Circle

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I love circle time. Something about singing and collectively doing one task makes my teacher heart happy! And so although most of my homeschooling is more relaxed, I enjoy starting our learning time with this little routine everyday! (Note: My kids also enjoy it…but sitting and singing isn’t for everyone 😉 )

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Here’s how our morning circle time normally goes (you will have to mentally interject with random questions and needs for the bathroom and a snack!):

– We start each day with Oh Canada and Prayer (it’s a teacher thing…) and I personally value both of these!

Morning message: Each morning I leave a message for the kids on the chalkboard. I allow Little Momma to point out any words she recognizes or can read and ask Mr Man to point out his name.

Welcome Song:  My kiddos really love to be formally welcomed!!

‘Good Morning Train’ (Tune: She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain)

The good morning train is coming how are you? Choo Choo

The good morning train is coming how are you? Choo Choo

The good morning train is coming, the good morning train is coming, the good morning train is coming how are you? Choo Choo

We say hello to….how are you? Choo Choo

And we say hello to….how are you? Choo Choo

And we say hello to…. We say hello to… And we say hello to… how are you?

Choo Choo

Calendar Songs: We discuss each item before the song and I have the kids point along and try to make this as interactive as possible.

* count up to today’s date

* Identify the month

Months of the Year Song (Tune: 1, 2, 3 Little Indians)

January, February, March and April

May, June, July and August

September, October, November, December

Those are the months of the year.

Days of the Week song (Tune: The Addams Family Theme)

There’s Sunday and there’s Monday

There’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday

There’s Thursday and there’s Friday

And then there’s Saturday

Days of the week (snap, snap)

Days of the week (snap, snap)

Days of the week, Days of the week, Days of the week (snap, snap)

* Identify what the day of the week is today

“Today is…” Song (Tune: Frere Jacques)

Today is (Monday), Today is (Monday)

All day long, all day long

Yesterday was (Sunday), Yesterday was (Sunday)

Oh what fun, oh what fun

* We check the calendar for any upcoming holidays! birthdays or special days. If something exciting is coming up we count how many days and discuss.

Weather song (Tune:??)

What is the weather, what is the weather

What is the weather doing today

What is the weather, what is the weather

What is it doing today

(Then we hold up our hands like binoculars and look our the window to check the weather and move our dial to select the appropriate weather on our board)

* select the season

* Read today’s date together and then cheer it

Sing the ABCs

Review our plan for the day

Daily read-aloud story

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I know that in writing this seems to be never-ending, but it only takes us about 15 minutes in all. And it sets a happy tone for our day!

Do you do a routine circle time? I’d love to hear about it!

Do you have different routines you stick to?

Back to School Countdown Craft

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Here’s a fun and simple craft to get little ones ready to head back to school! Earlier this week I shared my confliction with public vs home education, and after doing so Little Momma told us she would like to “try school for one day and see how it makes (her) heart feel”. And so we are in the thick of helping her adjust to the arrival of Junior Kindergarten. Preparing children for upcoming events can help to reduce any stress and anxiety they may have, and also gives them a sense of control over its approach.

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This is craft integrates many learning mediums and all you need to get started is: glue, scissors, tape, a black marker (to draw your template) and construction paper (we used orange for the strips, black for the details, yellow for the bus and red for the school house).

Step 1: Draw a template. Little Momma chose a school bus for her Junior Kindergarten countdown. For Mr Man I made a simple school house for him to countdown to the return of Mommy School.

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Step 2: Have your child cut around the shape and glue on the details. Every Kinder teacher will tell you how integral cutting skills are and what kid doesn’t love to glue!

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Step 3: Make your paper chain. For our countdown I wrote the numbers on each strip and had the kids order, link and tape them into place. You could also have your child write the numbers, although just making and attaching the links required lots of fine motor dexterity.

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The taping can be tricky and may call for an extra set of hands!

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Step 4: Attach your paper chain to your chosen template. And voilà, you have a back to school countdown!

