Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Play with Science

Science and Art: 15 Boredom Busters for Preschoolers.

It's cold! Kids spend more time inside. I've thought of rounding up some fun science play ideas for the little ones as there is so much to learn about the world around us. You will find: building and construction, dinosaurs and magnets, visiting Polar regions, Australia, a Rainforest, and some more.  You can also find last week's Kids Co-Op here: 10 Fun Ways to Say "I Love You, Daddy!"

Pictured above:

Construct this fun Shapes Math Monsters from The Sensory Seeker.

Visit a polar region with Polar Bears and Lullabies from My Bright Firefly.

Find a new way of playing with dinosaurs from the great collection of 80+ Fun Dinosaur Learning Ideas  from Mama of Many Blessings.

Explore self hardening dough with this charming activity: Make Your Own Charms from Mosswood Connections. Another idea that is just beautiful: Heart Candle Holder  from Messy Little Monster.

Chase the metal bits around with Magnets: Preschooler Science & Art Activity from The Practical Mom.

Practice using a plastic pipette while counting Drops of Water on a Coin  from The Science Kiddo.

Oh, places to visit and things to do!

Would the kids be excited to discover Australia with these fascinating activities: Celebrate Australia, 26th January from Playful Matters?

70+ Free Rain Forest Resources   from Tina's Dynamic Homeschool are a huge inspiration!

We also have to mention this beautiful article: Valentine Fun with Family Traditions! from B-Inspired Mama.

Pictured above:

Rose Scented No Cook Play Dough from Danya Banya.

Igloo Craft & Arctic Small World on the Light Table from Where Imagination Grows.

Paper Plate Snowy Owl from ABC Creative Learning. You can find all the arctic animals here: Arctic Animals Do-a-Dot Free Printables  from Gift of Curiosity.

An Invitation to Make...Love Bugs from Multi Crafting Mummy.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Play with Light at Home: Northern Lights

Glowing Lights - the Power of Creative Play

Exploring Northern Lights with preschoolers is like discovering these bright phenomena all over again. To the Laboratory! is a theme for November at Poppins Book Nook. We got out our favorite winter book and got busy playing with the light, exploring geometric solids, and building the night sky in a box.  You can find our previous Poppins Book Nook activities here: Poppins Book Nook.

Northern Lights

Our favorite book of the month is "Northern Lights" by Nick Hunter. This truly beautiful book with all the bright colors of the sky and impressive photographs on every page captured My Firefly's attention immediately. The book is intended for 6-8 year olds, but we read some and discussed some, looked at the pictures - an amazing success for this preschooler.

We reused our "Universe in the box" - the description can be found here: Space Preschool Activities.

The light source and any transparent shapes are all that is needed for this activity. We pretended the light was the sun shining. Our set up: "the night sky", a paper castle we had - just for the fun of it, the toy box turned upside down, Geometric Solids by Learning resources.

My Firefly loved observing and manipulating the Northern Lights. The fantastic shapes and shadows in our night sky were changing when moving "the sun". She also observed the effect of turning "the sun" on and off.

She wouldn't fully understand the physics of the amazing light show at this age. But it was clearly observed that
  • the Sun sends out light, heat, and the invisible solar wind,
  • the solar wind hits something in the air that causes the bright colors of the Northern Lights.
  • we are yet to explore the magnets. The extended activity would be to play with magnets to learn how Earth sends the solar wind away to display the gorgeous light show near the North and South Pole.

Exploring the Sun: Sunset and Sunrise

Pictured below: At the end, we added a looking glass to the activity. The effect was awesome! We were able to create the sunset and sunrise; and talked about the change of the night and day. This turned out to be the most exciting part for My Firefly.

To the Laboratory

It's time for a Poppins Book Nook - a book club that goes live on the last Monday of each months.
You can find our previous Poppins Book Nook books and activities here:

The theme for this month is "To the Laboratory". This is a very exciting topic - it calls for all things holiday cooking and quality family time. Visit the hosts of Poppins Book Nook to find out what the kids were up to, their adventures and discoveries in the kitchen.

The wonderful bloggers that participate in the Poppins Book Nook are:  Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ My Bright Firefly ~A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~Where Imagination Grows ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am  ~ Simple Living Mama

To the Laboratory Bundle Giveaway!

Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers
a chance to win a brand new storybook
that ties in with our theme for the month.
This month one lucky entrant will win
the Ultimate Gruffalo Giveaway.
The winner will enjoy twice the magical enchantment in the double feature of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child! The beautifully animated films based on the best-selling books are now together on DVD from NCircle Entertainment!
And the fun doesn’t stop there as they will also win a storybook of the Gruffalo and Gruffalothemed plush too!

