This activity was inspired by local teachers @earlyyearsinquirer and @darlamyersclass . We all know how important it is to talk about identity in the classroom, and this activity was a perfect way to start those conversations.
After reading the book "Brown- the Many Shades of Love" by Nancy Johnson James, students used clay to match their shade of skin to create a portrait.
Have you ever picked up a book and decided it wasn’t something your child would connect to? Whether it seemed outside their comfort zone as readers or you thought the topic or story would be difficult for your kiddo to understand, it’s easy to “otherize” books based on what we think our kids “should” connect to.
If you’ve followed along with us for a while you know that we often talk about Windows and Mirrors. Children need books to be windows – “...they will see that we can celebrate both our differences and our similarities, because together they are what make us all human”. (Sims Bishop, 2015). This is why having diverse bookshelves is important.
Here are a few tips to help diversify your bookshelf:
The balance of creating a diverse book shelf is challenging, and there is no “perfect book shelf” or library. There are SO many challenges within the Kid Lit industry from lack of own voiced stories to the misrepresentations of characters based on archaic stereotypes. These are hard barriers and walls for oneself to break down. A general tip would be to avoid sharing diverse literature only for teachable moments, as well as avoiding just picking books to create a large volumed library of diverse literature. You want to create something that is robust and meaningful for your family.
This isn’t easy, trust us, we don’t always get it right, and sometimes revisit titles we’ve purchased, wondering what were we thinking. Everyone has a story and each story is meaningful in its own right. So let’s take a minute to celebrate the complexities of life and when doing so, you might as well enjoy them together as a family.
Its the middle of September - so how long have you been drinking that iced or hot PSL? In that case, have you thought about switching up your sensory bin? We’ve curated a few simple and easy sensory bins to set up to give you just enough quiet time to sip that PSL in peace! This one adds one minor set up for you to consider, creating a “squirrel” from a few pieces of construction paper and an empty bottle. Then add in some birdseed as the base, measuring spoons & cups, fine motor scoops and you’re off!
Bonus: save some of the bird seed and head to your local nature trails to feed the chickadees!
This one was a huge hit last fall with our kiddos (big and small!). Just be sure to throw some towels down if you are working inside, or if it’s a nice day, take it outside! For us, it meant a morning visit to our local apple orchard, then post nap, we took some time to “wash the apples”. Soap, water, a little bit of vinegar if you’re looking for a true rinse of the apples, some scrubbers towels and a few reminders to be “gentle” to the apples, and you’ve got yourself 30 free minutes to sitterviseOkay, so this one basically involves putting a few fall things together, whether store bought or collected on a nature hunt during a family walk, and tossing it all in a bin. It’s great if you have things like magnifying class, scoops or tweezers, but also, just watching them touch, pour and listening to the sounds is great enough. Easy conversations about what happens to the leaves from spring to fall, as well as why there are pinecones can spark natural interest from your little babe
Fall Colour Sensory Bin
If the whole dumping random things into a bin fires up the mom guilt (teacher moms, do you feel me) this one adds an obvious educational opportunity should you feel your little babe needs it (or maybe wants it!). Using coloured cups, some fall foliage and the best part frozen veg, add in some spoons a bit of water, and voila! You’re kiddo is on their way to practising fall colours
Fall Pie Bin
Last, if you just don’t have the time to put it together, there are so many wonderful small shops who have taken the time to do it for you! Stephanie’s Small World is a local mama and teacher, who has themed kits. You literally can’t go wrong for with this choice! This was one of our favourites but be sure to check out all her other options too.
So your little babe would rather run circles around you then sit for an extended period of time and enjoy a book and a cuddle. That’s cool - we’ve got your back. Here are 5 strategies that can help create excitement around reading together in a calm manner.
The last thing you want is to find yourself feeling like reading time is a daunting task. Some kids just need a little bit more time to mature and increase their focus. Research suggests that dinnertime is equivalent to their age (so if they are 3 expect them to be able to sit at the table for 3 minutes) (SOURCE) This may apply to reading too. The last thing you want is to make reading a miserable experience for both of you. So, come back to it frequently and give them space when they need it.
