How do you raise a successful and happy child?

How do you raise a successful and happy child?

Connecting with Kids at Home

The pressure of raising successful children for parents

As an educator, I know exactly what expectations wait for my daughter when she enters the classroom – still a few years away. I know the journey through school, the pressure to carry on beyond those foundational years into the great halls of universities and colleges, to boardrooms and beyond.

The pressure to succeed – the pressure to have your child succeed; it’s terrifying.

I think back to my own pressure growing up. Of wondering what success would be for me (more on that here), wondering what role I was supposed to play in my community, what job would take me from Monday to Friday, what books I should read to get me there.

It was exhausting. It placed me into a tiny space of checklists and due dates and grey walls.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

How can you raise a happy and successful child? It’s time to take the pressure off of being a mom and realize you have the tools you need at home with you while you are connecting with your child. Click here to read how a simple activity empowers you child to learn a wealth of information. #momguilt #learning #tips #life #toddlers #preschooler #kindergartener
A Spirited Child on the Path to Success.

That first flicker of my daughter’s eyes looking up at me the night she was born changed my perspective. A fire already in her, keeping her awake while every other baby in playgroup slept soundly in its mother’s arms. I trusted her.

I trusted that she would figure it out, with my support. I trusted that if I let her crawl around the corner she would learn that I was nearby. I trusted that when she took her first steps and fell, she would be motivated enough to give it another shot.

I want so much for my daughter. To open our front door and for the world to welcome her with open arms. If only it was that friendly beyond our adorable neighborhood.

I want to give my daughter everything under the sun. I want her to have everything, to laugh always and to only carry the best memories with her.

But I’m also realistic.

How can you raise a happy and successful child? It’s time to take the pressure off of being a mom and realize you have the tools you need at home with you while you are connecting with your child. Click here to read how a simple activity empowers you child to learn a wealth of information. #momguilt #learning #tips #life #toddlers #preschooler #kindergartener
How can you raise a happy and successful child? It’s time to take the pressure off of being a mom and realize you have the tools you need at home with you while you are connecting with your child. Click here to read how a simple activity empowers you child to learn a wealth of information. #momguilt #learning #tips #life #toddlers #preschooler #kindergartener

Magic in the Mundane

I also have to do the things that normal families do. I have to clean up after supper, to sweep the floor, to change that light bulb, to move the laundry into the dryer.

These can be my moments too. To invite her to take part in acts communities long before her took part in. I welcome her to join me, a smile on my face as we lift the heavy wet pants and socks from one machine and put them into the next.

A conversation begins.

First about hippos, then about texture, and counting, and colors.

To the untrained eye this is all random. And it is – she’s in the lead and I have no idea what we are going to talk about next. It’s taking longer than it should. I could have finished this task in seconds, not the many minutes that have already passed.

But it’s also my magical moment with her. So there’s no rush.

While we lift the wet clothes my daughter uses her whole body – every muscle in her being for they weigh nearly as much as her. How does the laundry feel? How do you feel when you help Mommy? I’m so happy to have you here, helping me.

She solves the issue of reaching to the back of the machine by finding a stool to stand on; problem-solving beyond her years.

She talks of hippos; sharing the knowledge we learned together in a book the day before. I encourage her to tell me more. How big is a hippo? What color? Paws or feet? Two legs or four?

Her language grows each time she shares with me. Her words more descriptive than the last time I heard her express her love for story. She feels that I am engaged and listening and it encourages her creativity. She adds a wild twist, I’ve not heard before, smiling from ear to ear with excitement.

We count socks. Talk about colors, textures and size.

The drum of the machine – which way does it spin? Why are there holes on the side? The science nerd in me thrilled that she noticed the details.

We begin to close the door. What’s written here? Can this sticker come off?

No time to answer.

SLAM! Music to her ears. Pride on her face that part of the job is done. What else makes noise around us?

Turn the dial. Click. Click. Click. Agonizingly slow to some. Satisfying slow to her.

Press the button in (a whole hand needed) and it pops back out. Processes and routine.

Why this, then that? It makes it go!

Listen to that? Tumble, rumble, mumble.

I didn’t have time today to show her the world.

Instead, I prepared her for it.

Doing such a simple task we learned: language and literacy, the beauty of storytelling, cognition and early mathematics, science, discovery, fine and gross motor skills, large muscle movement, social and emotional development, spatial awareness, depth perception, problem solving. Love.

How do you raise a successful and happy child?

Be present.

 

You are doing enough.

You are enough.

You are exactly who your child needs.

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

Learning Environments for Everyone

Creating learning environments that meet everyone's needs.   This morning I attended a presentation with the hilarious and engaging Marc Battle. Marc is a passionate educator who knows and understands the value and importance of the environment in which children play...

read more

Self love and confidence through SONG: Lindsay Müller

Lindsay Müller is a creating Mindful Music for Children and Other Humans - She shared her story here: Three years ago, I was a stressed out mom of two energetic toddlers. I felt like most of the words that came out of my mouth were:    "Be careful!"  "Don't do that!" ...

read more

The Never Ending Story…

Social Skills from Storytelling I love my job. I genuinely love what I do. I get to work with educators who are changing lives every day. I get to watch the magic happen in between wiped noses and zipped zippers. That magic spot where a child feels fully heard and...

read more

What is a wonder-filled environment?

