Makes Me Merry Monday #4

makes me merry mon

Whew!  Is it still Monday?  Am I too late?  😉

Dump Cake Deliciousness

I would like to blame my love of quick-cooking on my third trimester of pregnancy.  However, I think my desire to have meals on the table in as little time as possible is just characteristic of the past few years of my life!   With four (soon to be five) kiddos under ten, I’m a busy lady.   I want my family to enjoy meals, I just don’t want to spend hours cooking them!   One day, when I feel less “spread thin”, I’ll take the time to “create” in the kitchen.  It’s just not a priority for our family right now.  A wise friend told me that when you are spending time on anything, you are “stealing it” from something else.  Some things are worth stealing time for; some things aren’t.

Any cookbook with quick, fast, mix, or easy in the title catches my eye!

quick cooking

For a while, I loved cake mix cookies… easy with endless combinations.  All I needed was a box of cake mix, 2 eggs, and 1/3 cup of oil.  I could use chocolate cake mix with peanut butter chips, strawberry cake mix with white chocolate chips, yellow cake mix with M&M’s

Lately, we’ve been having fun with dump cakes at my house!  Are you already a dump cake lover?  There are tons of possibilities, and DUMP CAKES ARE SO EASY and delicious!

All you need for a dump cake is a pie filling or fruit, a box of cake mix, and a stick of butter.

1.  Dump 2 cans of fruit pie filling (or fruit in syrup) in a 9 X 13 ” dish.

2.  Sprinkle a box of cake mix over the fruit.

3.  Pour a stick (and a half… 😉 ) of melted butter over the top.

(or you can slice the butter thin and place it over the top)

Don’t stir.  Bake on 350 for about 45 minutes.

Easy yumminess.  Even on a weeknight.  😉

You have a cobbler-like buttery crust with fruity goodness underneath.


Ummm…. I’m no food photographer!

These are the combos we’ve tried…

  • cherry pie filling with butter cake mix
  • apple pie filling with spice cake mix
  • blueberry pie filling with lemon cake mix
  • cherry pie filling, crushed pineapples, and Funfetti cake mix

Mmmm… wouldn’t bananas with caramel and banana cake mix be good?  Or cherries with chocolate cake mix?  Or peaches with strawberry cake mix?

We’ve tried a pumpkin pie dump cake sprinkled with pecans.  We’ve tried our usual dump cakes sprinkled with chocolate chips.  The possibilities are endless…. and easy!

If you haven’t tried dump cakes yet, you should!  I bet you have everything you need right in the pantry!

Easy desserts make me merry!

Happy Dumping!

For 2 of my favorite quick dinner options, check out….

Pepperoni Cheese Ravioli

Chicken Parmesan Pizza


Kindergarten Reading Activities and Printable Word Family Pages

k reading activities

As a former First Grade classroom teacher, I have a lots of fun ideas for teaching my kinders to read.  However, as a homeschooling mom of 4 with a baby on the way, I don’t always get to the fun stuff!  Here I’ve included some of the most practical activities we do, but we don’t even get to these every day or even every week.  Some days we just read, and that’s okay.  😉


For ease, I’ll divide this post into 2 categories:  PHONICS and SIGHT WORDS.  I think mastering both elements are important steps on the path to becoming a good reader!

For now, each week, we work on basic C-V-C short vowel words and 2 or 3 new sight words.


  1. curriculum & workbooks
  2. pocket chart cards
  3. building words with magnets and letter tiles
  4. word family lists
  5. stamps
  6. shaving cream
  7. phonics readers
  8. flash cards

Sight Words

  1. poems
  2. sight word readers
  3. sight word sentences
  4. flash cards
  5. Bingo!


1.  Curriculum / Workbooks

We have been using Explode the Code Book 1 and Alpha-Phonics to aid in learning phonics this school year.  I couldn’t be happier with either one!   I use them as a guide for introducing word families.  Explode the Code has been great practice in writing as well as following directions.



