I was always intimidated by math growing up. I didn’t immediately connect to the concepts in class, and felt overwhelmed by on the spot answering I enjoyed in other areas of school. Math just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t until I began my training to become a teacher, and was taught the theories and concepts behind math that it finally clicked for me. I was missing some of the basic understanding and comfort with the numbers and so everything from that point on was causing me anxiety as a student so eager to do well. This new appreciation for math came flowing from my fingertips when I had my own classroom, and then eventually my daycare. It was easy to make it a part of my everyday now that I finally understood and valued those basic concepts and it was my goal to have the same “math is fun” attitude come out in little ones who were natural investigators.
Children are already using math in their everyday as they make sense of the world around them. Addition, subtraction, more and less than, are all concepts that take part in play as children understand they have fewer cheerios than a sibling or that as they eat them, there are fewer in the bowl. Sharing, turn taking, sorting, collecting, measuring and pouring, and loose parts play (more on that here) are critical in developing math routines through informal action and lay the foundation that more complex math will depend on later in school years (which is what I learned the hard way!).
In hopes to set my daughter up with positive math experiences I spent a lot of time researching the best ways to approach these concepts in the very young and what manipulative would be most meaningful. A favourite teaching toy we have at home would be our Counting Bears. These adorable little bears are amazing for so many different activities (such as a recent post about bears and hibernation) and are a constant in our play. You can get these in just about any animal or area of interest – our favourites being bugs, pigs, sheep, and of course the bears.
Counting – just simply counting these bears is a great reinforcement of number sense and understanding.
Simple Math – building on those skills of number sense is the relationship between the numbers through addition and subtraction. Mommy has 4 bears but she shares one with Daddy. How many bears does Mommy have now? Let’s count together!
Bears in Bowls – Using matching coloured bowls, plates or paper, we’ve created a game that enforces colour naming and association, as well as organizing and sorting the bears into groups. From there, of course you could group by size (which will be the early stages of spatial sense for school – shape, size, space, position, direction and movement), and then count how many you have in each group.
Measurement – oh I love this one! Using the bears (or whatever toy you choose) you can measure various objects or distances throughout the house. How many bears big is this book?
Estimating – It’s fun to make guesses and even more fun to hear the extraordinary numbers my little lady comes up with when estimating how many bears there are in a group. Although we are in early stages, and this is a difficult activity (for any age… you know those online guesses for how many M&M’s or Skittles in a jar?!) this activity allows us to talk about more or less, bigger or smaller, and the naming of numbers.
Patterns – there is a natural tendency to line up little toys like this and pointing out patterns that are created naturally, like an ABAB pattern or something more complex, are those first stages in understanding things that repeat, making predictions and problem solving. I play with patterns when I play alongside my daughter which often results in her mimicking my creation. This is a great activity for preschoolers when offered the beginning portion of a pattern for them to complete. Patterns can be those early introductions to things like telling time, and understanding a calendar, as well as coding which are all things learned in school but that can be enriched at home with ease through activities like this!
Loose Parts Play – this is an easy one to just let happen. When given free access to our little bears, my daughter with bring them out to be a part of just about anything, especially following a recent reading of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (see more idea and activities here). And why not, with those cute little faces. Bringing in a sensory bin of outdoor bits and pieces creates the prefect landscape for a dramatic small world play for these bears and their bear caves. Letting the little bears make “footprints” in playdough, or splash about in soapy water (which also equals washing them!!!) is a great way to see them used and enjoyed. It’s interesting to watch the other learning from previously listed activities unfold through conversation in loose parts play with familiar toys (more about loose parts here).
Bears in the Tub – These adorable little creatures make wonderful bath friends and are happy to go along for the ride in a makeshift boat sailing the soapy seas. This is a perfect scenario to introduce weight and buoyancy in very early stages as a few too many bears abroad the ship require a shout of “Bears Overboard!”
Although the options are truly endless, these are just a few ideas to get you going and watching your little one love these little counting bears will have you coming up with even more ideas that we would love to hear about!
