Sep 04

“To Be” Sentence Puzzles

by Hannah Holt »


My five-year-old starts kindergarten tomorrow (sniff, sniff).


He’s a great kid and he’ll be fine. I, on the otherhand, turn into a bowl of melted butter just thinking about him leaving for school. He’s a joy to have around and one of my biggest helpers with these two:

Dahlia Festival Double Trouble

Like many young learners, my five-year-old is experimenting with his expanding vocabulary. English is a tricky language, and those darn irregular verbs like to trip his tongue. So I made a reference chart and a few sentence puzzles to help him remember how the “to be” verbs change around:

To be conjugation

Because the plural verbs are the most consistent, I start by having my son ask the question, “Is there more than one thing I am talking about?” If the answer is yes, then the conjugation is straightforward. If not, we try to pick out the right verb together.

Here are sentence puzzles for theĀ past tense (click on the link for pdf):

Past tense to be

You’ll see I only made a singular and a plural sentence. You could modify this for other options (like “I” by taping a picture of your child to the puzzle piece and modifying the sentence with a permanent marker).

Here are the present tense puzzles. This is the most complicated tense, so I madeĀ two more options:




Finally we have the easiest tense of all: future tense.

Future tense to be

Lastly, these puzzles are meant to be an enjoyable activity. If your five-year-old is frustrated or things are getting “tense,” take a break. It’ll be okay. Irregular verbs are tricky. Overtime your child will master it.

Aug 08

Moving with Small Children

by Hannah Holt »


What it looks like:

box climbing

What it feels like:


Me moved houses! It was a good move for our family, and we are lucky/thrilled/happy to be in our new place. But I also spent most of the last few weeks packing and trying to keep permanent markers and box cutters away from two-year-olds. That’s part of the reason the blog has been quiet this month.

Also, summer isn’t complete without at least a few shenanigans. We’ve been taking day trips to the coast and visiting family.

Oregon Coast

We went to a carnival at our church last Saturday. The lady at the water booth asked my son, “Is it okay with your mother if you get wet?”

To which he replied, “It’s okay. She’s letting us roam free.”

He summed up my parenting style rather nicely:


I hope you all enjoy a lovely, unstructured, and carefree rest of your summer. See you in September with more crafts, games, and books.

Jan 28

Snatching the Moon

by Hannah Holt »


Yesterday evening felt like spring. The kids and I played in the backyard until the moon came up.

Just before I called everyone inside, my son wanted me to watch him pinch the moon. I caught this picture:

It inspired me to write this…


Last night I stole the moon

and hid it in my pocket.

I found the pathway leading home

and did my best to walk it.


But night was thick about my face.

I stumbled with each try.

So I returned my pocket-moon

to light me from the sky.


Have you ever caught the moon?

Jan 21

Yin Yang Cake

by Hannah Holt »


Two years ago, twin girls joined our family.

Now my wee girls are busy toddlers.

On the outside, my girls are mirror copies of each other. They look so much alike that they still don’t “know” their own names (People are always mixing them up, so they get a lot of name confusion.)

However, they don’t need to know their names to know who they are. They’ve always had distinct personalities. One of my twins likes to walk around the house with me, chatting away in her half-speak. My other girl prefers to sit and look at the pictures in books. Give her a chunky puzzle and she’ll be entertained for most the morning. Of course both my girls love being read to, played with, and taken on walks. But watch them for more than thirty seconds, and it’s not difficult to figure out who is who.

If having twins has taught me anything, it’s this– genes may shape a person, but they don’t make one.

So for their second birthday, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to make them separate cakes or one cake. I mean, two cakes is a lot of cake! In the end, I decided to make two separate but connected cakes. I call it the yin yang cake:

1. I took this recipe for marble cake, but instead of marbling it, I poured the chocolate and vanilla batter into separate nine-inch cake pans. I also adjusted the baking time from 50 minutes to 25 minutes.

2. After the cakes cooled on a wire rack, I cut each cake into the yin-yang shape. I did this by tracing the bottom of the cake pan onto paper, folding the paper in half, and making sure my yin and yang signs were well balanced.

3. I made one batch of vanilla butter cream frosting, divided it into two bowls, and mixed 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa into one bowl of frosting. I ended up with one bowl of vanilla frosting and one bowl of chocolate frosting. I stacked and frosted each side of the cake separately.

4. Then I brought the two cakes together (using spatulas) to have one yin yang cake.

It’s a cake with something for everyone. You could have a slice of vanilla cake or a slice of chocolate cake… or a little of both!



Oct 25

Garage Playland

by Hannah Holt »


I live in Oregon. A light rain shower in October can last through July. With winter approaching, I wanted a go-crazy room for the kids. We have a three bedroom house and four children. Extra rooms are in short supply, so we converted part of our garage into an indoor playland. The kids love it. For about the same price as a Children’s Museum membership, I have my own museum. Actually, it’s better than a museum because I don’t have to buckle and unbuckle four car seats to get there. No clickety-click-click-click, only to find out someone left their shoes at home.

Here’s how we did it:

1. Flooring from Rubber Flooring, Inc. With free shipping, their prices can’t be beat. Also the flooring was easy to install. My four-year-old put part of it together.

2. I wanted the toddlers separated from other areas of the garage, so we corralled them with North States plastic play yard fencing. I found mine on craigslist, but you can find the original here. We secured the fencing into place with the help of few 2x4s and screws. (We didn’t make a gate, but my four year-old can climb over the fencing… and the toddlers are stuck until I get them. Bwahahaha!)

3. Then I filled the play space with items I already had on hand. I gave our FisherPrice play structure a good scrubbing and moved it inside (also originally a craigslist find). We selected some of the children’s toys to keep in the garage, and we painted colorful pictures to hang on the walls.

4. Finally we hung berry netting between our car and the play place. Trains occasionally take flight at our house. We didn’t want anything “accidentally” colliding with the car.

The rains have just begun, and it’s already been a life saver!