Natural Loose Parts

loose part 3.jpgLoose parts provide the foundation for a play-based emergent curriculum that focuses on inquiry driven learning. According to Simon Nicholson, the definition for loose parts states: “In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.”

Nicholson, goes on to state that static, sterile environments such as schools and concrete playgrounds are often devoid of opportunities for curiosity, inventions, creativity and construction. These spaces are frequently rigid and unresponsive to the children who are expected to interact and flourish within their parameters.   Continue reading

What to Include in a Calm Down Kit

The purpose of creating a calm down area is to provide a space to support the child in learning to self-regulate. It is a safe place for a child to take a break away from a stimulus that is causing stress, anxiety or anger (e.g., loud noises, having to share, feeling tired, or being excited). The child learns to identify overwhelming feelings and step away to regain self-control. Through this process the child engages in calming and relaxing activities and, once calm, is able to return to the activity or routine in progress. A calm down area should never be used as a time out or as a punishment.

There are a lot of different things you can include in a calm down kit and you will want to tailor it to your child(ren) and ensure the calm down area is supervised at all times. The kit should be readily available for both indoor and outdoor and can include: Continue reading

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

Have you filled a bucket today.jpgThis uplifting book was the winner of 8 Mom’s Choice Awards. It is a great reminder for everyone about the importance of kindness and lifting each other up. I referenced a lot of thoughts and ideas that I had while reading this book during several conversations with educators in school age programs. It made me think about positive group reinforcements for being kind to one another every day. Through conversations with both the educators and children, we came up with an idea to have physical buckets for each child in the program and a big jar of pom poms to put in another child’s bucket when someone noticed them doing something nice for a peer, or just being kind throughout the afternoon. Continue reading

Does adult screen time impact our children?

It seems there is a new article or research every week about the adverse effects of screen time on children. Too much screen time has been linked to child obesity, attachment issues, lack of sleep, delay in language acquisition and sensory overload to name just a few.


While children are watching TV, using a computer, gaming device, tablet or smartphone, they are missing out on opportunities. Opportunities to make connections with the world around them including forging real relationships with peers and adults in their life; opportunities to problem solve, to be creative, to feel, touch, smell and make sense of their environment.  Continue reading

The Reason I Jump

The Reason I Jump

This book is a unique memoir written by Naoki Higashida, a thirteen year old boy with Autism. Naoki is unable to use expressive language to communicate however he has developed the skill of using an alphabet grid to construct sentences. His book allows the reader to enter into his world. He formats the book as a series of questions and answers such as “Why are your facial expressions so limited?” and “Is it true you hate being touched?”. Naoki’s answers are personal; however at times he does use the pronoun “we”. I think it is important for the reader to reflect and not generalize as no two children on the Autism Spectrum are alike. Continue reading

Sensory Play

As an educator I found myself frequently volunteering to wash the dishes at the end of the day, it was the perfect stress reducer for me and gave me the opportunity to reflect on my day. Sensory play is not only important for children but for adults too!

Sensory pic 1

Three personal sensory bins with moon sand to allow children easy access and choice. These bins have lids to allow them to stack for easy storage in an accessible area to promote independence. – Fairview Child Care.

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Ready for School? Language and literacy can help

First Words logo.jpgAs a parent, you are your child’s most important teacher. In fact, you have been preparing your child for school from the day that they were born. Everything you have done so far provided the foundation for your child to grow and learn throughout their lives! As a speech language pathologist, I understand the value of language in a child’s academic journey. But as a parent of three wonderful girls, I whole-heartily share the same concern every single parent has: Will my child be ready for school? Will he make friends? Will she know who to go to when she is hurt?  Whether you are this easy-going parent or “that mom” who follows the school bus to school (not that I would know anything about this personally!), when the first day of school suddenly arrives, we all wonder how our little one will fair off.  We all want our children to succeed, especially at school.  Today, we will talk and share about what we can do at home to get our child ready for kindergarten.  Continue reading