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Where do I start? I LOVE this book. This version of the story has been around since 1989, so it’s not surprising that you can find activities galore online, (like these freebie printables from a site I discovered when I was teaching in the UK – there are TONS of other printables here – you’re welcome ♥) preprepared kits and inspiration by your little ones after having read it through. The options and extensions for learning are incredible with this seemingly simple story. This is a book that we used frequently at Profound Play and Learning to bring the group together or to shake our sillies out. It was a favourite by all of us and one that led us to so many activities that were easy to create on a whim when the children were interested and with little planning needing to be done ahead of time.
This is the perfect time of year to bring Bear Hunt out. Spring is just around the corner (although already here on the calendar) so outdoor adventures become new again as the cold air starts to taper off. Just as our little loves are keen to get out and play in the spring air, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about hibernation and the star of this story, the bear! We pair hibernation lessons with Sleep, Bear! by National Geographic Kids, which follows a bear cub and its family as they prepare to hibernate for the winter. Through simple and engaging text features, kids will be introduced to vocabulary in concept, helping them make connections between words and expanding their understanding of the world. I’ve listed more great hibernation and bear stories below that are wonderful resources for supporting and enriching this theme.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is a great story to get everyone up and moving. There are songs that provide a variation on the story (see link for free playlist including Bear Hunt songs here) that are fun to act out. Taking this story outside allows for littles to take the journey to the dramatic as they act out parts of the tale, or come up with their own hunt to find themselves on. We’ve taken the language from the story, and the descriptions of surroundings into the terrains we find outside to build on vocabulary and those muscles through gross motor development as we climb and jump and run through our own drama!
If weather doesn’t allow you to get outside to act out the story, or you wanted something more visual and auditory for your little learner, the author of this story, Michael Rosen, did a reading which you can watch below! ↓
Explore the Outdoors with Early Literacy:
In such a short story, you will find concepts that encourage literacy skills, such as descriptive words, repeating language, using your senses to make sense of your environment, sequence and order – it’s brilliant! With this as my guide, I took my daughter on an I Spy walk around her grandparent’s yard. Using the forest floor as our game board, we used descriptive language to say what we saw on our walk. Emergent readers start their comprehension using symbols and oral language through play and create meaning with it. An activity as simple and silly as coming up with funny, repeating words to describe what we saw in the woods are those first steps toward my daughter reading stories on her own.
Building on a walk or hike through even your own yard can turn into a sensory experience as you investigate what you find around you. Leaves, snow, grass, mud, rocks, sticks are all loose parts which are discussed here, and invite small world play when you add familiar toys. Collecting the odds and ends you find along the way to create a sensory bin to take indoors for extended play is a great way to have your little scientist learning about the world around them while increasing language and manipulating materials in new ways.
Here, we filled a bowl with snow during our outdoor play, which we then took inside to watch and see what happened. We made predictions (which I wrote down as F spoke to show the connection to literacy) and investigated our now cold water. The learning continued as we added our dirty water to our outdoor sensory bin. Real life science through play! My favourite ♥
Karma Wilson thought of everything. Introduction to bears, spring, and hibernation isn’t only for toddlers and preschoolers. In these two favourites of ours, the early concepts of colour, and counting to five are all around the forest friends of this incredible series of books. ♥
Emotions and Feelings:
My daughter was nervous when I first discussed this book, hesitant of the bear chasing the family at the end of their adventure as they scramble to find their way back home. But it was a great opportunity to talk about fears, respecting animals, dark caves, and so many other things. This concept on it’s own turned into a big theme in our daycare for quite a while and was a wonderful way to safely express those things that made us feel a little apprehensive.
More Books about Bears and Hibernation!
What started as a circle time story quickly grew into a world or learning about bears, and quite a collection of bear books for our little (or not so little) library. We use books as the key to most everything we do and the jumping off, and connection points to so many of our activities. Here are a few we loved when we talked about a sleepy bear waking up at this time of year to fill his now empty belly!
This has long been a favourite in our house. My daughter received this book when she was born and we have since come to buy as many Karma Wilson books as we could get our hands on! In Bear Snores On, a whole host of animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear’s cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear just snores on! This provides great conversation about how deeply a bear can sleep during hibernation, but what happens in this story when this bear wakes up to find his home filled with all his friends!
