5 Ways to Teach Uppercase and Lowercase Letters | Letter Recognition Games

Inside: How my 2-year-old learned the distinction between uppercase and lowercase letters

How to Teach Uppercase and Lowercase Letters to Your Toddler

Psst… DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post are through Amazon affiliates. That just means, at NO additional cost to you, Amazon gives me a small portion of the sale if you decide to click a link and make a purchase.

Letter recognition is the foundation for all future language arts endeavors with our little ones. So why not start building and reinforcing that foundation early on? It’s actually easier than we may think for our kiddos to make that mental leap.

Rather watch a video? Check out this one:

5 Ways to Teach Uppercase & Lowercase Letters

We started teaching Arwyn in a more structured format when she was just 2 years old. But even before that, she was introduced to letters. Here are 5 tried and tested methods for teaching uppercase and lowercase letter recognition and differentiation to small children.

1. Dave & Ava

Before I ever started teaching Arwyn at home, we loved Dave & Ava’s YouTube channel. Their tagline is “rediscover nursery rhymes,” but they also have a lot of learning songs and even some fun apps for letters, numbers, etc. The bright colors and fun designs really bring their videos to life.

We stumbled upon their alphabet song one day, and Arwyn was hooked. We watched it EVERY. DAY. along with their phonics song.

So before we began anything else, Arwyn could sing her ABC’s, recognized some of the letters, and also knew a few random letter sounds.

To visit Dave & Ava’s channel, click here.

Not big on screens? I get it! Even just introducing a few of the songs and then singing them with your child on a regular basis while pointing to the letters in a book or on a poster will be beneficial!

2. Letter Crafts

Letter Crafts -- Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

Early on in our homeschool year, we began working on little letter crafts. We started with “A is for alligator” and kept rolling from there!

Check back soon for a post with letter craft ideas and templates!

3. Letter Tree

Letter Tree Printable -- Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

I’ve found that simple homemade activities that are fun and game-like work super well for teaching letter recognition. Arwyn loves to use this letter tree! We pretend that our letters are fruit and match our lowercase fruit (bottle lids that I’ve written lowercase letters on with a Sharpie) with our uppercase fruit on the tree.

If you’d like to use our tree, you can get it for free by subscribing below!

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4. Letter Acorns

These sweet letter acorns were a Christmas gift from one of Arwyn’s pappaws, and we love them!

Letter acorns -- uppercase and lowercase letters

The uppercase letter is written on the front of the acorn, and the lowercase is printed inside the lid. She has fun finding matches.

Plus they each also have a fun plastic/rubber figure that starts with the letter’s sound and can hide inside the acorn.

You can find them on Amazon here:

5. The Good & the Beautiful Pre-K

Finally, in January we started the Good & the Beautiful PreK program, and I COULD NOT be more pleased with it. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting her to be this far along already, but this curriculum is amazing.

I AM NOT being paid to say this. I bought the curriculum myself. I have no reason to recommend this course other than pure results. Arwyn is excited to do her schoolwork every day, and it has helped her come so far!

The Good & the Beautiful PreK -- Uppercase and Lowercase Letters

Not only does she recognize both uppercase and lowercase variations of each letter but she also knows which one is which AND the sounds for about 90% of her letters. Plus she’s tracing them–something I really didn’t expect her to be doing this early.

The Good & the Beautiful is really language intensive. Because of that, they really focus on laying these early foundations well. I definitely recommend it when your child is ready.

For more on our first year of homeschool with Arwyn and my thoughts on early preschool at home, check out this video:

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How do you plan to teach your child letter recognition? Seasoned moms: what are some of your tips? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

Audriana

New here? Learn more about our family and this blog here.

70+ Fine Motor Activities to Build Hand Strength and Coordination

Inside: Over 70 ideas for helping your child build fine motor skills

70+ Fine Motor Activities that Help Build Coordination and Hand Strength

Psst.. Just an honest DISCLOSURE: Some links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. That means (at NO additional cost to you) if you click them and make a purchase, I receive a small portion of the profit.

