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Tag Archives: Holidays

What to do with the after-Christmas blues


Hopefully you all had a wonderful Christmas, and you’ve had a little time today to unwind! There should be a mandatory recovery period for this holiday! Christmas can be exhausting, and the day after Christmas can be a bit of a let-down, and kids can feel it too.  We’ve been anticipating this holiday since Halloween, so its natural to feel a little disappointed when its over.  Kids feel this too, and unfortunately, they don’t know what to do with those feelings, so they may act out in other ways – is there any sibling arguing, whining, or overall mopiness going on in your house?.  here are a couple of tips for helping your children deal with the after-Christmas blues;

First and foremost, talk with them, about their feelings, but also about Christmas.  Even the youngest children can listen as you tell them what you loved about Christmas this year, and share your thoughts for what your family can do to celebrate next year.  Hearing mom and dad vocalize their feelings helps kids to understand that not only are these feeling normal, but their parents feel the same way that they do.  You can have great conversations about favorite gifts, funny moments, and family traditions.  This helps kids practice sharing their thoughts and feelings, and helps parents understand which memories their children really value.

Another way to help children cope with feeling let-down after Christmas is to encourage them to help think of special traditions that can be carried on after the holidays, and throughout the year.  Have special pancakes for breakfast on the day after Christmas, set a special time where mom or dad gets to help each child put away all of their new things – this will give each child individual time with a parent, which is always special. Think about what your children love the most about Christmas, do they love making Christmas cookies? Talk about the next holiday that the family could make cookies for.  Do they love to decorate the house? Make some special decorations for New Year’s Eve, or Valentine’s day.

For older children, this is the perfect time to look at a calendar with them.  You could have them help you pick a special new calendar to hang in their room, or create one together with family photos or clip art.  4 and 5 year olds are naturally curious about the passage of time, they want to know when it will be Christmas again, when their birthday is, and how long it will be until summer.  These are all things that you can help them understand with a calendar of their very own.  Older children can also begin to understand the idea of goals and resolutions.  Help them make a short list of things that they can work towards this year, maybe they want to learn to write their name, ride a two wheeler, or tie their shoe, maybe they want to take music lessons, or play a sport, or a day trip that they would like to take.  all of these things could go on their list and you can help them work towards these goals throughout the year.

Hopefully these ideas will bring some harmony to your family as your recuperate from the holidays!


Holiday Gift Guide: Preschoolers

It should be easy to pick out a great gift for the kids on your list, but more often than not, they are the most difficult to shop for.  You want to get them something that they will enjoy and actually use.  You also know that they already have a room full of toys, and don’t really need another action figure, doll, or stuffed animal.

Preschoolers will tell you exactly what they want for Christmas, but the issue here is how do you impress a preschooler without subjecting Mom and Dad to an avalanch of toys with tiny little pieces that are bound to get lost or broken? Here are a few great ideas for the preschooler on your list.

Blocks: The market is overrun with options for blocks, especially for preschoolers.  Our absolute favorite are Magna Tiles.  The fact that these have magnets, which allow the tiles to stick together, make it easy for kids to build large, fairly durable creations.  These have been tried and tested in our classrooms.  They are a favorite that kids play with for hours, and the fact that they introduce basic magnetic properties doesn’t hurt either!

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Gross motor play: No one will deny that preschoolers have tons of energy.  Here are two great gifts that will help channel some of that energy (and they can both be used indoors).  The first is the Gymnic Hop 55 Ball.  You probably recognize this from your own childhood, kids still love these, and they are a great way to encourage large muscle development, balance, and body awareness.  The second is the Pacific Play Tent I See You Tunnel.  Kids love these for imaginary play, and this one is perfect because parents can see their children the entire time that they are in the tunnel.  They can be  a space for kids to hang out quietly, or part of a larger obstacle course to wear them out!




Fine motor skills: Practicing those skills that will strengthen finger muscles and prepare kids for writing and cutting (Kindergarten readiness!) can be a lot of fun.  to make writing more fun considering gifting them with a set or two of Crayola Twistables.  These come in crayon and colored pencil versions, and will get kids excited about drawing, while helping them practice holding a pencil, the real plus here is that there is no sharpening necessary, just twist the end to reveal more lead.  Another great way to encourage fine motor skills is beading. We love B. Pop-Arty Beads for a couple of reasons, first they don’t require string so kids won’t get frustrated when all of their beads fall off the string, and second, they are much less likely to go rolling all over your floor! Plus, who can resist these fun patterns?!