Why do we need to have this conversation? What is the importance of a wonder-filled environment?!  Watch this incredible video from Education Inspire Change - where they so creatively depict a problem that I believe we are facing.There are so many beautiful...

read more

What is a Beautiful Things Box?

WHAT IS A BEAUTIFUL THINGS BOX? I've had quite a few readers reach out - asking about something I mention quite often.  I walk you through a Beautiful Things Box that we are currently using and what we have inside - to learn more about why I love these and why they...

read more
The Best Gift Ideas for Kids that AREN’T Toys

The Best Gift Ideas for Kids that AREN’T Toys

Alternative gifts for children with more than enough toys

Thinking of gift-giving season that is very fast approaching us, I dread the idea of more “stuff” entering my house. Although it is an ongoing battle with the memories I’ve attached to the simplest of things, I’ve been working hard to declutter our home (read more on that here).

We do a pretty good job of clearing things out on a semi-regular basis: seasonally, after birthdays or holidays, or when I’ve tripped over a toy and stubbed my toe.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

There’s something to be said about wanting to surround our children with #allthethings. We want the best for them, to put a smile on their face and to hear that little screech of excitement knowing they have fallen head over heels for the latest and greatest “thing”.

Non-toy gifts that are still educational and meaningful

As an educator, I’m not denying the value of toys. I use learning through play as a connection and approach to education that can be enriched with the proper toys. Meaningful and impactful toys have a place on the shelf in our home and I love that excitement on my daughter’s face when that toy she loved at a friend’s house shows up in her own. But I really want to refocus our holidays (birthdays, Christmas, celebrations, reunions… the list goes on!) and make it about being together, and enriching the home for the long term, not just the momentary delight of a character on TV in plastic form.

Gift Idea List for Grandparents

Even though this is MY focus, family and friends love to purchase things for our kiddos. I get it. I love to celebrate the children in my care, family friends and the members who make up my family tree. I’m guilty of it too. But with this new focus (that I talk about here in this decluttering post), I’ve come up with our new list of non-toy favorites to share with loved ones in our lives when it comes to traditional gift giving times.

The best non toy gift ideas for kids that still encourage learning and fun #organize #daughter #son #girl #boy #learning #backtoschool #ideas #preschool #toddler #schoolaged #kindergarten #moms #products #children #student #athome #giftideas #holiday #gift #crafts #traditions #easy #activities #best #room #tips #children #christmas #birthday #holidays

20+ of the best non-toy gifts to give to your children this holiday season

1. ABC Mouse – I love books. I’ll always be a book lover and supporter first and foremost in my home but there have been moments when I completely understand the draw to expanding your child’s experience through an app. That being said, I’m SUPER picky about how my child spends her time on a tablet or computer and it took me a LONG time to find the perfect one. ABC Mouse is it! This adorable app is JAM-PACKED with awesomeness, educational activities galore, reading books aloud, painting activities that you can then print, math, science, technology, literacy, songs with actions…. the list goes on. Read more here to see what I love about ABC Mouse and why it makes the list for my favorite back to school books for kids. 

2. Highlights – I talk about Highlights in this post, and how it has been such a wonderful experience for my daughter. She loves getting these in the mail and I love going through them with her. There are magazines that are perfectly challenged for her age (Hello – 2.5) as well as those that we know and love from our own childhood (Highlights). These are truly educational, well thought out and meaningful.

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

Non-Toy Gifts for Boys and Girls

The best non toy gift ideas for kids that still encourage learning and fun #organize #daughter #son #girl #boy #learning #backtoschool #ideas #preschool #toddler #schoolaged #kindergarten #moms #products #children #student #athome #giftideas #holiday #gift #crafts #traditions #easy #activities #best #room #tips #children #christmas #birthday #holidays

Gifts for 2-5 year olds (and beyond!)

3. Craft Supplies – I recently wrote about my favorite craft supplies from Crayola and why they are so great! Crayola has really moved past the simple box of crayons and they have put so much thought into what they create. Thinking of what kids would enjoy, while not taking away the creativity, but also thinking about parents who are already busy and would love support in making art a meaningful activity at home (without a giant mess). I wrote recently about preparing for school and setting up a space where children can work and create – showing the value of this in your home.

4. Qeepsake – Back in March, I signed up for a free trial of Qeepsake; a busy mom’s dream come true for keeping track and journalling memories of my amazing daughter with support. The early years go so quickly and there are so many moments in the day where I wish I could document who Little Bee is right now, and share it with her in the future. But by the end of the day, a million other things have happened and I never get around to writing it down. What Qeepsake does, is prompt you with a thoughtful question at the end of the day, where you can share via text or messenger, an amazing story about your child. All of what you write is kept in an app you can access and edit any time. – super simple, right? I recently upgraded to the Premium version where I can also upload photos, and add even more questions – I’m loving it! I find it’s such a great way to end the day on a positive note – thinking of the best parts of my child. It’s like a gratitude journal just for her; a collection of memories to share with my daughter, which I can print in a book at any time. Love love love.

5. Love of Learning Binder – Supporting your child in their early years’ educational journey doesn’t need to be complicated to be meaningful at home. Set up like a course for moms, you are walked through and supported in the areas of development that are important to prepare your child for school, and support them in those first few years of elementary school. Everything from activities you can easily do at home, to printables, to planning and organization, to meal planning… the list goes on – all in one place! Easy Peasy.

