Category Archives: Thoughtful Thursday

Because child rearing takes so much thought, especially when home educating.

Book Suggestions for Boys and Girls (Link)

The Read Aloud Revival has put together a list of book suggestions for boys and a list for girls. It covers ages from four through teen.

Here is the list for the boys book suggestions. I have to say that my boys enjoyed many of the books on this list and I wholeheartedly agree. I see many books on the list that my boys enjoyed. Of course, Tiffany and I enjoyed some of them as well. :)

Here is the newly created list of book suggestions for girls. And once again, I see many old friends but I also see that I have a whole new realm of books to get lost in. :) I can see that my summer reading just might get pretty full, pretty quickly.

Here in Oklahoma the school systems let out before the middle of May and the libraries begin their summer reading programs shortly thereafter. So I thought I’d share these links with you to give you and your children some reading ideas for the summer. There are even pdfs you can print for both lists.

I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading lately. You can see what I have been reading on most Fridays of late. ;)

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

Inexpensive Sensory Bin

I talked with Lauren (my daughter-in-love) about the $10 sensory bin you can put together from Dollar Tree (that I saw on Busy Toddler). She said that since they were getting ready to go on vacation, they didn’t have the extra money to spend on it right now.

So, being the totally awesome Grandma that I am (haha), I decided to get the things as a gift to them. Oh, and I did spend a little bit more. So let me show you what I got.

Sensory Bin ~ Lifeofjoy.meI couldn’t fit the cookie sheet and everything else in the bin, so I taped it on top to help hold everything together. ;) The bin itself is a cat liter tray. :)

I scored on the shredded paper, even though it isn’t the crinkled ones, because it is was Easter time and I got like twice as much for the same price. ;) Plus it has 3 different colors. :)

Opened up sensory bin ~ Lifeofjoy.meSo, now you can see I have the two pack of ice cube trays for sorting things. Love good deals. I put the pinto beans and rice each in a gallon size zipper bag for storage ease but in this larger bag so that Lauren can add another bag at some point for even more scooping fun.

Sensory bin 3 ~ Lifeofjoy.meOnce I remove the paper, rice, and beans, you can now see what else is in the bin. Tiffany reminded me that a muffin/cupcake tin is recommended for sorting, so that is one of the extras I picked up. Then there are the dice, which I put in a snack baggie to help Lauren keep track of them.

The bag of rocks is one of the cool suggestions from Susie of Busy Toddler. I wish there were about double that amount but it’s enough to start. Liam loves little cars and has a few of those and a set of the farm animals and dinosaurs too. Thus I didn’t get those. Instead I saw these cute construction trucks that I thought would be fun for him to play with in the rice. :)

toy tump truck and scoop ~ Lifeofjoy.meAnother extra purchase was the yellow dump truck-ish vehicle. It has a nice size section that can be filled and dumped out. :)

tongs, truck, and stuff ~ Lifeofjoy.meI got the recommended 4-pack tongs too. Then the other two extra items I got was the 3-piece funnel set, which is why the pan won’t sit on top of the bin evenly but I can see many play opportunities for these funnels. And the other is the set of measuring cups and spoons combo. This was another cool find because I got both sets for just $1. They can be used for teaching fractions later but for scooping different amounts in the beginning. They come off the ring for easy use but then can be put back on that ring to keep things tidy when finished. (I looked around a bit before settling on the measuring cups/spoons combo because they also sold them separately. I decided having both sets was more valuable than having them in pretty colors. ;) )

The really cool thing is that once the initial bin and beginning items are purchased, you can pick up an extra thing or two whenever to add or change up very inexpensively. :)

I can’t wait until he can have this and play with it. I’ll share some of the pictures Lauren is bound to send me of him playing with this fun sensory bin.

Once the sensory bin items are purchased here are some links on Susie’s site to see what to do next.

There are tons more ideas on her site and around the internet in general. But one thing is for certain, start out with your sensory bin on a big sheet, blanket, table cloth, or shower curtain (which is available from Dollar Tree too ;) ) to help control the mess when first starting out with sensory bins.

For my grandson, I’d recommend the large rocks for the first base to use. Maybe use his cars with it and the trucks. Of course there’s the tongs and the ice cube tray or muffin tin too. So much fun ahead!

If you make a dollar store bin, let me know in the comments below. :)

Michele ºÜº

Wonderful Link for Activities for Littles

Toddler playing with mega blocks ~ Lifeofjoy.meOh my! The link I’m sharing with you today has soooo many activity ideas for you that I’m certain you can find some ideas to do with your little one, no matter how small. :)

The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide has several sections of links for activities for littles from babies to toddlers to pre-school to even school age children. This link will take you to the Toddlers Activities page but to find the others all you have to do is hover over Kids Activities on the menu bar and you’ll see the other options. On the toddler activities page you will see links to 150+ activities. Of course, there are some sensory bin ideas there too. :)

Well, my last piece of advice before you head over to check out the wealth of ideas is to encourage you to pick an idea or two that you can do this week and DO IT. Don’t become one that spends all her time researching and planning but actually follow through and DO. Be present for you little one and provide some wonderful learning opportunities for him/her.