Entrants must be 18years or older and reside in a country that receives U.S. Postal mail. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook and this month’s prize bundle will be sent to the winner directly from this month’s sponsor NCircle Entertainment. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms & conditions as well as EnchantedHomeschooling Mom's disclosuresfound here {}.  Just enter the Rafflecopterbelow to win:  
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Saturday, January 24, 2015

10 Fun Valentine Play Ideas for Toddlers

Montessori Inspired Valentine's Day Activities for 2 Year Olds

My Firefly dug into her new treasures with excitement and a positive message of love - how fun! All the bright colors of the Valentine's Day are very engaging in practicing fine motor skills, one-to-one correspondence and beginning counting, in discovering new materials and tools, in working on recognizing sizes and the shape of a heart. You can also find our Valentine baking fun inspired by the favorite book here: Happy Valentine's Day, Mouse! Read and Play. More Creative Valentine's Day Activities for Kids are at the end of this article!

Easy Valentine Ideas 

The Heart Tray with red balls - a transfer activity with one-to-one correspondence.

Pictured above: I printed and laminated the picture on white paper; then punched heart-shaped holes in it. I placed white sheet over a red one and taped everything to the tray. Little heart holes help red balls to stay in place, but require some hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills to set the balls.

Creative ways to use the fun colorful tops from baby food pouches.

Pictured above: The fun plastic tops can be used in so many ways! For Valentine's activities, we were stacking them to make cheerful Valentine towers, sorted by colors and shades (light pink and dark pink), threaded them to make necklaces.

Pom-Poms and Heart Shaped Containers

"Look at/ find this big sparkly dark pink!" Introduction to description words and following directions are at play here. My Firefly loved stuffing pom poms into the heart containers and transferring them into different fun containers and bowls. Finally, I made a quick sensory bin for kids: pom poms, colored rice, dried scented flower petals, heart containers, read balls. Of course, they had to get into it as much as they could.

Mega Blocks: Sort and Match

Tots were offered mega blocks, all shades of red, pink, and purple, that we could find. We gave them time to explore and build first, practiced naming the colors and distinguishing the shades. I took pictures of single blocks and simple structures of 2 blocks per picture and asked kids to find or build matching "towers". This activity is not as simple for a 2 year old as it looks!

A Simple Valentine Card

The Teddy bears are printed out in 5 different colors. Tots were to arrange bears from the biggest to the smallest. Then we outlined the shape of each with the crayon and offered them to match a bear to his shade and glue it in with a glue stick.

Pictured below: the inside of the card. The picture is pre printed. Kids decorated it more with stickers, stamps, and crayons. Fun!

Making Valentine cookies: what can be better than that?


Creative Valentine's Day Activities for Kids


More Creative Valentine's Day Activities for Kids:
Preschool Fun: Painting and Lacing Hearts from Bare Feet on the Dashboard
Paper Heart Bunting from Peakle Pie
Heart Themed Sensory Board from Mama Smiles
Wax Resist Valentine Cards from The Gingerbread House
Heart Cracker Crisps from Betsy's Photography
Valentine's Day Blessing Activity from Betsy's Photography
Valentine Sensory Soup from Learning and Exploring Through Play
Salt Dough Hand Keepsake from Learning and Exploring Through Play
Heart Sensory Bag from Learning and Exploring Through Play
Salt Dough Heart Candle Holder from Messy Little Monster


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Thursday, January 22, 2015

10 Fun Ways to Say "I Love You, Daddy!"

Valentine's Day Preschool Activities

I tried to find some awesome Valentine's ideas for the best Dads. Will he like some funny cookies and hot chocolate made by kids? Or, perhaps, a heart-shaped pizza? Kids can make a fun truck Valentine's card or a heart made from beads. Some little surprises for Dad could be nice, or maybe a "Love Book"? How about some fishing indoors if he loves fishing? You can also find last week's Kids Co-Op here: Winter Sensory Bins and Montessori Trays.
Pictured above:
Kisses & Love Notes - little surprises with free printables from Powerful Mothering.
Fun Valentine's Cookies from My Bright Firefly.
7 Delicious Hot Chocolate Recipes from Rediscovered Families.
Truck Valentine's Card with a free printable template from Sand In My Toes.
Fishing with Magnets from Stir the Wonder.
"I Love" Book Making from Fun-A-Day.