Dramatic Play: We don’t know a single preschooler who doesn’t like to pretend they are cooking.  The best play food can be found at Ikea, these felt sets are so much fun that adults will want to play too! They also have great pots and pans, ceramic dishes, and baking sets specifically for kids.  The best part is that they are so reasonably priced that you can easy give two or three different sets without breaking the bank.  These are great for the kids who has everything, or the child that you don’t know very well, because they are sure to be a hit!


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Games: Preschoolers are just getting old enough to play by the rules, classic games are a great way to encourage some fun that the whole family can enjoy together! Some of our favorites are Don’t Break the Ice, Ants in the Pants, Barrel of Monkeys, and Memory, you can find all of these on Amazon.



We hope this gives you some new ideas for the preschoolers on your list.  Share your ideas in the comments!

Holiday Gift Guide: Toddlers

It should be easy to pick out a great gift for the kids on your list, but more often than not, they are the most difficult to shop for.  You want to get them something that they will enjoy and actually use.  You also know that they already have a room full of toys, and don’t really need another action figure, doll, or stuffed animal.

Today’s gift guide is for toddlers. Toddlers are tons of fun to shop for.  They are finally beginning to understand toys, and they show a clear preference for what they like and do not like.  They have tons of personality, which will help steer you towards gifts that they will enjoy.  On the other hand, toddlers rarely use toys in the way that adults expect they will.  The best gifts for toddlers are items that can be appropriately used in a variety of ways, and that will encourage creative play. 

Wooden blocks and pieces: We love wooden blocks for a couple of reasons; they are very durable, they are aesthetically pleasing, not only to kids but also to adults, which is a big plus because they will end up all over your house, and they are generally more multipurpose than plastic blocks, which can often only be used or arranged one way.  Some of our favorite sets include the Imaginarium Wooden Block set (available on Amazon in a few different size options) and the Stack-a-Spool set from Mama May I on Etsy.



Sensory Play: If you are looking for a single activity that will keep a toddler busy for at least an hour then we have two words for you: Sand Box.  Toddlers LOVE sand play, it has some kind of magnetic force that draws them in.  Now yes, it can be messy, and We wouldn’t suggest putting it in the house, but here are a couple of options.  This Step2 sandbox has a lid (a must for keeping sand in and critters and rain out!), and is fairly unassuming in it’s natural tones and $50 on Amazon, it’s an inexpensive option. If you are looking for something that you can use indoors, and possibly switch the contents fairly often, try this Inflatable Sensory Tray by S&S.  The huge plus with the inflatable tray is that it can be deflated and put away without taking up too much space. 



Dramatic Play: Dress up is a favorite activity for toddlers, and you can gift them with some really great play items that don’t cost a fortune or take up a ton of space.  After Halloween be sure to check clearance racks for costumes, and kids’ resale stores are a great place to look too.  little ones can make a lot of play happen with just a few inexpensive items – a feather boa, some bandanas, a cape, a simple DIY tutu, or a child-sized cowboy hat are all great ideas that can be found at nearly any big box store.  If you want something a little more personalized try iCROWNyou on Etsy for amazing animal masks and personalized crowns and magical capes on Etsy for personalized super hero capes. 




Music: Toddlers love to make noise, we probably don’t need to tell you this! In order to keep mom and dad from loosing their minds, we recommend staying away from the plastic instruments that blink and beep, and seem to play that same song over and over and over… If you know a toddler who really truly loves music, then invest in their passion, gift them with a smaller versions of real musical instruments.  The Melissa and Doug Beginner Band Set is a great option for introducing children to instruments. we also love the Melissa and Doug Learn to Play Piano (We pretty much love everything by Melissa and Doug).




We hope this gives you some great ideas for your favorite toddler, let us know what other items you’ll be purchasing in the comments! Tomorrow we’ll have a gift guide for preschoolers. 

Holiday Gift Guide: Infants

It should be easy to pick out a great gift for the kids on your list, but more often than not, they are the most difficult to shop for.  You want to get them something that they will enjoy and actually use.  You also know that they already have a room full of toys, and don’t really need another action figure, doll, or stuffed animal.

Today’s gift guide is specifically designed for infants.  They pose their own special gift buying issues. In many cases, moms of infants have all of the necessities, they received them at baby showers, along with more blankets and clothes than they will ever know what to do with.  It can also be difficult to buy toys for infants, and the selection is not always wide – how many car seat toys, stuffed animals, stacking cups, and teething rings does one child need?  Infants also grow out of things very quickly, so what can you get them that they will enjoy and be able to use for years to come?