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Allow your child to remove one link per day, and watch as the start of school gets nearer and nearer!

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Summer Book Club: The Giving Tree

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If there is one thing I would REALLY love to pass on to my children, it is my love of reading and books! There is so much fun and adventure awaiting in every book and this summer we will focus on one book a week (some of my personal faves!) to share, along with some activities and/or crafts you can do with your own littles at home!

Week 6: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

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This story is one of my favourite all-time Children’s book. It’s beautiful, simple and preaches a timeless message of kindness and giving. It’s a must-read!

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Story Extensions:

Apple Tree Playdough Mats

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I cut out, glued and laminated a simple tree pattern ahead of time. During our lesson, I had the kids tear off small pieces of red modelling clay to make apples for the tree. I used modelling clay in lieu of playdough this time for some added fine motor strengthening.

Once the kids had added their apples we solved a few math problems using the apples as manipulatives. For Mr Man (3), I would ask him to ‘pick’ a certain number of apples, this allowed him to count and verify his number sense. Little Momma (4.5) did a few subtraction questions, by first counting the total number of apples in the tree (we started with 5) and then solving how many were left after were eaten. (i.e. How many apples would be left in the tree if Daddy came and ate 3? Answer: 5 – 3 = 2)

Apple Tree Fingerpaint Craft

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This fun and simple craft incorporated a number of art mediums, giving way to many sensory experiences through the process!

First, the kids glued a pre-cut foam tree top onto a pre-cut sandpaper trunk, using white glue. Then they got to trace a heart on the sandpaper trunk, which was an interesting sensation! Last, they used red paint and their fingertips to add apples to their trees. The end result was cute and our conversation about the various textures throughout was an added bonus – I love when an art activity is about more than the finished product!

Collecting Leaves & Counting Tree Rings

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A few of our crafts required leaves and so we headed out for some collecting and exploring.

We also had a few smaller tree logs in the garage, that we used to count tree rings and find their age. This was fascinating to my littles, who then looked for rings on all things 😛

Mini-Giving Trees

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Using the leaves we found and some mini cardboard planters the kids arranged some little trees by poking the stems through the cardboard.

With each leaf they added we discussed a way we could be giving like the tree was in the story. Some of our ides were: share snacks, draw pictures for a sick neighbour and giving hugs!

Leaf Prints

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The kiddos really enjoyed making leaf-prints by stamping the various leaves we collected onto some rolled out playdough. It was fun to compare all the markings they left, too!

What are you reading this week? 

Check out our past Summer Book Club reads:

The Troll

Amazing Grace

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Is There Really a Human Race?

A Bad Case of the Stripes

Summer Book Club: A Bad Case of the Stripes

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If there is one thing I would REALLY love to pass on to my children, it is my love of reading and books! There is so much fun and adventure awaiting in every book and this summer we will focus on one book a week (some of my personal faves!) to share, along with some activities and/or crafts you can do with your own littles at home!

Week 5: A Bad Case of Stripes (Scholastic Bookshelf) by David Shannon

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With the start of a new school year, and Little Momma beginning Kindergarten soon, our August books are focusing on back to school themes, anxieties and excitement. This book is a cute story about a little girl who is so worried about what people think of her that she breaks out in a case of the stripes! It is a wonderful reminder of the importance of staying true to yourself and the beauty in being unique!

Story Extensions:

Face Painting

The kids chose what their ‘case of the stripes’ would look like. I attempted an airplane for Mr Man, while Hubby had a go at a pig for Little Momma! FYI: We used costume/Halloween face paint sticks from the dollar store and they wiped off with ease.

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Stripe Building

Using Mega Blocks, the kids were set with the task of building stripey towers.

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Lima Bean Counting (and tasting!)

