Friday, December 6, 2013

Hot Toys for Kids for the 2013 Holiday Season

For toys to be awesome hits for kids and parents alike, they must be fun to play with right out of the box, but also having staying power to last as well. It's also important for toys to educate, entertain, and hold a child's attention for a good length of time. Most of this year's toys will also appeal to adults, so join in on the fun and enrich your child's playtime. Here are a few to consider.

VTech has launched the InnoTab 3S, which is a Wi-Fi enabled children's learning tablet. Just like the parents' electronics, this communication device allows kids ages three to nine to be connected with their parents and friends through both tablet to mobile and tablet to tablet communication with the Kid Connect app. Just think, your child can make you a special drawing or note and you can download it on your smart phone at work and you can reply back to them. This package, at around $100, comes as a kid-safe web browser along with a rechargeable battery pack and AC adapter. VTech's Learning Lodge app store has a plethora of age appropriate content and curriculum to download plus 20 free apps with this package. It's never too early to start children on computers as technology is the key to future learning.

Understanding the importance of imaginary play, Playmobil has launched its new toy PopStars Stage. Pretend to be rock stars and belt out your favorite tunes in concert to a crowded audience. This toy is MP3 compatible so you can create your concert where your songs are accompanied with drums, guitar solos and flashing lights. Four figures are included (as your band) along with accessories such as drum sets, guitars, microphones, speakers and two preloaded tunes to get you started. This toy is a must for musically inclined kids ages four to ten who yearn to be singing sensations. It's retailing this holiday season at $39.99. Later you can add to this theme with the PopStars Tour Bus and PopStars Keyboarder.

And for the younger set, why not let your youngster play with miles of learning with VTech's Go! Go! Smart Wheels Airport Play Set? The airport helps young children strengthen their fine motor skills and builds their imagination through play. The little airplane teaches letters and sounds and there's a control tower that turns its antenna to fly the plane. Children may also be interested in this company's other sets including the Go! Go! Smart Wheels Train Station and Go! Go! Smart Wheels Construction Play Set. These stations range from $25 to $35 in retail stores. You can pack a few Go! Go! Smart Wheels vehicles in a child's holiday stocking for $7.99 with an assortment of 12 different vehicles to choose from. With a push of a button, they light up, talk and play music.

Is your child a foodie? VTech has the 2-in-1 Shop and Cook Play Set, which transforms from a shopping cart to a kitchen in a matter of minutes. The cart responds with cute sounds and phrases and then when the child is ready to cook, there is a pretend cutting board, stovetop, oven, and sink. For children ages two through five, this play set encourages learning about food, colors, numbers, following directions and much more. This toy retails at just under $50.
What a fun year for the toy industry and for the entertainment of your children. Take time to enjoy your children's company and play with them. You'll be directing their development and absorb the thrill and amusement in their playtime activities.
The Contributor was given a gift or sample to inform this content.
This content was originally posted on Yahoo Voices

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thanksgiving Books for Preschoolers

Take time to read a variety of books with the children during your preschool storytime. Books can help children to learn about their world, visit new places, and practice skills needed for future learning.

This article will discuss the different kinds of books you can be reading with your group and suggested titles for Thanksgiving.

Traditional Children's Books

Think about fairy tales, folk tales, fables, myths, and legends from around the world and across the ages of time. Through these beloved stories, children become familiar with many different times, cultures, and traditions. Here are some Thanksgiving favorites.
A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting [Sandpiper]
Cranberry Thanksgiving by Harry Devlin
Thanksgiving at the Tappletons' by Eileen Spinelli [HarperColins]
Over the River and Through the Woods by John Steven Gurney [Cartwheel]
My First Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola [Putnam]

Concept Books  

These books teach skills, such as counting, colors, and shapes. They may teach about things big and little or opposites like in and out. Many themes are taught in books where children can experience the farm, learn about animals, transportation, food, families, and feelings.
Thanksgiving Day by Gail Gibbons [Holiday House]
The Story of the Pilgrims by Katharine Ross [Random House]
10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston [Cartwheel]

Repetition and Pattern Story Books

Books with a 'catchy' phrase that is repeated become favorites with young children. They will pick-up the pattern and may be able to "read along." This lets them experience the joys of reading.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson [Puffin]

Rhyming Books

These books often include rhymes and repeated verses, which is why they are easy to remember and recite. These are especially appealing to young children.
'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey [Scholastic]
Turkeys Never Gobble by Joan Holub [HarperFestival]

Books About Different Cultures

These books have characters and situations both similar and different to those in the children's lives so they can learn about the world.
Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey by Joy Cowley [Scholastic]
How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Bunting [Sandpiper]
Thanksgiving at Obaachan's by Janet Mitsui Brown [Polychrome]
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas [Thomas Nelson]

Books and stories open the world of learning to children. Enjoy preschool storytime daily with your group and this month concentrate on Thanksgiving with an assortment of holiday titles.