Non-toy gifts for Children Who Have Everything

6. Learning Subscription Boxes – We’ve been loving our Little Passports subscription here at my house. My daughter had always been intrigued by maps, likes to play adventurer and explore just about everywhere so it was a perfect fit for us (I’ll share more about this in a post of its own soon!). I think I will soon sign up for Green Kid Crafts as well as it aligns so nicely with what we value here at home. Just like Little Passports, they have specially designed boxes for younger and older kids which is perfect for as your child ages, the content is perfectly curated just for them. Awesome! Plus, who doesn’t love getting cool activities in the mail that are easy to follow. Win for mom and the kids.

7. Mabel’s Labels – I know, I know… I talk about Mabel’s Labels ALL THE TIME. They are so sweet, so durable, customizable and are needed. Everywhere. It’s a dream come true for a mom having to organize her kiddos for school, playdates, sports, and even around the house. I put these little stickers on everything.

8. Membership to a Play Center or Activity Center – Fellow moms need a minute. We need a second to not be climbed on, tugged at, or hear our names on repeat. Most communities have a space where you can pay as you go, use a punch card or purchase a membership and we are lucky enough to have the best one around – the Enchanted Woods Play Café offers coffee and conversation for parents, space for kids to run and play (and leave the mess behind… the best part perhaps?!), as well as organized play activities, crafts, and introductions to the people in your community. We LOVE it there. Other great memberships would be the zoo, or science museum if you have one in your area!

The best non toy gift ideas for kids that still encourage learning and fun #organize #daughter #son #girl #boy #learning #backtoschool #ideas #preschool #toddler #schoolaged #kindergarten #moms #products #children #student #athome #giftideas #holiday #gift #crafts #traditions #easy #activities #best #room #tips #children #christmas #birthday #holidays

Presents Parents Will Love for Their Kids

9. Classes – Getting littles up and moving is a wonderful way to ensure a win for the long run with moms and kiddos. Giving a gift of dance classes, swimming lessons, gymnastics or our favorite local physical literacy movement program, Moving Munchkins makes for an amazing gift that celebrates little ones, gives mom and dad a break for coming up with another activity and promotes movement which is so very important.

10. Something to make life a little easier for everyone in the house – My daughter has always been a tricky sleeper; waking up long before the sun and never breaking for a nap. If it wasn’t for all the coffee I drank, I’m not sure if I could make it through the day… Enter, the Gro Clock. Giving something like this as a gift is a support for mom and dad while giving children a sense of independence (more on that here) and encouraging the all-important routines that are critical in the early years (more here). Pretty great, right?!

11. Upcoming Events – When my daughter was really small, I would often meet up with fellow moms and head to the movies. As she grew, I stopped going but I don’t really know why other than I assumed she wouldn’t sit in the seat for very long. But I really want to introduce her to her community, to the arts and the amazing cultural opportunities all around. Tickets to upcoming events, like (child-friendly) plays and events would allow us to take this all in while making some pretty incredible memories.

12. Family Activities – In the hustle and bustle of just about every season, there are a million and one reasons to fill the weekends with something, rush through the evening routine and all of a sudden years have passed. Getting an opportunity to slow down and spend time as a family through bowling, skating, sledding, or splashing in a local water park are photo-worthy moments that are filled with genuine laughter and excitement. If the activities don’t require tickets, they might require a few extras: mittens, towels, sleds, or matching family t-shirts to make the moment extra special.

13. Puzzles and Games – Another one that includes the whole family and encourages family time and conversation is giving traditional or silly games that children would LOVE! Twister, Jenga, Hungry Hippos, Operation – there are so many good games that would offer evening upon evening of laughs.

14. Messy Play Bins – I don’t think children ever grow out of the love of getting messy. There are so many learning benefits (which I share here as well as a lot of ideas for how to do it!) and open-ended activities like this offer endless fun. Giving tubs and tools to dive into sensory bin learning is an amazing gift idea! I love these Jelly Balls but keep in mind the age of the child if buying these as they are pretty small. They have always been a hit here at my house as well as the daycare!

 

The Best Non-Toy Gifts for Preschoolers, Kindergartens, and Toddlers

15. Box of Beautiful Things – This one falls into both sensory play as well as craft play, where children are learning so much through the play itself. We keep a basket of “beautiful things” near to where my daughter’s art table stays, where she can grab ribbon, paper, beads, stickers, or other wonderful things where she can feel inspired to create, play, or build a story around her amazing find. It’s magical. I walk you through our current beautiful things box in this video – check it out here!

16. Books –  (shocker right?) I am so often recommending meaningful books that encourage conversation and learning while allowing for a cuddle with a loved one. Having a loved book becomes a central part of a routine, of a comfort and acts like a home base for emotions. Here are a few posts where I share books that I love: 

17. Library card –  Since I just mentioned books, how fun would it be if you took your little loved one to the library to get their VERY OWN library card?! Read this post for more library awesomeness and why libraries make not only a great gift but should be a regular part of your outings with your kids! 

