Scissor Skills

Working on scissor skills does so much more than just plain scissor skills – if that makes sense. It helps strengthen fine motor skills which in turns help with shoe tying, writing, drawing, etc. I know it seems scary to allow a child to have a pair of scissors and a piece of paper, but I’m here to help you see that it really isn’t!

Free scissor skill printable! Did you know how many things you're working on when you're working on scissor skills at home? It helps kids strengthen their fine motor skills, hand eye coordination - so much more! Check out this post for a free scissor skill printable for kids ages 2-5.

This post contains affiliate links. What that means is if you click on the link to purchase, I will receive a small kick back from your purchase, at no extra cost to you. 

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Animal Action Dice

Large motor activities are so important – especially in the winter months when you feel like you’re stuck inside all day. Grab this animal action dice printable and get to moving!

Large motor activity indoors is so important - especially when it's too hot or too cold to get out of the house. Enter this animal action dice. Simple to put together (with a video to show you how) and fun for kids! Includes a blank one so you can add what you'd like. #largemotorindoor #largemotorplay #largemotor #indooractivities #indoorplay #siblingactivities #cooperativeplay #takingturns #turntaking #animalaction #animalactiondice #freeprintable

My kiddos love large motor activities and I love easy large motor activities so this one is a win/win for us. They love acting like animals (making their movements and sounds) so I figured this activity would be perfect for us on a “stuck inside” day.

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Questions to ask a Group Child Care Center

So, you’re pregnant. After you’re done accepting all the unsolicited advice (just kidding, it never ends), you start to think about who will watch baby when you go back to work, if you need to/want to go back.

By the way, wanting to go back to work is a thing, and that’s okay.

You have a few options. If you’re lucky enough to have family around and willing to help, you probably won’t end up with child care bills the size of your mortgage. You can also hire a nanny, or if you’re looking for child care, you can choose home child care or group child care.

This post will walk you through the process of finding a group child care center that works for you.

Time out for a sec – why should you listen to me? I was an assistant principal for a preschool/child care center for almost 5 years. I did tours of our school daily and was asked ALL THE QUESTIONS. Some people say “there is no such thing as a ridiculous question,” and trust me, sometimes there is. But I’m going to tell you what you should be asking! Also, at the end of this post, I have created a printable for you to take with you if need be. You can print it off and there’s a spot to write down the answers you receive.

  • Do you currently have space or do you have a waiting list? How do I get on that list? Personally, I think this is the most important question to ask! Don’t let the answer scare you away, either. If their answer is yes, time to find out how long. And just because they tell you their next spot isn’t available until 3 weeks after you need to start doesn’t mean it’s not right for you. Someone ahead of you may decide between now and then that they don’t want to go back to work, or they got a new job and the location doesn’t work anymore, or grandma decided she wanted to watch the baby. There are so many things that can change. We have also had people go with another school because they weren’t full, so they thought their baby would get more attention there. Not always the case. Sometimes there is a reason why they aren’t full. Don’t pick a school just because the timing is right.
  • What is your sick policy? This question is important for a few reasons – you want to know what precautions they take to avoid everyone else getting sick. When do they allow the child back in? What do they do if a child shows up sick? Do they wait to see if they get better before calling? Do they not let the parent leave the building without the child? Do they call parents if the child just “seems” sick or if there is an actual fever? If you have a demanding job, it might be difficult for you to leave work so you don’t necessarily want to be called for everything. Or, you have a super flexible job and you do want to be called. Most child care centers require a doctor’s note to return and the child needs to be fever free (anything above 100F is considered a fever in most places) for 24 hours without meds to return.
  • What is your policy on payment if the child is sick for an extended period of time? A lot of schools don’t have this in writing but can be flexible if your child misses 5 or more days consecutively, but this is entirely up to the school, especially if it’s not specified in the contract.
  • How do you handle discipline? You don’t want a school that will disenroll your child for biting as a toddler because this behavior is age appropriate. It’s unpleasant for sure, but it is completely age appropriate. Will they work with you to try to rid your child of inappropriate behaviors? (IE, biting at 3 years and up, hitting, etc.)
  • What is your vacation policy? I worked at one school where you had to pay half of your tuition when you were on vacation, and another where each year you get a free week if you’re gone from Monday – Friday and your weeks did not roll over to the next year. So if you don’t use it, you lose out on it.
  • Do you have yearly price increases? What percentage, typically? Most schools do, and we would have a lot of parents who said they had no idea!
  • Do you provide diapers, wipes, formula? You may also ask if they will do cloth diapers for you and how they handle sending home the dirty ones.
  • As an infant, do you follow the parents’ schedule or your own? Some child care centers will adjust baby’s schedule to accommodate the hustle and bustle of the school and some will follow yours.
  • Do infants get outside time? Some group cares will take the infants out for a stroller ride, allow them to sit and get some fresh air, maybe read a book outside. Outside time is important for babies.
  • When you move children up to the next class, do they all move together or with their birthdays? This is important because if they move children based on their birthdays, then how do they adjust to the current curriculum that is happening in the new room? Children should be moved together to cater to their curriculum and current abilities.
  • How do you handle late pick ups? Most schools have a certain amount they charge, per minute usually, for late pick ups.
  • How do you track infants’ milestones? Infant rooms should have a curriculum they follow. To some, this may sound silly. But trust me, in between all that crying, napping and bottle feeding, learning is so important!
  • When children are older, how do your teachers handle rough drop offs? Starting your child as an infant is a great start to avoid rough drop offs. They’re more common with kids that start after 18 months. However, they can still come when kids are old enough to test their boundaries. Find out how they would handle a kiddo who is having a rough drop off and ask why they do those things to help you understand.
  • Can I call to check in on my baby? When are the best and worst times to call? Running an infant room is tough work. You want to make sure they are okay with you calling, or if it easier for the teacher to call  you when they have a few minutes of downtime. You don’t want to call in the middle of 5 babies all needing a bottle at once!
  • What days are you closed? Child care centers are generally closed for major holidays, but some random ones can sneak in there for teacher improvement days so you’ll want to know if you need to make special arrangements for those days. Don’t let them sneak up on you!

