back-to-school

Letter/Number Practice Pack – FREE Download!

The new school year is upon us! Whether you’re homeschoolers like us or your kids go off to school, there’s so much excitement wrapped up in the new school year! The teacher in me loves getting all the new supplies and curriculum. I’m kind of an eclectic homeschooler, in that we use a mix of a few things for our curriculum. This year my boys are in fourth, second, and first. Plus I have a preschooler and the baby (oy… he’s a whole post in itself!) We’re big fans of slow learning in the early years – I don’t push them to read before they’re ready, and we don’t do formal school until at least kindergarten. Because play IS learning for littles!! But sometimes my preschooler wants to “do school” like his big brothers, and my first grader could use some review. So I created this FREE download – a letter and number practice pack for preschoolers to first graders! Print it off and add a few materials that you already have on hand to give your kiddos some fun learning activities!

There are six activities in this Practice Pack, though you could easily use the pieces to create even more!

Here are the materials you’ll need to grab from your house:

  • Egg carton
  • Cardboard tubes (we used our Young Living tubes because we have exactly 13,000 of them)
  • Old magnets (the kind that people send you in the mail with calendars, business cards, etc.) – if you don’t have any on hand, you can buy magnet strips at craft stores or online here
  • Cheerios or other small manipulatives
  • Liquid glue and/or glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Download your free  Letter and Number Practice Pack
  • Optional: cardstock or laminator

We don’t use a lot of worksheets for school in our house, but we do like hands on learning activities. When kids are learning about letters and numbers, having something they can hold in their hand helps their brains to make connections. Cheerios is a perfect choice for this! We already have them in our house (Honey Nut Cheerios is literally the number one food my kids beg for at the store!), I don’t have to worry about the baby choking on them when they fall on the floor, and cleanup is easy … it all goes right into their mouths! ;)

I made a variety of letter and number activities at varying levels. Some of them can be used more than one way depending on your little one’s needs.

Here are the different counting activities:
Have your kiddo count out the correct number of Cheerios to match the number of stars on each number card.

Draw a number card (1-20 available). Your child will place the card next to a star and fill that star with the correct number of Cheerios.

With so many kids and homeschooling them all, it’s important for me to have some learning activities they can do without a lot of direction. After I told them the instructions, they were able to do it all on their own!

Of course, your child will need to have a snack mid-activity. This is crucial to their learning. ;)

For this circle activity, your child will count out the correct number of Cheerios to match the numerals around the circle.

Place number cards in each section of the egg carton. Have your little one count out the number of Cheerios to match the numeral. Cut the egg carton in half for kiddos who are just learning numbers, so that it’s not quite so overwhelming.

Here are the activities for Letter Recognition:

This craft has a bunch of different activities you could do with it! Put your magnet strips on the backs of your cardboard tubes. Glue upper or lowercase letter cards to the front of the tubes.

Put the letter tubes onto a magnetic surface like your fridge or a white board.

Have your kiddo say the letter sound as they slide a Cheerio down the tube!

If your little one doesn’t know letter sounds, focus on identifying letters. Ask them to slide a Cheerio down a certain letter tube. This is such a fun activity – ALL my kids liked it, even my almost ten year old! Because who doesn’t love shooting Cheerios down a tube?? ;) I love that I don’t have to worry about my 11 month old getting a hold of the Cheerios as they fall, unlike a marble or some other small manipulative.

You could also print out another set of number cards and glue those onto the tubes if you want to focus on numbers. Then have them slide the correct number of Cheerios down the tubes!

Within each letter strip, have your child find the lowercase letter that matches the uppercase letter at the beginning of the row.

Whether you homeschool or not, these are easy activities to whip out on a moment’s notice with your kiddos. If your littles need a little extra help learning their letters and numbers or if you just need a few fun activities for them to do when they’re begging for some screen time, these are easy to pull out without a lot of prep. If you want your activities to last and be able to use them over and over, make sure you print or glue onto cardstock or get them laminated.