18. Contribute to a Savings Account or Education Fund – This is one that family has been doing for Little Bee since she was born and I have to say it really takes a weight off of my shoulders when I think about her future. We, of course, contribute to it as well when we can but as a WAHM, there are always other places money needs to go. During a time when family and friends are looking to spend on our little ones, contributions to each child’s own long-term goals when they come of an age when they can handle the responsibility, sets them up for such lifelong success, rather than the momentary excitement of a stuffed animal or new race car. Every little bit helps and contributes to a bigger dream!

19. Piggy Bank – In keeping with the last point, I had purchased a piggy bank for my daughter when she was very young and make a point to make a big deal out of each time I put in the small change I find around the house or in the bottom of my purse. I let her put the money in, give it a jiggle and we talk about how little amounts of money add up. I’m planning a post where I share a few activities I do with my daughter in letting her play with small change I keep on my desk – and the lessons that come from that. I’ll link to it here when it’s ready!

20. Outdoor tools – For the beach or the garden, children love to dig and get messy – which is why I love the idea of a garden set, or buckets and shovels. Even if given in a season when you can’t quite get outside, buckets make amazing indoor play tools and become creative parts of loose parts play (read more about that here).

21. Amazon Prime – This gift is technically for the whole family, but giving the gift of Amazon Prime is giving audiobooks, movies, television shows, early access to amazing deals, shipping benefits, photo storage, and more – available on any device that the family has. Awesomeness! We have been loving listening to the audiobooks for kids that I use under my Prime Membership.

22. Music – I know the power of song when it comes to reconnecting me with emotion; either to lift me up with an exciting song that gets me moving, or through a song that best expresses the feelings I just want to let out. Children work the same way and the beautiful message that come through meaningful song can be so impactful to the little loves in our lives. I have had the amazing opportunity to be in contact with Lindsay Muller, a singer-songwriter who understands the power of song and she has created this beautiful collection of music that is just perfection. You are going to love it, your littles will love it and it will be that amazing reminder of the magic of music

23. Clothes with meaning behind them – After my daughter was born I fell in love with Peekaboo Beans – a clothing line created with children in mind. Their products are curated with the needs of all children, from sensory stimulus to thoughtful seams. They are made using materials without harmful substances, are ultra comfortable, durable and made to last – no joke – they look amazing no matter what we put them through. Seriously – I wish they had it all in my size. Someday, perhaps! And – the best part?! They have partnered with Playground Builders, a registered Canadian non-profit charity that builds playgrounds in war-torn countries, bringing life, laughter and PLAY to over 250,000 children across the globe. Tell me that isn’t amazing. 

 

What have been your favorite non-toy gifts that you received as a child?

Think back to those memories and how amazing it would be to share that with your own family.

Speaking for myself, every year for Christmas my sister and I would get a pair of matching pajamas and it was THE BEST! We would wear them on Christmas Eve, and wake up in them Christmas morning, eat breakfast in them and be cozy for the better part of the day in them. Then, each time we wore these special pj’s during the rest of the year, they carried the memories of our magical family day together. Stories were relived and it was a Christmas hug all year long.

I’d love to hear what toys you loved as a child, what non-toy gifts your children have loved and what you would add to this list! Leave a comment below or reach out to me here (click here to go to contact page!).

Learning Environments for Everyone

Creating learning environments that meet everyone's needs.   This morning I attended a presentation with the hilarious and engaging Marc Battle. Marc is a passionate educator who knows and understands the value and importance of the environment in which children play...

read more

Self love and confidence through SONG: Lindsay Müller

Lindsay Müller is a creating Mindful Music for Children and Other Humans - She shared her story here: Three years ago, I was a stressed out mom of two energetic toddlers. I felt like most of the words that came out of my mouth were:    "Be careful!"  "Don't do that!" ...

read more

The Never Ending Story…

Social Skills from Storytelling I love my job. I genuinely love what I do. I get to work with educators who are changing lives every day. I get to watch the magic happen in between wiped noses and zipped zippers. That magic spot where a child feels fully heard and...

read more

What is a wonder-filled environment?

Why do we need to have this conversation? What is the importance of a wonder-filled environment?!  Watch this incredible video from Education Inspire Change - where they so creatively depict a problem that I believe we are facing.There are so many beautiful...

read more

What is a Beautiful Things Box?

WHAT IS A BEAUTIFUL THINGS BOX? I've had quite a few readers reach out - asking about something I mention quite often.  I walk you through a Beautiful Things Box that we are currently using and what we have inside - to learn more about why I love these and why they...

read more
My Favorite Crayola Products for Back to School

My Favorite Crayola Products for Back to School

Why I love Crayola Products

I love Crayola products! Who doesn’t?! Crayola makes reliable, dependable, arts and crafts products geared toward children while keeping parent needs in mind. And they cannot be compared to in regard to quality. Have you used a crayon at a restaurant with your child while waiting for your dinner? I’m sure you have and I’m sure you know without a doubt that if it doesn’t say Crayola, it will snap with a vigorous filling in of a flower or racecar. Every time. SNAP!

Think back to your own experience cracking open a brand new box of perfectly sharpened crayons – all beautifully organized with the colors of the rainbow and every tone in between. Ahhhh. An organizational addict’s dream come true.

Well, Mama, it’s even better now. The products that we know so well have been used to inspire an even brighter, more child welcoming world of creativity. It’s amazing.