The Animals’ Winter Sleep nonfiction into the realm of bedtime read-to-me stories, this rich, melodic text paired with detailed color pencil illustrations describes how 13 North American animal species—such as black bear, ermine, pileated woodpecker, porcupine, river otter, and ruffed grouse—survive harsh winter snows snug inside their dens, nests, burrows, and lodges. Additional information, geared to very young children, includes animal winter survival adaptations, such as the foods they eat, nesting materials, camouflage, and predator survival along with a series of questions that encourage children to look back at the illustrations for clues. A line art diagram of the final panorama illustration that identifies the location of all 13 animal species is also included. This is an incredible resource!
Everybody at the station! It’s time for winter hibernation in Michelle Meadows story where the rhyming text of this book have children dreaming about what it’s like to hibernate. Young readers will be soothed and delighted as this story introduces them to different types of hibernating animals. The creatures on the train are preparing to snuggle into sleep, although with a passenger list that includes chipmunks, bears, snakes, hedgehogs, groundhogs, frogs, turtles, mice, bats, and more, there’s lot of noise! Will the tired critters ever get to sleep? Take a trip to Hibernation Station to find out!
Kate Messner describes how over the snow, the world is hushed and white, while under the snow lies a secret world of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals making their winter home under the snow. This nonfiction picture book exploring the subnivean zone reveals the tunnels and caves formed beneath the snow but over the ground, where many kinds of animals live through the winter, safe and warm, awake and busy, but hidden beneath the snow.
This is an introduction to hibernation while remaining developmentally appropriate for younger readers. Margaret Hall’s story goes beyond bears and uses real world photos to build on learning, and explains how and why some animals prepare for and experience hibernation each year
In Forest Bright, Forest Night, someone is always awake –and someone else is always asleep! Some animals are alert in daytime and sleep at night. Others are alert at night, and are sleepyheads during the day. Plus be sure to count the animals. This book is a very pleasant way to combine science and literature, and is a fun flip around book that your littles will love.
In Jane Yolen’s book, winter’s snow creates a soft blanket of silence, nothing is more comforting than curling up under a cozy quilt. Whether slumber awaits in a warm bed, a rocking hammock, or a nest of leaves, the feeling of comfort and the infinite world of dreams are universal.This reassuring lullaby and gentle illustrations show that the little details truly make a place into a home.
In The Bear’s Winter House, Bear wants to be able to sleep instead of staying awake, shivering, as usual. So he sets about building a winter house. The other animals laugh at him, but when winter comes, bear is cozy while the other animals are in the cold. Being a kind bear, he invites them in to share his house. Unfortunately, they are so excited it seems he’ll get no rest at all this winter! But when spring arrives, he finds a solution.
In Frank Asch’s book, Winter is coming and Mama Bear has found the perfect spot for hibernating. But Baby Bear doesn’t want to go to sleep. First he wants a snack. Then he wants a drink. And now he wants the moon! What is loving, but very sleepy, Mama Bear to do? (This story line sounds very familiar to my house…)
In Jennifer Ward’s book, there are spectacular illustrations rendered in oil paint, and a rhyming text that describes a tree’s activities from its roots to its branches, introduce young readers to the amazing activities that go on in a tree. Acorns nibbled by chipmunks, ants scurrying across a trunk, a spider spinning a web, and so much more. Although not directed bear and hibernation related, this is a beautiful story that opens up the world of the forest.
Do you have any other great resources you have seen for hibernation activities or animal activities in spring?! Let me know what you do to keep your littles excited and engaged at this time of year by commenting below or reaching out to me directly ♥
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My daughter is going through an intense sleep regression. In all fairness, we’ve got a lot going on and I don’t really blame her for feeling a little out of sorts… I feel it too. But as I lay on the floor beside her, reminding her that I’m here, that I love her and that it is indeed time to go to sleep, I have moments in between to think about all those mom thoughts that come to us in the wee hours.
I’m just a regular mom. I’ve had my share of issues with my weight, perception of beauty and worth, my place in a crowd, figuring out what I was going to do with my life, dealing with heartbreak, just like many others I know. I’ve battled my own insecurities with my success or what I felt to be lack there of, abusing my body and more dangerously, my mind. But it’s not about me anymore. Well… that’s not true. It’s very much about me. And my relationships with everything mentioned and so much more. Making it about me from time to time puts me in the right frame of mind to parent well, to be the best partner and friend I can be, to stop living in fear of how people view me and to enjoy the moments with those I know and adore.