**This article was originally published on Yahoo Voices by Tania Cowling

Clip art

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thanksgiving Songs for Children

Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It's a time of family gatherings, a time for gratitude, history, and turkey. Thanksgiving day has always been a fun time with songs and activities to enjoy. Give kids the opportunity to sing their gratitude this Thanksgiving, but don't forget about some fun Thanksgiving songs for children with a "gobble and wobble" too.
Songs of Gratitude
Gratitude is the action of giving thanks and to show appreciation for kindness. This song is a parody to the traditional song "If You're Happy and You Know It." Children love to do the actions as they sing this holiday song.
If you're thankful and you know it, clap your hands
If you're thankful and you know it, clap your hands.
If you're thankful and you know it,
Then your face will surely show it.
If you're thankful and you know it, clap your hands.
Other verses:
If you're thankful and you know it, stomp your feet...
If you're thankful and you know it, shout "I am!"...
If you're thankful and you know it, do all three...
Discuss that Thanksgiving is a special time to give thanks, just like the Pilgrims gave thanks for their plentiful harvest and food. This Thanksgiving song for children is sung to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
Let's be thankful for this day,
For our friends and our play.
Let's be thankful; let's be glad,
For our food and the things we have.
Let's give thanks for you and me,
And our home and family.
Song of the Pilgrims
The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower in 1620. The Pilgrims and Native Americans worked together growing crops and harvesting the bounty to celebrate their first Thanksgiving many years ago. Sing this song to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."
The Pilgrims sailed away,
Far across the sea.
They came to America,
So they could be free.
The Native Americans
Helped them plant the corn.
Then they shared a great big feast,
Thanksgiving Day was born!

To all my readers, I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Until next time,
 **All songs were used in my preschool classes and Mommy and Me sessions. Authors are unknown.
Photo courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved.

Friday, October 4, 2013

How to Make Homemade Musical Instruments

Children enjoy making musical instruments from collecting the materials to performing in a homemade band. Go 'green' with recycled materials for your projects.

The homemade instruments below fall into the category of idiophones and with a few recycled materials, children can make creative rhythm instruments to experiment with sounds and contribute to a classroom rhythm band. The best part of these homemade instruments is that when playtime is over or the child tires of the project, most materials can go back into the recycle bin for a greener Earth.
Coconut Clappers
Those who live in the tropics can pick up a coconut, if not this fruit can be found in markets.
·      An adult needs to cut the coconut in half, drain the milk and take out the meat.
·      Help the children sand the outside of the coconut shell until all surfaces becomes somewhat smooth.
·      Children can paint the coconut shell with poster paint and decorate the outside as they wish.
To play this primal instrument, children need to hold a half in each hand. Tap the cut edges together to create unique, hollow-wood sounds. Challenge the kids to guess which animal makes a sound like a coconut clapper. The correct answer is horse and have the children use these clappers to make sounds like a horse is walking and a faster pace like galloping.

Simple bongo drums can be made from empty gallon or half-gallon plastic containers, such as bleach containers.
·      To prepare the containers, cut the tops off and make sure both bottles have been cut to the same size.
·      Tape the cut edges with a heavy duct or vinyl tape to protect the fingers.
·      Have an adult staple two containers together side by side for each child.
·      The kids can decorate the plastic bongos with adhesive stickers and/or permanent colored markers.
To play these drums, turn the containers upside down and children can tap the bottoms with their hands. To be authentic, sit on the floor and place the bongos between the knees.
And more ideas to come...
The ideas above have come from "Shake, Tap and Play a Merry Tune" by Tania K. Cowling (available on and from the author on
Visit often to see more crafts and theme ideas. Why not subscribe to this blog and receive emails when a new post is published?
See you next week,

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fun Halloween Crafts for Kids

Get ready, as Halloween is coming on the 31st of October. What a wonderful family holiday; a perfect time for parents and children to spend time together carving pumpkins, designing costumes and planning trick-or-treat activities. Kids can lose themselves in fun without having to worry about normal, proper behavior. They can act out their fantasies, dreams and imaginations, it's OK because it's Halloween. Spend good days together making these fun Halloween crafts for children.

Make a Bat with Hands
Make use of a child's hands to make this fun Halloween bat. Trace each hand onto black poster board, heavy construction paper or fun foam. Then cut out a headpiece with pointed ears. Assemble the pieces with glue or tape. The handprints are the bat's wings. Decorate the head with googly eyes (or paper ones), a pompom nose, and a freaky mouth cut from white paper. Add a yarn or ribbon loop at the top to hang this bat decoration around the house.