Some tips for you when visiting schools….

  • Ask to see more classrooms, not just the infant room. You want a school where you feel comfortable until Kindergarten. Don’t be afraid to take a peek at what older children are doing!
  • Read the contract. Don’t just sign it and hand it over when filling out your paperwork. It’s a lot of reading, but make sure you are reading it right! Every school has different rules and you want to make sure you understand them.
  • Ask for a daily sheet (if they have them) or an example of how you will know how your child’s day went. A lot of schools now have apps where you can read about their day on your phone. Ask to see an example of that so you know how you will be filled in about their day.
  • Ask for references, specifically people who have been there a long time. They have been through lots of rooms, teachers, and kids.
  • Decide if you want a center near your house or near your work. If it’s near your work, it’s easier to get to if something should happen or your child is sick. If it’s near your house, your child will have less time in the car.

I hope this is helpful, and if you have anything to add, please leave it in the comments section below! Here is your printable I promised 😉

What Your Wife Really Wants For Mother’s Day

Are you wondering what your wife really wants for mother’s day? Well wonder no more, my friend. I have asked some real life, tired, over worked mothers what they want – and I’m sharing the “secret” with you.

What your wife really wants for mother's day. Hint - it isn't flowers!

Anniversaries, Birthdays, Christmas…All of these holidays are to celebrate something, right? Mother’s Day is no exception.

Being in all these mom groups on Facebook, I feel like every single year on Mother’s Day, someone is posting saying they were not celebrated on Mother’s Day. They got nothing.

Yep, you heard that right. NOTHING. When you have small children who don’t know how to express their gratitude (or simply don’t have the money or means to shop), as the partner, you need to step in.

Every year when I read these posts I am baffled. Baffled that there are men out there who do not celebrate their wives/girlfriends on Mother’s Day. If this is you and you are reading this right now, shame on you.

These women made you a father for those kids you love so dearly. These women sacrificed their bodies to become a mother for these littles. They worry all day about them and they bust their asses to be the best mom they can be.

Everyone loves to be appreciated. So I reached out to my mom friends and asked them….What (attainable) thing do you really want for Mother’s Day?