Okay . . . go. ;) Toddler Activities

Michele ºÜº

Toy Car Play Ideas

Toddler Car Toy Ideas ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy two year old grandson is into toy cars right now. So, I decided to look up some ideas for Lauren to use for him, to add a bit more fun to his fun. ;) And I thought I’d share them here, so she can find them easily.

There are some fun ideas here from simple play ideas to counting and alphabet.

I hope they are helpful to you,

Michele ºÜº

P.S. Here is a simple and cute tunnel idea.

Planning for Easter

Preparing for Easter ~ Lifeofjoy.meWell, Lent is nearing its end which means that Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday as we sometimes call it, is nearly upon us. Lent is about preparing for Easter. I’ve been reading the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) this month, filling my thoughts with the deeds of Jesus. I just finished Matthew a few days ago and feel really good having the historical account of what Jesus did in the forefront of my mind as we approach Easter.

There are a few activities you can do with your children, on top of reading the Bible with them in preparation for Easter. I’m sharing today, so that you can buy the ingredients to make the rolls and cookies and be prepared. :) The first takes the most prep work and the last is the easiest.

I may make these Easter Cookies with my grandson when they are up around Easter. I believe that I can easily modify them to be sugar free and everything else in them works on THM, keto, and other low carb eating plans. Of course the Resurrection Rolls will take a bit more work because of the marshmallow. ;) Maybe next year I’ll figure that one out.

I hope this helps you prepare for Easter,

Michele ºÜº

Schedule/Routines for Children

routines ~ Lifeofjoy.meFlyLady taught me years ago, that even if you don’t think you have a routine/schedule you do. People have a tendency to do certain things when they get up or go to bed or at some other point in their day. The kicker is that the routine you are keeping may not be working for you. :o

I used to have the routine of hitting the snooze bar on my alarm clock several times before finally pulling myself out of bed, shuffling across the floor to my chair where I would drink the cup of tea my wonderful husband had prepared for me and pray or read my Bible or some other such thing as it got closer to the time when I needed to make hubby’s breakfast and lunch and off he’d go.

I’d procrastinate getting dressed, and making my bed (if at all), and would manage to get through my day generally feeling like I was undisciplined and/or not accomplishing much in my day. You see, that was a routine; it just wasn’t conducive to productivity or much in the sense of accomplishment.

I learned about morning routines, evening routines, before bed routines, weekly routines, and other such things. I found that incorporating some of these in my life really gave me a better sense of accomplishment and overall peace/joy because I wasn’t fighting myself any longer. Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy, but just starting with ONE thing and getting it down is a good beginning. Then add another thing until you have those two down. If you try to incorporate too much all at once, you are setting yourself up for failure. Whereas if you just set out to do one thing (or a couple things) in the beginning, you set yourself up for success.

I read the book Make Your Bed by Admiral McRaven last year and he shared some good thoughts on this as well. It is a short little book that he wrote based on a commencement speech he gave. It is an easy read that I got from the library. I recommend reading it.

Thankfully, I’d already started the routine of making my bed as soon as I get out of it (most mornings ;) ). I also get dressed right away most mornings–the exceptions are mornings that I have to get dressed enough to face the outside world, which generally includes some uncomfortable clothing, ;). On those mornings I stay in pajamas until I need to get dressed, usually two hours later, and make my bed before getting dressed, if the bed fairy (a.k.a. my hubby) hasn’t made it already. (Side note: If hubby has made the bed, I thank him. :) )

All of that to say that we are all creatures of habit–some are good habits and others not so good. Children do well on routines also. It is good to be consistent in their routines and what you do.

There is this gal I watch on youtube that loves to read. Her toddler loves books as well. My son loves video games. His son loves to have a controller in his hands like his daddy. Children follow the example we lay out for them. It is good to help children have routines.

When my children were young, even before they could read, I made a routine for them with pictures and put it in a page protector (better to have laminated it, which can be done inexpensively at Mardel or some teacher supply stores) and pinned it to the wall for them to follow. This included things like a dinosaur brushing his teeth and one washing his face. One making a bed and one eating. I also put a picture of clothes for them getting dressed. This gave them the visual reminder of what needed to be done each morning.

It is good to have some plans for how your days will go so that you don’t end up doing nothing or getting frustrated. Change of scenery is helpful too. Getting outside everyday is good. I read a post on Busy Toddler about her schedule–she leaves the house every day (around 10:30) for a while, for something to do. But living in the country I say that it can be changed to getting outside at a certain time each day. It can be something as simple as going outside and letting the child run across the grass (or parking lot, as the case may be), to using sidewalk chalk or playing with a ball or some such thing.

Wow, this has gotten rather lengthy, so I’ll leave it for today.