Halloween Tic-Tac-Toe
Take the traditional tic-tac-toe game and give it a Halloween flair. Cut a large pumpkin from a sheet of orange poster board. Draw the game grid with a black marker. Cut game markers (in Halloween shapes) from construction paper. Another good tip is to use your computer and find clip art that would serve as markers, you need at least five markers of two different shapes. Preserve your game board and pieces covering them with clear plastic adhesive paper if you wish. Enjoy playing this game with the children and think about how this game can be made for other holidays too.

Photos courtesy of Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Use the month of October to make crafts and decorate the home or classroom. Have fun bonding with your children and give them big hugs!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

National Grandparents Day is Coming (September 8, 2013)

Grandparents are a part of a person's heritage and essential members of families and communities. That is why a special day, National Grandparent's Day, is set aside every year to honor them. This day is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day (in September).

Children Question About Childhoods

Children are naturally curious about themselves and often ask questions about their parents’ and grandparents’ childhoods. Were they the same or different than what children experience? It’s sometimes hard for a child to envision a grandparent as a kid, but stories about life “way back when” help the child to connect to the family.
Help children understand their unique background or heritage by bonding and doing these activities together.
  • On a World or United States map, place a sticker on each town or country where the ancestors lived. Rent or check out a video from the library to view the ancestor’s homeland.
  • Create a family tree using photographs. This is a great art project. Help children look for similar physical characteristics between the generations.
  • Share favorite childhood foods. Parents can prepare a recipe that was a favorite when they were young. A grandparent who is local can make a favorite recipe as well. Create a family cookbook together.
  • Bring out the box of pictures and spend a day looking at ancestors. Grandparents can find photos when they were young. Help children identify older people in the photographs and explain their relationship to the family.
  • Teach the children a game that was popular “way back when”.
  • Older children might enjoy learning their ancestral language. Start out with a few common words. There are books and tapes available at most public libraries or bookstores that can teach the basics of other languages.
  • Bring out cultural memorabilia, such as dolls, toys, plates, etc. for the children to view. Try making a cultural craft from the ancestral country.

Make a Family Collage
Materials needed:
  • Photos or photocopies
  • Glue or glue stick
  • Colored construction paper
  • Marker
Bring out the box of photos again, and let the children make a photo collage on poster board or even cover a box with colored paper and make a photo block. If there aren't duplicate pictures, think about making color photocopies for the kids to use. Shapes of colored construction paper make great frames and backing for the pictures. Label the project by the child’s name, like "Tara’s Family". Make sure the child recognizes each person in the photos. Use old photos from the past and incorporate newer ones as well. This makes a great genealogy lesson!
Another variation is to cover a coffee can with colorful construction paper. Now, glue on favorite family photos. Fill the can with baked cookies or candy and present this gift to the grandparents.
As grandparents and children spend time together and get to know each other; this creates a bond that cannot be duplicated. Children will preserve these memories for life.
Make sure to mark this date and spend time with your child's grandparents -- near or far. If they are not close by, don't forget to make a phone call, Skype, send an email or a card by snail mail. Let your children cherish their grandparents as this part of their childhood is so important. Take pictures for lasting memories. 
Until next week - enjoy this lesson and hug those precious children,
 Photo courtesy of Flickr

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Apple Theme Unit for Daycare and Preschool