I’m not even kidding when I say that my boys would eat cereal all day if I let them. Ha! I really appreciate that Cheerios has no High Fructose Corn Syrup (one of the biggest no-no’s in our house), and I love that they’ve removed the preservative BHT from their cereals.

When I was pregnant with my youngest, oh my goodness I craved Cheerios!! Unlike my kiddos, I’m not usually much of a cereal eater, but I think I have some childhood nostalgia around Cheerios, because I love a big bowl with bananas. So yummy! :) As we get back into our homeschool groove, having quick and easy breakfast options is important to me. We can toss them in a Ziplock bag for mornings when we need to leave the house early. Plus, can I get an Amen for Family Size boxes?? A total big family necessity!

So grab your FREE DOWNLOAD of the Practice Pack, grab some Cheerios from any local retailer, and have a smooth transition into the new school year!

Download your Letter and Number Practice Pack

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15 Minute Pencil or Make-Up Pouch Tutorial

With school starting again, your kiddos are probably in need of a place to keep all their school supplies. Even homeschoolers like us need a spot to stash our pencils and markers. Don’t have kids in school? This zipper pouch is perfect for make-up, your secret chocolate stash, or even carrying a couple diapers and wipes! And the best thing is that it only takes about 15 minutes to make!15 Minute Pencil or Make up Pouch

This project is so simple, all you need is a small scrap of fabric and a zipper. What size zipper? This depends on what you want to put in your pouch! If you want to put school supplies in it, make sure it’s long enough to fit your pencils. Just make-up? Use a shorter zipper!

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While you can make this with regular quilting cotton, I recommend a heavier weight fabric to give the pouch some stability. I used a home dec weight fabric (I’ve had both of these in my stash for awhile, so I’m not exactly sure what they are).

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The longer (blue/green) pouch: 12 x 14in. fabric, 11in. zipper (cut from a longer zipper)

The shorter (grey/white) pouch: 9 x 14in. fabric, 7in. zipper

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Ready to get started?

1. Cut the fabric to your desired size. Serge or zig-zag the edges to prevent fraying.

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2. If needed, cut your zipper to fit your pouch. Zig-zag a short stitch where you’d like the zipper to end.

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3. Press the short ends of the fabric over (wrong sides together).

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4. Pin one folded edge to one side of the zipper. Using your zipper foot, stitch the two together.

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5. Open the zipper and repeat with the other side.

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6. Turn the pouch inside out and fold it so the zipper is in the center.

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7. Push the zipper down a small amount. Beginning at the folded edge, zig-zag across the entire end of the pouch (making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end). Be sure to keep to the right of the metal zipper stop.

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8. Reinforce the zipper by sewing back and forth several times across the zipper.

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9. Open the zipper halfway and repeat step eight to sew the other end of the pouch closed.

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Turn the pouch right side out and fill with your favorite pens (affiliate link… because seriously, these are my favorite pens!)

Simple Pencil Bag Tutorial

How much would your kiddo love to take his or her school supplies in a custom made pencil bag? Plus, you can make this faster than you can drive to the store to buy one. ;)

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The possibilities for these pouches are endless! These would be perfect for a teacher gift, don’t you think?

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I’m going to fill one with our art supplies for when the kiddos and I go on nature walks. We can keep it with our art journals for a quick grab-and-go! And that grey one has already been claimed as my new make-up bag. ;)

DIY Pencil or Make up Pouch

What will you fill your pouches with??

Happy sewing!!

12 DIY Lunchbag patterns and tutorials (sew and no-sew!)

I’ve been sharing a few tutorials lately for DIY lunchbags, but I wanted to put together a roundup of a few more different types. So whether you want to sew or not, make something complicated or simple, insulated or not, you can make exactly what you need!

DIY Lunch Bags 12 sew and no-sew patterns and tutorials
1.  Cloth Lunch Sacks from If Only They Would Nap – tutorial includes a lined or unlined versionDSC_0697

2.  Reusable snack bags from Girl.Inspiredreusable-lunch-bags16
3.  Star Student Lunch Box pattern from Peek-a-boo Patterns (affiliate link) – these look just like store-bought lunch boxes!