We know that fine motor skills are important for our children’s development and precursors to writing and other hand-related tasks. (And as homeschooling mommas, we don’t want to grade super sloppy papers because of a lack of fine motor coordination!)

So here are some great ideas for helping our kids build and improve their fine motor skills.

70+ Fine Motor Activities for Your Child

Let’s break them down into categories, starting with more simple tasks and building up to the more complex skills.

NOTE: Everything is more fun with a playful story to go along with WHY they’re doing the activity. Be silly/creative where you can, and make it a game!

Pinching

Pinching is one of the very first fine motor skills that young children can learn (and it’s a precursor to several other categories of fine motor skills). It involves grasping something between the thumb and index finger.

A good way to introduce pinching includes sorting small objects by picking them up and placing them into containers. (If you don’t have your child put it into a container, it’s likely they may just slide them into groups instead of actually picking them up.) Sorting makes up a big chunk of activities on this list, but there are other beneficial ways to practice pinching as well.

Sorting by Color -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Sort gel beads (like Orbeez) based on color
  • Sort glass gems by color
  • Stick skewers into a Styrofoam block then have your child sort beads by color onto the different skewers
  • Pluck pom-pom balls out of a wire whisk
  • Pull objects out of slime and sort them by shape or color
  • Pop bubble wrap
  • Stretch small rubber hair bands onto popsicle sticks
  • Stretch small rubber hair bands onto a spiky ball
  • Stick paperclips onto toilet paper rolls
  • Sort buttons by color into cups with slots
  • Sort assorted index cards by color into a box with colored slots
  • Hammer pegs or golf tees into a Play-Doh mound or styrofoam block (while pinching peg between fingers)
  • Put Cheerios (or other small object) into a water bottle
  • Play the peg board game
  • Drop toothpicks into an empty seasoning shaker
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Threading

Threading involves both pinching and some hand-eye cooridnation to get the string/rope/etc. through the hole.

Pasta Threading -- Fine Motor Skills
  • Thread pool noodle pieces (Parents: chop up some pool noodles, get shoe string or rope, and have your child string the short noodles onto the rope. Depending on age, you could also have them make patterns with different colors.)
  • Letter/number ordering with pool noodles (Parents: write letters/numbers onto pool noodle pieces with a Sharpie and do the same as above, having your child thread them in order)
  • String beads on twine to make a necklace
  • String penne or macaroni on twine to make a necklace
  • Do this rainbow pasta threading activity from Hello Wonderful
  • Or this super popular Cheerio activity from Messy Little Monster
  • String beads onto pipe cleaners to make bracelets
  • Or use Froot Loops instead of beads, and form the pipe cleaners into fun shapes
  • Do lacing cards with shoestrings
  • Thread colored beads onto matching silly straws
  • Or string the beads onto feathers like this activity from Mother Natured
  • Thread straws through hole-punched toilet paper rolls
  • Or thread pipe cleaners through the holes of a pasta strainer
  • Do the number weave by Toddler at Play
  • Try leaf threading by Kids Craft Room
  • Or 2D shape threading by Planning Playtime
  • Stitch a yarn picture like this activity from Toddler at Play
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Peeling

Peeling is another pinch-related activity. But involves a level-up on coordination.

Sticker Tracing -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Use sticker dots to trace name
  • Use sticker dots to make picture on the wall (covered by a paper) like this activity from Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Peel painter’s tape off of a surface
  • Play animal rescue from Busy Toddler
  • Make a picture in a sticker book
  • Peel paper off crayons
  • Peel a clementine like a Halo or Cutie (a parent may need to pre-start depending on age/ability)
  • Take the shells off cracked hard-boiled eggs
  • Dismantle a tape & saran-wrap ball (Parents: you can also put objects inside that your child can “rescue” as they peel the ball back more and more)
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Squeezing

What I’m terming “squeezing” is similar to pinching but can involve more fingers (even all of them). These activities help build grip strength.