As an educator, I am always looking for the best products at the best price, because I run through them like crazy. I keep a constant supply of open-ended arts and crafts tools within reach to illustrate how welcome children in my care are to take their imagination and turn them into beauty to be shared. But, doing this means I go through a lot of products, and more so, am cleaning up the wildness of creativity (read: the mess that is constantly on my floor at the art table.) So I need something I can buy a lot of, without spending an arm and a leg.

As a mother, after the day is done, I’m looking for activities that need a little less engagement from me, and allow my daughter to color outside the lines, to grow and learn, but to allow me the opportunity to step away to attend to the other needs of my family and home. I needed safe, reliable, and welcoming activities that would encourage my daughter to play independently.

I’ve done a lot of research. I’ve tried a lot of products and I always come back to what I know, love and trust. Crayola.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

The 11 Best Crayola Products for Back to School and at Home Play!

Here is a list of the products I most regularly use in my home, daycare and on the go with my family. This is not a full list as it would go on and on, from the giant box of crayons and classroom box of markers I buy to the papers I use that hold up to the earliest of finger painters, or the modeling clay that builds those important muscles in the hands and arms.

But I have shared those products that I think you could most use at home to allow you watch your little one playing, learning, dreaming, and creating, while you join in play or while letting you have a cup of coffee, or pick away at something else for a little mom time. 

Wait until you see what Crayola has created to make life as a mom with little ones at home that much easier. I share my favorite products from a teacher’s perspective as well as a busy mom! #teacher #organize #resources #classroom #home #daughter #son #girl #boy #learning #backtoschool #ideas #preschool #toddler #schoolaged #kindergarten #teachers #moms #products #children #student #athome #giftideas #holiday #gift #crafts #traditions #easy #activities #best
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My Favorite Crayola Products for Back to School

1. Window writers – I’ve talked about these before in a post about the ways you can keep your little one entertained at home, and do they deliver! Little Bee and her daycare friends have loved turning our front window into a masterpiece, which wipes away super easily. I don’t know if it’s the idea of writing on something you never thought you were allowed to write on before, the way it looks on the window, or the fact that everyone that walks by sees it, but this has become a very requested activity at my house. It works great on a mirror as well!

2. Twist Crayons –Okay, so take that image of crayon awesomeness and jack it up a notch. These are one of my favorite things that Crayola makes. The crayon twists up so it’s always in perfect coloring readiness, but acts like a pen or pencil, which is perfection for early writers looking to develop those fine motor skills.

3. Side Walk Chalk –  This item could be a list within itself as Crayola makes countless types of chalk play. I have yet to meet a child who isn’t lost in the idea of writing on the driveway, or sidewalk in early spring, of creating chalk paint, or creating a blackboard inside. We use chalk in so many ways but Crayola makes it pretty easy with all the types that they offer. Small, wide, multi colors, chalk paint, the list goes on. So cool.

4. Bath Dropz and Bath Crayons –  Well, that’s two things I suppose but we love them both so I had to share both of them. As I mentioned in a recent post, I am working to declutter our home (and keep the clutter out… not sure which is worse or more challenging) and part of that means we don’t have any “bath toys”. We use the things we already have around the house; bowls, spoons, sponges, that encourage and promote learning through play while promoting the benefits of water play (more on that here). But the one thing I think has such value in tub play are these colorful creations. Promoting writing practice in the tub is so much fun (and it helps that it washes away so simply), and changing the color of the tub water makes a task that formerly used to cue bedtime woes in my house, that now encourage Little Bee to willingly hop in the tub.

5. Mess Free Everything! Well, not everything, but just about! This is another one that could be a giant list itself. We love the Mess Free Paint and Mess Free Markers the most but I hadn’t realized just how many “mess free” products they made! The Mess Free Markers are genius for long car trips that mean marker doesn’t end up EVERYWHERE and make a perfect Doctor’s office waiting activity. But, I use this stuff at home too because as I noted above, after a long day and I’m making supper or cleaning up from the day, I don’t want to discourage creativity in my daughter, but I also don’t want to clean up another giant mess. The Mess Free Paint is currently my favorite office art that my daughter made for me. It truely is beautiful and worthy of a frame.

6. Light Up Tracing Table – move over whiteboard, there’s a new awesome activity in town. Seriously Mama, this one is pretty cool. We actually use this light table for lots of different things beyond the tracing feature. Using translucent paper, you can overlay to blend colors, or use colorful plastic blocks and watch the light shine through.

Art Buddy Pack
Color Wonder Mess Free Activity Set
Light Up Tracing Pad-Blue
Picture Projector
Signature Series Crayoligraphy Activity Set
7. Picture Projector – My daughter got this one as a gift and it was a huge hit! Having Little Bee’s creations blow up onto the wall makes for an amazing response each time we do it. It’s pretty neat and makes an awesome gift. If you brought this one to a birthday party, you’d be a pretty popular mom.

8. Light Board – We don’t actually have this one in play yet. I have purchased it for my daughter and am saving it for her for her birthday and a trip that we are soon taking. She is going to LOVE IT! I think this would really encourage reluctant writers to get practice holding pens and pencils to see their art shine like a billboard!

9. Finger Paint – I go through A LOT of paint at my house. I love using paint for play which you can read more about here. Having children of different ages around, I really needed something safe for those who would be covered in their art by the end of the day, but not leave anyone out of the play. Finding a good quality finger paint is surprisingly challenging, and I fell in love with what Crayola offered.