I have compiled some of the best non-material (and material) gifts. What you do with the information is on you. I am here to help 😉

What your wife really wants for Mother’s Day

  • Sleep – A pretty popular one was simple – just let her sleep in. If that means you have to sleep on the kid’s bedroom floor so you can intercept them climbing into bed with mom, then so be it. Whether your wife is a working mom or SAHM, sleeping in is a thing of the past! Maybe even take the kids out of the house early in the morning. Treat them to breakfast (but make sure you bring some home for her!)
  • No Responsibilities – One mom suggested she wants to do their regular outings like they normally do on the weekends, but she doesn’t want to make the plans or pack the diaper bag. She wants her husband to do it all. This idea got the biggest reaction from our group of moms. Someone also said to just spend the day with them – she feels her husband doesn’t spend any time with her and her son.
  • Do It Yourself – In relation to this one, lots of other moms said they want a day (if you’re feeling extra nice, a whole weekend) where no one needs them to tell them what to do. You finish eating? Wash your dishes. Dirty clothes on the floor? Put them in the hamper or just do the laundry.
  • Silence – alone time. Movie by themselves, shopping alone, whatever. Feeling brave? Take the kids out for the whole day. Not just until nap. The whole dang day. And don’t call her to ask her questions. Just figure it out.
  • Other mothers – Moms don’t want to have to worry about other mother’s Mother’s Day plans. Split up your weekend and spend Saturday with the other mothers.
  • Material Gifts
    If your wife’s love language is gifts, here are some ideas for you…
  • Pampering – Spa day, manicure, pedicure, massage. Or all of the above. Send them away for the day and do all the planning for her.
  • Jewelry – The popular theme with jewelry was child related jewelry. So, stackable rings with the kids’ names on them, bracelets with their names, necklaces with their names. Google will be your best friend.
  • Cleanliness – Clean the house. If you don’t trust yourself, spring for a cleaning lady. We just want a day where we don’t have to clean. Or lift a finger, really. Also, a few of the ladies wanted a clean car.
  • Family photos – Moms are usually the ones to schedule these so if you take the initiative, that would be so much more meaningful.

Bottom line, put some thought into it. And involve your kids when you can (handmade cards, painting on a canvas, whatever). Speaking of which, here is a cute printable you can give your kids. Ask them the questions and fill it out for mom. I promise, she’ll smile.

 

 

Dialogic reading: How to Facilitate Extra Conversation With Your Child During Story Time

Dialogic reading is the process of expanding on the words you are reading to your child. It is so easy to do and is also a great way to get a little bit more out of that time you have together.
Dialogic reading is the process of reading to your kids but adding in extra info or asking questions while reading to get their minds to think a little more. It is a great thing to add to your daily story time routine to exercise those little minds. #dialogicreading #readingtogether #readingwithyourkids #readingwithbabies #whyshouldwereadtogether #reading #circletime #storytime

One of my most favorite parts of teaching (besides watching their little brains expand and of course sensory play) was circle time. Circle time requires lots of skills for preschoolers. Following directions, listening, reading comprehension…to name a few 🙂

Reading comprehension is a big part of circle times. They are often centered around a book. Depending on the curriculum, it could be the same book each day for a week or a new book each day. I really enjoyed doing the same book all week. Why? Because kids learn by repetition. By Friday, the kids can recite the entire book. But each day you’re doing something different with the book.

On Monday when I would introduce the book, I read it using dialogic reading. Dialogic reading is a great way to get preschoolers more involved in what you’re reading to them. It’s asking follow up questions or precursor questions about the book. “What does it look like will happen next? Is that dog wearing swim trunks? Do dogs wear swim trunks? Where do you think he’s going in those swim trunks?” You can expand on their answers and ask more questions. You can rephrase their responses to gain more information and insight from them. In a way, you become the listener, and he becomes the reader.

Before I dive into the specifics of dialogic reading, I am going to give you a list of the benefits of reading to your kids. It truly does so much for them (and you) that you may not even know.

Benefits of reading with your children

  • They learn how to sit still! This can be a tough skill to teach and I think parents don’t realize how easy it is. When you give kids something interesting to do, sitting still can be much easier for them to accomplish.
  • Bonding – this is super important. If you get nothing from reading with your kids, get this! It’s one on one time that is easy and beneficial for everyone.
  • Following directions – work on following directions by telling them when to turn the page.
  • Taking turns – take turns with them when you’re turning the page or (if they’re older), reading certain words.
  • Reading – I am convinced my oldest learned how to read so early because we read at least 3 books a night to him.
  • Exploration – Reading teaches your kids about the world around them – a world that they may otherwise never even be aware of.
  • Emotional developments – Children oftentimes learn about emotion through books. They learn that there are emotions out there that they didn’t know about, and how to deal with them. Side note, here is a list of emotional regulation books you can check out

Dialogic reading helps challenge kids to think outside of the book. It assists with verbal fluency, conversational skills and abilities and narrative skills (story telling).