Sorting with Tongs -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Use hand-held hole punch to make holes in strips of paper (save as confetti for art projects)
  • Use tongs to sort pom-pom balls by color
  • You can even sort them into the bottom slots of MegaBlocks like this activity from Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Use punch out stamps to make designs on paper strips
  • Sort painted clothespins by color by attaching them to paper of the same color
  • Cap Twist-Off Board from Happy Toddler Playtime
  • Measure cooked spaghetti into bowls using tongs
  • Feed beads or other small objects to a tennis ball creature like this activity from My Life With Littles
  • Spray house plants with a spray bottle
  • Recycled squeeze bottle play (from the OT Toolbox)
  • Do poke pictures (at parent’s discretion) like these from Your Therapy Source
  • Use a pipette to pinch water droplets onto a painting palette or bottle caps
Water Pipette Squeeze -- Fine Motor Activities
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Cutting

Cutting involves grip strength as well as proper hand placement (which takes awareness). It also requires a certain level of coordination. Let your child practice on as many mediums as possible.

Cutting Play-Doh -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Cut Play-Doh to make fun shapes
  • Make Play-Doh grass or hair; then give it a trim
  • Create toilet-paper-roll people; then give them hair cuts
  • Cut lines, zig-zags & squiggles on paper strips
  • Cut fringe all around a paper plate (make a fun craft like a sun, lion, porcupine, or dandelion)
  • Go outside and cut things you find in nature (grass, leaves, flowers, stems, dirt clods, etc.)
  • Cut rubber bands of different thicknesses
  • Cut strings and measure their lengths to see which are longest & shortest
  • Cut apple slices into cubes
  • Cut silly putty
  • Cut gelatin
  • Cut cheese sticks
  • Cut different types of cloth and compare how they each feel
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Tracing

When you feel your child is ready and they can properly hold a pencil, it’s time to let them trace! But it doesn’t just have to be pencil and paper. Since kids learn best through play, let them toy with as many different ways of “tracing” as they can.

Highlighter Tracing -- Fine Motor Activities
  • Use a Qtip & paint to dot-trace letters
  • Shape Play-Doh into letters on letter mats
  • Use fettuccine noodles to trace straight patterns, letters & numbers
  • Use dry-erase markers to trace patterns, letters & numbers on sheets in slip-covers
  • Use fat highlighters to trace lines
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Until next time,

Audriana

How to Teach Your Child One-to-One Correspondence While Counting

Inside: Is your child having trouble with counting objects? This is how I taught my 2-year-old one-to-one correspondence.

How to Teach Your Child One-to-One Correspondence (plus 4 FREE printables!)

Psst.. just a DISCLOSURE: Some of the links in this post are through Amazon Affiliates. That just means that Amazon gives me a small piece of the sale if you click one of the links and make a purchase. At NO ADDITIONAL COST to you!

We don’t always think about the building blocks that need to be in place for early learning. All the little cogs within the machine of our children’s brains.

Enter one-to-one correspondence. “One-to-one correspondence” is just a fancy term for the ability to keep track of what objects have been counted and what objects haven’t. It
was one of those things that I hadn’t really thought about but that plays a role in the way our children process early math information.

When kids are little, they sometimes count objects twice or skip over counting some of them altogether. It’s because their brains haven’t begun to realize that each object needs to be counted and counted only once.

Counting Flower -- One-to-One Correspondence

As kids grow and learn, one-to-one correspondence is normally picked up. But we can actually help our kids learn it faster by giving a concrete way for their brains to recognize what’s happening while counting.

And while it may seem like something difficult (it often seems hard to teach things that we don’t even think about!), it’s actually really simple.

How to Teach One-to-One Correspondence

So how do we go about teaching one-to-one correspondence?

For my quick video explanation over on our YouTube channel, click here:

Since recording the video, I created a few free printable options you can use for counting with your little one. Input your name and email below, and I’ll drop the download into your inbox! (By subscribing, you’ll also get our weekly email newsletter)

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IF YOU’RE ALREADY SUBSCRIBED, head over to the free resource library to download the counting mats!

One-to-One Correspondence Printables

Using These Printables

The simplest way to teach one-to-one correspondence is by showing the objects moving from one concrete area to another.

First, you need a group of objects. You can try counting cubes, counting bears, the glass stones that I use in the video, cotton balls, Cheerios… almost ANYTHING! It just needs to be small enough to fit on the spaces provided on the printable.