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4. No-sew Leather {Paper} Lunch Bag from All the Good Girls Go to Heaven – this is perfect if you can’t or don’t want to sew.

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5. Insulated Lunch Tote from Zaaberry – this one has a zippered top and will keep those lunches cold

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6. Simple DIY Snack Bags and free lunch box notes printable! My tutorial over at Craftaholics Anonymous. A no-sew alternative to plastic bags, plus you can let them know how much you love them with a little note.

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7. Reusable Lunch Bag from CraftbudsDSC_0027-685x1024

8. Peas and Corn Lunch Box pattern by Sew Sweetness – this version sewn by Hawthorn Threads

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9. Free Lunch Bag pattern from The Long Thread

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10. Another cloth lunch sack from A Lemon Squeezy HomeDSCF0904_thumb[7]

11. Monster Snack Bags from HaftaCrafta – so adorable!

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12. And completely no-sew, Lego Lunchboxes from If Only They Would Nap – we use them for traveling, but how fun would this be to include in your kiddo’s lunch with a small bag of Legos?

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Happy back-to-school!

Easy to sew Lunch Sacks for Back to School

If your kids are headed back to school soon, you probably need to pack at least a few lunches this year. Rather than use paper lunch bags (especially on those days when your kiddo left the insulated lunch bag at school the day before), make your own cloth lunch sack that won’t get confused with anyone else’s!Cloth Lunch Sack Tutorial

You can make this lunch bag lined or unlined. If you have a sturdy home dec fabric, laminated cotton, etc. you can make this without lining. If you want to use quilter’s cotton, you will want to make it lined and interfaced.

Supplies:

  • 14in. x 27.5in. fabric (another for lining)
  • 14in. x 27.5in. interfacing if lining
  • snaps or velcro

Note: if you are not lining the lunch sack, make sure that you finish all edges with either a serger or a zig-zag/faux overlock stitch.

1. Fold fabric nearly in half, stopping 4.5in. from the top.

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2. Mark four lines on the fabric: 3 inches from the bottom, make a 2.5 inch line (this green line is faint in the picture); mark two lines 2.5 inches in from the sides, 4.5 inches long.

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3. Cut down the top two lines and then across to the sides, removing two small rectangles.

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4. Cut along the 2.5inch line near the bottom of the fabric – cut through both layers.

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5. Pull the bottom section of fabric away.

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6. Sew along the sides.

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7. Flatten the bottom. It may not lay completely flat just yet.

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8. Cut off the small rectangle of fabric (you won’t need this piece)

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9. Sew along this edge to form the bottom of the lunch sack. Repeat on the other side. If you are using a serger, leave the tails long and tie them off – don’t just cut them off! If you are using a sewing machine, make sure you backstitch at the beginning and the end.

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10. If you are using one layer of fabric, finish all around the top edge. You can serge, zig-zag, or do a rolled hem on either your sewing machine or serger. If you are lining your lunch sack, skip this step.

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11. If you are lining your lunch sack, apply interfacing to one of the pieces of fabric. Repeat steps 1-9 with your second fabric. Turn your lining inside out and the outer piece right side out. Put them together as seen in the photo.

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12. Sew the raw edges together, leaving an opening on the front flap.

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13. Turn the lunch sack right side out through the opening.

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14. Press and topstitch all around the top.

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15. Fold in the center of the sides.

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Then attach either velcro or snaps inside the sides.

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16. Attach snaps or velcro onto the front flap to finish

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Then send your kiddo to school in style! (I shortened the red lunch sack about 3/4in.)

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You can stop buying paper lunch sacks (win for the environment!) and personalize your kiddo’s lunch bag to fit their style – use fabric with their favorite character or embroider their name onto it.

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The lunch sack opens up nice and wide when unsnapped, giving you plenty of room for all the yummy foods that will fuel your little one through their school day.

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Happy back-to-school sewing, friends!

Cloth Lunch Sack Tutorial from If Only They Would Nap