With every alphabet book read, every bowl of applesauce served, and every red, green, or yellow variety sliced for lunch, "A" is for apple, a child's most recognized fruit. Apples are begged for and bobbed for, sliced, diced, peeled, polished, and most especially offered to the teacher. Share these activities with the children to get them familiar with this healthy and tasty fruit.
There is So Much to Learn About Apples
Dissecting an apple is an easy science project to do that teaches children about fruit in general. On a sheet of paper, write the words leaf, stem, flesh, core, seeds, and skin. Take half of an apple and ask the group to look at it carefully; ask questions such as: "Does the apple have a stem or leaf? If it doesn’t have a stem, can you find the place where the stem was? What color is the skin on this apple? Can you name the different colors of apples? What color is the flesh of the apple? Where is the apple core? What is in the core? How many seeds are there?" Now, bring out the paper and crayons and have the children draw this apple half and help them label it.
Apple Tree Craft
Draw a tree on a sheet of white paper. Invite the children to color the tree trunk brown and the treetop green. Help young children dip their thumbs into red paint and print their thumbprints on the tree to represent growing apples. Below is a poem to write under the tree.
These are special apples hanging on this tree.
I made them with my finger prints, they are a part of me!
(Author Unknown)
Apple Stamping
Apple stamps are great on T-shirts, hats, tote bags, pillowcases, book covers, or just artwork. Slice the apple in half, and blot the cut side on a paper towel to absorb the juice. Apply paint to the apple's cut side with a brush. Test the apple stamp on scrap paper to determine how hard to press and see how much paint to use. Reload the paint and press the apple stamp onto the real surface. To finish, paint on green leaves, a black stem, and seeds with a fine tip brush. Use tempera paint on paper and fabric paints for any washable surface.
The way the apple is cut determines the print made. If the apple is cut horizontally across the core, there is a hidden star in the middle. Count the seeds together for simple math.
Apple Smile Treat
Cut the apples into wedges. Smear peanut butter on one side of two wedges. Stick a few miniature marshmallows on the peanut butter on one of the apple wedges and top with the other apple wedge, peanut butter side down. This treat looks like a smile (the red part of the apple are the lips and the marshmallows are the teeth). Children will be smiling too after they taste this delicious snack.
There are so many ways to use an apple with early childhood children; as these ideas are only a few. Think about a class outing that takes students right to the source; an orchard where children can pick apples from trees (if available locally). Learning about apples can be done today or any day of the year.
Until next week - happy learning and hugs those precious children~~
Photo courtesy of morguefile
Photo of apple smile

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Teaching Alphabet Letters to Preschool Children

Welcome to a new school year - whether you're a teacher or parent, these ongoing lesson posts will help you with ideas to foster early learning skills with your children.

When we think of preschool, it's as easy as ABC - well, there is more to learning the alphabet than just singing the ABC song. Here are some ideas to get you started.

When you allow young children to create alphabet letters using different art tools, materials, and techniques, they are more likely to recognize and learn how letters are formed. This article has five alphabet art ideas for your preschoolers. Let the children partake in these crafts where they will learn and become creative as well.

Make Collage Letters

Draw a box-type letter on a piece of cardboard or poster board. Invite the children to spread glue onto the letter and adhere any of the following materials to make a raised textured letter that they can feel. Think about using sand, seashells, crushed egg shells, paper scraps, dried beans or pasta, buttons, seeds, and even spices (so they can smell the letter). These are just a few ideas and I'm sure you can think of others. Sometimes it is best to coordinate the letter and the material used in the collage to make the letter sound. For example, when making a letter B, use buttons or with the letter S, use sand.

Create Letter Characters

Give each child a block letter and colored markers. Invite them to 'dress up' the letter by drawing in facial features, hair, and designs. You can even give the children scraps of fabric for them to dress up the alphabet letter with clothes. Challenge the children to give their letter a name, such as "Billy B" or "Tara" T.

Unique Fingerprints
Do the children know that they have unique fingerprints and that no one else has the same prints? Even though they are young, it's a piece of information well worth mentioning. For this alphabet art craft, have the children stamp thumbprints to create letters. Take a foam produce tray and place a few layers of paper towels inside. The towels act as a stamp pad when tempera paint is poured on top. Have each child put a thumb into the paint tray and stamp out a thumbprint in the shape of a letter. It's best if the teacher lightly draws the letter on paper for the children to follow. Another variation is to fill in a block letter with a number of fingerprints, maybe in different colors too.

Continue reading...

Keep this page handy for more lesson plans each week. Consider this blog a guide for Preschool 101~~

Happy teaching and hug your little ones each day,

Photo courtesy of Morguefile

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

If Your Kids Pet Animals - Please Wash Your Hands~~

As the weather starts warming up, we tend to take our children to festivals. Please read this post about petting zoos and your child's health.

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Teeth Brushing for Kids: Start Early To Keep a Beautiful Smile

From the time children get their first teeth, it's time to brush, brush, brush for those pretty pearly whites. I've been freelancing with Colgate on articles for parents and children. Take a look at this one~~

Teeth Brushing for Kids: Start Early To Keep a Beautiful Smile

And an article that's full of fun activities related to healthy teeth

Dental Activities for Kids Promote Oral Health Awareness

Keep on smiling!!!!!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's a New Year in the Preschool Department

I've started (or actually gone back to) a site where I have developed two channels for preschool educators, parents, homeschooling parents and caregivers. has allowed me to create two preschool channels -- one for everyday themes and activities and the other for holiday projects.

I'm hoping you will find some time to visit these channels, as well as others you may find interesting. You will see articles from me and other educators on these links. Take a peek! I hope you will find interesting activities to share with your children and students.

Preschool Education: Tips, Tools and Resources

Holiday Projects for Preschoolers

If you're looking for crafts, songs, educational activities and more - you have come to the right place!

Until next time,

Photo courtesy of