Pictured above:

Confetti, Beads, and Button Hearts to put on the window in Daddy's office from Dabblingmomma.

Beautiful Hama Beads Heart from The Sensory Seeker.

Scrunched Tissue Paper Valentine's Heart from In The Playroom.

Yummy Pizza Heart from B-Inspired Mama.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day, Mouse! Read and Play.

Fun Valentine's Cookies Preschool Activities

Laura Numeroff's mouse was our inspiration to create fun Valentine's treats. Simple sugar cookies are so much fun when made together and as an extension to the favorite book. You can also find out previous fun activity together here: Polar Bear Afloat in the Sea: Art Appreciation Preschool Activity.

"Happy Valentines Day, Mouse!" by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond is one in the series "If you give..." series. My Firefly adores these books. This time Mouse is deciding why he loves each of his friends and making valentines for them accordingly. At the end, his friends are coming to Mouse with lots of cookies in their hands. Way too cute :)

We reread the book and made the cookie dough together before going to bed and agreed to make cookies when we'll get up in the morning. The anticipation of the activity and planning in advance are so exciting when it comes to cookies!

Before rolling out the dough, we picked the best cookie cutters and drew pictures on paper. Well, My Firefly was carried away with drawing. So we had to wait with starting on cookies. But here: let's the fun begin!

Cookies recipe:

3 cups flour, 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tsp. vanilla extract, 3 egg yolks, 2 sticks room temperature butter.

  • Beat egg yolks and vanilla together.
  • Beat sugar and butter, add eggs, then flour.
  • Form a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours.
  • Brush cookies with egg whites before putting them into the oven.
  • Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

For decorating, Mommy worked with bags of icing and My Firefly worked with the brush. She brushed the icing on like she would the paint.

Finally, the cookies are ready! It is hard to start eating these pieces of art!


Valentine's Read and Play Fun

Many exciting Read and Play books and activities for Valentine's Day can be found here: Read and Play: Valentine's Day . You can find links to 20+ articles with the activities for the favorite holiday books.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter Sensory Bins and Montessori Trays

Winter Montessori Activities and Early Learning Play

Winter science for toddlers and preschoolers - there is so much to learn! And of course, the best way is learning through play and hands-on discoveries. That's when The Weekly Kids Co-Op comes very handy. We are featuring the brightest ideas for winter play inspiration. They all could make any kids happy while learning! You can also find last week's Kids Co-Op here: Fun Winter Play Date Ideas.

Pictured above:

Snowflake Sensory Bin: Fine Motor Fun from 3 Dinosaurs. Explore shapes and sizes, textures and weight of the snowflakes. Great ideas for hands-on explorations.

Frozen Inspired Sensory Bin from Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes. Frozen colors and textures are to entice imagination and inspire lots of creative play.

Montessori Inspired Winter Activities from Montessori Monday. Cold weather, snow and ice, snowmen, animals in winter, polar regions: this is a great resource for winter activities!

Fairy Forest with the Light Show from My Bright Firefly. We shared our magical experience with this Winter sensory play.

A Snowflake Sensory Bag for Winter Sensory Play! from B-Inspired Mama. Explore snowflakes without getting cold or messy.

Polar Bear Activities for Tots & Preschoolers with free printables from Every Star Is Different. These beautiful Montessori trays are great for the Arctic unit or P is for Polar Bear activities.

More awesome ideas:

A Paper Snowflakes Tablecloth for the Hot Chocolate Bar from My Big Fat Happy Life. The beautiful Hot Chocolate Bar is a result of fun sensory play and scissors skills practice! And while we are at it: even more ideas for DIY Hot Chocolate Bar and more from The Bajan Texan.

Neon Rice Sensory Bin from Adventures of Adam. Science and Technology came to preschool play. Visit this article to find out the discoveries made by the little scientist along the way.

Penguin Do-a-Dot Printables from Gift of Curiosity. Shapes, colors, patterns, numbers and counting, fun with letters - a great resource for filling a Montessori inspired tray!

10 Winter Art Projects from Our Little House in the Country. Wonderful!

Touch and Match Sensory Game from Best Toys for Toddlers.