Even now as a parent, when we get a new book from the library, I never just read the words. I ask lots of questions to see what my kids predict from seeing pictures and me reading the text.
It’s also a really cool way to cater to 2 different ages when reading a book. You can take a younger book and make it more exciting for your older child by adding more prompts with dialogic reading. We do this all the time with our books! When my 2 year old has a book she wants to read, I will often call over my older kiddo to help us and expand a little bit on each page. My 2 year old also has a slight speech delay so it’s a great way to get her talking as well.

Dialogic reading is broken down into 5 different types of prompts – CROWD.

Completion Prompts:
You read a sentence to your child and leave out the last word. These are very popular for books that have repetitive lines or rhyming lines. Your child completes the sentence.

Recall Prompts:
These prompts help the child remember what was just read or what was read at a previous time. So you could ask them in the beginning of the book “what does the caterpillar turn into after he eats all the food?” if he has read the book before. If he hasn’t read the book before, you would ask the question at the end of the book.

Open-Ended Prompts:
These are my favorite. We would call these “picture walks” of the book. These prompts focus primarily on the pictures. You could say “what is happening in this picture?” “Where do you think that little boy is going?” “What do you think the next food he eats will be?”

Wh- Prompts:
These are the questions that begin with “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.” These are also focusing on the pictures. “What is that toy?” “What color is that?”

Distancing Prompts:
These are prompts that encourage kids to connect the book with their life outside of the book. “Remember when we saw that caterpillar yesterday in the backyard? Do you think he was going to turn into a butterfly? Do you think he ate salami?”

Distancing and recall prompts are for the older kiddos (4 to 5 year olds) and are often the more difficult of the 5, so don’t feel discouraged if your smaller ones don’t really grasp those.

Depending on the vocabulary of your little, you may want to feel them out with questions and see what they can and cannot answer.I challenge you to try it at story time tonight, then come back and let me know how it goes. I never read a book without prompting questions any more! Click here for your printable, or just grab it below! 🙂 Have fun – can’t wait to hear from you!

Father’s Day Gift idea – FREE printable!

Every year we fill out this super easy Father’s Day Printable and put them into a book to look back on and remember. It’s free and has some really cute questions to ask your kiddos about dad each year on Father’s day! Father's Day printable - free!

Dan and I try to keep costs down for Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. So, naturally, I like to DIY his gifts.

Last year since Dylan was 2 (that feels like forever ago), he could finally answer questions with real responses, so I started asking him questions about Daddy. I put them into a binder and I am going to add to it each year, and when Reagan can start speaking (which will probably be never because her brother doesn’t stop talking) she’ll get asked the questions as well. His answers last year were so sweet and I can’t wait to hear them this year!

Cover of book for father's day printable

 

Picture of a child's drawing of his father on the free father's day printable

 

Close up of free father's day printable

You can download the free template here for your own use! 🙂

I also did one for Opa and Papa and had him draw pictures of them, too.

Enjoy, and Happy Father’s Day!

6+ Sensory Bins for under $30 – with tons of other ideas!

Sensory bins are the best for keeping small hands busy. You can switch out all the “fillers” and create tons of different combinations!
Sensory bin ideas from the Dollar store

Check out all of my sensory and activity posts here.

D needs sensory stuff and sensory bins. And since we are inside, waiting for baby to arrive, I knew he needed a sensory bin day.

I could not WAIT to get to Dollar Tree and try all of these sensory bins. I went armed with a list – HA! That was funny that I actually thought I would follow a list. The list also was for under $20. Again – HA! Mine was $40, BUT I bought some stuff that wasn’t for my sensory bins and since everything was $1, it was easy for me to take it out of my total and get a new total. Here is how I started:

Sensory bin supplies from the dollar store

Sensory Bins Shopping List

  • 6 bins (I know I said that this would make 6+ – sit tight, we’ll get to that)
  • 2 bags of cotton balls (I ended up using only 1)
  • 2 bags of dry beans (again, I ended up using only 1)
  • 1 bag of pasta (I bought Ziti)
  • 1 bag of creepy crawlies
  • 1 bag of lizards / frogs (obviously these and the previous ones can be switched out with anything – this is just what D likes)
  • 2 sets of 3 rubber ducks
  • 1 set of play kitchen tools
  • 1 set of tongs (D calls these “pinchers”…he loves to play with ours at home)
  • 1 box of baking soda
  • 1 bag of decorative rocks
  • 1 bag of decorative sand
  • 1 bag of decorative pebbles
  • 1 set of coffee scoops
  • 1 set of 3 toothbrushes
  • 1 container of oatmeal
  • 1 bottle of vinegar
  • 1 set of funnels
  • 2 cans of shaving cream
  • 1 foam alphabet set

Keep your kids busy and get some quiet time for yourself! Download my sensory play activity guide now!

