Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children

Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children

Strategies for Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children

Especially for those who have difficulty expressing themselves

What is social-emotional learning in early childhood?

Children are learning so much in their early years as the world opens up before their eyes. A large part of this learning is about whom they are and their place in the world. As they watch the behaviors of those around them and experience the feelings such as happiness, sadness, frustration and overwhelm, they are learning to name these emotions as well as how to express them in a meaningful way.

Children need these skills to be successful not only in making friends, expressing themselves, learning academic skills but also in later years and into adulthood.

When we see behavior issues in children we are often watching them struggle with expressing their actual needs, wants, and feelings.

Read on to hear the Practical Tips for Supporting Social-Emotional Development in Our 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!*

When we see behavior issues in preschool children we are often watching them struggle with expressing their actual needs, wants, and feelings. Click to read more about what is going on and how we can support these lessons for toddlers to elementary school students with ideas and strategies for success. #teacher #parent #ece #educator #home #lifeskills #socialskills #emotionalskills #behaviour

Promoting social-emotional learning in preschool years

Whether in the classroom, preschool, daycare or at home, there are many moments with children learning about the rush of their emotions where the feelings are just too much for them to handle. Our role in supporting their growth and development is to guide them through it safely and help them understand the role our emotions play in who we are and how we act.

Children’s actions; biting, hitting, throwing toys, screaming – are all signs that the child needs additional support learning a new skill and naming their needs, wants and feelings.

We can help them learn a more socially acceptable and safe way to feel heard and understood.

How to support social and emotional development in preschoolers

Amazing Books that Support Social Emotional Learning in Children

When we see behavior issues in preschool children we are often watching them struggle with expressing their actual needs, wants, and feelings. Click to read more about what is going on and how we can support these lessons for toddlers to elementary school students with ideas and strategies for success. #teacher #parent #ece #educator #home #lifeskills #socialskills #emotionalskills #behaviour
When we see behavior issues in preschool children we are often watching them struggle with expressing their actual needs, wants, and feelings. Click to read more about what is going on and how we can support these lessons for toddlers to elementary school students with ideas and strategies for success. #teacher #parent #ece #educator #home #lifeskills #socialskills #emotionalskills #behaviour #educatorquotes #earlychildhoodeducation

Practical Tips for Supporting Social-Emotional Understanding in Children

  1. Name the emotions that the child is feeling in the moment – this helps them to vocalize and understand what the feeling is called (or clarify to you what they believe they are feeling) while they are experiencing it. It can be hard for anyone, of any age, to understand an emotion while they are in it. But it helps to put a name to what is felt to support its normalcy. Keeping it simple while the child is feeling the weight of their experience is more than enough at this time. Working to put teaching to the experience comes later.

“Little Bee it looks like you are feeling frustrated right now. Is that how you feel?”

“No! I feel sad. They took my toy and now I don’t have anything left and they won’t give it back.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re feeling sad. Should we all talk about the toy together? Would you like me to help?”

  1. Name the emotions that someone else is feeling– children learn a lot from the people around them and being able to see what it looks like when someone else is feeling an emotion they have also felt allows them to see how emotions change our behavior, and the response of those around us.

“It sounds like our friend is feeling sad right now. It looks like his Mommy is going to give him a snuggle and chat about it to see if they can make it feel better. What do you notice about how our friend is feeling?”

 

  1. Embrace the moment as a teachable one – Allowing a conversation to come from what is being experienced in the moment, allowing the child to label and express how they are feeling as best they can, while you are there to support them through it. But more so afterward, you can refer to how they felt, what it felt like, what that looks like in someone else, what it looks like in books we have read.
  2. Teach the naming of emotions throughout the day – classrooms often use circle time as a change to look at a chart of faces and expressions to open up conversation about how everyone might be feeling. This is a wonderful practice but would be even more impactful if used as a regular reference throughout the day. During a heated moment, pointing to the chart where a child could find the face that most matches his/her experience, afterward if that is an easier space for a child to express, during stories as you talk about how the characters are feeling, and as the day ends.
  3. Naming all emotions, not just those that are negative – So often as educators, we focus on the negative behaviors we hope to support and address. But focusing on only the “negative emotions” sends a message. We want to teach children that they are allowed to feel exactly what they need to feel, but that the actions that we choose to take to illustrate our emotions are impactful to those around us as well as possibly harmful to ourselves. Ensuring that we talk about all emotions, name them all and share in it creates an open space for conversation.
  4. Love them through it – It can be incredibly overwhelming to feel the rush of emotions that come to a child when something has happened in their world; no matter how big or small. Anger, frustration, sadness and excitement all deserve the same response of our understanding and support. Sharing with children that we will not be leaving them to work through this alone but if they are going to hurt us, we need to step away helps them to understand that there is an acceptable way to share this emotion with someone.
  5. Teach through play – As a fellow lover of learning through play,  Barb O’Neill of Transform Challenging Behavior says that play is the best way to connect with children who are exhibiting challenging behavior. Play gives us the space to act in the moment and share learning opportunities through play and story. Through play we are building children’s attention spans and connecting with them, setting the stage for meaningful discovery when those overwhelming moments arise.
  6. Modeling and prompting – as those who work the most closely with children, we are most aware and prepared for when these challenging moments occur. Being proactive in engaging in the play and interactions that are most likely to lead to the social-emotional skills we are working through, we can be there through an entire activity to help them vocalize when it would otherwise be difficult.
  7. Use meaningful tools to support learning through play and story – using a puppet (as recommended by Barb O’Neill), books, songs, games and meaningful play, you can support the reinforcement of the social-emotional skill development as well as the naming of actions and emotions that help our children understand this area of their life in many different ways, through many different means.