More Winter Activity Ideas from My Bright Firefly

Polar Bears in the Arctic Small World Play for Preschoolers

Play Dough Penguin Craft for Kids

Northern Lights

(Click on the picture below to enlarge it.)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Polar Bears and Lullabies

Polar Bear Preschool Activities

Art appreciation activity: polar bears afloat in the sea. Our letter of the week, L is for Lullaby, inspired us to discuss lullaby songs and pretend play with lullabies. Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown was the treasure we discovered! This post is part of our "Creative ABCs" series. You can find our previous letter of the week activity here: G is for Globe. Land, Air, and Water.

Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown

I am in awe with this book we discovered! It is a collection of lullabies that are published for the first time! The book comes with the 12-song CD. The beautiful lullabies are composed and performed beautifully. As if this is not enough, songs are illustrated by twelve award-winning picture book artists.

Polar Bears Afloat in the Sea: Art Appreciation Preschool Activity

"Sleep like a Rabbit" is illustrated by Isabel Roxas. We talked about the cold arctic ocean and the colors used for the picture (see the collage above). According to the illustrator, Isabel Roxas, it is "such a quiet, drowsy poem that when I was dreaming up ideas for the illustration, I tried to think of the quietest place one could sleep - which brought to mind snow and how it muffles street noises, and also the still-ness of ice."

We talked about the shapes and textures of ice and icebergs and decided that triangles would be the best shapes to use for our arctic ocean. I was in search of perfect triangles for this activity, when I found the best and most fun ever here: Triangle Tessellation Puzzle. from Mama Miss.

Pictured below, I printed out 2 triangles for My Firefly to color. I color coded the shapes inside: triangle-red, square-blue, circle-purple. After the paint was dry, she cut them into the smaller triangles and pasted them onto the ocean.

L is for Lullaby

Our Little People polar bears were happy sleeping in My Firefly's ocean. We sang a new lullaby to them using the CD enclosed. Then My Firefly decided the polar bears were hungry. So we made them some play dough fish. Well, fish were a big news for My Firefly. She thought polar bears love to eat grass.

Did you know?
  • It is beneficial to continue singing lullabies with preschoolers as a part of bedtime routine. The songs promote bonding and increase self-esteem and confidence.
  • Singing lullabies, or favorite songs, is the best music class for little musicians (and free of charge). 
  • Lullabies can be used to learn a foreign language. Sung as a last memory of the day, lullabies make remembering new words and grammatical structures an easy and natural process.
You can find our collection of the Letter of the Week books and activities here: Creative ABCs.
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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Winter Forest Sensory Bin

Animals in Winter Preschool Activities

Finding food under the snow, migration, hibernation - the challenges of winter forest habitants were thoroughly explored hands-on with our new Fairy Forest sensory bin. We've found some interesting picture books to read, but the most exciting for My Firefly was the light show in the forest we had. We also made special trees for our forest which can be found here: Whimsical Winter Trees.

Time to Sleep. Books about winter.

I'd like to mention three books My Firefly loved this week.

#1 "Time to Sleep" by Denise Fleming
The book gave us a review of changes in weather from late fall into winter. The animals care about each other; and say "Good night!" before falling asleep for the winter. That and the beautiful illustrations bring this book to life: very engaging and kind!

#2 "It's Winter" by Linda Glaser
Winter in the North and South, underground and under water - with fun rhymes!

"I chase and zigzag
catching snowflakes in the air."

#3 "Animals in Winter" by Martha Rustad
The book is from the "All about winter" series.

Fairy Forest Sensory Bin

We reused our rice mix from the last year: colored and plain rice, aquarium rocks, shredded tinsel, mixed in parts from the Christmas scented potpourri set. We set our sensory table with Playmobil parts, whimsical winter trees, jingle bells, pine cones, people, animals and vehicles, variety of containers and scooping tools, a magnifying glass.

Our Exciting Light Show with the Sensory Bin

We used a sand table that comes with the umbrella. I left the umbrella in and pinned the "space blanket" around it.

We got this emergency thermal blankets (set of 4 blankets, Affiliate link below) a couple of months ago. Kids keep playing with them often since then - they are shiny, light weight, durable, and can be played with in so many different ways! You can find the introduction to our "space blankets" here: Space Preschool Activities.

Pictured above, no special photography tricks or photo editing - the sensory table in the dark room with the different colors of the light .

The blanket retains light inside making the small world a miracle space. I used a Christmas garland of icicles that change colors. The wire is threaded to outside of the blanket, on top of the umbrella, and up to the wall out of the kids' reach. The blanket reflects all the light perfectly!

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fun Winter Play Date Ideas

The Weekly Kids Co-Op

I am very happy to announce the exciting news from My Bright Firefly! This year we will be co-hosting The Weekly Kids Co-Op. This has been our favorite place to visit every Thursday.

