The Strategic Homemaker

learning to follow the Father, care for the clan, and redeem the resources


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Five Free Toddler/Preschooler Toys

I am always wanting to buy my kids new toys and fun things. Usually I get it under control and refrain. and sometimes, if I think about the toy long enough, I decide to make a version of it myself.¬† So here are five toys we made in the last couple of months totally free–and easy enough to do as a craft with your kid:

Sock puppets. These socks had been missing their mates when I cleaned out my drawer a couple months ago, and we got it into our heads to make puppets after reading If you Give a Moose a Muffin. Of course, as soon as I made them, I found the mate to the green sock under the washing machine. We may have to make another frog puppet soon.

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New puzzles. My mom used Mod Podge (paint both sides of the picture with it to avoid wrinkling) to glue magazine pictures to cardboard, and then she cut them with a razor blade after they dried.

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Rings to practice stringing or…

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a snake! A papertowel tube or two was sacrificed for this one. (old spools [above] are a bead to string for the more advanced.)6-IMG_7902

A Personalized Memory game. I used blank index cards–just make sure it’s something you can’t see through. This has been played with more so far than several toys we own .

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A playhouse–personally decorated.

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No, these do not look professional, but the kid won’t care, and then you don’t feel bad about throwing them away when you’re done with them.

Let me know if you have any other ideas for quick, free toys!

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Advent for Preschoolers and Very Pregnant Ladies

Last year, I mentioned that I had prepared a calendar of activities to help us look forward to Christmas. One of my friends commented on that post about Truth in the Tinsel, an advent plan specifically for preschoolers, and totally focused on Christ’s coming. We have been doing that this year, and we LOVE it. Basically, there is a Bible passage for each day, and then a simple ornament to make that emphasizes part of the passage. Below are some reasons why I love it.

–It is free. (Well, you need to buy the E-book, but I haven’t spent any money on the crafts.)

–It is flexible (as opposed to trying to schedule activities into a calendar destined to be thrown up-side down with a newborn).

–It doesn’t take much time each day.

–It repeats the same Scripture a couple different days with a different emphasis on the ornament, which is really good for helping a preschooler learn a story with a lot of details.

–It focuses on Jesus.

–PG looks forward to it every day, especially making the craft and hanging it on the tree, and she remembers the significance of most of the ornaments.

Here are some of the ornaments we’ve made for it so far:

1-IMG_7630A candle (symbolizing that Jesus is the light come into the darkness)

2-IMG_7631a crown (symbolizing that Jesus is king)

3-IMG_7632Zechariah (with tape over his mouth).

4-IMG_7633Mary and Elizabeth with pregnant bellies.

We’ve also been using the advent wreath my brother-in-law made me for my Christmas present last year, but we’ve only been using that on Sundays, and doing a more adult-appropriate reading with that (from John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy).

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Anyway, it has been a low-stress Christmas season for us thus far, but with a definite emphasis on Christ, both aspects of which I have really been enjoying.

Let me know if you’ve been doing anything for advent that you really love!

Next post, we hope to have a new member of the family!