Check out this post for a list of amazing book titles to support social-emotional learning

Amazing Resources for Supporting Social-Emotional Learning

Emotions Stones
Excellerations Changing Emotions Block Puzzle
Exploring Emotions Kit
Excellerations Fabric Photo Album - 13 Pockets

Children need these skills to be successful not only in the early years but throughout their life and through meaningful interactions and proactive planning we can support the development of these skills.

Excellerations Girl & Boy Puppet Pairs
When we see behavior issues in preschool children we are often watching them struggle with expressing their actual needs, wants, and feelings. Click to read more about what is going on and how we can support these lessons for toddlers to elementary school students with ideas and strategies for success. #teacher #parent #ece #educator #home #lifeskills #socialskills #emotionalskills #behaviour #educatorquotes #earlychildhoodeducation #empowereducators

A Mission for Change in Early Childhood Education

I cannot think of a better time of year to forge forward with change. As I look outside at my big beautiful oak tree that provides a canopy to the space where my daughter plays, I see TRANSFORMATION before my eyes and it inspires me.  ...

read more

Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children

Strategies for Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children Especially for those who have difficulty expressing themselves What is social-emotional learning in early childhood? Children are learning so much in their early years as the world opens up before their eyes....

read more

Less is More in the Classroom

Benefits of Minimalism in the Classroom and Playroom Walking into a typical early childhood education classroom, you are drawn to the colourful posters, toys, projects, and decor that tend to line the walls. We know that colours can be uplifting, energizing and...

read more

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...

read more

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,...

read more
Less is More in the Classroom

Less is More in the Classroom

Benefits of Minimalism in the Classroom and Playroom

Walking into a typical early childhood education classroom, you are drawn to the colourful posters, toys, projects, and decor that tend to line the walls. We know that colours can be uplifting, energizing and powerful and any company in charge of marketing to children would tell you that brightly coloured toys and games sell.

As I glance over to my own “supply closet” I see pops of colour, overly animated cartoon faces and bubble letters on just about every material that has been tucked away. I stopped using these ages ago (but haven’t gotten rid of them yet… more on my decluttering challenge here), choosing instead to follow my heart when it comes to child directed learning.

Minimalism in the Classroom

*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!*

Early childhood classroom are making a dramatic shift in how they look and for good reason. Recent research suggests that the classroom decor can heavily impact a child’s learning #design #ideas #organization #modern #learningtheories #earlychildhood #life #toddlers #preschooler #kindergartener #elementary #transition #athome

Applying Minimalism in the Classroom and Play Spaces

In many of the theories that have been around for a very long time, (Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf for example) but are newly emerging in main stream early childhood classrooms, there is a focus on natural decor: bringing the outdoors in, allowing children to use their imaginations and proving fewer “things” in exchange for multi-use items.

When I think of the invitations for play I create for my daughter and her friends in my care, I gravitate toward toys like wooden blocks – open ended and multi-use. Blocks and toys like this have the ability to become everything from stacking items, to cars, to food for cooking, to musical instruments, obstacles to be jumped over, and everything in between.

In a world where we are so often tempted by “the best and newest stuff” it’s hard to imagine going down to a minimum for toys and decor in a playroom or classroom — but there is research supporting the benefits of a “less is more” attitude in creating spaces for our youngest learners.

The Research Behind Minimalism in the Classroom

In a recent study, researchers Anna V. Fisher, Karrie E. Godwin and Howard Seltman of Carnegie Mellon University dove into the topic of a highly decorated classroom and the impact this had on children’s ability to concentrate.

Their study (which you can read about more here), found that it was about creating a display of more meaningful decorations, which I think can be supported by those who run Montessori, Reggio Emilia and, Waldorf classrooms.

Maximizing Your Classroom with Minimalism  – Creating Spaces that Invite Learning

For me, this challenge began as a need to make intentional use of the space shared by my little learners, and my family (more here). I wanted my learning environment to have a homey feel, while still engaging and inspiring self directed learning.