Again, you can pick other stuff. If you have a girl and want fake jewelry, whatever. Use your imagination! 🙂

Here is a breakdown of my sensory bin items:

Sensory bin supplies from the dollar store

The shaving cream is part of the “+” of my bins. I will get into that also 🙂

Here are the items that will be in the bins:

Sensory bin supplies from the dollar store

And then here are the tools that he’ll use (he LOVES tools):

sensory bin supplies from the dollar store

So first I am going to show you the 6 bins that I made, then I will give you ideas for the “+” bins. I will have to run to the Dollar Tree again and pick up 1 or 2 more bins that will act as “messy bins.” The bins that need to be switched out and can’t hold certain stuff (ie, clean mud, shaving cream, water, etc).

The first one I tackled was rocks and sand. I was super excited about this one because of the pretty colors I picked out. 🙂

sensory bin with rocks and sand

I let D pick out which toy he wanted to put in this one and he chose the creepy crawlies.

bug sensory bin

In true boy, sensory seeking fashion, he could not WAIT to get his hands in there. His imagination went wild with this one. They were all on a mission together to save the good guys and fight the bad guys! Kids can learn colors, numbers, get their sensory output fix for the day, whatever.

Next one was the rocks and D actually had the idea of what to add to the rocks. I have to admit, those construction vehicles were not purchased at the Dollar Tree. But how could I say no, when it was his idea to toss them in after seeing the rocks? I just couldn’t.

construction sensory bin

Next, we loaded up the bin with dry oatmeal. You could very well use wet oatmeal, but don’t reuse it. You would have to toss it out after you played with it but I bet it would be very fun.

oatmeal sensory bin with lizards

I was going to write numbers under the creatures bellies but there just wasn’t enough time with this guy digging in.

Next up was beans! I don’t know why, but beans are my favorite sensory item. Maybe it’s because it was one of the first that I used when I was a developmental therapist? They are heavy but not too heavy and they’re cold. I even like playing in the bean bin! We added the toy kitchen utensils and a scoop in this one. D loves the kitchen utensils so he enjoyed this bucket.

sensory bin with beans

Next was cotton balls and rubber duckies. I wrote numbers on the bottom of the rubber ducks because we’ve been having some problems with a few numbers. He wasn’t too thrilled with this one, (probably because it makes the least amount of mess) but he’ll come around 🙂

rubber ducks for sensory bins
sensory bin with rubber ducks and cotton balls

Finally, we did dry pasta and a mini foam board I found that he could put the letters into. I love this one! We are trying to learn the difference between numbers and letters and this one is awesome because it has letters and numbers.

sensory bin with dry pasta and letters sensory bin with foam letters

As for my “extras….”

messy sensory bin items

*Baking soda and vinegar is just awesome together. I’ve never shown D before but I will. It’s a really cool reaction, so this will be in my “messy bin” (the bin that needs to be cleaned out after every use!)
*Shaving cream is also awesome and will be a part of the messy bin.
*The toothbrushes will be in a soapy water messy bin with his cars so he can wash them.
*The funnels can really go into any bin. D found a home for them in the oatmeal bin!

Other things we will do in the messy bin:
*Clean mud (shaved bar soap and torn up toilet paper mixed with water)
*Baking soda and water (3:1)
*Play dough (homemade or otherwise)
*Water beads (these are found at most craft stores and some dollar stores)
*Pumpkin guts
*Hair gel
*Cooked spaghetti noodles

If you are looking for a printable shopping list of over 50 sensory bins and fillers, grab your free copy here by signing up for my mailing list. I promise I won’t overflow your inbox 😉

I also share lots of easy, educational activities in live videos on my Facebook page, so head over and give it a “like” and make sure you turn notifications on!

The opportunities for sensory play are ENDLESS! You can also add any small plastic toys really to these sensory bins. I could go on for hours on sensory activities.

Related Posts:

              Sensory bottles from the Dollar store          

Please feel free to ask questions about sensory bins and activities. It was my FAVORITE part of teaching.

Enjoy!

Check out all of my sensory and activity posts here.