Have a great day,

Michele ºÜº

Ideas for Toddlers, Pre-Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Activity Ideas Preschoolers ~ Lifeofjoy.meThere is a sweet lady at church that worked in a daycare for years prior to having her own children. Now that she has children of her own, I see some of the things she does with them and amazed. I just attributed it to her daycare experience but then realized that she gets some great ideas from people she follows on instagram. So I picked two and began following them myself because I want to be a wonderful grandmother some day. ;)

At any rate, I thought I’d share with you the two that I follow but don’t worry if you don’t do Instagram because one of them has a great website full of the same ideas. :)

Busy Toddler

This is the one that has both a website and an Instagram account. She has so many wonderful ideas that you can spend A LOT of time viewing all the ideas she has posted.

  • Sensory Bins: I know this can be a bit scary because of the possible mess but she has some great tips and inexpensive ideas on how to get started (think Dollar Tree :) ). And how to get started even with those that are younger.
  • Dot Stickers: I have seen so many dot sticker ideas on the two Instagram accounts that I follow and wonder why I never knew about these ideas when my kids were young. Dot stickers are inexpensive and can be used to help your child with fine motor skills. I know my grandson loves stickers so this kind of activity is right up his alley. ;) Here is one activity she shared but there are many more.
  • Bath Time Fun: I remember when my children were younger I’d found an article that said to Find the Fun in what Needed to be Done. Well, this seems to go hand in hand with that philosophy. This link is a round-up post of bath time fun ideas.
  • So Much More: She also has ideas for math, science, literacy, and art, as well as fine and gross motor skills. Links can be found on her homepage menu.


Molly has some great ideas too. There are ideas for sorting, shapes, painting, sensory bins, dot stickers and more.

There are sooo many good ideas on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and the internet in general. My advice to you is to pick one idea and try it. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a ton of research and ideas. Pick one or two and do them.

Until next time,

Michele ºÜº

How’s Your Lent Going?

Preparing for Easter ~ Lifeofjoy.meI talked about Lent a few weeks ago. Have you made any lenten plans? Lent is now one third over so we still have a month before Easter is here. How are you preparing for the celebration of our Lord and Savior?

I shared this link a couple years ago but it is so good that I thought I’d share it again today. It says it is a five day Easter study but there is soooo much there that you could easily start this now and spend a week on each day’s studies.

Here are a couple other links packed with book suggestions, activity links, and study links. The first is from BenandMe and the second is from FutureFlyingSaucers. :) Seriously, there is LOTS at both of those sites to check out; you’re certain to find something that is useful.

I’m sure those three links will give you more than enough to read today, so I’ll run for now. I hope this is helpful in your preparation for Easter.

Michele ºÜº

Preparing for St. Patrick’s Day

It’s that time once again, when I’m confronted with a National Holiday of which I never really knew the significance. I didn’t even really do it justice when my children were young. So I write this to help you not do what I did. ;)

I’m sharing a post I shared several years ago but have checked (and fixed when necessary) the links to ensure they still work. There is a five day study, which also has suggestions for turning into a two week study and another is complete with copywork, art study, and a recipe. :) Lots of stuff here.

So without further adieu, here’s the post from the past.


The article I’m sharing with you today is short because it is Saint Patrick’s Day and there is more than enough information packed into this small article. I got it from the email newsletter of  The Teaching Home. If you don’t get this newsletter, you should; it has lots of great stuff in it but not so much it is overwhelming.

I hope you find this helpful.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

St. Patrick's Day Links ~

St. Patrick’s Day

by Cindy Short and Sue Welch

St. Patrick’s Day

presents an opportunity to teach your children the true story of Patrick of Ireland, who at the age of 16, was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. After he found God while herding pigs and escaping, he returned to his home in Roman Brittan, and later returned to Ireland as a humble and brave missionary!

We have included many excellent resources, a free unit study, and free e-books below.

•  Free 5-day St. Patrick Unit Study from Knowledge Quest. Includes: biography about St. Patrick, research, and report; science, nature, and craft activities; timeline, mapping, and lapbook activities; and an Irish dinner.

•  Free 23-Page E-book from Living Books Curriculum, St. Patrick’s Day Holiday Helper. Includes: a biography, rare illustrations for picture study, a recipe for soda bread, and more.

•  Read more about Patrick in the online article from Joyful Heart, “Will the Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up?.”

•  Read a shorter account (on for children of Patrick’s life and how he used the shamrock to explain the Trinity.

•  St. Patrick’s Breastplate: Read this poetic prayer, listen to and see it sung in an Irish setting, and study vocabulary, geography, and comprehension questions.

•  Free eBook: Confession of St. Patrick. Read this brief story of St. Patrick’s life, told through his own eyes.

Copyright 2016 by Reprinted by permission.

Taking Notes by Hand

Taking Notes by Hand ~ Lifeofjoy.meI read this article recently about a study they did about the difference in retention of taking notes by hand or using a laptop or other such electronic device.

Some would think that using an electronic device to take notes would be better because you can type faster than you can write and thus get more of the content into your notes for further review.

However what they found was that in order to take notes by hand you had to, basically, process/sort the information and determine what was important to take note of. This processing aids in the retention of the information.

It’s a short read, so I recommend you hopping over there and reading it (or at least scanning through it). I found it a valuable use of my time. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº