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DIY ♻️ Recycled ✂️Materials for Homeschool

Montessori materials can be 💰costly,  so I love finding an alternative. Below I will show you some of the DIYs I have created to substitute some of the materials you would generally purchase. 

DIY Color Matching + Fine Motor Pegging

 This DIY resembles matching Montessori Color Tablets ~ similar to Color Box 2 ~ a traditional Sensorial material introduced to toddlers starting at 2 ½ years old. 

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With this activity, besides simply matching color samples from your local hardware store, offer your child to practice fine motor skills by matching colored clothespins and also graduating pegs in order from smallest to largest or vice versa. And if you have plain wooden pegs, just color them either with Sharpies (what we used) or use tempera stick paints which are awesome too!

IMG_1020To learn more about Montessori 🌈Color Boxes, read here a detailed post with presentations on boxes one through three on my blog Montessori Color Box 1, 2 & 3 (Color tablets).


DIY Montessori Sandpaper Numbers:

Sandpaper Numbers are also easy to make at home.
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What you will need:

  • green cardstock to resemble the traditional Montessori Sandpaper Numbers
  • sandpaper from your local hardware store,
  • scissors (children are also using a paper cutter for more precision)
  • and glue.

 Having your child make or help you make these DIY Sandpaper NUmbers will only ignite the excitement, promoting interest and engagement.

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By sensorily feeling the number, the child is able to perceive the symbol through senses other than just visual. For more on Sandpaper Numbers, see here 🖐️Sandpaper 🔢 Numbers (Montessori 🔢 Math 101 🎥 Series 🎇 Curriculum).


 ♻️RECYCLED ✂️ DIY PUZZLES
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Do you have an old magazine? Recycled old books? Expired calendars? How about turning them into homemade DIY puzzles!

DSC_0221-2Cut out a picture, laminate it (if you don't have a laminating machine iron works great too) and cut it in as many pieces as you think your child can handle. For smaller children, just cut a picture in half; for older in quarters or even eighths. 


DSC_0221-2And why not turn this ♻️RECYCLED ✂️DIY puzzle into a 🐋matching animals game! 

  IMG_1146See here DIY 🍂Fall Inspired Puzzle.

I am using a double-sided 🍂Fall picture I found in a catalog. With this type of DIY puzzle, you can adjust 📈📉the level of difficulty based on your child's age. With smaller children, 📉choose a bright image with many objects and cut in fewer pieces (2 or 4 squares) or simply cut the picture vertically, for easier assembly. 📈With older children, the smaller the pieces, the harder it will be to assemble the puzzle😉so cut it accordingly to your child's level.


♻️DIY TIC TAC TOE

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Do your children play tic tac toe? It's a 🤗fun game and an easy ♻️✂️DIY if you have 💦water bottle caps and 🍡ice pop sticks (any craft sticks will do), and a glue gun.

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♻️DIY 🍡Pop-Sticks, Pegs & Dot Stickers 🔴 ➕🔵 Addition Activity

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This is a super easy and fun ♻️ math 🔢 ➕addition DIY where I ✍🏻️wrote ➕equations on 🍡pop-sticks, and as a control of error, a child can flip that same 🍡 and confirm the answer by counting the 🔴🔵dot-stickers. See here a 🎥video of Adrian solving all the ➕equations as well as how to make this ♻️DIY in a video post ♻️DIY 🍡Pop-Sticks, Pegs & Dot Stickers 🔴 ➕🔵 Addition Activity (Montessori 🔢 Math 🎥 Lesson).


 DIY ♻️Paper Towel Roll 🔤Alphabet Matching Activity

DSC_0109I wrote with a Sharpie upper and lower case alphabet letters on dot stickers, making sure that lower and upper of the same letter were color-matching. 

IMG_1149Since lower case letters are more prevalent, I had Adrian match lower to upper case letters which were sporadically arranged on a paper towel roll. He would simply stick the lower case on top of the upper case.  For some introductory language lessons, see here our Letter Series post. To learn about Montessori Phonetical Sets of Presenting Alphabet letters,  (see here) Set 1:     First set: c  m  a  t  . For early reading, see here "Montessori CVC Picture Word cards with wooden Clothespins (💗Pink Series 🎥 Early Reading)."   Also, see here "Montessori 💗 Pink Series  "e" sound (Language 101 🎥 Series 🎇 Curriculum)."


 ♻️DIY Montessori🍡Popsicles Spindle Box
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In a Montessori Math curriculum, at around two years of age, after introducing Number Rods and Sandpaper Numbers you would introduce Spindle Box (buy here), which teaches a child the difference between the numeral (a 🔢 number/symbol written on a wooden box's slot) and quantity (substance, like when a child is holding actual spindles in his/her hands). The box has numerals zero to nine written on separate slots, and a child concretely learns that one is not a much, while nine is a lot! See here a detailed post "Spindle Box & Sandpaper 🔢Numbers Extensions (Montessori Math)."
DSC_0237Montessori Spindle Box is also an easy DIY activity using any compartments (like utensils organizer), and anything substantial representing quantity a child can hold with the whole hand such as pens, crayons and why not 🍡 popsicle sticks. (Montessori materials need Not be 💸expensive.)


 DIY ♻️Recycled 📦 Cardboard 🔢Numbers & Counters ✋🏻Tactile DIY  DSC_0097

First, the child learns the shape of the number by making it from a pipe cleaner, then through the sense of ✋🏻touch, the child reinforces numeral vs quantity association by counting pom poms.

For more DIYs, see here ✂️DIY, Crafts & Materials.

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Montessori ☮️PEACE Shelfie (Grace &Courtesy, Gratitude, Pillars of a Peaceful Character)

Montessori education has been referred to as "peace education" and even Gandhi praised Montessori's approach to world peace. "If we are to teach real peace in this world... we shall have to begin with the children."—Mahatma Gandhi. So, how is PEACE cultivated in a Montessori environment? Maria Montessori believed in freedom of movement, the power of observation, and the need to "follow the child." So, since children in a Montessori classroom are free to choose an activity and work at their pace, as well as are free to move around the classroom, the teacher's main goal is to make sure that children are engaged in their prepared environment and offered an opportunity for immense concentration. "Work cycles" are valued and protected, allowing children to experience the sense of security, satisfaction, and joy from their uninterrupted work.

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Also, through Grace and Courtesy lessons, children are given tools for peacefully resolving conflicts and thus cultivating a peaceful, productive and harmonious environment for learning. Children are proactively shown by example how to respect a classmate's work, how to carefully walk around a work rug, or how to interrupt politely.

Moreover, by teaching children gratitude as a part of peace education, we can ensure that they have all the tools they would need to meet every situation with a mindset of abundance, appreciation, and joy. Gratitude is a powerful mindset of "having enough" which brings the fullness of life, and we as parents and teachers can play a vital role in helping our children learn a lifelong appreciation for what we already have, rather than what we do notMontessori pedagogy defines gratitude as an active appreciation for the everyday elements that nourish the whole child — including their growing bodies, minds, and spirits. Despite the obvious benefits that gratitude offers developing minds, neuroscience proves just how effective daily gratitude can be: improved physical and psychological well-being, higher self-esteem, and even longer lifespans. Exercises in Grace and Courtesy reflect Montessori's method of “peace education” when children are shown ways to roleplay situations to use “please” and “thank you” or to offer help to a friend in need, as well as using manners at the right time and place. With regular gentile reinforcement, simple scenarios would prompt children to exercise grace, courtesy, and gratitude when the situation requires. So, to help children slow down and plant a seed of gratitude, we can create a PEACE shelf or a corner which would provide a child with a space for regular self-reflection.

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Our ☮️PEACE shelf is an inviting place where Julia and Adrian can go to throughout the day to check-in with themselves and observe their ever-changing emotions. With a zen garden to touch and feel, a mindful puzzle to assemble, a smelling box to sensorially stimulate the olfactory sense of smell, children know that they have a place where they can quiet their mind and focus on the present moment.

What is on our ☮️Peace Shelf:

  • Pewter Labyrinth (buy here) with a stylus for 'walking' it. Tracing the labyrinth path is an ancient meditation form often described as a path to wisdom and peace and commonly used as a tool for personal reflection, psychological and spiritual transformation, and comfort. A child would run a fingertip or a stylus along the grooved path. And because labyrinths are right-brain activity enhancers, tracing a labyrinth path is calming for both: adults and children. 
  • Tibetian Singing Bowl (made in Nepal) with leather wrapped wooden stricker (buy here) is one of my children's favorite meditational tools. Once they had learned how to make the bowl "sing" the healing sound is nothing I have heard before.
  • Four Pebbles to accompany a book A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles (buy here - read about it here);
  • Wooden hand-made Dove puzzle (buy here) which symbolizes peace and harmony.
  • Wooden Mandala puzzle (buy here) is hand-painted in ecological colors, presenting an intricate combination of beauty and aesthetics for children to work on peacefully. (Each puzzle is unique and made to order.) 
  • Tibetan Buddhist Wooden Prayer 8 mm Beads Wrist Mala Bracelet (buy here or similar here) is handmade in Nepal and is of exceptional quality.
  • Scented Calming Box (see below);
  • Thai Blessing Zen Buddha statue (buy here or similar here) is a perfect addition to our peace corner as it diversifies our peace education, opening doors to discussing an inspiring story of a prince who renounced the glory and riches in a pursuit of enlightenment. 
  • Zen🕉 Garden Meditation Sandbox (below/buy here) is a type of Mindfulness Meditation: a miniature version of the traditional Japanese meditative garden, where assorted objects provide visual interest and a counterpoint to the garden's serene patterns. (More about Zen Garden here.)

This Zen Garden is also an easy DIY, and all you need to participate in the art of Zen gardening:

  • purified sand (you can also use salt, sugar, polenta or any other tiny grain),
  • small objects: e.g. marbles, polished rocks (we also added a starfish, shark tooth etc.),
  • a small rake,
  • and a tray to contain everything.

 

Dealing with Conflict

Children are born mindful, and with wisdom we can keep this skill alive: 'Montessori is wonderful in this way'. - The Dalai Lama.

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In Montessori ☮️PEACE education, when two children are experiencing conflict, it can be difficult for each child to truly listen to what the other child is saying. To assist with this, one child can hold a symbol of ☮️PEACE, which generally, in a Montessori classroom, is a🌹 rose (we are using a handmade ❤️heart; a 🕊dove can also be used). A child holding it would state why s/he is upset and then pass the ☮️symbol to the other child who then has a chance to respond, passing back and forth until each child had expressed their feelings and felt adequately acknowledged. Finally, reconciliation would end with a handshake signaling ☮️ PEACE. So, when Julia and Adrian would have a disagreement, I would gently remind them to go to their ☮️PEACE corner and retrieve the ❤️ and speak their hearts💖. They would then sit across from each other on the rug and express their frustrations. Let me tell you, it always works and the PEACE is signaled with a hug. (You may download Peace Table Cards with instructions on how to deal with conflict for free here - I had purchased them from here.) 

 

Building A Peaceful Character

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A Peaceful character of the child develops since birth when s/he observes unconditional love, tender care, patience and absence of violence. And "violence" needs not be physical, which is very obvious; at times, phycological violence (taking on a verbal form) can be even more detrimental than physical since it is inconspicuous. Leading by example, by being kind, tolerant and loving, we can show our child that this world can be trusted, that the child can feel safe and secure in it, both outside and inside. And, as the child gets older, you can discuss the pillars, on which a strong loving and peaceful character can be built. 


DSC_0013We are using finger puppets to represent each foundational pillar. 
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The six pillars of a Peaceful Character are (download the pdf here or click the link here):

  • Respect
  • Caring
  • Fairness
  • Responsibility
  • Trustworthiness
  • Citizenship.

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We can help build a peaceful world by building our own character with values and qualities that would shape our finest thoughts, actions/reactions, and feelings.

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One of our PEACE materials is a scented calming box. You can add anything that might calm your child like a cinnamon stick or pieces of lavender, or scented dried fruits. For some reasons, this is the first material both of my children open when they retrieve our PEACE box from the shelf.

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  “Peace is what every human being is craving for, and it can be brought about by humanity through the child.”  - Maria Montessori.


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Our ☮️Peace Inspired📚Books:

  1. Silence Book (buy here) gently encourages children to stop, listen, and reflect on their experiences and the world around them.
  2. If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World's People (buy here) explores the lives of the hundred villagers. Children will discover that life in other nations is often very different from their own. If the World Were a Village is part of CitizenKid: a collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens.
  3. The Listening Walk book (buy here) is one of the children's favorite! Discover your world filled with wonderful and surprising sounds which otherwise get drowned-out in our noisy environment.
  4. A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles book (buy here) shows a child a concrete way to be mindful by connecting to a pebble representing an image of nature.
  5. Meditation Is an Open Sky book (buy here) offers a terrific introduction to simple child-friendly mindfulness/meditation exercises.
  6. What is God? book (buy here) is an eloquent introduction to the ideas behind God and various religion, which brings forward complex ideas in a way children will understand. It is written with a simple clarity and beautifully illustrated with just the right blend of seriousness and humor.
  7. Maria Montessori: A Biography For And By Children book (buy here) is written in a simple child-accessible way and is full of children's drawings depicting the life of Maria Montessori.
  8. Mindful Movements: Ten Exercises for Well-Being book (buy here) offers children gentle series of physical movements based on Yoga and Tai Chi movements, as an approach to Buddhist teachings. Mindful Movements book is a great meditational "yoga" manual: simple enough for a child to follow and substantial enough to provide a simple base for meditational movements.

DSC_0014 For more book ideas, see here "☮️PEACE Education•Have you Filled a Bucket Today? 📚Book."  

IMG_9207Read here 🎥 "Emotions (Body) •Feelings (Mind) ✂️DIY 😃😮😡😢☹️😆Puppets ♻️🚽Craft."

For more about our ☮️PEACE Education, read here "🕉Mindfulness with Children." 

For more on Gratitude and Thanksgiving, read here "🙏Thankful 🌳Tree🍂 • 🦃Thanksgiving Inspired ✂️Craft."

For more on Thanksgiving-Inspired activities, see here "🦃Thanksgiving Inspired Homeschooling 101 Unit Study." 

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Our 🌸Spring Inspired 📖Learning Space

As seasons change, from winter to spring, Adrian is becoming more and more aware of the surrounding environment, and awareness leads to questions. Why do seasons change? Are seasons ever late? When will it be 🌨winter again? So, I dedicated a shelf to 🌸🌳🍂☃️ seasons, where Adrian can observe nature and reflect hands-on. 

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"How does the child assimilate his environment? It begins with a knowledge of his surroundings... This is an intense and specialized sensitiveness in consequence of which the things about him awaken so much interest and so much enthusiasm that they become incorporated in his very existence. The child absorbs these impressions not with his mind, but with his life itself." ~ The Absorbent Mind, p. 22. Dr. Maria Montessori. 

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To represent the current season ~ 🌸Spring 🌱~ I found this beautiful Wall Art Canvas Claude Monet reproduction: Irises in Monet's Garden 16 x 12  for $13 (buy here ~ different sizes available). I intend to change these reproductions every season. For the summer, I will hang the Water Lilies by Claude Monet Oil Painting reproduction (buy here).

DSC_0102Laminated matching Seasons Cards are on the shelf as well as nature's finds and a microscope. See our Microscope Study here

DSC_0072Fresh flower arrangements are one of the most desired Practical Life Activities. See here a detailed lesson in a post 🍂Fall Inspired 🌼Flower ✂️Arranging Activity.

There must be [a] provision for the child to have contact with nature, to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in it… so that the child may better understand and participate in the marvelous things which civilization creates.  ~ The Secret of Childhood ~ Dr. Maria Montessori. 

DSC_0102To the message board on the left (buy similar here), Adrian can pin the current season's cards.

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"From the age of three till six, being able now to tackle his environment deliberately and consciously, [the child] begins a period of real constructiveness." ~ Dr. Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, p.  152. 

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Below is our geography area (if you like our shelves ~ buy them here), where I organized animals by their continental habitat according to Montessori continental color-coding. See our original lesson on Montessori Colored 🌈 Continent 🌎Globe here where I explained how in Montessori Cultural and Science curriculum continents are consistently color-coded (North America is always orange, Europe ~ red, Asia ~ yellow, and so forth).
DSC_0038On the bottom shelf, we also have the Language Tower with Pink and Green Letter Series and some sensorial materials.
DSC_0032Did you know that tigers live only in Asia? Tigers are an endangered animal. Larger subspecies, such as the Siberian tiger, tend to live in northern, colder areas, such as eastern Russia and northeastern China. Smaller subspecies live in southern, warmer countries, such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. India has more tigers than any other country in the world.

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Here, we have South America tray, Europe, and Forest Animals (see a post here), and Land-Air-Water Activity. Buy our wild animal figurines here, North America farm animals here and  Forest baby animals hereDSC_0040A giraffe is one of Adrian's favorite animals (along with a zebra). See a post about 💚African Savanna Animals here

DSC_0035Here, we have North America and Farm Animals (see a post here) and U.S. Landmarks🗽 (see a post here).

DSC_0038 The "prepared environment" is Maria Montessori's concept that the environment should be designed with the child in mind. Montessori’s idea of such environment was that everything the child comes in contact with would facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. A thoughtful, inviting and well-ordered environment would give the child an opportunity to experience a combination of freedom and self-discipline, where a child is free to choose and work on activities at his/her own pace.  “The child can only develop fully by means of experience in his environment.  We call such experience ‘work’.”  The Absorbent Mind, Chapter 7, p. 88., Dr. Marial Montessori.

DSC_0521For Spring hands-on educational activities, see here a roundup post ~ 🌸Spring 🌱Inspired Themed Unit Study.

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Valentine's 💗 Inspired Shelfies & Activities Roundup

Happy Valentine's💝 Day. I hope you had a lovely celebration. Today, I will show you a sneak peek into our Learning Space (our classroom), as well as a summary of our Valentine's inspired activities. 

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When we moved into our new house (in September of 2016), and I walked into this room and saw these tall double windows and a cathedral ceiling, I knew it will be our learning space. Montessori classrooms are known for their light, airy and child-tailored environment, and I hoped to resemble it in our home-setting. (Adrian is sitting at a Safari table, on this chair. View Table/Chair Height Guide in this post.)
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We read this Valentine's book, which is perfect for a three-year old. The story of Saint Valentine is very sad, and this "Rookie" series book  has just enough information with big colorful illustrations on each page-spread.

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On this shelf we have:

  • Pipe-cleaner beading activity (read a post here, also see below),
  • Odd and Even activity (read a post here );
  • Polar bear unit study (see here International Polar Bear 🐻 Day, February 27);
  • Penguin tray (read here ❄️Polar 🌎Regions Unit Study • 🎅🏻 🇦🇶Land 🌊Water 🌬Air).

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Below is a summary of our Valentine's inspired activities with links to their respective posts. I also organized the activities by areas of Montessori curriculum.  

PRACTICAL LIFE

Hearts from BeadsThreading (red and white) beads on pipe cleaners, making hearts. (Read a post here.) 


MATH

DSC_0024Read a post here about Valentine's inspired - Hearts 💯 Hundred Board.

 

DSC_0097 Read here a post on Odd and Even, and also see two videos where Adrian explains the concept he learned.

 

DSC_0046 Read here Valentine's inspired - Number Bingo for Early Math (Numbers 1-50)


SENSORIAL

DSC_0008Read a post about our Valentine's inspired Love ❤️️ Sensory Bin here.


ART/CRAFT

DSC_0041See a video of Adrian making a Threaded Heart Craft here. 

DSC_0007Read here Valentine's 💝 inspired - Blue Truck 🚙 Foot -Print Art Project (Sending Loads of Love 💗❤️️💕)

DSC_0003-2Julia and Adrian's feet Art Projects, along with 36 Classroom Valentine's Day Gifts (see below).

DSC_0066Read here a post about Classroom Valentine's Day Gift Ideas.

 I hope you liked our Valentine's inspired unit. I would love to hear which activity was your favorite!

p.s. Below are more posts about our Learning space:

  • Read here Evolution of our Learning Space post;
  • Read here Children's Space - Kitchen nook post (this post has Table/Chair Height Guide);
  • Read here a post about Adrian's Infant Space;
  • Read here about Our Christmas inspired learning space.
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Our 🎄Christmas Inspired Learning Space

A sneak peek into our Christmas-inspired learning space.

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20161209-DSC_0618Everything is ready for a Christmas Tree decoration! (Read how Adrian did it here.)

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 What is 🔍 on our 🎄Christmas-inspired shelves:

  • Christmas Inspired Candy Canes Pipe Cleaner Craft (read here),
  • Mystery Bag (read here),
  • Smelling activity,
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Activity (read here),
  • Christmas Tee sewing buttons activity,
  • The Mitten Book Activity (read here).

20161211-DSC_0726 Xmas Tree is done copyRead here about Little Blue Truck's Christmas book.
20161209-DSC_0637When I saw all the windows and the light, I knew it will be our learning space:)

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20161209-DSC_0671When Adrian saw this bunny at the store, he knew it was his bunny right away.
20161209-DSC_0637Adrian loves using these balancing scales (see the nature-inspired Weighing Activity here).

20161211-DSC_0726 Xmas Tree is done copy-2The Christmas Tree is decorated! (See how Adrian did it here.)

20161211-DSC_0726 Xmas Tree is done copy

Hope you are having a wonderful Holiday Season! 

I would love to hear what you think ... And, please, spread the 💖 love & SHARE our journey! CLICK one of those buttons 👇🏻below! 📍SAVE, 💌SUBSCRIBE & 📲FOLLOW