I don’t think the intention of living our best life is to spend it all obsessing about how we look, where we stand in comparison to someone else, and how far we have yet to climb in some undetermined measure of success. I think if we ask those who have had the opportunity to truly reflect on their life, these amazing people would remind us to enjoy our moments with the ones we love and not worry about how we looked in the picture before pressing delete.
Feel fresh air often. Warm air and cold. Sunshine and Rain. Dress for it and run like you do today.
Never compare yourself to someone else. You are perfect just as you are.
Take risks, using your mind to keep you safe. Using what you’ve learned to see you through. Falling and failing is always okay, but getting up again provides the lesson and reminds you how strong you are.
Your body allows you to do so much with your life, to see and experience so much joy. Be thankful for it and appreciate it as it is.
Choose good friends rather than many friends. Surround yourself with people who enrich your life, and lift you up. There will be tough days. But those days will feel lightweight in comparison if you have the right people around you.
Be kind, always. You never know who is on the receiving end of your kindness and how much they may need it. Be kind to others, but be kind to yourself first. Stand up for yourself and what you believe in.
Love with your whole heart. It’s terrifying and completely worth it.
Forgive. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Forgiving does not mean forgetting your value, or letting others take advantage of you. Forgiving does not mean pushing aside feelings of anger and upset. Forgiving means feeling it fully, then letting go and moving on from it.
Be willing to listen. Be critical and thoughtful of it. Be willing to be heard. Know when to speak loudly and when to speak softly. There are times for both.
Set goals. Reach high. Tippy toes high. Anything you want is within your reach. You’ve got the tools to get you there.
See the world. There is so much of it to see. It’s not all pretty but it’s all worth seeing.
Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of body.
I love you always. No matter what. There will always be a place for you. I am right here.
A wonderful book we have recently found and I’ll share with this affiliate link is called Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Talking about the connection between mother and daughter, this beautiful book shines a light on the importance of being yourself, of letting those feelings come through, of standing up for yourself and loving yourself just as you are. It’s a new favourite and is filled with the messages I want my daughter to hear ♥
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Yesterday, F and I were playing around in the kitchen when she spotted a bag of lemons in the fridge and asked to play with them. I gave her two, a bowl and a variety of spoons to do with what she liked. While I cooked on the cupboards above she explored the fruit on the floor below me (safely distanced from anything dangerous I was doing of course) and described to me what she was seeing and experiencing. It was so fun to hear what language she came up with to talk through her playful learning. All I had done was hand her a few kitchen odds and ends and a beautiful fruit and she took charge in her learning.
We decided to take this a step further and create an explosion of fun! I am an avid follower of an amazing STEAM Blog called Babble Dabble Do, where Ana Dziengel (author of the two books noted in this post) explores fun activities for both littles ones as well as the big kid in all of us! We put a last minute spin on what I had remembered reading from her article found here.
What we used:
(and the kitchen utensils F already had on hand from her earlier play)
What we did:
I borrowed F’s 2 lemons and cut out the core through to about midway of the lemon. I kept this portion of the lemon for squeezing into the volcanic fun during the action!
I set the lemons inside the bowl, and showed Lady F how to squish the inside of the lemon to make a big mushy mess, while keeping the juice inside the lemon.
Now the extra fun part! Experimenting the way only a 2 year old can, we added the baking soda to the lemons (which started to fizz right away!), mashed it into the lemons, added baking soda to the water which we then poured into the lemons, added the saved lemon juice from the removed core and so on. This was a fun way to talk about what we thought would happen with each change we made. Using the spoons and other tools, we increased the bubbling action.
The entertainment continued with every squeeze of the lemon, stir of the bubbled over mess, and story we added to what we were doing. This easily moved into dramatic play as F was inspired with creativity in her kitchen masterpiece.
For next time
In her article, Ana also adds a bit of dish soap ahead of the baking soda to enhance and increase the froth. We found it fun with what we had but will try this next time to see how it differs! She also mentions adding food colouring to the lemons to watch the bubbles become colourful and this will be a great addition to a second attempt at this another time.