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Of course, be careful of choking hazards (I know you already know this).

Next, pick which printable you actually want to use. You could pick the flower or bee hive printables and act like you’re moving buzzing bumble bees. Or use the lily pad printable and act like they’re hopping frogs. Or use the barnyard printable, and let your child pretend to be a farmer moving horses.

Whichever one you choose, make a game out of it! Kids learn best through play.

Bee Hive Counting -- One-to-One Correspondence
If you use The Good and the Beautiful Math K curriculum, you can use the bee manipulatives for this counting activity too!

Next put all of your objects into the first space (flower, hive, lily pad, or fence). Then you’ll have your child slide the objects from the first space to the second, counting the objects out loud while moving them.

The first few times, you’ll likely want to put your hand on top of theirs while they move their manipulatives (just so they get the hang of it) and count out loud with them. As they begin to understand, hang back and see how many they can count on their own.

How Does This Work?

Like I said above, it’s easier to show one-to-one correspondence when moving things from one concrete area to another. Why is that?

Excuse me while I nerd out for a moment…

We can actually think of these two separate areas as groups. So one group consists of things that haven’t been counted while the other is made up of the things that have been counted. As your child moves the objects from one group to the next, it begins to solidify pathways in their brain.

Farm Counting -- One-to-One Correspondence

Our understanding works best when we can see and interact with something in a concrete form first. Our brains can then begin to process how that concept works. Then we’re able to process that same information in more abstract ways.

Of course, all of that isn’t something we explain to our kids, but I love understanding what is happening in their minds.

This is a simple activity, but it’s extremely effective in helping our little ones to understand how to count objects correctly.

If you haven’t subscribed to get your printables yet, don’t forget to do so before you go by plugging in your name & email here: (I promise not to SPAM you or share your info)

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What other ways have you found for helping children understand one-to-one correspondence? I’d love for you to share, so leave those in the comments below!

Until next time,

Audriana

New here? Learn more about our family on this page, and visit our YouTube channel.

Homeschooling a 2-Year-Old | Fun Learning Activities for Your Little One

Inside: Thinking about teaching your little one at home? Homeschooling a 2 year old is simple with these educational activities!

Homeschooling a 2-Year-Old | Fun Learning Activities for Your Toddler

Hi, friend!

If you haven’t seen my original post on homeschooling a 2-year-old over on my first blog, you can check it out here:

Homeschooling a 2 Year Old post on plantingvineyards.com

Last summer, I began homeschooling my 2-year-old daughter, as radical as that sounds. She was thirsting for knowledge, and I was more than willing to oblige. Homeschooling had been on my heart for years, so beginning to teach her just made sense.

What I DIDN’T want to do was make learning a dull experience and crush her blossoming curiosity before it truly got the chance to take root.

Our daughter ready for her homeschool lesson

So while I gave structure to her interest, we were also careful to keep learning fun. And before I knew it, we had sailed through nearly all of what I’d hoped to complete for the YEAR in only 6 months!

I quickly regrouped, got other (more challenging) materials, and she’s continuing to thrive.

So I want to share with you everything that we’ve used in the past year and how we implemented it.

Homeschooling a 2-Year-Old

Some of these learning activities are things we’ve done all year. Others are things we started in January or have slowly incorporated over time. We don’t do all of them in a day but follow a flexible weekly rotation. I may do a post or video of our general weekly schedule later on.

But these are the activities that we do on a regular basis to keep her engaged, challenged, and happy!

(To see a selection of the preschool homeschool curriculum we use and experience the general gist of homeschooling a 2-year-old, watch this video!)

Psst.. some of the following links are affiliate links through Amazon. That means that (at no additional cost to you), I’m compensated when you click a link and make a purchase. I promise to only recommend products that I personally use and love!

Calendar

Every day, we start off our structured educational time by using our Melissa & Doug calendar. We go over the date, day of the week, season, temperature, weather, any special activities for the day, upcoming holidays, and her feelings for the day.