10. Color and Erase Mat – Little Bee found this under the Christmas Tree last year which was perfect for her age then, as well as now (2.5). Having the art stay in one play, be travel ready, allow for open-ended play… all my favorites in one place.

11. Washable Glue – I’m seeing a trend of categories that could be long lists. Imagine the disaster of learning to use glue, having to share glue among a group of children, and wanting children to have the freedom to create anything they like… with glue. It’s a mess. Finding a washable glue that actually washes away was something I celebrated (alone, because no one really felt as passionately about this as I did…) when I finally found it and then coming to realize Crayola carried everything from glue that little ones could open themselves, to glitter glue, and colored glue… alllll washable. So great!

Everything from art supplies at home, on the go, quick activities, printables and coloring pages, classroom supplies, and fun for moms as well, Crayola carries it all. I love Crayola. If you were looking for a list of gift ideas, supported and recommended by an educator, and very particular mom, you found it here!

Wait until you see what Crayola has created to make life as a mom with little ones at home that much easier. Everything from supported activities to the tools for open-ended wonder, I share my favorite Crayola products from a teacher’s perspective as well as a busy mom! #teacher #organize #resources #classroom #home #daughter #son #girl #boy #learning #backtoschool #ideas #preschool #toddler #schoolaged #kindergarten #teachers #moms #products #children #student #athome #giftideas

Learning Environments for Everyone

Creating learning environments that meet everyone's needs.   This morning I attended a presentation with the hilarious and engaging Marc Battle. Marc is a passionate educator who knows and understands the value and importance of the environment in which children play...

read more

Self love and confidence through SONG: Lindsay Müller

Lindsay Müller is a creating Mindful Music for Children and Other Humans - She shared her story here: Three years ago, I was a stressed out mom of two energetic toddlers. I felt like most of the words that came out of my mouth were:    "Be careful!"  "Don't do that!" ...

read more

The Never Ending Story…

Social Skills from Storytelling I love my job. I genuinely love what I do. I get to work with educators who are changing lives every day. I get to watch the magic happen in between wiped noses and zipped zippers. That magic spot where a child feels fully heard and...

read more

What is a wonder-filled environment?

Why do we need to have this conversation? What is the importance of a wonder-filled environment?!  Watch this incredible video from Education Inspire Change - where they so creatively depict a problem that I believe we are facing.There are so many beautiful...

read more

What is a Beautiful Things Box?

WHAT IS A BEAUTIFUL THINGS BOX? I've had quite a few readers reach out - asking about something I mention quite often.  I walk you through a Beautiful Things Box that we are currently using and what we have inside - to learn more about why I love these and why they...

read more
30 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Start to School and ensure the first day back is a great one. #ideas #routine #tradition #howtoget #firstgrade #kindergarten #preschool #anxious #jitters
The Best Teaching Resources That You Can Use at Home

The Best Teaching Resources That You Can Use at Home

The Best Teaching Resources that Teachers Use at Home that You Will LOVE to Have Around the House!

Teaching resources aren’t just for the classroom

As a teacher, I found ways to make my day run more smoothly in the classroom and to support the children getting the most out of their day. What I found was when I left the classroom, I loved having these tools around the house to keep things organized and easy at home as well. Then, when becoming a mother, I found how meaningful these resources actually were in playful learning with my daughter.

Read on to see what resources I recommend having around the house to make learning and play more meaningful at home with your children.

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

As a teacher, I have come to find there are a lot of tools and resources that I have used in my classroom that have been so beneficial to organization and learning through play with my daughter in our house! Check out this list of inexpensive items that make play at home meaningful and easy! Teaching resources you can use at home #ideas #preschool #toddler #schoolaged #kindergarten #teachers #moms #products #children #student #athome

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

Why I love my Laminator

Okay… so I love to laminate everything. Seriously. Everything from the pages to my daughter’s Love of Learning and Quiet Time Binder to the printables I make for us to play with each day (download free printables here). It makes everything last longer, turns normal pages into whiteboard worksheets and everything wipes clean from spills that happen when you have little ones at home.

The best part is that we can take our play outside without fear of weather having an impact on our activity. Awesome, right?!

Laminators aren’t just for the classroom.

I laminate planners for my family (here is a free planner to download), calendars in my office, checklist pages, and the list goes on. It lets me use a whiteboard marker and make changes as I like and reuse the same planner pages time after time.

I love this laminator from Amazon and the laminator sheets that they also carry. Important to keep in mind is that the laminator can only take so much before it overheats and needs a little break. I find this to be the perfect time to start cutting out the previous pages. There is usually an indicator light that lets you know the machine is ready to work again, which never takes very long.

The other thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t laminate more than two pages of normal printing paper (or one of cardstock or high quality paper) in one lamination sleeve. If you are cutting out the paper from the lamination, it won’t hold up to play if the pages within are too thick.

What you could use instead of a laminator with awesome results


If you aren’t looking to invest in a laminator right now, you can also use page protectors as a really great alternative. They offer a great option for putting printed activities inside to be used time and time again with a dry erase marker.

The only thing to keep in mind is that they will not hold up as well with multiple uses, they have an opening at the top where the paper is inserted, that also offers the possibility for moisture to enter the printed paper. And, you can’t use it to protect the smaller parts of printed play (like in the freebies I offer here).