Teacher Tip!

Using a classroom garden as an interactive decor is also: science lessons, life lessons, air purifier, sensory work, caring for the world around us and so much more!

Hello intential learning!

Getting More from Classroom Decor

I took down those things that weren’t multi-use, and put away toys that tended to be for a specific type of play (labeled with something or branded).

I found that by doing this, the children were more engaged with each other, used the room in a more meaningful way and took better care of the items they used in their play.

Less is More in the Classroom

Children are natural investigators and will take the opportunity to learn just about anywhere (as supported by the research as well), but it is in those thoughtfully created spaces where learning can flourish, where children can concentrate and play in a more meaningful way.

Tips for Doing MORE with LESS in Learning

Check this post:

Early childhood classroom are making a dramatic shift in how they look and for good reason. Recent research suggests that the classroom decor can heavily impact a child’s learning #design #ideas #organization #modern #learningtheories #earlychildhood #life #toddlers #preschooler #kindergartener #elementary #transition #athome

 

I would love to hear from you about how you set up your learning and play spaces – do you feel less is more?

A Mission for Change in Early Childhood Education

I cannot think of a better time of year to forge forward with change. As I look outside at my big beautiful oak tree that provides a canopy to the space where my daughter plays, I see TRANSFORMATION before my eyes and it inspires me.  ...

read more

Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children

Strategies for Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children Especially for those who have difficulty expressing themselves What is social-emotional learning in early childhood? Children are learning so much in their early years as the world opens up before their eyes....

read more

Less is More in the Classroom

Benefits of Minimalism in the Classroom and Playroom Walking into a typical early childhood education classroom, you are drawn to the colourful posters, toys, projects, and decor that tend to line the walls. We know that colours can be uplifting, energizing and...

read more

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...

read more

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,...

read more
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.

A Mission for Change in Early Childhood Education

I cannot think of a better time of year to forge forward with change. As I look outside at my big beautiful oak tree that provides a canopy to the space where my daughter plays, I see TRANSFORMATION before my eyes and it inspires me.  ...

read more

Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children

Strategies for Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children Especially for those who have difficulty expressing themselves What is social-emotional learning in early childhood? Children are learning so much in their early years as the world opens up before their eyes....

read more

Less is More in the Classroom

Benefits of Minimalism in the Classroom and Playroom Walking into a typical early childhood education classroom, you are drawn to the colourful posters, toys, projects, and decor that tend to line the walls. We know that colours can be uplifting, energizing and...

read more

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...

read more

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,...

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!).

A Mission for Change in Early Childhood Education

I cannot think of a better time of year to forge forward with change. As I look outside at my big beautiful oak tree that provides a canopy to the space where my daughter plays, I see TRANSFORMATION before my eyes and it inspires me.  ...

read more

Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children

Strategies for Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children Especially for those who have difficulty expressing themselves What is social-emotional learning in early childhood? Children are learning so much in their early years as the world opens up before their eyes....

read more

Less is More in the Classroom

Benefits of Minimalism in the Classroom and Playroom Walking into a typical early childhood education classroom, you are drawn to the colourful posters, toys, projects, and decor that tend to line the walls. We know that colours can be uplifting, energizing and...

read more

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...

read more

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,...

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

A Mission for Change in Early Childhood Education

I cannot think of a better time of year to forge forward with change. As I look outside at my big beautiful oak tree that provides a canopy to the space where my daughter plays, I see TRANSFORMATION before my eyes and it inspires me.  ...

read more

Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children

Strategies for Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children Especially for those who have difficulty expressing themselves What is social-emotional learning in early childhood? Children are learning so much in their early years as the world opens up before their eyes....

read more

Less is More in the Classroom

Benefits of Minimalism in the Classroom and Playroom Walking into a typical early childhood education classroom, you are drawn to the colourful posters, toys, projects, and decor that tend to line the walls. We know that colours can be uplifting, energizing and...

read more

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...

read more

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,...

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

A Mission for Change in Early Childhood Education

I cannot think of a better time of year to forge forward with change. As I look outside at my big beautiful oak tree that provides a canopy to the space where my daughter plays, I see TRANSFORMATION before my eyes and it inspires me.  ...

read more

Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children

Strategies for Teaching Social-Emotional Skills to Children Especially for those who have difficulty expressing themselves What is social-emotional learning in early childhood? Children are learning so much in their early years as the world opens up before their eyes....

read more

Less is More in the Classroom

Benefits of Minimalism in the Classroom and Playroom Walking into a typical early childhood education classroom, you are drawn to the colourful posters, toys, projects, and decor that tend to line the walls. We know that colours can be uplifting, energizing and...

read more

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...

read more

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,...

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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