5 Tools for Addressing Challenging Behaviors

My two year old is usually a really good kid, ESPECIALLY for being two. But take away our home environment, especially all his toys, add loved ones he doesn’t get to see regularly, mix in some *new* toys that he is expected to share with twin babies, sprinkle it with holiday excitement, and you’ve got a recipe for meltdowns, regression, and basically a tiny jerk. (Am I a bad mom for saying that?)

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5 Keepsake Crafts for the Holidays

There are few things cuter than baby hands or feet. I can’t get enough of the way those little toes curl or the way those little hands clap with glee or  manipulate things around them. Ok, except for the hair grabbing, poking me in the eye, or trying to pull off parts of my body like a nose or nipple… yikes! But seriously, those sweet toes and fingers are the cutest torture devices that exist.

Because they’ll grow way too fast and because messy play is so much fun, why not create some keepsake crafts to decorate with during the holiday season, using those adorable hands and feet!

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5 Bilingual Latino Books about Christmas

It’s always magical to see children learning from a young age to appreciate and celebrate their heritage as well as the diverse heritage of others. I’m one of those people who loves the word diverse, y mas en español, diverso, porque todo suena mejor en español. I can’t help but mention here that I recently had a conversation with a man who shuddered as I described my high school alma mater as diverse. He claimed that “diverse” is a word that democrats have stolen and made dirty… don’t get me started on that. So I just want to say it again: (Dear Sir) I LOVE THE WORD “DIVERSE”!

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A Toddler’s Lesson on Generosity

“I don’t want to be generous,” he said as we stood in a Target aisle full of toys.

“I know, love. Being generous is hard…”

“It’s TOO hard mommy,” he interjected.

“… but it will make other people SO happy.”

“It will make other people so happy?” he said with puzzled big brown eyes, head tilted to the side.

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5 Books that Teach Generosity

As teachers, sometimes our hands are tied by school or district policies when it comes to exposing our little learners to cultural or religious holidays. I was always glad to be allowed to teach holidays, as long as these were taught in an all-inclusive way that made children aware of the diverse ways and days people celebrate but didn’t promote one over another.

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My Thoughts on TV

I understand parents who strictly abide by the AAP screen time recommendations and also those who don’t. (See American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use.)

As a toddler parent, I fall in the middle, so TV is not the devil, as long as it’s watched in moderation, involves parent interaction, and is educational in some way. In my books, this falls within the AAP guidelines. Generally, we watch a maximum of one show per day or part of a movie. Truth: sometimes, we watch a whole movie, and I don’t even feel bad! Because, it involves some fun parent/child interactions, discussions, or pretend play afterwards. And really, what parent really has the time or energy to feel bad about a little TV?

As an educator, I support the use of measured screen time to enhance a lesson, like showing a short clip to introduce or demonstrate a concept, like:

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15 Children’s Books that Teach Gratitude

As promised in Teaching Gratitude, here are some recommendations for 15 books that help accomplish just that. I spent some quality time making this list and book descriptions as useful as possible. (I hope you find it SUPER useful!)  In my opinion, recommended target ages are helpful but VERY flexible, and they’ll often differ from source to source. (I cited the range I most agree with.) The books on this list can be used year-round, not solely at Thanksgiving time.

Happy reading and teaching gratitude!

Image result for the giving treeThe Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (Ages 5-8 per Scholastic)

Honestly, this book is great for all ages, as it can lead to some pretty deep reflection and conversations. I’ve also read it with great success to Pre-K students to celebrate Earth Day and discuss gratitude for and stewardship of our planet and environment.

Check out the 1973 animated short film of The Giving Tree with soothing narration from the author himself. There are some controversial interpretations of this book (which for fun, I encourage you to look into), so pre-read it and be prepared to guide the conversation in the direction that you want. Available in multiple languages, called El arbol generso in Spanish.

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The Thankful Book by Todd Parr (Ages 3-6 per B&N)

A little something for everyone, but mommas will love this one: “I am thankful for walks because they are special times for just you and me.” Aw. Let me go for a walk with my kids now and cry.

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Teaching Gratitude

November is here. Along with the holiday music and all the planning we busy ourselves with (who is hosting what and when, coordinating adorable outfits, travel plans, conniving to get people the most perfect gifts, food shopping, gift buying…is your head spinning like a dreidel yet?!?), November causes us to pause and reflect on all we are grateful for. As parents and educators, our thoughts also turn to being intentional with how we model and teach gratitude to our children.

Of course, children won’t learn to be grateful from one day, week, or even month of thanksgiving, but we can use this time to reflect on what we are doing right, what we might do better, and put some of our ideas into action.

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Rigor in Play, Part 3

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the definition of rigor and it was a bit alarming at first.

In Part 2, we focused on achieving rigor through play by intentionally challenging our little ones, challenging being one of the key terms in our definition of educational rigor.

In Part 3, I want to really drive home a point about rigor:

Rigor may feel uncomfortable at times, but we have to embrace that in order to optimize and allow for learning to occur.

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Rigor in Play, Part 2

Rather than argue why rigor and play are not  opposing ideas or camps in early childhood education (see Rigor in Play, Part 1), isn’t the best way to demonstrate the point, simply to show HOW we achieve rigor through play?

To do so, let’s pull out some of the key elements from our educational definition of rigor. Let’s start with challenging.

Ensuring that children’s play is challenging requires a few things from us (maybe even challenging ourselves first). 

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