What you CAN do, is keep the printed activities you’ve created from becoming worn, as well as keep pages organized and tidy. Awesome!

I use these frequently to store pictures my daughter has created that are too big to be laminated, or paperwork to be kept in a binder such as bills to be paid, or paperwork to be signed. It’s a really great way to inexpensively organize all your paperwork in one binder.

As a teacher, I have come to find there are a lot of tools and resources that I have used in my classroom that have been so beneficial to organization and learning through play with my daughter in our house! Check out this list of inexpensive items that make play at home meaningful and easy! #ideas #preschool #toddler #schoolaged #kindergarten #teachers #moms #products #children #student #checklist #athome
As a teacher, I have come to find there are a lot of tools and resources that I have used in my classroom that have been so beneficial to organization and learning through play with my daughter in our house! Check out this list of inexpensive items that make play at home meaningful and easy! #ideas #preschool #toddler #schoolaged #kindergarten #teachers #moms #products #children #student #checklist #athome
As a teacher, I have come to find there are a lot of tools and resources that I have used in my classroom that have been so beneficial to organization and learning through play with my daughter in our house! Check out this list of inexpensive items that make play at home meaningful and easy! Teaching resources you can use at home #ideas #preschool #toddler #schoolaged #kindergarten #teachers #moms #products #children #student #athome

My Favorite Item That Teachers Use that I Use at Home

They are called Book Rings and are an organizers secret weapon.  I use these rings to organize recipe cards, sight words, business cards, planners and calendars, and so much more.

They come in all sorts of colors which would really up the organizing game, but I stick with the original for simplicity.

Activity ideas with Book Rings:

1. Using these rings for organizing my daughter’s drawings, I included a little hook near her work table where she could hang her pictures with the hooks and change the picture showing as she likes.

2. I hook together lots of paper about the size of a recipe card, to keep in my purse for emergency drawings or notes that need to be taken. My daughter loves this when it comes to a long wait at the doctor’s office, paired with a small bag of crayons. Instant art activity!

3. We have sight words laminated and bound with these rings (more on the printables you can get just like this in the Love of Learning Binder). This works great as we can pop the ring of cards into my purse, take off the few we are working on with ease, and quickly put them all back together for storage and organization.

4. I keep a few blank “books” on rings for my daughter to create stories through drawings, which I will then go through with her and write out the story on each page as she tells it. Super cute activity to share with family and friends.

5. We have a few favorite books at our house that have seen better days. I laminated the pages, and punched a hole through each, looping them through the binder ring. Perfection. Book saved.

What are your favorite learning resources & tools to use at home?

What amazing resources do you use to enrich education at home, to make school, preschool, homeschool or general learning more fun at home? What resources do you love to keep yourself organized? I’m always looking for new ideas and would love to hear yours. Comment below or reach out to me directly here.

Learning Environments for Everyone

Creating learning environments that meet everyone's needs.   This morning I attended a presentation with the hilarious and engaging Marc Battle. Marc is a passionate educator who knows and understands the value and importance of the environment in which children play...

read more

Self love and confidence through SONG: Lindsay Müller

Lindsay Müller is a creating Mindful Music for Children and Other Humans - She shared her story here: Three years ago, I was a stressed out mom of two energetic toddlers. I felt like most of the words that came out of my mouth were:    "Be careful!"  "Don't do that!" ...

read more

The Never Ending Story…

Social Skills from Storytelling I love my job. I genuinely love what I do. I get to work with educators who are changing lives every day. I get to watch the magic happen in between wiped noses and zipped zippers. That magic spot where a child feels fully heard and...

read more

What is a wonder-filled environment?

Why do we need to have this conversation? What is the importance of a wonder-filled environment?!  Watch this incredible video from Education Inspire Change - where they so creatively depict a problem that I believe we are facing.There are so many beautiful...

read more

What is a Beautiful Things Box?

WHAT IS A BEAUTIFUL THINGS BOX? I've had quite a few readers reach out - asking about something I mention quite often.  I walk you through a Beautiful Things Box that we are currently using and what we have inside - to learn more about why I love these and why they...

read more
30 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Start to School and ensure the first day back is a great one. #ideas #routine #tradition #howtoget #firstgrade #kindergarten #preschool #anxious #jitters
The Best Books for Back to School and 1 App Worthy of the List

The Best Books for Back to School and 1 App Worthy of the List

The 24 Best Books for Back to School!

and one app that is worthy of the list!

I love books – so much. My house is filled with them. I am actually bordering on too many although I will never admit to it when it comes to decluttering my house. My daughter follows in my footsteps when it comes to a passion for getting our hands on a book and falling fully into a story. We read together, snuggled on the couch. We read in a room together, a book each. We read aloud. So much reading. It’s a wonderful connection for the two of us; a reference for so much learning. I talk about reading as a place to start conversations in so many posts, a favorite being: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Activities (click here for more information on that).

But what it comes down to, is that I truly believe that books, reading, and the connection shared during this quiet time is the stage for discussing the big issues that are filled with emotion, such as preparing for the first day of school (more tips on how to do to that in this post). 

When it comes to preparing your child for school, especially those early years, my favorite books are listed below as well as my most recommended app – and let me tell you, I am picky when it comes to the resources I use in my home. Scroll on to learn more!