We opened up a can of Lima beans (in the story the main character, Camilla Cream, is embarrassed by the fact that she LOVES Lima beans!) and the kids each tried one. Both kids said the had no worry about breaking out in stripes, seeing as they didn’t like Lima beans at all! I poured the can into a bowl and let the kids feel the slimy beans too, this STILL did not win them over ;P

I had been planning to use dried Lima beans with the chalkboard as a counting surface, but I got too excited about the sensory portion that I ended up just covering my prepped chalkboard with plastic wrap! I wrote numbers, 1-10 for Mr Man (who is 3) and 11-20 for Little Momma (who is 4.5), inside circles and had the kids count the appropriate number of beans for each number, for some simple one-to-one correspondence.

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B&W Photos

Colouring black and white pictures of themselves was a favourite for my little narcissists 😉 We used markers to add colour to the photos, with each kid giving themselves a unique case of the stripes!

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What are you reading this week? 

Check out our past Summer Book Club reads:

The Troll

Amazing Grace

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Is There Really a Human Race?

Fairy Tale Week ~ The Gingerbread Man

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Our third fairy tale adventure was The Gingerbread Man.

I love this one for read alouds to littles, the repetition allows for lots of fun chanting together!

Skip Counting

Using a baking sheet, some magnetic numbers and mini-gingerbread cookies, we arranged the cookies by 2’s and counted by 2’s to 10. Being able to manipulate both the numbers and the cookies helped Little Momma and Mr Man to understand the concrete meaning of 2.

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Body Awareness

Draw and label the body parts of a gingerbread man (or lady!) – head, arms, body and legs. {We also ate the corresponding part on our cookies for reinforcement  ;)}.

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Then we had fun singing some of our favourite body awareness, action songs!

  • Head and Shoulders

  • Hokey Pokey

  • Tony Chesnut

  • Button Factory Joe

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The -an Word Family

Word families or rhyming words are great for developing pre- and early- reading strategies. I  printed all of the 3-letter -an words on gingerbread man cut-outs, then using our  letter magnets we found a and n, I would then ask Little Momma to find the corresponding letter for each of the words. After reading only 2 or 3 together, she was able to string the letters together and read each of the words independently!

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Gingerbread Playdough Activity

Using gingerbread playdough, which we made by adding ginger and brown food colouring to our  favourite playdough recipe, and rolling pins, cookie cutters, cookie sheets and some decorating materials (googly eyes, beads, pipe cleaners), the littles were invited to create their very own gingerbread peeps! Weren’t they sweet??

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“Catch the Gingerbread Man” Obstacle Course

I set-up a simple obstacle circuit for the littles, including a gingerbread cookie prize upon completion.

Our course consisted of:

  • throwing a football through the swing

  • jumping inside of  2 hula hoops

  • putting a golf ball into a hole

  • hitting a “homerun”

  • throwing a yoga ball into the baby pool

  • kicking the soccer ball through the pylons

  • and sliding down the little slide

It was simple for the kids to complete each task, but combining them and having them complete a few circuits and they were {finally!} beginning to slow down {a small miracle in our world!}.

Also, they chose to dress as a horse and a fox before we went outside, apparently the success rate for catching the elusive Gingerbread Man is better in costume!!

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Bubble Painting a Gingerbread Cut-out

Bubbles have been a big hit around here recently and so I thought we could paint a gingerbread man using bubbles.

It’s really quite easy and worked well; you pour your bubbles into a small, easy for wand-dipping container (we used a popsicle mold, which allowed for some variety in colours) and add a few drops of desired colour (liquid food colouring) to each compartment. Then have the children dip their wands and blow bubbles onto the sheet of paper. I opted to use cardstock , as I wasn’t sure how wet the papers would get and wanted them to hold up well.

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 And there you have our Mommy School adventures with the Gingerbread Man!

A related tale we also read and loved:

The Gingerbread Cowboy – a cute Western take on the original tale {especially well received when Daddy it in a John Wayne voice!!}.

Have you read this fairy tale yet? Do you have any other activities to add? Would love to hear and see what you’ve been up to!