The Weekly Kids Co-Op is all about activities for kids. We were lucky to find and use ideas for play dates, our Tot School and Homeschool Preschool, for a quiet evening play and for a bang fun in the back yard. This year we decided to give back to the community by sharing this party on My Bright Firefly!

Fun Winter Play Date Ideas

Pictured above:
"Love Butterflies" Valentine's Day Craft from Christianity Cove.

A Memory/ Bingo game with Frozen Alphabet Cards from Totschooling.

Hand Made Counting Tree from With Smile. This is a Russian site. Mama Natalia used fabrics with different textures and shades of green to make a lovely countdown tree. They were counting to 6 because Russian Christmas is on January 7. For those following this tradition, Merry Christmas!

Frozen Olaf Footprint Craft from The Keeper of the Cheerios.

Chinese New Year Tea Light Holder and Finger Print Chinese Lanterns from The Gingerbread House. The first day of the Chinese New Year is on February 19. 2015 is the year of the sheep according to Chinese zodiac. Look how pretty the lights are with some tissue paper and creativity.

Chinese New Year Sensory Bin is a fun way to learn a CNY story and to participate in a famous swimming race. Who is the winner?

Kids in the Kitchen - One Minute Rice Pudding Snowman Snack from B-Inspired Mama. The lovely snowman is fun to make, and a healthy and nutritious choice for the play date!

My Bright Firefly
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Monday, January 5, 2015

Chinese New Year Sensory Bin

Sensory Bin and Story Telling for Preschoolers

We had a swimming race. 12 animals came together and got into action - CNY style! The first day of the Chinese New Year is on February, 19. 2015 is the year of the sheep according to Chinese zodiac. My Firefly raced 12 animals across the water beads river while learning about their timeless race.


Sensory Bin Set Up

The animals are printed from and laminated. There are actually 13 animals (the cat was there, but was too late to have a year named after him).

The river: blue water beads in a long narrow bin. The land: rice and small orange tree balls.

There is a raft to carry the goat, the monkey, and the rooster. And of course, the Jade Emperor is a main character (we used a Little People figure).

Our great bright red dragon didn't fit into the pictures. The dragon was a spatula with a stuffed toy caterpillar propped onto it and wrapped with the red Christmas garland which continues around the bin as a dragon's hugging his story.

My Firefly loved her bin and showed lots of creativity with her ways of playing with it. The CNY story is very engaging. The animals got involved in many adventures around the house and with various toys - that is always a sign of a successful activity.

Do you remember the winner of the swimming race? It was the rat. It couldn't swim at all, but turned out to be the smartest animal to arrive to the Jade Emperor first.

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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Whimsical Winter Trees

Winter Trees Preschool Activities

We continue learning about winter. This week we talked about the winter weather and how trees and animals survive cold and snowy days in the forest. Hence, our whimsical winter trees. They were fun to make and came out very beautiful. My Firefly was motivated to do beading and threading and loves her new Winter Forest. You can also find our winter small world here: Winter Sensory Bin.

Pictured below, I cut openings in the tube for animals' houses. We wrapped tubes in aluminum foil and used a painted tube. For each brunch, make 2 holes in the tube with the needle. Thread 2 chenille stems through the openings and tight them from inside and outside. Decorate the stems with beads.
We used decorated tinsel stems.

Creativity, satisfaction... and the perfect fine motor skills practice are at play here: Mommy is happy!

We got lucky to have this activity with the sun shining through the window. The sun made our trees shine and sparkle, and made our tree decorating last that much longer.
This activity also allowed us to consider angles and round shapes. If the tree meant to be free standing, make sure to keep a balance. Pictured below, 4 brunches are placed at 4 sides of the tube.

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Best Kids Activities of 2014

Creative ABCs

Today I'd like to share the best kids' activity post of 2014 from My Bright Firefly. We were busy learning through play and exploring hands-on with our three year olds. So the best and my very favorite is Creative ABCs.

We have a letter of the week and activities related to the letter and the sound. But what makes it fun for kids is the best book of the week we could find, and the variety of engaging activities related to our letter of the week. We concentrated on different subjects each week: language, math, science, sensory play and crafts, art appreciation and introduction to many new materials and tools.

The Best Craft, Education, and Parenting of 2014

The best and most popular craft, education, and parenting blog posts at the beginning of the new year for you. Please, look through, and hopefully, find some great inspiration from the posts below. Happy New Year!

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