Calendar activity for small children -- Melissa and Doug calendar for homeschooling a 2 year old

During this time, I allow her to answer as many things as she can on her own. So for example, she’s usually able to tell me the month, year, season, temperature, holidays (once we’ve gone over them a day or two before), and feelings.

We look up the weather together on my phone. To figure out the date, we count together to see which number comes next. For the day of the week, we sing our song, which you can hear in this video. (Be kind! It was one of the first videos I ever recorded, and I wasn’t used to being on camera.)

I use the activities portion to get her ready for any transition that we’ll need to do later on in the day (like having a doctor’s visit).

BUY THE CALENDAR HERE

The Good and the Beautiful PreK

I am NOT an affiliate for The Good and the Beautiful. Nor is this a sponsored post for them. I make NOTHING from recommending their curriculum to you. But I still recommend it because it’s something we truly enjoy, and I’ve seen my daughter thrive while using their products.

The Good and the Beautiful Pre K is full of great learning activities for homeschooling a 2-year-old

This is something we started in January and are loving!

Before purchasing, I watched lots of reviews and read plenty of blogs to make sure this was something that she could benefit from. After taking the plunge, I couldn’t be more happy.

Arwyn is writing letters, knows the difference between upper and lower case letters, and is solidifying her understanding of all letter sounds.

Letter Flip Books (Learning Activity)
Letter Flip Books (Learning Activity)

Plus, the curriculum is open-and-go, meaning I don’t have to plan that portion of our homeschool day. I just write down that we’ll be doing 1 lesson from the Good and the Beautiful on any given day and know that when we get there, whatever she learns will be relevant to what she’s been learning.

You can learn more about The Good and the Beautiful homeschool curriculum here.

And see my FULL REVIEW on the Pre-K curriculum here.

Bible

We do Bible lessons a few times a week. At one point, we did them daily, but I felt that the information was getting jumbled for her. So we slowed it down a little and do a quick refresh of each passage on off-days.

This year we used this children’s Bible story book.

Our Bible for our small children -- just one of the many parts I love about our homeschool day.

I like it for the most part. There are a few things that I found didn’t stick to the Bible story being read, but this happened in only a few instances. otherwise, it was great at telling each story simply while still hitting all the main points and keeping her interested!

You can BUY READ ME A BIBLE STORY 365 HERE

Letter Acorns

These were a Christmas gift that Arwyn got from her pappaw, and they have already proved their worth. Even on days when they aren’t part of my general lesson plan, Arwyn asks to do them.

Letter Acorns Learning Activity -- perfect for homeschooling a 2 year old.

Each acorn has a capital letter, and the lids have the lower case letter on the inside. They also come with little figures (like a pig, zebra, apple, etc.) that fit inside each acorn.

In the beginning, I had her only practice matching upper and lower case letters while saying the names of the letters. But now she puts the figures into their corresponding acorns too.

It’s a simple learning activity for her that’s also effective.

BUY THE LETTER ACORNS HERE

Toddler Learning Folder

I am NOT an affiliate for this product.

We’ve used this since August last year, and she loved it! It was part of our daily routine, but now we usually stick to 1 or 2 days a week (because many of the activities in the folder are no longer a challenge for her).

We used this Toddler Learning Folder as we began homeschooling our 2 year old.
Toddler Learning Folder

This binder teaches letters, numbers, shapes, colors, seasons, fruit, animals, days of the week, articles of clothing, body parts, counting, vowels, visual discrimination, continents, and even planets.

All of the activities are great practice, and Arwyn learned so quickly with this binder! It gave her a great foundation that we’re now building upon. If you’re thinking of homeschooling a 2-year-old, I couldn’t recommend it enough as a starting point!

You can visit Jady A’s site on Teachers Pay Teachers and purchase the printable binder HERE.

Name Letter Unscramble

This is something I created on my own. All you need is an index card, scissors, and a marker.

Teaching my 2 year old to spell her name during homeschool time

I cut the index card in half (hot dog style) and wrote her name on the upper half. Then I cut the lower half into 5 smaller rectangles (for the 5 letters of her name) and wrote a letter on each piece.