Whether your child is weeks old or moving their way through Kindergarten, you’ve likely heard the term “kindergarten ready” (especially if you’ve been researching daycares!). As teachers, we’ve even heard this term, but I’ve never really understood what it really meant until having my own children. Kindergarten ready does NOT mean being able to read, write and count. In fact, if you’re based in Ontario with us, you’ll know that Kindergarten is largely focused on a play-based learning model.
Children learn through play and natural curiosities, so instead of stressing when your child reaches the end of pre-school and they haven’t mastered all the academic skills you feel is needed for school, take a deep breath, exhale and reflect on all the great things your child CAN independently and what they might still need some support in so they feel ready.
So What IS Kindergarten Readiness?
Instead of focusing on the academics, let’s shift back to the idea that Kindergarten and Early Childhood Education should be about learning life skills, developing social skills and cognitive thinking skills. Okay, okay, plain speak - think things along the lines of:
We might also consider sharing or turn taking - but again, this is a skill we expect students to master and understand at very early stages, when in reality, it is a skill that is developmentally appropriate to have mastered during the early primary grades. In fact, collaboration is a major learning skill that is focused on all throughout elementary school. And in all seriousness, your little babe likely does a better job of sharing in school then sharing their own prized possessions in their own personal spaces.
In the end, what Kindergarten teachers everywhere want you to know, is that it’s okay if they don’t know their ABC’s or 123’s. They will have plenty of time to learn all the academics they will need in their next years and years of education. Right now what they need is to begin to feel confident in who they are as independent little people. So go on, take that deep breath and reflect on all the amazing things your little babe is capable of already, and give yourself a silent pat on the back because you are the big reason they have learned, laughed and loved in these few short moments on earth.
It’s a new month, so why not start a reading challenge with your little babe(s)?
Click to download it here or Screen shot it for the future! If your little is old enough, hang it somewhere or keep it within reach so that each time you read something, you can cross it off your list together. Our littles love stickers, so we grabbed a few of our favourite stickers (re: elsa and ana & paw patrol) and we cover the square with the sticker du jour!
Why do a reading challenge? Well, it encourages a wide reading of different types of stories. It can help you see what types of books you have a lot of and what types of books you might be missing on your shelves. It will also create time and connection with your little and act as a spring board to some quiet downtime in what is otherwise a busy end of summer month. And really, you don’t need to make it a challenge at all. Use it as a checklist or as a guide to switching up your bookshelves for the month (Hot Tip! Scroll down a couple of posts for all our tips on book rotations!)
It's a scavenger hunt! Inspired by a birthday party we recently attended, we loved how the host family created a scavenger hunt to keep the kids engaged and exploring the area they were in. It was so much fun to see their excitement. This activity is perfect for ages 3 and up (though could easily be done with a two year old at a slower pace).
Things to Find:
How to Create this:
Keep it simple! You can write the list on a piece of paper or you can get fancy and add on to the activity by printing it out and using graphics that match through a simple image search on google. This helps your little babe connect that the word equals the picture. Or feel free to download our free scavenger hunt template! Just print it off and take it with you around whether you’re going around the block or on a new adventure. It’s yours - on us, just click here
Pro Tip! If you put it in a sheet protector, you can use a white board marker that will easily wipe off, so that you can use the hunt sheet again and again for whenever you need a quick pick me up or change in that neighbourhood walk routine!
Toy Rotations are all the rage. It’s so smart though right. Pop a few toys away, and after your little babes lose interest, bring a few out and tuck away the others. There is significant research that shows children do better with less. Not only does it decrease clutter, make clean up easier and save you money, it can foster creativity and increase the amount of time your little babe likes to play.
So what about your books? It works with some of the same principles! We’ve all been there, you’ve told your little to grab a book off their shelf, and they stand there humming and hawing because they have too many options. Keeping a simple shelf of a few books helps eliminate the stress (and time) it takes them to make a choice. Highlighting a few key favourites at a time, increases the likeness that reading is enjoyable and less like a daunting task.
When move books around our house, or choose some new ones from our hidden away pile, all of a sudden the stories have found new excitement. An old favourite reappears, a new story becomes a top interest pick, and excitement has been generated. The best part? You can easily see what books they are enjoying and what books they are avoiding. So get curious, what is it about certain books that steer them away? What is it about the books they love that grabs their attention? This can help you make informed choices when purchasing or borrowing books from the library. Amazing right?
So how do you actually rotate it? Here’s a few key tips!