2.  Pocket Chart Cards

I use a pre-made set of word family cards and pictures but plan to add some of my own cards and pictures using simple clip art.  My kinders think of this as a fun matching game!  We don’t always use the pocket chart… the floor works well, too!  🙂

pocket chart word fams

3.  Building Words… Magnets and Letter Tiles 

This is hands-on fun!  We build words with letter tiles on our “mats”  (pieces of construction paper) and use our magnets on cookie sheets.  It is a great way to practice working with words while taking away the added difficulty of writing.    It’s so easy to move one letter and change “bit” to “fit” and then “fit” to “fix” etc.


man, can, ran…

tile practice

We can also use the tiles to practice building names.

We also use our tiles and magnets with the pocket chart picture cards.  It is a step above simply matching the words and pictures.  The kids now have to build a word sound-by-sound.

tiles and pics

4.  Word Family Lists

I love using the tiles to create word family lists.  Simply move one tile to make lots and lots of words!  We have used these word family books (pictured below) (and only $1.25!) , and I liked them so much, that I decided to create some pages of my own.   You can download them for your kiddos at the conclusion of this post!  🙂  We


it word fam page
Download your own word family recording sheets at the conclusion of the post! 🙂

5.  Stamps

Much like tiles and magnets, stamps enable kids to build words without the added difficulty of writing.  Plus, they are fun!  🙂


6.  Shaving Cream… need I say more?  🙂

shave cream words


My big kids like this too… spelling practice. 😉

7.  Books!   Phonics Readers

One of my favorite resources for phonics readers is Sam’s.  Yes, that’s Sam’s, as in the wholesale club.  I have found numerous sets of Bob Books and Starfall Readers that have become old friends for us this year!  Check out the book section the next time you’re picking up toilet tissue!


Another favorite and often-used resource for phonics readers for us is Hubbard’s Cupboard.  Oh my!  So many free resources– including phonics and sight word readers– created by a teacher and available FOR FREE!  I print at least a book per week!



8.  Flash Cards

I use little notecard flip books!  It’s so easy to quickly grab a book and read words when we are in a time crunch!



Sight Words  (2 or 3 new words per week)

1.  Poems

We use our poetry notebooks to learn new sight words!  When things rhyme and are repetitive, the kids just remember them!  Here is an example of our “Up” poem.  (For sight word poetry resources, use the link above to see our poetry notebooks post.)

sight wd poem

I don’t choose a sight word poem for our notebooks every week.  Sometimes we just find sight words in other poems.


2.  Sight Word Readers

Each time we learn new sight words, the children get a new sight words book!  These are some of the resources I use…

Sight Word Stories

These are great little repetitive books!


Hubbard’s Cupboard Sight Word Books (AGAIN 🙂 )

I use these every week!  🙂  I just click over to the site and scroll down to the words we’re working on!  Easy peasy and free!


3.  Sight Word Sentences

Cut and Paste Sight Word Sentences

We use these for reading, illustrating, and copying sight word sentences!  Our next step will be to write sentences on our own!  🙂


4.  Flash Cards

I keep these on rings and in notecard flip books, but I also like to keep some on loose cards to display all week.


5.  Bingo!

I keep a little homemade bingo printable on my desktop so that I can quickly fill in sight words we’ve learned.  I write them in the boxes, and we have a free game!  🙂

You can download my Bingo! board by clicking the picture, but I warn you, it’s not too pretty!  😉  You could use with any subject… Latin words, science vocab, etc…



If you’d like to use my word family note booking pages, please click the picture below to download your own set!  You won’t find every short vowel word family, but I’ve included the main ones, along with 2 different blank formats for you to use!


word fam recording sheets


Happy Reading!

Makes Me Merry Monday #3

makes me merry mon

30 Down, 10 to Go!

Happy Monday, friends!