 

*This post contains affiliate links which if used cost you nothing extra, but a small percentage comes back to me to support more learning! You’re welcome to check out my privacy policy or reach out to me directly with questions anytime!*

Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!

Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!

Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.

In a FREE email course, I walk you through

the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.

The 24 Best Books for Back to School!

The Best App for Back to School

 

We don’t use a lot of technology at my house – not to say that it doesn’t have a space in learning and that it doesn’t offer something incredible, because it can if it’s used correctly. It’s because we are so often enthralled with other activities and we don’t have a TV in the house so a reminder of a screen often isn’t there. It’s just not my thing.

BUT! In preparing for the launch of my FREE course: Preparing your Child for Kindergarten (which you can sign up for here), I knew I was going to need something educational and meaningful for a few minutes a day where I was asking my daughter to play quietly, while I was working on my computer. It wasn’t fair for me to say that I could use technology and she couldn’t. Plus, I was using her usual quiet time activity (her Love of Learning Binder) in the course videos I was creating so her normal go-to quiet activity wasn’t available to her. Not fair, right?

So, I did my research. I searched high and low for the best, most meaningful and impactful app for kids of her age (2.5) and one that could grow with her (meaningful until 8 years old), challenge her and allow her to succeed. I spent A LOT of time playing around with different apps in the wee hours of the night – testing and trying just about everything I could find. I wanted the best.

And then I found it. The best app for back to school preparation, for quiet time learning, for travel play. It’s adorable and jam-packed with learning opportunities AND I’ve got a coupon for a FREE MONTH of access for you here. 

Let me tell you about ABC Mouse – It is bursting with intentional curriculum that was designed in collaboration with recognized early learning professionals. Hello – speaking directly to my heart!!

This resource is free for educators to use as a support to what they teach in the classroom and for good reason. It dives into a lot of great concepts (learn more here) that I view as important areas of learning.

I did find it to be a bit expensive at first look and I hesitated. I didn’t sign up right away and continued to search for something else. But I kept coming back to this one because it really is so much better than others I have found. It covers a wealth of topics and approaches for making learning accessible. And, ultimate test, my daughter loves it.

Although there are a lot of free and flashy apps out there that offer an incredible aesthetic experience, that really wasn’t as important to me as the overall value and outcome. This app really does offer so much and has a clear path for learning. I’m really happy I found it and think that you’ll enjoy it as well.

Click here for a Free month of ABC Mouse to test it out for yourself. I would love to hear what you think!

As a teacher, mother and book lover I've had a hard time finding an app that met my approval for allowing my child to spend time on a device but I found it at last. The BEST app and website for fun learning for children ages 2-8. It's worthy of a back to school list from a very particular mom devoted to reading. #iphone #ipad #android #books #apps #forkids #boys #girls #learning #school #education #educational #curriculum #math #science #literacy #art #technology

The Best Magazine for Back to School!

We have been thrilled with our subscription to High Five, which is part of Highlights magazine. As a young girl, my sister and I had been gifted these and adored getting them. My daughter is just as excited to find them in the mailbox. Today, we didn’t even make it all the way back to the house to read them, but rather stopped along the way at our local school steps to take in all the stories and activities.

We also get a copy of Highlights – the original version that we all know so well. I read this and have it available for the older kiddos I work with. Little Bee loves to flip through these as well as it offers more challenge and more in-depth story. Read more about Highlights here! 

Back-to-School Fun Pack
Looking to put a new spin on an already amazing moment with my daughter, I researched the best magazine that would show up in the mailbox with her name on it; a fun surprise every month, filled with activities, ideas, and learning all in one place. The layout of this magazine is lovely, bright and exciting and children have been loving it for years! #son #boy #girl #books #cover #student #preschool #kindergarten #school #infant #allages #reading #home #gifts #nontech

Learning Environments for Everyone

Creating learning environments that meet everyone's needs.   This morning I attended a presentation with the hilarious and engaging Marc Battle. Marc is a passionate educator who knows and understands the value and importance of the environment in which children play...

read more

Self love and confidence through SONG: Lindsay Müller

Lindsay Müller is a creating Mindful Music for Children and Other Humans - She shared her story here: Three years ago, I was a stressed out mom of two energetic toddlers. I felt like most of the words that came out of my mouth were:    "Be careful!"  "Don't do that!" ...

read more

The Never Ending Story…

Social Skills from Storytelling I love my job. I genuinely love what I do. I get to work with educators who are changing lives every day. I get to watch the magic happen in between wiped noses and zipped zippers. That magic spot where a child feels fully heard and...

read more

What is a wonder-filled environment?

Why do we need to have this conversation? What is the importance of a wonder-filled environment?!  Watch this incredible video from Education Inspire Change - where they so creatively depict a problem that I believe we are facing.There are so many beautiful...

read more

What is a Beautiful Things Box?

WHAT IS A BEAUTIFUL THINGS BOX? I've had quite a few readers reach out - asking about something I mention quite often.  I walk you through a Beautiful Things Box that we are currently using and what we have inside - to learn more about why I love these and why they...

read more
30 Tips to Prepare Your Child for a Successful Start to School and ensure the first day back is a great one. #ideas #routine #tradition #howtoget #firstgrade #kindergarten #preschool #anxious #jitters
learning through play every day books bees and abcs toddler preschooler learning activities

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