Board books: These are a great option because when they are very young mom and dad can read to them, and as they grow the books are sturdy enough for the child to hold and look at on their own.  They will also stand up to being chewed, dropped from high chairs, and being stepped on.  Some of our favorites are the Diaper David Collection by David Shannon  (3 for $8.99 on Amazon) and the BabyLit Books $8.99 each on Amazon).

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Blocks: our favorite blocks for infants are Fisher Price Peek-a-Blocks.  These are great for little hands and offer a wealth of tactile, visual, and auditory experiences. These are also blocks that will grow with children – the youngest infants can use them as shakers or rattles, and visually explore one block at a time, while older children can use them to repeatedly build and knock down towers.  Each set contains 5 blocks, they are available from Fisher Price for $10 per set.



Cars: Infants love anything with wheels.  We are huge fans of wooden vehicles, like this one from Smiling Tree Toys on Etsy.  When looking for wooden toys there are a few things to remember, first make sure that any edges are rounded, and that the toys have been well sanded to remove any rough patches and possible splinters, you also want to make sure the finish is safe because it will end up in baby’s mouth.  Plastic cars are also a great option.  We love Tonka’s Chuck and Friends, they come in different sizes for different ages, and are brightly colored.

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Music and movement: Babies to to wiggle to music, so make it even more fun by gift them with streamer rings that they can shake and wave.  You can make your own, or buy these from BBs for Babies on Etsy.  Our favorite CDs for kids are not necessarily for kids, which means that parents will enjoy them too! The Piano Guys do instrumental covers of pop favorites, perfect for dancing, but also great for naptime.



Check back with us tomorrow for a Toddler Gift Guide, and feel free to share your favorite infant gifts in the comments!


Reggio Monday: Holiday Ideas


The holiday season is the perfect time to infuse some Reggio inspired practices into your home.  The Reggio Emilia Approach is all about encouraging children to explore the world around them, and to learn from what fascinates them.  Every child loves winter holidays, and for the entire month of December, the holiday spirit can be seen everywhere.  This is also a time of year when children are full of questions.  You will hear everything from “How does Santa come in our house if we don’t have a chimney?” to “What do reindeer like to eat? And even “How did they get those lights all the way at the top of that tree?”

These kinds of questions are perfect for encouraging critical thinking skills, and further research.  Ask your child what they think you could do to make sure that Santa can get in the house, and where they think they could look to find out what reindeer eat.  Their answers might surprise you, and they might even start a new tradition of their own.

It is also important to encourage children to explore their surroundings and interact with new items.  There are always going to be some things that you are afraid to let the children play with – maybe the glass nativity set is a family heirloom, or the tree topper is one that you bought on a trip to Italy.  Find other ways for children to explore these things.  They could take photos of them with your camera, or draw a picture of them.  You could also find similar substitutes that they could interact with, pick up a nativity set at a garage sale, or get a tree topper at a craft store that the children can decorate.

The holidays are also a time of year when children say the best things! Make sure to document these quotes, questions, and conversations.  They will make great additions to holiday photo books and scrapbooks and lasting memories for years to come.

Happy Halloween

We hope you are all enjoying Halloween! If you are looking for something to do tonight because of changes in trick or treat plans, try this Mummy Pizza for dinner.  It is super easy and the kids can help!Image

Taking the spooky out of Halloween


Halloween is quickly approaching, and though many people enjoy the opportunity to be someone else for the day, for little ones it can be very scary. Not all costumes are kid friendly, and while you can do your best to make sure your child loves his or her own costume, there is no way of knowing what they may encounter other children (or young teens) wearing while participating in Halloween related festivities.

It is important to encourage your child to celebrate in the way that makes them most comfortable. Make sure to take the time to explain that they may see things that look scary (and even just the act of being out after dark, or seeing others run around outside in the dark can be scary), but this is a day that is all about pretend. Help your child that being scared is part of the fun, and make sure they know that they do not have to do anything that they do not want to do.

They may not want to dress up in a new costume, but you may get them to agree to a costume that they play with often, or you may even be able to borrow one of your child’s favorite dress up costumes from his or her teacher. If he or she does not want to go trick or treating, try to find another way to celebrate the holiday, they could help you pass out candy at your home, or you could find an age appropriate Halloween movie to watch, and a few fun games that you could play at home to celebrate.

Holidays are not about what the rest of the world does, they are about the traditions that you create with your family, so make sure that your celebration is one that your child feels comfortable with, and you will have happy memories for years to come.