Today, I’m merry because we have only 10 weeks until Baby arrives!  Woo hoo! (which also means we only have about 10 weeks until Christmas)

I have fuzzy, child-taken pictures of me at 30 weeks!

30 weeks

I’ve laughed a lot lately because we’ve done NOTHING to prepare for Baby #5!  At this point with the other children, we had sweet nurseries, clean and neatly folded clothes in the drawers, and all the gear a parent could need!  Oh yeah, we had names picked out, too!

30 weeks2

This pic doesn’t really show the “baby belly” very well! 😦

Poor Baby 5.  We love you so much, but we are much more laid back parents now.  😉

In the dentist’s office the other day, I picked up a Parents magazine.  I saw the funniest list called Raising Your First Child vs. Your Second Child.  (And where does that leave “fifth child”?) Here is a little snippet…


First Kid: All homemade in special baby-food processor. Quinoa! Spinach! Sweet potatoes!
Second Kid: Crackers.

First Kid: All handmade out of wood. Mostly Swedish.
Second Kid: The boxes his brother’s toys came in.

First Kid: Every night in a special bathtub that’s just the right size. Hand-washed with a soft cloth or silky sponge.
Second Kid: Twice a week. Swimming pools count.


{You can click the link above or the shoe pic to read the entire list.}

If you missed the big announcement about Baby 5, you can click this picture to read more…

baby post

30 down and 10 to go makes me merry!

Merry Monday to you!

4 Activities for Memorizing Psalm 23

4 activ psalm23

My kinders are working on memorizing Psalm 23!  These are some activities we’ve done to hide it in our hearts.  Maybe they would help your littles, too!

1.  Psalm 23 Wordless Book

psalm wordless book

We made wordless books to help us remember the order of the verses!  My twins like to “read” them to us!  They are simply half sheets of paper stapled into a full size piece of construction paper.   My littles illustrated a white cover for their books.  Here are the colors we used:

  • white – The Lord is my shepherd
  • green- green pastures
  • blue-  still waters
  • red- restores my soul
  • gray- paths of righteousness
  • black-  valley of the shadow of death
  • brown-  rod and staff
  • yellow- Thou anointest my head with oil
  • purple- (wine) my cup runneth over
  • gold-  goodness and mercy, Lord’s house

2.  Psalm 23 Bracelet Craft

completed bracelet

These were fun!  My little girl wears hers everyday!  🙂  The colors are about the same as the wordless book.  Our inspiration for this craft can be found here.

bracelet colors


3.  Psalm 23 Picture Cards

psalm 23 cards

I found some great Psalm 23 clip art at  I used the pictures to make cards that my littles can use to retell the psalm.  There are a few that they still need a little help ordering!


4.  Psalm 23 Mini Book

{from Christian Preschool Printables}



Aren’t these the sweetest?  I love these little books and have printed other ones from this site in the past.   You could also cut these apart and use the pictures to work on putting the verses in order!

We’ve also been doing hand motions, singing, and watching our cups overflow in the bathtub to remember this psalm!  🙂


You might also enjoy these other activities here at

i have no greater joy! …



Makes Me Merry Monday #2

makes me merry mon

Hi there, moms!  I hope you had a fabulous weekend and that your Monday is merry!

In today’s post, I’m sharing a little way that we WASH LESS DISHES!  Yay!  Sounds good, right?

Have you ever noticed the top of rack of the dishwasher (or even worse– the sink) (or even worse– the counter!)  filling up before lunch?   Well, my very creative and crafty friend made a little priceless gift for me… personalized coasters!  The kids know right where to put their cups, and they never get mixed up.  They can use the same cups again!

p coasters

One cup for each kiddo and less dishes make me merry!

Look for a set of coasters with different designs or even label a paper towel or placemat with your kiddos’ names!  Less cups in the sink will make you merry, too!

Come back later this week because I’ll be sharing several fun ways that my kinders are

memorizing Psalm 23!  🙂

psalm23 bracelet2

Merry Monday to you!