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5 FREE Apple-Themed Invitations to Play

5 FREE Apple-Themed Invitations to Play

Fall is my FAVORITE season! The weather is cooling down, the leaves on the trees are changing colors, and pumpkin-spice is about to take over the world for the next few months. I have been SO happy pinning fall-themed activities and dreaming about Halloween costumes for the girls.

But first, I want to share five FUN, free, EASY apple-themed kids activities.


Scroll down for our freebie!

More apple fun:

Grab our “Best Apple Books for Kids” list.
Learn more about apple-picking with your family.
Download our Ultimate Family Activity Guide with 4 weeks of apple-themed literacy, arts & crafts, fine motor, and STEM ideas for toddlers & preschoolers!


In case you missed the introduction to our invitation to play series (click here), let me give you a brief introduction to how we structure these fun, simple activities at our house.  

  • Maybe you are a homeschooling family looking for some play-based learning ideas for your toddler or preschooler.
  • Or you are spending the lots of time inside with your children due weather.
  • It could be you are a WAHM searching for a quick activity that will engage your little one while you send an e-mail or film a FB live video. 

An invitation to play is an easy, open-ended activity that uses just a few materials found around the house. Keeping these learning activities set aside for special times keeps them interesting and intentionally engaging for when you need 10-15 minutes to get something else done! Best of all, these simple materials can be mixed and matched for countless other activities throughout the year.

This week, I have a freebie for you: a download with FIVE simple invitations to play, including a materials list!


Here’s a sneak peek at some of the skills found in our apple-themed kids activities:

  • Color sorting
  • Object transferring
  • Bead stringing
  • LOTS and LOTS of learning through open-ended play

Be sure to download the freebie for lots of modifications and extension ideas!


Five FREE Apple-Themed Kids Activities (Toddlers and Preschoolers) | tot school, preschool at home, learning at home, tactile activities, wahm kids

Just fill out this quick form to let me know you want the freebie!

Melissa @ Rolling Prairie Readers

Don’t forget to share this freebie with your friends. Hit the Facebook button below or pin this image:

Five FREE Apple-Themed Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers | tot school, preschool at home, learning at home, tactile activities, wahm kids

Flexible Family Schedule: Fall 2017

Flexible Family Schedule: Fall 2017


Scroll to the bottom to get your FREE gift!


Just last week, I posted on Instagram that we had hit our summer “sweet spot.” My two girls have been getting along, playing creatively…for long periods of time…with very little direction from me.

Now it’s time to switch gears and get back to school (home school, that is). Cooler weather is coming, and so are our family routines.

For the last month or so, I’ve been reading The Miracle Morning for Parents and Families for our online Mom’s Book Club. Thanks to Lindsay’s wisdom, I’ve been getting up an hour earlier to set the tone for the day.

Mornings are the key to it all.

Now that I’m awake earlier, we’re gradually moving toward our full fall school schedule, which will kick off officially the week of Labor Day. Addie is going into 4th grade this year, and Katie will be a 1st grader. For the first time in our six-year homeschooling career, we have TWO school-age students, and we’re so excited!


Related: My Biggest Mistake as a Mom


All summer long, we have done read-aloud time first in our day. For our fall semester, we decided to move read-aloud time (and other fun topics!) to after lunch. Since both girls will have a heavier workload this year, we’ve decided to do our core subjects immediately after breakfast, when we’re all feeling our best.

Here’s a peek at our fall homeschooling schedule:

  • Morning chores & breakfast
  • Classes will start at 9:00 a.m. (I’ll start with K’s first grade lessons while A completes her independent work. Once Katie has finished, Addie and I will do fourth grade math and grammar together.)
  • The girls will have lunch and outside time from noon until 1:30. I’ll use most of that time for lesson-planning and blog-writing.
  • At 1:30, we’ll come together for read-aloud time, music, art projects, and AWANA memory work.
  • From 2:30-3:30, the girls will have independent reading time, finish up any school work, and play quietly.
  • At 3:30, they’ll be officially “dismissed” until dinner time.

We have gym class on Wednesday mornings, so our schedule will be a little different one day a week.

Check out our homeschooling schedule for this fall! (4th grade and 1st grade) | flexible family schedule, homeschooling, design your day


A quick note:

We believe STRONGLY in learning through play for young children. (See here and here for more details.) As a not-quite-6-year old, our Katie will have LOTS of opportunities for free play throughout her day. I’ll also be using invitations to play to practice her skills while Addie and I are doing lessons together. Since K is an auditory learner, I know she will enjoy playing nearby.

Addie (9) is a visual learner and benefits from direct instruction and lots of repetition. We are working on building confidence and independence this year, as well as breathing through frustration and practicing positive self-talk. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that each of our girls can get a personalized education!

MotherStyles is one of our favorite parenting books!


Create a Flexible Family Schedule | family time, indoor activities, outdoor activities, back to school routines

We like to use our weekly calendar template to create our flexible family schedule!

The benefit of a flexible family schedule is that you can adjust your routines any time, regardless of the season. Some families prefer to have a full calendar, with lots of extracurricular activities…while some families prefer a more relaxed, spontaneous approach.

And then some families–or MOST families, I would imagine–are a mixture of both when it comes to their weekly schedule: some crazy busy and some that are totally light!

For that reason, I found that using a blank calendar template is best for our family. It allows me to see, at a glance, those open pockets of time where I can be a more intentional mother.

Fill in your information below, and I’ll send you a FREE copy of our calendar template, along with a menu of twenty, fun family activity ideas! This template is great for ALL families, not just homeschoolers.

Solar Eclipse Tips and Resources for Kids

Solar Eclipse Tips and Resources for Kids

If you’re like me, your newsfeed is FULL of news and updates about the upcoming U.S. solar eclipse on Monday, August 21st. There’s a lot of information out there, so I wanted to grab the “best of the best” for all of you to peruse quickly before Monday.

We like to use major events like these to pique our girls’ interest in new ideas (like the solar system!) and go deeper in our learning while interest is high.

What is a solar eclipse, and why is it such a big deal?

This video from SciShow Kids explains it perfectly!

How can I watch it (safely)?

If you live in this zone, you’ll be able to see some or all of the eclipse in your own yard!

Map of the 2017 solar eclipse, courtesy of NASA
Source: NASA

If you’re not able to see it outside, be sure to check out this live stream!

Know the Risks, Don’t Peek!

Note: Some scientists are disputing Dr. Schecter’s post, so use caution and make the best decision for your family. 

Helpful Idea to Try with Kids:


Other Ways to Watch the Solar Eclipse:

Learn more about the solar system with these great solar eclipse resources!

More Solar Eclipse Activities:

If your kids are like mine, they will likely be talking about the eclipse for days (or weeks!). Take advantage of their excitement to learn more about the sun AND take some time to preserve their memories of the day.

Solar System Book Recommendations | Solar Eclipse 2017

Book Recommendations:

My girls LOVE to read, so I always try to have a few non-fiction books available about the topic we’re studying. Visit your local library, or add a few new books to your collection. We have not found many eclipse-specific books, but are using the experience to learn more about the solar system in general. As an Usborne Books & More Consultant, I recommend these five great books:

Big Book of Stars and Planets from Usborne Books & More

The Solar System from Usborne Books & More

Sun, Moon, and Stars from Usborne Books and More

100 Things to Spot in the Night Sky from Usborne Books & More
Technically not a book, but a box of information cards.

Secrets of Our Earth from Usborne Books & More

Additional Resources:

  • NASA has set up a homeschool section on their solar eclipse website, including family activities and lesson plans for all ages.
  • I will continue to update this post as new resources become available!