The Science for Big Kids:
Citric acid, which we know as a preservative in many of the foods we eat, is found in the lemon juice. When we add the baking soda to the lemon juice, sodium citrate and carbon dioxide are formed, which is what puts on the great show!
Let us know what quick and easy experiments you love doing with your kids when the moment strikes you!
I have been so blessed to have been surrounded by an incredible group of friends at many points in my life. The ebb and flow that we all go through introduces us to new faces and friendships. Never was this more important then when I was pregnant with my daughter and attempting to navigate the terrifying and overwhelming feeling of being a soon-to-be-first-time-momma! I had been living in Fredericton, New Brunswick for a while but few of my close friends had children or experience with this new journey I was about to embark on. At the time, I was working in an office filled with incredible women, separated by grey walls. Perhaps recognizing the look of exhaustion on a fellow employee, Amanda reached out with support and kindness, sharing tips and tricks to make preparing for the baby much easier. Three years later, Amanda has become a forever friend as our little ones play together and we support each other through life’s continued excitement.
Amanda introduced me to Peekaboo Beans and it was instant love. As a brand that works to support children’s play and one who creates it’s clothing with all children in mind, it was a match made it heaven. Click here to learn a little bit more about the brand. And read on to learn more about this amazing woman I am lucky to call my friend ♥
I’m a homebody who loves snuggling with my kids, family time, drinking all the wine, and a good belly laugh. I’m Mama to Max, Avery and my fur baby Beasley. I struggle daily with whether to stay up late to have ‘me time’ or get the sleep I’m desperate for.
I started selling Peekaboo Beans in June 2016. After a long and mentally exhausting stint with miscarriage and infertility, I finally became pregnant with my 2nd child and needed a distraction to get me through those early pregnancy weeks. I had been an avid Bean lover for a few months and started buying so much for my daughter that I decided it would be a great investment financially and mentally to become a stylist. I initially started buying my daughter Beans simply because they are made specifically to be comfortable for kids to play in. We all know how uncomfortable it is to be constantly yanking our pants up or pulling our shirts down and I didn’t want her to have to deal with that. I want her to be able to be free and move without restrictions while she plays. Plus, I mean they’re totally cute! Since buying Beans, they’ve seen us through many phases – the ‘I want to dress myself phase’ (perfect because the lines are made to easily mix and match), the ‘this dress/sock/pant leg/tag/breath of air ‘tickles’ me’ phase (perfect because there are no buttons or sequins to tickle, and the twill tape hem and tacked down pockets mean that the fabric won’t get twisted and become uncomfortable from washing) and my favorite the ‘it still fits me phase’ (perfect because many Beans items are grow with me and are designed to last through a growth spurt, so that tunic does now work as a shirt 😉).
When I had Max, the first outfit I put on him was a Peekaboo Beans playsuit (still my go-to for him). The chin guard keeps him protected from getting pinched, diaper changes are a breeze with the full length zipper, the fold over mittens are awesome for crazy, scratchy baby nails in those early days, and he’s able to crawl, scoot, walk, roll and even sleep in the cozy fabric. I love the entire baby line for him and now he’s even big enough to wear items from the boys line with sleeves and pant legs rolled up!
Those are all great reasons for my kids to wear Peekaboo Beans, but I also love a good deal and Beans are expensive so I needed to justify the cost to myself… easy! Beans last forever. Seriously. The one-of-a-kind high thread count ensures the clothes are not only comfortable, but also ensure longevity and sustainability. My kids are wearing Beans that are much older than they are and are still in perfect condition. Limited or no wash-wear, no shrinking, no twisting or bunching. Plus, because they wear so well, I am able to sell their clothes when they finally outgrow them and get a nice chunk of change back. The resale market for Beans is fantastic! I also love that Beans are pre-shrunk. Far too often I’ll get a ‘sale’ at local children’s stores, but the items will shrink after a wash and become too small, or fade and look ancient. Finally, a huge bonus is that there are no harmful dyes. While this is a bonus in and of itself, it also means that stains come out VERY well. It took a bit of trial and error to find a stain removal regimen that works for me, but now I’m in my groove and there isn’t a single stain on a single Bean that scares me. Bring it 😉
I am an Educational Consultant passionate about finding and sharing great resources and activities for moms who already have enough on the go. I’m here to make life a little easier! You’ve got this, Momma!