Every morning, I would lay down the long piece with her name written on it and ask her to match the cut letters. She was able to spell and recognize her own name within only a couple weeks of starting.

Counting Puzzle

This was another Christmas gift for our homeschool.

Counting Learning Activities for a 2-Year-Old

Some of the pieces are for counting, and others are for basic addition and subtraction. With Arwyn, I’ve just used the counting ones so far. It took a while for her to understand one-to-one correspondence, and I don’t want to confuse her until she’s fully solid with her counting skills.

These puzzle pieces are brightly-colored and great as added practice for counting, addition, and subtraction.

You can BUY THEM HERE.

(It also comes with a spelling puzzle set that the kids enjoy too!)

Wipe-Clean Books

Your little one can practice, wipe it clean, and use it again next time. With young children who are just learning to trace, it’s great to not have to waste paper!

Plus, it’s exciting for them when they get to use colorful Expo markers.

Wipe-Clean Books are perfect writing practice for 2-Year-Olds

Some of our favorite wipe-clean books are:

Library

We enjoy trips to the library once a week (although we didn’t go every week when it was super cold). So I incorporated library time into our homeschool routine.

For more on that, check out this video:

Arts & Crafts

I know that not every mom is big into arts and crafts ( I get it!), but we do them as much as we can. I used to try to do them daily, but with adding other activities, that’s just not possible anymore. So we usually do a couple every week.

Crafts have helped Arwyn bring letters to life. We do them for every letter she’s learning to write.

Letter Crafts for Small Children -- Homeschooling a 2-Yer-Old

We also have done paintings or colored pencil drawings to go with Bible units.

Animal Flashcards

We’ve used these since the beginning of the year, incorporating a few animals at a time.

Animal Flashcards Learning Activity for 2-year-olds

I have the deck separated by ones she knows, ones we’re working on, and ones we haven’t started yet.

Animal Flashcards (Learning Activity for 2 year olds)

When she says the names of the animals, we make silly sounds together and pretend to be the animals. It’s a way to make using flashcards more fun for her, and she often asks to say her animals.

BUY SOME HERE

KiwiCo STEAM Boxes

KiwiCo is a company that encourages kids to fall in love with science, technology, engineering, art, and math. With a subscription, you get a crate shipped to your door every month. They’ve sent us crates with space projects, a claw arcade game, rainbows, musical instruments, ocean studies, a kaleidoscope, bug activities, and more.

STEAM learning Activities for 2-Year-Olds

We LOVE KiwiCo. All of my kids really enjoy STEAM activities anyway, so these crates were destined to be a hit.

We don’t get one every month, but every box that we’ve gotten, the kids thoroughly enjoy. And they’re fairly reasonably-priced.

To sign up for KiwiCo, you can use my link and get $10 off your first crate!

Sensory and Fine Motor

We do lots of sensory as well as little fine motor activities.

One thing that combines both of them is this great Play-Doh Shape and Learn set we got in December. Of course Play-Doh is a sensory medium but this box set also encourages fine motor skills.

Play-Doh Learning Activity for 2-year-olds

For example, after we stamp out some fun butterfly shapes, Arwyn can pick them up with the tweezers included in the box and drop them into one of the beakers while she counts them.

We have the “Make and Measure” set, but Play-Doh makes many other Shape and Learn boxes as well. Any of them would be great to use while homeschooling a 2-year-old.

BUY THE PLAY-DOH MAKE & MEASURE SET HERE

A few other great fine motor tasks are using a hole punch, doing scissor work, and clothespin play. We’ve especially been focusing on scissors lately (i.e. how to hold them properly, what it feels like to cut paper, and trying to cut on simple lines).

For more fine motor activity ideas, check out this post:

It may seem like age 2 is a little early to start practicing with scissors, but there are plenty of safety scissors that are great for little ones. It’s something Arwyn really enjoys and that also helps her.gain more hand-eye coordination.

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Some of Our Favorite Books

We also have a deep love for reading. Some of Arwyn’s favorites include:

Interested in homeschooling your 2-year-old? Or maybe you already do! I’d love to hear what other people do for toddler learning activities, so comment below!

Until next time,

Audriana

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